The Latest: EU regulator studies virus drug effect on kidney

LONDON — The European Medicines Agency has started a safety review after some patients taking the coronavirus drug remdesivir reported serious kidney problems.

The EU regulator says it isn’t clear whether remdesivir is causing the reports of “acute kidney injury,” but that the issue “warrants further investigation.”

Remdesivir was given a conditional marketing authorization by the EMA on July 3 and can be used to treat people older than 12 with severe COVID-19 who require oxygen treatment. The approval for the drug was fast-tracked with the understanding that more evidence would be submitted after a license was granted

The EMA says the potential problem of kidney toxicity caused by remdesivir was evaluated when the conditional approval was given, mainly based on animal studies. It noted that kidney injuries can be caused by other factors, including diabetes and the coronavirus.

The regulator says recommendations for the use of remdesivir remain unchanged; doctors are already advised to monitor patients for kidney complications before starting treatment and not use the drug in patients with known kidney problems.



— Trump and first lady test positive for coronavirus; both have ‘mild symptoms’

— Russia reports more than 9,000 new cases in a day

— India’s coronavirus death toll nearing 100,000

— Trump has several strikes against him — age, obesity, elevated cholesterol and being male — that could put him at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus.

— Amazon: Nearly 20,000 workers tested positive for virus. The online retail giant says the infection rate of its employees is well below the general U.S. population.

— A U.S. advisory panel is making recommendations for who should be first in line to get COVID-19 vaccine. As expected, the panel recommended health care workers and first responders be among the first, along with those severely impacted by the virus.


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LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says he wishes U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania a “full and swift recovery” after hearing they were infected with the coronavirus.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the world is still reporting about 2 million new cases of coronavirus every week. He appealed for countries to invest more in developing necessary tools like vaccines, drugs and quick diagnostic tests.

Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, declined to respond to suggestions that Trump’s dismissal of numerous public health measures aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus, including mask-wearing and social distancing, may have contributed to his infection.

He says despite the escalating case count in the U.S., “there is no reason the U.S. cannot control this disease, turn a corner (and) get the disease under control.” He noted such an effort would require tremendous work and money.


DES MOINES — Iowa posted more than 1,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day.

State public health data posted Friday indicated 1,142 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, with a 90,754 total of cases since March. The state posted nine additional deaths for a total of 1,367.

Iowa averaged nearly 900 cases a day in the past week. On Friday, 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties have a positivity rate exceeding 5%, the rate at which many public health experts recommend measures to slow the spread, including mask wearing and limits on crowd numbers.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has declined to issue a mask mandate, has largely opened the state for business and insists that schools must hold in-class lessons.


ATHENS, Greece – Greece hit a new record with 460 daily confirmed infections on Friday.

Total infections have nearly reached 20,000 cases. With five more deaths, the overall toll has reached 398.

Officials says there’s no need for new lockdown measures, provided the public obeys existing ones.

The infections Friday included 114 cases among workers at a canning factory in northern Greece, which has been closed. Starting Saturday, visitors from Poland and the Czech Republic will be among those needing a negative coronavirus test before traveling to Greece.


MILAN — Italy has counted nearly 2,500 new coronavirus cases for a second straight day.

There’s been more than 120,000 tests. The southern region of Campania topped the ranks at 392 cases, followed by hard-hit Lombardy at 307.

The Health Ministry says total cases reached nearly 320,000. Another 23 died in the last 24 hours, bringing the confirmed death toll to 35,941.


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Dr. Ashish Jha, a leading infectious diseases expert, called President Donald Trump’s infection with the coronavirus “a total failure” to protect him.

Jha, the new dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, tweeted Friday: “This is a nightmare. COVID19 is a serious infection, especially for someone who is older like Mr. Trump. I can’t believe he was infected. This is a total failure by WH team to protect the President.”

Trump tweeted Friday that he’s quarantining in the White House, along with wife Melania, who also tested positive for the coronavirus.

A White House official says the president is experiencing “mild symptoms.”

Trump has spent much of the year downplaying the threat of a virus, which has killed more than 207,000 Americans.


DETROIT — Bus riders were stranded Friday in Detroit as drivers concerned about the coronavirus refused to report to work.

A union official says drivers were having conflicts with riders about wearing masks and facing other challenges.

“Just because you ask someone about a mask, you’ve got to fend for your life,” Glenn Tolbert told The Detroit News. “It’s getting to the point with COVID and all the other pressures … all of these things are just piling up. I’ve got people quitting on a daily basis.”

Detroit buses serve an average of 85,000 people a day.

In March, early in the pandemic, drivers staged a strike over safety and the condition of their buses. In response, Detroit eliminated fares, promised more cleaning and told riders to enter and exit from the rear door only. Masks are mandatory.

Detroit’s chief operating officer, Hakim Berry, says the city is listening to new concerns and working to get drivers back on the road.

A driver died of the coronavirus in March, days after posting an angry video on Facebook about a coughing passenger.


YAKIMA, Wash. — Two hospital nurses have filed a complaint with the Washington State Department of Health, saying staffing and sanitation practices are putting patients and staff at risk during the pandemic.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports Sylvia Keller and Alice Westphal say Virginia Mason Memorial has been dangerously understaffed, resulting in nurses working every day “in anticipation of a disaster.”

