Pfizer Inc said it could file in late November for US authorisation of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing, suggesting that a vaccine could potentially be available by the end of the year.
That timeline makes it unlikely, however, that a vaccine will be available before the US election, as President Donald Trump has promised.
Pfizer, which is developing the vaccine with German partner BioNTech, said that it may confirm if the vaccine is effective as soon as this month but that it also needs safety data from a 44,000-person clinical trial that will not be available until next month.
The Pfizer news, published in a letter from its chief executive on its website, lifted the US stock market and the company’s shares.
Shares fell slightly of rival vaccine maker Moderna Inc, which is close to Pfizer in its vaccine development.
“So let me be clear, assuming positive data, Pfizer will apply for Emergency Authorization Use in the U.S. soon after the safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November,” Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said, noting that he published the letter to provide greater clarity on the timeline for the vaccine.
A total of 181 students and staff at a private boarding school in Nigeria’s capital Lagos have tested positive for coronavirus, state health authorities said.
Authorities said there had been a “minor but significant” outbreak among the 441 staff and students at the school in the suburb of Lekki and said most of the now-quarantined positive cases were asymptomatic.
Lagos state Commissioner for Health Akin Abayomi said in a statement posted on Twitter that the cases came to light after a 14-year-old girl fell sick on October 3.
She tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 6, prompting state health authorities to launch an investigation.
“Positive students and staff have been isolated on the premises … and are being monitored in isolation within the school premises,” Abayomi said.
He said authorities had taken steps to contain the spread of the virus, and were discouraging any students from going home, lest they infect family members.
Nigeria has confirmed a total 60,982 cases of COVID-19 and 1,116 deaths linked to the disease.
The government announced early this month that federal government schools could reopen from Octobet 12, while schools run by states and private owners could open on their own timetables, following a steady decline in the rate of infections in Nigeria.
- The number of coronavirus cases in the US since the start of the pandemic has now surpassed 8 million. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the US has confirmed at least 8,008,402 cases of coronavirus since March.
- Belgium will close all cafes and restaurants for four weeks on Monday as it seeks to tackle a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. The move was announced by deputy prime minister Georges Gilkinet following a meeting of the Belgian government’s crisis unit.
- South African coronavirus cases reported since the first infection in early March surpassed 700,000 on Friday, the health ministry said, amid fears of an impending second wave as the nation battles an economic recession. Some 2,019 new cases were identified on Friday, taking the total to 700,203 the ministry said.
- Italy has registered 10,010 new infections in 24 hours, the health ministry has said. It is the highest daily tally since the start of the country’s outbreak, and up 13% from the previous high of 8,804 posted the day before.
- Malta is making the wearing of face masks mandatory in public and ordering clubs, bars and places of entertainment to close at 11 pm to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the prime minister, Robert Abela, said.
- The Czech Republic recorded 9,721 new infections on Thursday, the second consecutive day it posted its worst daily figures. The country of 10.7 million has registered the biggest surge of new cases in Europe.
- The UK foreign secretary denounced what he said was a Russian effort to “disrupt the attempts to find a safe vaccine”. Dominic Raab described claims that Moscow was attempting to sow seeds of confusion about the vaccine being developed in the UK as “very serious”.
- Schools in Italy’s Campania region have closed less than a month after reopening. Amid a rapid rise in cases, authorities said schools would remain closed until the end of October.
South African coronavirus cases reported since the first infection in early March surpassed 700,000 on Friday, the health ministry said, amid fears of an impending second wave as the nation battles an economic recession.
Some 2,019 new cases were identified on Friday, taking the total to 700,203 the ministry said.
There have been 18,370 deaths in South Africa, while 629,260 people have recovered from Covid-19 and 4,505,553 have been tested.
The health ministry had recently warned of a second wave of the pandemic in the country of 58 million people if citizens and authorities become complacent and stop taking precautions.
After a sharp spike in cases in the month of July, when the country was reporting an increase of 100,000 infections every 7-10 days, the spread of the virus has slowed considerably.
The 700,000 mark was passed almost two months after South Africa crossed 600,000 coronavirus infections.
Stringent lockdown measures imposed from end-March to curb the spread of the disease have taken a heavy toll on Africa’s most industrialised economy, which was already in recession with nearly a third of its workforce jobless.
