Merck said that should make it equally effective against new variants of the virus as it evolves in the future.
Trial results suggest molnupiravir needs to be taken early after symptoms develop to have an effect. An earlier study in patients who had already been hospitalized with severe Covid was halted after disappointing results.
Merck is the first company to report trial results of a pill to treat Covid, but other companies are working on similar treatments. Its US rival Pfizer has recently started late-stage trials of two different antiviral tablets, while Swiss company Roche is working on a similar medication.
The company has said it expects to produce 10 million courses of molnupiravir by the end of 2021. The US government has already agreed to buy $1.2 billion worth of the drug if it receives approval from the regulatory body, the FDA.
Merck said it is in ongoing discussion with other countries and has also agreed licensing deals with a number of generic manufacturers to supply the treatment to low and middle-income countries.
Speaking at a press conference on July 22, Zeng Yixin said he was extremely surprised by the WHO proposal because it focused on alleged violations of China’s laboratory protocols.
He said it was “impossible” for China to accept the terms, adding that the country had submitted its own origins-tracing recommendations.
“We hope the WHO would seriously review the considerations and suggestions made by Chinese experts and truly treat the origin tracing of the Covid-19 virus as a scientific matter, and get rid of political interference,” Reuters quoted Zeng Yixin as saying.
Yuan Zhiming, director of the National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, also appeared at the press conference. He said the virus was of natural origin and maintained no virus leak or staff infections had occurred at the facility since it opened in 2018.
More than 4 million people have died worldwide since the start of the pandemic and the WHO has faced growing international pressure to further investigate the origins of the virus.
Americans are advised to avoid 80% of countries worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a note to the media about the US state department’s updated travel guidance, it said the pandemic continued to “pose unprecedented risks to travelers”.
The current US “Do Not Travel” advisory covers 34 out of 200 countries.
Covid-19 has now claimed more than three million lives worldwide – more than half a million of them in the US.
The WHO warned the world was “approaching the highest rate of infection” so far, despite the global rollout of vaccination programs.
The state department said its decision to update its travel advisories was to bring it more in line with those from the CDC and “does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country”.
However, it said the move would “result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide”. Anyone planning to travel to a country in the remaining 20% is advised to reconsider before proceeding.
The state department has not revealed which countries will be added to Level 4 – the highest of its four risk levels. Guidance will be issued individually for each country in the next few days.
Currently, only three places in the world are assessed at the lowest tier – Level 1, which advises “Exercise normal precautions”. They are Macau, Taiwan and New Zealand.
Even Antarctica is at Level 2 – “Exercise increased caution”, an extra warning to exercise caution because of the risk of terrorism.
The CDC currently recommends all Americans refrain from travelling domestically until they have been fully vaccinated and warns that international travel “poses additional risks” even for those vaccinated.
In addition, all air passengers coming to the US, including US citizens, must have a negative Covid test result or documentation of recovery from the virus before they board a flight.
While more than 860 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered in 165 countries worldwide, many countries are still struggling to contain the virus.
Brazil has recorded the third-highest number of cases and, at 368,749, the second-highest number of deaths in the world.
Canada has also reported a recent rise in cases and Papua New Guinea has been highlighted as a cause for concern.
While some countries – such as Israel and the UK – have secured and delivered doses to a large proportion of their population, many more countries are still waiting for their first shipments to arrive.
India has become the “fastest country in the world” to administer more than 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, amid a deadly second wave of infections.
The country achieved the feat in 85 days, whereas the US took 89 days and China 102 days, the Indian health ministry said.
However, India reported a record daily increase of over 150,000 cases – and more than 800 new deaths – on April 11.
There are reports the vast vaccination drive itself is struggling.
This week, half a dozen states reported a shortage of doses even as the federal government insisted that it had 40 million doses in stock and that the “allegations” of vaccine scarcity were “utterly baseless”.
The inoculation drive aims to cover 250 million people by July, but experts say the pace needs to pick up further to meet the target.
Everyone aged over 45 is now eligible for immunization at vaccination centers and hospitals. Most doses have so far been given to frontline workers and the over-60s.
