WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said some countries in the northern hemisphere are facing a dangerous moment as US coronavirus infections hit a record for the second day and France’s cases rose by more than 50,000
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a dangerous moment ahead as the US and the EU struggle to contain the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic while different countries across the world, including Bangladesh, brace for the menace.
Meanwhile, Professor Adrian Hill who is leading the Oxford vaccine project said the vaccine will get approval ahead of Christmas so it can be used for medics and the elderly before final trials are finished.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said some countries in the northern hemisphere are facing a dangerous moment as US coronavirus infections hit a record for the second day and France's cases rose by more than 50,000.
He said countries must strike a delicate balance between protecting their people and minimising social and economic damage as cases surge, reports Bloomberg.
In an online meeting of the Berlin-based World Health Summit, Tedros said, "We still have a long haul ahead of us. He urged that vaccines, once available, be spread among some people in all countries rather than all people in some countries."
White House admits pandemic out of control
US President Donald Trump's chief of staff said Sunday that "we're not going to control the pandemic," drawing a rebuke from the Biden campaign that "they are admitting defeat."
Chief of staff Mark Meadows was speaking amid a sharp resurgence of the coronavirus across the US, with case numbers setting daily records and the death toll fast approaching 225,000, adds Reuters.
When a CNN interviewer asked Meadows why the administration would not get control of the virus, he replied, "Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu."
Meanwhile, Democrat Joe Biden's running mate Kamala Harris said, "They are admitting defeat, and I've been saying that, and Joe Biden has been saying that since the beginning."
She criticised Meadows for likening the coronavirus to the flu, according to a pool report.
"This is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of America," she said.
Biden and Harris have been hammering Trump over his handling of the pandemic, which has seen the US suffer roughly one-fifth the world death total though its population is only four percent the total.
The disease has reached deep inside the White House itself.
Three weeks after Trump was hospitalised with Covid-19, a spokesman announced Saturday that Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, had tested positive – but added that Pence would nonetheless continue crisscrossing the country in the final days of the campaign.
Europe sees second wave
European leaders warned of difficult months ahead as the resurgent Covid-19 pandemic forced authorities to impose new restrictions to try to curb the spread of the disease, adds Reuters.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock cautioned that the vaccine would not be widely available until next year and said "we're not there yet".
Elsewhere the picture was unrelentingly grim as a string of countries reported record increases, led by France, which posted more than 50,000 daily cases for the first time on Sunday, while the continent passed the threshold of 250,000 deaths.
"We are facing very, very difficult months ahead," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of leaders from her Christian Democrat party, according to daily Bild.
Although Germany has fared relatively well compared to other countries in Europe, it too has seen a sharp rise in cases and the closely watched Ifo business climate index fell on Monday, reflecting the worries over the virus.
In Spain, which has had more than 1 million cases of the disease, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned the country was facing an "extreme" situation as he announced a new state of emergency on Sunday, imposing local nighttime curfews and banning travel between regions in some cases.
Italy, the country worst hit in the early stages of the crisis in March, also imposed new curbs, ordering restaurants and bars to close from 6pm and shutting down cinemas, and gyms and imposing local curfews in several regions.
Russia's daily tally of new coronavirus cases surged to a record high of 17,347 on Monday, including 5,224 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 1,531,224.
Authorities said 219 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 26,269.
Authorities in Ireland have vowed to crack down on shops that circumvent lockdown rules and continue to sell clothes, toys and other non-essential goods, adds The Guardian.
The government imposed a 5km travel limit and ordered non-essential retail to close on 21 October for six weeks in some of Europe's severest restrictions.
Bulgarian schools will be allowed to switch to online studies, the education ministry said on Monday, as the Balkan country struggles to contain a fresh surge in coronavirus infections.
Bulgaria, like most of the European Union, is reporting a sharp rise in infections, with the total number of confirmed cases almost doubling to 37,889 since the start of October.
Hospitals in many Iranian provinces are running out of capacity to handle Covid-19 cases, health authorities say, with the coronavirus killing about 300 people a day.
Authorities have complained of poor social distancing, and the deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, said the pandemic could cause 600 daily deaths in coming weeks if Iranians failed to respect health protocols in the Middle East's worst-affected country.
China tackled another outbreak after a 17-year-old girl in the Kashgar region was found to have Covid-19.
China has tested nearly three million people in Xinjiang province to tackle a cluster of coronavirus cases, in the latest example of the country's aggressive approach to bring new outbreaks under control.
Professor Adrian Hill founder and director of the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford indicated that emergency approval would allow those most in need to receive the jab while the final trials are still under way, reports The Daily Mail.
Full authorisation would then follow, meaning the rest of the population could receive the vaccine from early 2021.
He admitted timing was tight to begin vaccinations before Christmas – but insisted it was indeed possible.
In an upbeat assessment of how the vaccination programme could unfold, he said, "I'd be very surprised if this thing [the pandemic] isn't very clearly on the way down by late spring, at least in this country... we will get to the stage where there is herd immunity through vaccination."
Two phases of successful clinical trials have established the Oxford vaccine is safe and triggers a strong immune response.
Phase three trials are now at an advanced stage.
The Jenner Institute is running trials at nine sites in Britain involving 10,000 volunteers, with others in Brazil and South Africa. Further trials are being run by its partners in India and the US.
The next critical stage in the process will be the "unblinding" of trial results, which will see data from participants given the jab compared with the placebo group.
Until then, neither the participants nor the researchers leading trials themselves will know who has received the vaccine or the placebo – a process known as "double blinding".
Professor Hill suggested that the unblinding is now imminent – but different countries' health regulators have different requirements before they license vaccines.