COVID-19 Situation: 5 October 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 Situation: 5 October 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:
Weekly update on COVID-19 2 October 2020
WHO COVID-19 dashboards for most up-to-date figures
Global dashboard

COVID-19 Partners Platform & Supply Portal
Updates from WHO regional offices
October 4th, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 111,650 cases and 2,388 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 0.66% relative increase in cases and a 0.42% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day.
United States of America accounts for 42.7% of all cases and 36.5% of all deaths for the Region of the Americas and Brazil accounts for 28.7% of all cases and 25.6% of all deaths. Combined, these two countries account for 71.4% of all cases and 62.0% of all deaths currently reported in the Region of the Americas.
PAHO Situation Reports
All information about COVID- 19 can be found here:
Latest updates - Live press conference (Geneva)

One million deaths — at least
More than one million people have died from COVID-19. Probably many more, because the true tally of those lost to the disease is achingly difficult to determine. Countries have had varying levels of success at protecting their citizens from a pandemic that scientists had long predicted. “This is a very serious global event, and a lot of people were going to get sick and many of them were going to die, but it did not need to be nearly this bad,” said Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
The New York Times | 6 min read
Read more: Researchers are struggling to gauge the true toll of the coronavirus outbreak (Nature | 11 min read, from September)

Sweden's daily COVID-19 cases hit highest level since June
Sweden’s coronavirus strategy has largely been based on making recommendations and getting information out to the public, leveraging people’s high level of trust in national and local authorities and eschewing legal mandates as far as possible.
In a new set of recommendations, people living with somebody suffering from COVID-19 should self-quarantine for a week to avoid spreading the disease at their places of work, but children should continue to attend school, Tegnell said.
Sweden has registered 5,893 deaths among COVID-19 patients, a per capita fatality rate that is several times higher than its Nordic neighbours but lower than countries like Spain, Italy and Britain that opted for lockdowns.

US most likely to reach COVID-19 herd immunity in second half of 2021

COVID-19: How many more will die?
Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, the official global death toll has now exceeded one million people. Researchers warn that this figure probably vastly underestimates the actual number of people who have died from COVID-19. Epidemiologists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle estimate that, if current trends continue, by next January the total number of deaths will reach 2.5 million. That figure could be cut to 1.8 million if every country adopts universal mask-wearing.
Nature | 4 min read
Control Measures

Borders: to close or not to close
A ‘superspreader’ event in the glamourous Austrian ski resort of Ischgl helped to kick off the coronavirus pandemic’s spread across Europe. Now, some COVID-19 survivors are suing the Austrian government for not acting earlier. The story highlights how little we know about how travel restrictions affect epidemics, and the complex reasons why they were not recommended early on. “There is certainly a stark shift in how it’s being discussed,” said Kelley Lee, who studies the impact of travel restrictions in this pandemic. “But the evidence hasn’t changed. We still have poor evidence.”
The New York Times | 13 min read

IATA Urges Governments to Implement Systematic COVID-19 Testing Before Departure
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged the development of rapid and systematic COVID-19 testing for travellers before departure, instead of imposing quarantine measures, in order to re-establish global air connectivity. International travel has marked a 92 per cent decrease, compared to 2019 levels, even though nearly a half year has passed, since a large share of countries imposed entry bans and other restrictions to stop the further spread of the deadly virus.

Risk of COVID-19 During Air Travel
Air enters the cabin from overhead inlets and flows downwards toward floor-level outlets. Air enters and leaves the cabin at the same seat row or nearby rows. There is relatively little airflow forward and backward between rows, making it less likely to spread respiratory particles between rows. Wear a mask, don’t travel if you feel unwell, and limit carry-on baggage. Keep distance from others wherever possible; report to staff if someone is clearly unwell. If there is an overhead air nozzle, adjust it to point straight at your head and keep it on full. Stay seated if possible, and follow crew instructions. Wash or sanitize hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

Experts identify five key factors for strategies to ease lockdown restrictions after comparing responses in Europe and Asia Pacific
Led by the LSHTM and the National University of Singapore, the study analysed nine countries and regions’ strategies for easing COVID-19 restrictions from the first wave of infections: five in the Asia Pacific (Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea) and four in Europe (Germany, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom). Knowledge of infection levels, community engagement, public health capacity, health system capacity, and border control measures are the five factors experts are urging governments to consider in lockdown exit strategies, in a new study published in The Lancet.
Lessons learnt from easing COVID-19 restrictions: an analysis of countries and regions in Asia Pacific and Europe
Governments worldwide now face the common challenge of easing lockdowns and restrictions while balancing various health, social, and economic concerns. To facilitate cross-country learning, this Health Policy paper uses an adapted framework to examine the approaches taken by nine high-income countries and regions that have started to ease COVID-19 restrictions. This comparative analysis presents important lessons to be learnt from the experiences of these countries and regions. Although the future of the virus is unknown at present, countries should continue to share their experiences, shield populations who are at risk, and suppress transmission to save lives
Anticipating and addressing epidemics - the potential of open data initiatives