The third phase – which began on April 1 – opened amid a sharp uptick in Covid-19 cases. India has been reporting an average of more than 90,000 cases every day since then.
On April 4, India became the second country after the US to report 100,000 new cases in a single day. More than half of those were confirmed in Maharashtra, which has India’s largest city Mumbai as its capital.
The country’s caseload had dropped sharply by the time it began vaccinating people early this year. It was adding under 15,000 infections daily. But cases began to spike again in March, largely driven by poor test-and-trace and lax safety protocols.
Experts say India’s second wave is being fuelled by people being less cautious – and mixed messaging by the government.
Since the pandemic began, India has confirmed more than 12 million cases and over 167,000 deaths. It’s the third-highest number of Covid-19 infections in the world after the US and Brazil.
India launched its vaccination program on January 16, but it was limited to healthcare workers and frontline staff – a sanitation worker became the first Indian to receive the vaccine.
From March 1, the eligibility criteria was expanded to include people over 60 and those aged between 45 and 59 with other illnesses.
The third phase included everyone above the age of 45.
India’s drugs regulator has given the green light to two vaccines – one developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University (Covishield) and one by Indian firm Bharat Biotech (Covaxin). Several other candidates are at different stages of trials.
Germany’s vaccine committee (Stiko) has advised giving the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine only to people aged 60 + because of a risk of rare blood clots.
The German drugs regulator found 31 cases of a type of rare blood clot among the nearly 2.7 million people who had received the vaccine in Germany.
Canada earlier suspended use of the AstraZeneca jab in people under 55.
AstraZeneca said international regulators had found the benefits of its vaccine outweighed risks significantly.
The company said it was continuing to analyze its database to understand “whether these very rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia occur any more commonly than would be expected naturally in a population of millions of people”.
“We will continue to work with German authorities to address any questions they may have,” AstraZeneca added.
The EU and UK medicine regulators both backed the vaccine after previous cautionary suspensions in Europe this month.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency stressed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine continued to outweigh the risk of side effects.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is one of the most widely used coronavirus vaccines in the West, and is meant to be supplied on a not-for-profit basis to the developing world.
The EU’s rollout of its vaccination program has been dogged by delays because of delivery and production problems, and Germany is among several states now fearing a third wave of infections.
On March 30, Italy’s PM Mario Draghi and his wife, who are both 73, received their first doses of AstraZeneca in a display of confidence in the vaccine.
Ahead of the Stiko announcement, the German cities of Berlin and Munich, and the region of Brandenburg, halted use of the vaccine in people below the age of 60.
“After several consultations, Stiko, with the help of external experts, decided by a majority to recommend the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine only for persons aged 60 years and older on the basis of available data on the occurrence of rare but very severe thromboembolic side effects,” the committee said, as quoted by Reuters.
“Regarding the question of administering the second vaccine dose to younger persons who have already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, Stiko will issue a supplementary recommendation by the end of April.”
Germany was one of the European states which briefly suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month pending an EMA review into the possible link to blood clots.
When the EMA declared the vaccine “safe and effective”, Germany and others resumed its use but investigations continued.
The German medicines regulator, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, has found 31 cases of cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT) among people who received AstraZeneca in Germany.
Almost all the cases are reportedly in younger and middle-aged women.
France already limits use of AstraZeneca to those aged over 55.
France and Poland have re-imposed partial lockdowns as both countries battle a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.
In France, some 21 million people in 16 areas, including Paris, are affected as the country fears a third wave.
In Poland, non-essential shops, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities are now closed for three weeks.
Poland has the highest new daily rates of Covid-19 cases since November 2020.
Covid-19 cases are also rising exponentially in Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel warning it is likely that the country will now need to apply an “emergency brake” and re-impose lockdown measures.
The vaccine rollout across the EU has been hindered by delayed deliveries, as well as the suspension in several countries of the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, over fears of possible side effects.
In France, the partial lockdown took effect from midnight on March 19.
Trains leaving Paris for parts of the country where lockdown restrictions do not apply, such as Brittany and Lyon, were reportedly fully booked hours before the measures were due to come into effect.
Traffic jams were reported on several roads leaving the capital.
