COVID-19 situation: 17 Aug 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 17 Aug 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 Global Situation Report–209
Data as received by WHO from national authorities by 10:00 CEST, 16 Aug 2020

This is the final daily COVID-19 Situation Report. Beginning tomorrow we will begin publishing the COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update which will focus on analysis and interpretation of the evolving epidemiological situation.
COVID-19 in the WHO African Region
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
August 16th, 2020 15:00 (EST)An additional 140,694 cases and 3,373 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 1.23% relative increase in cases and a 0.81% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day.
COVID-19 testing is hindered and delayed in certain parts of Bolivia, as blockades impede the timely delivery of biological samples.


Situation update for the EU/EEA and the UK as of 17 August 2020
As of 17 August 2020, 1 924 569 cases have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: Spain (342 813), United Kingdom (318 484), Italy (253 915), Germany (224 014), France (218 536), Sweden (84 294), Belgium (78 230), Romania (70 461), Netherlands (62 943), Poland (56 684), Portugal (54 102), Ireland (27 257), Austria (23 373), Czechia (20 012), Denmark (15 617), Bulgaria (14 365), Norway (9 850), Finland (7 731), Luxembourg (7 439), Greece (7 075), Croatia (6 571), Hungary (4 916), Slovakia (2 902), Lithuania (2 416), Slovenia (2 416), Estonia (2 190), Iceland (2 011), Cyprus (1 332), Latvia (1 322), Malta (1 205) and Liechtenstein (93).
As of 17 August 2020, 179 660 deaths have been reported in the EU/EEA and the UK: United Kingdom (41 366), Italy (35 396), France (30 410), Spain (28 617), Belgium (9 939), Germany (9 232), Netherlands (6 163), Sweden (5 783), Romania (2 991), Poland (1 877), Portugal (1 778), Ireland (1 774), Austria (728), Denmark (621), Hungary (608), Bulgaria (498), Czechia (397), Finland (333), Norway (261), Greece (228), Croatia (166), Slovenia (124), Luxembourg (123), Lithuania (81), Estonia (63), Latvia (32), Slovakia (31), Cyprus (20), Iceland (10), Malta (9) and Liechtenstein (1).
Situation dashboard: latest available data

Pandemic total passes 21 million cases
In the Americas region yesterday, Brazil reported 60,091 COVID-19 cases, followed by the US with 51,443 and Colombia with 11,286.
More »

US sees highest COVID-19 daily death toll since May
The southern half of the country continues to report the highest death tolls, which nationally may be higher than thought, based on new excess death estimates.
More »

Global trend shows hint of plateau, NZ suspicion shifts to quarantine breach in flare-up source. However, a top WHO official warned that calm waters doesn't mean the storm is over, and most of the world is still susceptible to the easily spreading virus.
More »

Africa’s COVID-19 mystery
Antibody surveys across Africa have shown that a large proportion of people has been infected with COVID-19 — but the continent has so far been spared the worst ravages of the disease. For example, perhaps 1 in 20 adults in Kenya, or 1.6 million people, have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, according to one preprint study that looked at blood donors in the country. Yet Kenya’s official death toll is under 500, it has not seen an overall rise in mortality and its hospitals have not reported large numbers of people with symptoms. Scientists are exploring whether the result could be due to the continent’s youthful populations, genetic factors or some kind of protection gleaned from exposure to other diseases.
Science | 6 min read
Reference: medRxiv preprint
Africa marks six months of COVID-19
While the virus has raced through many other regions of the world, the pandemic’s evolution on the African continent has been different. Preliminary analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that an exponential surge in cases which peak about two to three weeks later is not occurring in Africa. Instead, many countries are experiencing a gradual rise in COVID-19 cases and it is difficult to discern a specific peak. Transmission patterns also differ between countries, but more importantly within countries. At the onset, COVID-19 mainly affected capital cities. However, the virus is now moving from high density urban areas to informal settlements and then onward to rural areas that have a lower population density.
Read More
Control Measures

Timeline: WHO's COVID-19 response

Opinion: Instead of lockdowns, teach people how to socialize safely in the time of coronavirus
Read More
Countries Measures

Universal Masking in the United StatesThe Role of Mandates, Health Education, and the CDC
Although many states and localities have ordered mask use, considerable variability and inconsistencies exist. Would a national mandate be an effective COVID-19 prevention strategy, and would it be lawful? Given the patchwork of state pandemic responses, should the CDC have enhanced funding and powers to forge a nationally coordinated response to COVID-19 and to future health emergencies?

