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Tuesday, October 06, 2020, 22:51
WHO's Tedros: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready by year-end
By Agencies
Tuesday, October 06, 2020, 22:51 By Agencies

This picture taken and released by the World Health Organization on Oct 5, 2020 shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wearing a protective face mask attending a WHO executive board holds special session on the COVID-19 response at the health agency's hesdquarters in Geneva. (PHOTO / AFP)

BUENOS AIRES / VIENNA / NEW YORK / DUBLIN / PARIS / WASHINGTON / SAO PAULO / MEXICO CITY / MADRID / WARSAW / LONDON / BERLIN / OTTAWA / TRIPOLI / QUITO / LIMA / ALGIERS / RABAT / ROME / RIGA / YAOUNDE / JUBA / MOSCOW / CAIRO / BRUSSELS - A vaccine against COVID-19 may be ready by year-end, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, without elaborating.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, addressing the end of a two-day meeting of its Executive Board on the pandemic, said: “We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope.”

Nine experimental vaccines are in the pipeline of the WHO-led COVAX global vaccine facility that aims to distribute 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.


As countries across the European region are reporting rising levels of COVID-19 fatigue, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe on Tuesday shared regional experience and called for collective commitment to addressing the pandemic fatigue.

"Based on aggregated survey data from countries across the region, we can see, not surprisingly, that fatigue among those surveyed is increasing," said Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, in a statement released here on Tuesday.

"Although fatigue is measured in different ways, and levels vary per country, it is now estimated to have reached over 60 percent in some cases," he noted.

Convened by WHO Europe on Monday, chief medical officers and director generals of health from over 30 countries in the region discussed solutions to help reinvigorate and revive efforts to tackle the alarming rise in COVID-19 fatigue.

In the statement, Kluge advocated for engaging expertise beyond the medical and public health sectors to discuss measures and restrictions.

Meantime, Kluge cited innovations in Denmark and Norway that were addressing "individual experiences and cultural nuances" as courageous approaches, with empathy at their core, saying these innovations are able to "get us through this crisis."

Kluge said that the needs of citizens should be met in new and innovative ways while combating the fatigue with the approaching of celebration season in the region.


Russia’s daily tally of new coronavirus cases rose to its highest since May 11 on Tuesday, prompting Moscow to take measures to keep students and the elderly off the city’s sprawling public transport network.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the measures were needed to keep students and the elderly at home as the capital recorded 4,082 new infections on Tuesday.

“Every day the situation with the coronavirus is becoming more difficult and dramatic,” Sobyanin wrote on his website, adding that more than 1,000 people had been hospitalized with coronavirus in the city on Tuesday.

Sobyanin said students’ cards allowing them to travel on public transport in Moscow at a discount would be temporarily cancelled on Friday until the end of a two-week school holiday.

Muscovites over the age of 65 and those with chronic illnesses will be stripped of passes that allow them to travel across the city for free from Oct. 9 until Oct.28, Sobyanin added.

Sobyanin said the move was meant to protect Moscow’s senior population, which he said accounted for more than a quarter of the new coronavirus infections.

The city of nearly 13 million has already opened two temporary hospitals to tackle the spike in cases and ordered businesses to have at least 30% of their staff working remotely.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday he was unaware of plans to impose a strict lockdown despite the rapidly growing number of cases.

Russia’s official coronavirus task force reported 11,615 new infections nationwide on Tuesday and said 188 people had died overnight, pushing the official death toll to 21,663.

With 1,237,504 infections since the start of the pandemic, Russia has the world’s fourth highest number of cases.

The President of the European Commission

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said she would leave quarantine on Tuesday after having been in contact with someone positive for COVID-19 a week earlier, despite EU recommendations of 14 days of self-isolation.

Von der Leyen is following Belgium's rules, which have just been softened, but her decision to ignore the stricter advice from the bloc's public health body could further weaken calls for a EU common approach to battle the epidemic.