The new restrictions are not as strict as the previous lockdown, with people allowed to exercise outdoors.
Non-essential businesses are shut, but schools remain open, along with hairdressers if they follow a “particular sanitary protocol”.
France has reported more than 4.2 million infections since the start of the outbreak, with nearly 92,000 Covid-related deaths, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the US.
In Poland, the three-week lockdown began on March 20.
Polish health officials earlier warned the nationwide restrictions were necessary because of a rampant British variant of Covid-19 in the country. The variant now makes up more than 60% of infections.
Poland has had more than two million confirmed infections, and nearly 49,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Germany said on March 19 it was now classifying neighboring Poland as high risk. This means that from March 21 anyone crossing the border from Poland must provide a negative coronavirus test.
Despite assurances from the European medicines regulator that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, some countries remain reluctant to resume their campaigns using the jab.
Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the Netherlands are among the countries that have restarted their AstraZeneca vaccination campaigns.
Health authorities in France have recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine be offered only to people aged 55 and over.
Finland’s health authority has announced a pause in its use of the vaccine that will last at least a week. That move, which follows two reports of blood clots in patients who had received the jab in the country, was said to be a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, Sweden, Denmark and Norway said on March 19 that they needed more time to determine whether they should resume AstraZeneca inoculations.
On March 20, Denmark said that two members of hospital staff in Copenhagen had developed blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has reviewed the AstraZeneca vaccine over fears of a link to blood clots and found it was not associated with a higher risk of clots.
If you were offered a COVID-19 vaccine, would you take it? Research paints a mixed picture. In one poll mentioned by The Drum, 28% of 18- to 34-year-old respondents in the UK said they would reject a vaccine if offered one. However, marketers can play a major part in encouraging vaccine uptake.
Ultimately, the success of vaccines in helping to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to a close will depend on how many people take them. Here is how pharmaceutical companies, medical providers and healthcare agencies could persuade members of the general public to do exactly that.
Vaccine hesitancy: a challenge predating the COVID-19 pandemic
You don’t have to look far beyond the COVID-19 picture to see examples of skepticism about vaccines in general. Such reticence has, in some instances, led an array of vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles, to re-emerge.
In 2019, long before the current pandemic erupted, the World Health Organization ranked vaccine hesitancy among the ten leading threats to global health.
It’s unsurprising, then, that Glen Halliwell, business unit director at Publicis healthcare agency Langland, believes that government and health services must engage in “broad education” about the COVID-19 vaccine – including “what it is for, what it will protect you against, how to get it and how many injections are required to be protected.”
He added: “Critical here is ensuring we reach the members of the community where English is not their first language, or where cultural or religious concerns regarding vaccine ingredients may lead to some hesitation.”
What threshold do we need to reach to achieve herd immunity?
Lee Fraser, who has served as Digitas Health’s chief medical officer since 2014, insists: “In order for vaccines to be successful in ending the pandemic, we will need to get vaccination rates into the mid-70% range at a minimum.”
However, he warned: “In a climate where we have seen a decline in the public’s belief in science and erosion of fact in favor of social and public opinion, studies suggest only 60% of people are currently willing to get a vaccine.”
Which marketing strategies could help – and which probably wouldn’t?
While some individual vaccines have been given their own branding by marketers, WPP Health Practice’s international chief executive officer Claire Gillis says: “I actually think that the important brand is the corporate brand. Go to the doctor and ask for the ‘Pfizer vaccine’.”
Meanwhile, though the UK government’s reported attempt to apply patriotic livery to each AstraZeneca vaccine kit would unlikely have been of much use, the UK’s National Health Service has, more encouragingly, decided to partner with influencers to promote vaccine adoption.
Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year. The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries. Vaccination will begin tomorrow across the EU. The #EUvaccinationdays are a touching moment of unity. Vaccination is the lasting way out of the pandemic.”
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on December 26: “This really is a happy Christmas message. At this moment, trucks with the first vaccines are on the road all over Europe, all over Germany, in all federal states. Further deliveries will follow the day after tomorrow.
“This vaccine is the crucial key for defeating the pandemic. It’s the key for us getting back our lives.”
