Antibody, vaccine trials paused

COVID-19 research continues but safety concerns being addressed; new data shows toll of COVID-19 much larger than the daily death tally reveals.

North Dakota’s COVID situation is getting worse — fast. As this chart from CovidExitStrategy.org shows, the number of new cases has been going up sharply since mid-September. On Monday, a hospital in Bismarck had four beds open, while two other hospitals in the state had none, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

No matter what the exact number of people infected with the novel coronavirus or dead from the pandemic, the USA must mount “an intense, persistent, multipronged, and coherent response,” says former Harvard School of Public Health Dean Harvey Fineburg, now president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. His comment accompanies a series of articles in the latest JAMA that report:

  • Updating an earlier study, researchers estimate that there were 225,530 more deaths than normal from March through July 2020. Although COVID-19 was cited as the cause of death for only two-thirds of these deaths, the researchers say the additional deaths likely include undiagnosed COVID-19 as well as heart attacks or other conditions that went untreated due to the pandemic. In addition, reduced traffic and other factors reduced deaths from usual causes, so the actual number of COVID-19 related deaths may be even higher.

  • The weak US response to COVID-19 has resulted in a significantly higher death rate when compared to other wealthy nations, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Ezekiel J. Emanuel. Looking only at deaths since June, by which time physicians had more knowledge of treatment and prevention approaches, the USA’s death rate was 27 deaths per 100,000 people — nearly 10 times higher than Italy and France and more than twice the rate of Israel and Sweden.

And news from elsewhere: