COVID-19 Situation: 17 November 2020

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

COVID-19 Situation: 17 November 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- 13 November 2020
WHO COVID-19 dashboards for most up-to-date figures
Global dashboard

COVID-19 Partners Platform & Supply Portal
Updates from WHO regional offices
COVID-19 Situation in the Region of the Americas
November 15th, 2020 15:00 (EST)
An additional 230,670 cases and 3,466 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 1.0% relative increase in cases and a 0.51% relative increase in deaths, compared to the previous day. 
Mexico surpassed 1 million cases of COVID-19 today and is the 11th country world-wide to do so. With a cumulative total of 98,259 COVID-19 deaths, the country also has the fourth death toll world-wide, after the United States, Brazil, and India.
PAHO Situation Reports

ECDC COVID-19 situation dashboard
The 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)

Pandemic tops 54 million cases, overwhelms health workers
The head of the WHO urges governments to do more to reduce the pressure on healthcare workers.
More »
CHINA Shanghai, China, reported a locally acquired case of COVID-19 on November 10. While many countries around the world are battling a surge in COVID-19 incidence, this marks the first locally acquired infection in Shanghai in several months.

India’s capital is battling a surge in coronavirus cases just as pollution levels spike

Why do COVID death rates seem to be falling?
Around the world, deaths from COVID in intensive-care units seem to be dropping — although the data are not clear-cut. Hard-won experience, changing demographics and reduced strain on hospitals are all possibilities, say physicians. And no one knows how long the change will last.
Nature | 10 min read
Control Measures

Where did COVID come from? WHO investigation begins but faces challenges
Identifying the source will be tricky, and investigators will need to grapple with the sensitive political situation.
Countries Measures
PERU The Congress of the Republic of Peru voted earlier this week to remove President Martín Vizcarra Cornejo from office due to “permanent moral incapacity.” The vote passed by a count of 105 to 19, with a minimum of 87 votes required. The decision was driven by a myriad of factors, including the government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic.
Peru has reported the highest cumulative per capita COVID-19 mortality in South America, and it ranks #2 in terms of cumulative per capita incidence, just behind Argentina.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country is lifting restrictions on international travelers.
South Africa has reported nearly 750,000 cases and more than 20,000 deaths, leading all African countries in both categories. South Africa’s daily incidence is well below its peak in late July, but it has increased nearly 20% over the past week.
The US CDC recently lifted its “no sail” order for cruise ships and published new requirements for a phased process to resume cruise ship activity. Most cruise lines have suspended activities until 2021, but some are beginning to make arrangements for the test voyages. This week, the SeaDream 1, the first cruise ship to resume sailing in the Caribbean, reported a case of COVID-19 onboard. Several media reports indicate that at least 5 passengers have tested positive so far, representing approximately 10% of the 53 passengers onboard.
Merkel, German states consider tougher COVID-measures: document
Australia back on outbreak alert as state reports jump in virus cases

Raoult faces disciplinary panel
Microbiologist Didier Raoult, a larger-than-life figure in French science who gained global prominence for his controversial research touting the effects of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID, is to appear before a disciplinary panel. Raoult is accused of breaching medical ethics by physicians from France’s Infectious Diseases Society.
The Guardian | 3 min read
Spain's general medical council calls for Covid health chief to be fired
Covid lockdown two: coffee queues, traffic jams, staring at shops and boredom
Scientific Publications, Reports and News

Unexpected detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the prepandemic period in Italy
SARS-CoV-2 RBD-specific antibodies were detected in 111 of 959 (11.6%) individuals, starting from September 2019 (14%), with a cluster of positive cases (>30%) in the second week of February 2020 and the highest number (53.2%) in Lombardy. Finding SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in asymptomatic people before the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy may reshape the history of pandemic.

Bidirectional associations between COVID-19 and psychiatric disorder: retrospective cohort studies of 62 354 COVID-19 cases in the USA
In this electronic health record network cohort study using data from 69 million individuals, 62 354 of whom had a diagnosis of COVID-19, we assessed whether a diagnosis of COVID-19 (compared with other health events) was associated with increased rates of subsequent psychiatric diagnoses, and whether patients with a history of psychiatric illness are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Occurrence and transmission potential of asymptomatic and presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections: A living systematic review and meta-analysis
The findings of this living systematic review suggest that most people who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 will not remain asymptomatic throughout the course of the infection. The contribution of presymptomatic and asymptomatic infections to overall SARS-CoV-2 transmission means that combination prevention measures, with enhanced hand hygiene, masks, testing tracing, and isolation strategies and social distancing, will continue to be needed.

