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Coronavirus Latest: Tuesday, October 20

The U.K. is set to launch the first coronavirus human challenge trial, which will infect volunteers with a small portion of the disease so as to create a wider pool to test a vaccine, in January. Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani joins The Final Round to discuss the latest on the coronavirus.

Video Transcript

JEN ROGRS: Right now, I want to get the very latest on the coronavirus pandemic. Global cases crossing more than 40 million right now. Anjalee Khemlani, the very latest from you. I mean, it seems like we've had some new developments in terms of treatments and maybe trials coming back.

Are we getting-- we went through that phase where we're having a lot of pauses. Now are we going to sort of reverse that? You've told us it's normal that that happens. Now is the time when these kind of start all back up again?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Well, we're definitely waiting to see still from some of these companies. The latest that we heard from Moderna, for example, not one of the companies that was on pause, but noting that there is that chance of it not meeting its goal of a November deadline to give us the data on whether or not the vaccine works. And if that is the case, then they get pushed from being one of the vaccines that gets authorized this year to one that gets authorized early next year.

And so that has been sort of the concern in the scientific community, is that these deadlines could be hard to meet. We do know that it got pushed out to a two-month observational period from one month. So that also pushed Pfizer out, which was aiming to have results by the end of this month. And so now it will have it by the end of next month.

Meanwhile, we know, in the UK, a really interesting development with human challenge trials was announced today. The government is partnering with an arm of an Irish pharmaceutical called hVIVO. And the goal of that is to develop a dose of the virus that is safe enough to inject in individuals to then test vaccines and treatments.

And so that's looking to be sort of an interesting prospect right now for the industry when it comes to being able to speed up these trials. Because it's going to be a much smaller population that it then gets tested in.

Of course, there are some critics who are pushing back on this, saying things, like, it really is going to be hard to control because there is no proven treatment yet for this virus. And while human challenge trials are not new by any stretch of the imagination, for this pandemic, there is that risk.

So it's going to be interesting to see how that all pans out. Pharma companies have reportedly been increasingly interested as we've seen how long this process takes. And we know that there are more than 100, about 180, candidates overall for vaccines in the entire world. So I'm sure that we'll hear more about this playing a role there.

And then, of course, we know that now we're in the next wave of the pandemic with 14 states reporting record hospitalization numbers. And there's been some discussion about what should be sort of the number to pay attention to. Is it continued daily case counts? Is it hospitalization? Or is it deaths?

As it stands right now, deaths have been curbed because we've had better protocol on how to deal with this virus. So there has been a reduction in that number. Meanwhile, looking at hospitalization rates, those are definitely a concern because that tells you sort of where the more severe cases are, whereas daily cases just is the overall number. So definitely paying attention to hospital rates right now.

JEN ROGRS: Anjalee Khemlani with the very latest.