(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Ramping up response
Vietnam has sent a special task force of health experts, along with more than 1,000 health workers, to Danang to help handle the deteriorating situation there, its health ministry said. The country on Friday reported 45 new coronavirus infections in the city of Danang, marking its biggest single-day jump in cases.
These infections are part of a third, untraceable and more concerning wave in a country that had reopened faster than most of the world, confident it had beaten the disease.
The government has said it is a different strain of virus to earlier ones detected in Vietnam, suggesting it had come from abroad rather than lying low in the community.
Mandating masks on public transport
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill on Friday that would require airline, train and public transit passengers and workers to wear masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The White House Office of Management and Budget called the provision in a U.S. House of Representatives spending bill requiring the masks “overly restrictive”, adding “such decisions should be left to states, local governments, transportation systems, and public health leaders.”
The statement comes as administration officials have held extensive talks in recent weeks about whether the Health and Human Services Department should issue an order requiring facial coverings at U.S. airports, train and transit stations and onboard airplanes, trains and transit services, five U.S. and airline industry officials told Reuters.
Robust Phase III trial needed
A Phase II trial of CanSino’s vaccine on 508 participants from Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak was first identified late last year, was promising and safe, but the study showed signs that people who had previously been exposed to a particular adenovirus in the shot had a reduced immune response.
“There is a large fraction of people both in the Western world and particularly in the developing world that have the baseline Ad5 neutralizing antibody,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
“The ideal solution would be to make the Phase III trial large and multinational, so involving as many people as they can so that any impact of different previous exposure is sufficiently diluted,” said Paul Griffin, a professor at the University of Queensland.
Cuban study shows antibody drug lowers risk of death in elderly patients
An antibody drug already being used against the coronavirus in Cuba decreased the risk of intensive care admission and death among 19 nursing home residents with moderate COVID-19, according to a study conducted in the island nation.
Researchers, including from Cuba’s Center of Molecular Immunology, which developed itolizumab, said timely use of the drug in combination with standard therapy helped reduce inflammation and prevented COVID-19 from worsening.
When researchers compared their outcomes to similar elderly COVID-19 patients who received standard treatment without itolizumab, they estimated that treating three such patients with the drug could prevent one ICU admission and one death.
Reopening the top of the world
Nepal will reopen its Himalayan mountains including Mount Everest to climbers for the autumn season, officials said on Thursday, to boost the tourism-dependent economy despite rising coronavirus infections. The autumn climbing season in Nepal runs from September to November.
Though the government now wants to reopen climbing, international flights are shut until mid-August and travel restrictions within Nepal remain, meaning climbers will still be kept away in the short-term, expedition organisers said.
Nepal on Thursday also allowed the reopening of hotels and restaurants with some restrictions.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Lincoln Feast)