COVID-19 Situation: 22 September 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 Situation: 22 September 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 Weekly Epidemiological Update- 21 September
COVID-19 dashboards for most up-to-date figures:
Global dashboard

COVID-19 Partners Platform & Supply Portal
Updates from WHO regional offices
September 21st, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 85,108 cases and 1,314 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 0.55% relative increase in cases and a 0.25% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day.
Two countries/territories reported a relative increase in cases in the past 24 hours: Saint Kitts and Nevis (12%, 2 new cases) and Aruba (5%, 169 new case). Compared to 18 September, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba had a 56% increase in cases (20 new cases) and a 34% increase in Curacao (72 new cases).    
PAHO Situation Reports
All information about COVID- 19 can be found here:
Latest updates - Live press conference (Geneva)
Control Measures

Eye Protection and the Risk of Coronavirus Disease 2019Does Wearing Eye Protection Mitigate Risk in Public, Non–Health Care Settings?
The study by Zeng et al is provocative and raises the possibility that use of eye protection by the general public might offer some degree of protection from COVID-19. More retrospective and prospective studies are needed to confirm the association that was observed in this study and to determine whether there is any incremental benefit to wearing eyeglasses or other forms of eye protection in public settings, in addition to wearing a mask and physical distancing, to reduce the risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2.
Countries Measures
EU to create new biomedical research agency modelled on BARDA
Science | Business
Continued government inaction will widen COVID-19’s disproportionate toll on minority groups in the UK, the head of the British Medical Association has warned; Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients make up a third of UK COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
The Guardian
The Latest: Czech health minister resigns amid virus surge
Public Health Agency of Canada president resigns as COVID-19 cases spike

If You Can’t Beat It, Coexist 
Key to the strategy: Instead of lockdowns, Japan promoted the avoiding the “3 Cs”: closed locations with poor ventilation, crowded places, and close-contact settings. But critics say Japan’s “middle way” is a slower route back to relative normalcy compared to peers like China and South Korea—and it still scores low on public opinion surveys.
The Washington Post

Not trusting the FDA, Black doctors’ group creates panel to vet Covid-19 vaccines

Suboptimal US Response to COVID-19 Despite Robust Capabilities and Resources
Mum's tearful photo after she was kicked off flight with son
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

COVID-19 and the Path to Immunity

Frequency of Children vs Adults Carrying Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Asymptomatically
Children were found to be less frequently positive than adults (1 in 83 children [1.2%] vs 12 in 131 adults [9.2%]; P = .02), with an odds ratio of 0.12 (95% CI, 0.02-0.95) compared with adults. Eleven of 12 adults were positive for SARS-CoV-2 at the first swab. None of the included individuals developed signs or symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the 48 hours after the admission.
‘We May Be Surprised Again’: An Unpredictable Pandemic Takes a Terrible Toll
The New York Times

The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19

Coronavirus is here to stay. The sooner we accept that, the better
The Guardian (commentary)
Long-haul flights are breeding grounds for COVID-19 transmission, according to 2 new studies—both published in Emerging Infectious Diseases—that contradict the airline industry’s claims that flying is a low-risk activity in the pandemic.

In-Flight Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2
Four persons with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection had traveled on the same flight from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to Hong Kong, China. Their virus genetic sequences are identical, unique, and belong to a clade not previously identified in Hong Kong, which strongly suggests that the virus can be transmitted during air travel.
Given the case histories and sequencing results, the most likely sequence of events is that one or both of passengers A and B contracted SARS-CoV-2 in North America and transmitted the virus to flight attendants C and D during the flight. The only location where all 4 persons were in close proximity for an extended period was inside the airplane.
Projected Health-Care Resource Needs for an Effective Response to COVID-19 in 73 Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries: A Modelling Study
The total cost estimate for the COVID-19 response in the status quo scenario was US$52·45 billion over 4 weeks, at $8·60 per capita. For the decreased or increased transmission scenarios, the totals were $33·08 billion and $61·92 billion, respectively. Costs would triple under the status quo and increased transmission scenarios at 12 weeks. The costs of the decreased transmission scenario over 12 weeks was equivalent to the cost of the status quo scenario at 4 weeks. By percentage of the overall cost, case management (54%), maintaining essential services (21%), rapid response and case investigation (14%), and infection prevention and control (9%) were the main cost drivers.
Read here.
Associations between phone mobility data and COVID-19 cases
Bats and viruses

SARS-CoV-2 Nasopharyngeal Swab Testing—False-Negative Results From a Pervasive Anatomical Misconception
lthough many sites around the world are likely providing proper training, we are concerned that inadequate NPS collection may continue to lead to false-negative results. We hope highlighting that the nasopharynx is back, not up, can help limit false-negative results in testing for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses.

