6 states form testing pact; 34 AGs urge US to boost remdesivir supply — 5 COVID-19 updates

The global COVID-19 death toll surpassed 700,000 today, according to The New York Times database. 

Five updates:

1. Six states have formed a pact to provide residents with 3 million rapid antigen tests. Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia agreed to work with the Rockefeller Foundation, with additional states and local governments able to join in the future. Each state plans to purchase 500,000 antigen tests from U.S. manufacturers Becton Dickinson and Quidel. 

2. HHS Secretary Alex Azar plans to visit Taiwan, praising the country for how it has handled the pandemic, according to an Aug. 4 statement. No date was provided for the trip to the self-ruled island that China claims as its own. Mr. Azar will be the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan since 1979, when the U.S. severed formal ties with it and established diplomatic relations with China, according to The New York Times. "Taiwan has been a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the COVID-19 pandemic and long before it," Mr. Azar said. "I look forward to conveying President Trump's support for Taiwan's global health leadership and underscoring our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health."

3. Thirty-four attorneys general are urging federal health officials to circumvent Gilead Science's patent for remdesivir to boost supplies of the COVID-19 treatment. The AGs sent a letter Aug. 4 to Mr. Azar, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. The leaders argue Gilead has failed to provide a sufficient supply of remdesivir at a fair cost to meet Americans' health and safety needs during the pandemic. By invoking march-in rights, the U.S. government could give another drugmaker permission to develop and market the drug, even though Gilead has a patent for it.

4. Fifty-nine percent of Americans are in favor of a mandatory, nationwide two-week shelter-in-place to control the virus, according to a new NPR-Ipsos survey. The survey, which includes responses from 1,115 U.S. adults between July 30-31, shows broad support for a single national pandemic strategy and more aggressive containment measures.

5. Novavax shared positive results from two preliminary vaccine trials Aug. 4. The first study found the vaccine produced a strong antibody response in 56 participants without serious side effects. The second showed similar results in monkeys. Novavax received $1.6 billion from the government to develop the vaccine candidate, which is unique in that it is protein-based, reports The New York Times.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 4,771,846
Deaths: 156,839
Recovered: 1,528,979

Counts reflect data available as of 8:40 a.m. CDT Aug. 5.

More articles on public health:
27 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Aug. 5
Polio-like condition in kids likely to spike in coming months, CDC warns
States ranked by COVID-19 cases — Aug. 5

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