COVID-19 situation: 1 June 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 1 June 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 132 by 31 May 2020
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 1 June 2020
As of 01 June 2020, 1 403 154 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (274 762), Spain (239 429), Italy (233 019), Germany (181 815), France (151 753), Belgium (58 381), Netherlands (46 442), Sweden (37 542), Portugal (32 500), Ireland (24 990), Poland (23 786), Romania (19 257), Austria (16 642), Denmark (11 669), Czechia (9 273), Norway (8 411), Finland (6 859), Luxembourg (4 018), Hungary (3 876), Greece (2 917), Bulgaria (2 513), Croatia (2 246), Estonia (1 869), Iceland (1 806), Lithuania (1 675), Slovakia (1 522), Slovenia (1 473), Latvia (1 066), Cyprus (944), Malta (616) and Liechtenstein (83).
As of 01 June 2020, 165 055 deaths have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (38 489), Italy (33 415), France (28 802), Spain (27 127), Belgium (9 467), Germany (8 511), Netherlands (5 956), Sweden (4 395), Ireland (1 652), Portugal (1 410), Romania (1 262), Poland (1 064), Austria (668), Denmark (574), Hungary (526), Czechia (320), Finland (320), Norway (236), Greece (175), Bulgaria (140), Luxembourg (110), Slovenia (108), Croatia (103), Lithuania (70), Estonia (68), Slovakia (28), Latvia (24), Cyprus (17), Iceland (10), Malta (7) and Liechtenstein (1).
NOTE: on 29/05/2020, the increase reported by France is due to the implementation of a new laboratory-based surveillance system of COVID-19 (SI-DEP) since 13 May with a significant increase of the laboratory coverage, allowing the inclusion of retrospective cases diagnosed since that date.
Situation dashboard: latest available data

Global COVID-19 total passes 6 million
Also, the US Supreme Court turns down a California church's request to ease the state's restrictions.
More »

WHO Foundation

The WHO announced the development of the WHO Foundation, a non-profit entity designed to provide funding to the WHO and its partners. The Foundation is also anticipated to boost funding to support ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. While the Foundation has reportedly been in development for years, the announcement follows recent efforts by US President Donald Trump to suspend US government funding for the WHO. 
Control Measures

Masks probably slow the spread of covid-19
But wearing one is mainly an act of altruism

The evidence for why we should all wear masks
We should all be wearing masks to protect each other from COVID-19. That’s the conclusion of an overview of the current evidence for airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, by atmospheric chemist Kimberly Prather and three colleagues. The authors also looked at the effect of masks in countries where they are commonplace, and the efficacy of other measures, such as people staying 2 metres apart. Although more research is needed, the authors argue that “airborne spread from undiagnosed infections will continuously undermine the effectiveness of even the most vigorous testing, tracing, and social distancing programs.”
Countries Measures
Some Countries Have Brought New Cases Down To Nearly Zero. How Did They Do It?
NPR Goats and Soda

CDC issues new COVID-19 guidance on workplace, houses of worship
Also, the CDC published data pointing to community spread no earlier than late January.
More »

Lockdown lessons from space
NASA scientists are experts in remote working, social isolation and quarantine. Researchers who ‘work remotely’ with spacecraft millions of kilometres away, astronauts who volunteer to be separated from their families and psychologists who train space-farers for the challenge share their insights. Try to maintain, as much as possible, the structure of work and your productivity, advises operational psychologist James Picano. Astronauts feel best when they are working on their mission, no matter what adversity they are facing, he says.
Nature | 7 min read
Fleeing Quarantine
Hundreds of individuals reportedly fled from quarantine facilities in Malawi and Zimbabwe. At least 46 of more than 400 quarantined individuals that fled in Malawi tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and more than 100 individuals fled quarantine in Zimbabwe.
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

US-WHO rift threatens global health
The fissure between the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO) opened further last week, when US President Donald Trump tweeted a letter to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Trump threatened to make permanent the US freeze on WHO funding that began in April, unless the organization “can actually demonstrate independence from China” within 30 days. The repercussions could range from a resurgence of polio and malaria to barriers in the flow of information on COVID-19. Scientific partnerships around the world would be damaged, and the United States could lose influence over global health initiatives, including those to distribute drugs and vaccines for the new coronavirus as they become available.
Nature | 7 min read

WHO v. USA—An Inconvenient Battle
What happens if the US—the WHO’s biggest donor—pulls away from the organization?  
President Trump has already frozen WHO funding and has threatened to make that permanent unless WHO can prove it’s not beholden to China. Among other impacts, the US pullout would compromise progress against diseases like polio and malaria. Just as damaging as the financial upheaval would be the potential loss of collaboration. The US has floated new ways to promote global health through its own agencies—an approach welcomed by some. But if the 2 powerhouses can’t work together, global health is sure to suffer.