Damage to multiple organs recorded in 'long Covid' cases
Study of low-risk individuals finds impairments four months after infection

Spike mutation D614G alters SARS-CoV-2 fitness
Sera from D614-infected hamsters exhibit modestly higher neutralization titers against G614 virus than against D614 virus, indicating that (i) the mutation may not reduce the ability of vaccines in clinical trials to protect against COVID-19 and (ii) therapeutic antibodies should be tested against the circulating G614 virus. Together with clinical findings, our work underscores the importance of this mutation in viral spread, vaccine efficacy, and antibody therapy.
SARS-CoV-2 D614G variant exhibits efficient replication ex vivo and transmission in vivo
Infection of human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) transgenic mice and Syrian hamsters with both viruses resulted in similar viral titers in respiratory tissues and pulmonary disease. However, the D614G variant transmits significantly faster and displayed increased competitive fitness than the wild-type virus in hamsters. These data show that the D614G substitution enhances SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, competitive fitness, and transmission in primary human cells and animal models.
Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in slums versus non-slums in Mumbai, India

Seroprevalence of anti–SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Kenyan blood donors
We determined the prevalence of anti–SARS-CoV-2 IgG among blood donors in Kenya in April-June 2020. Crude seroprevalence was 5.6% (174/3098). Population-weighted, test-performance-adjusted national seroprevalence was 4.3% (95% CI 2.9–5.8%) and was highest in urban counties, Mombasa (8.0%), Nairobi (7.3%) and Kisumu (5.5%). SARS-CoV-2 exposure is more extensive than indicated by case-based surveillance and these results will help guide the pandemic response in Kenya, and across Africa.

SARS-CoV-2 mink-associated variant strain – Denmark
Since June 2020, 214 human cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Denmark with SARS-CoV-2 variants associated with farmed minks, including 12 cases with a unique variant, reported on 5 November. Based on preliminary information from these human cases, the variant does not appear to result in increased disease severity; however, there is some evidence that it could be slightly more resistant to neutralizing antibodies. WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions for Denmark based on the information currently available on this event.
OIE Update 6 on the COVID-19 situation in mink in Denmark
OIE Technical factsheet, infection with SARS-CoV-2 in animal
Evidence from risk assessments, epidemiological investigations, and experimental studies do not suggest that live animals or animal products play a role in SARS-CoV-2 infection of humans

Mink COVID mutations not worrisome — yet
Scientists aren’t too concerned about a series of coronavirus mutations found circulating in Danish mink and people. They say data released this week suggests there is little evidence that the mutations make the virus spread more easily, or might jeopardize potential vaccines. Danish authorities had suggested those concerns when they announced last week plans to cull the country’s mink population. But researchers say the cull is probably necessary to stop uncontrolled spread of the virus in mink, which could lead to problematic mutations in future that could easily pass to people.
Nature | 5 min read

With a meteoric rise in deaths, talk of waves is misguided, say Covid-19 modelers
Experts modeling the coronavirus pandemic may differ on details, but they agree that if cases have never subsided, "wave" is the wrong word.
Read Mor
Covid-19’s known unknowns
The more certain someone is about covid-19, the less you should trust them
As Covid-19 Surges, the Big Unknown Is Where People Are Getting Infected

Forecasters can learn from climate models
Epidemiologists predicting the spread of COVID-19 should adopt climate-modelling methods to make forecasts more reliable, say computer scientists. The researchers have spent months using a powerful supercomputer and techniques that are used to stress-test climate models to audit CovidSim, one of the most influential models of the pandemic, which helped convince British and US politicians to introduce lockdowns to prevent projected deaths. The analysis shows that, because researchers didn’t appreciate how sensitive CovidSim was to small changes in its inputs, their results overestimated the extent to which a lockdown was likely to reduce deaths. But the model correctly showed that “doing nothing at all would have disastrous consequences”, says chemist and computer scientist Peter Coveney.
Nature | 6 min read
Reference: Research Square preprint

CDC: Symptom-based COVID-19 airport screening ineffective
Data published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) shows that resource-intensive, symptom-based airline passenger entry screening identified few laboratory-diagnosed COVID-19 cases—only 1 case for every 85,000 travelers screened. The researchers also highlight the inadequacy of electronic airline data for contact tracing, finding that only 22% of records contain both the traveler's phone number and physical address.   
Nov 13 MMWR study

