Covid-19 news: This is the

4

The latest coronavirus news updated every day including coronavirus cases, the latest news, features and interviews from New Scientist and essential information about the covid-19 pandemic

Latest coronavirus news as of 5 pm on 27 July

Covid-19 is “most severe” global health emergency ever, says WHO director-general

Other coronavirus news

Advertisement

Coronavirus deaths

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Essential information about coronavirus

What are the worst symptoms and how deadly is covid-19? You could be spreading the coronavirus without realising you’ve got it How can countries know when it’s safe to ease coronavirus lockdowns? What does the latest research suggest about the coronavirus in pregnancy?

What to read, watch and listen to about coronavirus

The New York Times is assessing the progress of different vaccine candidates and potential drug treatments for covid-19, and ranking them for effectiveness and safety.

Coronavirus, Explained on Netflix is a short documentary series examining the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to fight it and ways to manage its mental health toll.

The Rules of Contagion is about the new science of contagion and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour. The author, Adam Kucharski, is an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and in the book he examines how diseases spread and why they stop.

Contagion: The BBC Four Pandemic is a sober documentary about the progression of a hypothetical pandemic which the BBC simulated in 2017. Fronted by science journalist and TV presenter Hannah Fry, and made with the support of some of the country’s best epidemiologists and mathematical modelers, it’s very relevant to today’s covid-19 pandemic.

Previous updates

Free flu vaccine for everyone over 50 in England

“This winter more than ever, with Covid-19 still circulating, we need to help reduce all avoidable risks,” Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said in a statement.

The NHS will contact people who are eligible to get a free vaccine, starting with those over 65 or at high risk because of a medical condition. Later it will be offered to people aged between 50 and 64 as well, and children in the first year of secondary school, as well as all primary school children.

Other coronavirus news

Discharging people from hospitals into care homes without testing led to many avoidable covid-19 deaths in England, . In submissions to a coronavirus inquiry, the Age UK charity said older people were “catastrophically let down”, and the British Medical Association said the government’s testing and tracing approach let the virus “spread unchecked.”

Coronavirus deaths

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Risk of second wave in England because of contact tracing failings

New figures out today show England’s covid-19 testing and contact tracing system is still failing to reach large numbers of people, sparking warnings from health leaders of a second wave of infections this winter.

Between 9 and 15 July, 3887 people were enrolled into the system , but only 80 per cent of their close contacts were reached. Although that is up from around three-quarters in the scheme’s initial weeks, the figures came in the wake of showing the system was reaching far fewer people in areas with high infection rates, with just 47 per cent reached in Luton. The continued failure to reach thousands of people drew criticism from the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS leaders.

Other coronavirus news

The French city of Lyon, meanwhile, has begun testing with a machine similar to a breathalyser , which could return tests in seconds.

Coronavirus deaths

Visits to care homes in England allowed to resume subject to approval Other coronavirus news Coronavirus deaths

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

UK could eliminate coronavirus : A group of independent scientists has suggested that the UK has the potential to become a covid-19-free zone – though this may not be a goal worth striving for. No country has truly eliminated the coronavirus from its shores and doing so would mean making such large sacrifices in other areas of public well-being that it may do more harm than good.

Humanity will be living with the coronavirus for “many years,” says health charity chief

“Things will not be done by Christmas,” Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a large biomedical health charity, and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told MPs today , speaking about the UK’s coronavirus pandemic. “This infection is not going away, it’s now a human endemic infection,” he said. Even if we had a vaccine or very good treatments, “humanity will still be living with this virus for very many, many years… decades to come,” he said. Farrar’s comments come after UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced further easing of restrictions in England last week and said he hoped for a “significant return to normality” by Christmas . Farrar was giving evidence to the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee as part of an on-going inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Other coronavirus news

England’s test and trace programme has breached data protection law , the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed in a letter sent to the Open Rights Group, a privacy campaign organisation. The initiative to trace the contacts of people diagnosed with coronavirus was launched without carrying out an assessment of its impact on people’s privacy. The Open Rights Group says this makes the programme unlawful as it is a requirement under the General Data Protection Regulation for any projects that process people’s personal data to carry out such an assessment. The group’s director Jim Killock told the BBC that this lack of “basic privacy safeguards” undermines public trust in the government, which is a “crucial element in the fight against the pandemic.”

Coronavirus deaths Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine candidate appears safe and induces immune response

A coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is in people, according to preliminary results from trials involving 1077 volunteers. People injected with the vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, made antibodies and immune cells against the coronavirus. The trial results were safe and activates an immune response published today in The Lancet . No serious side effects were found, although 70 per cent of people developed a fever or headache which could be managed with painkillers. It is not yet clear whether this vaccine candidate offers protection against infection with the coronavirus, and we won’t know whether it can stop people from becoming ill with covid-19 until we see the results of larger trials. Those trials will involve 10,000 people in the UK, 30,000 people in the US, 2,000 in South Africa and 5,000 in Brazil.

