COVID-19: Vaccine Could Take 'Years', Health Minister Warns

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


Germany Warns Vaccine Could Take 'Years'

Germany's health minister said developing a vaccine for the coronavirus could take "years", after US President Donald Trump predicted it could be achieved by the end of 2020.

"I would be delighted if it was possible to achieve this in a few months," Jens Spahn said on ARD television.    

"But it can also take years as there can, of course, be setbacks, as we have seen some with other vaccines," he said. 

"The development of vaccines is one of the most challenging and difficult tasks in medicine."

A Rush of Local News

One new imported COVID-19 case was registered on the Chinese mainland on Monday, according to China's National Health Commission. 

The commission also reported 15 new asymptomatic patients and no new death. 

Hong Kong's economy contracted 8.9 percent in the first quarter, the biggest quarterly decline on record. 

Hubei Opens Schools: Senior high schools in Wuhan will open for graduating students on Wed, the first batch of schools reopen in the city after COVID-19 happened. Other schools in the city will open in batches later, Hubei authority announced Mon. The first batch of students need to receive a nucleic acid test before returning to school. Those who test positive will be isolated and treated in designated places, and have online class.

100+ Million Trips: Over 19 million trips were made by domestic tourists in #China, with over 8 billion Yuan ($1.1 billion) in tourist revenue on Monday.  A total of 100 million trips were made worth over 43 billion Yuan in the first four days of the 5-day May Day holidays. 

Shanxi Confirmed 1 Case: One more COVID19 patient with a health code from Hubei Province was confirmed on Sunday after arriving in N. China's Shanxi Province for 20 days. 20 close contacts have been quarantined.

Donations to Fiji: Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo said the Chinese government donated 300,000 U.S. dollars cash to the Fijian government to support its combat against COVID-19. Qian handed 52 carton boxes of medical supplies with a total value of about 270,000 Fijian dollars (about 119,880 U.S. dollars) to further support Fiji's effort in going through the pandemic.

A Rush of News

The Expo 2020 Dubai has been postponed by a year because of the outbreak and will now be held from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, the Paris-based organiser said.

Japan announced it will extend its nationwide state of emergency until May 31.

New Zealand reported no new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the first time in 49 days, with the total number of infections staying at 1,487. 

Germany took a further step in easing restrictions with museums and hairdressers reopening under strict conditions, churches opening their doors for worshippers, and more car factories resuming work.

Romania will not extend a state of emergency past its May 15 expiry date, but will impose a "state of alert" allowing some modest relaxation of restrictions, President Klaus Iohannis said.

South Korea said it will reopen schools in stages starting from May 13. 

The 2021 aquatics world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, will now be held from May 13-29, 2022, swimming's governing body FINA said in a statement.

Malaysian businesses, including restaurants, have been told they can reopen from Monday providing they adhere to requirements on social distancing, hygiene and contact tracing.

Germany's border checks will continue until at least next Friday, May 15, the Interior ministry said. Germany is part of the European open-border Schengen area, which imposed emergency border checks to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

US Vice President Mike Pence has admitted during a Fox News town hall that he should have worn a mask on his visit to the Mayo Clinic last week. Pence said he originally didnt think it was necessary because he is tested for the coronavirus frequently, but went on to say, I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic. 

Ukraine has extended its nationwide lockdown until May 22 but has agreed to loosen some restrictions starting on May 11 which will include the reopening of parks, some specialist shops and cafes for take out services.

Most of Vietnam's 22 million students returned to class on Monday after a three-month closure. Eighteen of the country's 63 provinces and centrally-run cities opened all schools Monday, while 30 others reopened primary schools and kindergartens, after secondary school students went back to class in late April.

Students wearing face masks sit inside a classroom at the Marie Curie school in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 4, as schools reopened. Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images


General Electrics aviation unit plans to slash its workforce by 25% this year as the coronavirus pandemic threatens demand for new aircraft. The 13,000 job cuts will be permanent and include involuntary measures and voluntary ones like early retirements.

A company in Yamagata county, Japan, has started selling "iced masks" through vending machine at a temperature of 4 C as a heatwave exceeding 30 C hit the countrys Northeast area. The price for the mask is 690 JPY ($6.50) each.

Turkey, starting next Monday, barbers, hairdressers and shopping malls will be allowed to open with new regulations.  Travel restrictions for seven of 31 provinces will be lifted. The seven provinces are Antalya, Aydin, Erzurum, Hatay, Malatya, Mersin and Mugla. Travel restrictions have been extended for the remaining provinces. Turkey has an age-based curfew system that prohibits some age groups from leaving their homes. As part of the easing of restrictions, those under 20 or over 65 will be allowed within walking distance for 4-hour periods on designated dates.

Brazil: The massive Christ the Redeemer statue that has overlooked Rio de Janeiro for almost 90 years sported a new look this weekend. A face mask was projected onto the statue to promote self care amid the coronavirus pandemic and as a tribute to healthcare workers.

Ide Gomes/Getty Images

Norwegian Air shareholders voted in favor of a proposed rescue plan, helping the budget carrier unlock government aid and avoid bankruptcy. During the global coronavirus outbreak, the airline has canceled almost all flights and said it would temporarily lay off 90% of its workforce.

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. 

Russia reported 10,581 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 145,268. The death toll rose to 1,356 after 76 people died in the last 24 hours.

Iran reported 74 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,277. The total number of positive cases stands at 8,647, according to a health ministry official.

Bangladesh reported 688 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking its total to 10,143. The death toll rose to 182. 

Indonesia reported 395 new infections, taking the total in the to 11,587, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto. 19 new coronavirus-related deaths took the total to 864.

Singapore's health ministry said on Monday it confirmed 573 new cases, taking the city-state's tally of infections to 18,778.

