COVID-19 Latest News (July 16): Russia claims success of trial for coronavirus vaccine

The clinical trial of Russia’s first coronavirus vaccine on volunteers has been completed successfully, according to the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University.
July 16, 2020 | 09:03
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US President Donald Trump delivers a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 14, 2020 (Photo: AFP)

US reports more than 60,000 new cases for fifth day in a week

The US reported its fifth one-day increase of more than 60,000 coronavirus cases in the space of a week on Tuesday, led by Texas, which reported a record 10,754 new infections.

A further 736 people were reported to have died, according to Covid Tracking Project data, more than double the 327 on Monday. Florida (133), North Carolina (42), Alabama (40), Nevada (19), Utah (10) and Hawaii (3) all had record one-day increases in fatalities.

At least 27 states have put a hold on reopening businesses or reimposed measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

According to CNBC, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that while coronavirus testing “is a good thing,” it has also served as “fodder for the fake news to report cases.” He said that if the U.S. didn’t test people for Covid-19, then you wouldn’t have “all the headlines” because the nation has one of the lowest mortality rate.

The U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world with more than 3.4 million out of the roughly 13.3 million global cases. While the U.S. has conducted more testing than any other country, it also has the most fatalities — 136,300 of the world’s approximately 576,800 deaths. Covid-19 deaths, which had been on the decline in America for almost two months, recently began rising again, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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Relatives mourn a man who died from Covid-19 at a crematorium in New Delhi, India (Photo: Reuters)

India records highest single-day spike of over 29,000 COVID-19 cases

India on July 15, Wednesday recorded the highest single-day spike of 29,429 COVID-19 cases, pushing the total tally to 9,36,181. According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the country has 3,19,840 active cases at present and 5,92,032 have been cured/discharged. Around 582 coronavirus patients succumbed due to the deadly contagious disease in the last 24 hours, taking the fatalities count to 23,727.

The Indian government has unveiled a plan to help its citizens deal with the fallout from one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks: limit screen time for the country’s 240m school-age children.

According to The Financial Times, Indian authorities have urged schools to restrict online classes to two hours a day for children younger than 13 and three hours a day for older students. They said limits on online education were necessary so that children “do not get overly stretched or stressed or get affected negatively owing to its prolonged use”.

The inability to safely reopen schools has barely figured in public debate as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has tried to persuade people that India is faring better than most other nations even as the number of cases in the country approaches the 1m mark.

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Hong Kong has imposed strict restriction as 70% of COVID-19 cases in the community have unclear reasons (Photo: AGB)

Hong Kong sees major spike in COVID cases

Hong Kong reported 19 confirmed coronavirus cases and 37 preliminary cases likely to be confirmed pending further tests on Wednesday, its largest daily spike in new infections since the third wave of the outbreak started in the city in early July.

The city's ninth and tenth fatalities related to COVID-19 were also reported on Wednesday, including an 89-year-old man and a 90-year-old woman. The woman had chronic illnesses and caught the deadly virus at an elderly care home, according to Hong Kong's Hospital Authority. The home has become one of the biggest infection clusters in Hong Kong, with at least 33 residents and employees confirmed as infected and two deaths.

According to ECNS, Health authorities are still hunting for the sources of 78 local infections during the period, as concerns are mounting over expanding community clusters at restaurants, supermarkets, schools and elderly care homes.

Health officials strongly urged Hong Kong residents, especially the elderly, to stay at home and not to visit markets and restaurants in the following two weeks.

Also on Wednesday, the city's toughest social distancing rules to date took effect to battle what health experts said was the worst outbreak since January, including mandatory wearing of face masks on public transportation and banning dining at restaurants from 6 pm to 5 am.

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Russia claims successful completion of clinical trial for coronavirus vaccine (Photo: Belga)

Russia claims successful completion of clinical trial for coronavirus vaccine

The clinical trial of Russia’s first coronavirus vaccine on volunteers has been completed successfully, according to the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University. The trials, which were conducted on a group of 38 volunteers in two batches, began on 18 June, according to the university.

The first stage saw a group of 18 volunteers vaccinated, with 20 more volunteers being vaccinated five days later, according to Russian news agency TASS.

The volunteers received an intramuscular injection of the vaccine. Initial side effects such as headaches and high body temperature disappeared within 24 hours of administration, Russian media reported. The participants will have to stay isolated for four weeks to avoid other infections, after which they will be monitored for half a year.

The vaccine is also being tested in liquid form at Burdenko Military Hospital in Moscow, with a first group of volunteers getting discharged on 15 July and a second group on 20 July. More research could be needed before the vaccine is cleared for use, as the trials was small-scale.

According to the WHO, there are only two firms in Phase 3 trials – which involve randomised controlled trials on large patient groups – for a vaccine, namely the Chinese company Sinovac and the UK-based AstraZeneca.

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Mike Pompeo: WHO investigation 'whitewashed' China's coronavirus mistakes (Photo: Reuters)

Mike Pompeo: WHO investigation 'whitewashed' China's coronavirus mistakes

World Health Organization officials in China will have little choice but to “conduct a completely, completely whitewashed investigation” into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“I hope I'm wrong. I hope it's a thorough investigation that gets fully to the bottom, but I've watched the Chinese Communist Party's behavior with respect to that virus that emanated from Wuhan, and they have simply refused,” Pompeo told reporters Wednesday.

Pompeo downplayed the likelihood of that prospect while faulting Beijing for the fraught state of U.S.-China relations. “You have a Chinese Communist Party that is putting freedom and democracy at risk by their expansionist, imperialist authoritarian behavior,” quoted by Washington Examiners.

In addition to the coronavirus disputes, Pompeo’s team has lashed Beijing recently for the large-scale repression of Uighur Muslims, as well as China’s attempt to seize control of vast swathes of the South China Sea.

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