Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic from around the world.

BEIJING — A Chinese pharmaceutical company said Thursday the coronavirus vaccine it is developing should be ready by early 2021 for distribution worldwide, including the United States.

Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, vowed to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac in the United States if it passes its third and final round of testing in humans. Yin said he personally has been given the experimental vaccine.

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Yin Weidong, CEO of the Chinese pharmaceutical company SinoVac, speaks to journalists during a tour of a vaccine factory in Beijing on Thursday. Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

“At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July we adjusted our strategy, that is to face the world,” Yin said, referring to the Chinese city were the virus first emerged.

“Our goal is to provide the vaccine to the world including the U.S., EU and others,” Yin said.

Stringent regulations in the U.S., European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines. But Yin said that could change.

SinoVac is developing one of China’s top four vaccine candidates along with state-owned SinoPharm, which has two in development, and military-affiliated private firm CanSino.

Read the full story here.

Minnesota halts COVID-19 study after health workers report intimidation

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota officials have stopped a COVID-19 testing study because of multiple reports that state and federal public health workers were greeted by racial and ethnic slurs as they went door-to-door.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Associated Press

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pulled federal surveyors out of Minnesota this week after they experienced verbal abuse and intimidation. In Eitzen, along the Iowa border, one survey team was boxed in by two cars and threatened by three men, including one with a gun.

“The team felt the intent was clearly to intimidate and scare them,” said Stephanie Yendell, who supervised Minnesota’s role in the survey. “Unfortunately that wasn’t the only incident.”

Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist, said frustration with the state’s response to the pandemic is understandable, but “there is no justification for this — the enemy is the virus and not the public health workers who are trying to help.”

The survey teams were going to 180 neighborhoods this month to offer free testing for COVID-19 and for antibodies, and to try to understand how the virus was spreading, particularly among people with no known symptoms.

Yendell said the teams that included people of color reported more incidents than teams with only white people. “We had a Latina team member who said she’d been called a particular epithet more times in the last week than in her entire life,” she said.

Incidents occurred mostly in central and southern Minnesota — rural areas where there has been more resentment over COVID-19 restrictions.

Before the work stopped, testers collected samples from about 400 residents statewide. Those tests will be processed and analyzed, but won’t provide a complete picture of coronavirus transmission.

Virus again forces French Open to slash crowd sizes

PARIS — With only one week separating the end of one and the start of the other, the Tour de France and the French Open were shaping up as a double bill of sports entertainment, with masked but nevertheless live crowds that would bear out President Emmanuel Macron’s arguments that the country can live with the coronavirus.

The virus, however, had different ideas.

Whereas the three-week Tour reached Paris last Sunday having pulled off the coup of getting through the country’s worsening epidemic without any virus positives among its 176 riders, the French Open isn’t proving so lucky with its timing. Play is still scheduled to start Sunday, but as infections soar across France, organizers’ plans to have thousands of spectators there each day to cheer for Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and others have been drastically scaled back to allow just 1,000 daily visitors.

Rafael Nadal, center, coach Francisco Roig, right, and his staff wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus gather during a break at the Roland Garros stadium during a practice on Friday. Associated Press/Michel Euler

Last Sunday, tournament director Guy Forget had appeared in an upbeat mood on French TV with the exhausted-looking Tour director, who tested positive himself during the race and hadn’t been sure it would get to Paris. Forget congratulated him for the cycling roadshow that drew smaller but still sizable and enthusiastic crowds, and looked forward to welcoming 5,000 spectators per day at Roland Garros. Although postponed from their usual slots in May, June and July, both events decided not to cancel, unlike many others as the virus spread across the globe.

“Thanks to the Tour, thanks to tennis, sports are resuming again,” Forget said. “We want to experience beautiful emotions.

“If it’s 5,000 spectators, that’s better than nothing,” he added. “We see the glass half full.”

Less so now.

On Thursday, hours after the tennis tournament carried out a socially-distanced electronic draw, with no players present, France’s prime minister announced that new crowd-size limits introduced this week in Paris and other cities would also apply to Roland Garros. His office confirmed Friday that only 1,000 spectators will be allowed each day. Three weeks ago, the tournament had still been planning for 11,500, divided between its Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen and Simonne Mathieu arenas. That was then cut last week to 5,000 and now to 1,000.

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Virginia governor, wife test positive for coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that he and his wife have both tested positive for the coronavirus.

The governor’s office said in a statement that Northam is showing no symptoms while those of Pam Northam are mild.

Northam and his wife plan to isolate for the next 10 days while working remotely.

Northam, a Democrat, is the country’s only governor who is also a doctor. Some Republican lawmakers criticize his restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, calling them too stringent.