Health workers in north-east Germany decided not to wait for December 27 and started immunizing elderly residents of a nursing home in Halberstadt.
The authorities in Slovakia also said they had begun vaccinating.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio urged his compatriots to get the vaccine: “We’ll get our freedom back, we’ll be able to embrace again.”
In Hungary, the first recipient of the vaccine was a doctor at Del-Pest Central Hospital on December 26, the state news agency says.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda contracted the virus in October and went into self-isolation.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has spent two months in hospital in Germany after catching the disease in October – last week he appeared in video for the first time since testing positive, saying he hopes to return to Algeria soon.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei tested positive in September – despite calling himself “high-risk” he did not appear to suffer a severe case.
President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro,tested positive in July and spent more than two weeks quarantining in his residence.
In June, the outgoing President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, died of an illness suspected by many to be Covid-19.
Russia’s PM Mikhail Mishustin contracted the virus in April and was admitted to hospital with moderate to severe symptoms.
UK PM Boris Johnson tested positive in March – he spent three nights in intensive care in a London hospital, later saying he owed the health workers there his life.
As Mike Pence was receiving his vaccine, President Donald Trump incorrectly said on Twitter that the Moderna vaccine was “overwhelmingly approved” with “distribution to start immediately”. It is still awaiting final approval from the FDA.
More than 310,000 people have died with coronavirus in the US, which has recorded more infections and fatalities than any other country. More than 17 million cases have been recorded in the country since the start of the pandemic.
VP Pence, 61, received the first of two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab at 08:00 local time, along with his wife Karen and Dr. Adams. He is the most senior US official to be vaccinated so far.
He said: “We gather here today at the end of a historic week to affirm to the American people that hope is on the way.”
“Karen and I were more than happy to step forward before this week was out to take this safe and effective coronavirus vaccine that we have secured and produced for the American people,” he continued, calling it “a truly inspiring day”.
Top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, and CDC Director Robert Redfield were in the audience to observe the doctors from Walter Reed hospital perform the injections.
Both men elbow-bumped Mike Pence and his wife after their jabs. President Trump did not attend the event.
Dr. Fauci said in brief remarks: “We want virtually everyone eligible to get this vaccine ultimately.
“By the time we get to several months into this [coming] year we will have enough people protected that we can start thinking seriously about the return to normality.”
Earlier this week, President Trump reversed a plan for senior members of his administration to be among the first to receive the vaccine “unless specifically necessary”.
The president, who contracted coronavirus in October and recovered after hospital treatment, said he was not scheduled to take the jab but looked forward to doing so “at the appropriate time”.
Many of his support base have doubts about the efficacy and safety of vaccines.
President-elect Joe Biden, who at 78 is in a high-risk group from Covid-19, is expected to be vaccinated next week.
The US Covid-19 vaccination has began, as the country gears up for its largest ever immunization campaign.
Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse in Long Island, New York, is believed to have been the first person to be given the vaccine.
Millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are being distributed, with 150 hospitals expected to receive them on December 14.
The US vaccination program aims to reach 100 million people by April.
Covid-19 fatalities are nearing 300,000 in the US, which has by far the world’s highest death toll.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received emergency-use authorization from the FDA on December 11.
President Donald Trump tweeted following the news from New York: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”
The roll-out of the vaccine comes as the epidemic continues to ravage the US. Deaths have been rising sharply since November and the number of people in hospital with the disease has also continued to grow steadily, with more than 109,000 people currently admitted, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, received the vaccine live on camera. Footage was streamed on the Twitter feed of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state was the epicenter of the US epidemic in the first wave earlier this year.
She said: “It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine.
“I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part.”
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – a collaboration between a US pharmaceutical giant and a German biotechnology company – offers up to 95% protection and is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved by US regulators.
The vaccine is already being rolled out in the UK, while Canada is also beginning its inoculation program on December 14, with an initial 30,000 doses going to 14 sites across the country.
Anita Quidangen, a caregiver at the Rekai Centre nursing home in Toronto, was the first to receive the vaccine in Canada.
The first three million doses in the US are being distributed to dozens of locations across all 50 states by cargo plane and truck.
