COVID-19 Situation: 12 October 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 Situation: 12 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- 9 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 11th, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 117,837 cases and 2,059 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 0.66% relative increase in cases and a 0.35% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day.
As of 11 October, Colombia has reached the 900,000 cases toll and Brazil accounts for 25.4% of total deaths in the Region of the Americas, surpassing the 150,000 death toll.
PAHO Situation Reports
All information about COVID- 19 can be found here:
Latest updates - Live press conference (Geneva)

See in one minute how Covid-19 has torn across the U.S.
More than seven million people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus and more than 200,000 have died.
Read More

Lesson not learned: Europe unprepared as 2nd virus wave hits
The COVID-19 resurgence in Europe continues to exhibit concerning trends, leading a number of countries to re-institute social distancing and other restrictions to contain their respective epidemics. Europe recently surpassed North America in terms of per capita daily incidence, and it is on pace to surpass South America in the coming days. In terms of total daily incidence, Europe is on pace to surpass Asia in the very near future. Europe’s epidemic is now more than more than twice as large as during its first peak in early April.
Most countries in Europe are exhibiting exponential growth, and have for several weeks or months. While the top countries in terms of per capita daily incidence are dominated by smaller countries (eg, Andorra, Montenegro), several countries with sizeable populations (eg, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK) are high on the list as well, illustrating the scale of transmission in Europe. The epidemics in most European countries continue to accelerate. The biweekly change in both incidence and mortality is positive for nearly every country in Europe, including a number of countries that are currently reporting increases of more than 100%, in one or both categories, over the past 2 weeks. A number of European countries have reported concerning increasing trends in test positivity as well—greater than 10% and still increasing in several countries—indicating that testing capacity may not be sufficient to accurately capture the full scale of increased transmission.
Countries Measures
Behind Vietnam's COVID-19 success story
With one of the lowest number of cases and deaths worldwide, Vietnam's COVID-19 journey has stood out in Southeast Asia and across the world. As of Oct. 9, Vietnam counted 1,100 COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths, and it has recorded no local transmission now for over a month.  Like other countries, Vietnam's measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have affected people's livelihoods. Some households rely on relief for their basic necessities. Others, such as informal workers unable to present documentation to access government relief, rely on charity for assistance.
Here's more on Vietnam's story of exposed inequalities and development challenges during the pandemic.

US-Dying in a Leadership Vacuum

The White House is said to have blocked a C.D.C. effort to require face coverings on airplanes, trains, buses and in travel hubs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted a sweeping order last month requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation in the United States, but it was blocked by the White House, according to two federal health officials.
The order would have been the toughest federal mandate to date aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which continues to infect more than 40,000 Americans a day. The officials said that it was drafted under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and that it had the support of the secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, but the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, declined to even discuss it.
Read the latest

Hospitals in north of England 'to run out of Covid beds within a week'
Health chiefs warn they plan to ditch routine surgery as second wave seriously disrupts NHS
Make masks compulsory in UK workplaces, urges BMA
Johnson has lost control of coronavirus, says Labour
As virus fills French ICU beds, doctors ask what went wrong
COVID-19 patients now occupy 40 percent of ICU beds in the Paris region, and more than a quarter of ICUs nationwide as weeks of growing infections among young people spread to vulnerable populations. Like in many countries facing resurgent infections, critics say France’s leaders haven’t learned their lessons from the first wave. France’s overall ICU capacity is 6,000, roughly the same as in March. After years of cuts that left France with half the number of ICU beds in 2020 that it had in 2010.
Germany extends list of cities under coronavirus clampdown
Germany, Poland institute new measures to fight coronavirus

Spain Declares COVID-19 State of Emergency in Madrid
Amid Jump In Coronavirus Infections, Canada Issues New Restrictions

Land of the mask-free
The real lessons from Sweden’s approach to covid-19
Sweden is held up as a champion of liberty. In fact it is the home of pragmatism

“Act wisely, even when no one is looking”
Virologist Christian Drosten, who is leading Germany’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, addresses everything from testing strategies to whether to eat inside a restaurant in a wide-ranging interview with Die Zeit. “I think we need to start preparing people now for a vaccine that may not be perfect,” he says. He also looks forward to returning to his normal life as an anonymous scientist.
Die Zeit | 18 min read (helpfully translated into English)

China joins international vaccine coalition
China announced today that it will join COVAX, the international coalition that aims to fairly distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The effort — run by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; and the World Health Organization — wants to provide 2 billion vaccine doses to the most-vulnerable people and to health-care workers, especially in poor countries. Some 80 wealthy countries have committed to support the initiative, with the notable exception of the United States. It is not clear yet whether China will commit money or vaccines, and how much.
Reuters | 3 min read

New Zealand lifts all Covid restrictions, declaring the nation virus-free
The U.N. Security Council has returned to its chamber for in-person meetings after seven months of absence due to the pandemic.

