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Trump ‘wanted to play down’ Covid despite knowing deadliness, Bob Woodward book says – as it happened

Iowa’s governor, Kim Reynolds, is refusing to enforce a White House coronavirus taskforce recommendation to close bars and require people to wear masks after Covid-19 infections in some of the state’s cities surged.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases have risen sharply across the whole midwest in recent weeks, putting the region at the forefront of America’s pandemic. The region accounted for six of the eight states with the highest number of new Covid-19 cases by early September even as infections fell in other parts of the US previously among the worst hit.

North Dakota has the largest number of positive cases per capita in the country over the past 14 days. Iowa and South Dakota are enduring the highest percentage increases. Missouri has seen more than 1,300 new cases a day on average over the past week.

In Iowa, the increase was centered on university towns following the return of students to classes. By late August, two of the state’s cities, Ames and Iowa City, were enduring the worst coronavirus surges in the country. The per capita infection rates were higher than any individual country.

Amid warnings that the failure to enforce masks and social distancing was likely to cost hundreds of additional lives in the coming months, the White House taskforce said in a report on 31 August that bars “must be closed” in 61 of Iowa’s 99 counties and seating in restaurants should be limited. It also recommended restrictions on the size of gatherings in the worst-hit counties, along with the closure of gyms.

A health official hired by a Donald Trump appointee has been working to prevent Dr Anthony Fauci from talking about dangers that Covid-19 poses to children, Politico reported on Wednesday.

The attempts by Dr Paul Alexander – who serves as a senior adviser to Michael Caputo, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) assistant public affairs secretary – were described in emails obtained by Politico.

Alexander reportedly told media liaisons at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) about what Fauci should discuss during interviews. Alexander opined on Fauci’s possible responses to inquiries from publications such as Bloomberg News, HuffPost and BuzzFeed.

“I continue to have an issue with kids getting tested and repeatedly and even university students in a widespread manner … and I disagree with Dr Fauci on this. Vehemently,” Alexander wrote in a 27 August email, in response to a press office rundown of Fauci’s planned remarks to Bloomberg.

In an email Tuesday, Alexander also told Fauci’s spokesperson that he should not advocate mask-wearing by children in a planned MSNBC sit-down.

“Can you ensure Dr Fauci indicates masks are for the teachers in schools. Not for children,” Alexander reportedly said in this email. “There is no data, none, zero, across the entire world, that shows children, especially young children, spread this virus to other children, or to adults or to their teachers. None. And if it did occur, the risk is essentially zero.”

The White House coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that AstraZeneca’s decision to pause global trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine was “unfortunate” – but not an uncommon safety precaution in a vaccine development process.

The UK drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Tuesday it had voluntarily paused trials, including late-stage ones, after an unexplained illness in a participant.

The company said it was working to expedite a review of safety data by an independent committee to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline.

“This particular candidate from the AstraZeneca company had a serious adverse event, which means you put the rest of the enrollment of individual volunteers on hold until you can work out precisely what went on,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the top public health expert on the coronavirus, said in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday morning.

“It’s really one of the safety valves that you have on clinical trials such as this, so it’s unfortunate that it happened,” Fauci added. “Hopefully, they’ll work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial but you don’t know. They need to investigate it further.”

The vaccine, which AstraZeneca is developing with the University of Oxford, has been described by the World Health Organization as probably the world’s leading candidate and the most advanced in terms of development.

Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University school of public health said via Twitter that the significance of the interruption was unclear.

“We have no idea whether this is a big deal or not. Science is hard. This is why we have to let the trials play out. I remain optimistic we will have a vaccine found to be safe and effective in upcoming months,” he said, but cautioned: “Optimism isn’t evidence. Let’s let science drive this process.”

Read the original article at The Guardian

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