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Trump's aggressive stance on virus treatments raises concerns about putting politics ahead of safety – CNN

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Trump is set to lay out his vision for four more years amid a global pandemic and staggering unemployment at the Republican National Convention starting Monday — and key to that vision will be overcoming the spread of coronavirus.
But the White House’s convention eve announcement about the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma is again prompting questions from medical experts about the safety and efficacy of any solutions Trump pushes.
Several top health officials had previously been skeptical there was enough data to justify emergency plasma authorization.
Among those skeptics: Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s premiere infectious disease expert; and Dr. H. Clifford Lane, who works under Fauci at the NIH, according to a knowledgeable source.
Beating the virus and reopening the country have long been central to Trump’s push for a second term. A document from the Trump campaign outlining Trump’s second term agenda makes eradicating Covid-19 one of its top priorities. The document’s bullet points include, “Develop a Vaccine by The End Of 2020” and “Return to Normal in 2021.”
“And frankly, in terms of quality, if you look at what we’re doing and what we’re coming up with, drug companies are coming out with vaccines that are I’ve seen some results already — it’s going to be very, very soon — in stage three trials,” Trump told a crowd of Republican delegates as he kicked off his convention in Charlotte on Monday.
At his Sunday news conference announcing the convalescent plasma news, Trump said he believed “political reasons” had slowed down FDA’s approval of the therapeutic treatment, but that he “broke the logjam” last week. Those remarks amounted to tacit confirmation that he applied pressure on the agency ahead of its announcement.
The day before, Trump had alleged, without evidence, that a “deep state” within the FDA was deliberately delaying coronavirus vaccine trials, pressuring Dr. Stephen Hahn, the man he had picked to head the agency.
It’s the latest example of a President who has previously touted unproven treatments for coronavirus politicizing the science around a disease that has already killed more than 176,000 Americans.
Trump has butted heads with scientific advisers before and hasn’t been shy about calling them out when they disagree about the dire state of the pandemic, frequently training his ire at Fauci, as well as criticizing warnings from Dr. Deborah Birx and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, among others.
And while Trump has at times sparred with his medical experts, the White House has given wide authority to non-medical experts to talk about medical developments. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who is not a medical doctor and has no medical training but a Ph. D. in economics, told reporters Monday that convalescent plasma “is one of the safest therapies you can imagine” and suggested the timing for the EUA announcement was “late.” An EUA is not the same as an approval, but allows for larger distribution of the treatment.
“The odds of it hurting you are close to zero, the odds of it helping are close to 100%,” he said, noting that the FDA suggests it could lead to a 35% reduction in mortality.
He added, “Convalescent plasma, that’s like going after Bambi, it’s proven safe and effective.”
But the 35% figure, from a Mayo Clinic study that has not yet been peer reviewed, does not, in fact, show a 35% reduction in deaths in those treated versus those not treated, but among those treated earlier and at higher doses than those treated later and at lower doses. There is not yet randomized clinical trial data on convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19. Some of those trials are underway.
Navarro pushed back on questions about the announcement’s timing around the Republican convention, calling himself an “integral part” of the strategic national stockpile and vaccine and therapeutic development teams, despite having no medical background.
Pressed again by CNN’s Joe Johns on what new information or new data led to the emergency use authorization, he said he was “not privy to what the decisions were and what the data was. I haven’t looked at that.”
A prominent vaccine expert told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sunday that the White House may have bullied the FDA into giving emergency use authorization to using blood plasma.
“I think what’s happening here is you’re seeing bullying, at least at the highest level of the FDA, and I’m sure that there are people at the FDA right now who are the workers there that are as upset about this as I am,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The administration has also raised the idea of fast-tracking the distribution of vaccines via an EUA before phase three trials were completed, sources say. On July 30, during broader negotiations over the coronavirus relief legislation inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the White House officials in the room how things were going on the vaccine effort, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.
It was at that point that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin walked through the various pieces of vaccine development, and then suggested that the AstraZeneca effort could be ready by September. As the conversation continued, the White House officials raised the possibility of an emergency use authorization before phase three trials were completed.
At that point, Pelosi interrupted to tell Mnuchin and Meadows there should be no cutting of corners during the vaccine development process.
The Financial Times first reported the details of the July meeting.
Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, on Sunday denied that there was any effort to fast-track vaccine development for political purposes.
“This is not true, don’t believe it. Talk of an October surprise vaccine plot is a lurid Resistance fantasy designed to undermine the President’s Coronavirus response. And nobody, but nobody, among the career FDA regulators I know will ever stand quietly for political pressure,” Caputo said.
Meadows on Monday morning also dismissed concerns that there’s political pressure to fast-track a vaccine, reiterating that the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” will protectively produce large quantities of vaccines in phase three trials.
“Yeah that’s not happening. I can tell you, we’re going through a standard clinical process like any other drug would happen and then what we’re speeding up is the non-testing side of it,” he said, going on to tout manufacturing capacity and the idea that the vaccines will be ready to distribute “if indeed they prove efficacy for the American people.”
Trump has a history of pushing unproven — and potentially dangerous — treatments for a virus that has crippled the economy on which he was basing much of reelection pitch.
One study of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he has said he has taken himself as a prophylaxis, showed it helped patients better survive in the hospital, but other studies have found no benefit, and some have seen patients with cardiac side effects.
He’s also dangerously suggested ingesting disinfectant could possibly be used to treat people who have the virus, as well as sunlight as a treatment alternative.

