COVID-19 situation: 18 May 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 18 May 2020

Welcome to this special issue of the newsletter where we highlight latest research and policy news and literature on COVID-19 situation

Please send your feedback, articles and reports, or questions you would like to share to Dr. Chadia Wannous via email  

Wishing you useful reading!

COVID-19 Outbreak Situation 

Situation updates:

WHO situation report by 18 May 2020

  • Presidents Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica and Sebastián Piñera of Chile joined the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros on 15 May to announce progress on a technology platform that aims to lift access barriers to effective vaccines, medicines and other health products against COVID-19. The platform, which will officially launch on 29 May, will pool data, knowledge and intellectual property for existing or new COVID-19 health products to deliver ‘global public goods’ for all people and all countries.
  • Japan contributes over US$2.7 million to help nine countries in the Americas strengthen their capacities to detect cases, monitor, and control outbreaks of COVID-19, as well as ensure that reliable public health information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to people involved in the response and the general public.
  • A community of youth influencers named the Global Shapers Community is working with the WHO Regional Office for Europe to ensure that tailored health advice reaches communities, families and individuals in countries across the European Region. This collaboration allows young community members to flag rumors, report on the tone of discussions on their channels and ask questions, as well as share information and project ideas to WHO. The information is then used by WHO to better tailor risk communication and address misinformation

More info here:
Links to the COVID-19 dashboards for most up-to-date figures:
Global dashboard
WHO COVID-19 alerts in African Region
WHO COVID-19 readiness dashboard in African Region
WHO COVID-19 situation dashboard in European Region
WHO COVID-19 weekly surveillance dashboard in European Region
WHO COVID-19 situation dashboard in the Eastern Mediterranean Region
PAHO COVID-19 alerts in the Region of the Americas
All information about COVID- 19 can be found here:
Latest updates - Live press conference (Geneva)

Situation update for the EU/EEA and the UK as of 18 May 2020
As of 18 May 2020, 1 311 066 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (243 695), Spain (231 350), Italy (225 435), Germany (174 697), France (142 411), Belgium (55 280), Netherlands (43 995), Sweden (30 143), Portugal (29 036), Ireland (24 112), Poland (18 529), Romania (16 871), Austria (16 154), Denmark (10 927), Czechia (8 475), Norway (8 197), Finland (6 347), Luxembourg (3 945), Hungary (3 535), Greece (2 834), Bulgaria (2 235), Croatia (2 226), Iceland (1 802), Estonia (1 774), Lithuania (1 541), Slovakia (1 494), Slovenia (1 466), Latvia (1 008), Cyprus (916), Malta (553) and Liechtenstein (83).
As of 18 May 2020, 156 676 deaths have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (34 636), Italy (31 908), France (28 108), Spain (27 650), Belgium (9 052), Germany (7 935), Netherlands (5 680), Sweden (3 679), Ireland (1 543), Portugal (1 218), Romania (1 097), Poland (925), Austria (629), Denmark (547), Hungary (462), Czechia (298), Finland (298), Norway (232), Greece (163), Bulgaria (110), Luxembourg (107), Slovenia (104), Croatia (95), Estonia (63), Lithuania (56), Slovakia (28), Latvia (19), Cyprus (17), Iceland (10), Malta (6) and Liechtenstein (1).
Situation dashboard: latest available data
Russia reported more than 10,000 new cases, continuing its recent trend of elevated incidence.

COVID-19 impacts shift as global cases pass 4.6 million
Brazil is poised to become the next pandemic epicenter, with almost 10,000 new cases reported today.
More »

Global COVID-19 death toll exceeds 300,000
France and Spain learn that relatively few people have been exposed to the virus.
More »

Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries
Official covid-19 death tolls still under-count the true number of fatalities
World Health Assembly 73, 18-19 May 2020
WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the World Health Assembly

Follow the Seventy-third World Health Assembly, which will be virtual due to the current COVID-19 pandemic at this link:
General information on Seventy-third World Health Assembly:

The WHO and the WHA – an explainer:
Control Measures
Escaping the lockdown: Don’t rely on contact-tracing apps
Governments are pinning their hopes on a technology that could prove ineffective—and dangerous

School Closure During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) PandemicAn Effective Intervention at the Global Level?

COVID-19 and Postinfection Immunity Limited Evidence, Many Remaining Questions
Countries Measures

COVID-19 response gets more political as US deaths top 85,000
The federal pandemic response has grown increasingly divided and political.
More »
India's disaster management authority seeks lockdown extension to May 31
Cases exceeded 90,000 and further clashes erupted between police and stranded migrants.
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

Personal Protective Equipment Shortages During COVID-19—Supply Chain–Related Causes and Mitigation Strategies
Teams have demonstrated ingenuity in mitigating current PPE shortages by launching new PPE sourcing initiatives, such as,, and Operation Masks; developing volunteer initiatives to reclaim PPE from other uses; working with engineers to use 3-dimensional printers for PPE; and finding new ways to decontaminate and reuse PPE. All of these testify to this resourcefulness. Plans to conserve PPE have also changed care delivery and include the use of electronic consults and virtual visits, extended dwell infusions, and batching or self-administration of medications. However, solving extreme PPE shortages cannot be the primary work of health care professionals and infection prevention teams.

Herd immunity is not happening
Despite more than 27,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in France, only 4.4% of people have actually been infected. The percentage is far below the required level — something more than 50% — to achieve herd immunity. Herd immunity would slow — but not stop — the outbreak. Results announced by Spain's health minister show a similar situation: more than 27,000 deaths and just 5% of the population tested had antibodies to the virus. “Population immunity appears insufficient to avoid a second wave” if lockdown measures are removed, say the authors of the French study. (Reuters | 2 min read)
Reference: Science paper

How to suppress further COVID-19 outbreaks
The only plausible way to achieve herd immunity is through mass vaccination, argues a Nature Biomedical Engineering editorial. The alternative — letting the virus spread naturally at an infection fatality rate of something around 0.5–1% — implies that millions would die before transmission slows down. The journal outlines why widespread testing, technology-aided contact tracing, case isolation and the quarantining of contacts will continue to be essential to sustainedly suppress further outbreaks.
Nature Biomedical Engineering | 7 min read

WHO and Costa Rica preview technology pooling initiative to ensure access to COVID-19 health products for all
The platform will pool data, knowledge and intellectual property for existing or new COVID-19 health products to deliver ‘global public goods’ for all people and all countries. Through the open sharing of science and data, numerous companies will be able to access the information they need to produce the technologies, thereby scaling up availability worldwide, lowering costs and increasing access. 
WHO and Costa Rica will officially launch the platform on 29 May. On that date, a Solidarity Call to Action will be published on WHO’s web site where governments, research and development funders, institutions and companies can express their support.

Low-Income Children and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the US
Sweden’s Coronavirus Strategy Will Soon Be the World’s
Herd Immunity Is the Only Realistic Option—the Question Is How to Get There Safely
Rather than declare a lockdown or a state of emergency, Sweden asked its citizens to practice social distancing on a mostly voluntary basis. Swedish authorities imposed some restrictions designed to flatten the curve: no public gatherings of more than 50 people, no bar service, distance learning in high schools and universities, and so on. But they eschewed harsh controls, fines, and policing. Swedes have changed their behavior, but not as profoundly as the citizens of other Western democracies. Many restaurants remain open, although they are lightly trafficked; young children are still in school. And in contrast to neighboring Norway (and some Asian countries), Sweden has not introduced location-tracing technologies or apps, thus avoiding threats to privacy and personal autonomy.

Europe’s Strategy to Fight COVID-19: Reflections on Different Response Strategies
Women in Global Health Chapters in Sweden, Norway, Germany and Finland invite you to a joint seminar on “Europe’s Strategy to Fight COVID-19: Reflections on Different Response Strategies and the Need for a Gender Sensitive Approach” on the 26th of May from 12:00-13:30 CET.
The link to register to the event here: 
National Testing Studies
Several European countries recently published data from large surveys to estimate the scope of their national COVID-19 epidemics. France and Spain both conducted serological surveys to determine the proportion of the population that has ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In France, the study estimated that 4.4% of the population had previously been infected, and similarly, Spain estimated that 5% of the population had been infected. For comparison, France has reported 140,734 confirmed cases, representing approximately 0.2% of the entire population, and Spain has reported 229,540 confirmed cases, representing approximately 0.5% of its population. Both studies also provide regional breakdowns for the data. These two serological studies indicate that there could potentially be 10-20 undetected infections for every known case.
Sweden announced results from two studies conducted utilizing molecular diagnostic tests, one on a national level and one in Stockholm. A press release issued by Sweden’s Public Health Authority reports that the study estimated 0.9% of the national population had active SARS-CoV-2 infection at the time of the study (April 21-24). A smaller study conducted in Stockholm (679 participants) estimated that 2.3% of local residents had active infection during the same time period, which is similar to a previous study conducted several weeks earlier. The press release states that more detailed results will be presented in the coming days. Unlike the serological studies, these data only represent ongoing active infections at the time of the survey, as the molecular tests cannot detect prior infections.
US State Testing & Reporting
US states have taken a variety of approaches to reporting COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as well as SARS-CoV-2 testing capacity, with varying degrees of detail. An article published in The Atlantic, which operates the COVID Tracking Project, discusses the challenges and limitations associated with differences in how states report COVID-19 data. There are not sufficient standards or requirements for state-level reporting of disease data, including for COVID-19, and the way states report data can make it difficult to compile an accurate picture of the current status of the US COVID-19 epidemic, compare states, or identify relevant trends.

