Coronavirus Global Updates, July 16: China approves human trials of BioNTech’s vaccine candidate; Florida tops 10,000 cases

Global Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates: The total number of coronavirus cases across the world crossed 13.5 billion to reach 13,512,693 on Thursday while it has claimed 583,359 lives so far.

Coronavirus Global updates: The total number of coronavirus cases across the world crossed 13.5 billion to reach 13,512,693 on Thursday and has claimed 583,359 lives so far. Also, as many as 7,530,731 (over 7.34 billion) people have recovered from the virus.

Meanwhile, the United States, which is worst-hit by the pandemic, reported 67,889 cases and 944 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the total infections in the country to 3.52 million and casualties to 1,37,358. Brazil is the second worst-hit country with 1,966,748 infections and 75,336 deaths, followed by India that has reported over 9.6 lakh cases so far.

In the hunt for a vaccine against Covid-19, encouraging news emerged about two candidates on Wednesday. The New England Journal of Medicine published an interim analysis describing an immune response generated in participants of phase I clinical trials for a vaccine developed by US-based biotech company Moderna. Meanwhile, ITV reported that there could be positive news, possibly by Thursday, on initial trials of another vaccine from the University of Oxford.

Also, China has approved an early-stage trial in humans of German firm BioNTech’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, its local partner Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical said on Thursday.

Here are some of the latest updates on coronavirus from across the world:

China gives the go-ahead for human trials of BioNTech’s COVID vaccine candidate

China has approved an early-stage trial in humans of German firm BioNTech’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, its local partner Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical said on Thursday. The potential vaccine is one of the two most advanced candidates that BioNTech is working on with its partner Pfizer Inc and they received “fast track” status this week from the US Food and Drug Administration which is designed to speed up the regulatory review process.

Fosun Pharma said in a filing that a unit will initiate a Phase I clinical trial of BNT162b1 “as soon as possible once it is ready”. It is licensed to exclusively develop and commercialise COVID-19 vaccine products developed by using BioNTech’s mRNA technology in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The candidate is one of at least 23 being tested on humans in a frantic global race to find a vaccine the world is counting on to end a pandemic that has infected more than 13 million people and killed more than half a million. Prior to the latest approval, Chinese researchers and companies have moved eight vaccine candidates into different phases of human trials at home and abroad.

Covid-19 vaccines: What are the two candidates?

Moderna was the first company to begin a human trial for a vaccine against Covid-19. Called mRNA-1273, the vaccine went into phase I trials on March 16. The vaccine uses mRNA technology, which involves injecting genetic instructions to human cells for creating proteins to fight the virus. The details of the phase I trial come two weeks before Moderna begins phase III on July 27.

Oxford University has developed its vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, in partnership with global biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. It delivers a SARS-CoV-2 protein to induce an immune response. The vaccine has already gone into phase III trials, but the results of phase I are yet to be announced.

Florida tops 10,000 virus cases, reaches 300,000

Florida reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases Wednesday and reached 300,000 total infections. Florida has 10,181 confirmed cases and a total of 301,810 since the outbreak began there March 1. The state confirmed 112 deaths — the third time in the last seven days its eclipsed 100 ? and 4,626 total COVID-19 deaths. Florida’s rolling seven-day average for deaths has increased to 92 per day, triple the 31 posted a month ago. As of Tuesday, Florida had the No. 2 death rate in the United States, slightly behind Texas.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus again

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has again tested positive for coronavirus, he told reporters on Wednesday in Brasilia, suggesting he has yet to recover from an infection first diagnosed last week. Since catching the virus, the president has said he remains in good health and he would resume his normal work schedule if he tested negative this week. On Wednesday, he said he would get tested again in a few days. Bolsonaro, a former army captain, first announced his diagnosis on July 7 after dismissing the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it a “little flu” even as Brazil’s outbreak became the worst in the world outside the United States.

As COVID-19 cases surge, Australia expands wage subsidy scheme

The Australian government is injecting a further A$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) into a wage subsidy programme to counter rising unemployment as the country posted the biggest rise in coronavirus cases since early April. Australian officials reported 327 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a surge that was almost entirely due to the state of Victoria, which posted its biggest-ever one-day rise in infections. Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, has been isolated from the rest of the country for more than a week following a fresh outbreak of the disease. The 4.9 million residents in its capital, Melbourne, have been ordered to stay home except for essential business.

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Coronavirus data is funneled away from CDC, sparking worries

Hospital data related to the coronavirus pandemic in the US will now be collected by a private technology firm, rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a move the Trump administration says will speed up reporting but one that concerns some public health leaders. The CDC director said Wednesday that he’s fine with the change, even though some experts fear it will further sideline the agency.

Oklahoma governor tests positive for Covid-19

Oklahoma’s governor said he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday, becoming one of the highest elected US politicians to test positive for the disease, as new coronavirus infections in his state and neighboring Texas surged by record numbers for a second straight day.

Japan domestic tourism campaign under fire as cases spike in Tokyo

A Japan government campaign to kickstart domestic tourism after the coronavirus outbreak has come under fire with officials in Tokyo and the countryside saying it’s too soon to boost travel from the capital, hit by a spike in new cases. Scheduled to kick off July 22, the campaign will see travellers receive subsidies of as much as 50% in an effort to boost tourism-reliant economies outside of Japan’s major population areas.

China reports 1 new Covid case in mainland

China reported one new confirmed COVID-19 case for the mainland as of the end of July 15, down from six a day earlier, the country’s national health authority said on Thursday. The new case was an imported infection involving a traveller from overseas. All six cases reported a day earlier were also imported infections. Beijing reported no new cases for the tenth consecutive day. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in mainland China to date is 83,612. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.

Floored by COVID-19, Cirque du Soleil eyes return to the high-wire

As the coronavirus pandemic ripped around the globe, Cirque du Soleil, a circus troupe formed by Quebec street performers that become a global powerhouse, saw most of its operations grind to a halt in barely 48 hours. The company, which gained international renown for extravagant shows featuring acrobats, jugglers, firebreathers and musicians, was forced to shut down productions in China, Italy and the United States, among other countries.

COVID ICU patients’ survival rate has improved: Study

The death rate for COVID-19 intensive care patients has dropped by about one-third since the start of the pandemic, due at least in part to better hospital care, a review of published studies found. The global analysis of 24 observational studies of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was published on Wednesday in the journal Anaesthesia. The research, led by Professor Tim Cook of England’s Royal United Hospitals Bath, found the overall mortality rate of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) has fallen from almost 60% since the end of March to 42% at the end of May.

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