Trump says U.S. will end support for WHO, as death toll nears 103,000

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As the U.S. death toll neared 103,000, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would end its support for the World Health Organization charging it didn't respond adequately to the coronavirus pandemic because of China's "total control" over the U.N. agency.

Trump said Chinese officials "ignored" their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the agency to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered.

It was not clear how Trump planned to withhold the funds, much of which are directed by congressional appropriation. The president typically does not have the authority to unilaterally redirect congressional funding.

The WHO declined to comment on the announcement.

Almost 1.75 million cases have been recorded in the U.S., according to an NBC News tally. Globally, more than 365,000 people have died, according to the latest data from John Hopkins' University.

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British scientific advisers warn it's too soon to lift lockdown

Scientific advisers to the British government have warned that COVID-19 is still spreading too fast in the country to lift the lockdown which is set to ease next week. 

From Monday, groups of up to six people allowed to meet outside and primary schools reopening to certain students.

The government has said it hopes its recently launched "test and trace" system — where contacts of known cases are asked to self-isolate — will contain the virus and help the country start to reopen. 

Britain has reported over 270,000 virus cases as of Saturday and more than 38,000 deaths — the highest death toll in Europe — and Jeremy Farrar, a member of  Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he agreed with his colleague John Edmunds that "COVID-19 is spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England."

"TTI (test, trace, isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable of dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted," he wrote on Twitter on Friday. 

Chinese CDC rules out Wuhan market as virus origin

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that following an investigation of the animals at the Wuhan Seafood Market — where the first cases of COVID-19 were initially reported — it has ruled the site out as the origin of the outbreak.

"It now turns out that the market is one of the victims," the CDC's director, Gao Fu, said at a news briefing on May 25th, adding that he had personally collected some samples in Wuhan in early January.

Samples collected from animals at the market came back negative, suggesting that they couldn't have infected shoppers. Gao repeatedly emphasized that the source tracing process is very complicated, noting the complex nature of detecting the host of the 2003 SARS virus.

Regarding the World Health Organization virus-tracing investigation, Gao said that China is willing to cooperate with all countries globally under the WHO framework.

Italy to allow domestic travel from June 3

Italy will allow inter-regional travel starting on June 3, the government announced on Friday evening, as the country’s health ministry reported no critical virus infection spikes in any region of the country.

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the data released by the Higher Health Institute are "encouraging" and that "the major sacrifices of the lockdown have produced these results.” 

The report, however, still recommended caution especially as travel increases. A new wave of coronavirus infections in Italy is possible this autumn, health officials said. 

Also Friday, Lombardy’s regional governor was interrogated by prosecutors who are investigating the failure of authorities to implement a lockdown after the first positive case was registered in the area on Feb. 23, according to the Associated Press. It took two weeks for the government to lockdown all of the Lombardy region — the epicenter of Italy's outbreak — allowing the virus to spread exponentially and kill thousands.

Taiwan approves Gilead's remdesivir to treat COVID-19

Taiwan's government said Saturday that it had approved Gilead Sciences' potential COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, to treat the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Governments are racing to bolster supplies of remdesivir — which U.S. regulators this month approved for emergency use. California-based Gilead has said it will donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir — enough to treat at least 140,000 patients — to combat the global pandemic.

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration took into account "the fact that the efficacy and safety of remdesivir has been supported by preliminary evidence" and its use is being approved by other countries.

On that basis, the center said the conditions had been met for approval of the drug for use in patients with "severe" COVID-19 infection. Taiwan has been successful at preventing the virus from spreading, due to early detection and prevention work and a first rate public health system. It has recorded 442 cases and only 7 deaths. The vast majority of people have recovered, with just 14 active cases.

Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal by a California church that challenged state limits on attendance at worship services that have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Over the dissent of the four more conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in turning away a request from the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area.

The church argued that limits on how many people can attend their services violate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and had been seeking an order in time for services on Sunday. The church said it has crowds of 200 to 300 people for its services.

Roberts wrote in brief opinion that the restriction allowing churches to reopen at 25 percent of their capacity, with no more than 100 worshipers at a time, “appear consistent” with the First Amendment. 

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in dissent that the restriction “discriminates against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment.” 

Visitor to Lake of Ozarks, criticized over crowded party, has COVID-19

A Boone County, Missouri, resident who went to a bar that was criticized for having a crowded pool party over Memorial Day weekend has tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said.

The resident, who was not identified, was in the Lake of the Ozarks area on Saturday and Sunday and went to several places, including Backwater Jack's, the bar that had a pool party where video showed little social distancing.

The Camden County Health Department said in a statement that the person developed illness on Sunday, so they were "likely incubating illness and possibly infectious at the time of the visit."

A timeline was released "due to the need to inform mass numbers of unknown people," the health department said. It shows the person went to Backwater Jack's twice on Saturday, another pool that day, and a Buffalo Wild Wings on Sunday.

Camden County is the county where the bar is located, and Boone County where the person lives is north of Lake of the Ozarks.

Backwater Jack's has defended the party, saying that not socially distancing is not a crime, that temperature checks were conducted and sanitizer was available, and that it is a seasonal business that has already been badly impacted by the restrictions related to the epidemic.

Merck and Novartis join the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine

Several more drug manufacturers have joined the global effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

The announcements, from Merck and Novartis, follow earlier initiatives by pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Inovio, as well as from the United Kingdom's Oxford University.

However, experts remain unconvinced a vaccine proven to be safe and effective will be available this calendar year.

"I think we'll have to have one more cycle of this virus in the fall, heading into the winter, before we get to a vaccine," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC this week.

"I really think a vaccine is probably a 2021 event, in terms of having wide availability of a vaccine for the general population."

Click here for a roundup of the most notable vaccine news of the week.

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