Trump And WHO: How Much Does The U.S. Give? What's The Impact Of A Halt In Funding?
What happens to preparedness efforts?
President Donald Trump's announcement on Friday that he plans to "terminate" the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization raises a number of questions. Among them: What happens to U.S. global health security efforts that work in close cooperation with WHO’s policies and operations? The Global Health Security Agenda, launched by the Obama administration in 2014 and considered a starting point for multiple proposals to improve pandemic preparedness, is built around WHO's own International Health Regulations, which outline countries' obligations to help stop disease outbreaks from spreading.
COVID-19 significantly impacts health services for noncommunicable diseases
Technology Access Pool
The President of Costa Rica and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros launched the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, a policy initiative aimed at making vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all.

WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID-19
Prescriptions for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19

Mental Health Outcomes Among Frontline and Second-Line Health Care Workers During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic in Italy
The study confirming a substantial proportion of mental health issues, particularly among young women and frontline HCWs. A total of 681 respondents (49.38%) endorsed PTSD; 341 (24.73%), symptoms of depression; 273 (19.80%), symptoms of anxiety; 114 (8.27%), insomnia; and 302 (21.90%),

Studies highlight COVID-19 impact on cancer patients
Death rates were 13% and 28% in the 2 studies, with 1 study showing cancer treatment not tied to higher risk.
More »
A recent study published in The Lancet: Public Health describes effects on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in France.
OHCA victims also faced increased time to treatment during the pandemic period as well as significantly decreased odds of survival. The researchers estimated that approximately one-third of the effects could be attributed directly to COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected); however, social distancing restrictions, postponed or deferred routine or emergent care, and other factors associated with the pandemic likely contributed as well.

We are nowhere near herd immunity
Even in the hardest-hit parts of the world, many fewer people have been infected than would be needed to achieve the herd immunity that might slow — but not stop — the outbreak. Serology surveys in places including Wuhan, Madrid and London have tested a cross-section of the population for antibodies against the disease. So far, the highest rate of infections found is around 20%, in New York City. That is well below the required level — something more like 60% (maybe) — to achieve herd immunity. There are many caveats around how the surveys are done and the accuracy of the antibody tests. And we don’t know for sure whether a past infection will give a person immunity, or to what extent.
The New York Times | 8 min read

Comparison of Clinical Characteristics of Patients with Asymptomatic vs Symptomatic Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wuhan, China

Assessment of Deaths From COVID-19 and From Seasonal Influenza

COVID-19 and Postinfection ImmunityLimited Evidence, Many Remaining Questions

Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Among Patients Admitted for Childbirth in Southern Connecticut

Modeling Epidemics With Compartmental Models

Using Controlled Trials to Resolve Key Unknowns About Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Conducting Clinical Research During the COVID-19 PandemicProtecting Scientific Integrity

100,000 and counting-America’s covid-19 experience is tragic but not that exceptional
The epidemic could get worse. There were a number of structural reasons to imagine that America would be hit particularly hard by an epidemic such as this. Its health infrastructure is set up principally to maximise profits, and such a system’s incentives are not well aligned with pandemic preparedness. One cannot bill an insurer for surge-capacity ventilators, let alone spare intensive-care beds, for specialists in infectious diseases whose expensively acquired expertise is not normally needed or for stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE). America, like China, has a younger population than Europe’s. Other things being equal, that should have helped. But other things were not equal. Americans have high levels of conditions that make the virus more lethal, such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Roughly 11% of Americans are diabetic, compared with 5% in Italy or France; more than one-third of adults are obese, compared with less than a quarter in Germany. The burden of cardiovascular and respiratory disease in America is substantially higher than it is in western European countries.

Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries
Official covid-19 death tolls still under-count the true number of fatalities
Coronavirus: Nightmare spreads through Russia's care homes.

