US threatens to leave WHO; Oregon's restrictions overturned — 6 COVID-19 updates

The U.S. has reported 1,508,957 COVID-19 cases and 90,369 related deaths as of 7:35 a.m. CDT May 19. Globally, there have been 4,823,479 reported cases and 318,857 deaths, while 1,798,654 have recovered.

Six updates: 

1. President Donald Trump is giving the World Health Organization 30 days to improve, or he will cut all funding from the U.S., according to a May 18 tweet by the president. The tweet included a copy of a May 18 letter addressed to WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD. President Trump wrote that the U.S. would reconsider its WHO membership because it was "clearly not serving America's interests."

"The repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world," the president wrote.

U.S. funding for WHO was initially frozen pending an investigation, President Trump had said April 14. WHO officials have denied the claims and insisted that it was transparent. In 2019, the U.S. contributed about $553 million of the WHO's $6 billion budget, according to The New York Times.

2. Gilead Sciences has allocated more than 300,000 additional doses of remdesivir for U.S. hospitals, according to STAT. The drugmaker will now donate about 940,000 doses to the U.S. government, up from its initial pledge of 607,000 doses. This allotment will treat between 30,000 to 55,000 additional patients. During a call with hospital leaders, HHS' Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, MD, said the agency expects to receive the extra doses in June, two participants told STAT. Some of the doses will be formulated for children. 

3. President Trump on May 18 said he's taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure against COVID-19, according to The New York Times. He has been taking the antimalarial drug for about a week and a half after receiving approval from the White House physician and continues to test negative for the virus. In late April, the FDA issued a safety warning that hydroxychloroquine could cause serious heart rhythm problems in COVID-19 patients. The agency said the drug should not be taken for COVID-19 outside of clinical trials or hospitals.

4. A judge has overturned Oregon's COVID-19 restrictions, deeming them unconstitutional, according to the Baker City Herald. Judge Matt Shirtcliff declared May 18 that all of Gov. Katie Brown's executive orders related to COVID-19 are "null and void." Ms. Brown exceeded her authority after extending the order for longer than the 28 days Oregon law gives for handling public health emergencies, the judge said. Oregon is the second state to overturn its governor's COVID-19 restrictions, with the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturning its stay-at-home order May 12.

5. More than 100 countries support a draft resolution that calls for an investigation into the pandemic response and origins, NBC News reports. At the WHO's annual assembly, China's President Xi Jinping said he supports an international review into the pandemic once the crisis is over, joining 115 countries backing an "impartial, independent and comprehensive" evaluation of how the pandemic has been handled and identify the origin of the virus.

6. Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated positive results in a small, phase 1 clinical trial, according to STAT. The trial, which began in March, enlisted eight volunteers who received two doses of the experimental vaccine. Results showed the vaccine safely created an immune response against the coronavirus. The FDA approved Moderna's second phase of the trial, which will begin soon and involve 600 people. A third phase is planned for July and is slated to include thousands of volunteers.

More articles on public health:
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