COVID-19 Situation: 23 October 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 Situation: 23 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- 20 October 2020
As of 18 October, over 40 million cases and 1.1 million deaths have been reported globally, with over 2.4 million new cases and 36 000 new deaths reported over the past week.
The European Region has continued to report a rapid increase in cases and deaths, with over 927 000 new cases reported this past week – a 25% weekly increase in cases compared to the previous week – contributing 38% of all new cases reported worldwide Similarly, the number of deaths continues to climb with a 29% increase from last week. Increases, although more gradual, were also observed in the African, Eastern-Mediterranean and Western Pacific Regions. Declines continued to be reported in the Region of the Americas and the South-East Asia Region; although the incidence of new infections remains high, and collectively these two regions contribute over half of new cases and deaths observed globally.
WHO COVID-19 dashboards for most up-to-date figures
Global dashboard

COVID-19 Partners Platform & Supply Portal
Updates from WHO regional offices
October 21st, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 128,508 cases and 2,924 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 0.68% relative increase in cases and a 0.48% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day.
The Ministry of Health of Ecuador indicates that an agreement was reached with Pfizer Ecuador and BioNTech to receive the candidate vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. Ecuador would access to 2 million doses in 2021.
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)
Control Measures
Do Masks on Plane Flights Really Cut Your Risk Of Catching COVID-19?
Countries Measures
Government watchdog will probe Trump officials’ interference at CDC, FDA.
Some California hospitals refused Covid-19 transfers for financial reasons, state emails show.
Wall Street Journal

Beyond the police state to COVID-safe: life after lockdown will need a novel approach
COVID-19 in New Zealand and the impact of the national response: a descriptive epidemiological study
Lessons from New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak response
COVID-19 in Spain: a predictable storm?

What developing countries can teach rich countries about how to respond to a pandemic
Lockdown didn’t work in South Africa: why it shouldn’t happen again
Lockdown level 5 in South Africa was one of the world’s strictest. Citizens weren’t allowed to leave their residence except for essential purposes such as grocery shopping and medical care. All non-essential businesses were shut down, and cigarette and alcohol sales were banned. If this “hard lockdown” had been effective, the rate of infection would have dropped significantly 7-14 days after lockdown was implemented. Note that one must look for a delay due to the disease’s 5-6 day average incubation period, and time for test results to be released. This simply did not happen.

Northern Ireland’s circuit breaker lockdown: why now and will it work?

How to make the three-tier lockdown work
Over 50 areas in England are under local lockdown. The patchwork of restriction is complex and difficult to enforce, so to simplify things, the government is introducing a much simpler three-tier system of lockdowns. England will be divided into three zones: medium risk, high risk and very high risk.
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

Woman in her 30s dies of COVID-19 aboard airplane
A Texas woman in her thirties died after she had trouble breathing while the plane was on the tarmac in July. Even though the woman died on July 25, the county wasn't notified that it was a COVID-19–related death until only a few days ago

Excess Deaths From COVID-19 and Other Causes, March-July 2020
US deaths increased by 20% during March-July 2020. COVID-19 was a documented cause of only 67% of these excess deaths.
US mortality rates for heart disease increased between weeks ending March 21 and April 11 (APC, 5.1 [95% CI, 0.2-10.2]), driven by the spring surge in COVID-19 cases. Mortality rates for Alzheimer disease/dementia increased twice, between weeks ending March 21 and April 11 (APC, 7.3 [95% CI, 2.9-11.8]) and between weeks ending June 6 and July 25 (APC, 1.5 [95% CI, 0.8-2.3]), the latter coinciding with the summer surge in sunbelt states.

Excess Deaths and the Great Pandemic of 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has caused nearly 300,000 more deaths than expected in a typical year
The coronavirus pandemic has left about 299,000 more people dead in the United States than would be expected in a typical year, two-thirds of them from covid-19 and the rest from other causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

The Toll of COVID-19
Every day, new tallies of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 are reported by universities and the media. When a specific number of deaths appears, count on 2 factors: first, the precise number reported is likely incorrect and second, in the coming months, the true number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will continue to increase.

Mental Health Disorders Related to COVID-19–Related Deaths
In summary, a second wave of devastation is imminent, attributable to mental health consequences of COVID-19. The magnitude of this second wave is likely to overwhelm the already frayed mental health system, leading to access problems, particularly for the most vulnerable persons. The solution will require increased funding for mental health; widespread screening to identify individuals at highest risk including suicide risk; availability of primary care clinicians and mental health professionals trained to treat those with prolonged grief, depression, traumatic stress, and substance abuse; and a diligent focus on families and communities to creatively restore the approaches by which they have managed tragedy and loss over generations.