Flipping the Script for Coronavirus Disease 2019 Contact Tracing

National Academies Offers Strategies to Encourage Cooperation in COVID-19 Contact Tracing

In Vitro Efficacy of a Povidone-Iodine Nasal Antiseptic for Rapid Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2
Intranasal PVP-I rapidly inactivates SARS-CoV-2 by concentrations of PVP-I nasal antiseptic as low as 0.5% after 15 seconds of contact and may play an adjunctive role in mitigating viral transmission beyond personal protective equipment.

Severe COVID-19 Infections—Knowledge Gained and Remaining Questions

Oncology Clinical Transformation in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

WHO Africa expert panel endorses protocol for Covid-19 herbal medicine clinical trials
The 25-member committee was tasked with supporting countries to enhance research and development of traditional medicine-based therapies against the virus and provide guidance on the implementation of approved protocols to generate scientific evidence on the quality, safety, and efficacy of herbal medicines for Covid-19.
In a study that enrolled mostly Hispanic and Black participants, the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab helped prevent the need for breathing machines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients—but the results are yet to be peer reviewed.

'Landmark moment': 156 countries agree to Covid vaccine allocation deal
Covax plan will counter rising threat of ‘vaccine nationalism’, prioritising vulnerable healthcare systems and frontline workers. Ultimately the scheme aims to deliver 2bn doses of safe, effective vaccines around the world by the end of 2021.
Governments, vaccine manufacturers, organisations and individuals have committed $1.4bn (£1.1bn) towards vaccine research and development so far.
Recognising that the first useful vaccines to emerge may be in short supply, approved vaccines will initially be made available to a tightly targeted 3% of the population of participating countries, building over time to 20% of each country’s most vulnerable population.

COVID-vaccine access plans released
The World Health Organization has released a preliminary plan for globally allocating coronavirus vaccines when they become available. The report urges richer countries to ensure that poorer nations receive vaccines in the early days of allocation.
Nature | 7 min read
References: WHO report & NASEM report

Should We Mandate a COVID-19 Vaccine for Children?
Rather than resort to analogies, we can use 9 standard criteria that can help guide whether a COVID-19 vaccine for children should be mandated (Box). These criteria can be divided into 3 categories: 4 criteria related to the vaccine, 2 related to the disease, and 3 related to implementation. Nevertheless, with these criteria as a framework, the only logical conclusion is that we currently know too little about the performance of any of the candidate COVID-19 vaccines or the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in children to make any firm judgments about whether a COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory in children.
AstraZeneca, Under Fire for Vaccine Safety, Releases Trial Blueprints
The New York Times
UK joins COVAX scheme on deadline day.
The country joins at least 76 high-income countries helping to finance the facility for research and equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The short-sightedness of the COVID-19 vaccine race.
To end the acute phase of the pandemic, a vaccine must be available everywhere — not only where it can be afforded. IFRC President Francesco Rocca explains why the Red Cross federation is calling for all governments to support the COVAX Facility.
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Has Worsened Food Insecurity Among Families With Low Incomes, but Medicaid Is a “Potential Vehicle” for Relief
Nursing Homes Oust Unwanted Patients With Claims of Psychosis
The New York Times

Comparison of the Proportions of Female and Male Corresponding Authors in Preprint Research Repositories Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic
We observed a statistically significant increase over time in the gender gap in medRxiv (Somers D, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.03 to 0.24) but not in bioRxiv (Somers D, 0.06; 95% CI, −0.01 to 0.12). During the pandemic, the gender gap in medRxiv increased from 23% in January 2020 to 55% in April 2020 and in bioRxiv changed from 46% in January 2020 to 47% in April 2020. We identified corresponding authors’ institution country for 89% of articles, and the numbers of US- and non-US–based analyses were consistent.