British and Russian scientists are teaming up to trial a combination of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines to see if protection against Covid-19 can be improved.
According to the researchers, mixing two similar vaccines could lead to a better immune response in people.
The trials, to be held in Russia, will involve over-18s, although it’s not clear how many people will be involved.
Oxford recently published results showing their vaccine was safe and effective in trials on people.
The researchers are still collecting data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in older age groups while waiting for approval from the UK regulator, the MHRA.
AstraZeneca said it was exploring combinations of different adenovirus vaccines to find out whether mixing them leads to a better immune response and, therefore, greater protection.
The Oxford vaccine, developed in partnership with AstraZeneca, and the Russian Sputnik vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow, are similar because they both contain genetic material from the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein.
They work differently to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has been approved in the UK, Canada, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and recommended for approval by medical experts in the US.
Early results from late-stage trials of the Russian vaccine have shown promising results.
Russia was the first country to register a Covid vaccine for emergency use – in August, despite only having been tested on a few dozen people.
Sputnik V is now being offered to Russians as part of a mass vaccination campaign.
AstraZeneca said it was “working with industry partners, governments and research institutions around the world, and will soon begin exploring with Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia to understand whether two adenovirus-based vaccines can be successfully combined”.
Joe Biden has vowed 100 million Covid-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days in office.
The president-elect said his first months in office would not end the outbreak and gave few details on a rollout plan but he said he would change the course of Covid-19.
Introducing his health team for when he takes office on January 20, Joe Biden urged Americans to “mask up for 100 days”.
On December 8, a report paved the way for a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be approved and rolled out for Americans.
Emergency authorization for its use could be issued by the FDA on December 10, with the country’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci saying mass vaccination could start as soon as next week.
Also on December 8, President Donald Trump attended a summit at the White House of his Covid-19 vaccination program, Operation Warp Speed, and hailed the expected approval of vaccines. His administration hopes to vaccinate as many as 24 million people by mid-January.
According to Johns Hopkins University research, the US has recorded more than 15 million cases so far and 285,000 deaths, both global highs.
Many parts of the US are seeing peak infections, with record numbers of people in hospital, with some experts blaming travel by millions over the recent Thanksgiving holiday.
At a news conference in Delaware on December 8, Joe Biden laid out how he plans to address the pandemic in his first 100 days in office. That period is traditionally seen as a benchmark for new presidents to make their mark with new policies and ideas.
He vowed to get “at least 100 million Covid vaccine shots into the arms of the American people”.
Last week, Joe Biden complained he had been given no rollout plans by the Trump administration. Operation Warp Speed’s top scientist Moncef Slaoui has still to meet the Biden team and is expected to do so this week.
Getting children back to school would also be a priority, he said.
Joe Biden also introduced California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his nomination for health secretary and his choice of Rochelle Walensky as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Among his other aides will be Dr. Anthony Fauci as chief Covid medical adviser. The expert also advised the Trump team and often fell foul of the president for his views.
Getting 100 million vaccines to Americans in just over three months is not expected to be easy. The large geographical size of the US and the logistics of rolling out a new vaccine could present challenges in achieving the goal.
Rudy Giuliani is being treated in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer is the latest person close to the president to be infected.
Since November, Rudy Giuliani, who has led the Trump campaign’s legal challenges to the election results, has been on a cross-country tour in an effort to convince state governments to overturn the vote.
Like other Trump officials, he has been criticized for shunning face masks.
President Trump, who got the virus in October, announced the diagnosis in a tweet, writing: “Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!”
The former New York mayor was admitted to the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC on December 6.
The news came after he had visited Arizona, Georgia and Michigan all in the past week – where he spoke to government officials while not wearing masks.
Following news of Rudy Giuliani’s diagnosis, the Arizona legislature announced sudden plans to shut down for one week. Several Republican lawmakers there had spent over 10 hours with him last week discussing election results.
Following Rudy Giuliani’s visit to Phoenix, Arizona, the state’s Republican party tweeted a photo of him with other mask-less state lawmakers.
In a tweet, the 76-year-old thanked well-wishers for their messages, and said he was “recovering quickly”.
