Plasma wins emergency approval; 1st case of COVID-19 reinfection confirmed — 5 updates

The U.S. has reported an average of 42,310 COVID-19 cases daily in the past week, down 22 percent from the average seen two weeks ago, reports The New York Times. 

The seven-day case average has jumped up by more than 25 percent in North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine and Wyoming over the past week, according to a separate analysis from The Washington Post. The average number of deaths has increased by more than 50 percent in Kentucky, Arkansas, Virginia and Iowa. 

Four other updates: 

1. The FDA issued emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 Aug. 23. The emergency approval permits the distribution and use of plasma to treat hospitalized patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections. The move comes after news broke last week that top health officials urged the FDA to hold off on the authorization, saying the data were not strong enough to warrant emergency approval.

2. Hong Kong researchers reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19 reinfection Aug. 24, according to The New York Times. A 33-year-old man was diagnosed with COVID-19 four-and-a-half months after first contracting the illness. Researchers at the University of Hong Kong genetically sequenced the virus from both infections and found significant differences. 

"Our results prove that his second infection is caused by a new virus that he acquired recently rather than prolonged viral shedding," Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a clinical microbiologist at the university, told NYT. While other types of coronaviruses responsible for the common cold are known to cause reinfection in less than a year, experts said they hoped the novel coronavirus would offer a few years of immunity, similar to other related viruses like SARS or MERS. The finding suggests that COVID-19 immunity may only last several months in some people, NYT said. 

3. Currently, 172 countries have joined the World Health Organization's global vaccine pact, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said Aug. 24. Previously, Dr. Tedros sent a letter to WHO's 194 member states encouraging the nations to join COVAX Global Vaccines Facility. Countries involved will purchase shares of various vaccines in development and strategically share them with one another. The pact is currently one of the largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolios in the world, Dr. Tedros said.

4. Colleges in at least 19 states have reported COVID-19 outbreaks, CNN reports. Many cases have been tied to large gatherings such as parties, prompting some schools to suspend students and organizations for breaking social distancing rules. Several universities have canceled in-person classes and established more rules related to the virus.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 5,704,505
Deaths: 176,809
Recovered: 1,997,761

Counts reflect data available as of 8:20 a.m. CDT Aug. 24.


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