- AstraZeneca says it has suspended trials of the coronavirus vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford after one of the trials’ volunteers fell ill with an unexplained illness.
- The UN says the disruption to the routine child and maternal health services as a result of the pandemic could put millions of lives at risk and undo years of progress in reducing child mortality.
- More than 27.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 897,383 have died. Nearly 18.5 million people have recovered.
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, September 9
17:25 GMT – Pope warns against political exploitation of coronavirus
Pope Francis, seen wearing a mask for the first time in public, said no one should seek political gain from the coronavirus and that vaccine developers should not see it as a chance to make a profit.
At his second weekly general audience with public participation after six months of virtual audiences, the pope was seen wearing a white mask as he entered and left his car and using sanitizer occasionally squirted onto his hands by an aide.
“Some are taking advantage of the situation to foment divisions, to create economic or political advantages, to start or intensify conflict,” he said, without specifying.
Pope Francis asked about 500 people in the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard to remain in their seats to keep social distancing [Vatican Media/Reuters]
16:55 GMT – UK science adviser says other vaccine trials also likely to be paused
Other COVID-19 vaccine trials are likely to be paused at some point the British government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, said, describing a pause in the trial of an AstraZeneca vaccine as “not good” but a sensible step.
“I think you should expect in some of the other trials that you will see situations where things are paused and then restarted,” Vallance told a news conference.
“We need to make sure with these vaccines that they work, they work well enough, and they are safe,” he added.
16:29 GMT – New COVID19 rules in England expected to last more than two weeks
New restrictions on social gatherings in England are unlikely to be over in just two or three weeks, the country’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said.
He was speaking at a news conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who announced a new “rule of six” limiting the number of people from separate households who can meet to six.
“That may not last for many months, but it’s very unlikely to be just over two or three weeks,” Whitty said.
“The period between now and Spring is going to be difficult because this is a respiratory virus,” he added.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he remained hopeful that certain aspects of life could be back to normal by Christmas. [File: Ben Stansall/Reuters]
16:04 GMT – Halt of coronavirus trial is ‘safety valve’ at work: Fauci
The top US infectious disease expert said AstraZeneca’s suspension of final testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows “one of the safety valves” built into the studies to spot any potential problems.
“It’s unfortunate that it happened and hopefully they’ll be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial. But you don’t know — they need to investigate it further,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious diseases chief at the National Institutes of Health, told “CBS This Morning”.
Late Tuesday, AstraZeneca announced its final-stage studies are on temporary hold while the company investigates whether a research volunteer’s “potentially unexplained illness” is a side effect of the shot or a coincidence.
15:51 GMT – Venezuelan nurses trapped between COVID-19 and economic crisis
Venezuelan nurse Flor Perez works a grueling night shift at a public children’s hospital in Caracas, where the coronavirus is a constant risk. In exchange, she takes home a monthly salary that barely buys a day’s worth of groceries.
Perez, 47, says that of the eight nurses who are supposed to be on the night shift, only three consistently show up. The rest have left the country or taken other jobs to make more money.
Perez is one of more than 100,000 nurses in Venezuela who are struggling to make ends meet on salaries that have been decimated by rampant inflation, while also facing a heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus in a country where medical staff lack protective equipment and even running water.
15:32 GMT – Czechs reintroduce face masks indoors after virus spike
Czechs will have to wear face masks in most public indoor settings in a bid to slow a record spike in Covid-19 cases, the health minister said.
The restriction comes on the heels of a never-before-seen daily increase of 1,164 new confirmed Covid-19 cases reported Tuesday in the EU member nation of 10.7 million people.
“We have agreed with experts to introduce the duty to wear face masks inside buildings across the Czech Republic as of Thursday,” Minister Adam Vojtech said in a tweet.
The measure affects restaurants, shops, schools – except classrooms – and workplaces unless employees remain two metres apart [File: David W Cerny/Reuters]
15:10 GMT – Mexican president says other options available after pause in AstaZeneca vaccine trial
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the country has “other options” for a potential COVID-19 vaccine after drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc suspended a late-stage trial due to an illness in a participant.
The governments of Argentina and Mexico have agreed to produce the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for most of Latin America. Mexico is in talks with several companies about vaccine trials.
14:47 GMT – EU secures 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine
The European Union has secured 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from medical firms BioNTech and Pfizer
The European Commission announced that it had concluded talks on buying the potential vaccine with Germany- and US-based companies working together on developing the serum.