He wrote: “Thank you to all my friends and followers for all the prayers and kind wishes. I’m getting great care and feeling good. Recovering quickly and keeping up with everything.”
Rudy Giuliani’s son, who works at the White House and tested positive for the virus last month, tweeted that his father was “resting, getting great care and feeling well”.
He wrote: “My Dad @RudyGiuliani is resting, getting great care and feeling well. Thank you to all the friends who have reached out concerned about his well being.”
On December 6, Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, criticized the Trump administration for flouting guidelines and peddling “myths” about the pandemic.
She told NBC: “I hear community members parroting back those situations, parroting back that masks don’t work, parroting back that we should work towards herd immunity.”
“This is the worst event that this country will face,” she said.
Dozens of people in President Trump’s orbit are said to have tested positive for Covid-19 since October.
Boris Epshteyn, another Trump adviser, tested positive shortly after appearing alongside Rudy Giuliani at a news conference on November 25.
Others include the president’s chief of staff Mark Meadows and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, along with First Lady Melania Trump and sons Donald Jr. and Baron.
Rudy Giuliani, 76, has not commented publicly on his diagnosis.
It is not clear whether the former New York mayor is experiencing symptoms, whether he is self-isolating or when he caught the virus.
Since the November 3 election, Rudy Giuliani has travelled the country as part of efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat. During many of his events, he was seen without a face mask and ignoring social distancing.
On December 3, he travelled to Georgia where he repeated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud at a Senate committee hearing about election security.
Dozens of people in Trump’s orbit are said to have tested positive for Covid-19 since October, including his chief of staff Mark Meadows and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
First Lady Melania Trump and sons Donald Jr. and Baron also contracted the virus.
President Trump’s own diagnosis upended his unsuccessful campaign for a second term in office, less than a month before he faced Joe Biden in the presidential election.
President-elect Joe Biden has announced he will ask Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office to curtail the spread of coronavirus.
Joe Biden told CNN he believed there would be a “significant reduction” in Covid-19 cases if every American wore a face covering.
He also said he would order masks to be worn in all government buildings.
The US has recorded 14.1 million cases and 276,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the highest of any country in the world.
Joe Biden is preparing to take office as pharmaceutical giants are poised to ship millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to the American public.
In his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris since the election, Joe Biden said: “The first day I’m inaugurated to say I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days.
“And I think we’ll see a significant reduction if we occur that, if that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably.”
The first 100 days of a new presidency is symbolically important in the US and is seen as a gauge of how a president will get things done.
However, constitutional experts say the president has no legal authority to order Americans to wear masks, but Joe Biden said during the interview he and his Vice-President Kamala Harris would set an example by donning face coverings.
The president’s executive authority does cover US government property, and Joe Biden told CNN he intended to exercise such power.
He said: “I’m going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked.”
He added: “Transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked, airplanes and buses, et cetera.”
US airlines, airports and most public transit systems already require all passengers and workers to wear face coverings.
The Trump administration has rejected calls from American health experts to mandate masks in transportation as “overly restrictive”.
Earlier on November 20, Andrew Giuliani, a special assistant to President Donald Trump, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Andrew Giuliani, the son of the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, tweeted that he was experiencing mild symptoms after receiving his positive test on November 20.
According to CBS News, at least four other White House aides have tested positive for Covid-19 in a new outbreak there.
Earlier this month, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was among several aides who tested positive for the infection. https://emp.bbc.com/emp/SMPj/2.36.3/iframe.html President Trump spent three nights in hospital at the beginning of October after being hit by Covid-19. First Lady Melania Trump also had a bout of the infection.
Last month, Donald Trump Jr. was criticized for downplaying the US coronavirus death toll.
In an interview with Fox News, he argued that the media was focusing on the caseload, while ignoring the mortality rate.
Donald Trump Jr. said: “I was like, ‘Well, why aren’t they talking about deaths?’ Oh, oh, because the number is almost nothing. Because we’ve gotten control of this, and we understand how it works.”
The virus has infected 11.8 million Americans and killed more than 253,000.
On November 20 alone, 192,000 people tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
President Donald Trump’s son Barron had Covid-19 but has since tested negative, First Lady Melania Trump revealed.
