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What you need to know about coronavirus on Thursday, October 1

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Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Wednesday that the company will not have enough data to file for emergency use authorization of its vaccine candidate until November 25, weeks after Americans go to the polls.

Public health experts have expressed concern that the Trump administration is expediting the development process, undermining the safety and efficacy of a future vaccine. In Tuesday’s presidential debate, Trump said he had spoken to the major vaccine makers, including Moderna, and that they told him a vaccine could be available soon.

But Bancel emphasized that he has received no political pressure, in either direction: “Nobody has called me. Nobody has emailed me, or had a meeting with me or my teams telling us to go faster or telling us to go slower. Nobody,” he said, adding that the earliest Moderna’s candidate could be available for public use is late March or early April next year.

Meanwhile, drugmaker AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine trial in the United States is still on hold after a participant developed a serious illness, but, speaking at the US Pharma and Biotech Summit hosted by the Financial Times Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner would not say why. The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, is in the late-stage human trials (Phase 3) and has been amongst the most closely watched efforts. Regulators in Britain, Brazil and South Africa have decided to resume the trials.

There are currently nine Covid-19 vaccine candidates in late-stage, large clinical trials around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Three of those are in the United States: from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: How much will a coronavirus vaccine cost?

A: Moderna estimates a price tag of under $40 per dose for most customers.
“We are working with governments around the world and others to ensure the vaccine is accessible regardless of ability to pay,” Moderna’s CEO said.

The World Health Organization said dozens of vaccines worldwide are in human trials. But many of the vaccine makers have not publicly released estimates of how much the vaccines would cost, if the trials are successful.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

Fauci hits back at Trump over masks

During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden cited statistics that wearing masks could lower the Covid-19 death toll in the next several months by hundreds of thousands. President Donald Trump said, “Dr. Fauci said the opposite.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has hit back at the President, saying his early opinions about mask use were “taken out of context.” Fauci explained that “very early on in the pandemic,” public health experts did not recommend masks to the general public because they were worried about shortages. But as it became clear that masks were widely available and helped stop asymptomatic transmission, that changed.

As countries reissue lockdown orders, China is on the move again

Hundreds of millions of people are expected to pack highways, trains and planes for China’s National Day holiday, one of the busiest times for travel in the world’s most populous country, Nectar Gan writes.

The eight-day break, which started Thursday, is China’s first major holiday since it emerged from the coronavirus outbreak. While life has largely returned to normal in recent months, the upcoming “Golden Week” holiday will be an ambitious test of China’s success in taming the virus — and a much-awaited boost to its economic recovery.

Experimental antibody cocktail shows promising results

An experimental antibody cocktail being developed by New York biotechnology company Regeneron seems to reduce levels of the virus and improve symptoms in patients, according to early test results.

The greatest improvements were seen in patients who hadn’t already mounted a natural response to the infection, the company said. The numbers in this early release of information were small and the data has not been peer reviewed yet.

ON OUR RADAR

  • The pandemic has put 500,000 more girls at risk of being forced into child marriage this year, reversing 25 years of progress that saw child marriage rates decline, according to a new report by the charity Save the Children.
  • Residents in Madrid are to be blocked from leaving except on essential trips under new rules to fight a coronavirus outbreak.
  • South Africa will reopen its borders on Thursday, but tourists from around 50 nations with high infection rates, including Britain and the United States, will not be allowed in.
  • Hundreds of Hondurans formed a caravan headed towards the US on Wednesday, seeking to improve their living conditions as coronavirus has killed over 2,000 people and paralysed the economy in the Central American nation, local media reported.
  • The United Arab Emirates has recorded its highest daily COVID-19 tally since the pandemic began.
  • The collapse in aviation caused by the coronavirus pandemic could wipe out 46 million jobs worldwide, according to new research.
  • Genes inherited from Neanderthal ancestors may be involved in some cases of severe Covid-19 disease, researchers in Germany report.

TODAY’S TOP TIP

We know door-to-door trick-or-treating may be discouraged or canceled this October, and indoor haunted houses with friends and crowded costume parties are risky. Indeed, Covid-19 looming over us is Halloween’s biggest scare.

Don’t despair! A global pandemic doesn’t change these facts: Halloween 2020 falls on a Saturday. That evening there will be a full moon. And that night we also move the clocks back for daylight saving time. It’s the perfect recipe for a late night of ghoulish fun with loved ones. Daphne Sashin offers some tips to safely keep the spirit of Halloween alive this month.

TODAY’S PODCAST

“We did not feel a lot of political pressure. The pressure we felt were from our student athletes, our fans, other communities that wanted to see us play.” — Larry Scott, Pac-12 commissioner

Soon after the Big 10 conference decided it would play an abbreviated football season, Pac-12 followed suit and announced it would have one, too. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Scott about prioritizing player safety, and his own experience having Covid-19. Listen Now.

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