Overnight Health Care: Russia claims it has coronavirus vaccine amid skepticism | Trump announces deal with Moderna for vaccine doses | Most states facing shortage of ICU doctors: research

Overnight Health Care: Russia claims it has coronavirus vaccine amid skepticism | Trump announces deal with Moderna for vaccine doses | Most states facing shortage of ICU doctors: research
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. 

Russia claims it has the first COVID-19 vaccines, but experts are doubtful. New research estimates the effectiveness of various kinds of face coverings at stopping COVID-19 transmission. And more than 800 students from a single school district in Georgia are quarantined after coming in contact with confirmed cases. 

We'll start with Russia:

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Russia claims it has a coronavirus vaccine...but there's a lot of skepticism from experts

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday said the U.S. was prioritizing safety and effectiveness in its coronavirus vaccine development after Russia claimed it had developed the world's first COVID-19 vaccine.

Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinDemocrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate Putin is about to turn his attention to the American way of life Putin critic Navalny posts photo of himself walking: 'Long' path to recovery MORE announced Tuesday the country has become the first in the world to grant regulatory approval for a coronavirus vaccine.

“The point is not to be first with a vaccine, the point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world,” Azar said on ABC when asked about the claim.

“We need transparent data, and it's got to be phase-three data, that shows that a vaccine is safe and effective,” Azar added. 

Russia’s claim of a vaccine has drawn deep skepticism from experts, who said the country appears to be approving the drug based only on early and insufficient data.

“Russia was reported to be behind disinformation campaigns to sow doubts in U.S. about our Covid vaccines; and today’s news that they ‘approved’ a vaccine on the equivalent of phase 1 data may be another effort to stoke doubts or goad U.S. into forcing early action on our vaccines,” tweeted former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.   

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Domestic concerns: There's plenty of concern in the U.S. about political pressure on the Food and Drug Administration leading to a vaccine being green-lit before it's ready, though officials deny it and some vaccine experts say the timeline is just too compressed for that to be a realistic possibility. 

Read more here.

Another vaccine deal: Trump announces deal with Moderna

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it has reached a deal with the biotechnology company Moderna for 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine. 

The agreement is for about $1.5 billion, meaning the government is paying about $15 per dose, and the vaccine will then be given for free to patients. 

The Trump administration has made several other similar deals as it provides funding for multiple potential vaccines, with the hope of having one ready to begin distributing by the end of the year. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE announced the agreement from his White House press briefing, as he seeks to highlight progress on a vaccine. He said he also met with the leaders of the Operation Warp Speed initiative developing a vaccine earlier in the day. 

Read more here. 

More than 800 required to quarantine in Georgia school district that doesn't require masks

More than 820 students and 40 teachers in a Georgia school district will have to quarantine after coming into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case just one week after classes started.

The Cherokee County School District in the Atlanta metro area reported on its website that 826 students and 40 teachers at 20 elementary, middle and high schools will need to quarantine for 14 days. It is not clear how many people in the district have tested positive for COVID-19.

Affected classrooms are “deep-cleaned” before reopening, the district states on its website. Students who must quarantine will receive instruction online.

The district recommends that its 40,000 students wear face masks and coverings but does not require them. Only staff and teachers are required to wear masks when they cannot socially distance. Studies show face coverings and masks can stop the spread of COVID-19, but Georgia does not have a mask mandate, and districts have been wary of issuing their own.

The quarantines illustrate the difficulty of reopening schools in a pandemic, particularly in hot spots like Georgia.

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Read more here

Study shows most homemade masks help slow coronavirus droplets

A new study adds to the growing evidence that masks of almost any type will better help slow and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The study from Duke University researchers, published in the journal Science Advances, found that most types of homemade masks are better at preventing the spread of droplets than nothing at all, but the effectiveness largely depends on material and fit.

Researchers tested 14 different types of masks, ranging from N95 surgical respirators to cotton bandanas. The fitted N95 was the most effective at preventing droplets emitted during talking, while plain surgical masks were also extremely effective.

Bottom of the list: Bandanas were only marginally better than nothing, while a breathable fleece neck gaiter actually performed worse than no mask at all. 

Major limitations:  The study was mainly meant to show that their method of testing masks worked, not necessarily to draw conclusions from the results. But the bottom line conclusion holds, that wearing masks will almost always help. 

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Read more here  

Most states facing shortage of ICU doctors: research

Most states will face a shortage of intensive care unit (ICU) doctors as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the U.S., according to research released this week.

Researchers from The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health determined that 26 states risk not having enough ICU doctors to treat patients, including those with COVID-19. 

Last week, the researchers’ State Hospital Workforce Deficit Estimator, used to track each state’s health care workforce numbers, said that five states were facing shortages. 

The workforce deficit estimator shows that seven states risk running low on doctors trained to work in hospitals, nine may risk shortages for respiratory therapists and six may not have enough pharmacists. 

“At a time when COVID-19 continues to surge in the United States, our current analysis shows that most states are at risk of running low on these critical healthcare workers,” Patricia Pittman, the director of the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at the Milken Institute, told ABC News.

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Read more here.

Bad news for college football fans...Big Ten conference officially cancels fall football season due to coronavirus

The Big Ten on Tuesday announced the postponement of the upcoming fall football season, becoming the first major athletic conference in the U.S. to take such a step because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The conference said that the decision was based on multiple factors, including medical advice from a task force on infectious diseases.

The move came amid an increasingly vocal debate about whether colleges are prepared to resume play amid a health crisis, with President Trump on Monday joining those calling for the season to go on as planned. 

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement Tuesday. 

“As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."

Read more here.

Shortly after the Big 10 announcement, the Pac-12 also announced it was cancelling the fall season. 

What we’re reading

Meet the most important federal official you probably don’t know (The Washington Post)

‘A smoking gun’: infectious coronavirus retrieved from hospital air (The New York TImes

Covid-19 data reporting system gets off to rocky start (Wall Street Journal)

State by state

As contact tracing ramps up in the DC region, what have we learned so far? (dcist.com)

Florida’s COVID cases in children have increased 137 percent in past month (CNN

Op-eds in the Hill

Navigating workers compensation and damage claims based on COVID-19

Supreme Court rightly allows the states to combat the coronavirus