COVID-19 situation: 28 Aug 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 situation: 28 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:
COVID-19 dashboards for most up-to-date figures:
Global dashboard
Updates from WHO regional offices
COVID-19 in Africa: marking six months of response
August 27th, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 135,430 cases and 4,004 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 1.06% relative increase in cases and a 0.89% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day. Turks and Caicos Islands reported one new death; the first since 30 June and the third death overall, representing a 50% relative increase.
All information about COVID- 19 can be found here:

Latest updates - Live press conference (Geneva)
EU trade chief Hogan quits over Ireland COVID-19 'golfgate' controversy
Control Measures
Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing incovid-19?
Current rules on safe physical distancing are based on outdated science. Distribution of viral particles is affected by numerous factors, including air flow. Evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 may travel more than 2 m through activities such as coughing and shouting. Rules on distancing should reflect the multiple factors that affect risk, including ventilation, occupancy, and exposure time

Individual quarantine versus active monitoring of contacts for the mitigation of COVID-19: a modelling study
Individual quarantine in high-feasibility settings, where at least 75% of infected contacts are individually quarantined, contains an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 with a short serial interval (4·8 days) 84% of the time. However, in settings where the outbreak continues to grow (eg, low-feasibility settings), so too will the burden of the number of contacts traced for active monitoring or quarantine, particularly uninfected contacts (who never develop symptoms). When resources are prioritised for scalable interventions such as physical distancing, we show active monitoring or individual quarantine of high-risk contacts can contribute synergistically to mitigation efforts. Even under the shorter serial interval, if physical distancing reduces the reproductive number to 1·25, active monitoring of 50% of contacts can result in overall outbreak control (ie, effective reproductive number <1).

Q&A: Schools and COVID-19
A new school year has begun! Find out here what precautions should be taken to keep children, teachers, other staff and the wider community safe.
Countries Measures

The CDC now says that healthy people exposed to COVID-19 don’t necessarily need a test if they don’t have symptoms, reversing earlier guidance that all close contacts of an infected person should be tested.
NBC News

see Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)

CDC director attempts to clarify controversial Covid-19 testing guidelines
CDC Director Robert Redfield on Thursday attempted to clarify a set of controversial changes to the agency’s Covid-19 testing guidelines. 
Read More

Don't argue with anti-maskers, CDC warns stores

NIH awards grant to EcoHealth Alliance, months after uproar over political interference
An earlier grant to EcoHealth was abruptly terminated, ostensibly because of its ties to a lab in Wuhan, China, that was the subject of conspiracy theories.
Read More
India Is in Denial about the COVID-19 Crisis
Scientific American

South Africa’s COVID relief fund dogged by delays and corruption
The South African government is investigating reports of large-scale “looting” of its $26 billion coronavirus rescue package, launched to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic on struggling households. ‘It’s employers getting these payouts and not passing them onto the employees, and using it to pay their debts.’
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

Inside WIV
NBC goes inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese laboratory central to baseless conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19.
Read More

Asymptomatic Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on Evacuation Flight
Our findings suggest the following strategies for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 transmission on an aircraft. First, masks should be worn during the flight. Second, because contact with contaminated surfaces increases the risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among passengers, hand hygiene is necessary to prevent infections. Third, physical distance should be maintained before boarding and after disembarking from the aircraft.
Air travel in the time of COVID-19

Possible futures for the pandemic
Around the world, epidemiologists are constructing short- and long-term projections to prepare for, and potentially mitigate, the spread and impact of SARS-CoV-2. Although their forecasts and timelines vary, modellers agree on two things: COVID-19 is here to stay, and the future depends on a lot of unknowns, including whether people develop lasting immunity to the virus, whether seasonality affects its spread and — perhaps most importantly — the choices made by governments and individuals. In some places, such as the United States and Brazil, rapid rises in cases have modellers worried. Elsewhere, as lockdowns are easing, early evidence suggests that the ‘new normal’ of hand washing and mask-wearing is helping to stem second waves.
Nature | 11 min read

The wildly complicated immune response
Our immune system’s response to COVID-19 is one of the biggest outstanding questions of the pandemic. Understanding it is key to helping people to get better, developing a vaccine and bringing the global spread of the disease to heel. The problem is that the human immune system is wildly complicated, and SARS-CoV-2 seems to interact with it in some unusual ways.
The Atlantic | 14 min read
Cities: build networks and share plans to emerge stronger from COVID-19
Responses to the pandemic in India’s slums, Brazil’s favelas and Africa’s marketplaces show that networks play a crucial part in making cities more resilient. Let’s enhance and empower them.