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In US, Attention to Politics Shows Typical Election Year Surge – Gallup Poll

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Story Highlights

  • Percentage of Americans following news on national politics is back to 2008 high
  • Democrats are following national political news more closely than Republicans are
  • Older Americans are most likely to follow news on national politics “very closely”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Less than two months from the presidential election, 42% of Americans say they follow news about national politics “very closely,” similar to the 39% to 43% who paid this close attention in each of the prior three presidential election years since 2008. Today’s level is a bit higher than in 2004, when 36% followed national political news very closely. Attention was far lower in 1996, at 27%.

Line graph. Rate of those following news about elections closely typically rises prior to election. The current rate matches 2008 record high of 42%.

Since 2006, about a third of U.S. adults have closely followed political news in non-election years. That figure ticks up sharply in presidential election years, only to recede the following year. While Americans’ attention didn’t fall much in the first year after President Donald Trump was elected, it did dwindle to 32% by 2019, only to spike 10 percentage points this year.

In addition to the 42% of Americans saying they follow national political news very closely in the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 poll, 38% say they follow it “somewhat closely,” 14% “not too closely” and 6% “not at all.”

Partisans Most Attentive to Political News

Partisan differences in attention to news have not been large in presidential election years, but to the extent there is a difference — as in 2008 and 2012 — Republicans have been the ones more likely to pay close attention. By contrast, today, Democrats are now slightly more likely than Republicans to say they are following news about national politics very closely (51% vs. 45%, respectively).

In line with prior election year polls, independents are significantly less attentive than either major party group, with about a third (34%) saying they are following news on national politics very closely.

Line graph. The percentage of Americans paying very close attention to national political news, by political affiliation. 51% of Democrats now say they are paying very close attention to national political news, compared with 45% of Republicans and 34% of independents. Unlike previous election cycles, Democrats now most likely to say following political news very closely.

Age Disparities in Focus on National Politics

Older Americans are typically more likely than younger adults to say they are following news on national politics very closely. However, unlike their two age cohort comparisons, older Americans are the only age group to be more likely this year (56%) than in 2008 (50%) to say they are following political news very closely.

Adults aged 18 to 34 are the least likely to say they are following news on national politics very closely this year, at 23% — a significantly lower figure than the 32% of 18- to 34-year-olds who said the same in 2008, when the nation witnessed a historic turnout of young voters.

Four in 10 middle-aged Americans (aged 35 to 54) say they are following political news very closely, just shy of the 44% high for this age group that Gallup recorded in 2008.

Line graph. The percentage of Americans paying very close attention to national political news, by age group. 56% of those aged 55 or older now say they are paying very close attention to national political news, compared with 40% of those 35-54 and 23% of those 18-34. As with previous elections, older respondents more likely than younger ones to say following national politics closely.

Bottom Line

With just six weeks until the Nov. 3 contest, Americans are relatively focused on national politics, as is typical in presidential election years. Compared with their interest in 2008, a year with record-high voter turnout, Democrats are more attentive today, a finding that could bode well for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

When Gallup last measured the amount of thought Americans are giving to the presidential election, Republicans and Democrats were about equal. That situation could have changed since mid-August and the political conventions, but given Republicans’ usual advantage on that measure, a tie between the parties may suggest a stronger Democratic positioning than usual. Gallup will update its “election thought” measure in the coming weeks.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Learn more about public opinion metrics that matter for the 2020 presidential election at Gallup’s 2020 Presidential Election Center.

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The one thing that matters to stocks more than politics

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The presidential election is mere weeks away on Nov. 3 and the Supreme Court is also now under a microscope after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg upset the court’s delicate political balance.

<p class=”canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm” type=”text” content=”All of this has been featured in copious pundit commentary and research notes — especially as the market turmoil that surrounded 2016 proved to be a huge boon for some savvy investors like Carl Icahn, who left a Trump election night celebration to buy stocks and make $1 billion.” data-reactid=”17″>All of this has been featured in copious pundit commentary and research notes — especially as the market turmoil that surrounded 2016 proved to be a huge boon for some savvy investors like Carl Icahn, who left a Trump election night celebration to buy stocks and make $1 billion.

But in a fresh note from Capital Economics, economist Oliver Allen points out the obvious point many forget during election season: the economy is “probably more important than politics.”

<p class=”canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm” type=”text” content=”Politics, Allen writes, is still moving the market. The death of Ginsburg was the “final nail in the coffin” for more fiscal stimulus that millions of Americans need to stay afloat. It also has bearing on what may happen on Election Day, as the Supreme Court may eclipse the pandemic and the economy as key voting issues.” data-reactid=”19″>Politics, Allen writes, is still moving the market. The death of Ginsburg was the “final nail in the coffin” for more fiscal stimulus that millions of Americans need to stay afloat. It also has bearing on what may happen on Election Day, as the Supreme Court may eclipse the pandemic and the economy as key voting issues.

Despite the impact that politics has on the stock market, Allen warns investors not to get ahead of themselves. It’s the economy that matters most, and most importantly, how the long-term coronavirus vaccines and eventual recovery unfold.

Though Allen says to look at the economy more than the election, Capital Economics doesn’t offer more than a vague “the S&P 500 will climb further over the next few years, as major economies eventually get their coronavirus outbreaks under control, and central banks keep monetary policy exceptionally loose,” which seems wise, given how silly 2019 predictions look now.

A television broadcast showing U.S. President Donald Trump is pictured during a trading session at Frankfurt's stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
A television broadcast showing U.S. President Donald Trump is pictured during a trading session at Frankfurt’s stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Many people remember how the disrupted Bush-Gore election in 2000 hurt equity markets, causing them to drop around 8%, but the turbulence cleared up relatively quickly, resulting in no long-term damage.

“Provided any dispute over this year’s election is also eventually resolved, we find it hard to see [the election] having a lasting impact on US equities, even if it could cause a spike in volatility following Election Day,” Allen writes.

The fact that politics is secondary to the economy when it comes to stock prices isn’t a controversial take. Plenty of analysts point to uncertainty as being the chief problem. But the political implications for the stock market are frequently discussed by market strategists.