Health groups seek more transparency on remdesivir distribution
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) today requested a meeting with White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Deborah Birx, MD, to discuss continuing concerns about how the antiviral drug remdesivir is being distributed.
May 14 IDSA/HIVMA letter
Characteristics and Outcomes of Children With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Infection Admitted to US and Canadian Pediatric Intensive Care Units
In this cross-sectional study of 46 North American PICUs, between March 14 and April 3, 2020, 48 children were admitted to 14 PICUs in the US and none in Canada. A total of 40 children (83%) had preexisting underlying medical conditions, 35 (73%) presented with respiratory symptoms, and 18 (38%) required invasive ventilation, and the hospital mortality rate was 4.2%. Meaning  This early study shows that COVID-19 can result in a significant disease burden in children but confirms that severe illness is less frequent, and early hospital outcomes in children are better than in adults.

Use of Prone Positioning in Nonintubated Patients With COVID-19 and Hypoxemic Acute Respiratory Failure
In this study of patients with COVID-19 and hypoxemic respiratory failure managed outside the ICU, 63% were able to tolerate PP for more than 3 hours. However, oxygenation increased during PP in only 25% and was not sustained in half of those after resupination. These results are consistent with findings from previous small studies of PP in nonintubated patients. A trial of PP may be a mechanism to select patients who will do well or it may be useful in a subset. The study had several limitations. The sample was small, a single episode of PP was evaluated, the follow-up was short, clinical outcomes were not assessed, and causality of the observed changes cannot be inferred.

Respiratory Parameters in Patients With COVID-19 After Using Noninvasive Ventilation in the Prone Position Outside the Intensive Care Unit

Association of Treatment With Hydroxychloroquine or Azithromycin With In-Hospital Mortality in Patients With COVID-19 in New York State
Findings  In a retrospective cohort study of 1438 patients hospitalized in metropolitan New York, compared with treatment with neither drug, the adjusted hazard ratio for in-hospital mortality for treatment with hydroxychloroquine alone was 1.08, for azithromycin alone was 0.56, and for combined hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was 1.35. None of these hazard ratios were statistically significant.
Meaning  Among patients hospitalized with COVID-19, treatment with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, or both was not associated with significantly lower in-hospital mortality.
How does the new coronavirus compare with the flu?

How a superspreader at choir practice sickened 52 people with COVID-19

Dogs caught coronavirus from their owners
The first two dogs reported to have coronavirus probably caught it from their owners. Researchers found that the genetic sequences of the virus were almost identical between the animals and members of the infected households in Hong Kong. The direct genomic link strongly supports the idea that the infection had been passed from the owners to the dogs. Neither dog got sick, and there’s no evidence that dogs can pass the virus to each other or back to humans. (Nature | 4 min read)
Reference: Nature paper

In rare cases, coronavirus might ail children
Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome— a serious condition in children that has been compared with an illness called Kawasaki disease — seems to be linked to the coronavirus. Physicians in Bergamo, at the heart of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, report a 30-fold increased incidence of Kawasaki-like disease. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said this week that the syndrome has affected around 100 children in the state, 2 of whom have died. Pediatricians stress that the problem is extremely rare, and most children who have it get better. (BBC | 4 min read)
Reference: The Lancet paper

