Coronavirus live news: US buys nearly all global remdesivir stocks as Brazil deaths near 60,000

Summary

  • Cases worldwide are nearing 10.5m. There are 10,450,628 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, and 510,632 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
  • The US saw a record one-day case increase. Tuesday saw 44,358 new coronavirus cases confirmed in the US, according to The Covid Tracking Project, which said on Twitter that the 7-day average for new daily cases as doubled since 13 June and that hospitalisations in the country jumped by the highest number since 21 April. Tuesday saw 44,358 new coronavirus cases confirmed in the US, according to The Covid Tracking Project, which said on Twitter that the 7-day average for new daily cases as doubled since 13 June and that hospitalisations in the country jumped by the highest number since 21 April.
  • Deaths in Brazil, the second-worst affected country after the US, are nearing 60,000. Brazil has suffered 1,280 more deaths, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 59,594, according to Health Ministry data.The total number of confirmed cases rose by 33,846 to reach 1,402,041, the worst outbreak in the world outside the United States.
  • Australia locked down 300,000 in Victoria state suburbs. Authorities will lock down around 300,000 people in suburbs north of Melbourne for a month from late on Wednesday to contain the risk of infection after two weeks of double-digit rises in new coronavirus cases in Australia’s second most populous state.
  • The UN warned jobs figures are worse than feared. The pandemic has taken a much heavier toll on jobs than previously feared, the UN says, warning the situation in the Americas is particularly dire.In a fresh study, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that by the mid-year point, global working hours were down 14 percent compared to last December – equivalent to some 400 million full-time jobs.
  • Three asylum seekers at camp near US border tested positive for coronavirus. Three asylum seekers have tested positive for coronavirus in a sprawling border encampment, marking the first cases in a settlement that advocates have long viewed as vulnerable amid the pandemic, Reuters reports.
  • The US has bought up virtually all the stocks for the next three months of remdesivir, one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for the UK, Europe or most of the rest of the world, my colleague Sarah Boseley reports. Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and outmanoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.
  • South Korea is treating severe coronavirus cases with remdesivir. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports that South Korea has started providing remdesivir to patients for coronavirus treatment.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci told US senators he “would not be surprised” if cases go up to 100,000 a day. He said the US is “going in the wrong direction” in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and warned that the death toll “is going to be very disturbing” unless officials intervene, and urged Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing in public spaces.
  • Speaking in Delaware, Joe Biden said the pandemic is unlikely to have subsided by January 2021, and if he’s elected. “On the day I’m sworn in, I’ll get right to work implementing all aspects of the response that remain undone,” he said.
  • The United Nations has called on governments to provide nearly $10bn in aid for Syria, as the war-torn country’s humanitarian crisis deepens amid the coronavirus pandemic. The UN said it needed $3.8bn to help 11 million people in Syria – where food prices have soared – and a further $6.04bn to help the 6.6 million Syrians who have fled the country.
  • Greece should prepare for a “very difficult” tourist season, the country’s prime minister has said. Tourism officials say the country – which usually makes around 18.1 billion a year from tourism – would be lucky if revenues hit the 4-5 billion euro mark this year.

Updated

Australia locks down 300,000 in Victoria state suburbs

Authorities will lock down around 300,000 people in suburbs north of Melbourne for a month from late on Wednesday to contain the risk of infection after two weeks of double-digit rises in new coronavirus cases in Australia’s second most populous state.

Australia has fared better than many countries in the pandemic, with around 7,830 cases and 104 deaths, but the recent surge has stoked fears of a second wave of Covid-19.

From midnight tonight, more than 30 suburbs in Australia’s second-biggest city will return to stage three restrictions, the third-strictest level in curbs to control the pandemic.

That means residents will be confined to home except for grocery shopping, health appointments, work or caregiving, and exercise.

The restrictions will be accompanied by a testing blitz that authorities hope will extend to half the population of the area affected, and for which borders will be patrolled, authorities said. The measures come as curbs ease across the rest of the state of Victoria, with restaurants, gyms and cinemas reopening in recent weeks.

Victoria recorded 73 fresh cases on Tuesday from 20,682 tests, following an increase of 75 cases on Monday. State premier Daniel Andrews warned on Wednesday that the return of broader restrictions across city remained a possibility.

Updated

Spain’s Teatro Real will reopen its doors to the public on Wednesday, becoming one of the world’s first opera houses to return to the stage with a production that includes a chorus, orchestra and soloists after months of lockdown. On offer is Verdi’s La Traviata, tweaked to reflect life in the time of Covid-19.

“There are people who prefer to sit with their arms crossed and wait until we return to normal,” said Joan Matabosch, the artistic director of the Teatro Real. “And then there are theatres that prefer to try and conquer the normality that we find ourselves in.”

