COVID-19 situation: 25 June 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 25 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 156 by 24 June 2020

  • WHO has released a scientific brief on Breastfeeding and COVID-19 examining the evidence of the risks of transmission of COVID-19 from an infected mother to her baby through breastfeeding, as well as evidence on the risks to child health from not breastfeeding. WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate or continue to breastfeed.
  • ‘Subject in Focus’ provides an update on WHO’s work at securing and shipping COVID-19 supplies, including personal protective equipment, diagnostics kits, and biomedical equipment

More info:
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 updates in the Region of the Americas

June 24th, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 97,128 cases and 3,661 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 2% relative increase in cases and a 2% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day.
The United States of America accounts for 51% of all cases and 53% of all deaths for the Region of the Americas and Brazil accounts for 25% of all cases and 23% of all deaths. Combined, these two countries account for 76% of all cases and 76% of all deaths currently reported in the Region.


Situation update for the EU/EEA and the UK as of 25 June 2020
As of 25 June 2020, 1 529 484 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (306 862), Spain (247 086), Italy (239 410), Germany (192 079), France (161 348), Sweden (62 324), Belgium (60 898), Netherlands (49 804), Portugal (40 104), Poland (32 821), Ireland (25 396), Romania (24 826), Austria (17 384), Denmark (12 615), Czechia (10 777), Norway (8 777), Finland (7 167), Bulgaria (4 242), Luxembourg (4 140), Hungary (4 114), Greece (3 310), Croatia (2 388), Estonia (1 983), Iceland (1 827), Lithuania (1 804), Slovakia (1 607), Slovenia (1 541), Latvia (1 111), Cyprus (991), Malta (665) and Liechtenstein (83).
As of 25 June 2020, 175 720 deaths have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (43 081), Italy (34 644), France (29 731), Spain (28 327), Belgium (9 722), Germany (8 927), Netherlands (6 097), Sweden (5 209), Ireland (1 726), Romania (1 555), Portugal (1 543), Poland (1 396), Austria (693), Denmark (603), Hungary (576), Czechia (343), Finland (327), Norway (249), Bulgaria (209), Greece (190), Slovenia (111), Luxembourg (110), Croatia (107), Lithuania (78), Estonia (69), Latvia (30), Slovakia (28), Cyprus (19), Iceland (10), Malta (9) and Liechtenstein (1).
Situation dashboard: latest available data
Russia's coronavirus case tally passes 600,000
Control Measures

Hospital readiness checklist for a novel coronavirus
COVID-19: What are immunity passports and how would they work?

Yes, Wearing Masks Helps. Here's Why
Take, for example, a meta-analysis of 172 studies that looked at various interventions to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, SARS and MERS from an infected person to people close to them. The analysis, which was published in The Lancet on June 1, found that mask wearing significantly reduces the risk of viral transmission.

Controversy on COVID-19 mask study spotlights messiness of science during a pandemic
Scientists have roundly criticized a new study's methodology, and the entire kerfuffle has highlighted the difficulty of "doing science" amid a full-blown pandemic.
More »

Hospitals improvise to address COVID-19 PPE shortage
Of hospitals surveyed, 40% had significant respirator shortages, with many needing to stretch the supply.
More »
The US Department of Homeland Security developed a process for people to “decontaminate” personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 respirators and masks, at home using only a fairly common kitchen appliance, a programmable multicooker or pressure cooker. The instructions—and accompanying video—direct users to place water in the multicooker and insert a wire rack (to prevent the respirator from sitting in the water). The respirator (up to 3 at a time) should be placed inside a paper bag and set on the rack, and the unit should be set at 149°F (65°C) for 30 minutes. Once the cycle is complete, users should remove the bag and open it for 1 hour to allow the respirators to cool and dry.

Glaring Racial Bias in Lockdown Enforcement
The global uprising in response to the police killing of George Floyd has prompted a fresh look at discriminatory law enforcement across the globe. A new report from Amnesty International details how that has extended to COVID-19 lockdowns across Europe.
For Bulgaria’s marginalized Roma people, the lockdown has meant planes flying overhead to “disinfect” communities and disproportionately lengthy quarantines.
French officers used racial and homophobic slurs while enforcing lockdown measures. In Paris, majority-black neighborhoods were disproportionately subjected to lengthy curfews, police checks, and fines.
 These patterns predate the pandemic, the report notes, highlighting a laundry list of in-custody deaths in years that have been met with a glaring lack of accountability.

