COVID-19: Vaccine Phase II Trials Underway in Wuhan, BJ Scho...

Source: People's Daily, Xinhua, CGTN, China Daily, Global Times, CBS, iFeng, Baidu, Global  News Agencies, Majdi


Italy Reports Lowest Number of Coronavirus Deaths Since March 19 

Italy has reported the lowest number of coronavirus deaths since March 19, with 431 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours, down from 619 the previous day. 

According to the Civil Protection Agency, the death toll since the beginning of the outbreak stands at 19,899, the second highest after that of the United States.

The total number of infections reached 156,363, of which 34,211 have recovered.

COVID-19 Vaccine Phase II Trials Underway in Wuhan

[Global Times] Over 100 volunteers began Phase II clinical trials on Sunday

The random, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II trial does not require 14-day quarantine for centralized medical observation as medical personnel will visit the volunteers and provide consultations.

The volunteers received injections on Sunday, unaware of their dosage amount, according to the double-blind experiment procedures, Global Times learned. 

Phase II will include 500 volunteers and use a placebo group to help evaluate the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Huang Shiyue, an 18-year-old student and one of the youngest volunteers, underwent a physical examination on Sunday that included nucleic acid testing, an HIV test, and a blood and urine tests. 

"There are also strict requirements for height and weight, and your body mass index (BMI) must be between 18 and 30. Underarm temperature cannot be above 37C. I feel lucky and excited to be selected from over 50,000 applicants, Huang told the Global Times.

After receiving the injections, the volunteers had their body temperatures checked and underwent observation for adverse reactions for 30 minutes before they were released. 

Huang remained under observation after she began feeling dizzy, and her heartrate increased, experienced diarrhea symptoms. Medical experts said she would have a fever for the next 24 hours, which is a typical reaction. 

The Phase I trials found the vaccine causes fever, pain, redness, and swelling. The higher dosage group was more prone to fever, but majority of them returned to normal conditions within 24-hours, making the Phase II clinical trial ultimately restrain its recipients in medium-dose group (250 cases), the low-dose group (125 cases), and the placebo control group (125 cases).

The 'letter of appreciation' given to volunteers from phase 1

Three medical workers kept me company after the side effect turned out. They monitor my heart rate at intervals and dispelling my initial slight fears, Huang said, explaining that researchers and volunteers use a WeChat group to provide updates on their body temperatures and to receive consultations should they experience any side effects. The research team has also provided commercial insurance for the volunteers.

Medical experts will observe the volunteers, and visit them on day 14, day 28, and at the end of the six-month period. The volunteers will receive 500 Yuan ($71) as reimbursement for each blood test.  

The Phase I trial aimed to evaluate the safety and immunization of the vaccine, while the Phase II and III will assess its effectiveness, a Beijing-based immunology expert who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times. 

The last group of Phase I volunteers ended their 14-day quarantine on Thursday. Many of them have become internet celebrities on Weibo for live-streaming their experiences. The vaccine research team announced they were accepting volunteers on March 17.

The development of the recombinant vaccine involved inserting the novel coronavirus' DNA encoding antigen into other microorganisms to create a new virus, which will not infect receivers with the disease , according to experts.  

A Rush of Local News

Beijing's Senior High Schools Open on April 27

Senior high school students in Beijing are set to return to classes on April 27, according to local officials on Sunday.  Meanwhile, senior students in middle school are scheduled to return to campus on May 11.

Chinese mainland reports 108 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 98 imported cases, and 61 new asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.

The 10 cases of local transmissions were registered in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province with seven, and south China's Guangdong Province with three. 

Heilongjiang Province reported 49 imported COVID-19 cases from Russia on Sunday, according to local health authorities. All are Chinese nationals, bringing total confirmed cases in the province to 493.  The provincial government said Monday that Suifenhe-Grodekovo checkpoint at the border between China and Russia will remain closed.

A Rush of News

There are 585 sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt who have tested positive for coronavirus as of Sunday, according to a statement from the US Navy. 92% of the aircraft carrier's crew have been tested for coronavirus, the statement said.

Starting Monday, New York City all city workers who come in contact with the public while on duty to wear face coverings.

South Korea: From Monday midnight, everyone traveling from the US will be required to test for coronavirus within three days of entry. Previously, only travelers coming from Europe were required to do the test while from US were required to self-isolate but only test for coronavirus if symptomatic. 

India: The state of Maharashtra, Punjab and Odisha have extended their lockdown until the end of April.

Myanmar said on Sunday that the quarantine period in the country will be extended from 14 days to 28 days to prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing nationagreed on Sunday to cut output by a record amount, 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for May-June, representing around 10 percent of global supply, to support oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jordan extended until the end of April a month-long lockdown that has seen the closure of schools, universities and government agencies.

Somali state minister dies from coronavirusThe justice minister of Somalia's autonomous Hirshabelle state, Khalif Mumin Tohow, has died after contracting the novel coronavirus.

Sri Lanka made cremations compulsory for coronavirus victims, despite protests from the country's Muslim population which says the rule goes against Islamic tradition.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways will operate special flights to BrusselsDublin, LondonTokyo and Zurich between April 14 and 22. A limited number of outbound-only flights for those wishing to leave the country after suspending regular service last month. 

