Trump promises COVID vaccine this year despite current progress

Vaccine in arm
Vaccine in arm

Self magazine, Heather Hazzan / Flickr cc

During the final night of the Republican National Convention, President Donald Trump, speaking on the White House lawn in front of a large, mostly unmasked audience, said his administration will have a vaccine against COVID-19 within the next 4 months.

"We are delivering life-saving therapies, and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner," Trump said during his acceptance speech as the party's incumbent nominee.

The claim comes despite the fact that no major vaccine candidate has completed clinical trials, and it was followed today with the news that two senior public relations experts working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been fired after Trump and the head of the FDA exaggerated the benefits of blood plasma for treating COVID-19 patients.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, removed Emily Miller as the agency's chief spokeswoman today, and another communications consultant, Wayne Pines, according to the New York Times. Hahn had been roundly criticized this week after claiming early data from the Mayo Clinic showed the use of convalescent plasma led to a 35% reduction in mortality, when the absolute reduction was closer to 3%.

According to Stat News, no speaker during the final night of the convention mentioned that the country had recorded more than 180,000 deaths from COVID-19, by a large margin the most of any country in the world. The United States, along with the United Kingdom, is one of the only countries with advanced economies in the world where it's likely that most citizens  do not approve of their government's response to COVID-19.

Only 47% of Americans said their country was handling the pandemic well according to a new Pew Research poll, compared with 95% of Danes, 88% of Canadians, and 88% of Germans. The UK approval rate is 46%. But the margin of error for the United States and United Kingdom for the poll range from 3.7 to 4.1 percentage points, which could bring the approval rates just above 50%.

US officials reported 45,966 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 1,116 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker, bringing the country’s total to 5,902,374 cases and 181,435 deaths.

Hurricane-related COVID-19 risk

As more than 500,000 people evacuate parts of Louisiana and Texas as Hurricane Laura makes landfall, officials are worried the evacuation may lead to new coronavirus outbreaks in a part of the nation that has struggled all summer to contain the virus.

"Remember, just because a hurricane is coming to Texas does not mean that COVID-19 either has or is going to leave Texas,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott, earlier this week.

An unpublished model from Columbia University projected that a hurricane could cause thousands of new COVID-19 cases as people are forced into shelters without physical distancing.

First US case of confirmed reinfection

Finally today, Nevada researchers have confirmed the first US case of COVID-19 reinfection, involving a 25-year-old Nevada patient. The patient was first infected in April, then 48 days later tested positive after two negative tests following the first infection.

The viral genomes of the first and second isolates show differences that indicate the two infections were independent of each other.

This week's top reads