- 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: Protests in the US could spark a second wave of coronavirus; the first human trial of an antibody treatment for COVID-19; South America faces stark coronavirus challenge; and a new AI tool to help scientists fact-check COVID-19 claims.
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
- Confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 6.2 million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 375,000 people have died from the virus, while over 2.6 million have recovered.
- Officials warn protests in the US could spark a second wave of the pandemic.
- The first human trial of a possible antibody treatment for COVID-19 is underway.
- No new deaths reported in Spain for the first time.
- Cases in Brazil surpass half-million mark.
- A surge in cases in Iran could portend a second wave.
Five out of the 10 countries reporting the highest number of new cases are currently in the Americas, said Michael J. Ryan, Chief Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme.
While health systems in countries such as Brazil, the US, Peru, Chile and Mexico are coming under pressure, there’s been a “progressive increase in cases across a range of different countries.”
The WHO is particularly worried about countries with weakened health systems, such as Haiti. Additionally, Ryan said countries in Central and South America will need special support as they have become “intense zones of transmission for the virus."
Response in these countries is hampered by a range of complex factors, said Ryan, including the number of people living in urban settings and the number of urban poor.
“Clearly the situation in many South American countries is far from stable,” he said.
3. New Ebola outbreak reported
A new Ebola outbreak was detected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near Mbandaka, Équateur province, according to the WHO. This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976.
“This outbreak is a reminder that coronavirus is not the only health threat people face,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in a statement.
The scope of the COVID-19 crisis has ignited a range of expert commentary, but the resulting increase in papers and research has been difficult to parse.
The new SciFact tool should help, says the MIT Review. This tool, created by the Seattle-based research nonprofit Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), was built on top of a neural network and can help scientists sort through the available research by typing claims into a search bar. The resulting feed will include papers labeled as supporting or refuting a particular assertion.
How well does it work? According to the MIT Review, when the tool was tested on scientific claims related to COVID-19, "they found that it retrieved relevant papers and accurately labeled them 23 out of 36 times."