Von der Leyen, 61, said she would remain in precautionary self-isolation until Tuesday evening, after a person she came into contact with on Sept 29 in a meeting in Portugal tested positive on Sunday. She tested negative for the virus on Thursday and Monday.

Belgium, which is home to the EU headquarters, shortened mandatory quarantine from 14 to seven days on Oct 1.

Global tally

Global coronavirus infections surpassed 35.5 million while the global death toll topped 1.04 million, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Africa tally

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded across Africa reached 1,518,662 while the death toll hit 36,921 as of Monday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

This photo shows patrons at a bar terrace in Paris, France, Oct 5, 2020. (LEWIS JOLY / AP)


Algeria reported on Monday 134 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest daily increase since June 29, raising the tally to 52,270, the Ministry of Health said.

The ministry said eight more fatalities were registered, raising the death toll to 1,768, while 94 more patients were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries to 36,672.

A health worker attends to a patient in an intensive care unit designated for people infected with COVID-19 at a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 2, 2020. (NATACHA PISARENKO / AP)


Argentina has the world’s highest rate of positive COVID-19 tests, according to Oxford-linked tracker Our World In Data, with nearly six out of 10 yielding an infection, a reflection of low testing levels and loose enforcement of lockdown rules.

Argentina hit 809,728 confirmed cases on Monday with an seven-day rolling average of around 12,500 new daily infections. The country, which started strongly against the virus, passed 20,000 fatalities last week.

Argentina hit 809,728 confirmed cases on Monday with an seven-day rolling average of around 12,500 new daily infections

“Is there isolation? There is none. Are there (enough) tests? No there aren’t,” Carlos Kambourian, a pediatrician in the city of Buenos Aires, told Reuters.

By comparison, New York state has a population of 20 million, less than half of Argentina’s 45 million, yet carries out 100,000 tests a day, four times the number in Argentina. 

A source from Argentina’s health ministry said the large number of positive tests was a result of its “DetectAr” program, where testing focuses on contacts of those known to be infected. 

The Ministry of Health said Monday that testing would be strengthened nationwide.Testing teams will fan out this week across the provinces of Cordoba, Salta, San Juan, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego to detect infections, trace connections and isolate cases.

ALSO READ: WHO: One in 10 may have caught COVID-19


Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and much of his staff and cabinet have tested negative for the coronavirus after an unidentified close colleague of Kurz’s tested positive on Monday, the chancellor’s office said.

Kurz’s office said on Monday afternoon that he and Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler had cancelled all appointments for the day and were being tested after the unidentified colleague whom they last saw on Wednesday was found to have been infected. That colleague had tested negative on Tuesday evening.

“The chancellor, the vice chancellor and the whole government team have tested negative,” Kurz’s office said in a statement issued early on Tuesday.

“However, in the course of the series of tests an additional colleague tested positive,” the office said, adding that that person was on the staff of junior minister Magnus Brunner in the environment and transport ministry.


Brazil registered on Monday 11,946 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing its total to 4,927,235, the Health Ministry said.

Deaths rose by 323 to 146,675.

The Brazilian military wrapped up on Monday a three-week operation that provided medical care to the Amazon’s Guajajara tribe hit by COVID-19, in response to criticism that Brazil was not protecting vulnerable indigenous people from the pandemic.

The Defense Ministry said its doctors did 37,000 checkups since Sept. 24 and supplied 39 tonnes of medicine, food and protective equipment to the Guajajara, a tribe that lives on several reservations in the rainforest of Maranhão state.


Egypt reported late on Monday 98 new COVID-19 infections and nine more deaths from the disease, bringing the total caseload and the death toll to 103,781 and 5,990, respectively, said the Health Ministry.

The daily tally is the lowest since Aug 22, when 89 cases were reported.

Monday also marked the first single-digit daily toll since May 11, when eight deaths were reported.


