The United States on Monday reported more than 1 million new cases of COVID-19 in just the first 10 days of November.
The U.S. has recorded over 10 million cases of COVID-19 — the highest of any country in the world — according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Midwestern states are being hit the hardest, with hospitalization rates in the region reaching record highs. The COVID-19 Tracking Project said more than 59,000 people were hospitalized nationwide on Monday.
On the same day that the U.S. recorded this spike, two U.S. drug companies announced developments in the fight against the virus.
Pfizer announced that its experimental vaccine was 90% effective in preventing the virus in participants without evidence of prior infection.
U.S.-based drugmaker Eli Lilly and Canadian-based biotech firm AbCellera announced a new antibody drug known as bamlanivimab. It is part of a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies, which are made to act as immune cells that scientists hope can fight off the virus. The antibody therapy is similar to one given to U.S. President Donald Trump after he tested positive for COVID-19 early last month.
The FDA has approved the antibody drug for people 12 and older who are at risk of developing a serious form of COVID-19.
Just hours after news of a breakthrough in the effort to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, Brazil halted late-stage clinical trials of another potential vaccine.
The country’s health regulator, Anvisa, announced Monday that it was pausing tests of CoronaVac, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, after an “adverse, serious event” with a volunteer participant. The event occurred on October 29, but the statement did not go into any other details.
The clinical trials in Brazil are being conducted by Sao Paulo-based research institute Butantan. Dimas Covas, the head of the state-run institute, told a local television station that a volunteer had died but that the death was not due to the vaccine.
The Sinovac vaccine is the third to be put on hold after a volunteer became ill after being inoculated. U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson put a hold on its late-stage clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine last month, while another U.S.-based drugmaker, AstraZeneca, halted its late-stage trial of a vaccine developed with the University of Oxford in September after a volunteer in Britain was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections.
It is not uncommon for clinical trials to be suspended if a volunteer falls ill so that organizers can determine whether the illness is due to the vaccine. But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has often expressed mistrust of China, has openly doubted the effectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine and has insisted that his government will not purchase the drug.
Cases spike in Europe
COVID-19 infections have spiked in other parts of the world, including in Europe, where some governments have instituted lockdown measures to slow the spread of the virus. Globally the number of confirmed cases is more than 50 million, with 1.2 million deaths and 33 million people recovered.
According to The Associated Press, intensive care units in France, Italy and Spain are low on hospital beds and staff as case numbers continue to increase.
The situation is worsening in Italy, where five more regions have been placed in the government’s so-called “orange” zone of its new three-tiered system that imposes various degrees of restrictions.
The system splits Italy’s 20 regions into three zones — red, orange and yellow — with red indicating the most restricted areas and yellow the least restricted.
Abruzzo, Umbria, Tuscany, Liguria and Basilicata will join the southern regions of Puglia and Sicily in the orange, or medium, zone; under this zone, residents can move freely within their towns or cities, but cannot leave them, while bars and restaurants are limited to delivery and takeout service.
The northern province of Bolzano has been placed in the red zone, joining its sister regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta and the southern region of Calabria. Residents in these zones will not be allowed to leave their homes except for work or medical reasons.
All of Italy is under a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., while museums and shopping centers are closed on the weekends and high school classes switch from in-person to online.
Italy has 960,373 confirmed novel coronavirus cases, including 41,750 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.