Sex differences in immune responses that underlie COVID-19 disease outcomes
female patients mounted significantly more robust T cell activation than male patients during SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was sustained in old age. Importantly, we found that a poor T cell response negatively correlated with patients’ age and was associated with worse disease outcome in male patients, but not in female patients. Conversely, higher innate immune cytokines in female patients associated with worse disease progression, but not in male patients.

Origin and cross-species transmission of bat coronaviruses in China
Bats are presumed reservoirs of diverse coronaviruses (CoVs) including progenitors of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent ofCOVID-19. However, the evolution and diversification of these coronaviruses remains poorlyunderstood. Here we use a Bayesian statistical framework and a large sequence data set frombat-CoVs (including 630 novel CoV sequences) in China to study their macroevolution,cross-species transmission and dispersal. Wefind that host-switching occurs morefrequently and across more distantly related host taxa in alpha- than beta-CoVs, and is morehighly constrained by phylogenetic distance for beta-CoVs. We show that inter-familyand -genus switching is most common in Rhinolophidae and the genusRhinolophus. Ouranalyses identify the host taxa and geographic regions that define hotspots of CoV evolu-tionary diversity in China that could help target bat-CoV discovery for proactive zoonoticdisease surveillance. Finally, we present a phylogenetic analysis suggesting a likely origin forSARS-CoV-2 in Rhinolophusspp. bats.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic Was Bad—Novel Coronavirus Has Potential to Be Worse
However, that may likely not happen even if they are comparable.

Why the United States is having a coronavirus data crisis
Political meddling, disorganization and years of neglect of public-health data management mean the country is flying blind.
Obesity ups the risk of dying from COVID-19 by almost 50% and may make an eventual vaccine less effective, according to a global Obesity Reviews study that puts renewed pressure on countries to tackle obesity.
The Guardian

Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 among patients in the Oxford Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre primary care network: a cross-sectional study

SARS-CoV-2 shedding and seroconversion among passengers quarantined after disembarking a cruise ship: a case series
The coming flu season could make “staggering” COVID-19 testing delays even worse as doctors will need to test for both flu and the coronavirus, which present similar symptoms. The New York Times
Children make up 9.3% of US COVID-19 cases but severe illness in kids remains rare, according to the latest data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Demographers put COVID-19 death toll into perspective
Berkeley News

Clinical characteristics of COVID-19 in 104 people with SARS-CoV-2 infection on the Diamond Princess cruise ship: a retrospective analysis

Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection
outbreak investigations that are able to identify asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections have unique opportunities to gain clinical insights into COVID-19 pathogenesis. Such clinical insights will be pivotal for shaping future pathogenesis studies

Elimination of COVID-19: what would it look like and is it possible?

Inclusion of pregnant women in COVID-19 vaccine development
A systematic review and meta-analysis of mainly small case series reported that a high proportion of women with confirmed COVID-19 infection had preterm birth (<37 weeks [22%]) and caesarean delivery (48%). Estimated rates of admission to the intensive care unit among pregnant women (7%) were higher than those of non-pregnant women (4%) and around 1·9% of infants born to these women tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Thus far, the literature has focused on symptomatic women with confirmed infection, however, this might underestimate the rates of admission, since many individuals are asymptomatic.

The origin of SARS-CoV-2

Serology testing in the COVID-19 pandemic response
On the basis of our current knowledge and understanding of viral infectivity and host response, we urge countries with restricted capacity for molecular testing to embark on research into the use of serology tests in triaging symptomatic patients in community settings, testing contacts of confirmed cases, and in situational analysis and surveillance. Rapid and scalable tests are needed to deal with this pandemic. Rapid serology tests, applied in the right situation for appropriate public health measures to be put into place, can make a huge difference.
Sequencing Boston's 'Viral Forest Fire’
A Boston conference in February has been linked to 20,000 COVID-19 cases, according to a new genome sequencing study that’s not yet peer reviewed.
The international Biogen conference lit a “viral forest fire,” The Boston Globe reports.
For 2 days, attendees “shook hands, kissed cheeks, passed each other the salad tongs at the hotel buffet,” unaware of the spreading virus that ultimately leapt to Boston's homeless shelters, its suburbs and Senegal, The Washington Post reports.
Japan researchers say ozone effective in neutralising coronavirus

Convalescent Plasma EUA
Following the US FDA’s announcement of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) issued for the use of convalescent plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients, some experts questioned the underlying data and statements made by senior government officials—including FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Alex Azar, and President Donald Trump—regarding the treatment’s efficacy. In response to the criticism, Commissioner Hahn issued a statement acknowledging that some of the data had been misrepresented. In particular, he clarified that the 35% decrease in mortality touted by President Trump, Secretary Azar, and himself referred to a relative risk reduction rather than absolute, a major issue identified by a number of health experts.