Interferon beta-1a may help COVID-19 patients recover faster
The drug, which has antiviral properties in animals, shows promise in a small randomized controlled trial.
More »

Study suggests mass azithromycin may promote resistance to other antibiotics
The practice was tied to increased macrolide resistance and increased resistance to other classes.
More »

Fluvoxamine possible treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID
In a preliminary study conducted on 152 patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infections, no patient in a group of 80 people who took a 15-day course of fluvoxamine, an antidepressant, reported clinical deterioration, as opposed to 6 (8.3%) of 72 who took a placebo.
Nov 12 JAMA study
Nov 12 Washington University press release

Hype, hope and hydroxychloroquine
Hydroxychloroquine is a time-tested treatment for malaria, a failed drug candidate for COVID and one of the pandemic’s most notorious political footballs. Starting with the drug’s origin as a traditional remedy in Peru, Wired explores the laundry list of clinical trials that struggled to test it in an atmosphere of distrust, its role in the Surgisphere scandal and the collision between science and the White House.
Wired | 32 min read

Unproven COVID drugs in India
Scientists are worried about how India’s drug regulator is handling desperately needed therapies for COVID-19. The Drugs Controller General of India has approved several repurposed drugs for ‘restricted emergency use’ for treating the disease — the first time it has used such powers. Scientists say it’s unclear on what basis the drugs were approved, and critics argue that the manufacturers’ data on their effectiveness are unconvincing so far.
Nature | 6 min read
Nearly 1 in 5 COVID-19 deaths in the African region linked to diabetes
The World Health Organization (WHO) finds that 18.3% of COVID-19 deaths in the African region are among people with diabetes, one of the conditions that global studies have found to increase the risk of severe illness and death among patients infected with the virus.
Read More
Strategies to Inform Allocation of Stockpiled Ventilators to Healthcare Facilities During a Pandemic
 Read Now

Early data show Moderna's COVID vaccine 94.5% effective
Of 95 COVID cases reported, 90 were in the placebo group, including all 11 serious cases.
More »

Feds update vaccine arrival amid record US COVID-19 rise
The first 20 million vaccine doses could be available in December, officials say.
More »

Pfizer says placebo patients will eventually get its Covid-19 vaccine. The question of when is complicated
In a memo, Pfizer said it is working to find a way to eventually give vaccine to all of the volunteers in its study.
Read More

US Federal government strikes deal to make a Covid-19 vaccine widely available at U.S. pharmacies
Federal health officials have reached an agreement with pharmacy retailers across the U.S. to offer a Covid-19 vaccine for free once one is approved and available.

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.

More good news: Moderna vaccine works too
For the third time in a week, a coronavirus vaccine developer has reported preliminary results suggesting that its vaccine is highly effective. US biotech company Moderna has announced that its RNA-based vaccine was more than 94% effective at preventing COVID-19, on the basis of an analysis of 95 cases in its ongoing phase III efficacy trial. Like the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine and the controversial Russian vaccine Sputnik V, early data that are not yet peer reviewed leave many questions unanswered. But it does seem that Moderna’s vaccine is likely to prevent severe COVID-19 infections, something that was not clear from the other developers’ announcements. Researchers were also buoyed by Moderna’s announcement that its vaccine remains stable in conventional refrigerators for a month and ordinary freezers for six months. (The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine must be stored at an icy –70 ℃.)
Nature | 4 min read
The promise of coronavirus vaccine at a factory in India - and the looming fight over it
Consequences of the Outbreak on Society and Economy

Study spotlights children's mental health emergencies during pandemic
Another MMWR study today found that emergency department (ED) visits for mental health declined for people of all ages during the early months of the US COVID-19 pandemic, but the proportion of children's mental health–related visits relative to overall pediatric ED visits increased in April and remained elevated through October. Adolescents ages 12 to 17 accounted for the largest proportion of visits.
Nov 13 MMWR study

Fund to aid families of health workers killed by COVID-19
The Frontline Families Fund will offer phase 1 support to cover immediate costs and phase 2 funds for other needs.
More »

Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival fell 17% amid COVID-19
US outcomes were poorer early in the pandemic, even in counties with low death rates.
More »
Covid deaths and learning disabilities

Risk Communication

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 Lancet journals 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 email  


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