COVID-19 Situation: 19 October 2020

To view images in this newsletter, please allow images and html options. 

View this email in your browser

Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 Situation: 19 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- 16 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 17th, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 145,815 cases and 3,026 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 0.79% relative increase in cases and a 0.50% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day.
On 16 October, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report on race, ethnicity, and age trends in persons who died from COVID-19 from May to August 2020. The report analyses 114,411 COVID-19 associated deaths in the United States reported to National Vital Statistics System.
PAHO Situation Reports

New COVID-19 situation dashboard
ECDC has launched a new COVID-19 situation dashboard, providing users with a simple, user-friendly platform to explore and interact with the latest COVID-19 data from Europe and worldwide.
All information about COVID- 19 can be found here:
Latest updates - Live press conference (Geneva)

Global COVID-19 total surges past 38 million
In US developments, cases are rising in 36 states, including a large swath of the Midwest and Northeast.
More »
A global view of the worsening coronavirus crisis

Increase in COVID-19 cases in many EU countries
Everybody has a role. It is important to continue to practice physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, and keep good hand hygiene. People with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should stay at home and contact their healthcare providers

COVID-19 cases climb in the US and Europe
Also today, a large group of scientists signed on to the John Snow Memorandum to mobilize against the herd immunity pandemic response concept.
More »

Control Measures
Lack of safeguards in response to restrictive public health measures
Countries Measures
China's successful control of COVID-19
More than 10,000 scientists sign Barrington Declaration petition saying current COVID lockdowns are "producing devastating effects"

The Lombardy region of Italy launches the first investigative COVID-19 commission
Continuous wrestling between regional authorities and the central government caused confusion both among citizens and within hospitals. This delayed isolation of the highly industrialised towns of Alzano, Lombardo, and Nembro in the Bergamo area, leading to the most severe outbreak within Italy. Both national and regional authorities could have taken the decision, together or independently, to follow the suggestions of the national scientific committee. To this day, they blame each other.
Italy to announce new COVID-19 restrictions as infections spike: PM's office
Coronavirus: Police search homes of top French officials in COVID-19 probe
COVID-19: France grapples with the pragmatics of isolation
The 4 simple reasons Germany is managing Covid-19 better than its neighbors
The need for detailed COVID-19 data in Spain
In their own Swede time
Sweden’s pragmatism takes an instructively long view of the pandemic
Covid: Far-right protesters attack Slovak government office over virus measures
Belgian and Austrian foreign ministers test positive for coronavirus after EU summit
Africa’s COVID-19 response sees progress
Brazzaville, 15 October 2020 – Since the first reported case of COVID-19 in Africa in mid-February, African countries have made significant strides in combatting the virus, bolstering key response measures such as diagnosis, prevention, treatment, workforce training as well as supply of critical medical supplies and equipment.
In February, only two laboratories in the World Health Organization (WHO) African region could diagnose a COVID-19 case. Currently 750 laboratories across the region can test for the virus. The increased diagnostic capacity has seen more than 10 million tests carried out over the past eight months. Crucially, testing has been decentralized in many countries.
However, to boost case detection – based on studies related to excess morbidity of influenza-like illnesses due to COVID-19 – WHO has set a threshold of 10 tests per 10 000 people per week. Over the past month, 12 countries surpassed the mark.
Read More
Inside the fall of the CDC
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

WHO head calls herd immunity approach 'immoral'
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease through vaccinations or through the mass spread of a disease.Some have argued that coronavirus should be allowed to spread naturally in the absence of a vaccine. But WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said such an approach was "scientifically and ethically problematic".

Global health: time for radical change?

Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now
Risk of COVID-19 exposure on planes 'virtually nonexistent' when masked, study shows
Reinfections raise immunity questions
Very rare cases in which a person has caught COVID-19 twice are raising questions about how immunity might work for the disease. A new paper highlights one such incident in a 25-year-old man in Nevada. Genetic analysis showed that he was infected with different variants of the virus. Four other reinfections have been recorded in Hong Kong, Belgium, Ecuador and the Netherlands. Go deeper with Nature’s in-depth look at how reinfections contribute to our understanding of long-term immunity to COVID-19 and the prospects for a vaccine.
MIT Technology Review | 3 min read & Nature | 7 min read, from September
Reference: The Lancet paper
6 The number of known cases of influenza in New Zealand during its winter months of April to August.
The 99.8% reduction from previous years is a knock-on effect of efforts to tackle COVID-19.
(RNZ | 3 min read)

Global study shows deadly convergence of chronic disease, COVID-19
The comprehensive study is geared toward flagging countries where a heavy chronic disease burden makes them more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.
More »

Rural residents, men, young people more mask-averse; mandates effective
A PLOS One study yesterday showed that gender, age, and location factor into voluntary mask-wearing, with females, older individuals, and urban or suburban residents more likely to comply. The study also demonstrated that mask mandates established in July and August brought mask-wearing to levels above 90% for all groups.
Oct 15 PLOS One study
The second wave in Britain (i) Going full circuit
Britain would be wrong to return to national lockdown, even a short, sharp one

