• This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Today's top stories: WHO warns of second COVID-19 peak; trial of hydroxycholoroquine suspended; rights group warns of impact on children; and how to stay safe while flying.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Since its launch on 11 March, the Forum’s COVID Action Platform has brought together 1,667 stakeholders from 1,106 businesses and organizations to mitigate the risk and impact of the unprecedented global health emergency that is COVID-19.

The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Countries where coronavirus infections are declining could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday.

Dr Michael J. Ryan, Chief Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme said that while many cases are declining in some countries, they are still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa.

Epidemics often come in waves, Ryan said, and outbreaks could come back later this year in places where the first wave has subsided. There was also a chance that infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon.

“When we speak about a second wave classically what we often mean is there will be a first wave of the disease by itself, and then it recurs months later. And that may be a reality for many countries in a number of months’ time,” Ryan said.

According to tracking by the Johns Hopkins University, the total number of people infected with the coronavirus has now surpassed 5 million. As of May 22, 2020, the cumulative number of cases in the United States has reached 1.6 million - making it by far the most affected country in terms of total cases.
Image: Statista

On 22 May, The Lancet published an observational study on the drugs hydroxycholoroquine and chloraquine, namely on their effects on hospital patients suffering from the novel coronavirus. The authors estimated a "higher mortality rate" among patients receiving the drug, with risk of death increasing by 34% and serious heart arrhythmias by 137%.

In the meantime, a group of participants in the WHO's Solidarity Trial announced that until they can evaluate the drug's potential harms and benefits, they would place a "temporary pause" of the hydroxychloroquine section of the trial, while the data is reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board.

"I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during an online briefing on Monday.

With lockdown restrictions beginning to ease in some countries, many people are starting to ask when they can travel again. Typically, this means getting on a plane.

But is it safe, and how can you make the experience as safe as possible?

In this article, an epidemiologist and an exposure scientist walk you through how to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during air travel.

As well as using simple hygiene tips and arming yourself with specific knowledge about your airport and flight, they advise adopting a method called a "Heirarchy of Control" - a strategy often used by healthcare professionals.

"This approach does two things," the authors write. "It focuses on strategies to control exposures close to the source. Second, it minimizes how much you have to rely on individual human behavior to control exposure. It’s important to remember you may be infectious and everyone around you may also be infectious."

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The 'Heirarchy of Control' focuses on strategies to control exposures close to the source.
Image: CDC