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Coronavirus update: Another antibody drug shows promise, Yelp cites the rising toll on businesses

Research sheds new light on the link between obesity and coronavirus severity

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 6,600,566 (6,559,527)

Total U.S. deaths: 196,103 (194,203)

Total global cases: 29,624,865 (29,355,527)

Total global deaths: 936,313 (929,613)

Eli Lilly’s antibody drug shows positive results

Eli Lilly reports its experimental drug treatment using antibodies has shown positive results when treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients who were recently diagnosed and had only mild to moderate symptoms.

In a trial, the drug reduced the number of patients taking the drug who required admission to the hospital. The trial tested three different doses of the drug, one of several antibody drugs currently in development within the industry

The researchers reported the middle dose of 2,800 mg met the trial’s target of significantly reducing the presence of the COVID-19 virus after 11 days. Health experts have recently stressed the need for effective treatments while the world waits for an effective vaccine.

Yelp says 60 percent of closed businesses won’t reopen

Yelp’s monthly report shows the number of businesses that have closed has begun to increase again, even as more states loosen restrictions. In its Economic Average Report, Yelp shows 163,735 businesses on its platform have closed, a 23 percent increase since mid-July.

“In the wake of COVID-19 cases increasing and local restrictions continuing to change in many states we’re seeing both permanent and temporary closures rise across the nation, with 60 percent of those closed businesses not reopening,” the company said.

It follows a report from the National Restaurant Association that nearly 100,000 restaurants have either closed their door permanently or shut down for the foreseeable future.

Why obesity is a big risk factor

Researchers now think they know why COVID-19 patients who are obese appear to be at higher risk of severe symptoms and death. They say obese patients tend to be vulnerable to inflammation and leaky gut, leaving the lungs of obese patients more susceptible to COVID-19.

Scientists at the UT Southwest Medical Center in Dallas suggest that drugs used to lower inflammation in the lungs could prove beneficial to obese patients with the disease.

“It’s all about the system already being primed,” said Philipp Scherer, PhD., a professor of internal medicine. “When the virus comes into this system, the lungs are already at risk. More damage and more inflammation could push these patients over the edge and cause a perfect storm.”

Government promises fast distribution of approved vaccine

Just how fast will an approved coronavirus vaccine get to the U.S. population? Pretty darn fast, says the Trump administration.

Officials pressed on a timeline said the U.S. government has plans in place to ship the vaccine to distribution centers across the country within 24 hours of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today unveiled a plan to make the coronavirus vaccine free for all Americans. The CDC said it expects the FDA will grant Emergency Authorization Use for a vaccine before it issues final approval.

Wedding linked to seven deaths

The tragic tale of a wedding in Maine underscores the advisability of avoiding crowds in indoor settings. Public health experts say the virus spread among people who attended the ceremony and reception, and who then spread the disease to others.

According to contact tracing, the wedding is linked to 176 cases and the deaths of seven people who didn’t even attend the wedding. About 65 people attended the August 7 wedding, according to Maine health officials, who said it violated limits on public gatherings.

Health officials also say that in addition to wearing masks and observing social distancing, avoiding crowds is one of the best ways to avoid becoming infected.

Around the nation

  • Colorado: State health officials are sounding the alarm over the growth of coronavirus cases, especially among the state’s college-age population. Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said there have been “very substantial increases” in cases among people 18 to 22 years old. 

  • Michigan: New coronavirus cases are up sharply over the last month. Health officials report the number of diagnosed patients has surged 32 percent since September 1, now averaging 895 cases per day.

  • Georgia: Officials in Georgia are still playing it safe. Gov. Brian Kemp has extended the state’s coronavirus restrictions for another 15 days. The governor’s order extends the current COVID-19 restrictions - including limited occupancy - in place for businesses, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and others. 

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