Doing science amid COVID-19
From Germany to India, researchers are grappling with how to run laboratories and lessons under extraordinary restrictions. Nature looks at how researchers and students in four countries are copingwith returning to work amid the pandemic.
Nature | 9 min read
K: The Overlooked Variable That's Driving the Pandemic
Predicted COVID-19 fatality rates based on age, sex, comorbidities and health system capacity
COVID-19 and mass incarceration: a call for urgent action
Marketing of breastmilk substitutes during the COVID-19 pandemic
MIS-C: post-infectious syndrome or persistent infection?
Beyond COVID-19—a paradigm shift in infection management?

Antibody COVID-19 trial paused
Following yesterday’s news that Johnson & Johnson had paused enrolment in its COVID-19-vaccine trial because of “an unexplained illness in a study participant,” drug maker Eli Lilly has now paused a trial of its antibody treatment for people hospitalized with COVID-19 owing to a “potential safety concern”. The trial, sponsored by the US government, was investigating the benefits of treatment with the antibody drug together with the antiviral drug remdesivir, compared with treatment with only remdesivir. Earlier this month, Eli Lilly said it had applied for emergency-use authorization for their drug for people with mild to moderate COVID-19. Pauses in large drug trials are not unusual and do not necessarily suggest a problem with the therapy.
The New York Times | 6 min read

Anti-ageing drugs could fight COVID-19
The human immune system is mind-bendingly complex, and ageing affects nearly every component. Particularly pressing amid the current pandemic is ageing’s impact on the immune system, which can leave people prone to infection and less responsive to vaccines. Some researchers are tackling this by tweaking vaccines to elicit a stronger response in older people, but others are taking a different tack entirely: rather than working with the limitations of the ageing immune system, they are planning to rejuvenate it.
Nature | 9 min read
Repurposed antiviral drugs for COVID-19–interim WHO SOLIDARITY trial results
Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir and Interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect onhospitalized COVID-19, as indicated by overall mortality, initiation of ventilation and duration of hospital stay. The mortality findings contain most of the randomized evidence on Remdesivir and Interferon, and are consistent withmeta-analyses of mortality in all major trials

Remdesivir and interferon fall flat in WHO’s megastudy of COVID-19 treatments
None of the four treatments in the Solidarity trial, which enrolled more than 11,000 patients in 400 hospitals around the globe, increased survival—not even the much-touted antiviral drug remdesivir.
The prospects of two of the four treatments—the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the HIV drug combination ritonavir/lopinavir—had faded after another large study, the United Kingdom’s Recovery trial, showed them not to increase survival in June. After analyzing that study and its own data up till then, WHO decided to drop both from the study.

Watch: Understanding dexamethasone, the steroid used to treat Trump’s Covid-19
Dexamethasone, a powerful steroid, is being used more and more to treat Covid-19. This video explains how it works.
Read More

‘Super antigens’ tied to mysterious COVID-19 syndrome in children
A serious pediatric illness has been linked to a similar condition in adults. Coronavirus inhabiting the gut could be the cause—and it may explain long-lasting symptoms, too.

Solidarity trial finds no joy in antiviral drugs
Interim results from the World Health Organization’s highly anticipated Solidarity trial appear to show that none of the four repurposed antiviral drugs tested have a meaningful effect in reducing COVID-19 deaths, the need for ventilators or the duration of hospitalization. The trial investigated remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, a lopinavir–ritonavir combo and interferon beta-1a. The randomized study was conducted in 405 hospitals across 30 countries and involved 11,266 people. “The unpromising overall findings from the regimens tested suffice to refute early hopes, based on smaller or non-randomized studies, that any will substantially reduce inpatient mortality, initiation of ventilation or hospitalization duration,” say the interim results.

There had been encouraging findings from other large clinical trials of remdesivir earlier in the year. The drug’s maker, Gilead, told the Financial Times that “the emerging data appear inconsistent with more robust evidence from multiple randomised, controlled studies validating the clinical benefit of [remdesivir]”.

