coronavirus:-fda-chief-won't-overrule-scientists-on-vaccine;-astrazeneca-delay-'wake-up-call'

Coronavirus: FDA chief won't overrule scientists on vaccine; AstraZeneca delay 'wake-up call'

Japan debates proposal to completely remove virus restrictions on some events

A kabuki (Japanese theatre) character is displayed on the shutter of a closed shop on Nakamise Shopping Street leading to Sensoji Temple, one of Tokyos most popular tourist sites, on April 21, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Carl Court | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Japan’s economy minister has reportedly informed a panel of health experts that he wants the country to remove coronavirus-related restrictions from a number of events.

Yasutoshi Nishimura suggested falling infection rates linked to events such as Kabuki theater, classical music performances, and rock concerts could allow the government to remove Covid-19 safety measures, according to Reuters.

The panel of health experts was set to debate the proposed changes. 

To date, Japan has confirmed more than 74,000 Covid-19 cases and 1,417 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. — Sam Meredith

Singapore Airlines to cut around 4,300 positions across the business

Singapore Airlines Group said Thursday it will cut around 4,300 positions across its operations as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer the travel and tourism sectors. 

SIA said after taking into account a recruitment freeze, natural attrition and some employees taking up voluntary departure schemes, the airline’s move will potentially affect around 2,400 staff in Singapore and abroad. 

Singapore’s flag carrier also said it expects to operate under 50% of its capacity at the end of fiscal year 2021 compared to levels before the pandemic began. The carrier reported a $817 million quarterly net loss in July

Airlines around the world have announced they will lay off thousands of staff, put many of their aircraft into long-term storage, and some have even filed for bankruptcy. Unlike some of its competitors, one of the disadvantages for Singapore Airlines is the lack of a domestic market as international travel is not expected to recover anytime soon. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

Stanford Medicine researchers issue warning about Trump’s pandemic advisor Dr. Scott Atlas

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, September 10, 2020.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

A group of 78 doctors and researchers from Stanford Medicine penned a letter to call out their former colleague and Trump’s new pandemic advisor Dr. Scott Atlas. 

The letter, which was shared late on Wednesday, notes that in recent comments to the media Atlas has shared “falsehoods and misrepresentation of science.” Atlas, who doesn’t have any background in infectious diseases, has appeared on Fox News to push for reopening schools and questioned the efficacy of masks. 

“It’s critical that people with expertise stand up against any dissemination of misinformation, because it’s dangerous and unsafe,” Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatrics specializing in Infectious Diseases and one of the doctors who signed the letter told us by phone. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Stanford Medicine told us that Dr. Atlas isn’t a currently faculty member so they didn’t have any comment on his recent claims. But they did say that they support the freedom of their academics to “voice their position based on their expertise in the areas of epidemiology, infectious disease, microbiology and public health policy.” —Christina Farr

Trump says everyone knew the virus was airborne in February, before the first U.S. study on spread

President Donald Trump insisted on Thursday that everyone knew the coronavirus was airborne in February, when he privately told reporter Bob Woodward that the virus “goes through air.”

At the time of Trump’s private comments to Woodward, it was unclear how the virus spread and scientists were debating whether and to what degree it could spread through the air.

“This is stuff that everyone knew. There’s a report that I have here someplace where China said it was airborne earlier than the statements I made. People knew it was airborne. This was nothing,” Trump said Thursday in a White House press briefing. “When I say it was airborne, everybody knew it was airborne. This was no big thing. Read the reports. China came out with a statement that it was an airborne disease. I heard it was an airborne disease. I assumed it early on.”

The first strong scientific study backed by the U.S. government that showed the virus might spread through the air came on March 18. —Will Feuer

Trump pushes for campuses to remain open, Big Ten football to return

During a White House press briefing, President Donald Trump continued to encourage college and university campuses to hold classes in person despite rising coronavirus cases, claiming they pose a lower risk to students than sending them back home. 

“It’s much safer for students to live on campus,” Trump said during a press briefing at the White House. “Rather than the alternative, the alternative is no good … going home, spreading the virus to high-risk Americans.”

The president also said he’s “pushing” for Big Ten football to return after it postponed its season in August after a string of Covid-19 cases and fear of a second wave in the fall.

