COVID-19 Apocalypse : U.S. CDC says vaccine to be available in late 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2021, schools closed in France


17th September 2020 – (Hong Kong)  Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 29,859,075 with 941,489 deaths as of 12.45am today.

A World Health Organization official has said that the decision by AstraZeneca to pause global trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine after an unexplained illness showed the firm was prioritising safety.


The Czech Republic has recorded its biggest increase in new COVID-19 infections since the begin of the pandemic, the country’s ministry of health said Tuesday. A total of 1,677 cases were recorded, beating the previous record of 1,538 cases from last Saturday. The total number of infections now stands at 38,896, the ministry said, with 476 deaths.

France has already closed 81 schools and 2,100 classes due to COVID-19 cases since the start of the school term this month, according to education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer.

The number of new coronavirus cases rose by the most in eight days in Germany as the infection rate hovered around the key threshold of 1.0. There were 1,792 new cases in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, according to data rom Johns Hopkins University.

Nine clubs in England’s Football League will be allowed to admit up to 1,000 fans in this weekend’s games as part of a pilot scheme to test the return of supporters, the English Football League (EFL) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Welsh government has locked down one of the nation’s biggest region, barring people from entering or leaving, following a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Britain’s coronavirus testing record compares favourably to other European countries, adding that recent problems are due to a “colossal spike” in demand. Prime Minister Boris Johnson have said he did not want to see a second national lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic, saying it would be completely wrong for Britain and be financially disastrous.

The United Kingdom recorded nearly 4,000 new daily cases of COVID-19, government data showed on Wednesday, with the total number of daily cases at its highest level since May 8.

British Airways, the flagship U.K. carrier expecting to cut as many as 10,000 jobs, has seen 7,200 people leave as of last Friday, Chief Executive Officer Alex Cruz told lawmakers in London. 

CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., the Hong Kong-based conglomerate founded by tycoon Li Ka-shing, is cutting about 280 jobs at British phone company Three under new Chief Executive Officer Robert Finnegan.  The decision mainly affects head-office staff in the U.K. and represents a roughly 7% reduction to the company’s 4,300 workers.

Symptoms that prompted the University of Oxford and partner AstraZeneca Plc to pause trials evaluating their experimental coronavirus vaccine probably weren’t related to the shot itself, according to documents sent to participants.

Hungary will strengthen social distancing rules to combat the spread of the coronavirus, whose current wave may only peak around December or January, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. 

Authorities in the Spanish capital of Madrid will announce new coronavirus restrictions on Friday as the country responds to an uptick in the number of cases. Spain has now recorded more than 30,000 deaths since the start of the outbreak, with more than 600,000 total cases.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Romania has risen by 1,713 in the past day, a record high, taking the cumulative total to 107,011 cases, the government said on Wednesday.

U.S. and Canada

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that he thinks it will be the late second quarter or third quarter of 2021 before a COVID-19 vaccine is generally available to the American public. 

However, according to a a senior Trump administration official in an interview, every American should be able to obtain a coronavirus vaccine by April.

Retail sales ticked up in August from the previous month but at a slower pace after the enhanced unemployment benefits provided by the federal government ended.  US retail sales rose 0.6% in August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That’s below the 1% predicted by economists surveyed by Refinitv. In July, retail sales grew 0.9%, the Commerce Department said. That gain already was significantly slower than the 8.4% gain in June.

The US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense on Wednesday released two documents outlining the Trump administration’s strategy to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

New York State is back under 1% COVID-19 infection rate after breaking its nearly 40-day streak.  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that of the 75,087 tests reported yesterday, 652 were positive, which is .87% of the total. 

Florida reported 671,201 cases Wednesday, up 0.4% from a day earlier, in line with the average increase in the previous seven days.

wedding in Maine is linked to 176 COVID-19 cases and the deaths of seven people who didn’t attend the celebration, demonstrating just how easily and quickly the virus can spread at social gatherings, public health experts say.

Arizona on Wednesday reported 695 new virus cases, a 0.3% increase to 209,907 that was above the 0.2% average from the prior seven-day period.

Central and Latin America

Authorities in Peru have reported that coronavirus cases are stabilising in the Andean country, with some regions exhibiting a downward trend after months of lockdown.

China and Hong Kong

China’s state-owned pharmaceutical company SinoPharm said that “hundreds of thousands” of people in the country have received COVID-19 vaccinations under an emergency use program. The company’s general counsel Zhou Song said SinoPharm has provided emergency vaccinations to high-risk groups, including medical professionals, diplomats deployed to high-risk areas, and workers for state-owned enterprises who participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to a statement on its website.

China has locked down a city on its border with Myanmar and rolled out mass testing for hundreds of thousands of residents, after two Myanmar nationals who entered the country illegally were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Caixin is reporting that China has begun human trials of a coronavirus vaccine delivered as a nasal spray that could provide an alternative to injections.

Coronavirus vaccines will be ready for public use as early as November or December in China, a top scientist said, which would make the country one of the first in the world with an inoculation.

China has suspended imports from an OK Foods poultry plant in Arkansas, because of coronavirus cases among workers, according to the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.

Elsewhere in the world

Israel recorded a new daily highest spike in coronavirus cases on Tuesday with 5,523 new diagnoses, according to Ministry of Health data — an increase of more than 10% on the previous high set just one day earlier.

Australia’s Victoria state looks to be on course to relax a strict lockdown in the city of Melbourne by the end of the month after the average number of cases over the last two weeks dropped below 50, which is within the target range for the state to ease restrictions from 28th September. Pakistan recorded 665 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the country’s highest daily increase since 16th August, when it reported 670 new cases.

India topped 5 million coronavirus cases on Wednesday after reporting 90,123 new infections in the past 24 hours, according to its Health Ministry.

Air New Zealand plans to cut as many as 385 more cabin crew jobs because the coronavirus has forced it to reduce international routes.

More than 1,000 Hasidic Jewish pilgrims – including children – were massed at the Ukraine-Belarus border after Kyiv denied them entry due to coronavirus restrictions, the two countries said. Ukraine has registered a record 76 deaths related to the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the national security council said on Wednesday, up from a record of 72 deaths registered last week.

Vietnam will resume international commercial flights connecting the country to several Asian destinations starting from Friday, after a months-long shutdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Information compiled from CNN, Bloomberg and Aljazeera