Coronavirus Live Updates: COVID-19 Plasma Treatment Gets Emergency Approval

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HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and its effects.

Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

Boris Johnson Says Students Face Greater Harm By Staying At Home  — 8/24/20, 6:45 a.m. ET

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a personal plea to parents to send their children back to school in September as classrooms in Europe prepare to reopen.

Johnson said pupils face greater damage by continuing to stay at home, while chief medical officers in the U.K. issued a joint statement reassuring parents it was safe to send their children back to school.

They said “very few, if any” children would come to long-term harm from catching COVID-19 by attending school. An analysis published on Sunday showed there were 67 single confirmed cases, four “co-primary cases” (two or more linked cases diagnosed at the same time), and 30 coronavirus outbreaks in schools in England during June.

Elsewhere in Europe, countries are facing a race against time to reopen schools, with Spain’s minister of education forced to deny it was planning to postpone September’s post-summer reopening.

France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, has also ruled out delays to starting the school year on Sept. 1, but he left the door open to “local exceptions” on a case-by-case basis. Schools in Italy are also due to begin a phased reopening on Sept. 1.

In Germany, however, at least 41 schools in Berlin have reported that students or teachers have become infected after classes resumed two weeks ago. Berlin was one of the first places in Germany to reopen schools after the summer holidays, but despite rising infection rates the government has said keeping classrooms open is a top priority.

— James Martin

Australia’s Victoria State Records Lowest Daily Rise In Cases For 7 Weeks — 8/24/20, 4:30 a.m. ET

Victoria, the state of Australia that accounts for 80% of the country’s COVID-19 deaths, has reported its lowest daily rise in new infections in seven weeks.

The state, which is almost halfway through a six-week lockdown, recorded 15 deaths from coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 116 cases.

As the spread of the disease slows, state and federal governments have been discussing easing the cap on returning Australians of 4,000 per week to help repatriate those stranded overseas.

In neighboring New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has extended a coronavirus lockdown in the country’s largest city until the end of the week and introduced mandatory mask-wearing on public transport across the nation.

Ardern said the four-day extension in the city of Auckland was critical to enable the country to step down its scale of emergency restrictions — and remain at less restrictive levels.

The Auckland lockdown, imposed on Aug. 11 after officials detected the country’s first locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in more than three months, had been scheduled to end Wednesday.

New Zealand, which has a population of 5 million, has so far recorded just over 1,300 COVID-19 cases, including 22 deaths.

Australia has recorded nearly 25,000 COVID-19 infections, including 517 deaths.

— James Martin

Trump Announces Emergency Approval For COVID-19 Plasma Treatment  8/23/20, 6:50 p.m. ET

President Donald Trump said Sunday that U.S. regulators gave an emergency use authorization for a coronavirus treatment involving blood plasma donated by people who recovered from the disease.

The authorization by the Food and Drug Administration allows for the distribution of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in the U.S. and for health care providers to administer it as appropriate to treat patients hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

The authorization comes after the FDA put the plasma approval on hold earlier this month in response to concerns from top federal health officials. Though donated plasma is considered safe, scientists said clinical trials have not yet proved whether it is effective enough for treating the disease caused by the virus.

“In the independent judgment of experts and expert scientists at the FDA who have reviewed the totality of data  not just the data from this expanded access program, but more than a dozen published studies, as well as historical experience associated with this  those scientists have concluded that COVID-19 convalescent plasma is safe, ensures promising efficacy, thereby meeting the criteria for emergency use authorization,” FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said at Sunday’s briefing.


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