The Trump administration haphazardly gave away millions of Covid-19 masks — to schools, broadcasters, and large corporations
Under the $675 million program, businesses and other entities received supplies of the free, reusable masks that in some cases far exceeded their needs.
Read More

New Zealand’s race to eliminate the virus
A week ago, New Zealand was an exemplar for how swift and decisive action can stifle the spread of the coronavirus. But the emergence this week of a cluster of cases has caught the nation by surprise, and is a blow to the government’s strategy to eliminate the virus. Amanda Kvalsvig, an epidemiologist who has been assisting with the country’s COVID-19 response, speaks to Nature about the rapid response to the new cases, and whether an elimination strategy is still possible. (Nature | 6 min read)
Experts warn Spain is losing the 2nd round in virus fight

The need for an independent evaluation of the COVID-19 response in Spain
Covid-19 surges back into nursing homes in coronavirus hot spots 
Washington Post
COVID-19 and heatwaves: a double whammy for Indian cities
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

Measure the risk of airborne COVID-19 in your office, classroom, or bus ride
The model underscores the importance of widespread use of masks and the risks of COVID-19 transmission in crowded rooms and poorly ventilated conditions—and in any of these settings, time is key

Influenza in the COVID-19 Era
Precision Public Health as a Key Tool in the COVID-19 Response
Just like precision medicine, precision public health will still need a strong evidentiary foundation. Careful evaluation of the validity and utility of these new technologies as applied to precision public health and their effectiveness in reducing COVID-19 cases and decreasing morbidity and mortality will be essential, along with consideration of the ethical, legal, and social implications. These applications will require a strong collaboration among the health care sector, individual clinicians and health centers, private sector, governments, and communities. Despite these challenges, at no time has precision public health been needed more than now.

Cascading Risks of COVID-19 Resurgence During an Active 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outcomes in French Nursing Homes That Implemented Staff Confinement With Residents

ICD-10 codes for common COVID-19 symptoms inaccurate, study finds
Standard, symptom-specific international disease codes lack sensitivity and have poor negative predictive value (NPV) for characteristic COVID-19 symptoms, which could skew conclusions derived from them, a cohort study published today in JAMA Network Open shows.
Aug 14 JAMA Netw Open study

What the ‘anthropause’ means for wildlife
Scientists have begun to investigate how animals reacted to a dramatic slowdown in human activity caused by the pandemic — dubbed the anthropause. Several large-scale studies have launched to assess how animals changed their behaviour during lockdowns, for example by crossing roads more frequently or venturing out more during daylight. “There is a gold mine of data,” says biologist Christian Rutz.
(Science | 10 min read)
Stop the Next Pandemic: Conservation as Public Health Policy
Climate change and COVID-19: reinforcing Indigenous food systems

Comparison of Estimated Excess Deaths in New York City During the COVID-19 and 1918 Influenza Pandemics
The findings suggest that the mortality associated with COVID-19 during the early phase of the New York City outbreak was comparable to the peak mortality observed during the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic.


Persistent Symptoms in Patients After Acute COVID-19
At the time of the evaluation, only 18 (12.6%) were completely free of any COVID-19–related symptom, while 32% had 1 or 2 symptoms and 55% had 3 or more. None of the patients had fever or any signs or symptoms of acute illness. Worsened quality of life was observed among 44.1% of patients. A high proportion of individuals still reported fatigue (53.1%), dyspnea (43.4%), joint pain, (27.3%) and chest pain (21.7%).
A preprint study of more than 35,000 COVID-19 patients shows that convalescent plasma treatment reduces mortality, but the lack of a control group leaves some scientists asking more questions.

Antibody therapies offer bridge to a vaccine
Monoclonal antibodies could be used to treat people with COVID-19 until a vaccine is available, or people who can’t get vaccinated once there is one. In this approach, researchers isolate antibodies from recovering patients and identify those that best ‘neutralize’ the virus by binding to it and keeping it from replicating. They then produce these antibodies in bulk in the laboratory. (This differs from ‘convalescent plasma’ taken directly from the blood of people recovering from COVID-19 and used to treat other patients.) Dozens of monoclonal-antibody drugs for COVID-19 are in development, but they tend to be expensive to make, and it’s unclear how many people would benefit from them.
Nature | 5 min read

Al pacas join search for COVID-19 cure
Australian researchers are infecting alpacas ( Vicugna pacos) with SARS-CoV-2, in search of treatments against the virus. They are attempting to extract and purify antibodies produced by the animals, which could later be injected or inhaled by patients to prevent or cure COVID-19. Alpacas and other camelids produce two types of antibodies — one similar to human antibodies, and a dramatically smaller version called a nanobody. The nanobody’s small size makes it more effective at getting around the virus’s defences. “They are really special. They are really small, very stable, and extremely sticky to the spike protein,” says infectious-disease researcher Wai-Hong Tham.
The Age | 5 min read