Scientific Publications, Reports and News

The Damage We’re Not Attending To
Scientists who study complex systems offer solutions to the pandemic.
Nearly 10,000 minks dead from Covid-19 outbreak at Utah fur farms
The value proposition of the Global Health Security Index

A resilient recovery – the road to better cities after COVID-19

Climate-menaced nations say survival depends on stronger 2020 action
The COVID-19 and economic crisis have thrown plans to deliver more ambitious climate plans off track - but delay is dangerous, vulnerable nations say
Historic Amazon rainforest fires threaten climate and raise risk of new diseases
The fires in the Amazon region in 2019 were unprecedented in their destruction. Thousands of fires had burned more than 7,600 square kilometres by October that year.
Zoonotic diseases, like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are on the rise. Understanding the root causes of these spillover events that move viruses from animals to humans gives us insight into how to prevent future zoonotic outbreaks. The degradation and fragmentation of tropical rainforests such as the Amazon may be a key factor in this process.
The checkerboard of forest edges increases the potential points of contact between humans and wildlife, which in turn increases the likelihood of viral transmission and the emergence of novel human diseases. Intact forests and high levels of biodiversity, on the other hand, can provide a “dilution effect” associated with a lower prevalence and spread of pathogens.
The connection between animal agriculture, viral zoonoses, and global pandemics
The sources of pandemics can be as varied as the diseases they represent. This paper examines how pandemic and potentially pandemic zoonotic diseases as well as viruses spread directly from the agricultural environments where animals are used as immediate, intermediate or amplifier hosts.
Building back better: Ensuring COVID-19 response and recovery builds long-term resilience to climate impacts
Summary While the COVID-19 pandemic has massively disrupted lives and livelihoods, it also provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a safer, more resilient world able to adapt to the threat of climate change and other perils. Within COVID-19 recovery and economic stimulus packages there will be opportunities to address multiple risks, including climate change impacts.
USA: Transmission dynamics by age-group in hotspot counties

The COVID-19 “Return-to-Learning” Natural Experiment
Across the US, more than 13 000 school districts have reopened for K-12 students during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic using a range of remote, in-person, and hybrid models—a vast “return-to-learning” natural experiment. Without a rapid and coordinated research response in schools, each passing day is a missed opportunity to learn how to better protect children, families, and school personnel from COVID-19’s effects on health, well-being, and educational outcomes. Adapting a prior framework, we outline considerations for researchers seeking to partner with K-12 schools to ensure that ongoing decisions about children, schools, and COVID-19 are based on science, not speculation.

Risk of COVID-19 During Air Travel

Rethinking Covid-19 Test Sensitivity — A Strategy for Containment
A regimen of regular testing works as a sort of Covid-19 filter, by identifying, isolating, and thus filtering out currently infected persons, including those who are asymptomatic. Measuring the sensitivity of a testing regimen or filter requires us to consider a test in context: how often it’s used, to whom it’s applied, when in the course of an infection it works, and whether its results are returned in time to prevent spread. A point-of-care test that was inexpensive enough to use frequently would have a high sensitivity for detecting infections in time to act, without having to meet the benchmark analytic limit of detection
Effect of Hydrocortisone on 21-Day Mortality or Respiratory Support Among Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Findings  In this randomized clinical trial that included 149 patients and was terminated early following the recommendation of the data and safety monitoring board, there was no significant difference in the rate of treatment failure (defined as death or persistent respiratory support with mechanical ventilation or high-flow oxygen therapy) on day 21 between the hydrocortisone and placebo groups (42.1% vs 50.7%, respectively).
Meaning  Low-dose hydrocortisone did not significantly reduce treatment failure in patients with COVID-19–related acute respiratory failure; however, the study was stopped early and was therefore likely underpowered.
Effect of Hydrocortisone on Mortality and Organ Support in Patients With Severe COVID-19: The REMAP-CAP COVID-19 Corticosteroid Domain Randomized Clinical Trial
Findings  In this bayesian randomized clinical trial that included 403 patients and was stopped early after results from another trial were released, treatment with a 7-day fixed-dose course of hydrocortisone or shock-dependent dosing of hydrocortisone, compared with no hydrocortisone, resulted in 93% and 80% probabilities of superiority, respectively, with regard to the odds of improvement in organ support–free days within 21 days.
Meaning  Although suggestive of benefit for hydrocortisone in patients with severe COVID-19, the trial was stopped early and no treatment strategy met prespecified criteria for statistical superiority, precluding definitive conclusions.

