NIH staffer to depart after anonymous posts criticizing agency; vaccine for kids may not be ready by fall 2021 — 5 COVID-19 updates

The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. surpassed 200,000 on Sept. 22, around seven months after the first known U.S. death was recorded.

The U.S. has reported an average of 41,812 new COVID-19 cases daily for the past week, up 7 percent from the average seen two weeks ago, reports The New York Times.

Over the past 10 days, the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed daily has increased by more than 15 percent. The jump marks the sharpest increase since the late spring and may indicate that a fall surge — linked to school reopenings and cooler weather drawing more people indoors — has begun, NYT said.

Five updates: 

1. Staff at CSL Plasma donation centers say they were given inadequate personal protective equipment and had to work in unsafe conditions as plasma donors flooded their facilities this spring, reports ProPublica. CSL operates more than 260 plasma donation centers in the U.S. Employees claim the company sourced faulty masks and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration failed to adequately respond to complaints about unsafe work conditions at the donation centers. CSL said it followed all federal guidelines this spring and that OSHA has issued no penalties based on these complaints. "CSL Plasma has cooperated promptly with all requests for information, and has routinely shared documentation of our safety practices in place to prevent exposure," CSL spokesperson Anthony Farina said in a statement to ProPublica.

2. A public affairs specialist at the National Institutes of Health is leaving his post after The Daily Beast discovered he penned anonymous online posts criticizing federal health officials and the nation's pandemic response. As an editor for the conservative website RedState, William Crews appeared to attack the nation's top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD, and spread misinformation about the virus while working at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "NIAID first learned of this matter this morning, and Mr. Crews has informed us of his intention to retire," NIAID spokesperson Kathy Stover told The Daily Beast on Sept. 21.

3. Hesitancy over a COVID-19 vaccine is growing, with fewer Americans willing to get a first generation vaccine since last month, according to an Axios-Ipsos survey of 1,008 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 18-21. The survey found only 39 percent of Americans would likely get the first generation vaccine, an 8 percentage point drop from last month. Sixty percent of respondents said they didn't trust pharmaceutical companies to look out for their best interests, and very few reported willingness to spend money on the vaccine.

4. A COVID-19 vaccine for children may not be ready by fall 2021, Evan Anderson, MD, pediatrician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and professor at Atlanta-based Emory University, told The New York Times. Multiple COVID-19 vaccines for adults are already in later clinical trial stages, but the U.S. hasn't started any trials to determine vaccine safety and efficacy for children. Dr. Anderson said such trials could have started as soon as researchers reported positive Phase 2 results from adults this summer, but that didn't happen. Whenever trials do begin, it could take a year or longer to have vaccines ready for children.

5. The Lancet released new editorial policies after retracting a hydroxychloroquine study in June, reports The Guardian. The Lancet retracted the paper at the study authors' request due to concerns about the data's accuracy and has launched a new editorial policy three months later, effective immediately. The policy requires more than one author to directly access and verify the data, and editors will ensure that large studies undergo both a peer review and additional expert review. "Finally, we will explicitly ask reviewers if they have concerns about research integrity or publication ethics regarding the manuscript they are reviewing," the new policy states.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 6,859,117
Deaths: 199,890
Recovered: 2,615,949

Counts reflect data available as of 8:43 a.m. CDT Sept. 22.

More articles on public health:
CDC removes new guidance on COVID-19 transmission from website: 3 updates
COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Sept. 22
28 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Sept. 22

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