The Latest: Virus antibody drug paused for safety issue

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A masked woman holds a Winnie the Pooh inflatable balloon, inside the subway, in Paris, Thursday Oct.29, 2020. Some doctors expressed relief but business owners despaired as France prepared to shut down again for a month to try to put the brakes on the fast-moving virus. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — A study testing an experimental antibody drug for the coronavirus has been paused to investigate a possible safety issue.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said Friday that independent monitors had recommended placing on hold enrollment of the most severely ill patients — those who need intense oxygen treatment or breathing machines — because of a potential safety problem and unfavorable balance of risks and benefits.

The study can continue to test the two-antibody drug combo in hospitalized patients who need little or no extra oxygen. Other studies in mild or moderately ill people also are continuing.

Earlier this month, a study testing a similar drug from Eli Lilly in hospitalized patients was paused and later stopped because the drug didn’t seem to help. Experts say previous testing suggests these antibody drugs may help most when given early in infection.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— US average daily coronavirus cases rising to 74,000

— Britain’s daily average coronavirus cases nearly 52,000

— Trump and health advisers go their separate ways on virus

— Trump’s campaign rallies among the nation’s biggest events held in defianceof coronavirus-related crowd restrictions.

— Belgian virus numberskeep rising; lockdown considered. Non-essential shops are expected to face temporary closure.

— New York City hospitals and nursing homesbrace for a potential resurgence of coronavirus patients.

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Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ROME — Italy added a record 31,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours.

Health Ministry official Gianni Rezza says “the epidemic is galloping. The virus is circulating and it’s circulating fast.”

Italy conducted some 215,00 swab tests, its highest one-day total.

Rezza says any improvements from restrictions would take at least two-to-four weeks. This week, Italy closed restaurants, bars and cafes in the evenings and shut down gyms, pools, theaters and cinemas for 30 days.

Italy’s total confirmed cases stand at more than 647,000. With 199 more deaths, the confirmed death toll is more than 38,000.

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LISBON, Portugal —Portugal is reporting a record 4,656 new infections in the last 24 hours.

The General Directorate for Health says there were 40 deaths and nearly 2,000 people sent to the hospital, with 275 in intensive care.

Northern Portugal and the Lisbon region are the hardest-hit areas, officials say, with coronavirus patients taking up more than 80% of beds in hospital wards and ICUs.

The government was consulting with opposition parties on possible new restrictions to contain the pandemic.

Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira says localized night-time curfews, cordoned-off hotspots and a mandatory national order to work from home are under discussion.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have reported another record of 1,690 coronavirus cases.

The health ministry reported five new deaths Friday, bringing the overall toll to 620. There’s been a total of more than 37,000 confirmed cases.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to announce new restrictions on Saturday.

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The Hague, Netherlands — The rolling average of daily cases in the Netherlands rose from 40 to 57 cases per 100,000 people from Oct. 15-29, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the Dutch government says voting booths at municipalities across the nation will open for three days instead of one to allow people in coronavirus high-risk groups to cast their ballots safely for national elections in March.

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovo registered a record 418 daily cases of the coronavirus on Friday.

The National Institute of Public Health says its eight times higher than two weeks ago.

Half the cases were in the capital of Pristina. There were four deaths.

Health authorities are reminding people to wear masks, wash their hands and respect social distancing to avoid a countrywide lockdown.

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LONDON — A weekly survey by Britain’s statistics agency shows an average of nearly 52,000 daily coronavirus cases, an increase of nearly 50% in the most recent week.

The Office for National Statistics says cases “continued to rise steeply,” with an average of 51,900 new cases between Oct. 17-23. That’s up from 35,200 cases from Oct. 10-16.

The numbers are based on more than 600,000 swab tests taken from people with or without symptoms. It doesn’t include those in hospitals or care homes.

The highest rates were registered in areas in the northern England, where restrictions have been tightened the most.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland reached another daily record with more than 21,600 coronavirus cases registered on Friday.

There were 202 more deaths, 35 considered caused by COVID-19 alone. The Health Ministry says more than 15,400 people were hospitalized and more than 1,250 are on ventilators.

Nearly 7,700 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and more than 520 ventilators are still available in the nation of 38 million, the ministry says.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced Friday that Poland’s cemeteries will be closed Saturday through Monday during the national holiday of visiting graves to lay flowers and light memorial candles.

Authorities are concerned about a possible spike in cases following street demonstrations against the recent tightening of the abortion law. A march is expected Friday in Warsaw, the second week of protests.

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BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says when a vaccine for the coronavirus is ready, it will be equally distributed among all European Union member nations.

Jens Spahn told EU health ministers the plan is to wait for Phase 3 trials to be completed and organize fair distribution.

“All 27 member states, no matter how big they are, how small they are, what their GDP is will participate, and get doses from the very beginning proportional to their population size,” he says.

The German minister, who was in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, has stressed comprehensive clinical trials are needed first. He says it must be “secure and safe, that is very important for acceptance.”

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides added a vaccine wouldn’t be a “silver bullet” that immediately ends the pandemic and people would need to maintain precautions.

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WASHINGTON — The seven-day rolling average for daily new coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks from 52,350 to more than 74,180.

That’s according to data through Wednesday from Johns Hopkins University, marking a return to levels not seen since the summer surge. The rolling average for daily new deaths rose over the past two weeks from 724 to 787.

Positive test rates have been rising in 45 states, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Fifteen states have positive test rates of 10% or higher, considered an indicator of widespread transmission.

Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Adm. Brett Giroir said earlier his week the proof of the uptick is the rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths.