The EU would buy 200 million doses under the envisaged agreement with an option of getting further 100 million doses if the vaccine proves to be safe and effective against COVID-19.
This is the sixth agreement the bloc has managed since the EU Commission announced its Vaccine Strategy in June.
14:15 GMT – Portugal reports record number of COVID19 cases since April 20
Portugal reported 646 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily toll since April 20, with transmission primarily occurring in family households, health secretary of state Jamila Madeira told a news conference.
New cases fell to around 100 a day at the beginning of August but have crept back up since then, worrying the tourism industry as it waits to hear whether it will taken back out of the UK’s air bridge list.
Stricter measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak will be introduced across Portugal from mid-September as students return to schools and many workers go back to the office, although details have yet to be announced.
Most new cases in Portugal were split between the northern region and Greater Lisbon, health ministry data showed [File: Rafael Marchante/Reuters]
13:45 GMT – South African volunteers on AstraZeneca vaccine trial say not alarmed by pause
South African volunteers on AstraZeneca’s experimental coronavirus vaccine trial said they were not worried to hear the trial had been paused after a participant fell ill and they hoped to be part of a potential solution to the pandemic.
Some 2,000 volunteers in South Africa are taking part in the trial which was paused globally on Tuesday after an unexplained illness in a participant. An independent committee will review safety data.
Khensani Nkuna, 27, started the trial in July. She said she had not yet been personally told about the suspension, but added the unexplained illness was not worrying her since she had no symptoms.
13:15 GMT – Angola to reopen schools in October
Angolan authorities have decided to reopen schools in the country next month after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports.
“Classes will resume in phases and on alternating days. Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 will resume on October 5,” nation.africa news website quoted Education Minister Luísa Grilo as saying.
Classes for the grades 7 and 8 will resume on Oct. 19, she added.
Hello, this is Arwa Ibrahim, taking over our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic from my colleague Virginia Pietromarchi.
12:19 GMT – Climate change has not stopped for COVID-19: UN
Climate change is continuing unabated despite the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said the United Nations.
While daily global carbon dioxide emissions saw a 17 percent drop at the height of the lockdown in April, they were again nearing pre-pandemic levels by early June, according to a climate report by multiple UN agencies.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a foreword.
11:44 GMT – Netherlands sees surge in daily cases
The number of new coronavirus cases registered in the Netherlands surged to 1,140 in the past 24 hours, said the health minister, the highest daily total since April.
People wearing yellow vests hand out masks and information brochures urging people to wear the mandatory masks in the busiest streets of the city in Amsterdam, Netherlands [Eva Plevier/Reuters]
Hugo de Jonge announced the figures recorded by the National Institute for Health (RIVM) during a live video stream. “It’s not going the right way,” de Jonge said. A day earlier, the country recorded 964 cases, with cases rising quickly among young adults.
The RIVM said the increase was not tied to the reopening of primary schools across the country over the past three weeks.
11:05 GMT – UAE reports highest daily increase since May
The United Arab Emirates recorded 883 new infections, its highest daily increase in three months.
Daily infections in the Gulf Arab state have risen in recent weeks, after generally declining from a peak in May. As of today, the UAE counted 75,981 infections and 393 deaths.
Additional 85,917 Covid-19 tests were conducted by #UAE health authorities, revealing 883 new cases and bringing the total number of cases to 75,981 . The new cases identified are undergoing treatment. #UAEGov
— UAEGov (@uaegov) September 9, 2020
10:17 GMT – Fauci says vaccine pause unfortunate but a safety valve
US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said AstraZeneca’s decision to pause global trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine was unfortunate but not an uncommon safety precaution in a vaccine development process.
“It’s really one of the safety valves that you have on clinical trials such as this, so it’s unfortunate that it happened,” Fauci told CBS’s This Morning.
“Hopefully, they’ll work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial but you don’t know. They need to investigate it further.”
09:40 GMT – Indonesia’s latest figures
Indonesia has reported 3,307 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 203,342, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force website showed.
There were also 106 new deaths in Indonesia overnight, taking the total number to 8,336, the highest coronavirus death toll in Southeast Asia.
Workers in protective suits bury the body of a COVID-19 patient at Pondok Ranggon cemetery complex in Jakarta, Indonesia [Muhammad Adimaja via Reuters]
09:16 GMT – Russia’s RDIF to sell 32 million vaccine doses to Mexico firm
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund will sell 32 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik-V to a top pharmaceutical company in Mexico, Russia’s second vaccine export deal, a source close to the deal told Reuters.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the state sovereign wealth fund backing the vaccine’s development, signed its first export deal with Kazakhstan in August.