Melania Trump said her “fear came true” when 14-year-old Barron tested positive for the new coronavirus.
However, the first lady said, “luckily he is a strong teenager and exhibited no symptoms”.
Both the president and first lady also tested positive for coronavirus – as well as other White House staff – but have since recovered.
At a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, President Trump said: “He [Barron] had it for such a short period of time.”
The president said his son had had a mild case of the virus: “I don’t even think he knew he had it because they’re young and their immune systems are strong and they fight it off.”
He added: “Barron is beautiful and he is free.”
President Trump cited his son’s recovery as a reason why American schools should reopen as soon as possible, a move opposed by teachers’ unions who fear their members could be infected by students.
He told the crowd: “Barron’s tested positive. Within, like, two seconds it was Barron is just fine now. He’s tested negative, right?
“Because it happens. People have it and it goes. Get the kids back to school.”
Melania Trump revealed Barron’s positive test result in an essay entitled “My Personal Experience with Covid-19” on the White House website.
After the first lady and the president received their positive results two weeks ago, she said “naturally, my mind went immediately to our son”.
Melania Trump said it was a “great relief” when Barron initially tested negative, but was concerned he would later test positive for the virus.
“My fear came true when he was tested again and it came up positive,” she said, adding that Barron exhibited no symptoms.
“In one way I was glad the three of us went through this at the same time so we could take care of one another and spend time together,” the first lady wrote.
Melania Trump also reflected on her own diagnosis. She said she experienced a “roller coaster of symptoms”, including body aches, a cough and fatigue.
“I chose to go a more natural route in terms of medicine, opting more for vitamins and healthy food,” she wrote.
In her statement, Melania Trump also said the “most impactful part” of her recovery was “the opportunity to reflect on many things – family, friendships, my work, and staying true to who you are”.
She said she would be resuming her duties as soon as she could.
While the first lady remained in the White House, President Trump spent three days at Maryland’s Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after his own Covid-19 diagnosis. He received a number of different drug treatments, including dexamethasone, a steroid, antiviral treatment remdesivir and monoclonal antibody therapy.
The president’s personal doctor said on October 11 that he was no longer a Covid transmission risk to others, and he returned to the campaign trail on October 12, telling supporters he felt “powerful”.
An event at the White House on September 26, for the unveiling of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, was thought to be the root of the localized outbreak of coronavirus.
The White House press secretary, former Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway and two senators were among the people around the president who tested positive for the virus.
Opinion polls suggest President Trump is trailing his Democratic opponent Joe Biden barely three weeks before the November 3 presidential election, but polling is close in several key states.
Joe Biden did not have any public campaign events on October 14, but held a virtual fundraiser and delivered taped remarks to an American Muslim association. The Biden campaign announced that it had raised a record-breaking $383 million in September.
The Democrat was expected to spend much of the day preparing for October 15, when he and President Trump will take part in rival televised town hall-style events.
The two candidates have struck different tones on the pandemic, with President Trump downplaying its severity and Joe Biden criticizing him for not encouraging Americans to wear masks and social distance.
The US has recorded more than 7.8 million coronavirus cases and more than 215,000 deaths – the highest figures of any country in the world.
Nearly 6,000 scientists and health experts have joined the Great Barrington Declaration – a global movement warning of “grave concerns” about Covid-19 lockdown policies.
They say the approach is having a devastating impact on physical and mental health as well as society.
Experts are calling for protection to be focused on the vulnerable, while healthy people get on with their lives.
The declaration has prompted warnings by others in the scientific community.
Critics have pointed out that a more targeted approach could make it difficult to protect vulnerable people entirely and the risk of long-term complications from coronavirus mean many others are also at risk.
The declaration recommends a number of measures to protect the vulnerable, including regular testing of care-home workers, with a move as far as possible towards using staff who have acquired immunity.
Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered, it says.
When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside.
Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, should be practiced by everyone.
However, young low-risk individuals should be allowed to work normally, schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching, sports and cultural activities could resume and restaurants reopen.
The WHO says it is too early to know if people who have recovered from Covid-19 are protected from a second infection, and if so, how long this protection might last. President Trump’s own medical team does not consider him to be fully recovered yet.