The pandemic has spawned a new way to study medical records
It preserves confidentiality while liberating useful information
Typhoon in The Philippines
Typhoon Vongfong hit the Philippines, its first of the year, with wind gusts of more than 150 miles per hour (240 kph), causing substantial damage to parts of the country. The COVID-19 pandemic response is posing major logistical and financial constraints for the Philippines, and it is particularly difficult to provide shelter to affected communities while maintaining social distancing. An estimated 200,000 people need to be evacuated from their homes due to concerns of winds, flooding, and landslides. Certain evacuation centers, including school classrooms, are reportedly only able to house a fraction of their former capacity in order to avoid overcrowding, which can facilitate SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The Philippines averages 20 typhoons a year, so responders are only beginning their annual struggle, this time complicated by the ongoing pandemic response. 
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy
COVID-19 could deepen food insecurity, malnutrition in Africa
The World Health Organization (WHO) today expressed concern at the potential impact of COVID-19 on food security, which is likely to exacerbate the already considerable burden of malnutrition in Africa. The impact of the disease is expected to be greater among those grappling with food scarcity and malnutrition, while widespread food insecurity will likely increase due to movement restrictions. 
In Africa, it is estimated that one in five people is undernourished, and that 30% of children under five – approximately 59 million children – have stunted growth, greater than the global average of 21.9%. Wasting occurs in approximately 7.1% of children in Africa. The continent has the highest burden of malnutrition compared with other parts of the world, in terms of percentage of the population. While there has been little research so far into malnutrition as a co-morbidity for COVID-19, people with weakened immune systems as a result of undernourishment are at greater risk of a range of serious illnesses and so are likely to be more severely affected by the virus.
Read More
Walking and cycling have emerged as vital forms of mobility during the COVID-19 crisis and should be a key part of recovery plans.
Learn how walking and cycling are integral to a post-lockdown world
France Economic Aid Measures
France announced that it will implement a set of economic relief measures totaling to €18 billion (US$19.4 billion) to aid the country’s tourism industry. Tourism accounts for nearly 8% of France’s economy, and the industry has suffered substantially during the pandemic. The government will reportedly reimburse companies 70% of furloughed workers’ wages, with hopes that financial support can be phased out as businesses reopen in regions of low transmission. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe remains hopeful that restrictive social distancing measures, currently including prohibitions on travel exceeding 100km and beach closures, can be lifted in time to allow for summer vacations in France.
Risk Communication
WHO: A global response to a global pandemic:

All 6 languages of the above video available here:

Facebook studies reveal science mistrust winning on vaccine messaging
Pro-vaccine groups on the social media platform are "fighting off to one side, in the wrong place."
More »

‘Deeply worrying’: 92% of Australians don’t know the difference between viral and bacterial infections
A CSIRO survey has found many people are confused about common infections, believing antibiotics can treat colds, flu and other viruses. This could fuel a dangerous rise in drug-resistant superbugs.
Updated WHO Myth buster

Q&A on Climate Change and COVID-19
Where can I find the latest information on COVID-19?
Do weather and climate determine where COVID-19 occurs?
Will climate change make COVID-19 worse?
Have measures to contain COVID-19 reduced air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases?
How does water scarcity affect infectious diseases like COVID-19?
What can the global response to COVID-19 teach us about our response to climate change?
UNESCO mythbusting
WHO Technical Guidance
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and adolescents with COVID-19

Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19
This guidance is intended for health care professionals, public health professionals and health authorities that are developing and implementing policies and standard operating procedures (SOP) on the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19.
The CDC published new guidance on COVID-19

Lancet Coronavirus Resource Centre
This resource brings together new 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) content from across The Lancet journals as it is published. All content listed on this page is free to access.
Elsevier’s free health and medical research on novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

CIDRAP COVID-19 Resource Center
CIDRAP has created a one-stop comprehensive compilation of the most current, authorititive information available on the novel coronavirus. Visit the Resource Center often, as the outbreak is constantly evolving

COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv

Training courses:
WHO training
PAHO / WHO provides virtual courses on COVID-19 in Portuguese for health professionals -

ECDC COVID-19 Micro learning



Research and Development

·      Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

·      Database of publications on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

R&D Blueprint and COVID-19

Draft landscape of COVID 19 candidate vaccines

How long will a vaccine take
Scientists are breaking new ground with the speed and ambition of vaccine development for the coronavirus, but no one knows for sure how long it will take to succeed. The New York Times offers interactive graphics, informed by expert advice, to demonstrate how desperate measures might shorten the timeline — and at what risk.
The New York Times | 15 min read
COVID-19 Call to Action: Short – Term Assignments with the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN)
Your expertise is needed to address COVID-19
The One Health Commission (OHC), the One Health European Joint Programme (OHEJP), and other groups are partnering with the World Health Organization’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network(GOARN) to share this call. The GOARN, a collaboration of over 200 institutions and networks that identifies experts willing and able to assist during an outbreak or pandemic, is seeking experts with a minimum of 5-yrs experience in relevant disciplines to help build capacity for the global COVID-19 pandemic response.
Help Fight Coronavirus- Donate Now
Everyone can now support directly the response coordinated by WHO. People and organizations who want to help fight the pandemic and support WHO and partners can now donate through the COVID-Solidarity Response Fund for WHO at



Knowledge Sharing

Thank you for reading. If you have thoughts, feedback, story ideas, or questions you would like to share or interested in partnering with us on a special event coverage, please send a note to Chadia Wannous via email  


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