Kia Motors told its labor union that it wants to suspend operations at three of its factories in South Korea as the outbreak hits exports to Europe and the U.S.

The Trump administration views May 1 as a target date for relaxing stay-at-home restrictions across the United States, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn said on Sunday.

Hard-Hit Countries/Regions Official Announcements

Note: The news under this section are according to official reports in these countries; the numbers might not necessarily correspond to the data in the Global table, at the top of this article, which is calculated based on Beijing 24 hours time zone at around 10:00 AM. 

Spain recorded 619 deaths in the past 24 hours, according to new data from the Spanish Health Ministry on Sunday.  This is the highest daily death toll for the past three days and represents a 3.7% increase. The total number of fatalities stands at 16,972. There are currently 86,656 active cases in the country, and 62,391 people have recovered.

Russia reported its largest daily increase in cases since the outbreak began on Sunday, with the number of confirmed coronavirus jumping by 2,186 within 24 hours. This brings the total number of cases to 15,770, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Germany reports 2,821 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, total to 120,479 as of Sunday, according to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases. That was lower than an increase of 4,133 cases reported on Saturday, and marked the second decline after four days of increases. The reported death toll rose by 129 to 2,673 in the country.

Turkey coronavirus cases rose by 4,789 to 56,956 in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The number of deaths reached 1,198 from 1,101 the previous day. So far, 3,446 people have recovered, the minister said.

Netherlands: The number of confirmed cases has topped 25,587, health authorities said on Sunday, with the number of deaths rising by 94 to 2,737. The rate of increase in infections and deaths has slowed for several days helped by social distancing measures

Iran's death toll has risen by 117 in the past day to 4,474, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur has said. The country has recorded 71,686 cases.

Indonesia has reported 399 new cases of the coronavirus, its biggest daily jump so far, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 4,241, according to data provided by a health ministry official, Achmad Yurianto.

Philippines reports highest single-day death toll with 50 coronavirus deaths, taking the toll to 297. In a bulletin, the health ministry said 220 new infections took the tally of virus cases to 4,648. But 40 more patients recovered, for a total of 197 recoveries.

France records lowest daily increase in coronavirus deaths since early April

France recorded 561 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, according to the nation's Health Ministry, bringing the countrywide total to 14,393.

This is the lowest recorded daily increase in deaths since the start of April.   

We are seeing the start of a very high plateau, the ministry said in a statement.

While the outbreak continues to leave the country "hard hit," containment efforts, including drastic social distancing efforts, are starting to have an impact, the ministry said.\\There are 6,845 patients in intensive care, a drop of 38 overall, the ministry said.

Walt Disney World to Furlough 43,000 Employees

The entrance to Disney World in Orlando is seen empty on March 16, the first day the theme park was closed. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Walt Disney World will temporarily furlough 43,000 employees at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando effective April 19. 

Disney has reached agreements with several unions for hourly cast members that will maintain members health insurance benefits coverage, educational support and additional employee assistance programs during a temporary furlough effective April 19, a statement from a Disney spokesperson reads.

UK Prime Minister Discharged from Hospital 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on March 25. Peter Summers/Getty Images

PM Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital on Sunday after being treated for coronavirus, including three nights in intensive care.

I have seen the personal courage not just of the doctors and nurses but of everyone, the cleaners, the cooks, the health care workers of every description physios, radiographers, pharmacists who have kept coming to work, kept putting themselves in harms way, kept risking this deadly virus," Johnson said.

Johnson used the message to personally name some of the health care workers who looked after him, including two nurses one from New Zealand and one from Portugal who stood by his bedside.

Johnson will now spend some time recovering at the prime ministers countryside retreat.

Global health official warns that Covid-19 may stalk "the human race for quite a long time to come"

David Nabarro in 2017 Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Dr. David Nabarro, the World Health Organizations special envoy on Covid-19, warned that the virus will not necessarily come in waves like influenza.

In an interview on NBC, Nabarro said the WHO thinks it is going to be a virus that stalks the human race for quite a long time to come, until a vaccine is developed.

Moving forward, he said there will be small outbreaks sporadically, and it is crucial that every community has a defense shield to isolate cases and prevent a large outbreak.

Spain begins gradual steps towards loosening coronavirus restrictions

Patients walks around a field hospital in Madrid on April 11. A. Ware/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Spanish government has started to loosen some of the toughest restrictions on peoples movements imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic starting this week. 

People who cant work at home and whose places of employment are reopening may return to work after the Easter holidays. The move is aimed at such sectors as construction and manufacturing but non-essential retail outlets, bars and places of entertainment must remain closed. Restaurants can only offer take-out. Hairdressers will only be able go to clients homes but cant open their salons and banks will have a minimum service with only a few branches open.

Pope gives Easter prayer for the infected

Pope Francis leads the Easter vigil Mass in St Peter's Basilica with no public participation [Reuters]

Pope Francis offered a Easter Sunday prayer for those killed and suffering from the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 100,000 people worldwide.

"Today my thoughts turn in the first place to the many who have been directly affected by the coronavirus: the sick, those who have died and family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones, to whom, in some cases, they were unable even to bid a final farewell," the pope said in a livestreamed message from an empty Saint Peter's Basilica. 


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