The economy has shrunk to the same size as in 2007 and unemployment has shot up by millions more.
“The damage caused by the pandemic to an already weak economy, to employment, to livelihoods, to public finances and to state-owned companies has been colossal,”
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday, unveiling an economic package to stave off a debt crisis due to Covid-19.
Puerto Rico’s governor has announced that more people will be able to visit restaurants, gyms, theatres and casinos as the US territory relaxes some pandemic-related restrictions.
In addition, public transportation including buses and trains will resume service next week, and ferries will be allowed to take tourists to the popular nearby island of Culebra.
A 10pm–5am curfew remains in place, and face masks continue to be mandatory.
“We cannot lower our guard,” said governor Wanda Vázquez.
Starting Saturday, capacity at restaurants will increase from 50% to 55%, while capacity at theatres, gyms and casinos will increase from 25% to 30%.
Business owners had been demanding that capacity increase by at least 60% given an economic crisis that the pandemic has worsened.
The island of 3.2 million people has reported more than 28,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, more than 28,000 suspected ones, and more than 750 deaths from Covid-19.
The number of coronavirus cases in the US since the start of the pandemic has now surpassed 8 million.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the US has confirmed 8,008,402 cases of coronavirus since March.
The country reported 63,610 new coronavirus cases yesterday, marking the highest single-day total since mid-August.
Health experts have also warned of increased spread of the virus in the Midwest, as the weather gets colder and more Americans gather inside.
Despite those alarming statistics, US President Donald Trump said at his event in Florida, “We are rounding the turn. I say that all the time.”
Malta is making the wearing of face masks mandatory in public and ordering clubs, bars and places of entertainment to close at 11 pm to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the prime minister, Robert Abela, has said.
“Health was and will remain a priority, but life has to go on,” Abela told a press conference on the day the Mediterranean island recorded a daily record 122 new cases among its population of 500,000.
“This is a crucial time to fight Covid-19 and protect the economy and jobs,” he said, adding that measures to help businesses would be announced on Monday, when the national budget is presented.
Abela said the limit of 10 people who may meet in groups is being maintained, but everyone now has to wear a mask unless they are at home or in their car. People may remove their masks when seated in restaurants.
The 11 pm closing time for bars and clubs will come into force on Monday.
Health minister Chris Fearne said rapid testing for Covid-19 will also be rolled out for airport arrivals and at schools and clinics where cases of the virus are suspected.
Malta on Friday stopped passengers disembarking from the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship over a suspected case of Covid-19.
Boris Johnson has attempted to strong-arm Greater Manchester into accepting tougher Covid restrictions without providing extra money to protect businesses, by claiming that every day of delay would mean “more people will die”.
In a Downing Street press conference, the UK prime minister reiterated his threat to impose the tier 3 lockdown if an agreement could not be reached this weekend – and dismissed the idea of a short national “circuit break” to help bring down infection rates.
The war of words between Juventus and Portugal footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and the Italian government continues after he returned to the country having tested positive for coronavirus.
Belgium will close all cafes and restaurants for four weeks on Monday as it seeks to tackle a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
The move was announced by deputy prime minister Georges Gilkinet following a meeting of the Belgian government’s crisis unit.
The Brussels city region already imposed similar restrictions last week but Friday’s announcement extends them nationwide.
Gilkinet said the decision to close cafes and restaurants – deemed high-risk venues for spreading the virus – was taken to try to head off another full lockdown like the one Belgium enforced earlier in the year.
He warned “the situation is serious from a health point of view”, and we must “prevent our healthcare system from becoming saturated”.
“Our hospitals are clogged,” he added.
“The figures are as high as they were in March when we decided on a lockdown, that’s what we absolutely want to avoid”.
Belgium has recorded 191,959 covid cases and 10,327 deaths as of Friday.
As a result of a surge in infections in September, the rate of hospitalisations has accelerated in recent days, particularly in Brussels and Belgium’s French-speaking southern provinces.
The French health ministry reported 25,086 new confirmed cases in 24 hours on Friday, after reporting a record 30,621 on Thursday.