New Insights on COVID-19’s Hyperinflammation in Children
Pandemic fatigue - Reinvigorating the public to prevent COVID-19
This document was prepared in response to requests from Member States for guidance on responding to pandemic fatigue and reinvigorating public support for protective behaviours.  It provides a framework for Member States to help them plan and implement national and subnational strategies in this field.,-september-2020-produced-by-whoeurope
The ‘One Health’ concept must prevail to allow us to prevent pandemics
The tipping point: Climate crises and zoonotic disease
Coronavirus: R number does not measure risk – financial disaster modelling offers a better alternative
To get a more accurate picture of COVID-19 risk that could be used alongside the information from the R and K numbers, I would therefore argue that governments should use stress testing for adverse tail events. This would make it possible to estimate the likelihood of a particular rise in cases in a given span of time – say a twofold increase in a week.  After the 2007-09 financial crisis, regulators introduced stress testing to restore confidence in the banking system. With fading trust in the health system and people avoiding hospitals due to COVID-19 fears, a more transparent and detailed way of measuring the risks using the same kind of predictive modelling might produce similar benefits.
Covid-19’s wintry mix: As we move indoors, dry air will help the coronavirus spread.
Living with COVID-19: act now with the tools we have
Many countries are reopening and striving to adapt their economies and resume international travel. Other countries are attempting to suppress transmission of COVID-19 by again restricting businesses, industries, and schools while hoping for future vaccines or treatments. The Strategic and Recgbucak Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards, the independent advisory group to the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, has reviewed information from countries around the world and has concluded that the most sound approach on the basis of current understanding is to deploy long-term strategies with a focus on preventing amplification of transmission, protecting those most at risk of severe illness, and supporting research to better understand the virus, the disease, and people's responses to them.
Young adults face higher risk of severe disease from infections than school-age children
The first systematic review of how the severity of infectious diseases changes with age suggests that the human immune system might start to lose the ability to protect against infections earlier than previously thought, according to new research published in Scientific Data. For SARS, COVID-19, MERS-CoV and hepatitis A disease severity increased from age 40 years. COVID-19 and SARS appear to have more extreme variation in severity by age than other infections, with predominantly very mild disease in children, and high case fatality rates in the elderly.
Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 
Proceedings of a Workshop in Brief
In August 2020, the Environmental Health Matters Initiative (EHMI) at the National Academies hosted a virtual workshop on airborne transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Thousands of researchers and experts in aerosol sciences, virology, infections disease, and epidemiology​ came together to discuss the evolving science related to the spread of the virus.
Explore what the experts had to say at the workshop in a publication. Click here or use the link below:

COVID-19 Apps
During these challenging times, in which we live the COVID-19 outbreak, the digital world is increasingly becoming our reality. Now that we are confined to our homes, technology is an ally to keep us connected and a refuge from a world that is shaken. COVID-19 led countries to adopt different strategies to deal with the outbreak.

Latin America’s embrace of an unproven COVID treatment is hindering drug trials
Some people in Latin America who are seeking a treatment for COVID-19 are turning to ivermectin — an inexpensive, over-the-counter medicine that has been used for decades to treat livestock and people infested with parasitic worms — despite a lack of evidence that the drug is safe or effective as a coronavirus therapy. Hope was stoked by a preprint study about the drug, which later fell foul of the Surgisphere scandal and was withdrawn. Scientists hoping to collect the necessary evidence havestruggled to recruit participants to clinical trials because so many are already taking it. “What we’re having is a populist treatment, instead of an evidence-based treatment,” says global-health researcher Patricia García.
Nature | 7 min read
GeneXpert for the diagnosis of COVID-19 in LMICs
Preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination strategies and vaccine deployment

COVID-19 will probably become endemic – here’s what that means
What do people in BRICS countries think about a COVID-19 vaccine?
There is a generally high acceptance of a potential coronavirus vaccine among respondents in BRICS countries, except in Russia.
UNICEF set to stockpile 520 million syringes by year-end, in preparation for a COVID-19 vaccine.

