The Latest: Study: Higher doses of blood thinner helps some

WASHINGTON — New research finds full doses of blood thinners such as heparin can help moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients avoid the need for breathing machines or other organ support.

The preliminary results come from three large, international studies testing various coronavirus treatments and haven’t yet been published. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sponsors released the results Friday to help doctors decide on appropriate care.

Nearly all hospitalized COVID-19 patients currently get low doses of a blood thinner to try to prevent clots from forming.

The new results show that “when we give higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill, there is a significant benefit in preventing them from getting sicker,” said Dr. Matthew Neal, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and one study leader.

However, the researchers say these drugs don’t help and may harm people who are more seriously ill.

The study highlights how timing and degree of illness matter for coronavirus treatments. Steroid drugs can help severely ill patients but not ones who are only mildly ill. Some antibody drugs seem to help when given soon after or before symptoms appear but not for sicker, hospitalized patients.



Dr. Fauci says a lack of candor about the coronavirus under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives. Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics, but faces vaccine roadblocks. Germany passes 50,000 deaths from coronavirus. Lucky few get COVID-19 vaccine because of rare extra doses in U.S. New Chinese film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary. Brazil awaits vaccine cargo from India amid supply concerns. ___

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GENEVA — The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says the U.N. health agency is providing Japan and the International Olympic Committee with “technical, operational and risk management” advice regarding the Tokyo Games.

However, it says it won’t be part of any decision as to whether the Olympics proceed.

Dr. Michael Ryan says WHO has participated in more than a dozen meetings with the IOC and Japanese institutions as part of a COVID-19 task force.

Ryan says WHO routinely provides advice to countries for mass gathering events, like the World Cup, but the decision is up to governments.

“The best way we can get to an Olympics is get on top of this disease,” he says.


LANSING, Mich. — Michigan restaurants and bars can reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity with a 10 p.m. curfew on Feb. 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Friday.

“While we must remain vigilant and cautious, we can lift some protocols that were previously in place,” Whitmer said. “I know this pandemic has hurt our restaurant owners, our restaurant workers and all of their families. I want to thank those that made incredible sacrifices and did their part.”

Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon’s order limits capacity to 25% — lower than the 50% ceiling that was in effect from June to November — with a maximum of 100 people. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. and collect customers’ contact information for tracing purposes.

Food establishments can voluntarily take part in a new state ventilation-inspection program.


BOSTON — Officials say nearly 2,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were spoiled at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Boston after a contractor accidentally unplugged a freezer.

Officials at the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center discovered on Tuesday that a freezer had failed, compromising 1,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The plug to the freezer was found to be loose after a contractor accidentally unplugged it while cleaning, according to a statement from Kyle Toto, a spokesman for VA Boston Healthcare System. The freezer had been in a safe location and had an alarm system, he said.

The system is investigating the cause of the incident and why the monitoring alarm system did not work. More doses are on the way, Toto says, and officials “do not foresee disruption” of the vaccination effort.


PARIS — France will require a negative coronavirus test from travelers arriving from other European Union countries starting Sunday.

The mandatory PCR test must be carried out no later than 72 hours before departure. The government says specific controls will be carried out in airports and ports. Truck drivers and cross border workers are exempt from the measure.

The move follows a video summit Thursday during which EU leaders agreed that borders should remain open and assessed more measures to counter the spread of coronavirus variants.

Those traveling to France from outside the EU already need to show a negative test and face a seven-day quarantine once in the country. It is enforcing a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to slow the virus spread.

France has reported more than 71,000 confirmed deaths from the virus.


MADRID — Spain is reporting 42,885 new coronavirus cases and 400 confirmed deaths Friday as several regions launch restrictions to avoid overcrowded hospitals.

One in five hospital beds and over 37% of ICU beds are devoted to treating coronavirus patients in Spain. In six of the 19 regions or autonomous cities, half or more of the ICU beds are already filled with patients that need ventilation or other acute treatment.