08:35 GMT – WHO says safety is ‘first and foremost’ priority
Safety of a prospective vaccine for COVID-19 comes “first and foremost”, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist has said, as a trial of a candidate from AstraZeneca was temporarily paused due to concerns over side effects.
“Just because we talk about speed … it doesn’t mean we start compromising or cutting corners on what would normally be assessed,” Soumya Swaminathan said during a social media event.
“The process still has to follow through rules of the game. For drugs and vaccines which are given to people, you have to test their safety, first and foremost,” she said.
08:13 GMT – Czech Republic reports daily record in new cases
The Czech Republic has reported a record one-day spike in COVID-19 infections, with 1,164 new cases, as it battles a surging spread of the coronavirus.
Europe: Several nations tighten measures as COVID-19 cases rise
The spike in Czech cases has been among the fastest in Europe, however, the death toll has remained lower than in many other EU countries, with 441 fatalities reported as of Wednesday from a total of 29,877 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Hospitalisations have risen in the past week but are still half the levels seen earlier in the pandemic.
07:50 GMT – Russia’s latest figures
Russia says 142 people have died from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 18,135.
Russia’s coronavirus taskforce reported 5,218 new cases, bringing its nationwide tally to 1,041,007, the fourth-largest caseload in the world.
A woman and a man wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus disease walk past a WWII monument in the town of Chekhov, some 70 km outside Moscow [Yuri Kadobnov/AFP]
07:35 GMT – Brazil: Former president criticises Bolsonaro’s handling of the crisis
Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva has accused Jair Bolsonaro of turning the pandemic into a “weapon of mass destruction”.
Sharing a video on social networks, Lula condemned Bolsonaro’s handling of a crisis that has killed almost 130,000 people in Brazil.
“Yes, it would have been possible to prevent so many deaths,” said the former president, adding that the country is “going through one of the worst periods in its history”.
Coronavirus: UK to roll out millions of 90-minute ‘rapid tests’
07:12 GMT – ‘We need to act now’: UK to announce tougher restrictions
Tough new lockdown restrictions on social gatherings across England are to be announced as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tries to control a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
From September 14, gatherings will be limited to no more than six people with fines for those who fail to comply as the number of cases in the UK has begun to rise sharply again in recent days.
Read the full story here.
06:43 GMT – The business of going out of business booms in S Korea
People drink outside as tougher social distancing rules announced on Friday continue in Seoul, South Korea [Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]
You Young-sik has tried his luck running businesses, but after his convenience store, a sausage factory and a second-hand furniture shop all failed, he realised he had found a niche, one that he understood well: helping people go out of business.
You says he is now busier than ever due to the resurgence of the coronavirus, tearing down sign boards and removing cash registers from shuttered hair salons, barbecue buffets and other enterprises whose business model was based around human contact.
Read the full story here.
06:15 GMT – Pause in AstraZeneca vaccine trial not necessarily a setback: UK health minister
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that AstraZeneca’s decision to pause its coronavirus vaccine trials was a challenge but would not necessarily set back efforts to develop a vaccine.
“It is obviously a challenge to this particular vaccine trial,” Hancock said on Sky News, when asked about the pause in the trial. “It’s not actually the first time this has happened to the Oxford vaccine.”
Asked whether it would set back the vaccine development process, he said: “Not necessarily, it depends on what they find when they do the investigation.”
05:20 GMT – Czech Republic reports record daily cases
The Czech Republic has just reported 1,164 new cases of coronavirus.
That is the highest number it has reported in a single day and comes as countries around Europe battle a resurgence of the disease.
05:05 GMT – India reports further surge in coronavirus cases
India’s health ministry has just released its daily coronavirus update.
It says it confirmed 89,706 new cases of coronavirus while 1,115 people died.
India has been reporting the world’s largest single-day increases in cases for a more than a month. Its death toll has also been rising by at least 1,000 a day for eight days straight.
04:30 GMT – WHO chief stresses need for testing, physical distancing
The World Health Organization’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has stressed again that governments can take concrete steps to tackle COVID-19 even before a vaccine becomes available.