A 'herd mentality' can’t stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither can a weak vaccine.
Debates over herd immunity and natural infection arise with every outbreak. Effective vaccination always wins.
Efficacy of Famotidine for COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis 
Countries Measures
The White House blocked a C.D.C. order to keep cruise ships docked until February. Industry lobbyists and Florida politicians had opposed the order.
The current “no sail” policy is set to expire on Wednesday. Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had recommended the extension, worried that cruise ships could become viral hot spots, as they did at the beginning of the pandemic.
Read the latest

The Case for Independent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Protecting Public Health from Politics
Over the past 6 months, the administration has revised evidence-based CDC guidelines, blocked CDC officials from appearing on television, cut off CDC communication with a newly commissioned Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) working group focused on reopening schools, and ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC and send information on patients with COVID-19 to a central database.
President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, throwing the nation’s leadership and his re-election campaign into uncertainty.
The president’s result came after he spent months playing down the severity of the outbreak that has killed more than 207,000 in the United States and hours after insisting that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.”
Read the latest

Spain’s poisonous politics have worsened the pandemic and the economy
Its record is Europe’s worst on both counts
After Europe’s strictest lockdown, Spain rushed its release. The PP joined Catalan and Basque nationalists in refusing to support the renewal of the state of emergency under which the government could restrict activity. Rebuffed, Mr Sánchez handed control of the pandemic to the regions and went on holiday. Several of the regions, especially Madrid, failed to strengthen primary health care and contact-tracing. The government failed to require them to do so, nor did it fix clear rules for handling outbreaks of the virus. The summer did the rest: heeding Mr Sánchez’s triumphalism, Spaniards returned to their normal happy mingling in bars, nightclubs and at family gatherings.

Europe's worst infection hotspot Madrid heads for lockdown
Madrid will become the first European capital to go back into lockdown in coming days after the region's leader reluctantly agreed on Thursday to obey a central government order to ban non-essential travel to and from the Spanish capital.

French health minister says no short-term risk of COVID hospital logjam
French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday that there was no short-term risk of hospitals being overwhelmed by an influx of coronavirus patients.

Italy tops 2,000 daily coronavirus cases for first time since April: health ministry
Italy has registered 2,548 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, the first time the country has exceeded 2,000 cases in a single day since the end of April.

Coronavirus positivity rate in 20 New York 'hot spots' rises to 6.5%
The rate of positive coronavirus tests in 20 New York "hot spot" ZIP codes rose to 6.5% from 5.5% the day before, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Thursday.

New York City plans to close schools and some businesses in nine neighborhoods that have had a virus spike, a major reversal of the city’s reopening.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that he intended to “rewind” the reopening of nine neighborhoods in New York City that have had a testing positivity rate of more than 3 percent over the last seven days.
That means the closure of nonessential businesses and public and private schools in those neighborhoods, which are in Brooklyn and Queens.
Read the latest

Regulatory Delivery Lessons From COVID-19 Responses
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

World leaders pledge to save life on Earth
The leaders of 71 countries have pledged to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. The commitment comes ahead of a major UN biodiversity summit on Wednesday, which will be virtually hosted from New York. “We commit ourselves not simply to words, but to meaningful action and mutual accountability to address the planetary emergency,” says the pledge, which is signed by Pakistan’s Imran Khan, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson, among others. Leaders from the United States, Brazil, India, Russia and China are notably absent.
The Guardian | 6 min read
Reference: Leaders’ Pledge for Nature
Where in the world will the next epidemic start?

William Karesh: championing “One Health”

‘To turn the unknown into the known’: Inside the global effort to bring the fight to viruses
Dennis Carroll, chair of the Global Virome Project Leadership Board, an ambitious global effort to develop a comprehensive database of viruses and detect and track down the planet’s unknown and emerging viral threats,
Guidelines for personnel working with wild mammals
Developed by the OIE and IUCN in the context of the COVID19 pandemic.
The recommendations presented in the guide aims to reduce the potential risk of human-animal transmission of COVID19 through limited and controlled contact with wildlife by those working in the field.
Read it here:
Building resilient societies after COVID-19: the case for investing in maternal, neonatal, and child health
Previous socioeconomic crises reveal short-term, medium-term, and longer-term detrimental effects on population health, in particular MNCH, productivity, and resilience. Attention urgently needs to be given to measure the effects on MNCH of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic recession, and to design appropriate responses. Previous crises provide insights that can be translated into policies targeting MNCH and reducing associated gender-based, reproductive, racial, and social inequalities. To be robust and reflective of future resilience, models should incorporate uncompensated work done by women, and assess long-term and shorter-term effects. Societies and political landscapes that protect MNCH are key to withstanding future unpredictable crises.

Susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Children and Adolescents Compared With Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Preliminary evidence suggests that children have a lower susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with adults, but the role that children and adolescents play in transmission of this virus remains unclear.
COVID-19 and small island nations: what we can learn from New Zealand and Iceland
The Riyadh Declaration: the role of digital health in fighting pandemics
Evaluation of the COVID-19 response in Spain: principles and requirements
Short-term and long-term health impacts of air pollution reductions from COVID-19 lockdowns in China and Europe: a modelling study

This biologist helped trace SARS to bats. Now, he's working to uncover the origins of COVID-19
So far, the evidence is that the virus originated in bats, animals Wang has long argued are uniquely suited to harboring viruses that pose a danger to humans. Now, he hopes his assay can help trace the path of the virus to humans and pinpoint when and where it first spilled over. Wang’s new assay, published in July in Nature Biotechnology and now produced by Genscript Biotech, replaces the human cells and live SARS-CoV-2 virus of the gold standard assay with human and viral proteins, eliminating the need for a high-security lab.
Huge study of coronavirus cases in India offers some surprises to scientists
New York Times

Large Epi Study Reveals Role of Super-Spreading Events
The largest epidemiological study of COVID-19 so far reveals a key role played by super-spreading events in India, the Los Angeles Times reports. “Super-spreading events are the rule rather than the exception,” says lead author Ramanan Laxminarayan, of New Delhi’s Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy of the study published yesterday in Science. “It has lots of implications for modeling COVID, for how to keep places safe.”

Investigating Whether Blood Type Is Linked to COVID-19 Risk
“The basic science on this is extremely weak,” Latz said of the relationship between blood type and COVID-19. So at least for now, blood type should not be used to identify which people who become sick with COVID-19 are likely to develop severe disease, he and his coauthors wrote.

Why we need to keep using the patient made term “Long Covid”

One number could help reveal how infectious a COVID-19 patient is. Should test results include it?
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, battles have raged over testing: Which tests should be given, to whom, and how often? Now, epidemiologists and public health experts are opening a new debate. They say testing centers should report not just whether a person is positive, but also a number known as the cycle threshold (CT) value, which indicates how much virus an infected person harbors. The CT value is the number of cycles necessary to spot the virus; PCR machines stop running at that point.

Global partnership to make available 120 million affordable, quality COVID-19 rapid tests for low- and middle-income countries

Will new travel technology invade your privacy?
Digital facial recognition. COVID-tracing apps. Innovations that make trips safer during a pandemic might expose your personal data.

Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody may help non-hospitalized patients recover faster, early data show
A high dose of the company’s antibody cocktail, REGN-COV2, led levels of the virus to decrease more quickly in infected, non-hospitalized patients, potentially indicating the treatment may help them get better, Regeneron reported Tuesday via press release. Full results will be published at a later date.

Efficacy and Safety of Hydroxychloroquine vs Placebo for Pre-exposure SARS-CoV-2 Prophylaxis Among Health Care Workers: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Among hospital-based health care workers, daily hydroxychloroquine did not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, although the trial was terminated early and may have been underpowered to detect a clinically important difference.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support in COVID-19: an international cohort study of the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization registry

‘Provocative results’ boost hopes of antibody treatment for COVID-19

Diabetes, disparities, and Covid-19
Intertwined ‘epidemics’ raise risk of severe illness, death
It’s clear that if people with diabetes are infected with Covid-19, they have higher odds of worse outcomes: One study suggests that the mortality rate for people with diabetes may be as high as 30%. But it’s not yet figured out why that is — and finding an answer may be complicated. People with diabetes can have a mix of biological and socioeconomic factors that could be making them more vulnerable to Covid-19.
Read more.
Why are so few drugs tested for safety in pregnancy?

WHO enlists more COVAX participants, clears 2nd rapid test
Also, CEPI launches a lab network to do head-to-head evaluations of vaccine candidates.
More »

UN welcomes nearly $1 billion in recent pledges - to bolster access to lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines to end COVID-19

World Bank seeks board approval for $12 billion coronavirus vaccine financing plan
To help poor and developing countries secure a sufficient share of vaccine doses when they become available in the coming months.
What can we expect from first-generation COVID-19 vaccines?

A Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus
On Friday, October 2, the National Academies will release the final Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine report during a free webinar hosted by study committee co-chairs William Foege and Helene Gayle. Sponsored by NIH and CDC, the report will help guide equitable allocation of a limited initial supply of COVID-19 vaccine.
How will we distribute a COVID-19 vaccine?
To make COVID-19 harder to spread, experts believe as much as 70 percent of the
population may need to have recovered from the disease or be protected by vaccination; the remaining populace would still be susceptible to the disease. If an early
vaccine is only 50 percent effective—the FDA’s current minimum threshold—a 100
percent vaccination rate alone would not achieve herd immunity but could offer
protection from more severe impacts of the virus.
Mapping global trends in vaccine confidence and investigating barriers to vaccine uptake: a large-scale retrospective temporal modelling study
US Adults’ Preferences for Public Allocation of a Vaccine for Coronavirus Disease 2019
What it’s like to participate in a Covid-19 vaccine trial
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy

The Pandemic of Health Care Inequity
Food Security and COVID-19

Will we ever trust crowds again?
If socializing makes you cringe, you're not alone. Scientists say the pandemic is re-shaping our senses of fear and disgust, and it's unclear how long the change will last.
Most countries failing to protect women from COVID-19 economic and social fallout
The COVID-19 pandemic is “hitting women hard”, but most nations are failing to provide sufficient social and economic protection for them, the head of the UN gender empowerment agency said on Monday.

How are working women doing during COVID-19?

Symptoms of a broken system: the gender gaps in COVID-19 decision-making

Survey: Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on refugees and migrants
17 July – 15 October 2020
Are you a refugee or migrant? Help governments and organizations understand your needs so that they can provide better support for you during the pandemic. 
COVID-19 brought about most unprecedented public health and socio-economic crisis in our lifetime. It affects us all, especially the vulnerable populations, which refugees and migrants often find themselves in.
TAKE THE SURVEY: Available in 37 languages

Hardships multiply for older refugees amid COVID-19 pandemic
Physical decline, deepening economic hardship and isolation make life tougher for older people, who comprise four per cent of the forcibly displaced population worldwide.
How has COVID affected vulnerable workers and how can we support them in the post-pandemic recovery?
In the countries where we invest, the majority of jobs are in the informal sector. We reflect on COVID's impact on the sector and what more we can do to support workers into secure and decent employment.

9 EU Members Propose Introduction of European Plan to Help Tourism Sector
The fight against HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria amid COVID-19
Risk Communication

From leprosy to COVID-19, how stigma makes it harder to fight epidemics
In leprosy and HIV, good information about mode of transmission and available treatments helped improve attitudes. HIV also showed that “sunlight itself can be a cure” for stigma, Weiss says. “Bringing attention to the existence of stigma enables people to [look for] areas where they can make their system function more effectively.” A strong health system is critical, too, say Indian public health activists, because it builds trust in medical authorities.  
‘Wash your hands’ — in your language
Indigenous physicians and translators are working to bring public-health guidance to their communities, some of which are among the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched by medical student Victor Lopez-Carmen, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux and Pascua Yaqui Tribes, the programme is translating advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into 100 languages. The task requires more than word-for-word changes. “When you talk of [fatigue], hallucinations, or confusions … I had to get deeper and actually explain what these mean because it doesn’t have a specific word in Samburu,” says Emily Lerosion, a leader from the Samburu Tribe in northern Kenya.
The Boston Globe | 8 min read
Infodemic management: a key component of the COVID-19 global response

COVID-19 : Countries urged to take stronger action to stop spread of harmful information
Joint statement by WHO, UN, UNICEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNAIDS, ITU, UN Global Pulse, and IFRC. Managing the COVID-19 infodemic: Promoting healthy behaviours and mitigating the harm from misinformation and disinformation
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 guidance on COVID-19

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:
New- Navigating the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide (TZG)
Taking a multisectoral, One Health approach is necessary to address complex health threats at the human-animal-environment interface. The Tripartite organisations – the OIE, FAO and WHO, launched the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide (TZG) in 2019, to provide guidance and best practices for addressing zoonotic diseases in countries. This new training introduces participants to the TZG while providing practical guidance for strengthening a One Health approach to zoonotic diseases.

 Long-term care facilities in the context of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic affects older people disproportionately, especially those living in long-term care facilities (LTCF) with significant impact on mortality and morbidity. Concerted action is needed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 by enhancing infection prevention and control (IPC) measures within LTCF. The COVID-19 IPC course for LTCF consists of 4 training modules to be used in conjunction with the LTCF communication toolkit and preparedness checklist. This package is tailored for LTCF and based on WHO's in-depth technical guidance on IPC.
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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