Spain has registered nearly 2.5 million coronavirus cases and more than 55,400 confirmed deaths.


WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci says a lack of candor and facts about the coronavirus pandemic under President Donald Trump “very likely” cost lives because it delayed getting sound scientific advice to the country.

“You know, it very likely did,” Fauci told CNN. “When you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful.”

Fauci didn’t single out failings by any individual or administration official, saying he didn’t want that to “be a sound bite.” But Trump frequently dismissed the advice of his administration’s scientists and claimed the virus would “fade away.”

President Joe Biden says restoring trust is a top goal of his coronavirus strategy. More than 410,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., the most in the world.


MOSCOW – Hungary will receive enough doses of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V to inoculate one million people.

Speaking after a meeting in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says Hungary will get two million doses of Sputnik V, a two-shot vaccine, which will be enough for one million people.

Russia will ship first batches of the shot to Hungary next month, according to Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled Spuntik V.

Sputnik V received a six-month authorization Wednesday from Hungary’s National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition. Now it must be approved by the country’s National Public Health Center, a process which could take several weeks.

Hungary was the first EU country to receive samples of the Russian vaccine in November. The vaccine also received regulatory approval in Argentina, Belarus and Serbia.


BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says the plan is to keep the original timeframe between doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Jens Spahn is signaling his country won’t follow Britain in delaying second doses of coronavirus vaccines in a bid to get more people inoculated.

Germany is dealing with a slow start to vaccinations after they were launched nearly a month ago. Spahn asked a commission of scientists that advises authorities on vaccinations to consider the merits of delaying a second dose.

Spahn says “the clear recommendation remains to keep to the intended timeframe” of a maximum three- to six-week gap, depending on the vaccine.

Spahn noted that Germany is vaccinating the most vulnerable and elderly, with “comprehensive” protection important for them. He says scientists suggest there may be risks, given a lack of survey data on how much protection a single shot provides.


TOKYO — Japan is publicly adamant it will stage the postponed Olympics this summer.

But to pull it off, many believe the vaccination of its 127 million citizens is key, an immense undertaking in the best of circumstances. It’s complicated now by an overly cautious decision-making process, bureaucratic roadblocks and a public that has long been deeply wary of vaccines.

Japan hopes to start COVID-19 vaccinations in late February. Leaders struck deals with three foreign pharmaceutical makers — Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

But uncertainty is growing that a nation ranked among the world’s lowest in vaccine confidence can pull off the massive undertaking in time for the Olympics in July.


LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is stopping flights to and from the United Kingdom from Saturday, blaming a COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. for a devastating surge in new Portuguese cases.

The move comes a week after the British government halted flights to and from Portugal in an effort to prevent a variant found in Brazil from reaching the U.K. The Portuguese government labeled that decision “absurd.”

Portugal has the highest seven-day average rate in the world of new cases per 100,000 population and the highest rate of new deaths, according to data collated through Thursday by Johns Hopkins University.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced after a video summit of European Union leaders late Thursday that only repatriation flights for citizens wanting to return home would be allowed between Portugal and the U.K..

Tens of thousands of British people, often retirees, reside in Portugal, while hundreds of thousands of Portuguese have gone to work in Britain in recent years.

Portugal blames the rise on the appearance of a more contagious variant first identified in southeast England.


BERLIN — More than 50,000 people have died after contracting the coronavirus in Germany, a number that has risen swiftly over recent weeks even as infection figures are finally beginning to fall.

The country’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said Friday that another 859 deaths were recorded over the past 24 hours, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to 50,642.

Germany had a relatively small number of deaths in the pandemic’s first phase, but that has changed this winter. Hundreds of deaths, sometimes more than 1,000, have been reported daily in the country of 83 million people. Germany hit the 40,000 mark on Jan. 10.

Among other European countries, the U.K., Italy, France and Spain, all of which have smaller populations, still have higher death tolls.

And Germany, which is currently in a lockdown, is now seeing infections drop after they peaked in December. The Robert Koch Institute reported 17,862 new cases Friday — down from 22,368 a week ago. That brought Germany’s total so far to over 2.1 million.

