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The government’s top infectious disease expert told a House committee on Tuesday he believes “it will be when and not if” there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and that he remains “cautiously optimistic” that some will be ready at the end of the year.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has returned to Capitol Hill at a fraught moment in the nation’s pandemic response, with coronavirus cases rising in about half the states and political polarization competing for attention with public health recommendations.
Fauci was testifying along with the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Since Fauci’s last appearance at a high-profile hearing more than a month ago, the U.S. has been emerging from weeks of stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns. But it’s being done in an uneven way, with some states far less cautious than others. A trio of states with Republican governors who are bullish on reopening — Arizona, Florida and Texas — are among those seeing worrisome increases in cases.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence published an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal saying the administration’s efforts have strengthened the nation’s ability to counter the virus and should be “a cause for celebration.”
Then Trump said at his weekend rally in Tulsa that he had asked administration officials to slow down testing, because too many positive cases are turning up. Many rally goers did not wear masks, and for some that was an act of defiance against what they see as government intrusion. White House officials later tried to walk back Trump’s comment on testing, suggesting it wasn’t meant to be taken literally.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone of New Jersey said during Tuesday’s hearing that Trump’s testing comment at the rally “was an extremely reckless action, and unfortunately it continues the president’s pattern of ignoring the advice of his own public health experts.”
Trump, departing the White House for a visit to Arizona on Tuesday, played down those comments, saying under his administration the U.S. is doing more testing than any other country. Trump’s trip includes a rally at a megachurch.
Fauci has recently warned that the U.S. is still in the first wave of the pandemic and has continued to urge the American public to practice social distancing. And, in a recent ABC News interview, he said political demonstrations such as protests against racial injustice are “risky” to all involved. Asked if that applied to Trump rallies, he said it did. Fauci continues to recognize widespread testing as critical for catching clusters of COVID-19 cases before they turn into full outbreaks in a given community.
About 2.3 million Americans have been sickened in the pandemic, and some 120,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is joined by CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, FDA chief Dr. Stephen Hahn and the head of the U.S. Public Health Service, Adm. Brett Giroir.
Giroir was tapped by the White House to oversee the expansion of coronavirus testing. But he gained notoriety after a whistleblower complaint flagged him for trying to push a malaria drug touted by Trump to treat COVID-19 without conclusive scientific evidence. The FDA has since withdrawn its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine.
“There have been a lot of unfortunate missteps in the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pallone said. “As communities across the country ease social distancing guidance and reopen their economies, it is critically important that both the administration and Congress remain focused on containing the spread of the coronavirus and providing the resources and support Americans need during this time of crisis.”
There is still no vaccine for COVID-19, and there are no treatments specifically developed for the disease, although the antiviral drug remdesivir has been shown to help some patients, as well as a steroid called dexamethasone, and plasma from patients who have recovered.
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Allergies are a number of conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to typically harmless substances in the environment. These include hay fever, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include red eyes, an itchy rash, sneezing, a runny nose, shortness of breath, or swelling.
Common allergens include pollen and certain foods. Metals and other substances may also cause problems. Food, insect stings, and medications are common causes of severe reactions. Their development is due to both genetic and environmental factors.
Treatments for allergies include the avoidance of known allergens and the use of medications such as steroids and antihistamines. In severe reactions injectable adrenaline (epinephrine) is recommended.
Allergies are common. In the developed world, about 20% of people are affected by allergic rhinitis, about 6% of people have at least one food allergy, and about 20% have atopic dermatitis at some point in time. Depending on the country about 1–18% of people have asthma. Anaphylaxis occurs in between 0.05–2% of people.
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