Effect of an Inactivated Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2 on Safety and Immunogenicity OutcomesInterim Analysis of 2 Randomized Clinical Trials
This inactivated COVID-19 vaccine had a low rate of adverse reactions and demonstrated immunogenicity, but longer-term assessment of safety and efficacy will require phase 3 trials.
Researchers Strive to Recruit Hard-Hit Minorities Into COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

China's top COVID-19 vaccine safe, triggers antibodies in phase 1/2 trials
Early data from phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of China's leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate suggest that it is safe and triggers development of antibodies against the novel coronavirus, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA. Final results from the ongoing trials and a planned phase 3 trial are needed to interpret the magnitude of antibody response and determine the durability of immune response response, long-term safety profile, and whether it can protect against COVID-19, the authors noted.
Aug 13 JAMA study

Encouraging results from phase 1/2 COVID-19 vaccine trials
The results of two early phase COVID-19 vaccine trials are reported, one from investigators at the Jenner Institute at Oxford University (Oxford, UK), with support from AstraZeneca, and the second from investigators supported by CanSino Biologics in Wuhan, China. Both groups used an adenoviral vector, and both report the vaccine achieving humoral responses to the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein receptor binding domain by day 28 as well as T-cell responses. Both report local and systemic mild adverse events such as fever, fatigue, and injection site pain. In neither trial was a severe adverse event reported.

Vietnam to buy Russian COVID-19 vaccine

These Covid-19 vaccine candidates could change the way we make vaccines — if they work 

Big Pharma’s Covid-19 Profiteers
Rolling Stone

Exclusive: U.S. recruits scientists abroad for COVID-19 vaccine trials, pledges access to supply

Fighting Anti-Vaccine Pseudoscience, One Viral Video at a Time
Consequences of the Outbreak on society and Economy

Depression and anxiety are skyrocketing in young adults amid pandemic
In a recent survey, more than 60% of young adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. The percentage of Americans reporting symptoms of anxiety disorder increased about threefold and the percentage reporting symptoms of depressive disorder increased about fourfold, compared with levels seen in a survey conducted around the same period in 2019, the study found.
US blacks 3 times more likely than whites to get COVID-19
Disparities were identified among racial/ethnic groups in 96% of analyzed counties.
More »
Gender focus

Clarifying the Sweeping Consequences of COVID-19 in Pregnant Women, Newborns, and Children With Existing Cohorts

Review of 11,000 COVID-19 pregnancies shows generally good outcomes
A study reviewing 11,308 published cases of COVID-19 in pregnancy showed that outcomes were generally favorable, though 21% of cases that included such information showed severe or critical outcomes.  Overall, mortality rates were reassuring, and neonatal disease was rare: Only 41 possible cases of neonatal infection were reported in the literature, the authors said. Ninety-eight percent of women (10,437 of 10,597) survived to delivery or hospital discharge, and 33 maternal deaths were noted.
The authors found that pregnant women were also routinely excluded from ongoing clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments. Pregnancy was an exclusion criterion for 69% (75/109) of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine studies, 80% (28/35) of lopinavir/ritonavir trials, and 48% (44/91) of convalescent plasma studies.
Aug 13 Open Forum Infect Dis study
Women in Science May Suffer Lasting Career Damage from COVID-19
 Scientific American
Sex differential in COVID-19 mortality varies markedly by age
Dying Young: The Health Care Workers in Their 20s Killed by COVID-19
Kaiser Health News
Lost on the frontline
Hundreds of US healthcare workers have died fighting Covid-19. We count them and investigate why.

COVID-19's impact on Australia's health research workforce
This first Australian national health and medical research sector survey has highlighted that without an injection of funds from the government, this pandemic will have substantial short-term and long-term repercussions on research outcomes. These include a lower capacity to generate new products for industry, health services, and the community, and ensuring a workforce capable of responding to future pandemics with innovation and agility.

Interference in scientific research on COVID-19 in Turkey

How to stop a resurgence of other diseases
COVID-19 has turned the clock back years, if not decades, in the fight against infectious diseases, argues a Nature editorial. It recommends four things governments and funders can do to avert a catastrophe. Hospitals and health authorities in affected cities and regions must recognize that AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB) are surging again. Researchers must continue to refine their models using more real-world data. There needs to be a step change in funding for prevention, treatment and research. And public-information campaigns must alert people of the rising threat posed by infectious diseases.
Nature | 6 min read
Risk Communication
Updated WHO Myth buster
UNESCO mythbusting
EPI-WIN: tailored informationfor individuals, organizations and communities
WHO Technical guidance
Home care and COVID-19
What do I need to know when taking care of someone with COVID-19 at home? 

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 Lancetjournals 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)
“Solidarity” clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments
“Solidarity II” global serologic study for COVID-19
Accelerating a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 technology access pool
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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