Association Between Administration of Systemic Corticosteroids and Mortality Among Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19A Meta-analysis
Findings  In this prospective meta-analysis of 7 randomized trials that included 1703 patients of whom 647 died, 28-day all-cause mortality was lower among patients who received corticosteroids compared with those who received usual care or placebo (summary odds ratio, 0.66).
Meaning  Administration of systemic corticosteroids, compared with usual care or placebo, was associated with lower 28-day all-cause mortality in critically ill patients with COVID-19.
Effect of Dexamethasone on Days Alive and Ventilator-Free in Patients With Moderate or Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and COVID-19: The CoDEX Randomized Clinical Trial
Findings  In this randomized clinical trial that included 299 patients, the number of days alive and free from mechanical ventilation during the first 28 days was significantly higher among patients treated with dexamethasone plus standard care when compared with standard care alone (6.6 days vs 4.0 days).
Meaning  Intravenous dexamethasone plus standard care, compared with standard of care alone, resulted in a statistically significant increase in the number of days alive and free of mechanical ventilation over 28 days.

Evaluation for SARS-CoV-2 in Breast Milk From 18 Infected Women

7 looming questions about the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine
Despite the best of intentions and months of painstaking planning, expect snafus and confusion in the effort to get vaccines to people.
Read More
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy

COVID, climate and conflict conspire to push up poverty
A triple threat of coronavirus, climate change and conflict means an ambitious goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 looks increasingly unlikely, the World Bank says

A broken ladder: does COVID-19 mean the end of social mobility in Britain?

COVID-19 recovery - A missed opportunity to fight climate change and gender inequality?
There is a real risk that women will not be able to take advantage of new green jobs as countries overlook gender in pandemic stimulus. For its new report, CARE reviewed nearly 350 measures and policies from the G20 countries identified as climate-relevant in the Energy Policy Tracker database. None was found to have an explicitly gender-differentiated approach or would specifically support women in the workforce.
Only the EU, France, Germany and the UK – of 17 countries analysed in a new CARE Report, Building Forward - had included funding to enhance nature or tackle climate change in their pandemic recovery plans. Annual fossil fuel subsidies continue at a scale equivalent to 20 to 30 times the estimated cost of climate change adaptation in developing countries for 2030. So clearly, while the evidence is there, real commitment is missing.
Shifting to a low-carbon economy could create a $26 trillion economic opportunity and 65 million new jobs by 2030, according to a New Climate Economy report.
Opinion: The COVID-19 gender mortality gap — is civil registration the answer?
During the global COVID-19 crisis, accurate and timely mortality data is invaluable. Yet systemic underregistration of women's deaths is likely affecting how completely they are counted amid the pandemic. Vital Strategies explains.
Male-to-female mortality ratios during the pandemic range from 2:1 in the European Union to 1:1 in Iran and Canada, refuting the generalization that women are not as severely affected as men.
A feminist future for the Pacific: Envisioning an inclusive and transformative response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID–19 pandemic continues to devastate the lives and wellbeing of millions of people around the world; women and girls, people with disabilities, youth, older people, and sexual and gender minorities are most at risk of ‘being left behind’.
COVID-19 Bangladesh rapid gender analysis
The Gender in Humanitarian Action (GiHA) Working Group in Bangladesh has undertaken this Rapid Gender Analysis to inform national preparedness and response. Given the social distancing measures, RGA desk review contrasts pre-COVID-19 gender information and demographic data against new gender information from a multitude of surveys and qualitative sources
COVID-19 global gender response tracker fact sheets
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in at least 27 million cases and over 900,000 deaths worldwide.1 From decisionmakers and doctors, to entrepreneurs and care providers, women have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. Despite their enormous contributions to mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis is threatening to erase decades of progress for women and girls.
Gender-transformative hurricane resilience during the COVID-19 crisis
The extent of the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to shape the “new normal” for CARICOM Member States. A 1.5% contraction of Gross Domestic Product has already been estimated by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, 2020). While governments balance this “new normal,” there is also an ‘above-average’ forecast for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on specialist services for victims and survivors of violence in the Western Balkans and Turkey
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted women and girls and the efforts to end violence against women. It had profound effects on the operations of civil society organizations (CSOs) delivering specialist services, as well as women’s access to those services. Conducted in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia) and Turkey,
Six months later: Women at the forefront of COVID-19 response in Europe and Central Asia
This publication provides an overview of key results achieved by UN Women in terms of COVID-19 response and recovery in its programme countries and territories in Europe and Central Asia between March and August 2020. On 13 March 2020, the World Health Organization identified Europe as the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
Think-piece on gender and climate change in the context of COVID-19
COVID-19 is more than a public health crisis. It is a socio-economic crisis and has serious repercussions for the most vulnerable members of our societies, particularly those who are also burdened by climate change. The EmPower Project with UNEP and UN Women is making the connections between gender and climate change in the COVID-19 context. As countries slowly start moving from response to recovery, we cannot go back to business as usual.