Other coronavirus news

A new nebuliser treatment for covid-19 reduced the risk of severe cases requiring a ventilator by 79 per cent in a preliminary trial of 101 patients in the UK. The treatment involves inhaling a protein called interferon beta, which is naturally produced in the body as part of the immune response to a viral infection. In the double-blind trial, half of the participants were given the protein and half were given a placebo. Those who received the drug were two to three times more likely to recover sufficiently to resume their everyday activities, according to Synairgen, the company behind the treatment. The coronavirus blocks the natural production of interferon beta in lung cells, according to Tom Wilkinson, professor of respiratory medicine at University Hospital Southampton, who led Delivering interferon directly to lungs is crucial because it is not possible to inject a high enough dose without serious side effects, he said. Although promising, the results must be treated with caution as the study size is small and the findings have yet to be peer-reviewed. “We accept this is not the largest study. It was an exploratory study,” Wilkinson said.

Coronavirus deaths

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

New plans announced for further easing of restrictions in England

“It is my strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest – possibly in time for Christmas,” Johnson said during a press conference at Downing Street today. But researchers have expressed concerns about the potential of a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections hitting the UK in winter. Johnson pledged an extra £3 billion of funding for the NHS in England to prepare for a possible second wave of coronavirus and to help ease winter pressures on the health service.

Other coronavirus news

The UK’s health minister Matt Hancock today ordered a review into how the daily coronavirus death figures are calculated , after a preliminary analysis revealed that the current method includes people who recovered from covid-19 and then died of another cause. As a result, Public Health England’s covid-19 death tally may be an overestimate. “Anyone who has tested covid positive but subsequently died at a later date of any cause will be included on the PHE covid death figures,” Carl Heneghan at the University of Oxford, one of the researchers behind the analysis, told .

Coronavirus deaths

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Scientists suggest young, healthy people could test coronavirus vaccine candidates Other coronavirus news Coronavirus deaths Moderna coronavirus vaccine candidate deemed safe in first human trial

A coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by US company Moderna and the US National Institutes of Health, a medical research organisation, is expected to become the first in the US to enter the final stage of clinical testing . Preliminary results suggested it is safe and able to induce an immune response against the virus. Moderna plans to enter phase III clinical trials on 27 July, and hopes to test the vaccine on 30,000 people, including those whose circumstances put them at high-risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. All 45 volunteers who received the experimental vaccine as part of the phase I trial for safety were found to have developed antibodies against the coronavirus in their blood, and none had serious side effects. These volunteers were younger adults, and preliminary tests on older adults are currently under review. “No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” US government health advisor Anthony Fauci told the Associated Press . There are currently 23 coronavirus vaccine candidates in clinical trials around the world.

Other coronavirus news

Face coverings will not be mandatory in offices in England , the UK’s health minister Matt Hancock told MPs on Tuesday. This followed the government’s earlier announcement that people in England will be required to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets starting on 24 July. “The reason is that in offices you tend to spend a lot of time with the same people, and so the way to stop the spread of the virus in offices is to have social distancing, either two metres or one metre plus mitigations in place,” Hancock said on today. Epidemiologist Rowland Kao at the University of Edinburgh says contact tracing is also more straightforward in offices. “Contact tracing is going to be vital in preventing a large outbreak,” says Kao, adding that reducing infections due to casual contact will play a big role in allowing contact tracing to work well.

Coronavirus deaths

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

Restrictions reimposed around the world as global cases pass 13 million Other coronavirus news

The coronavirus may be able to spread from a pregnant person to their fetus, suggests a case study published in Nature Communications . Tests of placental samples from this case study are consistent with transmission in the womb, physician and study author Daniele DeLuca at the Antoine Béclère hospital in Paris told the Guardian . DeLuca said he suspects this isn’t the first such case, but this is the first time it has been confirmed that coronavirus was transmitted in the womb. The baby who tested positive for covid-19 developed brain inflammation a few days after birth, but he and his mother have both since recovered. The study builds on earlier, more preliminary evidence that the coronavirus can be spread via the placenta .

Coronavirus deaths

Latest on coronavirus from New Scientist

People may soon have to wear face coverings in shops in England, says Boris Johnson Other coronavirus news

Antibodies against the coronavirus in a person’s blood may peak about three weeks after symptoms first appear, then decline rapidly, according to a preliminary study that hasn’t been peer-reviewed. The study, led by researchers at King’s College London , monitored antibody levels in the blood of 65 covid-19 patients and 31 healthcare workers who’d had a positive coronavirus antibody test, between March and June. Three months after antibody levels peaked, only 17 per cent of people tested still had an antibody response with the same level of potency against the virus, the study found. In some people, antibody levels fell 23-fold over the same time period. One concern is that a short-lived antibody response might limit the ability of a coronavirus vaccine to induce immunity. But alongside antibodies, there’s evidence that other parts of the body’s immune system – such as immune cells called T-cells – may also contribute to immunity against the coronavirus and could be harnessed by a future vaccine.

Coronavirus deaths

Click here to see previous daily updates