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Coronavirus Global Updates, September 24: ‘Are people to be left to die?’ — vaccine pleas fill UN summit

Global Coronavirus Updates: IMF has warned that coronavirus crisis is lasting longer than expected and it will take some countries years to return to growth. Meanwhile, almost six months after it nearly sealed its borders to limit the spread of the virus, China is easing entry restrictions for some foreigners.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 24, 2020 9:52:48 pm
People wait in line at the Women's College coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Reuters)

Coronavirus Global Updates: The International Monetary Fund warned that coronavirus crisis is lasting longer than expected and it will take some countries years to return to growth. In other news, Singapore will allow more people to return to offices and trial a new business travel pass for senior executives as the city moves to re-open more of its economy amid ebbing virus cases. China eased restrictions on some foreigners’ entry into the country almost six months after it nearly sealed its borders. Hong Kong will put the U.K. on its “high-risk” list from Oct. 1, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unnamed sources.

Globally, the infections have topped 31.8 million, with deaths exceeding 974,000.

Covid-19 news from across the globe

‘Are people to be left to die?’ Vaccine pleas fill UN summit

If the United Nations was created from the ashes of World War II, what will be born from the global crisis of Covid-19.

Many world leaders at this week’s virtual UN summit hope it will be a vaccine made available and affordable to all countries, rich and poor. But with the US, China and Russia opting out of a collaborative effort to develop and distribute a vaccine, and some rich nations striking deals with pharmaceutical companies to secure millions of potential doses, the UN pleas are plentiful but likely in vain.

“Are people to be left to die?” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, a Covid-19 survivor, said of the uncertain way forward.

More than 150 countries have joined COVAX, in which richer countries agree to buy into potential vaccines and help finance access for poorer ones. But the absence of Washington, Beijing and Moscow means the response to a health crisis unlike any other in the UN’s 75 years is short of truly being global. Instead, the three powers have made vague pledges of sharing any vaccine they develop, likely after helping their own citizens first.

This week’s U.N. gathering could serve as a wake-up call, said Gayle Smith, president of the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit fighting preventable disease that’s developing scorecards to measure how the world’s most powerful nations are contributing to vaccine equity.

Trump says may block stricter FDA guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine

President Donald Trump said that the White House could veto any tightening of Food and Drug Administration rules for authorizing the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine. “That has to be approved by the White House,” Trump said at a news conference on Wednesday. “We may or may not approve it.” The FDA is expected to issue final rules in coming days for issuing an emergency-use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine. Companies including Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc have vaccine candidates in late-stage trials. Some of the studies could produce data on their efficacy as soon as October.

France limits public gatherings

France introduced new steps to fight the rapid resurgence of the coronavirus, including closing bars earlier in the evening and limiting public gatherings in Paris and several other cities. But the government isn’t considering a new nationwide lockdown. The latest steps will force bars in Paris and other cities to close at 10 p.m. at latest, starting Monday, while gyms will be shut for at least two weeks. The government also reduced crowd-size limits for public events and added new restrictions on private gatherings beginning on Saturday.

People wearing protective face masks as precaution against the conoravirus line up to get a seat at a bistro along the Seine river bank in Paris (AP)

Israel cabinet tightens coronavirus lockdown

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet decided on Thursday to tighten Israel’s coronavirus lockdown after he voiced alarm that a surge in infections was pushing the nation to “the edge of the abyss”, the YNet news site said. Israel went back into lockdown, its second during the pandemic, on Sept. 18. But over the past week, the number of daily new cases has reached nearly 7,000 among a population of 9 million, severely straining the resources of some hospitals. Revised edicts that take effect on Friday allow fewer businesses to operate and impose further curbs on travel, YNet said, after cabinet discussions that stretched from Wednesday to end early on Thursday.

A woman wearing a protective face mask plays with her daughter next to a statue of the first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, during a nationwide three-week lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus at the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Sept 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Trudeau says Canada is in second wave of pandemic, urges renewed caution

Canada has entered a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, warning that the country was on the brink of a surge if people did not follow public health guidelines. In a rare national address, Trudeau said the country “is at a crossroads” as a second wave emerges in four large provinces, adding that the government would do whatever it took to help the country recover from the pandemic. “We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” he said. Canada’s COVID-19 cases have spiked in recent days, with an average of 1,123 new cases reported daily over the past week, compared with a daily average of 380 cases in mid-August.

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UK weighs exposing healthy people for vaccine

The U.K. government is considering carrying out the first studies that would deliberately expose healthy people to the coronavirus in a bid to accelerate the development of a vaccine. Such tests also raise ethical questions about exposing people to a potentially fatal virus, and whether some test subjects would receive a placebo for control purposes. A growing number of volunteers have signed up to take part in such studies should researchers decide to proceed, Bloomberg reported.

Johnson & Johnson begins trial

Johnson & Johnson has begun dosing as many as 60,000 volunteers in a giant study of its vaccine. If enrollment goes as expected, the testing could yield results as soon as year-end, allowing the company to seek emergency authorization in early 2021, should it prove effective, Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said Tuesday. J&J is the fourth vaccine maker to move its candidate into late-stage human studies in the US.

coronavirus vaccine, India corona vaccine, covid 19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Johnson & Johnson vaccine update, Johnson & Johnson vaccine phase 3 trials, AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine update, Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine news This September 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the company. (Cheryl Gerber/Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson via AP)

UK may inject volunteers with coronavirus for vaccine trials: Report

Scientists in the UK are moving towards what are being referred to as ?challenge trials?, which will involve healthy volunteers being deliberately infected with the novel coronavirus to test whether a vaccine offers any protection, according to a media report.

In the first trial of its kind expected to be formally announced next week, participants will be injected with an unnamed experimental vaccine and around a month later exposed to Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, The Financial Times’ reported. The government-funded study is expected to begin in January, with the trials likely to take place in a large secure facility in Whitechapel in east London or nearby.

Around 2,000 potential volunteers have signed up for challenge studies in the UK through the US-based group 1Day Sooner, campaigning for COVID-19 trials, and are expected to be paid a few thousand pounds for signing up to the upcoming trials, according to the newspaper. The project’s academic leader is Imperial College London, and it will be run by hVivo, a spinout from Queen Mary University of London that was bought earlier this year by Open Orphan, a Ireland-based pharmaceutical research organisation.

Oxford University is also believed to be considering a similar “challenge trial” to test whether people have protective immunity from COVID-19 if they have been previously infected.

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