Researchers ponder why covid-19 appears deadlier in the U.S. and Europe than in Asia
The Washington Post

Ratio, rate, or risk? 
The Lancet Infectious Diseases (commentary)

Covid-19 creates long, anxious waits for fertility treatments
Mad at the Government's COVID Response? Elect Doctors and Scientists
Healthcare needn't be dictated by politicians
MedPageToday (commentary)
Serological Saliva Test
Researchers from Emory University and Johns Hopkins University conducted a study (preprint) to determine the feasibility of using saliva specimens for serological tests. The researchers developed a multiplex SARS-CoV-2 antibody immunoassay and tested 167 saliva and 324 blood serum specimens, including from patients that tested positive and negative for SARS-CoV-2 infection utilizing molecular diagnostic assays. The US FDA has already issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a saliva-based molecular/diagnostic test that utilizes specimens that individuals can collect on their own at home.
Shortage of Testing Machines
Following a series of challenges and delays in distributing a variety of supplies needed to scale up SARS-CoV-2 testing in the United States—including test kits, reagents, and nasal swabs—the next barrier may be a shortage of the machines needed to perform the tests. Multiple manufacturers of these machines—including Hologic, Inc; Roche; and Abbott Laboratories—have reportedly confirmed that they have not been able to manufacture enough of the testing machines to meet the existing demand. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means that available funding for many governments, health systems, and other laboratories may be limited, which could make it challenging to justify a substantial investment in new equipment, especially if the future demand could be low.

Ethical guidelines for contact-tracing apps
At least 47 contact-tracing apps, used in countries from South Korea to Singapore, are available globally. Four digital ethicists set out 16 questions to assess whether a contact-tracing app is ethically justifiable, and to what extent.
Nature | 10 min read

Watch two of the authors, Jess Morley and Luciano Floridi, introduce the ethical considerations of COVID-19 apps (Oxford Internet Institute talk on YouTube | 56 min video

Digital Smartphone Tracking for COVID-19Public Health and Civil Liberties in Tension

Genome sequencing to squash a second wave
Genome sequencing can aid in quickly tracking and controlling COVID-19 infections — helping to defuse a second wave after countries emerge from lockdowns. By comparing sequences, researchers can rule out possible lines of transmission if two sequences don’t match, or link together cases that do. In Australia, for example, sequence data have helped to resolve the true source of exposure for a health-care worker, proving that they contracted the virus at a social event and not from a patient in hospital. “Without genomics, and only interviewing, you would never be able to tell which one it was,” says bioinformatician Torsten Seemann.
Nature | 5 min read
The virus detectives-Germany’s contact tracers try to block a second covid-19 wave
A low-tech technique that worked in Asia is working in Europe, too
Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection
A Research Letter published in JAMA Network Open describes the characteristics of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections identified in Wuhan, China.
Another study, published in Thorax, describes findings from the epidemiological investigation of a COVID-19 outbreak onboard a cruise to Antarctica. Among 217 total passengers and crew, 128 (59%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, but only 24 (19%) were symptomatic—81% were asymptomatic.
Tracking Covid-19 With Genomics
Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of genomic sequences of SARS-CoV-2 have been analyzed and shared worldwide in an effort to further characterize the novel virus. As the pandemic has progressed, genomic approaches have allowed researchers to identify distinct lineages of SARS-CoV-2 that can be traced to different points of origin. Scientists can use genomics to understand the timing of transmission and establish likely transmission routes based on phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences. As countries begin to relax social distancing measures, some are looking to genomics as a means to supplement contact tracing efforts. Comparing genomic data from newly identified cases to previous cases can help health officials identify chains of transmission and likely exposures in order to more efficiently target contact tracing and containment efforts.

“We may pass through this pandemic without knowing if this drug works or not.”
Physician Marcus Lacerda, the principal investigator of the first randomized controlled clinical trial to test chloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, laments the politicization of the drug. Lacerda required police protection from death threats after his study found unfavourable results.
(The Lancet Infectious Diseases | 4 min read)
120+ researchers and medical professionals have written to the Lancet questioning the integrity of a widely publicized study that found COVID-19 patients taking hydroxychloroquine were dying at higher rates; the results prompted the WHO to halt several clinical trials involving the drug.
The Guardian
The spread of aerosolized SARS-CoV-2 in public buildings can be minimized at relatively low cost with effective ventilation systems, according to a research letter in Environment International.  
The Trump administration bungled distribution of remdesivir—the only approved COVID-19 medication—meaning some vials went “to the wrong hospitals, to hospitals with ... no eligible patients, and to facilities without the needed refrigeration to store it.” The Washington Post
A 5-day course of the antiviral remdesivir
may be just as effective as a 10-day course for COVID-19 patients who don’t require mechanical ventilation, according to results from an ongoing study—but the degree of benefit is unknown because the study had no placebo control.
New England Journal of Medicine
Patients share beds as coronavirus cases overwhelm Mumbai’s hospitals
The Guardian

Coronavirus uses same strategy as HIV to dodge immune response, Chinese study find –South China Morning Post