Nearly 3 million migrants stranded by COVID-19 - UN report
Some stranded migrants have been confined in unclean quarters and where social distancing was impossible, placing them at risk of disease, abuse, exploitation and neglect, the United Nations says
Special report: The world economy
The peril and the promise
The pandemic will accelerate change in the world economy. That brings both opportunity and danger

SPECIAL REPORT - Plastic pandemic: COVID-19 trashed the recycling dream
Pandemic has intensified a price war between recycled and new plastic, made by the oil industry - and recyclers are losing

China’s Covid stimulus plans for fossil fuels three times larger than low-carbon energy      
China's continued spending on fossil fuel infrastructure is poorly aligned with the country’s promise to strive to peak emissions, including president Xi Jinping's pledge to achieve 'carbon neutrality' before 2060.
Silver lining in the health crisis? Less food waste                                                                     
Campaigners against food waste say the pandemic has made some consumers in rich countries look at how much food they bin.
Pope Francis says capitalism has failed in the pandemic                                                          
Pope Francis disparaged so-called trickle-down economic theory, saying the pandemic has shown that free-market policies cannot solve all of humanity's most dire needs.                                                                                              
Amid Covid-19, these 10 countries are aiming to kickstart their economies by repairing nature            
A green recovery is one that tackles the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises at the same time. Here are 10 states that have included commitments to restore degraded ecosystems in their pandemic recovery plans.         
Global dialogue on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis - summary for policymaking
The COVID-19 crisis provides an early glimpse of how the climate and biodiversity crises will afect the world. Building an inclusive, green and resilient recovery is now an urgent and shared global challenge. We must build back in a way that addresses the very signifcant near-term challenges of unemployment, food insecurity and jump-starting the economy, while tackling the underlying drivers of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Recovering from COVID-19: Lessons from past disasters in Asia and the Pacific
COVID-19 in Asia-Pacific has added to the multitude of risks that the region faces intersecting with natural hazards, conflicts and fragility. More than any previous disaster, the novel coronavirus has exposed underlying risks and vulnerabilities and challenged the traditional notion of risk.
Revised estimates of the impact of climate change on extreme poverty by 2030
Thousands of scenarios are used to provide updated estimates for the impacts of climate change on extreme poverty in 2030. The range of the number of people falling into poverty due to climate change is between 32 million and 132 million in most scenarios.
Nurses suffer burn-out, psychological distress in COVID fight: association

COVID-19 and Psychological Distress—Changes in Internet Searches for Mental Health Issues in New York During the Pandemic
Searches for anxiety significantly increased following March 22, 2020, and remained significantly higher than expected for 3 consecutive weeks, during which searches were on average 18% (95% PI, 5%-29%) greater than expected Searches for panic attack soared during the first week of the lockdown: search volumes increased 56% (95% PI, 37%-97%). They subsequently remained significantly higher for 5 consecutive weeks. During the entire lockdown, searches for insomnia were on average 21% (95% PI, 1%-55%) higher than expected. Suicide and depression did not exhibit significantly different RSV from what was expected. There was a spike in searches for suicide during the week of April 26 through May 2. This brief increase occurred following the publicized suicide of a New York physician, and search levels returned to normal the following week.
Polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan- Deliverance delayed
The pandemic has set back the effort to eradicate polio in its last two holdouts
The implications of COVID-19 for vulnerable populations
One in four pregnant people with COVID-19 may have lingering 'long-haul' illness
A comprehensive analysis digs into how the coronavirus unfolds in this often overlooked but high-risk group. Half of the participants still reported illness after three weeks, while 25 percent were still recovering after two months or longer. (The typical duration for mild cases is two weeks). During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, they made up 5 percent of reported deaths even though they accounted for just one percent of the population. And in the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic, what little information trickled out about SARS-CoV-2 largely overlooked this high-risk group.

Risk Communication
Where the UK government is going wrong in its coronavirus messaging

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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