U.S. is still in first wave of the coronavirus, Fauci says

After marking a new record for daily cases over the weekend at more than 83,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday the U.S. is still in the first wave of the deadly coronavirus.

“I look at it more as an elongated — and an exacerbation of — the original first wave,” Fauci told Yahoo Fiannce’s All Markets Summit.

With Election Day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

The U.S. has more reported than 8.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, more than any other nation. It also has the world’s highest death toll at more than 225,000.

Globally, more than 43 million have been affected with more than 1.1 million dead.

“We started to see a peak that brought us up to around 70,000 per day,” Fauci said, adding that, “Now as we’re getting into the cold weather, we came back up again to the worst that we’ve ever had, which was over 80,000 per day.”

On Sunday, Fauci, who has headed the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said widespread availability of a coronavirus vaccine probably won’t happen until next year.

“We will know whether a vaccine is safe and effective by the end of November, beginning of December,” said Fauci, who h. “The amount of doses that will be available in December will not certainly be enough to vaccinate everybody.

"You’ll have to wait several months into 2021,” Fauci said on the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show.”

Fauci said he disagreed with President Donald Trump’s assertion the U.S. is “rounding the corner” in treating the pandemic.

“The data speak for themselves,” Fauci said. “Unfortunately, I am sorry to see what I’m viewing from a distance, what I’m seeing in the UK. ... After getting hit pretty badly the way we did, you went down to a pretty low level, but now you’re starting to escalate in the same manner that we are here.”

On Friday, two drugmakers announced the resumption of U.S. testing of their COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been halted since early September, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine study was paused at the beginning of last week. Each company had a study volunteer develop a serious health issue, requiring a review of safety data.

The two coronavirus vaccines are among several candidates in final-stage testing, the last step before seeking regulatory approval.

The drugmakers said they got the go-ahead Friday from the Food and Drug Administration to restart tests in the U.S.

Such temporary halts of drug and vaccine testing are relatively common: In research involving thousands of participants, some are likely to fall ill. Pausing a study allows researchers to investigate whether an illness is a side effect or a coincidence.

Testing of the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with Oxford University, has already resumed in the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa and Japan.

“The restart of clinical trials across the world is great news as it allows us to continue our efforts to develop this vaccine to help defeat this terrible pandemic,” Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO, said in a statement.

AstraZeneca’s study involves 30,000 people in the U.S., with some getting the vaccine and others a dummy shot.

Testing was stopped after one British participant developed severe neurological symptoms consistent with a rare inflammation of the spinal cord called transverse myelitis. AstraZeneca testing had also been paused earlier in the summer.

Johnson & Johnson said it is preparing to resume recruitment soon for its U.S. vaccine study. In a statement, the company didn’t disclose the nature of the volunteer’s illness but said a thorough evaluation “found no evidence that the vaccine candidate caused the event.”

The company added that it is in talks with other regulators around the world to resume testing in their countries.

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