COVID-19 and the Slide Backward for Women in Academic Medicine
Diversity creates a positive impact in the workforce7 and enhances an organization’s return on investment. If we want to create the best opportunity for advancement in science and the best in patient care and outcomes, we need to ensure that equity is operationalized. This will take commitment from journals to enforce a climate of transparency and accountability. Data can be a powerful way to tell the story of inequity. And it can also provide a clear path to change.
Comparison of the proportions of female and male corresponding authors in preprint research repositories before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.   
Parent in Science Movement.  Impact of COVID-19 on academic mothers. 
Why COVID school closures are making girls marry early

Are Women Leaders Better at Handling Coronavirus? Men More Likely to Stoke Fear Not Unity, Study Finds

Stillbirth rate rises dramatically
There has been a significant rise in the proportion of pregnancies ending in stillbirths since the start of the pandemic, according to a slew of studies from around the world. For example, at one large hospital in London, the rate quadrupled from 2 per 1,000 to 9 per 1,000. The spike was not caused by COVID-19 infections. Instead, researchers suggest that some high-risk pregnancies might have gone undetected because of lockdown restrictions and disruptions to health care.
Nature | 6 min read
Reference: The Lancet Global Health paper 1, The Lancet Global Health paper 2 & JAMA paper

How clinical trials can bounce back
“COVID-19 has demonstrated that sponsors and investigators can achieve in weeks what was previously thought to require months or years,” write six biopharmaceutical business consultants. They suggest five actions that researchers can take to address the ongoing challenges for disrupted clinical trials and ongoing patient care. Rod MacKenzie and four colleagues from US pharmaceutical company Pfizer agree that lessons learnt from coronavirus-vaccine development should be brought to bear on other diseases. “We should seize this moment, before our conventions re-solidify to the old ways of doing things, to embed the improvements made during the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate others, on behalf of all patients,” they argue.
Nature Reviews Drug Discovery | 6 min read & Nature Reviews Drug Discovery | 7 min read
Read more: Coronavirus shuts down trials of drugs for multiple other diseases (Nature | 6 min read, from March)
Reimagining Nursing Homes in the Wake of COVID-19
Authors of a new NAM Perspectives commentary identify how a potential reimagining of American nursing homes could include matching patients who have specifics needs with appropriate care models, increasing training and payment for the skilled nursing staff in these facilities, and interrogating the financing and payment structures that support these facilities. 
Read more>>
The World Has Changed: Emerging Challenges for Health Care Research to Reduce Social Isolation and Loneliness Related to COVID-19
A new NAM Perspectives commentary reviews five overarching questions to guide future research and focus on the impacts of social isolation and loneliness and how to intervene early, with a focus on how the social determinants of health can contribute to these impacts and how “caution fatigue” throughout the pandemic is complicating uncertainties. 
Read more>>

Risk Communication
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

Sex, gender and COVID-19: overview and resources

New COVID-19 Tracker
Reuters is collecting daily COVID-19 infections and deaths data for 240 countries and territories around the world, updated regularly throughout each day. With this project we are focusing on the trends within countries as they try to contain the virus’ spread, whether they are approaching or past peak infection rates, or if they are seeing a resurgence of infections or deaths.

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

R&D funding for infectious diseases rises fourfold since 2014
The Covid-19 pandemic is already inspiring some planning for the next pandemic, and a new report from global health think tank Policy Cures Research outlines the state of R&D funding for emerging infectious diseases. Here's more: 

  • Overall trends: In 2018, R&D funding for infectious diseases was almost $890 million, a 14% increase since 2017, and almost five times the amount in 2014. 
  • Disease-specific trends: Funding for Ebola more than tripled between 2014 and 2015, in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As the outbreak waned, funding for the disease also dropped — by $125 million in 2016 and 2017. Similarly, there was an increase in funding for Zika during the outbreak, from $6 million in 2015 to $243 million two years later. 
  • Other trends: Vaccine research received most of the funding between 2014-2018, while diagnostics received fewer than 4% of funds. The U.S. government and U.S.-based pharma companies accounted for nearly three-quarters of all funders.

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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