Justin McCurry

South Korea: incidents of Covid-19 ‘mask rage’ flare as summer heats up

The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea, as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed.

In South Korea, Japan and other countries in east Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the Covid-19 pandemic under control.

South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around the capital Seoul.

To avoid a second major outbreak, the government in June required masks to be worn on all buses and subways, and inside taxis, with drivers permitted to refuse passengers without face coverings.

But the country’s typically hot summer is making mask wearing increasingly uncomfortable, with temperatures regularly exceeding 30C last month.

As a result, more people are refusing to wear them, or are positioning them across their chins so they leave their mouth and nose exposed.

Hi, Helen Sullivan here. A reminder that you can send comments, questions, news, tips from your part of the world, and other people’s good tweets, to me directly at the places below:

Twitter: @helenrsullivan

Email: helen.sullivan@theguardian.com

Melissa Davey

The full story on the case increases in Victoria, Australia now:

The state reported 73 new Covid-19 cases overnight, with 10 hotspot postcodes to enter lockdown from midnight as the state tries to bring the cases under control.

While there were 14 new cases announced in New South Wales overnight, all of those were in returned international travellers now in quarantine hotels. Of Victoria’s cases, only three were from hotel quarantine, with community transmission becoming a growing concern in the state over the past fortnight. The source of 42 of Victoria’s newest cases remains under investigation.

The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Wednesday that the work of public health officials door-knocking the most affected suburbs and offering people free testing was now a key part of the state’s strategy to bring the spread under control.

Now, the answers you’ve all been waiting for.

The questions: Why are Nick Kyrgios and Boris Becker fighting? Who is the rat and who is the doughnut?

The Guardian’s Mike Hytner explains what is going on with tennis Twitter to Gabrielle Jackson:

Mike, I’m hearing some vague murmurings about Nick Kyrgios and Boris Becker, rats and doughnuts. Sounds intriguing. What’s going on?

It’s just another day in the bizarre world that is post-Covid tennis Twitter. Australia’s most outspoken and entertaining tennis star has attracted a strong rebuke on the socials from the German six-time grand slam champion after Kyrgios aired his views about how some in tennis have responded to the coronavirus crisis – recklessly and selfishly, in Nick’s view.

Reckless and selfish? Sounds like some world leaders I know. Tell me more.

Alex Zverev, the Russian world No 7, was filmed partying at a crowded bar on the Côte d’Azur, apparently just six days after he vowed to be a good boy and self-isolate following the debacle of Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour event.

Disneyland Tokyo reopened today, after four months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Visitors wave to Disney characters performing at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, near Tokyo, Wednesday, 1 July 2020.

Visitors wave to Disney characters performing at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, near Tokyo, Wednesday, 1 July 2020. Photograph: å√ã¥óyìÏ/AP

The Mainichi reports:


In order to keep the number of visitors to less than half pre-pandemic levels, the parks’ operator Oriental Land Co. will limit entry to fixed-date tickets purchased online in advance.

Operating hours at the parks, which had been closed since 29 February have been shortened from 8am to 8pm.

Attractions and restaurants will cater to a smaller number of visitors while most entertainment shows and parades, including the nighttime Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights, will remain canceled.

Visitors are required to undergo body temperature checks and wear a face mask to enter the park, and will be asked to keep a certain distance from Disney characters during meets.

Here are some more photos:

Visitors practice social distancing as they wait to enter Tokyo DisneySea at Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu, Chiba prefecture, Japan, 1 July 2020.

Visitors practice social distancing as they wait to enter Tokyo DisneySea at Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu, Chiba prefecture, Japan, 1 July 2020. Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA

A staff member disinfects a Disney Resort line train during the reopening of Tokyo Disneylandon 1 July 2020.

A staff member disinfects a Disney Resort line train during the reopening of Tokyo Disneylandon 1 July 2020. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Panama registered 765 new cases of coronavirus infection on Tuesday, taking the total number in the country to 33,550, while deaths climbed by 11 to 631 overall, the health ministry said in a statement.

A resident walks with a face mask in front of a mural during a disinfection day in the Chorrillo neighborhood to combat the spread of the coronavirus, in Panama City, Panama, 30 June 2020.

A resident walks with a face mask in front of a mural during a disinfection day in the Chorrillo neighborhood to combat the spread of the coronavirus, in Panama City, Panama, 30 June 2020. Photograph: Bienvenido Velasco/EPA

Melissa Davey

More on remdesivir now from Australia:

Associate Professor Barbara Mintzes from The University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre and School of Pharmacy said if remdesivir does prove effective in treating Covid-19, the drug would be needed not only in the US but globally, including in Australia.

“The US arrangement to buy 500,000 doses of remdesivir from Gilead raises concerns not only about access in other countries but also how to prevent profiteering from the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring that patients who need treatment are able to access it,” she said.