First ‘human challenge’ trial in January
London will host the first ‘human challenge’ trial for COVID-19, which will involve intentionally infecting healthy, young volunteers with the coronavirus to test potential vaccines. The trial will be paid for by the UK government and led by a Dublin-based commercial clinical-research organization called Open Orphan and its subsidiary hVIVO, which runs challenge trials on respiratory pathogens. An estimated 30–50 participants will be exposed to the virus in a high-level isolation unit of a hospital in north London. Critics note that the focus on young, healthy people will skew any results — and even then, there are risks. “We don’t yet know enough about this disease to say for this person: you will not die,” says vaccine scientist and virologist Meagan Deming.
Nature | 7 min read

Tough calls are coming for COVID vaccine
Public-health officials should plan now for decisions on which vaccines should go to whom, when and how often, says physician–scientist Kanta Subbarao, who advises on the composition of each year’s influenza vaccine. “There will be a lot of tough calls,” says Subbarao. “The best thing that authorities can do is to be very clear about what is known and not known, to engage the public in discussions, take their input seriously, and build trust through transparency.”
Nature | 5 min read

What coronavirus survey told us about getting people to take a vaccine
Could certain Covid-19 vaccines leave people more vulnerable to the AIDS virus?
Clinical and Vaccine Trials for COVID-19: Key Considerations from Social Science
From the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP), this brief outlines how, and in what ways, social science can contribute to ongoing/future COVID-19 clinical and vaccine trials. For instance, social science insights help elucidate the complexities of the situations in which outbreaks occur, and the dynamic, complex and uncertain forms of public authority and power that are at play. The brief articulates why community engagement and open dialogue with COVID-19 vaccine trial participants and their communities - pre, during, and post-trial - are key to identifying sources of mistrust and, ultimately, finding and delivering a successful vaccine.
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy

Pandemic Accelerates the Threat of Global Hunger
Acute hunger is expected to affect 270 million people worldwide by this year’s end—an 82% increase since the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic began, according to WFP.
Severe food insecurity rose 70% in the 4 years leading up to the pandemic. But now the economic fallout from pandemic-related job loss in cities in low- and middle-income countries and less money being sent home by relatives working in wealthier countries have compounded an already bleak situation.
Pandemic takes its toll on women and girls' mental health.
More women and girls' in low- and middle-income countries are experiencing stress, anxiety, and other mental health impacts as a result of the pandemic. Experts warn this could have devastating long-term impacts. Gender-based violence — which has increased globally since the start of lockdowns — is one of the main contributors to mental distress for women.

Rapid Gender Analysis: Filling the Data Gap to Build Back Equal

The COVID-19 Gender Gap
How Women’s Experience and Expertise Will Drive Economic Recovery
Participants from a virtual event series of roundtables have collectively developed a gender-inclusive action plan to enable states, the private sector and civil society to implement a faster, fairer and more sustainable economic recovery from the downturn associated with COVID-19.
Impact of COVID-19 mitigation measures on the incidence of preterm birth: a national quasi-experimental study

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the $16 Trillion Virus
More generally, the immense financial loss from COVID-19 suggests a fundamental rethinking of government’s role in pandemic preparation. Currently, the US prioritizes spending on acute treatment, with far less spending on public health services and infrastructure. As the nation struggles to recover from COVID-19, investments that are made in testing, contact tracing, and isolation should be established permanently and not dismantled when the concerns about COVID-19 begin to recede.

Just 10% of Covid stimulus funds directed to green-energy would be enough to reach Paris goals
A new study puts some numbers on what would constitute a climate-friendly recovery package. The investment required to keep the world on its current (non-Paris-compatible, 3 °C of warming) pathway amounts to US$1.1 trillion per year. So shifting the world to the 1.5 °C pathway requires just US$300 billion per year on top of that—less than 3% of the planned stimulus funds, or 12% when considering the 5-year total of investment needed.
Plus, decarbonizing the energy system means that governments will have to divest from fossil fuels to the tune of US$280 billion per year. If these funds were redirected to green-energy investments instead, the overall increase in funding needed to achieve the Paris Agreement pathway would be only US$20 billion per year globally. “This represents a mere 0.2% of the total announced stimulus to date, or 1% over the 2020–2024 period,” the researchers note.
Read More
The intersection of COVID-19 and mental health

COVID-19 Halts Reproductive Care for Millions of Women
Since coronavirus disease 2019 ushered in lockdowns and limited movement, London-based Marie Stopes International reported that roughly 2 million fewer women have received reproductive care services through its programs in 37 countries. The result could be 1.5 million additional unsafe abortions, 900 000 unintended pregnancies, and 3100 additional deaths.

Risk Communication
New study highlights the role of risk communication in coping with COVID-19

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  


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