Top 5 vaccine candidates selected; global cases rise at quickest pace yet — 6 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. has reported 1,851,520 COVID-19 cases and 107,175 deaths as of 8 a.m. CDT June 4. Worldwide, 6,535,019 cases and 386,464 deaths have been reported, while 2,824,722 people have recovered. 

Six updates:

1. The White House identified five companies most likely to produce vaccine candidates for COVID-19 as part of Operation Warp Speed, senior officials told The New York Times. The White House narrowed the field down from about 12 companies to five finalists: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University. The goal of Operation Warp Speed is to identify the most promising vaccine projects early on and help accelerate their development to reduce the time it takes to get a COVID-19 vaccine to U.S. residents. The White House is expected to make an official announcement about the five finalists in the coming weeks, officials said.

2. Twice as many countries have reported a rise in new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks than those reporting declines, with more than 100,000 global cases confirmed daily, according to an analysis by The New York Times. On May 30, 134,064 new cases were reported, the highest daily case count ever. Countries reporting high numbers include emerging hot spots such as Brazil, Egypt, South Africa, Peru, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Brazil reports nearly as many daily deaths as the U.S. and has more than half a million known cases, second only to the U.S. Brazil currently has no health minister after two recent removals, allegedly because the ministers hesitated to promote the use of hydroxychloroquine.

3. The World Health Organization is resuming a clinical trial on hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment, the group said June 3. WHO temporarily suspended the trial May 25 to review safety data. The decision came after a study published in The Lancet found COVID-19 patients taking the antimalarial drug had a higher risk of death. That study is now being reevaluated

4. June 8 is the deadline for hospitals to submit data to HHS to inform remdesivir distribution, according to AHA News. Submissions should include the number of currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and of those hospitalized, the number requiring intensive care. Data should be submitted using the HHS TeleTracking web portal. 

5. A House subcommittee will speak with physicians and public health experts June 4 to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting existing racial health disparities. The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will explore how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting communities of color and how the government can ensure these populations receive adequate public health funding and resources. Click here to view a livestream of the event at noon ET. 

6. A total of 1.9 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims for the week ending May 30, according to seasonally adjusted data released June 4 by the U.S. Labor Department. The count represents a decrease of 249,000 claims from the previous week's revised count of 2.13 million. It is also the lowest since mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

More articles on public health:
9 states with fastest, slowest COVID-19 spread: June 4
Racial disparities & COVID-19: Why it matters in healthcare
For many black men, fear of wearing a mask outweighs COVID-19 risks

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