Covid-19: Live News and Updates

The Four Percent


Work by researchers in Hong Kong finds that reinfection may be possible in rare cases.

Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus.

“An apparently young and healthy patient had a second case of Covid-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode,” University of Hong Kong researchers said Monday in a statement.

The report is of concern because it suggests that immunity to the coronavirus may last only a few months in some people. And it has implications for vaccines being developed for the virus.

The 33-year-old man had only mild symptoms the first time, and no symptoms this time around. The reinfection was discovered when he returned from a trip to Spain, the researchers said, and the virus they sequenced closely matched the strain circulating in Europe in July and August.

“Our results prove that his second infection is caused by a new virus that he acquired recently rather than prolonged viral shedding,” said Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong.

Given that there are millions of cases worldwide, it is not unexpected that a few, or even a few dozen, people might be reinfected with the virus after only a few months, experts have said.

Doctors have reported several cases of presumed reinfection in the United States and elsewhere, but none of those cases have been confirmed with rigorous testing. Recovered people are known to shed viral fragments for weeks, which can cause tests to show a positive result in the absence of live virus.

But the Hong Kong researchers sequenced the virus from both rounds of infection and found significant differences in the two sets of virus, suggesting that the patient was infected a second time.

Common cold coronaviruses are known to cause reinfections in less than a year, but experts had hoped that the new coronavirus might behave more like its cousins SARS and MERS, which seemed to produce longer-lasting immunity of a few years.


Zoom reports partial outages, disrupting the first day of virtual classes for many U.S. students.

The video call service Zoom reported partial outages on Monday morning, causing problems on the first day of remote classes for many schools in the United States.

The company said it had “identified the issue” that was preventing users from starting and joining meetings, and was working on a fix. It said the problem caused users “to be unable to authenticate to the Zoom website.”

As the pandemic has kept students out of classrooms and workers out of offices, Zoom has quickly become critical infrastructure for many school districts, companies and local governments.

The Atlanta school district, which serves about 50,000 students, was among those affected by the outage. “We are working to resolve the issue and will provide an update when restored,” the district said on Twitter on Monday morning. “Parents and students will hear from their local school regarding next steps and alternative ways for virtual learning.”

Zoom said it began receiving reports at about 5:50 a.m. Pacific time of users being unable to visit the website and start meetings. The website DownDetector, which tracks outages at social media companies and tech companies, showed significant outages in major cities around the country — including New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis and San Francisco. The site reported more than 15,000 outages by about 7 a.m. Pacific time.

Here are other key education developments:

  • Following months of pressure to set up outdoor classrooms in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that principals can apply by this Friday to create outdoor classes in their schoolyards. The city’s public school system, the nation’s largest, is scheduled to reopen in just under three weeks in a hybrid model, leaving schools little time to move classroom infrastructure outdoors. The city will prioritize 27 neighborhoods badly hit by the virus with schools that do not have usable outdoor space. The mayor had previously raised concerns about outdoor learning, saying it might not be possible on days when it was raining, too hot or too cold. On Monday, he said that outdoor learning “won’t work everyday” because of bad weather, but that it was still a good alternative for many schools.

The F.D.A. approves plasma treatment, as Trump claims the agency is undercutting him.

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday gave emergency approval for expanded use of antibody-rich blood plasma to help hospitalized coronavirus patients, allowing President Trump, who has been pressuring the agency to move faster to address the pandemic, to claim progress on the eve of the Republican convention.

Mr. Trump cited the approval, which had been held up by concerns among top government scientists about the data behind it, as welcome news in fighting a disease that has led to 176,000 deaths in the United States and left the nation lagging far behind most others in the effectiveness of its response.

At a news briefing, he described the treatment as “a powerful therapy” made possible “by marshaling the full power of the federal government.”

The decision will broaden use of a treatment that has already been administered to more than 70,000 patients. But the F.D.A. cited benefits for only some patients. And, unlike a new drug, plasma cannot be manufactured in millions of doses; its availability is limited by blood donations. Mr. Trump urged everyone who has recovered from the virus to donate plasma, saying there is a nationwide campaign to collect it.

Mr. Trump has portrayed his demands to cut red tape and speed approval of treatments and vaccines as a necessary response to a public health emergency.

But Sunday’s announcement came a day after he repeated his unfounded claim that the F.D.A. was deliberately holding up decision-making until after the election, this time citing a “deep state.” That accusation exacerbated concerns among some government scientists, outside experts and Democrats that the president’s political needs could undermine the integrity of the regulatory process, hurt public confidence in safety and introduce a different kind of public health risk.

No randomized trials of the sort researchers consider most robust have yet shown benefit from convalescent plasma. But the F.D.A. said the data it had so far, including more than a dozen published studies, showed that “it is reasonable to believe” that the treatment “may be effective in lessening the severity or shortening the length of Covid-19 illness in some hospitalized patients,” in particular those who receive it early.

On Monday, the World Health Organization was cautious about endorsing the use of plasma to treat those who are ill, Reuters reported, saying evidence it works remains “low quality.”

The C.D.C. predicts that the total death toll across the country could pass 200,000 by Sept. 12. In May, Mr. Trump predicted the total number of deaths from the virus would be about 100,000.

White House officials have been urging speedy approval not just of Covid-19 treatments, but of vaccines. Their public statements that a safe and effective vaccine could be just around the corner have alarmed scientists who fear that White House pressure will result in premature approval timed to increase the president’s re-election chances.

In a July 30 meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic minority leader, top administration officials suggested that emergency approval for a vaccine might be granted before Phase 3 trials in the United States are complete, perhaps as early as September, according to two people briefed on the discussion. Such a move would be highly unusual and most likely prompt more concern about whether the administration was pressuring the F.D.A. to approve drugs for political purposes.

Senior administration officials disputed the account of the meeting, saying Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were either being misquoted or had been misunderstood on every major point.

In Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin announced this month that a billion doses of a vaccine for the new coronavirus would soon be rolled out, but Russian health officials have found themselves on the defensive because the vaccine has not been tested in late-stage, large, randomized control trials.

By skipping such trials, Russia is potentially endangering people to score propaganda points, health experts warn.

The Trump administration tied billions of dollars in badly needed coronavirus medical funding this spring to hospitals’ cooperation with a private vendor collecting data for a new Covid-19 database that bypassed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For 40 days, millions of people in the western Chinese city of Urumqi have been unable to leave their homes after the authorities put in place a sweeping lockdown to fight a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Now, with the outbreak seemingly under control but the restrictions still largely in place, many residents of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, are lashing out at the government. They say they are being unnecessarily confined to their homes and denied access to critical services like health care.

“Is this a prison or cage?” one user wrote on Weibo, a popular social media site. “Is this prevention or suppression?”

The mounting anger poses a challenge for the ruling Communist Party, which is trying to hold up its handling of the epidemic as a model for the world. The party has long taken a harsh approach in Xinjiang, and in recent years has been widely criticized for leading a draconian crackdown on the region’s Muslim minority.

The lockdown in Urumqi, employing many of the same extreme measures used in Wuhan, began in mid-July as dozens of people fell ill with the virus. In recent weeks, locally transmitted cases have dwindled; there have been no such cases for eight days, officials say.

As anger mounted online, the authorities in Urumqi, a city of 3.5 million, on Monday said they would ease restrictions in some districts, allowing residents to leave their homes and walk inside their apartment complexes, according to Chinese news reports. Officials did not say when the full lockdown would be lifted.

Why are the number of coronavirus cases decreasing? Because restrictions are working, experts say.


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