The WHO’s findings mean that the cheap and widely available steroid dexamethasone is the only drug to have been convincingly shown to reduce deaths among people seriously ill with COVID-19.
CNBC | 5 min read & Financial Times | 5 min read (paywall)
Reference: Repurposed antiviral drugs for COVID-19 — interim WHO SOLIDARITY trial
Lopinavir–ritonavir in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 (RECOVERY): a randomised, controlled, open-label, platform trial
Antiviral monotherapy for hospitalised patients with COVID-19 is not enough
Why misinterpretation of electron micrographs in SARS-CoV-2-infected tissue goes viral
Steroids for sepsis and ARDS: this eternal controversy remains with COVID-19

Johnson & Johnson vaccine study paused
Johnson & Johnson has paused enrolment in its COVID-19-vaccine trial because of “an unexplained illness in a study participant”. It’s not known whether the person received the vaccine or a placebo. The phase III study aims to look for proof of efficacy and safety in 60,000 people. Pauses are par for the course in such large trials, say scientists. The trial of a vaccine candidate from the University of Oxford, UK, and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has been on hold in the United States since 8 September, although it has restarted in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
STAT | 7 min read

Two Black university leaders urged their campuses to join a Covid-19 vaccine trial. The backlash was swift
As the four historically Black medical schools prepare to host coronavirus vaccine trials, there’s hope their efforts will have more success.
Read More

Second Russian COVID vaccine approved
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the approval of a second coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine, EpiVacCorona, was described as a “peptide-based shot”. It was developed by biotechnology company State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR. Early trials of the vaccine on 100 volunteers were successful, said Putin. But the vaccine has not been subject to full safety and efficacy trials.
NPR | 3 min read
Who will get the vaccine first? Here's where you might land in line.
Health officials are wrestling with who should be first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Is it time to redefine what’s fair?
Pfizer won’t apply for Covid-19 vaccine authorization before mid-November, CEO confirms
The Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine candidate won't be ready for FDA consideration until after the Nov. 3 election.
Read More

SARS-CoV-2 immunity: review and applications to phase 3 vaccine candidates
Understanding immune responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is crucial to understanding disease pathogenesis and the usefulness of bridge therapies, such as hyperimmune globulin and convalescent human plasma, and to developing vaccines, antivirals, and monoclonal antibodies. A mere 11 months ago, the canvas we call COVID-19 was blank. Scientists around the world have worked collaboratively to fill in this blank canvas. In this Review, we discuss what is currently known about human humoral and cellular immune responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and relate this knowledge to the COVID-19 vaccines currently in phase 3 clinical trials.
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy

Pandemic of hunger, hints of hope
On #WorldFoodDay, we look at Africa, where the COVID-19 pandemic has piled on new challenges in countries that were already battling threats including climate change and invasive pests. Disrupted supply chains, planting seasons, incomes and remittances could lead to 130 million more people living with chronic hunger by the end of 2020 than had been expected, according to the United Nations. At the same time, researchers hope to make the most of opportunities to strengthen food systems and make them more resilient.
Nature | 12 min read

Impact of COVID-19 on people's livelihoods, their health and our food systems
Joint statement by ILO, FAO, IFAD and WHO's-livelihoods-their-health-and-our-food-systems
Violations of independence: ethnicity and COVID-19 in Brazil
No vaccine for cruelty
The pandemic has eroded democracy and respect for human rights

Violence, COVID-19, contribute to rising humanitarian needs in the Sahel

Black Americans see a health-care system infected by racism, new poll shows
As COVID-19 disproportionately devastates Black communities, seven in ten African Americans say people are treated unfairly based on race or ethnicity when they seek medical care.
The new burden on Covid-19 families
The Atlantic

Pandemics and violence against women and children
Three Reflections on Mobility and Disaster Vulnerability from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Read more
We depend on essential workers. Many are on DACA—and face a precarious future.
‘I’ve got this deportation order hanging over my head,’ says a woman who helped make more than 180,000 masks and 100,000 protective gowns.

COVID-19: Implications for business

WHO warns of COVID impact on TB services
Tuberculosis notifications in the hard-hit countries of India, Indonesia, and the Philippines have fallen 25% to 30% because of pandemic-related disruptions.
More »
The intersection of COVID-19 and mental health
Change in obstetric attendance and activities during the COVID-19 pandemic
Risk Communication
COVID-19: the deadly threat of misinformation

Trust in COVID info sources varies by demographics, beliefs
Those who consulted government sources held more science-based beliefs about the pandemic.
More »

COVID-19: the deadly threat of misinformation

How to declaw COVID misinformation
Countering the “misinformation infodemic” surrounding COVID-19 is key to stopping the virus’s rampant progress through the United States, write molecular biologist Ali Nouri and political scientist Amir Bagherpour of the Federation of American Scientists. They offer recommendations including a coordinated campaign of social-media influencers and more spontaneous two-way chat between public-health officials and the people they need to reach.
Scientific American | 5 min read
The EU’s Role in Fighting Disinformation: Developing Policy Interventions for the 2020s

Beyond (Mis)Representation: Visuals in COVID-19 Misinformation

The COVID-19 social media infodemic
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

COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker
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
The Health System Response Monitor (HSRM)
has been designed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to collect and organize up-to-date information on how countries are responding to the crisis. It focuses primarily on the responses of health systems but also captures wider public health initiatives. This is a joint undertaking of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the European Commission, and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.
Click here for policy recommendations and technical guidance from the WHO Regional Office for Europe on how to strengthen the health systems response to COVID-19 and click here for the EU coronavirus response in the area of public health.

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  


unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences