A Weekly COVID Report by PPE Needed — Week 38
In Case You Didn’t Follow the News — Here’s What Happened During the 3rd Week of September
Global COVID-19 Cases Soar
As of last week, there have been more than 30 million COVID-19 infections — with 21 million recovered and almost a million dead. The novel coronavirus is spreading faster and faster, and reaching almost every country in the world — 188 out of 195.
India, in particular, has gained an infamous global spotlight. It has been holding the world primate for the highest number of cases per day since last week, but experts speculate the numbers are probably much higher than reported. Nationals who have recovered have reported a “ COVID recovery trauma” due to the severity of the coronavirus in that area, especially now that oxygen is lacking. Moreover, as most of the medical attention go to coronavirus, missed pre-natal check-ups have also led to a rise in stillborn births — a trend that is stepping in around the globe.
Africa has seen 1.4M total cases — but mortality rates seem lower than in other areas, and South Africa is easing some of their health and safety policies after a drop in cases. To add to the good news, Australia’s daily coronavirus cases are also the lowest they have been in three months. North America, on the other hand, is not doing so well. Canada is struggling to keep up with the pandemic, and the US has set both the record for daily coronavirus tests and the total number of cases. Nearby, Latin America has been dubbed “ the new epicenter of the pandemic “.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has issued a warning for Europe, calling the new surge a “ very alarming situation. As France has had a new record of daily cases, the UK foresees 50,000 daily cases by next month, and Belgium has topped 100,000 cases total, the European second wage is well on its way — but Europe is resistant to old restrictions.
COVID Policies Worldwide
Although the spread and severity of the novel coronavirus can no longer be argued, the ways to best tackle it has long been discussed. Every country has taken its own approach, with variable results. For example, the WHO has recently issued a warning for the recent reopening of most Latin American economies, admonishing their timeline. Most places are looking at shutting down at least partially again — from Athens to Madrid. One notable exception: New Zealand is reopening everything outside of Auckland.
To understand these policy differences, it is useful to look at the broader picture and put economics into the equation. New Zealand’s policies make a lot more sense once we know that they are in the worst recession they have seen in years. In fact, although the OECD reports that the economy has been recovering faster than expected, countries are facing unforeseen uncertainties.
Those who pay the price of this uncertainty are often the most vulnerable, such as the unemployed, migrants, and displaced people. COVID-19 has exacerbated structural inequalities, and governments everywhere have considered that when making controversial decisions, such as schools reopening. Although children together have created some COVID-19 clusters, In Kenya, for example, school closings had led to a rise in FGM. Everywhere else, according to the WHO, an educational crisis was looming, as well as an increase in violence against children.
What About Vaccines?
New vaccines have become the new hope for the future, but the possible timeline is still muddy. As the WHO suggests that we might not have enough vaccines until 2022, the Serum Institute warns that it will take until 2024 to vaccinate everyone — and UK’s health minister talks about a return to normality by next year. As of right now, two of the biggest hurdles to mass vaccination are distribution methods and “ vaccine nationalism “ — and according to Gavi’s CEO, governments will have to make some hard choices about who should be prioritized.
The actual development of a vaccine, on the other hand, keeps advancing. Amidst skepticisms, Russia has recently stricken a deal to sell 1.2 billion doses of their vaccine, which is still in the trial phase. Driven by their state of emergency, moreover, the UAE will be soon starting to give out an experimental vaccine from China to their frontliners.
In the Western hemisphere, AstraZeneca has put their US tests on hold after a volunteer developed neurological issues — which had a ripple effect in Europe, as some volunteers decided to withdraw from J&J trials in Spain. On the other hand, CureVac has recently received the green light from Germany and Belgium to start local vaccine trials — and in Italy, Moderna has published their experimental protocols.
Research, Palliatives and Other Good News
As we wait for vaccine research to deliver more good news, there has been a distinct step forward in our understanding of the virus. The CDC has recently released new COVID-19 guidelines taking into consideration airborne transmission, and new research has suggested that masks may be working even better than previously thought. As well as protecting from heavier droplets, mask use might foster an early form of immunization to COVID-19 through variolation — the exposure to small particles of the virus and the subsequent partial immunity.
More good news is coming from the technical sciences. Scientists in Singapore developed a swab test robot that may shield frontliners from virus exposure, and DreamLab has completed the first phase of their AI, aimed at researching potential C-19 treatments. Finally, scientists at the Imperial College London have developed CovidNudge — a device that, in only 90 minutes, can test as accurately as the more widespread swabs.
Want to Help?
As Professor Chris Whitty said, there is no such thing as “individual risk” in a pandemic. That’s why we have to be careful and provide the best available PPE to our frontliners. If you want to help out, please check out and share our free platform and our GoFundMe page — or consider joining us!
Originally published at https://learn-more.ppeneeded.com on September 24, 2020.