A dilemma for ‘long-haulers’: Many can’t prove they ever had Covid-19
Because of widespread testing shortages and overwhelmed medical providers, many who sought viral testing in the first months of the epidemic were refused.
Read Mor

Assessment of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 after recovery
COVID-19 vaccine Global Access Facility
172 countries are now engaged in discussions to potentially participate in COVAX, a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines.

EU eyes initial COVID-19 vaccination for at least 40% of population

Funding COVID-19 vaccines: A timeline

Opinion: The debate around intellectual property rights and the COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus: developing a vaccine is one problem to solve, getting people to use it is another

England and Germany neck-and-neck in race to produce first vaccine
Experts say the result is too close to call but will be decided by evidence and data, not penalties

Vaccine development during global epidemics: the Zika experience
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy
Systemic Racism & COVID-19
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s journal, Health Security, issued a call for papers for an upcoming Special Feature on systemic racism in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Special Feature is scheduled to be published in May/June 2021, and all content will be open access.
Additional information is available here.
Kenyans forced to hunt giraffe for food
“Oh my goodness, this is one of us.”
Physician Luis Lobon recognized his colleague, hospital worker Marie Deus, when he treated her for COVID-19. She was the first employee to die of the disease at the hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where she worked. The moving story of her life and death weaves together how racial inequality and job insecurity contribute to the risk for many front-line workers. (STAT | 18 min read, from June)

Immigration status, housing, and food-service work explain Covid-19’s burden on Latinos
A new analysis of one state’s Covid-19 data lays bare some of the reasons behind the disproportionate burden of Covid-19 infections on people of color.
Read More
Gender focus
‘Babies could be abandoned or killed’: Teen pregnancies soar as Kenya’s girls fall victim to ‘shadow pandemic’
The futures of teenage girls are being violently eroded by sexual abuse, forced marriages and unwanted pregnancies
The increase in teen pregnancies and violence is blamed on the crippling and lasting damage that the pandemic is having on Kenya's low income earners, nearly a third of whom have lost their jobs, according to Trends and Insights for Africa. Women and girls are “paying a heavy price”, says Ms Maina-Vorley.
While Covid-19 is deepening the level of crisis, campaigners argue that the rights of women and girls living in informal communities and rural areas have had their rights undermined for decades.

Women are most affected by pandemics — lessons from past outbreaks
The social and economic impacts of COVID-19 fall harder on women than on men. Governments need to gather data and target policy to keep all citizens equally safe, sheltered and secure.
Immediate impact of stay-at-home orders to control COVID-19 transmission on socioeconomic conditions, food insecurity, mental health, and intimate partner violence in Bangladeshi women and their families: an interrupted time series
The Lancet Global Health

Covid is a Great Unequaliser, But the Crisis Could Enable us to Build a More Equal Future
Italy fears ‘catastrophe by October’ as tourists vanish
As Italians await a €209bn EU stimulus package next year, fears are rising that the recovery will come too late to save businesses

Global business travel will survive COVID-19, study says

They Beat Covid, But Debilitating Effects and Economic Costs May Linger for Years

  • Virus causes physical, cognitive and psychological impairment
  • Debilitating post-Covid effects may persist for weeks to years

World Mental Health Day: an opportunity to kick-start a massive scale-up in investment in mental health  
Risk Communication
Immunizing the public against misinformation

COMMENTARY: Public health's share of the blame: US COVID-19 risk communication failures

Opinion: Americans aren’t listening to coronavirus warnings because the messaging is wrong
Messaging about Covid-19 has changed too much and too often, quickly evolving from "flatten the curve" to something very different.
Read More
How to report misinformation online
You can help to stop the spread of misinformation. If you see content that you believe to be false or misleading, report it to the hosting social media platform. Let's beat COVID-19 together!
Updated WHO Myth buster
UNESCO mythbusting
EPI-WIN: tailored information for individuals, organizations and communities
WHO Technical Guidance
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)
“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

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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