A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 906,000 people worldwide.
Over 27.9 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The criteria for diagnosis -- through clinical means or a lab test -- has varied from country-to-country. Still, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.
The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 6.39 million diagnosed cases and at least 191,612 deaths.
California has the most cases of any U.S. state, with more than 749,000 people diagnosed, according to Johns Hopkins data. California is followed by Texas and Florida, with over 669,000 cases and over 654,000 cases, respectively.
Nearly 170 vaccine candidates for COVID-19 are being tracked by the World Health Organization, at least six of which are in crucial phase three trials.
CDC issues new forecast for estimated COVID-19 deaths
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced forecasts of national COVID-19 deaths over the next four weeks from 39 modeling groups.
The center said this week’s national forecast indicates an uncertain trend in new COVID-19 deaths reported over the next four weeks and predicts that 3,300 to 8,000 new deaths will likely be reported during the week ending Oct. 3.
The CDC predicts that a total of 205,000 to 217,000 COVID-19 deaths will be reported by this date.
Trump touts accomplishments, misleading coronavirus stats
President Donald Trump spent most of his opening remarks during a press briefing Thursday giving a campaign-style speech listing off what he views as accomplishments, while appearing to tout misleading coronavirus statistics.
He also compared his handling of the ongoing crisis to then-President Barack Obama and Joe Biden's handling of the H1N1, or swine flu, pandemic in 2009, which he called a disaster.
"The United States has done really well," Trump said as he ran through a series of statistics and numbers meant to make the U.S. look comparatively better than other countries.
Trump also accused Biden of launching a campaign to spread anti-vaxxer sentiments about a COVID-19 vaccine without providing any evidence to support the claim.
"Joe Biden continues to use the pandemic for political gain," Trump said. "Now Biden's launched a public campaign against the vaccine, which is so bad, because we have some vaccines coming that are incredible."
"Deaths declined by 20% compared to just last week," Trump said. "It's going down very rapidly, really rapidly."
This data does not reflect the fact that reporting over Labor Day was delayed and health experts have not signaled that deaths are decreasing "very rapidly."
Major shippers urged to 'prepare for COVID-19 vaccine transport'
The International Air Transport Association said it urged governments to begin to carefully plan with industry stakeholders "to ensure full preparedness when vaccines for COVID-19 are approved and available for distribution." It also warned about "potentially severe capacity" constraints when transporting vaccines by air.
"Safely delivering COVID-19 vaccines will be the mission of the century for the global air cargo industry. But it won’t happen without careful advance planning. And the time for that is now," IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement. "We urge governments to take the lead in facilitating cooperation across the logistics chain so that the facilities, security arrangements and border processes are ready for the mammoth and complex task ahead."
The association acknowledged "delivering billions of doses of vaccine to the entire world efficiently" will involve "hugely complex logistical and programmatic obstacles."
"We look forward to working together with government, vaccine manufacturers and logistical partners to ensure an efficient global roll-out of a safe and affordable COVID-19 vaccine,” the association said.
FDA chief says he will not overrule scientists' recommendation on vaccine
FDA Chief Stephen Hahn reiterated on Thursday that any FDA decision on a COVID-19 vaccine will be based on the science and data from clinical trials.
Hahn said the career experts in FDA's Center for Biologics Research make decisions on whether to recommend vaccines for approval and he has no plan to contradict them.
"I can tell you throughout this pandemic, throughout my tenure as commissioner, I have not reversed a decision by the career scientists on medical products and I have no intention of doing that now," he said, adding, "We will independently call the balls and strikes."
He responded to concerns the FDA would speed up or slow down vaccine authorizations to impact the election.
"[W]e find ourselves in the position that we're accused of either going too fast or too slow or doing too little or too much. And I suppose, where we land up is if we're hearing criticism from both sides, we're probably in the right place," Hahn said. "At the end of the day, for us, it's about the risk benefit calculus, particularly during a pandemic like COVID-19, and we do need to call the balls and strikes on medical products and we do need to use the available data."