<p class=”canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm” type=”text” content=”Many financial pundits have said Trump is better for the stock market and economy, citing deregulation and market performance after his election amid dire predictions from some. And Allen notes that “a second term for President Trump would probably be a better outcome for US equities than a win for Joe Biden,” because of corporate taxes.” data-reactid=”36″>Many financial pundits have said Trump is better for the stock market and economy, citing deregulation and market performance after his election amid dire predictions from some. And Allen notes that “a second term for President Trump would probably be a better outcome for US equities than a win for Joe Biden,” because of corporate taxes.

<p class=”canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm” type=”text” content=”At the same time, Trump’s late and weak coronavirus response led, in part, to 200,000 deaths, skyrocketing unemployment, dampened earnings, and a recovery that is still trying to get off the ground. And though some stock prices (mostly tech stocks) are doing well — driving the S&amp;P 500 (^GSPC) back to pre-coronavirus levels after a huge plunge — many companies are still in tough situations.” data-reactid=”37″>At the same time, Trump’s late and weak coronavirus response led, in part, to 200,000 deaths, skyrocketing unemployment, dampened earnings, and a recovery that is still trying to get off the ground. And though some stock prices (mostly tech stocks) are doing well — driving the S&P 500 (^GSPC) back to pre-coronavirus levels after a huge plunge — many companies are still in tough situations.

 

 

Source:- Yahoo Canada Finance

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Women in politics panel scheduled for Thursday – Sarnia Observer

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Three local women are talking about their experiences in politics this Thursday for a Jean Collective digital panel.

Judy Krall, deputy mayor of Enniskillen Township, is pictured in the Lambton County building in February. She’s one of three panelists in a Jean Collective talk about women in politics Thursday.

Paul Morden / The Observer

Three local women are talking about their experiences in politics this Thursday for a Jean Collective digital panel.

The group aimed at encouraging more women in politics in Sarnia-Lambton – currently about a dozen are in elected office across the county – kicked off in January, but the initiative was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic just before the panel presentation was originally scheduled for late March, said Helen Cole, one of six women behind the group.

“With this panel, we’re relaunching,” she said.

“It’s just a way to get the word out that we’re here, we want to support women who would be interested in making a difference in their community.

The Sept. 24, 7 p.m. panel via Zoom includes St. Clair Township Coun. Tracy Kingston, Enniskillen Township Deputy Mayor Judy Krall, and former City of Sarnia councillor Anne Marie Gillis.

“We’re asking them questions like ‘why did you decide to get involved in politics,’” Cole said. “Most often it’s because they were already active in their community and they wanted to make a difference.”

Challenges exist, said Cole, who served on St. Thomas council before moving to Sarnia, where she was manager of its Canadian Cancer Society office until she retired in 2013.

“You often will feel all alone,” she said. “So we want to address that piece.”

That includes developing what she called an education program for prospective politicians about things like Roberts Rules of Order that govern council meetings, work-life balance, information about finance, strategic planning, for building self confidence, and covering other topics, so they know what to expect in office, she said.

“I have some subject matter experts lined up for some of those, and if there’s some interest there may be a campaign school,” she said.

The education program would continue up until maybe six months before the 2022 municipal election, she said.

“Our point that we made very strongly is we are not endorsing any particular candidate or political party – we just want to get women involved,” Cole said.

“We all agree that a female on council has a different perspective, and we think that needs to be brought to the council table,” wherever that may be in Sarnia-Lambton, she said.

“And it’s a way for us to support women,” she said.

Often women are hesitant to run amid doubt, she said.

“We want to take the mystery and the fear out of it and say ‘You can do this. You need to get involved in your community.”’

Thursday’s digital panel is free and tickets are available for the Women in Politics Panel Discussion and Networking event via eventbrite.com.

Hopes are the education events to come will also be free, Cole said, noting she wants to eventually offer bursaries to women studying political science at university.

There’s a fund named after Jean Macdougall – also the namesake of the collective and Cole’s mentor during her time in politics – at the Sarnia Community Foundation for the cause, she said.

“If people wanted to support in that way, they could donate to that fund,” she said.

tkula@postmedia.com

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