Countries Measures

Health officers sound alarm as California economy reopens
Record-setting numbers and warnings come as more businesses reopen statewide, spurred by antsy residents weary over social distancing orders.
Read More
Draft EU plans on reopening borders July 1 currently bar US travelers
because of the country's failure to control COVID-19; the draft plan also excludes Russian and Brazilian travelers.
The New York Times
The country where hundreds of thousands of people haven't heard of Covid-19

COVID-19 spells travel ban for hajj, maybe for Americans going to Europe
EU officials might exclude travelers from the US and other nations, such as Russia and Brazil, that are having difficulty containing COVID-19 cases.
More »

As US COVID cases surge, NY quarantines travelers from hot spots
The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut say they'll require self-quarantine of visitors from several states.
More »
US all 50 states are reopening to some degree—but just 7, Vox reports, meet the basic criteria to ensure the virus's spread is in check, to test, track and isolate the sick and their contacts, and demonstrate the hospital capacity to handle a surge in cases.
Brazilian President Bolsonaro ordered to wear face covering or pay fine
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

Airborne SARS-CoV-2 more efficient than SARS, MERs viruses, study shows
Aerosolized SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, remained infectious for as long as 16 hours, according to a study published yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases. The data suggest that aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2 may be a more important mode of transmission than previously thought, the researchers said, noting that people generate aerosols continuously through breathing and that aerosol production increases during respiratory diseases and loud talking. "A fraction of naturally generated aerosols falls within the size distribution used in our experimental studies [less than 5 micrometers], which leads us to conclude that SARS-CoV-2–infected persons may produce viral bioaerosols that remain infectious for long periods after production through human shedding and airborne transport," they wrote.
Jun 22 Emerg Infect Dis study

Scientists: More than 80% of US COVID-19 infections likely undetected
A surge in influenza-like illness (ILI) in the United States in March suggests that more than 80% of COVID-19 infections went undetected, according to an analysis published yesterday in Science Translational Medicine. Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) ILI surveillance data and disease models, researchers estimated that if one third of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 had sought care, testing would have revealed another 8.7 million new COVID-19 infections from Mar 8 to 28. Only 32% of people infected with the novel coronavirus sought care, the authors calculated. The official US tally now stands at over 2.3 million cases, which include only lab-confirmed infections."We emphasize the importance of testing these findings with seroprevalence data and discuss the broader potential to use syndromic surveillance for early detection and understanding of emerging infectious diseases," they wrote.
Jun 22 Sci Transl Med study
Jun 22 Penn State University news release

Fauci says White House told NIH to cancel funding for bat virus study
“Why was it canceled? It was canceled because the NIH was told to cancel it," "I don’t know the reason, but we were told to cancel it.” Fauci said.

Antibody levels in recovered COVID-19 patients decline quickly: research
Levels of an antibody found in recovered COVID-19 patients fell sharply in 2-3 months after infection for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, according to a Chinese study, raising questions about the length of any immunity against the novel coronavirus.

The Covid-19 Catastrophe; Covid-19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened – review

The Fight for Oxygen in Poor Countries
In wealthier countries, running out of medical oxygen “is all but unthinkable for a resource that literally can be pulled from the air,” the AP reports.
But in low-resource countries, it is expensive and in short supply, with soaring demand amid the pandemic. Now, aid agencies are scrambling to get oxygen equipment to low-income countries in sub-Sarahan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia—a global feat marked by dizzying logistical challenges
The New York Times.
COVID-19 intensive care patients were 10X more likely than other hospitalized COVID-19 patients to go into cardiac arrest and die, though the heart conditions are likely linked to systemic illness and not just COVID-19 infection, according to a new paper published in Heart Rhythm.
We Need to Relocate ICU Patients Out of Covid-19 Hotspots
Harvard Business Review
The colliding epidemics of COVID-19, Ebola, and measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Lancet Global Health (commentary)

Source of Beijing’s big new COVID-19 outbreak is still a mystery
Virtually all of the infections have been linked to a massive wholesale food market that has been temporarily shuttered. The link to the market has triggered comparisons to the seafood market in Wuhan that played a role at the early stages of the pandemic, and speculation that the virus arrived in fish imported from Europe. But the real source of the outbreak is still a mystery.
Learning from multi-hazard early warning systems to respond to pandemics
Meteorological and hydrological services worldwide have developed and implemented Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) for weather-and climate-related hazards; these are now being expanded and transitioned toward Multi-Hazard Impact-Based Early Warning Systems (MHIEWS)

