COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 17 November

A general view of treatment blocks at a temporary hospital in the Krylatskoye Ice Palace, where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, in Moscow, Russia November 13, 2020. Picture taken November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC294K9MYKZX
Temporary hospitals - like this one in Moscow - have been set up around the world.
Image: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
  • This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: Moderna vaccine 94.5% effective; WHO Director-General calls for swift, decisive action; New cases in India fall to lowest since mid-July.

1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now passed 55 million globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 1.32 million.

Australian authorities are rushing to contain an outbreak of locally-acquired cases, with mass testing and around 4,000 people confined to quarantine.

Pfizer has launched a pilot delivery programme for its COVID-19 vaccine in four US states. The vaccine faces distribution challenges, as it needs to be shipped and stored at -70 degrees Celsius.

Several US governors have acted to restrict gatherings and promote face coverings. New Jersey, California, Iowa and Ohio all announced new measures. They come as the US recorded more than 1 million new COVID-19 cases last week, according to a Reuters analysis.

South Korea will impose stricter restrictions, as it warns of a potential new COVID-19 crisis. Public gatherings of more than 100 people will be banned, religious services and audiences at sporting events limited at 30% capacity, and higher-risk facilities will need to increase the distance between guests.

New coronavirus infections fell to their lowest daily total in India since mid-July, with 29,163 new cases reported. But experts have warned that Diwali, celebrated over the weekend, could contribute to a spike in cases.

Germany's federal and state leaders have agreed to postpone a decision on further lockdown measures until 25 November. “I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today, but there was no majority for that," Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

French health authorities have reported 9,406 new COVID-19 cases - the lowest one-day total for more than a month.

Thousands of people in Britain are suffering from 'long COVID', UK health minister Matt Hancock said yesterday.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths
Deaths continue to rise in many countries.
Image: Our World in Data

2. More vaccine success

Moderna's experimental vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said yesterday. It joins Pfizer in reporting better-than-expected results.

The vaccines both use a new technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA), but unlike the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna's shot can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, which should make it easier to distribute, reports Reuters.

In a telephone interview with the news agency, Moderna President Stephen Hoge said the vaccine offered hope in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are going to have a vaccine that can stop COVID-19,” he said.

Vaccines, Health and healthcare, Gavi

What is the World Economic Forum doing about access to vaccines?

In 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was launched at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, with an initial pledge of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The aim of Gavi is to make vaccines more accessible and affordable for all - wherever people live in the world.

Along with saving an estimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years,through the vaccination of nearly 700 million children, - Gavi has most recently ensured a life-saving vaccine for Ebola.

At Davos 2016, we announced Gavi's partnership with Merck to make the life-saving Ebola vaccine a reality.

The Ebola vaccine is the result of years of energy and commitment from Merck; the generosity of Canada’s federal government; leadership by WHO; strong support to test the vaccine from both NGOs such as MSF and the countries affected by the West Africa outbreak; and the rapid response and dedication of the DRC Minister of Health. Without these efforts, it is unlikely this vaccine would be available for several years, if at all.

Read more about the Vaccine Alliance, and how you can contribute to the improvement of access to vaccines globally - in our Impact Story.

3. To open up economies, defeat the virus

"It's not a choice between lives or livelihoods," World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing yesterday. "The quickest way to open up economies is to defeat the virus."

He called on countries to act swiftly and decisively to support health workers, relieve the pressure on health systems and save lives. "There is no excuse for inaction," he said.

As countries take "extreme measures" to slow the spread of the disease, "now is the time to invest in the systems that will prevent further waves of the virus", he added.

"Invest in a well-trained and protected public health workforce so that you have enough contact tracers in place and ensure that those who are sick can isolate away from others and contacts are identified, notified and managed properly. And where cases are starting to come down, keep investing so that you’re prepared."

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