The U.S. leads the world with 8.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 228,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says when a vaccine for the coronavirus is ready, it will be equally distributed among all European Union member nations.

Jens Spahn told EU health ministers the plan is to wait for Phase 3 trials to be completed and organize fair distribution.

“All 27 member states, no matter how big they are, how small they are, what their GDP is will participate, and get doses from the very beginning proportional to their population size,” he says.

The German minister, who was in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, has stressed comprehensive clinical trials are needed first. He says it must be “secure and safe, that is very important for acceptance.”

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides added a vaccine wouldn’t be a “silver bullet” that immediately ends the pandemic and people would need to maintain precautions.

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BERLIN — German authorities have added almost all of Austria and Italy to the list of high-risk areas for COVID-19.

Travelers returning to Germany from countries or regions on the list, which is updated weekly, have to go into 14-day quarantine and take a test for the coronavirus.

Those with negative test results can end their quarantines.

Critics have pointed out that the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week, which is the main criteria for determining which countries appear on the list, has now been passed in much of Germany itself.

Germany’s disease control agency reported Friday that the country saw another new daily record number of confirmed cases, with 18,681. The new cases take the country’s total in the pandemic to almost half a million.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Confirmed coronavirus infections in Slovakia have hit a new record high as the country gets ready for a nationwide testing.

The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase in the country of 5.4 million reached 3,363 on Thursday, over 300 more than the previous record set on Saturday.

Slovakia has a total of 55,091 confirmed cases, including 212 deaths.

The government wants to use antigen tests for testing almost the entire population older than age 10 over the two weekends. It’s not compulsory and free of charge.

Antigen tests are less accurate than PCR tests, but have the advantage of producing faster results.

Slovakia so far has conducted a relatively low number of virus tests compared with other European countries. Authorities hope the broad testing program will help them respond to the pandemic more effectively.

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PRAGUE — The Czech economy has slightly recovered in the third quarter of 2020 following a record decline in the previous three months.

The preliminary figures published by the Czech Statistics Office on Friday show the Czech economy contracted by 5.8% year-on-year but increased by 6.2% compared with the previous quarter.

In the second quarter, the Czech economy contracted by a record of 10.9% year-on-year.

Analysts expect the recovery to be limited because the Czech Republic is currently experiencing one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks and has imposed tight restrictive measures that will slow business activity again.

Bars, restaurants, hotels and most stores have been closed among other measures to curb a record surge in known infections.

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HONG KONG — Customs agents in the southern Chinese city of Hong Kong have seized 100,000 counterfeit face masks and arrested one person in what the government called the largest operation of its kind on record.

The masks were set to be shipped overseas and had a market value of almost $400,000, the government’s Information Services Department reported Friday.

The masks were seized at a storehouse in Hong Kong on Wednesday after agents received a tip-off, the department said, leading to a further raid on a trading company where a 71-year-old manager was arrested

“Initial investigations revealed that unscrupulous merchants intended to transship the batch of masks overseas for sale and profit. Customs is looking into the source of the face masks involved in the case,” the department said in a news release.

Customs agents launched an operation codenamed “Guardian” across the city in late January involving spot checks on common protective equipment such as masks, resulting in 80 arrests and the seizure of nearly 6 million face masks, along with other items, the department said.

Mainland China is a major source of personal protective equipment such as masks and bodysuits, some of which have been found to be counterfeit or of inferior quality.

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PARIS — People leaving Paris before a nationwide lockdown took effect brought traffic jams to freeways around the French capital.

The four-week lockdown that started at midnight requires residents to stay home except for one hour of daily exercise or to attend medical appointments or to shop for essentials.

French media reported traffic jams around the Paris region stretched for miles as many residents headed for country or family homes in search of more space than the typically cramped Paris housing. Many motorists also were leaving to celebrate this weekend’s All Saints’ Day holiday.

French President Emmanuel Macron says authorities would be “tolerant” about families returning from the holidays on Monday, but inter-regional travel is otherwise strictly prohibited.

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MADRID — The Spanish economy has rebounded a record quarter-to-quarter 16.7% from July to September, bringing the country out of the technical definition of recession.

Preliminary data released Friday by Spain’s National Statistics Institute showed that domestic demand over the summer was the main driver of the recovery. However, the third quarter growth did not offset the 17.8% GDP loss of the second quarter and the 5.2% loss in the first three months of the year, when the pandemic hit the country.

Output in Spain was down 8.7% in the third quarter compared to the same period a year before.

Nearly all Spaniards are facing a weekend with restrictions on leaving the regions where they live as authorities try to contain a sharp resurgence of reported coronavirus cases but refrain from a full lockdown to try to prevent further economic deterioration.

Although Spain’s official tally records 1.1 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the government has acknowledged that the true figure, including missed cases, could be at least three times higher. At least 35,000 people in Spain have died with the virus during the pandemic.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Hungary rose to an all-time high on Friday, prompting the government to tighten oversight over compliance with regulations to stem the spread of infections.

Hungarian health authorities reported that 65 patients died in the past 24 hours, while the number of confirmed new cases increased to 3,286 from 2,194 on Thursday.

The government has not announced new restrictive measures despite the steep rise in infections but Prime Minister Viktor Orban stressed Friday that authorities will hand out fines to everyone failing to wear a mask where required.

“I do not believe in multiplying the rules, but in enforcing existing ones,” Orban said in a radio interview.

Hungary’s chief medical officer announced Thursday that wearing masks will be mandatory in restaurants and bars as well except during consumption. Police will be authorized to close establishments that don’t enforce the regulations.

The central European nation has recorded 71,413 confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic, including 1,699 deaths.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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