More than 15 million coronavirus cases worldwide

 

Global cases of coronavirus have passed 15 million as America returns to its grim milestone of 1000 deaths from COVID-19-per day.

Officials warn that the spread or coronavirus shows no sign of slowing down internationally.

In the US the shocking death toll comes as states across the country report record-breaking numbers of new cases, particularly in those states where mask-wearing is shunned, such as Louisiana, Texas and Florida.

More state leaders are now making masks a requirement as testing labs and hospitals are raising the alarm and unable to cope with the massive influx of new patients.

Officials are again debating whether to send children back to school.

 

US GOVERNMENT MAKES MASSIVE VACCINE PURCHASE

The US federal government has placed a $1.95 billion ($A2.8bn) upfront order for 100 million doses of pharmaceutical company Pfizer's potential coronavirus vaccine under the Trump administration's push to have a shot ready by next year.

Americans would receive Pfizer's jabs for free under the deal announced on Wednesday, assuming the vaccine that is currently in development with the German biotech firm BioNTech gains federal Food and Drug Administration approval.

"We've been committed to making the impossible possible by working tirelessly to develop and produce in record time a safe and effective vaccine to help bring an end to this global health crisis," Dr. Albert Boula, Pfizer's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The deal, which also gives the US government the option to acquire up to 500 million additional doses, is the largest yet awarded under the government's aim to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine by January.

According to the New York Post, the Trump administration has committed billions of dollars in federal funding to four other companies racing to produce a vaccine, which is viewed as key to ending the deadly global pandemic.

BioNTech and Pfizer are working on four experimental COVID-19 vaccines, two of which have received "Fast Track" designation from the FDA to speed up their development.

The companies released data earlier this month showing that the most advanced vaccine candidate can produce "neutralising" COVID-19 antibodies in patients who receive it.

The firms said they expect to seek emergency authorisation or some kind of regulatory approval by October if their clinical studies are successful.

 

ECB HEAD SLAMS MALE LEADERS, SAYS WOMEN 'BETTER' AT VIRUS CRISIS

Women leaders are doing a better job of handling the coronavirus crisis, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said on Wednesday, praising her fellow females for their communication and caring.

The differences in policies and communication along gender lines were "quite stunning" in countries led by women, she said in an online interview with The Washington Post.

"I've learned that women tend to do a better job," she said.

Ms Lagarde, who is the ECB's first female president, singled out German Chancellor Angela Merkel for praise.

She cited Ms Merkel's science-based approach as an example of how "very honest, transparent" explanations on coronavirus data and infection rates helped members of the public appreciate why masks, social distancing and confinement measures were necessary."

The female leaders of Taiwan, Belgium and New Zealand had also "carried the water of bad news as well as the water of clear explanation and strong recommendations", she added.

Germany has weathered the coronavirus crisis better than many of its European neighbours, while Taiwan and New Zealand are considered success stories in the fight against the pandemic.

By contrast, observers have noted that male, populist leaders like US President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have struggled to contain the outbreaks in their countries.

Former French finance minister Lagarde, 64, said leadership was about "being both responsible and accountable".

 

VIC MARKS GRIM VIRUS MILESTONE AS NSW BATTLES CASES

It comes as Victoria saw 484 new cases of coronavirus yesterday - a record in daily numbers - and two more deaths.

Two males aged in their 90s connected to aged care homes passed away raising the state's death toll to 44.

Of the new cases, 97 are connected to known and contained outbreaks while the remainder are under investigation.

The previous daily increase record was set last Friday with 428 cases.

There are now 6739 cases of coronavirus in Victoria with 205 in hospital, including 40 in intensive care.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a record number of coronavirus cases. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a record number of coronavirus cases. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie

Premier Daniel Andrews expressed his disappointment at the new numbers.

"We're certainly not seeing numbers come down as we would like them to," he said.

The new cases are expected to include a large number of hospital workers.

NSW recorded 16 new cases of coronavirus yesterday.

Of the new cases in NSW, 91 coronavirus patients are receiving hospital treatment with two in intensive care.

One of the two ICU patients is receiving respiratory support.

The latest cases raise NSW's total number to 3425.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new cases were traced.

Two were linked to the Crossroads Hotel increasing the total number of cases in that cluster to 53.

"The one positive take from all of those cases is that there was one in hotel quarantine and the balance were from existing known clusters or existing known contacts," Ms Berejiklian said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian with NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian with NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

"So, fact that is not a new stream of outbreak is reassuring at one level, but I still want to state that the state is on high alert."

A couple staying safe in Sydney amid new outbreaks. Picture: Getty Images
A couple staying safe in Sydney amid new outbreaks. Picture: Getty Images

The premier warned the state is "not out of the woods" and urged the community to stay safe.

