– Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus now:
EU is pooling its efforts
The European Union will fund cross-border transfers of patients within the bloc to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed as COVID-19 infections and hospital stays on the continent increase.
The EU Commission is also stepping up its efforts to obtain potential vaccines against the new coronavirus, said commission head Ursula von der Leyen. The EU has held talks with four companies and has already signed supply contracts with three other companies, she added.
Charles Michel, chairman of a video conference of EU leaders to discuss the health crisis, said EU leaders have committed to fair distribution of available vaccines. That would happen in relation to the population, said von der Leyen.
The first US vaccines could be shipped in late December or early January, says Fauci
If all goes well, the first doses of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will likely be available to some high-risk Americans in late December or early January, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading US infectious disease expert, on Thursday.
Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was basing this on recent projections from vaccine leaders Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc.
Even with an effective vaccine to protect against the virus, Fauci says it will take some time to get back to normal as immunity induced by vaccines is built both nationally and globally. He said life is unlikely to return to normal “at least until the end of 2021”.
Difficult trajectory in the United States
The White House Coronavirus Task Force warned that much of the country was hit by a “relentless” surge in COVID-19 cases and called for tough countermeasures as the number of US infections reported Thursday hit a new daily record of more than reached 91,000.
“We’re on a very difficult path. We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Fauci, adding that coronavirus cases were on the rise in 47 states and patients were overwhelming hospitals across the country.
At least a dozen states – Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oregon – reported a record increase in COVID-19 cases by a day on ‘ balance sheet Thursday.
The Russian vaccine trial slows down when the focus shifts to the second dose
Russia has temporarily suspended vaccinating new volunteers in its COVID-19 vaccine study, staff from eight out of 25 study clinics said, with some citing high demand and a shortage of doses. However, the vaccine developer said the intake of new participants has only slowed down.
The director of the Gamaleya Institute, which develops and manufactures the vaccine, said the decision to slow down the admission of new volunteers was due to the fact that those already vaccinated were given a second dose again, the RIA reported. The second component is injected 21 days after the first.
“It has to do with the fact that the demand for the vaccine is huge and they are not producing enough to keep up,” said a representative from Crocus Medical, the contract research organization that is working with the Russian Ministry of Health to oversee the process in Moscow helps.
Russian officials and vaccine developers previously pointed to challenges in increasing vaccine production known as Sputnik V, and initial estimates of 30 million doses to be produced by the end of the year were cut to just over 2 by the Industry Minister earlier this month Million cans.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; edited by Lincoln Feast.)