He also promised that vaccines were “coming momentarily”, although the CDC has said no vaccine is expected to be widely available before the middle of next year.
Before leaving hospital, President Trump told Americans in a tweet not to fear the disease and said he would be back on the campaign trail “soon”.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden said he was “glad” the president appeared to be “coming along pretty well”.
However, Joe Biden criticized President Trump, saying: “Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them.”
According to US public health guidelines, President Trump should remain in isolation for up to 10 days after symptoms first appear. The White House says the president first started to appear ill on October 1, and later tested positive.
His physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said on October 5 that the president, whose oxygen levels dipped twice over the weekend, would be “surrounded by world-class medical care 24/7” at the White House.
Dr. Conely refused to answer questions about when President Trump last received a negative test or to go into the specifics of his treatment. He would not offer details regarding the president’s scans to check for pneumonia, citing patient protection laws.
President Donald Trump has been flown to Walter Reed Military Hospital for treatment after testing positive for coronavirus.
The president tweeted after his arrival: “Going well, I think!”
According to recent reports, his symptoms include a low-grade fever.
President Trump has so far been treated with an experimental drug cocktail injection and the antiviral medication remdesivir after both he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19.
In exactly one month, President Trump faces Joe Biden in the presidential election.
His diagnosis has upended his campaign and also cast doubt on his attempt to get a new Supreme Court judge confirmed before polling day.
The latest update from President Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, in a memorandum late on October 2, read: “I am happy to report the president is doing very well.”
He said the president was not in need of supplemental oxygen.
President Trump was taken to hospital “out of an abundance of caution” with “mild symptoms” and would be there for the “next few days”, the White House said.
The list of other people to have tested positive around the president include close aide Hope Hicks – believed to be the first to show symptoms – campaign manager Bill Stepien and former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis have also tested positive.
President Donald Trump remains in charge. VP Mike Pence, to whom under the constitution the president would transfer power temporarily should he become too ill to carry out his duties, tested negative.
Wearing a mask and suit, President Trump walked out across the White House lawn on October 2 at 18:15 to his helicopter, Marine One, for the short flight to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center close to Washington DC.
He waved and gave a thumbs-up to reporters but said nothing before boarding the aircraft.
In an 18-second video posted to Twitter, President Trump said: “I think I’m doing very well. But we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much.”
Ivanka and Eric Trump re-tweeted his post, praising him as a “warrior”. Ivanka Trump added: “I love you dad.”
Donald Trump Jr. said his father was “obviously taking it very seriously”.
The president was admitted to the presidential suite at Walter Reed, which is where US presidents usually have their annual check-up.
Shortly before midnight, he tweeted again: “Going well, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!”
Dr. Sean Conley, said the president was “not requiring any supplemental oxygen, but in consultation with specialists we have elected to initiate remdesivir therapy. He has completed his first dose and is resting comfortably”.
Tests have shown remdesivir, originally developed as an Ebola treatment, disrupts the new coronavirus’s ability to duplicate and can cut the duration of symptoms.
On October 2, Dr. Conley said President Trump had “as a precautionary measure received an 8g dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail” at the White House.
Spain’s federal government has imposed new restrictions on more than three million people living in Madrid as the country tries to control the most serious second wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe.
From this weekend, people living in the Spain’s capital can travel outside their home districts for essential journeys only.
Bars and restaurants cannot serve after 10PM. A maximum of six people are permitted to meet in any setting.
The measures have been demanded by Spain’s federal government.
They also take effect in nine towns around Madrid.
The restrictions have been resisted by Madrid’s city authorities, which tried to use the courts to block their imposition. Madrid’s justice minister said it would cost the capital’s economy €8 billion and regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso wrote on Twitter: “Thanks for the chaos, [Prime Minister] Pedro Sánchez.”
Signs of the second wave of coronavirus infections now breaking over Spain can be seen at the emergency admission unit of the 12 de Octubre hospital, one of the biggest in Madrid.
Every hour ambulances arrive with new patients.
Some of the patients are helped into wheelchairs; others, already needing oxygen, have to be stretchered in by medical staff wearing full protective gear.
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