“It would be a great thing for our country and the players and coaches want to do it really badly,” Trump said at the White House. “They have some of the best players, college players in our country and they want to get into the NFL and they want to make money in the NFL. And they’re not going to be able to do that too easy if you don’t get to see them play.” — Noah Higgins-Dunn

Hope for stimulus dims after bill dies in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 10, 2020.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Senate Republicans have failed to advance their narrowly tailored coronavirus stimulus package, dimming prospects that the U.S. economy will receive another fiscal boost before the November presidential. 

The measure faced unanimous opposition from Senate Democrats, who argued that the GOP package is not ambitious enough to mitigate the damage from the pandemic. One Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, also voted against advancing his party’s bill. 

The Republican legislation would have paid out $300 per week in federal unemployment insurance, half of the $600 weekly benefit that expired in July and which Democrats support. The package also included more small business loans as well as funds for schools, Covid-19 testing, treatments and vaccines.

The GOP bill did not include a second $1,200 direct check for individuals and lacked funding for Democratic priorities like relief for state and local governments, rent and mortgage assistance, as well as food aid. — Spencer Kimball

Airbnb suspends 40 Florida listings in new party house crackdown

Airbnb says it’s cracking down on party houses in Florida. The company has suspended over 40 rental property listings across the state that garnered complaints or violated policies.

The measure is the company’s latest effort to enforce public health guidelines amid the pandemic. In August, Airbnb introduced a global party ban at listings and capped occupancy at 16 guests. Later that month, the company initiated a similar party house crackdown in Los Angeles County and suspended more than 50 listings, according to a company statement.

“It’s critical that we take steps to reduce the number of large parties and events, and we support the efforts of local officials to put a stop to irresponsible behavior,” an Airbnb spokesperson said. —Hannah Miao

20 states start paying extra $300 a week to unemployed workers

At least 20 states have started issuing $300 a week in federal aid to unemployed workers as part of a Lost Wages Assistance program created last month by the Trump administration.

The payout comes as nearly 30 million Americans are collecting jobless benefits, six months into the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It has been a month and a half since workers last received a $600-a-week subsidy provided by the CARES Act relief law.

The Lost Wages supplement is in addition to state benefits, which averaged $306 a week in July and replace half of prior pay for the typical worker.

States disbursing the aid include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. 

All other states, with the exception of South Dakota, have applied for the subsidy and are expected to start paying it in coming weeks. — Greg Iacurci

FDA chief says he has ‘no intention’ of overruling staff on vaccine decision

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn (R) speak on the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said he has “no intention” of overruling career scientists at the agency on an approval of a coronavirus vaccine even though he has the authority.

Hahn told the Economic Club that vaccine data will be adequately reviewed publicly by a group of outside experts. Peter Marks, who runs the FDA division that oversees vaccine approval, will ultimately make a recommendation, Hahn said.  

His remarks come as infectious disease experts and scientists say they have concerns that President Donald Trump is pressuring the FDA to approve a vaccine before it’s been adequately tested. Hahn, insisting the FDA wasn’t being pressured by Trump to fast-track a vaccine, said last month the agency is prepared to bypass the full federal approval process in order to make a vaccine available as soon as possible. –Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

CDC’s eviction ban still leaves renters at risk

franswillemblok | iStock Editorial | Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made it illegal for landlords across the U.S. to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent.

But the measure doesn’t relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent or offer any rental assistance, making it likely that many will rack up debt during the reprieve.

If they can’t pay it once the protection lifts in January, they could lose their homes anyway

Meanwhile, it appears that some landlords are already ignoring the law.

And it doesn’t help that there’s no requirement that renters are informed of the steps they must take to be protected. – Annie Nova

MTA to introduce $50 fine for riders not wearing masks

Commuters wearing protective masks ride the L subway line during rush hour in the Williamsburg neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Monday, June 8, 2020. Only 1.2% of New Yorkers tested Sunday were infected with the new coronavirus, the lowest rate since the pandemic began. “Why are we reopening? Because these numbers say we can,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said said at a news conference in Manhattan. Photographer:

Nina Westervelt | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Public transit passengers in New York will face a $50 fine if they do not wear masks on subways, buses or commuter lines including the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North, according to the MTA.

The measure goes into effect Monday. 