Primary and secondary schools in Cameroon reopened on Monday after being closed for almost seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials said classes commenced with students in class and teachers wearing face masks and maintaining social distance.

Universities will resume next week, according to officials.

Cameroon has recorded more than 20,000 coronavirus cases. COVID-19 prevalence in the country is generally decreasing with a recovery rate of over 94 percent, according to the Ministry of Public Health. 


Canada's COVID-19 cases continued to increase steeply with an average of more than 1,800 new cases being reported daily in the most recent 7 days, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada Monday.

As of Monday afternoon, 1,868 new COVID-19 cases have been reported, bringing the tally  to 168,024 in the country, including 9,481 deaths, according to a CTV report.

New cases in the two most populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec account for over 80 percent of the cases reported nationwide over that period.

Quebec posted 1,191 new cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily tally reported. Quebec also reported six more deaths, taking the toll in the province to 5,884.

Meanwhile, Ontario posted 615 new cases, of which nearly half of those cases were in Toronto. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he needed to see "hard evidence" before agreeing to shut down indoor dining in the country's largest city.


Ecuador's Minister of Health Juan Carlos Zevallos said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic was ongoing in the country with a potential to spark new outbreaks.

"It is possible that there will be new outbreaks because the pandemic has not ended, we are in the middle of the pandemic," Zevallos said in an interview with local radio station CRE Satelital.

"Cases are going to increase because we do not have a treatment or vaccine," he added.

In the past seven months, 141,339 people in Ecuador had tested positive for COVID-19 and 7,825 patients had died from the disease, according to the Ministry of Health.


Europe's health regulator said Tuesday it has started a rolling review of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, days after it launched a similar review of AstraZeneca's vaccine. 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said its human medicines committee was evaluating the first batch of data on the vaccine, and would continue to do so until enough data is available for a final decision.

Pfizer and BioNTech said in a joint statement the start of the review is based on data from laboratory and animal testing, as well as early testing on humans, while continuing talks to submit data as it emerged.


France reported a marked slowing in new daily COVID-19 cases on Monday but the number of people hospitalized for the disease shot up by more than 300 for the first time since April 12, when the country was in the middle of a lockdown.

French health authorities reported 5,084 new daily COVID-19 infections, taking the tally to 624,274. The death toll rose by 69 to 32,299.

Among the 7,294 patients hospitalized, more than 1,400 were treated in intensive care units (ICUs) - the highest number since May 28.

Paris is to be placed on maximum COVID-19 alert, meaning bars will be forced to close for two weeks from Tuesday, partly because of the sharp rise in the number of people in ICUs.

Diners in Paris and Marseille must keep masks on between courses starting Tuesday, part of rules to keep restaurants open in France’s maximum-virus alert areas. Clients must leave their contact details in a guest book, and seating at each table will be limited to six, according to health regulations published by the French Health Ministry late Monday.

This photo shows patrons at a bar terrace in Paris, France, Oct 5, 2020. (LEWIS JOLY / AP)


Germany registered 3,100 new coronavirus infections in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, taking the tally to 304,673, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s the biggest daily increase since April 18, but still well below peak levels of almost 7,000.

There were 21 additional fatalities, lifting the overall number of deaths to 9,554.

According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases on Tuesday, the tally increased by 2,639 to 303,258 while the toll rose by 12 to 9,546.

The country’s reproduction factor inched lower to 1.21 on Monday from 1.23 the day before, according to the latest estimate from the RKI. 

Germany must avoid another shutdown of industrial activity, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Monday as rising infections cloud the growth outlook for Europe's largest economy. He said the focus in fighting the pandemic had now shifted to detecting and ring-fencing local infection chains, with family gatherings and private parties proving particularly problematic.


Ireland must act now to prevent a damaging return to lockdown, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Monday after rejecting a surprise recommendation by his health chiefs to shut down the economy immediately and opting instead to tighten COVID-19 restrictions.