Awnings to aircon: Heat threat drives city innovation in pandemic year

Protests haven’t led to a COVID-19 surge
The widespread protests in the United States against racism and police brutality that have gone on for more than three weeks do not seem to have led to spikes in COVID-19 infections. Researchers analysed mobile-phone location data from 315 of the largest US cities and found that the wider population tended to stay at home more, leading to an overall increase in social distancing. Scientists propose that wearing masks also helped, and that young protesters who might have been infected but not have severe symptoms would be missed out in the official COVID-19 numbers. “The fact is that we will just never know for sure, because there’s too many moving parts,” says epidemiologist Andrew Noymer.
Buzzfeed News | 6 min read
Reference: National Bureau of Economic Research working paper (not peer reviewed)
The US COVID-19 incidence continues to increase, since early June, coinciding with states’ efforts to relax social distancing and resume normal activities, but US COVID-19 deaths have steadily decreased since mid-April. One potential explanation for these differing trends is a shift in age distribution of COVID-19 patients toward younger age groups.
Some health experts view the shift toward younger cases as an “ominous” signal that could forecast future increases in severe disease and death as transmission spreads beyond younger demographic groups. Notably, several of these states are also exhibiting increased COVID-19 hospitalizations, which indicates that the increasing incidence is not limited to mild cases and asymptomatic infections. In fact 7 states—Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas—are reporting record numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Life Imprisonment for “Intentional” Infectors in India: A Criminal Law Approach for a Public Health Crisis
 JURIST (commentary)
Inside the U.S.’s largest maximum-security prison, Covid-19 raged. Outside, officials called their fight a success
COVID-19’s far reaching impact on global drug abuse
UN News

A plague amid a pandemic: East Africa, West Asia combat surging locust outbreak
NBC News
Researchers from the United Kingdom published (preprint) preliminary results from the dexamethasone arm of the UK RECOVERY clinical trials. Highlights from the findings were published via a press release last week, but this manuscript provides further details. The study yielded promising results, including a 34% decrease in mortality among patients receiving mechanical ventilation and a 20% decrease among patients receiving oxygen therapy.
How dexamethasone came to light
Last week, a cheap and widely available steroid called dexamethasone became the first drug shown to reduce deaths among people seriously ill with COVID-19. Unusually, the results were first announced in a press release, not a peer-reviewed paper (although the results are now available in a medRxiv preprint). In a feature exploring the break-neck speed of the trial that uncovered the evidence, physician-scientist Martin Landray says the team sweated over how to best make their findings public. “Do I hold onto this information, which by this point is pretty clear-cut, or do I inform the world?” he said they asked themselves. “The answer is: you’re cursed if you do and cursed if you don’t. But by far, to me, the better option was to make the results publicly available.”
Wired | 10 min read
Mini organs reveal how the coronavirus ravages the body

Coronavirus might trigger diabetes
Diabetes is already known to be a key risk factor for developing severe COVID-19, and people with the condition are more likely to die. Now evidence from the clinic and the laboratory suggests that the virus damages insulin-producing cells, triggering diabetes in some people. More research is needed, and it has begun: earlier this month, an international group of scientists established a global database to collect information on people with COVID-19 who show issues with their blood-sugar levels.
Nature | 5 min read
References: New England Journal of Medicine paper, Diabetes Research and Clinical Practicepaper, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism paper & Cell Stem Cell paper
The hydroxychloroquine conundrum
The World Health Organization’s decision to stop the hydroxychloroquine arm of a large-scale clinical trial, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s revocation of the drug’s emergency use authorization has cast doubts over the drug’s potential to treat COVID-19 patients. But experts are divided on whether more research is required to rule out the efficacy of the drug.

‘It’s a nightmare.’ How Brazilian scientists became ensnared in chloroquine politics
In April, a team led by Marcus Lacerda, a clinical researcher at the Heitor Vieira Dourado Tropical Medicine Foundation in Manaus, Brazil, published a study showing chloroquine can increase mortality in COVID-19 patients. Since then, they have been accused of poisoning their patients with a high dose of chloroquine just to give the drug—praised by U.S. President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro—a bad name. Social media attacks, defamatory articles, death threats, and even a legal inquiry into the group’s work have left Lacerda and his team stressed and exhausted.
A dangerous black market in blood plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients has emerged in Pakistan, at a time when doctors say Pakistan's health care system is on the brink of collapse.
[The Guardian]
Global efforts continue to develop and evaluate vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2. Researcher from the United Kingdom published (preprint) findings from an animal study evaluating the immune response following 1 and 2 doses of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine developed at the University of Oxford Jenner Institute. Following a study in non-human primates that demonstrated that the vaccine generated an immune response against SARS-CoV-2, this study aimed to understand the effect of a “prime-boost” vaccination schedule on the associated immune response.
Sanofi Pasteur is collaborating with partners to develop and test multiple vaccine candidates, although the clinical trial schedule is several months behind some other products, such as the Oxford University vaccine.
Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial begins this week in South Africa
2,000 participants will be enrolled in the study of a candidate developed by Oxford University. 
How will the world's poorest people get a coronavirus vaccine?
 The Guardian (commentary)