In the face of Covid-19, the U.S. needs to change how it deals with mental illness
STAT (commentary)

Pools? Planes? Camps? What public health experts will — and won’t — do this summer. –The Washington Post

How we make decisions during a pandemic.
Knowable Magazine

The unbearable grief of Black mothers 

What COVID-19 is Teaching Us About Healthcare Around the World
Duke University via Medium (commentary)


Adverse Consequences of Rushing a SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Implications for Public Trust
In this unprecedented crisis, novel trial designs, such as those that include challenge studies, should be carefully considered. But what cannot and must not be allowed is for desperation to result in the suspension of scientific principles and ethical research values. Physicians should not administer inadequately vetted vaccines; researchers should not endorse them without sufficient data. The scientific community has only one chance at winning public acceptance of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The likelihood of achieving that goal will depend on convincing evidence of vaccine safety and efficacy.
Consequences of the Outbreak on society and Economy
Post-pandemic stimulus could accelerate climate progress—or lock in fossil fuels for decades
In the coming months, governments around the world are likely to begin rolling out stimulus policies to help their national economies recover from the coronavirus crisis. One way or another, these policies will also determine long-term progress on climate change, say a group of U.K. and U.S. economists.
The covid crisis-Why the economy could fare worse than you think
Three months after lockdown was relaxed in China, its economy is now running at around 90% of normal levels. Although 90% may sound fine, for many it could be catastrophic

The vulnerability of African Americans to the coronavirus is a national emergency
It is past time to fix a glaring disparity

World leaders warn coronavirus could roll back progress for women
The United Nations estimates that the pandemic could cause 7 million unwanted pregnancies over the next six months as women lose access to contraception and reproductive healthcare

Online child sex abuse cases triple under lockdown in Philippines

With COVID, food banks have run short and farmers have dumped milk they could not get to market
Corona Diaries
WGH has partnered with Corona Diaries to collect the stories of frontline health workers fighting coronavirus! Please share with your networks and record your stories:
Risk Communication

Science communication during a pandemic
The Working Scientist podcast talks to public health experts and science journalists about the moral case for communicating science during the pandemic — and how to do it right. “We are entering a new era,” says epidemiologist Sandro Galea. “We need a new playbook for communicating science in a time of uncertainty, and how policy can be informed by uncertain science.”
Nature Careers Working Scientist podcast | 30 min listen

Curing the 'infodemic.'
Misinformation does not respect borders — and we need a global response. What does that look like? Peter Eriksson, Swedish minister for international development cooperation, and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner weigh in.
Small Towns Won’t Know They’re Infected Until It’s Too Late: The demise of local news is a pandemic emergency.  
The Atlantic
Updated WHO Myth buster
UNESCO mythbusting
WHO Technical guidance
Smithsonian Science Education Center With Support of the World Health Organization Launches New COVID-19 Guide for Youth
The Smithsonian Science Education Center will disseminate the information to youth worldwide in collaboration with WHO, IAP, educators, and museum and research center networks. The guide is free, will be available to youth in more than 15 languages, particularly African and Asian languages, and can be found at
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

ECDC COVID-19 Micro learning

Research and Development

·      Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

·      Database of publications on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
A strategic approach to COVID-19 vaccine R&D
Global Effort On Covid-19 Health Research
Global Effort on COVID-19 Health Research is a new cross UK government funding call aiming to support applied health research that will address COVID-19 knowledge gaps. The focus is on understanding the pandemic and mitigating its health impacts in LMIC contexts. The call prioritises epidemiology, clinical management, infection control and health system responses.
All emergency/frontline health workers to participate in a research study "GLobal Observations and Views of Emergency Frontline Health Workers Survey in COVID-19" (GLOVES-19) led by Drs. Adnan Hyder and Katherine Douglass of the Department of Global Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University.
Taking part in this research is completely voluntary. If you choose to take part in this study, you will be asked to complete an online survey. The survey will take approximately 15 minutes of your time.
Call for Entries: Data Science Breakthroughs for an Inclusive Recovery
The fight against Covid-19 has exacerbated many existing challenges facing economies, and data science-led innovation can play a vital role in putting economies back on the path toward inclusive growth. Launched in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation, the Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge is an opportunity to tap into the expertise of a broad pool of thinkers and doers, aiming to catalyze innovative and scalable solutions to help individuals and communities thrive, all the while building resilience to withstand future challenges. The Challenge will award up to ten winners with data science talent, software, training, funding, and other support valued from $10K up to $10 million. The deadline to apply is July 17, 2020.
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  


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