By MORGAN WINSOR and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now infected more than 59.2 million people and killed over 1.3 million worldwide.
Here’s how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:
Nov 24, 11:54 am
Russia says its vaccine is over 95% effective
Russia claims it’s COVID-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V, is more than 95% effective in preventing the disease.
The Russian Ministry of Health’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology released results Tuesday from the second interim data analysis of its ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials, which showed Sputnik V had a 91.4% efficacy rate 28 days after volunteers received the first dose and seven days after they received the second one.
Moreover, preliminary data obtained 42 days after the first dose — 21 days after the second dose — indicates the vaccine’s efficacy rate is more than 95%, according to a press release from the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is overseeing the vaccine’s development.
The analysis was carried out among nearly 19,000 volunteers who received both the first and second doses of Sputnik V or placebo. The press release noted that some volunteers experienced short-term, minor adverse events such as pain at the injection point and flu-like symptoms, but that no unexpected adverse events were identified as part of the research and the safety of the vaccine is constantly being monitored.
After being developed by the state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Sputnik V was controversially registered by the health ministry in August before starting crucial Phase 3 trials, with Russia declaring itself the first in the world to register a COVID-19 vaccine. The latest results come just days after three other leading vaccine candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford announced that data from their respective trials showed efficacy of up to or over 90%.
Russia has offered to share related technology from Sputnik V with U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to help boost the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with England’s University of Oxford. Like the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, Sputnik V is based on a modified adenovirus, a type of virus that causes the common cold, which is adapted to produce an immune response for COVID-19. However, Russia claims its vaccine is more effective because it uses different types of modified adenovirus in the first and second doses, rather than just one. The Eastern European country has also said it will sell the drug for cheaper than the leading Western vaccines, offering it for less than $10 a dose.
Russia’s vaccine effort has faced criticism for its lack of transparency and hurried approval process. International researchers raised questions about results from early trials published in peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet that contained anomalies and did not include a detailed breakdown of the data.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly praised Sputnik V and said one of his daughters has already received it. But Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskvov, told reporters Tuesday that the vaccine has not yet been administered to the head of state because it would be inappropriate for him to participate in the trials “as a volunteer.”
“The president can’t use an uncertified vaccine,” Peskov said.
ABC News’ Alina Lobzina and Patrick Reevell contributed to this report.
Nov 24, 9:56 am
US Bureau of Prisons working with Operation Warp Speed to prioritize staff, inmates for vaccine
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is working with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine initiative, Operation Warp Speed, to prioritize prison staff and inmates once a vaccine is approved, according to a memo obtained by ABC News.
The memo said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is determining allocations but the Bureau of Prisons will be included in that initial allotment, which will first be reserved for staff. The memo noted that staff must register on the CDC’s website before receiving the vaccine, which will be administered in two doses.
“The BOP Health Services Division is working with the CDC and Operation Warp Speed to ensure the BOP is prepared to receive the COVID-19 once it becomes available,” the memo said.
Earlier this month, a report by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General “identified numerous failures” in how staff at a federal prison complex in south Louisiana responded to a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.
The Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, Louisiana, suffered the first coronavirus-related death in the federal prison system. As of Nov. 8, the facility had 256 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and at least eight of the prison’s approximately 1,800 inmates had died from COVID-19 complications, according to the inspector general’s report.
ABC News’ Luke Barr contributed to this report.
Nov 24, 9:03 am
Global airline body developing COVID-19 ‘Travel Pass’
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced it is finalizing the development of a digital health pass that will allow travelers to store all vaccination or testing information required by airlines and governments amid COVID-19 restrictions.
IATA, a Montreal-based body that represents many of the world’s major airlines, plans to test the “Travel Pass” platform later this year before launching the set of mobile apps for Android and Apple iOS smartphones in the first half of 2021.
“Our main priority is to get people traveling again safely,” Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security, said in a statement Monday. “In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements.”
The “IATA Travel Pass” incorporates four open sourced and interoperable modules: a global registry of health requirements that enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey; a global registry of testing and vaccination centers that allows passengers to find testing centers and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination; a “Lab App” that enables authorized labs and testing centers to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers; and a “Contactless Travel App” that allows passengers to create a “digital passport,” receive test and vaccination certificates while verifying that they are sufficient for their journey, and share those certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.
The “Contactless Travel App” will also link to a digital copy of the user’s passport and other travel documentation.
“Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures,” IATA director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement Monday. “The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements.”
Nov 24, 6:16 am
Daily virus deaths hit new high in Russia
Russia registered 491 more fatalities from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the country’s highest single-day death toll from the disease so far.
An additional 24,326 cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed nationwide, down from the previous day’s peak of 25,173 newly diagnosed infections. The cumulative total now stands at 2,138,828 confirmed cases, including 37,031 deaths, according to Russia’s coronavirus response headquarters.
Russia has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, with multiple back-to-back days of record-high deaths and cases. The Eastern European nation of 145 million people has the fifth-highest tally of confirmed cases in the world, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Tuesday that a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign is expected to begin next year, according to the Interfax news agency. She noted that immunization will be voluntary.
More than two million doses of Sputnik V, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Russian Ministry of Health’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, will be produced by the end of the year, Golikova said.
Nov 24, 5:45 am
Death toll from outbreak at Illinois veterans home rises to 27
A COVID-19 outbreak at a veterans home in Illinois has left more than two dozen people dead, according to a report by Chicago ABC station WLS-TV.
At least 27 veterans who lived at the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle, some 100 miles southwest of Chicago, have died from COVID-19, according to WLS, which cited the Illinois Department of Veterans.
“That’s over 20 percent of our veterans that have passed away in the past several weeks,” state Sen. Sue Rezin told WLS.
Rezin said the facility, which is in her district, continues to see an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.
“November 4th, there were only four cases of COVID within the home,” she said. “Very quickly within the past 20 days, we’ve had almost 200 cases.”
The Illinois Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will meet virtually Tuesday to discuss the crises at the LaSalle facility.
“We need answers and we need answers today,” Rezin said.
So far, a total of 96 residents and 93 employees at the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from the facility’s administrator, Angela Mehlbrech. The veterans home has been conducting health screenings of its residents and staff, maintaining social distancing practices, wearing face coverings as well as intensifying cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
An infection control team has been sent to the facility, according to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“When there is massive, widespread community spread,” Pritzker told WLS, “there’s no way to keep it out of every facility.”
Nov 24, 4:05 am
US reports over 169,000 new cases
There were 169,190 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
It’s the 21st straight day that the country has reported over 100,000 newly diagnosed infections. Monday’s count falls under the all-time high of 196,004 new cases on Nov. 20.
An additional 889 fatalities from COVID-19 were also registered nationwide on Monday, down from a peak of 2,609 new deaths on April 15.
A total of 12,420,872 people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and at least 257,701 of them have died, according to Johns Hopkins. The cases include people from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. territories as well as repatriated citizens.
Much of the country was under lockdown by the end of March as the first wave of pandemic hit. By May 20, all U.S. states had begun lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The day-to-day increase in the country’s cases then hovered around 20,000 for a couple of weeks before shooting back up and crossing 100,000 for the first time on Nov. 4.
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