| Covid-19 wrap: WHO doesn’t know enough to evaluate Russia’s vaccine, UK’s pupils return to school

Reuters reports that The World Health Organisation has not received enough information on the Russian Covid-19 vaccine to evaluate it, the assistant director of its regional branch, the Pan American Health Organisation, Jarbas Barbosa, said on Tuesday.

Asked about plans to produce the potential vaccine in Brazil, Barbosa said that should not be done until Phase 2 and 3 trials are completed to guarantee its safety and effectiveness.

“Any vaccine producer has to follow this procedure that guarantees it is safe and has the WHO’s recommendation,” he said in a virtual briefing from Washington.

Meanwhile, AFP reports that any WHO stamp of approval on a Covid-19 vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data review, after Russia announced Tuesday it had approved a vaccine.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia had become the first country to approve a vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the new coronavirus.

“We are in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO pre-qualification of the vaccine,” the United Nations health agency’s spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva at an online press briefing.

“Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data.”

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has been developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the country’s defence ministry.

An Egyptian man, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 cor

A total of 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, according to the latest WHO overview produced on 31 July.

Of those, 139 are still in pre-clinical evaluation, while the other 26 are in the various phases of being tested on humans, of which six are the furthest ahead, having reached Phase 3 of clinical evaluation.

The Gamaleya candidate being produced in Russia, which is among the 26 being tested on humans, is listed as being in Phase 1.

Covid-19 returns to New Zealand after 102 days

AFP reports that New Zealand’s dream run of 102 days without locally transmitted coronavirus ended Tuesday, prompting a stay-at-home lockdown order for the country’s largest city.

After receiving global praise for successfully containing the virus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said four cases had been detected in a single family in Auckland from an unknown source.

“After 102 days, we have our first cases of Covid-19 outside of managed isolation or quarantine facilities… we have also planned and prepared for it,” Ardern said.

As a result of the infections, mobile phones nationwide received an emergency text that set off blaring alerts and said “if you are in Auckland STAY HOME… and SAVE LIVES”.

Until Tuesday, the World Health Organisation had hailed New Zealand as an example to others for having “successfully eliminated community transmission”.

It has reported just 22 deaths in a population of five million and had previously held off community transmission since 1 May.

Mexico to conduct late-stage trials for China, US Covid-19 vaccines

Reuters reports that Mexico will conduct late-stage clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines in development by Johnson Johnson and two Chinese companies, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Large-scale, phase three human testing for the JJ unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals’s candidate could start in the second half of September, the company has previously said.

A Kid dressed as the Hindu god Krishna along with

Mexico will also help test candidates for Chinese companies Cansino Biologics Inc and Walvax Biotechnology Co Ltd, the ministry said in a presentation at a news conference.

UK schools begin with full return despite cases

AFP reports that Scottish children began attending schools for the first time in five months on Tuesday as leaders across Britain try to kickstart a return to education despite coronavirus cases increasing again.

Scotland’s devolved government has ordered pupils in different parts of the UK nation to return gradually through this week, with all classes set to have resumed fully by next Tuesday.

In neighbouring England, where plans to restart schooling in June had to be abandoned following opposition from teaching unions and some parents, the government is adamant kids will return in early September.

But the reopenings come as Britain, which has recorded the highest death toll in Europe from Covid-19 with more than 46 000 fatalities, fears the start of a resurgence.

Officials recorded more than 1 000 new cases in 24 hours for the first time Sunday since June, as a months-long lockdown has been gradually eased in the subsequent weeks.

Restrictions have been reimposed during that time in some local areas in central and northern England, as well as in the Scottish city Aberdeen last week, where pubs and restaurants had to close and travel restrictions were renewed.

However across Scotland, which has recorded more than 19 000 cases and 2 491 deaths, there have been no fatalities from the virus in more than three weeks.

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