Pediatric deaths, hospitalizations rising faster than adults; FDA may consider emergency vaccine approval — 6 COVID-19 updates

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are set to soon surpass 6 million, with 5,997,861 known infections as of 8:45 CDT Aug. 31.

Six updates: 

1. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, said he is willing to consider authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use before phase 3 trials are done, according to CNBC. "It is up to the [vaccine developer] to apply for authorization or approval, and we make an adjudication of their application," Dr. Hahn told the Financial Times. "If they do that before the end of phase three, we may find that appropriate." According to a survey conducted last week, 68 percent of 2,067 Americans are confident the FDA will only approve a vaccine that is safe, STAT reports. On Aug. 30, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, told CBS News that vaccine approval for the general U.S. population is unlikely before 2021.

2. Three U.S. senators are calling for an investigation of hydroxychloroquine use in nursing homes across the country, The Washington Post reports. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are asking officials to investigate if providers improperly treated patients, failed to disclose serious side effects or faced repercussions from industry regulators, according to an Aug. 27 letter to the HHS inspector general. The senators pointed to state inspections that cited nursing homes for treating residents with the drug without consent from patients or family, and said it was possible other instances like these went "unchecked."

3. PCR tests, the most widely used diagnostic for COVID-19, may be too sensitive and detect insignificant amounts of virus, health experts told The New York Times. Some PCR tests for other viruses offer a rough estimate of how much virus is in a patient's body, which can help indicate how contagious they are. Current COVID-19 tests do not offer this information, meaning many people with relatively insignificant amounts of virus in their body may be testing positive. Researchers said additional information about viral load could help inform next steps for COVID-19 patients, rather than just getting a positive or negative test result. 

4. The nation's first known COVID-19 reinfection and the world's first known reinfection with severe symptoms was confirmed late last week in Nevada. Genetic testing revealed that a 25-year-old man was reinfected about 48 days after the first infection with a different version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to Nevada health officials. Globally, three other confirmed reinfections were reported last week, all of which were mild.

5. COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising at a quicker rate among children than the general public, according to new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The data covers 442,785 pediatric cases reported in 49 states as of Aug. 20, which account for 9.3 percent of all U.S. cases. Between May 21 and Aug. 20, pediatric cases jumped 720 percent, while hospitalizations rose by 356 percent. Deaths increased by 229 percent over the same time period, according to The New York Times' analysis of the data. Based on available data from 21 states, children accounted for 0.4 percent to 4.6 percent of total reported hospitalizations, and between 0.2 percent to 8.6 percent of all pediatric COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization.

6. The federal Coronavirus Task Force's newest member is pushing the White House to adopt a "herd immunity" virus response strategy, five people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. The strategy — proposed by Scott Atlas, MD, a senior fellow with Stanford (Calif.) University's conservative Hoover Institution — would entail lifting restrictions and allowing COVID-19 to spread through most healthy populations to quickly gain resistance. The proposed strategy has sparked concern among many health experts, who say the strategy could cause thousands of additional deaths.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 5,997,861
Deaths: 183,068
Recovered: 2,153,939

Counts reflect data available as of 8:45 a.m. CDT Aug. 31.

More articles on public health:
Study: Racial inequities in US could be as deadly as COVID-19
26 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Aug. 31
Philadelphia man shot after argument over social distancing, police say

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