"Can I say in the most strongest way … that the next few weeks are the most critical in New South Wales since the lockdown earlier in March and April," she said.

"We remain on high alert and we have some level of anxiety as to the extent of community transmission.

"What is why it is important for all of us to play our part, whether we are a business, whether we are a patron or a member of a family. That pretty much clouds everybody in the state."

 

EU SEALS ECONOMIC LIFELINE

European leaders have emerged from a marathon four-day summit after agreeing on a historic rescue plan for EU economies left decimated by the global coronavirus pandemic.

AFP reports the 750 billion euro ($A1.2 trillion) deal was confirmed after intense negotiations that saw upsets from France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Austria over the terms of the package.

The EU pandemic rescue plan is the biggest since the Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, which was the US aid package provided to Western Europe after the destruction caused by World War II.

"These were of course, difficult negotiations in very difficult times for all Europeans," said EU Council Chief Charles Michel, who steered the talks over 90 hours towards a positive outcome.

 

Backed by EU heavyweights Germany and France, the package includes the biggest ever joint borrowing by the 27 members of the bloc.

The economic relief pact is a victory for French President Emmanuel Macron who has struggled to unite the European Union since coming to power in 2017.

"This is a historic change for Europe," Mr Macron told reporters in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that the pandemic has caused the biggest crisis in the history of Europe.

Not everyone was happy about the deal.

Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg tweeted her disappointment.

"As expected the #EUCO resulted in some nice words, some vague distant incomplete climate targets nearly impossible to track and a complete denial of the climate emergency," she tweeted.

The package will funnel billions of euros to the countries hit hardest by coronavirus, especially pandemic frontrunners Spain and Italy.

The package will be ratified by the European parliament, after more scrutiny, on Thursday.

 

 

 

AUSSIES MAY HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE FOR VACCINE

Australia may have to rely on an Indian drug manufacturer to get access to the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, which has reported positive results in early human trials.

Trials on 1077 people conducted in the UK found that the vaccine provided a spike in immunity similar to that found in people who recovered from the COVID-19 infection.

The success, published in medical journal The Lancet, was a significant step forward, after Oxford University researchers repurposed a vaccine they had been developing for years for other illnesses.

These trials have tested whether the vaccine is safe but have not proven it actually prevents a person becoming infected with the SARS COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

In this screen grab from video issued by Britain's Oxford University, a volunteer is injected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: AP
In this screen grab from video issued by Britain's Oxford University, a volunteer is injected with an experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: AP

Trials in over 10,000 people to test the vaccine's effectiveness are already underway and the Oxford team hopes it will have the evidence it needs to prove the vaccine works by December.

A key risk is that people given the vaccine may develop a more severe form of COVID-19, - the very problem encountered with vaccines developed for the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Australia's CSIRO has been testing for this side effect in ferrets but it would not comment on the outcome when asked by News Corp, it is waiting to publish the results in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

 

 

 

 

However, the fact that the vaccine is proceeding into further human trials suggests this problem did not occur in animal testing.

The Oxford team is so far leading the COVID-19 vaccine race.

However, if the vaccine proves successful Australians may have to wait in line to gain access to it.

Oxford University has done a deal with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to provide the vaccine to UK residents.

It also has a deal with an Indian company Serum Institute to produce one billion doses to supply the rest of the world.

India currently supplies 60 per cent of the world's vaccines for all other conditions.

Australia's vaccine manufacturer CSL is capable of producing the Oxford vaccine, but has no official agreement with the British team at this stage.

"Collaborating with University Queensland in support of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate program is CSL's priority - while there is a long way to go, early progress is showing promise," said Dr Anthony Stowers, Vice-President of Recombinant Product Development at CSL.

 

 

However, he said if CSL could obtain bulk supplies of the Oxford vaccine it could put it into vials at its Sequirus facilities in Melbourne.

The CSIRO is investigating whether it can scale up its research plant to produce mass volumes of any COVID-19 vaccine.

"Those are questions we're trying to answer now," Dr Rob Grenfell, CSIRO's Health and Biosecurity Director said.

 

 

 

 

"Take a step back 100 years to the Spanish influenza pandemic. And that's exactly what the federal government was asking at that stage and that's when CSL and CSIRO were born," he said.

While the latest trial results on the Oxford vaccine were promising "what we really need is data that shows that people that have been vaccinated, get significantly lower rates of infection than those that haven't been," Dr Grenfell said.

Originally published as More than 15 million coronavirus cases worldwide

The premier with Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos looking on. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie
The premier with Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos looking on. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Currie


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