Human challenge trials with live coronavirus aren't the answer to a Covid-19 vaccine
 STAT (commentary)
Consequences of the Outbreak on society and Economy

Coronavirus Coverage and the Silencing of Female Expertise
With male voices dominating the pandemic narrative, female scientists are lamenting the loss of diverse perspectives.

Fauci: Institutional racism playing role in disproportionate coronavirus impact on Black community
New data suggest women in parts of Africa and the Middle East may be left out of COVID-19 testing; in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, over 70% of reported cases were male compared to the global average of 51%.
Thomson Reuters Foundation

Exclusive: Women, babies at risk as COVID-19 disrupts health services, World Bank warns
'Disruptive interruption.'
Logistical challenges and supply chain bottlenecks have challenged women's access to sexual and reproductive health care during COVID-19. Telemedicine and other new strategies may find a permanent place in this work moving forward.
Bleak UNICEF Report On Kids And COVID-19 ... But There Is Hope
NPR Goats and Soda

Child malnutrition worsens as Coronavirus adds to South Sudan’s complex crisis
Tearfund via ReliefWeb

Coronavirus has brought US 'to its knees', says CDC director
The Guardian

COVID-19 is affecting people of color the most. We’re tracking the data in real time.
The COVID-19 Tracking Project

Social taboos hinder Indonesia's fight against coronavirus

Market Collapse in Mexico City’s Bread Basket
The market, which supplies 80% of the capital’s food and is staffed by a patchwork of leaseholders, offers a striking anecdotal account of COVID-19’s toll on vulnerable food vendors. Accustomed to poor care and mistrustful of authorities, many vendors actively avoided hospitals as rumors spread that doctors were deliberately killing patients.
The Washington Post
Where The Women Aren't: On Coronavirus Task Forces
 NPR Goats and Soda

Lockdowns Aren't An Option for Rape Crisis Centers
COVID-19 lockdowns have posed a difficult dilemma for rape crisis centers. When lockdowns began in Lagos, Women at Risk International Foundation initially closed its doors. But its 24-hour helpline saw a 64% rise in calls from victims forced to quarantine with their abusers. So WARIF sourced PPE for staff and reopened with additional safety measures.
The clear uptick in sexual violence amid COVID-19 has forced authorities to reckon with the rape crisis in Nigeria, where 1 in 4 girls has been the victim of sexual violence. Last week, governors across the country declared a state of emergency on rape.

Evidence shows burden on female academics
The proportion of accepted papers with a female first author took a nosedive during the worldwide lockdowns in March, April and May: an analysis of 60,000 journals showed it dropped by 7 points in May, to 26.8% of all papers. The proportion had been increasing for the past four years. The culprit is probably the unequal burden of childcare during school closures, say experts. “Universities will need to account for the pandemic’s gendered effects on research when making decisions about hiring, tenure, promotion, merit pay and so on,” says biologist Megan Frederickson.

Times Higher Education | 6 min read
(Digital Science, which did the analysis for Times Higher Education, and Nature are both owned by Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.)
Risk Communication

Pre-conference: 1st WHO Infodemiology Conference
29 June 2020 13:00 – 18:00 CET
Register here
Updated WHO Myth buster
UNESCO mythbusting
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:
WHO Technical Guidance
New: Breastfeeding and COVID-19- Scientific Brief
WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate or continue to breastfeed. Mothers should be counselled that the benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks for transmission.4 
Mother and infant should be enabled to remain together while rooming-in throughout the day and night and to practice skin-to-skin contact, including kangaroo mother care, especially immediately after birth and during establishment of breastfeeding, whether they or their infants have suspected or confirmed COVID-19
The CDC published new guidance on COVID-19

Sex, gender and COVID-19: overview and resources
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 sources and materials on COVID19

ECDC COVID-19 Micro learning

Research and Development

·      Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

·      Database of publications on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Global outbreak research: harmony not hegemony
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

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