Covid-19 Live Updates: U.S. Officials Urge Caution Ahead of Labor Day Weekend

Research connects vaping to a higher chance of catching the virus — and suffering its worst effects.

Since the start of the pandemic, experts have warned that the coronavirus — a respiratory pathogen — most likely capitalizes on the scarred lungs of smokers and vapers. Doctors and researchers are now starting to pinpoint the ways in which smoking and vaping seem to enhance the virus’s ability to spread from person to person, infiltrate the lungs and spark some of Covid-19’s worst symptoms.

“I have no doubt in saying that smoking and vaping could put people at increased risk of poor outcomes from Covid-19,” said Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, a pediatric pulmonologist at Columbia University. “It is quite clear that smoking and vaping are bad for the lungs, and the predominant symptoms of Covid are respiratory. Those two things are going to be bad in combination.”

But while several studies have found that smoking can more than double a person’s risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms, the relationship between vaping and Covid-19 is only beginning to become clear. A team of researchers recently reported that young adults who vape are five times more likely to receive a coronavirus diagnosis.

“If I had caught Covid-19 within the week before I got really ill, I probably would have died,” said Janan Moein, 20, who was hospitalized in early December with a collapsed lung and a diagnosis of vaping-related lung illness.

The fair posted a disclaimer on its website, warning that the coronavirus is a risk in any public place”

Volunteers for vaccine tests in Russia produced a relatively modest amount of antibodies to the coronavirus, scientists there said in their first report on their controversial Covid-19 vaccine.

The report comes weeks after President Vladimir V. Putin announced with great fanfare that the vaccine — called Sputnik V — “works effectively enough” to be approved. He declared to be a “very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”

Vaccine developers roundly criticized the announcement, observing that no data had been published on the vaccine. In addition, the Russian scientists had yet to run a large-scale trial to demonstrate that the vaccine was safe and effective.

The Russian vaccine produced mild symptoms in a number of subjects, the most common of which were fevers and headaches, the scientists reported in The Lancet, analogous to similar vaccines. Volunteers who got the full vaccine produced antibodies to the coronavirus as well as immune cells that could respond strongly to it.

In their paper, the researchers noted that the vaccine did not produce as many antibodies as a vaccine by AstraZeneca’s, or a gene-based vaccine made by Moderna.

It is not uncommon for reports on early clinical vaccine trials to pass through peer review and get published in scientific journals after advanced trials get underway. But Mr. Putin’s headline-making announcement raised questions about exactly what evidence had led to the vaccine’s approval.

The trial was relatively small. Only 40 volunteers received the full vaccine, and no one received a placebo for comparison.

Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University who was not involved in the study, judged that the vaccine produced “good antibody levels in all volunteers.” But she added that no one yet knows what level of antibodies or immune cells are required to protect people from getting sick. “It is hard to tell whether the vaccine will be efficacious,” she said.

That is true of all Covid-19 vaccines in testing. Determine whether a vaccine is efficacious requires a so-called Phase 3 trial, in which a large number of volunteers get either a vaccine or a placebo. In their paper, the Russian scientists wrote that they got approval last week to run a Phase 3 trial on 40,000 people.

U.S. Roundup

The U.S. added 1.4 million jobs in August as unemployment fell to 8.4 percent.

In other news around the U.S.:

The shift to remote work is causing a meltdown in the service sector that supported offices.

“Some law firms are finding that it is more productive for their lawyers to stay at home,” said Kristinia Bellamy, a janitor who was laid off from her job cleaning offices in Midtown Manhattan. “This might be the beginning of the end for these commercial office buildings.”

Shua Mansour Masarwa, the mayor of Taibe, an Arab city in central Israel set for lockdown, said Professor Gamzu had based his calculations on faulty population data. After nearly a dozen predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem were also declared lockdown zones, Mayor Moshe Lion of Jerusalem said on Friday that he had still not been officially informed of any measures.

Professor Gamzu stressed that the designations were not meant to embarrass the communities but to offer the intervention and assistance they need.

In other news from around the world:

  • France reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, a record daily increase since the beginning of the epidemic, just one week after millions around the country returned to work and school following the summer break. The health ministry said on Friday evening that there had been 8,975 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours — over 1,000 more cases than the last recorded peak in the spring, with 7,578 new cases on March 31st. France has closed 22 schools because of virus infections, its education minister said on Friday, less than a week after millions of students returned to classes around the country amid a surge in cases.

NEW JERSEY AND NEW YORK ROUNDUP

As indoor dining resumes in New Jersey, there is ‘just a little more caution.’

Restaurants and bars in New Jersey reopened on Friday for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, and movie theaters sold tickets for the first time since March.

At an IHOP in Edison, N.J., three indoor tables were filled at lunchtime. Everyone entered wearing masks and a manager took down diners’ telephone numbers for contact tracing before seating them.

“It felt like we rented out the whole place,” Joshua Naval, 21, said after a lunch of fried steak.

“Space and boundaries,” said his friend, Sayema Bhuiyan, 20. “It was similar to before — just a little more caution.”

Nearby, at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, indoor business was brisk. (The unshaded tables outside were largely empty at midday as the temperature reached 85 degrees.)

Amid a resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe, the European Union’s executive arm recommended on Friday that the 27 member nations coordinate their approach to travel within the bloc, with the aim of simplifying movement within what used to be a borderless zone.

Although European borders have reopened this summer, travel has become increasingly complicated because of discrepancies between national measures regarding obligatory quarantine and testing, as well as different methods for classifying high-risk areas.

This week, Hungary became the first E.U. member to close its borders completely to all nonresidents, including other European citizens. Belgium, in an abrupt announcement, banned nonessential travel to a number of European regions, and imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on travelers returning from those areas, which include Paris, a one-hour train ride away. Poland, equally suddenly, banned flight connections with 44 countries, including Spain and Romania.

Meanwhile, German health authorities are considering shortening quarantine periods for those who have been in contact with patients testing positive for the coronavirus or those returning from high-risk countries to five days from 14 days currently.

The proposal made by the European Commission, which must be voted on by ministers from member nations, puts forward a coordinated system of color coding for low-, medium- and high-risk areas of the continent. The system is based on information to be provided weekly by national governments on the number of new confirmed infections, the number of tests carried out and percentage that were positive.

The European Commission also called on national governments to adopt a single set of measures for all travelers from high-risk areas, and to communicate new restrictions in advance.

“People deserve to know in which zone they are,” said Ylva Johansson, the E.U.’s home affairs commissioner. “Both citizens and businesses need to have a degree of certainty.”

Reporting was contributed by Geneva Abdul, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Emma Bubola, Aurelien Breeden, Ben Casselman, Joyce Cohen, Choe Sang-hun, Michael Gold, Rebecca Halleck, Isabel Kershner, Richard C. Paddock, Gaia Pianigiani, Eduardo Porter, Monika Pronczuk, Campbell Robertson, Eliza Shapiro, Christopher F. Schuetze, Tracey Tully, Julie Turkewitz, Katherine J. Wu and Carl Zimmer.




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