Covid-19 roundup: World leaders, apart from the US, pledge $8B for vaccine, treatment research; US deaths could surge to 3,000 per day in June, models predict

Last month, President Donald Trump said he would stop funding the WHO, taking issue with the way the organization has been tackling the pandemic. Now, the United States is steering clear of a global effort to support vaccine and treatment development.

On Monday, world leaders vowed to raise $8 billion to kickstart the effort, to build on efforts by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and wealthy individuals, Reuters reported. The event was organized by the European Union and non-EU countries Britain, Norway and Saudi Arabia, and included the participation of Japan, Canada, South Africa and China, among others.

A senior US administration official declined to tell the wire service specifically why the United States was not participating.

The successful development of a vaccine is only the first step ? easy access globally will be the next big hurdle. EU officials said that the funding will not strip the recipient pharmaceutical companies of intellectual property on any vaccine or treatment, but companies will be expected to commit to making them available at affordable prices.

Many leaders stressed that any vaccine must be made available to everyone. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it should not just be for rich countries.

?Those who invent it, of course, will be fairly paid, but access will be given to people across the globe by the organization we choose,? French President Emmanuel Macron said, according to the Reuters report.

The issue of how a vaccine will be distributed across the globe, if proved safe and effective, is paramount. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece late last month entitled ?America needs to win the coronavirus vaccine race,? former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb warned that ?while friendly nations will try to share a successful product ? to a point ? the U.S. can?t rely on vaccines from China or even Europe being available in America quickly.?

Last week, Bloomberg reported that the Trump administration is working on?executing a multibillion-dollar plan ?Operation Warp Speed? to assure that 300 million doses (of any potential vaccine) ? which should cover nearly the entire US population ? are available by January, the earliest timeline charted by vaccine developers. Although the details are sparse, the plan brings pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and the military to coordinate testing of experimental vaccines and involves large investments in manufacturing.

The vaccine partnership between Oxford, AstraZeneca and Vaccitech ? which aims to make 100 million doses by the end of 2020 ? includes provisions to distribute the vaccine to low and medium-income countries, although the details are sparse.

Separately, the Serum Institute of India that has also partnered with Oxford scientists to mass-produce their vaccine (with plans to produce up to 60 million doses this year) told Reuters that their first priority is India and its population of 1.3 billion.? A majority of the vaccine, at least initially, would have to go to our countrymen before it goes abroad,? Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla said.

Models predict American daily death rate to hit 3,000 by June?

As part of the United States get ready to ease back into normality, the University of Washington?s Institute for Health Modeling and Evaluation says the coronavirus pandemic will claim nearly 135,000 American lives by August, in part due to states easing their social distancing restrictions.

Source: IHME, 2020

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The projection is grim for the coming weeks. IHME predicts that there will be as many as 3,000 deaths per day in by June 1, with a sharp peak hitting around mid-May ? well ahead of the current pace of about 1,500 daily deaths.

Another draft report projected Covid-19 cases will surge to about 200,000 per day by June 1, with 3,000 deaths expected per day, the Washington Post reported. The White House and the CDC disavowed the report, although the slides do carry the CDC?s logo, the Post said, adding that the creator of the model said the numbers are unfinished projections shown to the CDC as a work in progress.

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