The fines are the agency’s latest effort to increase mask compliance among public transit riders. The MTA says it has distributed over 4 million masks.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote in a Twitter post that “no rider has the right to endanger fellow riders by putting themselves above the law & refusing to wear a mask.” —Hannah Miao

Delay in AstraZeneca vaccine trial a ‘wake up call,’ WHO says

The World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said AstraZeneca’s decision to delay the phase three trial of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine for safety reasons is a reminder that vaccine development is “not always a fast and a straight road.” Speaking during a press briefing at the agency’s headquarters, Swaminathan said there’s no need to be “overly discouraged” by the news, adding that “these things happen.” 

“I think this is a good … perhaps a wake up call or a lesson for everyone to recognize the fact that there are ups and downs in research, there are ups and downs in clinical development and we have to be prepared for those,” she said.  “We hope that things will be able to move on but again it depends. It depends on a lot, and we have to wait to see the details of what actually happened.” 

While the WHO hopes the vaccine’s trials will resume soon, it must wait for more information provided by a data and safety monitoring board, which will determine how to proceed with the trials, she said. — Noah Higgins-Dunn

Papa John’s to open 49 new sites as sales continue to surge during pandemic

Papa John’s International Inc. signage is displayed on top of a delivery vehicle outside of the company’s restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Papa John’s is expanding its footprint in North America, announcing it had signed its largest traditional domestic development deal in over 20 years.

The company will open 49 new locations with franchisee HB Restaurant Group by 2028 in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey areas. The pizza chain has received a big boost in recent months as consumers stay home and order food digitally, with same-store sales growth of 28% in the second quarter of this year.

The stock is up around 45% in 2020 and is one of the best performers of the year. —Kate Rogers

Apple’s annual product launch will look different with virus restrictions

Apple’s annual launch of new products and updates will look different this year due to coronavirus conditions, CNBC’s Kif Leswing reports.

Typically a flashy event where celebrities and power players rub elbows, Tuesday’s digital stream will have to work around the loss of a high-energy live crowd.

The event will be a significant test for Apple; its fall product launches are typically a crucial part of the company’s consumer strategy going into the holiday quarter. The launch will also be a trial for Apple’s new senior vice president for marketing, Greg Joswiak, who’s had limited public exposure thus far. 

Historically, Apple has used its fall launch to announce the newest iPhone, but analysts believe the company may hold off and reveal the 5G iPhone at a separate event down the line. Experts believe Tuesday’s launch will feature new Apple Watch and iPad models. —Hannah Miao

U.S. stocks rise for a second day as tech shares continue rebound from big sell-off

U.S. stocks opened higher as tech shares continued to rebound following a three-day sell-off, reports CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Jesse Pound. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 130 points higher, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 gained 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced by 0.8%. —Melodie Warner 

U.S. weekly jobless claims were worse than expected last week

The U.S. Labor Department reported 884,000 people made first-time filings for unemployment insurance, compared to the 850,000 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The total was unchanged from the previous week.

Continuing claims from those filing for at least two weeks hit 13.385 million, an increase of 93,000 from a week ago, indicating the strong jobs improvement through the summer may be tailing ahead of the fall, reports CNBC’s Jeff Cox. —Melodie Warner 

World must scale up clinical trials, WHO says

Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019), in Geneva, Switzerland.

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

The World Health Organization is urging countries to scale up clinical trials for drugs and vaccines that could help combat the coronavirus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus encouraged countries to contribute more funding toward the WHO’s ACT Accelerator program — a group launched by the WHO and a variety of philanthropic and scientific groups, among others, to accelerate the development, production and distribution of Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. He said the program is already supporting research into various vaccines, drugs and new diagnostic tests.

“But we need to rapidly scale up our clinical trials, manufacturing, licensing and regulation capacity so that these products can get to people and start saving lives,” he said. —Will Feuer

Scientists question Russian vaccine trial data

A group of scientists have questioned the reliability of data published by Russian epidemiologists on early clinical trials of its “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine.

In an open letter to the editor of The Lancet medical journal, in which Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology published early-stage trial results of its coronavirus vaccine last week, a group of scientists said the data showed some “unlikely patterns.”

One of the signatories of the letter, Professor Enrico Bucci from Temple University, told CNBC that further data was needed.

“At this point, I need an explanation and we need clarification, the list of signatories need and ask for clarification … The point here (is that there’s) missing data, and strange data patterns. We cannot reach a conclusion on this vaccine without having full access to the data,” he said. —Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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