The National Public Health Emergency Team called late on Sunday for a leap to the highest level of coronavirus curbs, Level 5.

Ministers faced sharp political and business resistance to what would have amounted to Europe’s first major second-wave national lockdown and chose to move the whole country to Level 3, going against their health chiefs’ advice for the first time.

Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister during the first lockdown, went further and said the advice was not thought through, would have amounted to an “experiment” not tried elsewhere in Europe and that the body in charge of Ireland’s hospitals disagreed with the health chiefs’ capacity concerns.


Italy reported 2,257 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, according to data from the Ministry of Health. 

The number of patients in intensive-care units continued to rise, reaching 323 on Monday, 20 more than the previous day and up from 246 ten days ago.

Another 16 deaths were reported, taking the death toll to 36,002.


Due to the sharp increase in COVID-19 infection rate, public transport passengers in Latvia will be required to wear face masks again, the Baltic country's government decided on Monday.

The requirement will enter into force on Wednesday and last until Nov 6. It may be prolonged if the epidemiological situation does not improve sufficiently.

If the spread of the infection worsens, some of the existing anti-COVID-19 restrictions could be tightened, especially those concerning social gatherings, Health Minister Ilze Vinkele told journalists after a government meeting.

The 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people stood at 29.2 in Latvia, the data of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed on Monday. The figure was 5.1 two weeks ago.


The National Center for Disease Control of Libya reported Monday 628 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the infection tally to 37,437.

The center said in a statement 647 more patients had recovered and another four people had died, raising the total recoveries to 22,076 and the death toll to 596.


Mexico reported on Monday a sharp increase in the daily number of coronavirus infections and deaths, breaking previous records due to what the government said was a change in methodology.

The Health Ministry reported a jump of 2,789 deaths and 28,115 cases, far outstripping the prior daily records of 1,092 deaths and 9,556 cases. Total confirmed cases now stand at 789,780, with a reported death toll of 81,877.

The Health Ministry said the record jump includes additional cases and deaths that date back to June.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell, the public face of the government's coronavirus strategy, said Monday's increase was a one-off event. He said critics would use the figures to attack the government.


Morocco reported on Monday 1,423 new COVID-19 infections, taking the tally to 134,695.

The number of recoveries increased by 2,300 to 113,336 while the death toll rose by 39 to 2,369, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.


The Netherlands are facing shortages of Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral remdesivir for patients with COVID-19, local media reported. 

Hospitals aren’t able to order more of the drug from Gilead, newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad reported.

A passenger in protective gear gets her temperature taken by an airport worker at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Callao, Peru, Oct 5, 2020. (MARTIN MEJIA / AP)


Peru resumed international flights on Monday that were suspended in March as part of emergency measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Flights have been resumed to seven countries in the region, but "gradually other destinations will be activated after evaluating the situation," President Martin Vizcarra said.

Peru is in phase four of the country's economic reactivation following lockdown, a phase that began Oct 1 as the outbreak declined.

"Our task is to continue containing the pandemic. There have been eight weeks of continuous decline in cases, fewer infections, hospitalizations and deaths," Vizcarra said.

Peru has so far reported 828,169 confirmed cases and 32,742 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.


Poland reported a record 58 daily coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said on Twitter, with data showing sharp increases in the number of ventilators and hospital beds devoted to COVID-19 patients.

Poland reported a record 58 additional deaths on Tuesday as well as 2,236 new cases, the Health Ministry said on Twitter

The country reported 2,236 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, close to Saturday's record of 2,367. The biggest spike in new cases was reported inentral Poland, increasing the risk for Warsaw to face stricter restrictions.

In total, Poland has reported 104,316 cases and 2,717 deaths.

The ministry said that as of Tuesday, there were 263 ventilators and 3,719 hospital beds devoted to COVID-19 patients, compared with 141 and 2,399 respectively a week ago.

The health ministry plans to increase the number of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and is expected to announce changes to the regulations over wearing face masks.

