Two major drug companies will supply the US government with 100 million doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine, the Trump administration said on Friday, as the nation’s top health agency predicted that fatalities would rise in the coming weeks.
The agreement calls for the US government to pay French drug maker Sanofi and British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline up to $2.1 billion to supply it with enough vaccines for 50 million people, with the option to buy another 500 million doses.
The purchase falls under the Trump administration’s so-called Operation Warp Speed, intended to rush a Covid-19 vaccine to the market by the end of 2020, reports Reuters.
‘Systematic racism’ putting minority health workers at risk: report
Researchers have raised fears that “systematic racism” in the provision of protective equipment was putting minority health workers at greater risk on Friday, as a study showed higher coronavirus infection rates among British and American medical staff.
The report, published in the Lancet Public Health journal, found that frontline healthcare workers were over three times more likely to test positive than the general population early in the pandemic, with the rate rising to five times for ethnic minority medical staff.
Researchers from the US looked at data from almost 100,000 healthcare workers in Britain and the United States taken from self-reported information on the Covid Symptoms Study smartphone app between 24 March and 23 April, according to Reuters.
They found that the prevalence of infection among frontline care workers was 2,747 per 100,000 app users, compared with 242 per 100,000 in the general community, Agence France-Presse reports.
When they took into account the health workers’ greater access to testing, the researchers estimated that frontline medical workers were around 3.4 times more likely to test positive for Covid-19 than app users in the wider population.
After accounting for pre-existing medical conditions, researchers estimated that healthcare workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were almost five times more likely to report a positive Covid-19 result than somebody from the general community.
The study also found that frontline healthcare workers who said they did not have sufficient protective equipment – like masks, gloves and gowns – were 1.3 times more likely to test positive than those who said they had the proper equipment.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said talks with the White House on a coronavirus aid bill were far from a deal on Friday, as federal unemployment benefits that have been an essential lifeline for millions of Americans expired.
Asked why she rejected a proposal from Republican President Donald Trump’s administration for a one-week extension of the $600 weekly jobless payment, Pelosi told reporters a short-term fix would be appropriate “if you are on a path” toward a deal.
“We’re not,” Pelosi told a news conference.
Negotiations were to continue on Saturday between White House officials and congressional Democrats, reports Reuters. Pelosi will host a meeting with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, an aide familiar with the planning said.
Pelosi, the nation’s top elected Democrat, said she thought Congress and the White House eventually would come together on legislation, although she gave no timetable.
Referring to the mounting cases and deaths from Covid-19, Pelosi said: “This is a freight train that is picking up steam. … It must be stopped.”
In some of her toughest criticisms so far, she said that Republican delays on legislation and “distortions” about the pandemic “has caused death unnecessarily.”
White House officials took their own hard partisan line, accusing Democrats of refusing Trump’s proposals to extend the jobless benefit that expired on Friday and a moratorium on evictions that ended last week.
Vietnam records 12 new cases
Vietnam’s health ministry on Saturday reported 12 new local coronavirus cases linked to the recent outbreak in the central city of Danang, taking total infections to 116 since the virus resurfaced last week.
The new patients, with ages ranging from two to 78, are linked to Danang hospital, the ministry said in a statement reported by Reuters.
Vietnam has registered a total of 558 coronavirus cases and recorded its first two deaths on Friday after months of successful curbs.
Peru extends state of emergency
Peru’s housing minister, Carlos Lozada, said on Friday the government will extend the country’s state of emergency and quarantine measures until 31 August after infections rose, according to Europa Press.
The ministry of health said on Thursday there were 6,809 new cases in the past 24 hours.
Peru has so far seen 407,492 people test positive to Covid-19, including 19,021 deaths. The country has been in lockdown since March.
Plans to ease restrictions in England paused
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, on Friday placed a scheduled easing of coronavirus restrictions on hold in England, as he also raised the prospect of a second lockdown.
At a hastily arranged press conference at Downing Street, Johnson said he was pausing the reopening of leisure businesses, such as casinos and bowling alleys, and preventing beauty salons resuming close-up treatments, for at least two weeks.
Rules on face coverings would also be extended for indoor venues such as museums, galleries and cinemas from 8 August.
You can read a full report on the surprise announcement at the link below.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the continuing coronavirus pandemic, with me, Luke Henriques-Gomes. If you’d like to get in touch, you can do so by email via firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lukehgomes.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 292,527. WHO warned the pandemic’s effects would be felt for decades as its emergency committee assessed the situation six months after sounding its top alarm over the outbreak.
- The death toll globally from coronavirus has surpassed 675,000, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker. The figure is now at 675,167, with the US having the most deaths at 152,074, followed by Brazil with 91,263.
- Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, has told Congress he is “cautiously optimistic” that a “safe and effective” coronavirus vaccine will be available to the public by the end of 2020 during a hearing in Washington marked by testy exchanges between Fauci and senior Republicans loyal to Donald Trump.
- Brazil’s death toll has reached a total of 92,475, compared with 91,263 yesterday, according to the country’s health ministry. The country has registered 2,662,485 confirmed cases of the virus, up from 2,610,102 yesterday. Jair Bolsanaro, who has previously tested positive to Covid019, said he was taking antibiotics for a lung infection.
- Health authorities in France reported 1,346 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Friday, which took the total to 187,919. New cases are above 1,300 per day for the third day in a row, the highest since late April.
- In Australia, authorities are mulling further restrictions in the state of Victoria, which has recorded more than 1,3000 new infections over the past two days.