Pfizer, BioNTech could submit vaccine for approval by Oct – latest updates

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Global pandemic has now infected over 16.6 million people and has killed more than 656,000. Here are the latest updates for July 28: This May 4, 2020 photo from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the first patient enrolled in Pfizer and BioNtech’s Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, receives an injection. (AP) Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Australia's Victoria state reports 384 new cases

Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria reported six deaths in the last 24 hours and 384 new cases compared with a record 532 cases a day earlier.

The state reported the country's highest daily increase in infections a day earlier, prompting authorities to warn a six-week lockdown in the state may be extended.

Mexico reports almost 5,000 new cases in last 24-hours

Mexico's health ministry reported 4,973 new cases and 342 additional deaths, bringing the country's total cases to 395,489 and death toll to 44,022.

Mexico has the fourth highest death tally worldwide.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Bolivian prison inmates riot over coronavirus exposure

The death of an inmate suspected of having the virus prompted rioting in four of the most populated prisons in Bolivia's Cochabamba region over access to medical care, a government watchdog said.

Local media showed images of inmates climbing to the roofs of the prisons, calling for medicine and access to doctors.

«We urge the entry of medical teams to do an evaluation inside the prison facilities to prevent more deaths,» said Cochabamba ombudsman Nelson Cox.

Eight inmates in total have died with symptoms according to Cox, spiking concerns that the virus will spread throughout the prison population.

«There are no doctors, there are no medicines. They are dying inside,» said Susana, a relative of a prisoner in the San Sebastian prison who declined to give her last name. «It is not possible to let them die. We are human beings.»

Authorities have reported more than 60 deaths due to the coronavirus in Bolivia's prison system, which is overcrowded at more than 240% capacity. There have been several other deaths in recent months that were not confirmed as caused by the virus due to a lack of testing.

Pfizer, BioNTech begin late-stage study of vaccine candidate

German biotech BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer Inc said they would begin a pivotal global study to evaluate their lead Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

If the study is successful, the companies could submit the vaccine for regulatory approval as early as October, putting them on track to supply up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

Patients are each given two doses of the drugmakers’ vaccine to help boost immunity, so the first 100 million doses would vaccinate around 50 million people.

The study is expected to include about 120 sites globally and could include up to 30,000 participants. It will include regions heavily impacted by Covid-19.

Virus-linked hunger tied to 10,000 child deaths each month

All around the world, the virus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meager farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with AP ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.

Further, more than 550,000 additional children each month are being struck by what is called wasting, according to the UN, malnutrition that manifests in spindly limbs and distended bellies. 

Over a year, that’s up 6.7 million from last year’s total of 47 million. Wasting and stunting can permanently damage children physically and mentally, transforming individual tragedies into a generational catastrophe.

«The food security effects of the Covid crisis are going to reflect many years from now,» said Dr. Francesco Branca, the World Health Organization head of nutrition. «There is going to be a societal effect.»

FDA warns Americans of toxic hand sanitisers

US health officials are warning Americans again to avoid a growing list of imported hand sanitisers that may be contaminated with the toxic chemical methanol.

The Food and Drug Administration said there have been increasing reports of injury due to people using, sometimes ingesting, the unauthorised sanitizers, which can lead to blindness, heart problems and death.

The active ingredient that kills germs in legitimate sanitisers is ethyl alcohol, which is consumable. But some Mexican companies have been replacing it with poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol, which is used in antifreeze.

The FDA first issued a consumer warning about the products last month.

Last week the agency issued a warning letter to Mexican manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV for marketing sanitiser containing more than 80% methanol and falsely claiming that it was «FDA approved.»

The FDA has posted a «do-not-use» list of more than 80 sanitisers on its website and blocked their importation. The agency said it is working with retailers to recall products remaining on US store shelves. The illegitimate gels generally don’t list methanol as an ingredient on their packaging.

USTA cancels more tournaments

US Tennis Association has cancelled two lower-tier tennis tournaments in Orlando, Florida, saying that the pandemic makes it too dangerous to hold the events without a bubble setup.

The USTA says ATP Challenger 150 tourneys that were supposed to start on August 22 and August 29 at its national campus are being scrapped.

The USTA said the sort of «proper risk mitigation» that it plans for the US Open, the Grand Slam tournament scheduled to begin in New York on August 31, «would logistically and financially be difficult to create» for smaller events.

The group also cited «the current rates of Covid-19 in Florida.»

Cases in Brazil near 2.5M mark

Brazil reported a total of 2,442,375 cases and 87,618 deaths, as cases continue to rise in the world's second most affected country.

Brazil reported 23,384 new cases and 614 new deaths.

Kenya extends lockdown

Kenya’s president has extended the country’s curfew for 30 days, and alcohol sales in restaurants are banned, as he criticises «reckless» behavior amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke days after Africa’s top health official said confirmed cases are rising «very, very quickly» in East Africa’s economic hub.

They now number more than 17,000.

Kenyatta suggested that Kenya’s relatively low case fatality rate of 1.6% has given people «false comfort that this is not a serious health risk.»

He appealed to economic concerns, warning there will be «little tourism, scarce investment and falling trade if our headlines start to match those of countries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.»

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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