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Coronavirus update: Vaccine put to test in 30,000 volunteers; national security adviser tests positive
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Coronavirus update: Vaccine put to test in 30,000 volunteers; national security adviser tests positive

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The world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine study got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the U.S. government — one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race.

There’s still no guarantee that the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will really protect.

The needed proof: Volunteers won’t know if they’re getting the real shot or a dummy version. After two doses, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines, especially in areas where the virus still is spreading unchecked.

Moderna said the vaccination was done in Savannah, Georgia, the first site to get underway among more than seven dozen trial sites scattered around the country.

In other news, President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has tested positive for the coronavirus — making him the highest-ranking official to test positive so far.

That’s according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss it by name.

The White House confirmed that O’Brien has mild symptoms and “has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site,” adding that: “There is no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President” and that the “work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted.”

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball's return may be falling apart after one weekend. The Miami Marlins delayed their postgame trip home from Philadelphia and postponed their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles after 12 players and two coaches tested positive.

The team's precarious health and other COVID quarantines across the league raised anew doubts about MLB's ability to finish the season during a pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Suggesting a narrower pandemic relief package may be all that's possible, the White House still pushed ahead with Monday's planned rollout of the Senate Republicans' $1 trillion effort as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assailed the GOP “disarray” as time-wasting during the crisis.
  • The coronavirus pandemic “continues to accelerate”, with a doubling of cases over the last six weeks, the World Health Organization chief says. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says nearly 16 million cases have now been reported to the U.N. health agency, with more than 640,000 deaths worldwide.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says people “stepping up to the plate” is the reason for some of the “plateauing” in coronavirus cases being seen in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said last week that “we already are starting to see some plateauing,” or leveling off of cases, in these hard-hit states.
  • As they decide how their children will learn this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, parents are anxiously weighing the benefits of in-person instruction against the risks that schools could shut their doors again or that their children could contract the virus and pass it on.
  • Because of pandemic precautions, the ceremony marking the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack will not include one of the most poignant parts of previous memorials — the personal messages spoken by families of victims.
  • Europe's tourism revival is running into turbulence only weeks after countries opened their borders, with rising infections in Spain and other countries causing increasing concern as authorities worry about people bringing the coronavirus home from their summer vacations.
  • Major League Baseball returned to action this weekend with a flourish of highs and lows as the sport attempts to play a 60-game regular season amid a coronavirus pandemic still plaguing much of the United States. The baseball itself was a breath of fresh air — even through all those face coverings. But COVID-era baseball has been unmistakably different.
  • While the major sports are finding ways to return to competition (for now), college basketball is in a holding pattern, much like college football. College basketball coaches do have an advantage over the football coaches while in limbo. Since their season starts later, they get a chance to see how things play out, both in professional sports and in college football.

For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for the latest maps and charts tracking the spread.

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