The number of new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days stood at 115.3, after reaching nearly 200 a month ago. It’s still well above the government’s target of a maximum 50.


BEIJING — Shanghai has imposed lockdowns on two of China’s best-known hospitals after they were linked to new coronavirus cases.

Outpatient services have been suspended at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center and Renji Hospital, both of which have been cordoned off along with some surrounding residential communities.

China now finds itself on guard against new clusters of coronavirus infections that have been emerging largely in the country’s frigid north.

Lockdowns have been imposed in parts of Beijing and other cities following outbreaks, schools are letting out early and citizens have been told to stay home for next month’s Lunar New Year holiday.

China hopes to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by the middle of February.


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea is reporting its smallest daily increase in coronavirus infections in two months as officials express cautious hope that the country is beginning to wiggle out from its worst wave of the pandemic.

The 346 new cases reported Friday brought the national caseload to 74,262. There have been 1,328 deaths related to COVID-19.

Health authorities have clamped down on private social gatherings since late December, including setting fines for restaurants if they accept groups of five or more people. The tougher rules were imposed to slow a virus surge that erased months of hard-won gains. The 1,241 infections reported on Christmas Day were the country’s largest 24-hour jump of the pandemic.

Daily infections have slowed to around 400 to 600 in recent weeks.


MEXICO CITY — Mexico has posted new one-day highs for the pandemic, with 22,339 newly confirmed coronavirus infections and 1,803 deaths related to COVID-19.

Mexico has recorded over 1.71 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 146,000 test-confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. However, official estimates suggest the real death toll is closer to 195,000.

Officials also said Thursday that hospitals remained at 89% capacity in Mexico City, which is the current center of the pandemic in Mexico.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s top health officer says coronavirus vaccinations will be restricted for only state residents amid “extremely limited” supplies of vaccines.

In a two-page advisory, state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees advises counties to prioritize available doses to Florida residents, including so-called snowbirds who reside in the state part-time. The advisory says people seeking vaccination must provide a driver’s license or other document, such as rental leases and utility bills.

Florida was one of the first states to open vaccine eligibility to members of the general public over age 65.

So far, 41,000 of the 1.2 million people who have been vaccinated in the state were marked as out-of-state residents, but the data makes no distinction between visitors and “snowbirds.”


FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky has reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 deaths as the governor presses the federal government to provide the state with more vaccine.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday the state recorded 58 more coronavirus-related deaths, pushing the total for the pandemic above 3,300. He called it a “staggering” loss and said a U.S. flag will be placed on the statehouse grounds Friday for each Kentuckian who has died from the virus.

As Kentucky has ramped up its vaccination campaign, demand has outpaced supply. That prompted Beshear this week to ask the federal government to double the state’s vaccine allotment. He said Thursday: “You give it to us, we can get it in people’s arms.”


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox says the federal government has given too much coronavirus vaccine to pharmacies, which are struggling to use all their doses quickly.

Cox has mandated that vaccine doses be used within seven days. He said Thursday that public health departments are nearly meeting that benchmark but pharmacies partnered with the federal government are far behind.

The governor says that “this is a problem across the country.”

One factor is billing private insurance, which will cover part of the cost of a vaccine but going through the process takes longer.


JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi has opened a drive-thru site for coronavirus vaccinations in the state capital, which officials hope will make shots more accessible to African-Americans, who have received the vaccine in much smaller numbers than whites.

The operation that opened Thursday at Smith-Wills Stadium is the first in the capital, and 19th drive-thru for the state. The Jackson area is the state’s most populous and has a Black majority.

The centers offer shots for health care workers, people 65 and older, and people who are at least 16 and have health conditions that might make them more vulnerable to the virus. Vaccinations are also continuing at long-term care facilities.

The state health department says only 15% of vaccinations administered so far in Mississippi have been to Black residents, who are 37% of the population. About 70% of vaccines were going to white residents.


Categories: National News