Gilead announced its global price for remdesivir on 29 June as US $390 per vial. The Guardian reports that the cost will be US$3200 for a 6-day treatment, or AUD$4607. The cost of production of remdesivir has been estimated to be less than US$1 per day or US $6 (AUD$ 8.64) for a 6-day course of treatment.

“Gilead has licensing agreements with manufacturers in Egypt, India and Pakistan to supply remdesivir to 127 low to middle-income countries. The US deal with Gilead and limits on which countries can be supplied under this licensing agreement leave countries like Australia in the lurch: unable to access remdesivir from Gilead at a high price – as the US is doing – and unable to access it at a low price from generic manufacturers, as lower income countries can.”

As for a solution, Mintzes said international trade agreements in a public health emergency, governments can issue compulsory licenses to bypass patent protection and either produce a drug themselves or buy the drug from generic manufacturers. The Netherlands is currently considering an amendment to its patent law to allow compulsory licensing of remdesivir. “Currently we don’t know for sure whether remdesivir will prove to be an important treatment for Covid-19,” she said. “If it does, given that the US is buying out Gilead’s supply, and also given the extremely high price as compared with costs of production, the obvious solution for Australia would be to also consider compulsory licensing.”

Updated

Record one-day case increase in US

Tuesday saw 44,358 new coronavirus cases confirmed in the US, according to The Covid Tracking Project, which said on Twitter that the 7-day average for new daily cases as doubled since 13 June and that hospitalisations in the country jumped by the highest number since 21 April.

The COVID Tracking Project
(@COVID19Tracking)

Our daily update is now published.

States reported over 44k new cases, the new normal. The 7-day average of new cases per day has doubled since 6/13, and now exceeds 41k.

Current hospitalizations saw their biggest jump since 4/21.

For details, see: https://t.co/PZrmH4bl5Y pic.twitter.com/uhD6Ifv8oT

June 30, 2020

The high marks the fourth time in a week that the country, the worst-affected worldwide in terms of number of cases and deaths, posted a one-day case record, the New York Times reports. According to the Times’ own analysis, new cases in the US have increased by 80% in two weeks.

On Sunday CNN reported that cases were rising in 36 US states, with just two – Connecticut and Rhode Island – reporting declines in their daily infections.

Updated

Victoria, Australia confirms 73 more cases

The state of Victoria, Australia, which has been struggling to control a recent coronavirus outbreak, has recorded another 73 Covid-19 cases overnight, according to Premier Daniel Andrews.

It’s the fifth-highest day for Covid cases recorded in one day since the pandemic began.

Andrews told reporters at a press conference:


Three from hotel quarantine, nine that are associated with known and contained outbreaks, 19 as a result of routine testing and 42 that remain under investigation by our public health team. We did 20,682 tests yesterday so I’ll take this opportunity to thank every single one of those going on for 21,000 people who presented for a test.

Melissa Davey

As we reported earlier, news emerged overnight that the US has bought up all supply of the drug remdesivir for the next three months. The drug has shown some promise in helping Covid-19 patients recover faster from Covid-19, and is manufactured by US pharmaceutical giant Gilead.

The Guardian’s UK health reporter Sarah Boseley wrote that “Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and outmanoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US”.

Guardian Australia has asked the federal health minister Greg Hunt about whether he is concerned about the US buying up supply, and whether Australia has enough of the drug in its national medical stockpile to manage in the meantime. A spokesman said he will provide a response this afternoon.

Associate Professor Alice Motion from the school of chemistry the University of Sydney, who works as part of open source drug discovery projects including the Breaking Goodcitizen science project. She said the actions of the US are a “real concern”.

“We would want to make sure something like this isn’t possible for a vaccine,” Associate Professor Motion said.

“A vaccine should be available to people all over the world rather than one country, or a group of countries having preferred access to a medicine. Remdesivir is a medicine that helps people to recover faster, but imagine if the same thing happened with a vaccine that emerges. That would be terrible. It’s also a bit of a risk too because lots of different medicines that we all need across the world are not made in the countries where the patients live. If you start to buy up all the supply of one medicine you could see other countries that then might not be as willing to distribute or to share medicines with the US.”

She said the actions of the US raised fundamental issues about fair and equitable access to medicine. “The other issue is whether everyone in the US will now have equal access to remdesivir too,” she said. “Equal access is not just an issue on a global level, but within countries.”

Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician with the Australian National University, said similar issues were seen early on in the pandemic with access to personal protective equipment, with countries holding on to their supply while other countries struggled to get protective gear.

“Many countries prioritise their own,” he said. “Of course, I don’t agree with it. It’s not good practice and we need the arts and behavioural experts to look into this and this attitude.”

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