London, Oct 26: The World Health Organization’s director general said some countries in the northern hemisphere are facing a “dangerous moment” as U.S. coronavirus infections hit a record for the second day and France’s cases rose by more than 50,000. Global infections topped 43 million.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate produced a robust immune response in elderly people, the Financial Times reported. Johnson & Johnson said the first batches of its shot could be available in January. Both companies are resuming trials that had been paused due to safety concerns.
Spain announced a nationwide curfew and Italy introduced the strongest measures since May. Australia’s Victoria state will dismantle most restrictions and allow retailers to reopen.
Johnson & Johnson’s first batches of its Covid-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use as soon as January, Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, the company’s head of public health research and development, said in a presentation at the World Health Summit.
The timeline matches that previously given by the U.S. drugmaker, which said on Friday it plans to restart a large late-stage trial of the vaccine that had been paused due to safety concerns. The 60,000-person study is expected to have initial results by the end of the year.
Retailers to Re-open in Australia State
One of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns to control a surge in coronavirus cases will finally end this week, with Australia’s Victoria state to dismantle most restrictions from Wednesday and allow retailers to reopen.
Restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars will be able to serve a maximum of 20 people indoors from Wednesday, while they can cater for as many as 50 patrons outdoors, Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters. He also said that from Nov. 8, travel restrictions that have seen the state capital Melbourne isolated from the rest of Victoria will be removed.
Astra Shot Produces Response in Elderly: FT
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has produced a robust immune response in elderly people, the Financial Times reported, citing two unidentified people familiar with the finding. The vaccine, which AstraZeneca is producing in collaboration with the University of Oxford, produced protective antibodies and T-cells in older age groups, the FT reported.
Findings on immunogenicity blood tests carried on a subset of older participants echo data released in July that showed the vaccine generated “robust immune responses” in healthy adults aged 18-55 years, the report said. Oxford declined to comment to the FT.
India’s Cases Continue Slowing Trend
India added 45,148 more cases on Monday, government data showed, the lowest daily number since late July. The country, which has the second-highest number of infections after the U.S., has been averaging about 52,000 cases daily over the past week, after reaching almost 100,000 in September. The slowdown comes as the U.S. is reporting higher infections, topping 80,000 for two straight days.
China Faces Outbreak in Kashgar Region
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.
A 17-year-old teenager in Kashgar prefecture was found through routine testing to have contracted the virus. Subsequent testing found 137 cases, all related to a factory where the teenager’s parents worked. Each of the cases were asymptomatic, according to Xinjiang’s health authorities.
Free testing is being rolled out for nearly 4.75 million people in Kashgar, in the far west of China. As of 2 p.m. Sunday, 2.83 million people had undergone testing, while results for 334,800 people have already come out negative.
WHO’s Tedros Sees ‘Dangerous Moment’
Countries must “strike a delicate balance” between protecting their people and minimizing social and economic damage as cases surge, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“This is a dangerous moment for many countries in the northern hemisphere as cases spike,” Tedros said in an online meeting of the Berlin-based World Health Summit. “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.”