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Health Highlights: Oct. 1, 2020

Last Updated: October 01, 2020.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Trump Leading Driver of Coronavirus Pandemic Misinformation: Study

U.S. President Donald Trump is the leading driver of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, a new study finds.

Cornell University researchers analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic published in English-language media worldwide from Jan. 1 to May 26. Of those, more than 1.1 million (just under 3%) contained misinformation, The New York Times reported.

Mentions by Trump accounted for nearly 38% of the overall "misinformation conversation," according to the study.

That makes Trump the largest driver of false information about the pandemic, which the researchers called an "infodemic."

"The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid," said study lead author Sarah Evanega, director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, The Times reported.

"That's concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications."

Eleven topics of misinformation were identified by the researchers, including various conspiracy theories. The most common type of misinformation was "miracle cures," including Trump's promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for COVID-19, The Times reported.

Miracle cures accounted for more misinformation than the other 10 topics combined, according to the study.

Misinformation about the pandemic is "one of the major reasons" the United States isn't doing as well as other countries in fighting it, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former principal deputy commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"There is a science of rumors. It's when there is uncertainty and fear," he told The Times.

Without treatments or vaccines, honest and consistent messaging is crucial in combating the pandemic, said Sharfstein, who teaches on public health crisis communications.

"This is what we need to save lives," he said. "If it's not done well, you get far more infections and deaths."


'Dairy Free' Chocolate Bars Had High Levels of Milk Allegens: FDA

Potentially hazardous levels of milk allergen were found in four dark chocolate bars labeled as "dairy free" or "milk free," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The levels ranged from 600 to 3,100 parts per million, which could cause severe reactions in people with milk allergy. In response to these findings, the four products were recalled by their manufacturers.

The FDA didn't identify the products or their makers.

The agency doesn't define the terms "dairy-free,"or "milk-free." Such claims are voluntary and must be truthful and not misleading, according to the FDA.


No Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Until Next Spring

Moderna won't have a coronavirus vaccine available for widespread use until next spring at the earliest, the company's CEO said Wednesday.

Stephane Bancel said Moderna won't be ready to seek U.S. approval for the vaccine to be used in the general population until at least late January. If it's proven safe and effective, the vaccine isn't likely to be available for nationwide use until later March or early April, CBS News reported.

Moderna earlier this month said it expected to have enough vaccine testing data to apply for emergency use authorization for frontline medical workers and other at-risk people by Nov. 1, but that's been pushed back to Nov. 25, according to a company spokesperson.

Late-stage testing is being conducted on seven potential coronavirus vaccines. About one-third of all vaccine candidates make it through all phases of testing, Deutsche Bank analysts say, CBS News reported.


Trump Administration Blocks CDC No-Sail Order for Cruise Ships

Extension of a no-sail order for U.S. cruise ships until mid-February has been blocked by the Trump administration.

The current order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire Wednesday and the agency recommended it be extended to prevent cruise ships from becoming coronavirus hot spots, as they were at the start of the pandemic, The New York Times reported.

But the extension was overruled at a meeting of the coronavirus task force on Tuesday, and cruise ships will be allowed to sail after Oct. 31.

The extension of the no-sail order was rejected because it would have upset the politically powerful tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida, The Times reported.

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