Virginia Mason Memorial declined comment because of hospital protocol prohibiting comment on an ongoing investigation. Health Department spokesperson Kristen Maki confirmed the agency received the allegations but couldn’t confirm or deny if an investigation was opened.


HONOLULU — The family of a man who died after being infected with the coronavirus in a Hawaii veterans’ home has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported the sons of Chris Drayer filed the lawsuit against the operator of the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo, where 27 resident have died from the coronavirus.

Noah Bennett-Drayer and Daniel Bennett-Drayer allege their father died as a result of substandard care by Utah-based Avalon Health Care and four of its affiliates. The 70-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam was tested for the coronavirus Aug. 28 and died Sept. 2.


HONOLULU — Up to 100,000 Hawaii residents receiving unemployment benefits are expected to receive $500 meal cards for use in restaurants throughout the state.

The money will be distributed through the Restaurant Card Program. It will distribute $75 million in the form of the debit-style cards to people who began receiving unemployment benefits after March 25.

The program funded by federal coronavirus relief money is designed to help struggling restaurants and farmers. Registration is not required for the nontransferable cards, which will be delivered by mail. The cards can only be used in restaurants between Oct. 20 and Dec. 15.

As the state continues to reopen, each island can set its own rules. On Oahu, the state’s most populous, restaurants are operating up to 50% capacity, with no more than five people from the same household per table. Diners need to make reservations and provide their contact details.


BRUSSELS — Speaking in the name of all 27 EU leaders, European Council president Charles Michel wished Donald Trump a prompt recovery after the U.S. president and his wife tested positive for coronavirus.

Speaking after a two-day meeting of heads of states and governments from the bloc in Brussels, Michel was asked by a reporter what lessons could be drawn from Trump’s positive test.

“Of course, we all wish him a speedy recovery,” Michel said, “But of course, personally I will not give a health advice.”


LONDON — A Scottish National Party lawmaker at the U.K. Parliament is under pressure to resign for travelling from London to Glasgow after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Margaret Ferrier apologized for breaching virus-related restrictions on travel but is facing growing calls to quit. That includes calls from her party leader, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The SNP leader Ian Blackford told BBC Radio Scotland that Ferrier had made a “tremendous error of judgment” and now must “do the right thing for her constituents.”

The SNP suspended Ferrier from the party on Thursday after learning of the breach.

People in Britain are told they must self-isolate if they have coronavirus symptoms and when they are waiting for a test result after reporting symptoms.


PORTLAND, Maine — The median age of people who contract coronavirus in the state of Maine is trending downward.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Nirav Shah says the median age was 51.3 from March through the end of May. It dipped to 41.4 for the months of June through September.

He says the possible reasons include an increase in economic and social activity in recent months. Shah says the drop in median age is a motivator to maintain social distancing and take other precautions.


NEW YORK — Amazon says nearly 20,000 of its workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Amazon says in a corporate blog it examined data from March 1 to Sept. 19 for its 1.37 million workers at Amazon and Whole Foods Market.

It said it compared COVID-19 case rates to the general population, as reported by Johns Hopkins University for the same period. Based on that analysis, if the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods employees were the same as it is for the general population, it estimated it would have seen 33,952 cases among its workforce.

The company says it is conducting thousands of tests a day, which will grow to 50,000 tests a day across 650 sites by November.

Companies have no legal obligation to publicly reveal how many of their workers have contracted the virus, and few are doing so.

However, employers must provide a safe working environment, which means they must alert staff if they might have been exposed to the virus, according to guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They are obligated to keep track of COVID-19 infections contracted on the job, and must report to OSHA if there is a hospitalization or death related to the disease.


MOSCOW — The coronavirus outbreak in Russia continues its rapid growth, with the government reporting over 9,000 new confirmed cases on Friday but the Kremlin saying a second lockdown is not being discussed.

The 9,412 new cases reported on Friday bring the country’s total to over 1.19 million and mark the highest surge since late May. Russia currently has the fourth largest caseload in the world and has so far reported over 21,000 deaths.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says another lockdown is currently not being discussed in the government.

At the same time in Moscow, which has been reporting over 2,000 new cases a day since Monday, officials have recommended the elderly self-isolate at home and have extended upcoming school holidays by a week.

On Thursday, Moscow’s mayor also ordered employers to have 30% of their staff work from home. “I hope that this measure will be enough to curb the rise of infections, and we won’t have to make more difficult decisions,” Sergei Sobyanin wrote in his blog.


NEW DELHI — India’s COVID-19 fatalities are closing on 100,000 with another 1,095 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

The update by the Health Ministry on Friday raised India’s death toll to 99,773. Its reported deaths are low for a country with nearly 1.4 billion people and more than 6.3 million confirmed cases, but experts say it may not be counting many fatalities.

The ministry also reported 81,484 new cases.

Total cases jumped from 1 million in mid-July to more than 6 million in less than 2 1/2 months.

New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru are the main urban centers of the infections, accounting for one in every seven confirmed cases and one in every five deaths in the country.


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