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Drug shows promise against COVID-19 in first largely minority study; more virus news
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Drug shows promise against COVID-19 in first largely minority study; more virus news

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A drug company said Friday that a medicine it sells to tamp down inflammation has helped prevent the need for breathing machines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the first large study that primarily enrolled Hispanics and Blacks.

Switzerland-based Roche reported the results for tocilizumab, sold now as Actemra and RoActemra for treating rheumatoid arthritis and some other diseases. The company said it would quickly publish the results, which have not yet been reviewed by independent scientists, and would speak with regulators about next steps.

The drug, given through an IV, tamps down a protein called interleukin-6 that’s often found in excess in COVID-19 patients. It failed in a previous study that tested it in people more severely ill from the coronavirus. The new study was done in the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. About 85% of the 389 participants were Hispanic, Black, Native American or other ethnic or racial minorities. These groups have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Companies are struggling to recruit diverse volunteers in final U.S. tests of possible COVID-19 vaccines. Minority enrollment in studies of two shots has inched up in recent weeks, but even more is needed this fall as additional vaccine testing gets underway over the next two months.
  • Europe’s largest security organization said Friday that it has drastically scaled back plans to send as many as 500 observers to the U.S. to monitor the Nov. 3 presidential election and now will deploy just 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • U.S. health officials are dropping a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and telling all those who have been in close contact with infected people to get tested.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back Friday against the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco's criticism of COVID-related restrictions, saying he should “follow science” rather than advocate for fuller in-person gatherings for Mass and worship.
  • The dismissed captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier knew he was jeopardizing his military career when he sent a now-famous email warning of possible sailor deaths due to a coronavirus breakout on board.
  • The number of FBS college football games postponed or canceled because of COVID-19 issues since Aug. 26 is 16 and the pandemic's impact is being felt in other sports; one of college basketball's premier tournaments is moving from Hawaii to North Carolina and the NCAA delayed the start of the basketball season to Nov. 25.
  • Fresh nationwide lockdown restrictions in England appear to be on the cards soon as the British government targeted more areas Friday in an attempt to suppress a sharp spike in new coronavirus infections.
  • Many residents in Madrid will need a reason to leave their neighborhoods and will face limitations on group gatherings even stricter than the ones in place as authorities moved Friday to try to rein in Europe's fastest-spreading second coronavirus wave.
  • Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei says he has tested positive for the new coronavirus. The announcement came on the same day that the country reopened its borders and international flights after a six-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for some virus basics and the latest numbers.


Virus basics


Virus by the numbers

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