Germany's Robert Koch Institute reported 679 new cases, bringing the total to 163,175. There were also 43 deaths bringing the total toll to 6,692. 

Italy: The number of active coronavirus cases has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since April 10, is now 99,980. 195 people have died over the past 24 hours, bringing total number of fatalities to 29,079. The number of patients in intensive care is 1,479 down by 22 from Sundays total.

UK: At least 28,734 people have died from the coronavirus, the country's Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today, that's a rise of 288 from the day before, which is the lowest daily increase in the death toll since the end of March. The total number of tests performed in the UK so far is 1,291,000. The daily testing capacity in Britain stands at 108,000. The total number of cases is 190,584, up by 3,985 from the day before. There are currently 13,258 coronavirus patients in hospital.

Brazil: 4,075 new cases were reported and 263 deaths over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said. Total 105,222 confirmed cases and 7,288 deaths. 

Turkey: The death toll rose by 65 to 3,461 in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed. The overall number of cases rose by 1,614 to 127,659. 

France's death toll rose by 306 to 25,201, the sharpest rate of increase in four days, government data showed.  On Sunday, only 135 new deaths were reported, but on Sundays the data reporting from nursing homes is often delayed, leading to a catch-up during the week. In a statement, the Health Ministry said the number of people in intensive care units fell to 3,696 from 3,819 on Sunday, down for a 26th consecutive day.

Italy Leads Europe in Easing Coronavirus Lockdown Measures

People wearing protective masks walk on a street in Rome, as Italy begins a staged end to the nationwide lockdown [Remo Casilli/Reuters]

More than 4.4 million Italians went back to work on Monday after seven weeks of extraordinary restrictive measures.

The return to work came as Italy tries to cushion the economic impact of the shutdowns. Italians are now also allowed to visit family members and people with whom they have an "established emotional bond" in the same region.

Parks are open for walking and running, and people can go for sport activities even far from home. Social gatherings remain banned and it is mandatory to wear a mask on public transportation and in closed public spaces.

Restrictions on funerals have been relaxed, with a maximum of 15 mourners allowed to attend, but masses and weddings will have to wait. Bars, hair salons and restaurants will be allowed to reopen only on June 1, if the rate of infection continues to lower.

Some other countries in Europe also lifted restrictions on Monday. SloveniaPoland and Hungary joined Germany in allowing public spaces and businesses to partially reopen.

Portugal allowed small shops, salons and car dealers to resume business as well, but ordered facemasks to be worn in stores and on public transport.

The streets of the Greek capital Athens resounded with the noise of car horns after weeks of movement restrictions. Barbershops and stores selling books, sporting goods, stationery, and other items can now open. Masks are now compulsory for staff and passengers on public transport and employees in shops selling fresh food. 

In Belgium, Business-to-business companies opened offices to employees again in Belgium. Textile shops selling cloth will open, too, because they are essential if people want to make their own protective masks. Those masks will also be mandatory on public transport and people will be allowed to exercise and play sport with two others.

Middle East Countries Easing Restrictions

Jordan, on Sunday, lifted all restrictions on economic activity. Minister of Industry and Trade Tariq Hammouri said businesses and industries would now be able to resume production. Public transport will be allowed to return to normal service with safety guidelines. Universities and schools will remain closed and a night curfew will continue.

Bahrain made it mandatory to wear masks outdoors after easing some restrictions, businesses are working as usual. 

United Arab Emirates: Three malls in Abu Dhabi reopened at 30 percent customer capacity after adopting safety measures, including thermal inspection devices. The following day, commercial establishments, including malls, salons and eateries reopened in Sharjah. Members of the same family are allowed to travel in the same vehicle without getting fined for violating the three-people limit, Dubai police have said.

Saudi Arabia, on April 26, confirmed that wholesale and retail trade stores will be allowed to resume activities during the two-week period from April 29 until May 13, including inside shopping centres and malls. Retail stores and shopping malls reopened last Wednesday on April 29 from 9am to 5pm local time.

Lebanon, on Monday, allowed restaurants to open at 30 percent capacity during the day. Cafes have been ordered to stay shut until June, along with clubs and bars.

Israel, on Sunday May 3, reopened some schools for the first time in seven weeks. According to the education ministry, 80 percent of schools in Israel reopened, but schools in Arab localities have not with some asking to delay the return until after Ramadan. Markets and malls will reopen Thursday, May 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced. 

World leaders pledge $8 billion for coronavirus treatments and vaccines

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

World leaders have pledged a total of $8 billion for the development and deployment of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against the novel coronavirus.

The donations came flooding in during a virtual pledging conference yesterday co-hosted by the European Union, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Spain and the UK. The US did not participate.

Here's what some of the leaders are promising:

Norway pledged $1 billion in contributions, Switzerland promised $381 million and the Netherlands $209.5 million.

Australia pledged $352 million Australian dollars, which is about $226 million USD.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pledged $152.7 million, while South Korea announced a contribution of $50 million and Kuwait promised to donate $40 million.

South Africa said it would pledge $1.3 million and raise a further $61 million from member states of the African Union. Israel promised to invest $60 million in the effort to respond to the pandemic.

Ireland is donating almost $20 million USD. Luxembourg pledged $5.45 million, Sweden $17 million, Portugal $10.9 million, Croatia $1.09 million, Finland $39.3 million. Bulgaria and Romania pledged $109,000 and $218,000, respectively. 

Serbia announced a contribution of $2.18 million, Slovenia $33.6 million, and the Czech Republic announced a joint pledge with PolandHungary and Slovakia of $3.27 million.

Meanwhile, Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged $100 million to the effort.

Other countries such as the UAE, Oman, Turkey, Monaco and China also promised to contribute to the efforts against Covid-19 without mentioning an amount. 


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