19 cases in China, Europe tightens curbs – world news

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China reported 19 new coronavirus cases in the mainland for Monday – up from 13 infections a day earlier – the national health commission said on Tuesday, sparking renewed concerns. All of the new infections were imported.

The country also reported 24 new asymptomatic patients, compared with 33 a day earlier. As of Monday, mainland China had 85,704 confirmed Covid-19 cases, the health authority said. China’s coronavirus death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

In Italy, the northern Lombardy region prepared to impose a night-time curfew, the most restrictive measure the country has seen since emerging from a national lockdown in the spring. The curfew from 11pm to 5am is expected to begin on Thursday night and last till November 13.

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On the vaccine front, Moderna’s chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said he expects interim results from its vaccine trial in November and the US government could give an emergency use nod in December, The Wall Street Journal reported. Bancel said sufficient interim results from the study takes longer to get and the government’s nod to use the vaccine may not come until next year.

A World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Monday that Europe and North America should follow the example of Asian states by persevering with anti-Covid measures.

Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert, said, “Too many countries have put an imaginary finishing line… The countries in Asia, south Asia, the western Pacific that have been successful have really continued to follow-through on those key activities.”

‘Human challenge’ trial to fast-forward vaccine

Healthy, young volunteers aged 18 to 30 years in the UK are to be inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine candidate and then exposed to the virus in a controlled environment to expedite the eventual development of a safe and tested vaccine for the entire population.

The Boris Johnson government on Tuesday said that only a vaccine candidate that has proved safe in initial trials – such as the one at the University of Oxford – will be given to some 90 volunteers for the so-called “human challenge” trial.

Medics will closely monitor the effect on the volunteers 24 hours to see exactly how the vaccine works and to identify any side effects. The “human challenge” method of trial has long been used, including in colonial India to develop the vaccine for smallpox.

The trial is due to begin in January 2021, with results expected by May, officials said, adding that such human challenge studies have been performed safely and have played important roles in accelerating the development of treatments for diseases such as malaria, typhoid, cholera, norovirus and flu. Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said, “A safe, fully approved, and meticulously controlled human challenge model for Covid-19 that is conducted by experienced experts may help in the search for safe and effective vaccines.”

With inputs from Prasun Sonwalkar

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