It also reported that 122 people had died from infection in hospitals in the past 24 hours, compared with 88 on Thursday. Including deaths in retirement homes, which are often reported in multi-day batches, the death toll increased by 178 on Friday.
The cumulative total number of infections since the start of the year now stands at 834,770, the cumulative number of dead at 33,303.
Intensive care units in various European cities could reach maximum capacity in the coming weeks, the World Health Organization has warned.
In response to the second surge, the Czech Republic has shut schools and is building a field hospital, Poland has limited restaurant hours and closed gyms and schools, and France is planning a 9pm curfew in Paris and other big cities.
Europe is not alone in seeing a resurgence, the Associated Press reports. In theUS, new cases per day are on the rise in 44 states, and deaths per day are climbing in 30. Bertrand Levrat, the head of Switzerland’s biggest hospital complex, told the news agency:
If we don’t get a handle on this, we run the risk of getting into a situation that’s harder to control. We are really at a turning point: things can go both ways.
But, while officials are sounding the alarm on rising cases, they are also wary of imposing the stricter nationwide lockdowns that devastated their economies this spring. Instead, they are trying more targeted restrictions.
France is deploying 12,000 extra police to enforce its new curfew; Saturday night will be the first time establishments will be forced to close at 9pm. Restaurants, cinemas and theatres are trying to figure out how can survive the forced early closures.
Spain has reported the greatest number of daily infections on Friday, logging 15,186 new cases; of which 6,591 were detected over the previous 24 hours. The daily jump brings Spain’s total number of cases to 936,560.
The country’s health ministry has reported 575 deaths over the past seven days, bringing the total death toll to 33,775.
Salvador Illa, Spain’s health minister, said the country was facing “five or six more complicated months” as the search for a vaccine continues. He told the Catalan radio station RAC1 that this Christmas would be “different and distanced”.
Madrid and eight satellite towns remain in a limited lockdown, while bars and restaurants in Catalonia have been limited to takeaway or delivery services.
The World Health Organization said on Friday it has had very good dialogue with developers of a second Russian vaccine candidate against Covid-19. Its chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said:
We will only be able to have a position on a vaccine when we see results of the phase 3 clinical trials.
Greece recorded 508 new confirmed infections on Friday, topping the 500 daily mark for the first time, health authorities said, as they urged compliance with mask wearing and social distancing.
Of the 508 new cases, 227 were recorded in the Athens metropolitan area and 63 in Thessaloniki, the country’s second largest city. There were eight deaths from the disease. The epidemiologist Gikas Magiorkinis told Reuters:
For the first time we went over 500 daily diagnoses of coronavirus. The drop in temperatures may tilt the balance, intensifying the epidemiological trend.
Earlier, the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told reporters after an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels that Greece was still among the countries faring better in Europe.
But this may change at any moment if we do not comply with the recommended measures.
The deputy civil protection minister, Nikos Hardalias, said the country was still in a stable situation, but “this stability is especially fragile”. He said: “All that is happening in Europe shows that we should not be complacent.”
Malta has stopped passengers disembarking from the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship over a suspected case, its tourism minister, Julia Farrugia Portelli, has said. Although the ship was let into Valletta harbour, it was not allowed to disembark passengers.
The ship, which has been cruising around the central Mediterranean, left port after taking in supplies. There was no immediate comment from MSC Cruises, which operates the vessel.
Cruise ships were home to the some of the earliest clusters as the pandemic spread globally early this year and the cruise industry has been devastated by the fallout.
Malta started allowing cruise ships back in its harbour in July on condition that passengers stay in a bubble, meaning they had to stay together and not mingle with locals.
Italy has registered 10,010 new infections in 24 hours, the health ministry has said. It is the highest daily tally since the start of the country’s outbreak, and up 13% from the previous high of 8,804 posted the day before.
The ministry also reported 55 Covid-related deaths, down from 83 the day before and far fewer than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April, when a daily peak of more than 900 fatalities was reached.
The number of people in intensive care with the virus has risen steadily. It stood at 638 on Friday, up from 586 on Thursday, and compared with a low of around 40 in the second half of July.
Italy was the first country in Europe to be heavily affected and has the second-highest death toll in the continent after Britain, with 36,427 fatalities since the outbreak flared in February, according to official figures.