Poland rescheduled a ceremony at which the president was to confirm new ministers on Monday to Tuesday, after incoming Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek said he had tested positive for coronavirus.. 

South Sudan

South Sudan  partially reopened schools on Monday after six months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister for General Education Awut Deng Achuil said about 110,000 final year students will be allowed to attend classes across the country during phase one of the school reopening.

She added that learning for non-candidate classes in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools will reopen in April 2021.

South Sudan has confirmed 2,734 COVID-19 cases, including 2,560 recoveries and 50 deaths as of Monday.


Spain became the first Western European nation to surpass 800,000 total coronavirus cases after registering 23,480 new infections over the weekend, health ministry data showed on Monday.

The cumulative tally hit 813,412, while the death toll reached 32,225 from 32,086 on Friday. Daily deaths are now at their highest level since early May but are well below the late March record of nearly 900.


The UK is prioritizing its supplies of the drug remdesivir for COVID-19 patients who need it most in the face of rising demand, Britain's health ministry said on Tuesday, adding that further supplies were expected at the end of October.

Separately on the same day, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak rejected the idea that his flagship program to give people discounts on going to restaurants helped spread the coronavirus over the summer.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought on Monday to play down a failure in England's COVID-19 testing data system that delayed 15,841 results, saying the much higher updated figures were more in line with forecasts of the outbreak's spread.

The UK reported 12,594 new cases and 19 additional deaths on Monday, taking the tally and death toll to 515,571 and 42,369, respectively, according to government data

"To be frank, I think that the slightly lower numbers that we'd seen didn't really reflect where we thought that the disease was likely to go, so I think these numbers are realistic," said Johnson.

Britain reported 14,542 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, up from 12,594 on Monday, according to government data.

There were 76 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

People navigate the stairs of the Kew Gardens subway station, in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York, Oct 5, 2020. (FRANK FRANKLIN II / AP)


The coronavirus outbreak around US President Donald Trump widened on Monday when White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she had tested positive for the virus. McEnany held a briefing for reporters on Thursday in which she did not wear a face mask. 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she has tested positive for COVID-19 while a number of other White House staffers also were said to have been infected

McEnany, in a statement, said she would begin quarantining and that the White House medical unit does not list any members of the press as close contacts.

READ MORE: Trump leaves hospital to return to White House

ABC News, CNN and Bloomberg News separately reported that Chad Gilmartin, who works in the White House press office, also tested positive over the weekend for the highly contagious infectious disease. Bloomberg News also reported that White House communications aide Karoline Leavitt, as well as other mid-level staffers, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Nationwide, the US has so far reported more than 7.4 million confirmed cases and over 210,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has agreed to New York City’s plan to close schools in nine coronavirus “hot spots” in Brooklyn and Queens, but said he was still discussing whether non-essential businesses should be shut down again in those areas.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guideline, saying that COVID-19 can spread through virus lingering in the air, sometimes for hours, acknowledging concerns widely voiced by public health experts about airborne transmission of the virus.

On vaccines, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has worked to make clear to COVID-19 vaccine developers what standards would have to be met to authorize use of shots. One such path is an emergency-use authorization, or EUA, a fast-track procedure that relies on less safety and efficacy data than a full approval.

The EUA guidance is still under review, and the New York Times and Politico both reported on Monday that the White House had blocked it. Trump, trailing Biden in most election polls, has repeatedly said a vaccine would be ready by Election Day.


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday said the country is now open to the world, urging tourists to visit the east African country following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

Museveni said in a tweet that tourists are free to visit the country following the reopening of the country's Entebbe International Airport and national borders after seven months of government closure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uganda's ministry of health on Tuesday recorded 117 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the East African country to 9,082.


Georgia reported 549 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 9,245.

Of the 549 new cases, 348 were confirmed in the western Adjara region, the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) said.

As of Tuesday, 4,887 of the 9,245 patients have recovered, while 58 others have died, said the center.

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