World News in Brief: September 25

Friday, 2020-09-25 16:06:49
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Scientists across the globe are working on developing a vaccine to halt the coronavirus outbreak.
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China's annual production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to reach 610 million doses by end-2020, the country's National Health Commission said on Friday (September 25). Production capacity of the vaccines is forecast to reach 1 billion doses per year by 2021, Zheng Zhongwei,Director General of the Development Centre for Medical Science and Technology of the commission, told a news briefing.

* Japanese researchers have developed a blood test they say appears to serve as an early warning system for serious cases of COVID-19, and deployed 500 prototype machines to trial its effectiveness nationwide. Researchers from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine initially tested for five compounds in the blood of 28 patients, finding that low readings of the serum CCL17 were predictive of serious coronavirus infections. The results suggested that early tests for the serum could help determine which patients will need hospitalization, they said in a paper published this month.

* Iran and Russia's sovereign wealth fund RDIF are discussing the joint production of a vaccine against COVID-19, Russian news agencies cited the Iranian ambassador to Moscow as saying on Friday. Thus far, Russia has struck a manufacturing partnership deal with India, which is due to produce 300 million doses of the 'Sputnik-V' vaccine domestically. It is also discussing such partnerships with several other countries, including Brazil.

* Democrats in the US House of Representatives are working on a US$2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that could be voted on next week, a key lawmaker said.

* Novavax started a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the UK in partnership with the government's Vaccines Taskforce.

* G7 finance ministers are expected to signal their support for extending a debt relief programme aimed at helping the poorest countries weather the pandemic, three sources briefed on the issue said.

* Russia's sovereign wealth fund said on Friday it had agreed to supply up to 35 million doses of the Russian experimental vaccine against COVID-19 to Uzbekistan's Laxisam, a pharmaceutical company. The deal is one of several agreed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) in recent weeks to supply the vaccine, which is currently being tested in a large-scale trial in Moscow, abroad.

* The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States topped 7 million on Thursday - more than 20% of the world's total - as Midwest states reported spikes in COVID-19 infections in September, according to a Reuters tally. The latest milestone comes just days after the nation surpassed over 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world's highest death toll from the virus. Each day, over 700 people die in the United States from COVID-19.

* India's coronavirus case tally surged to 5.82 million after it recorded 86,052 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Friday. A total of 1,141 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the ministry said, taking mortalities to 92,290, which is a relatively low 1.6% of all cases. Globally, India has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases, behind the United States where infections crossed 7 million on Thursday.

* Mainland China reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Sept. 24, compared with seven cases disclosed a day earlier, the national health authority said on Friday. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in mainland China now stands at 85,322, while the number of total deaths remained unchanged at 4,634.

* The mayor of Moscow urged businesses on Friday to get more people to work from home as Russia's daily tally of new coronavirus cases hit its highest since June 23. Officials reported 7,212 new infections, bringing the national case total to 1,136,048. In Moscow, the tally of new cases rose almost 50% overnight to 1,560 from 1,050 the previous day.

* Mexico surpassed 75,000 confirmed deaths, as the pandemic ravages Latin American nations with large informal economies where workers have grappled with the twin threats of hunger and contagion.

* Indonesia reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections for a third successive day with 4,823 new cases on Friday, taking the total to 266,845, data from the country's COVID-19 task force showed. The data added 113 new deaths, taking the total to 10,218, one of the highest death tolls in Asia.

* The Philippines' health ministry on Friday reported 2,630 additional novel coronavirus infections and 69 more deaths, the largest daily increase in casualties in six days. In a bulletin, the ministry said total confirmed cases in the Philippines have reached 299,361, the highest in Southeast Asia, while deaths have increased to 5,196.

* Poland reported a record daily rise in coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day on Friday, with the biggest spike in the central region of the country, the health ministry said. It reported 1,587 new COVID-19 infections, the biggest daily number since the start of the pandemic in March. In total the nation of 38 million people has registered 84,396 infections, including 2,392 deaths. The biggest spike was reported in central Poland with 295 new infections.

* Australia on Friday said it would simplify bank lending rules to free up credit in a bid to stimulate the economy, which slid into its first recession in nearly 30 years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The changes will ease the regulatory burden and reduce the cost and time faced by consumers and small businesses seeking to access credit, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

* Republic of Korea on Friday said it would impose tighter restrictions during the Chuseok autumn holiday weeks when people traditionally reunite with families, flagging the risks of new clusters of coronavirus infections. The new curbs apply to at least 11 high-risk facilities in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 114 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Thursday, bringing the country's total to 23,455, with 395 deaths.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 2,153 to 280,223, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday. The reported death toll rose by 15 to 9,443, the tally showed.

* Spain's cumulative tally of confirmed infections passed 700,000 and authorities warned of tougher times ahead in the virus hotspot of Madrid.

* The number of people hospitalised in France for COVID-19 went above 6,000 for the first time in more than two months and the prime minister warned the government could be forced to reconfine areas.

* The Czech Republic's daily count of new coronavirus cases rose to 2,913 on Thursday, the second highest figure on record, data from the Health Ministry showed. The total number of cases reached 58,374 in the country of 10.7 million, which has been experiencing a surge of infections in recent weeks after relaxing most anti-epidemic measures in the summer.

* The United States said on Thursday it would provide more than US$720 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis in Syria, plus nearly US$152 million for Africa's Sahel region and almost US$108 million for South Sudan. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun made the announcement on Syria at an event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. He said the money would go "both for Syrians inside the country and for those in desperate need across the region."

* Iran's death toll surpassed 25,000, the highest in the Middle East, with total cases spiking to 436,319.