Tedros was speaking by video to health ministers at the opening of the 73rd meeting of the WHO South-East Asia Regional Committee, which includes Indonesia, Thailand, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
“We need not wait for a COVID-19 vaccine. There are steps that countries can take. Prevent amplifying events. Save lives. Empower communities. Reinforce core measures and Isolate, test and trace” – WHO DG Dr Tedros at #RC73‘s inaugural session pic.twitter.com/7uFCRxSXww
— WHO South-East Asia (@WHOSEARO) September 9, 2020
03:45 GMT – Cathay Pacific to ship half its fleet to desert
Demand for international flights has collapsed along with the pandemic and border closures, and Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific is now studying plans to send as much as half its fleet to the Australian desert, according to the South China Morning Post.
Cathay has 180 passenger aircraft and said previously it would mothball about a third of them, but with little indication long-hail demand will recover it is planning to increase that number, the Post said.
The airline has already sent a number of planes for storage in Alice Springs.
03:05 GMT – Greece’s Moria refugee camp evacuated after fire
The Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos has been partially evacuated after a series of fires.
About 13,000 people live in the camp and are currently under a two-week quarantine after a case of coronavirus was confirmed on September 2.
Refugee support group Stand By Me Lesvos said on Twitter the entire camp was ablaze.
Fires at Greece’s overcrowded Moria camp, where a two week COVID-19 lockdown was imposed at the beginning of the month, have forced people to evacuate [Manolis Lagoutaris/AFP]
01:50 GMT – Biden accuses Trump of using vaccine as ‘political tool’
Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris have weighed in on the issue of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In a joint statement they accused Republican rivals Donald Trump and Mike Pence of using the vaccine as a “political tool”.
“We see it as a product of science and research,” they said. “Its timing, approval, and distribution should be without regard to political calculation.”
Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden has accused Trump of failing in his handling of the coronavirus and using a vaccine as a ‘political tool’ [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
01:20 GMT – South Korea cases below 200 for a week
South Korea has now managed to keep coronavirus cases below 200 for a week.
Numbers just in show the country reported 156 new cases on Wednesday as it deals with a wave of infections that began in the middle of last month and have been linked to a church and a right-wing political rally.
Conservative groups have planned another demonstration for early October, coinciding with the Chuseok festivities, one of the country’s biggest traditional holidays.
01:00 GMT – Pandemic threatens millions of children’s lives: UN
The United Nations says disruptions caused to health services because of the pandemic could reverse decades of progress in reducing child mortality and put millions of lives at risk worldwide.
New mortality estimates published by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank Group show deaths of under-fives fell to their lowest level on record in 2019. Last year around 5.2 million children died due to preventable illness, compared with 12.5 million in 1990.
“The global community has come too far towards eliminating preventable child deaths to allow the pandemic to stop us in our tracks,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director.
00:45 GMT – ‘Safety is the prority’: Reactions to AstraZeneca vaccine trial suspension
Lots of reactions have been coming in to the news that the phase three trials of AstraZeneca’s potential vaccine have been suspended.
Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth says he is “not worried about it” and that the temporary halt does not mean the vaccine is “off the table”.
“In some respects this is a very positive thing because it shows that despite the accelerated vaccine development, safety is the priority of the clinical trialists and investigators,” Coatsworth told Sky News.
We have no idea whether this is a big deal or not
Science is hard. This is why we have to let the trials play out
I remain optimistic we will have a vaccine found to be safe and effective in upcoming months.
But optimism isn’t evidence
Let’s let science drive this process. https://t.co/1fBbMybC9W
— Ashish K. Jha (@ashishkjha) September 8, 2020
Hmmm—Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial temporarily suspended because of 1 adverse event. “hold was placed on trial out of “an abundance of caution”
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) September 8, 2020
00:00 GMT – AstraZeneca vaccine trial suspended for safety review
AstraZeneca says it has “voluntarily paused” a clinical trial of the vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford after one of the volunteers developed an unexplained illness.
“As part of the ongoing randomized, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process was triggered and we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The vaccine has been seen as one of the most promising of those in development. You can read more on the suspension here.
UK coronavirus vaccine triggers immune response in trials
23:30 GMT (Tuesday) – Australia’s Victoria reports 76 new cases, 11 deaths
Victoria has reported 76 new cases of coronavirus and 11 deaths over the past 24 hours.
The state in southeastern Australia has imposed a strict lockdown and curfew in Melbourne to try and bring the disease under control.
#COVID19VicData for 9 September, 2020.
Yesterday there were 76 new cases reported and we are sad to report 11 lives lost. Our condolences to all those affected. More information will be available later today. pic.twitter.com/ikKiuRV4ZW
— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) September 8, 2020
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.
Read all the updates from yesterday (September 8) here.