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Current count: 3.5 million confirmed cases worldwide; 1.15 million of those in the United States. 250,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19; 62,000 deaths in the United States.
The World Health Organization extended its declaration of global health emergency on Friday. SARS-CoV-2 is now actively transmitted on all inhabited continents, and many new cases are occurring in developing countries in Africa and South America, which have more limited and much less health care systems of testing capabilities. So it’s hard to say how much the virus is spreading in these countries (to be fair, it’s hard to say how quickly it is spreading in many developed countries as well).
In Europe, the picture is mixed. Russia saw more than 10,000 new cases diagnosed in a single day, a record for that country. Meanwhile, a number of countries that were hit very hard at the start of the pandemic appear to have brought new infections under control. France, Italy and Spain have now seen their daily death toll drop to unknown figures since early March, allowing them to start planning to lift restrictions on public life.
Last week, we covered the announcement of a clinical trial which found that a drug called remdesivir is reducing the recovery time of patients with COVID-19. On May 1, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the drug. This will allow hospitals to administer it to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. The cases should be considered serious and the drug will be administered intravenously. There are fact sheets for patients and health workers linked on this page that contain dosage and side effect information.
A huge American consortium (with some help from France and the UK) has discovered all of the human proteins we could target with drugs to treat COVID-19. To reproduce, the virus must rely on human proteins. To find out which ones, the authors tagged 26 of the 29 proteins encoded by SARS-CoV-2, and then used them to extract the human proteins with which the virus proteins interacted. This resulted in a list of 332 human proteins that the virus may need to replicate. Of these, 66 are already targeted by drugs; 29 of them are already approved for human use, and 12 are in clinical trials for other disorders.
This does not mean that these drugs will have an effect on SARS-CoV-2 or that they will even be safe to use in COVID-19 patients, but it does help provide a rational reason for speeding up screening.
Response of the United States
For several weeks, the Trump administration had touted its ability to keep the number of deaths in the United States below the forecast of certain models, which placed the low-end of possible deaths at 60,000. This number having been exceeded the Last week, President Trump used a virtual town hall on Sunday to recognize that things would be worse, but hopefully not much worse. Trump placed his new estimate between 75,000 and 100,000 dead in total. With many states with a long case plateau, the bottom of this estimate already seems unrealistic.
To see where your state is on government orders and the number of cases, the New York Times has set up a tracking page.
Last week, lingering tensions over congressional oversight over the administration spilled over into the pandemic response for the first time. Congress requested the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases; the Trump administration has now refused to make it available for testimony. Fauci was a key spokesperson for the government’s response, and his accurate information and discreet delivery made him a source of confidence and allowed him to correct Trump’s inaccuracies with no obvious consequences. The administration says that Fauci’s time is better spent on the pandemic itself.