The governor and first lady were notified Wednesday that a member of the Executive Mansion staff also had tested positive for the virus.

Three other governors also have tested positive for COVID-19, though one of those turned out to be a false positive.

Earlier this week, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who has steadfastly refused to require residents to wear masks, announced he’d tested positive.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in July became the first governor to announce he’d tested positive. He recovered and returned to work less than two weeks later.

In August, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that a rapid test was positive. But a short time later, DeWine said a more sensitive test was negative.

Northam’s announcement that he tested positive for the virus comes on the same day as a planned rally by President Donald Trump in Newport News, an event the governor’s staff has asked to be canceled, re-scheduled or scaled down because of concerns about the virus. The event is expected to draw 4,000 people, which would violate Northam’s executive order generally banning gatherings of more than 250 people. The Trump campaign has routinely flouted public health guidelines intended to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Queen Elizabeth II to trim costs as COVID-19 hits income

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her family are facing a 35 million pound ($45 million) hit from the coronavirus pandemic, partly due to a shortage of tourists, the monarch’s money-manager said Friday.

Releasing the royal household’s annual accounts, Keeper of the Privy Purse Michael Stevens said a lack of income from visitors to royal buildings was likely to bring a general funding shortfall of 15 million pounds ($19 million) over three years.

He said the impact of the pandemic is also likely to cause a 20 million-pound ($25.4 million) shortfall in a 10-year, 369-million-pound program to replace antiquated heating, plumbing and wiring at Buckingham Palace, the queen’s London home.

Officials have said the palace’s aging infrastructure, which had its last major upgrade after World War II, is at risk of a catastrophic failure if it’s not replaced.

Stevens said the royal household would not ask for more government money but would “look to manage the impact through our own efforts and efficiencies.”

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Members of Britain’s Royal family appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after attending the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony in 2017. Associated Press

Buckingham Palace has already introduced a staff pay freeze and a halt to hiring.

The accounts show that the monarchy cost British taxpayers 69.4 million pounds ($88.2 million) in the year to the end of March, an increase of 2.4 million ($3.1 million) on the previous financial year.

The accounts also show that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, paid an undisclosed sum to reimburse the public purse for rent and refurbishment of their Frogmore Cottage home near Windsor Castle. The exact sum will appear in next year’s accounts. The renovation costs alone for the home were 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million.)

Harry, 36 and the former Meghan Markle, 39, married at Windsor Castle in May 2018. The couple announced early this year they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.

Harry and Meghan signed a lucrative deal this month to produce nature series, documentaries and children’s programming for streaming service Netflix.

Masks, distancing necessary even after vaccine, says Fauci

Even if there were an effective vaccine in place, Americans would need to continue to wear masks and observe social distancing, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, said Thursday.

“It is not going to eliminate the need to be prudent and careful with our public health measures,” he told New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) during a Facebook Live conversation.

Fauci also said that a “large proportion” of the U.S. population will not be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus this year, challenging the repeated assertions from President Trump that a vaccine will be ready by Election Day.

As The Washington Post has reported, the Food and Drug Administration’s tough new standard for an emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine will make it exceedingly difficult for any vaccine to be cleared before the November election.

On Wednesday, President Trump said the FDA plan “sounds like a political move,” warning that the White House might reject it — even as four of his administration’s top health officials have insisted that politics would not seep into the vaccine approval process.

But according to Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that timeline may not be as decisive as others are making it out to be. Because not everyone will receive the vaccine, and it will not be effective in all those who get it, there will still be plenty of room for the virus to spread.

“I think if we can get 75 to 80 percent of the population vaccinated, I think that would be a really good accomplishment,” he said.

Besides, he added, masks can protect from aerosol transmission, which many scientists say can occur with the novel coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is updating its guidance on this matter, the agency said, after pulling recommendations that had erroneously made it online last week.

Vaccine to be test in UK because of high level of virus transmission

LONDON — U.S.-based vaccine development company Novavax says it has begun a late stage trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom because the high level of novel coronavirus circulating in the country is likely to produce quick results.

Novavax said in a press release issued Thursday that it plans to test the effectiveness of its vaccine in a trial involving 10,000 people between the ages of 18 and 84. The company says at least 25% of the subjects will be over the age of 65. Some 400 participants will also receive a licensed flu vaccine.

The trial is being conducted in partnership with the U.K. government’s vaccine task force, which was created in April to help speed the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Novavax said: “With a high level of SARS-CoV-2 transmission observed and expected to continue in the U.K., we are optimistic that this pivotal phase 3 clinical trial will enroll quickly and provide a near-term view of (the vaccine’s efficacy.’’

Rapid growth of coronavirus cases in Moscow

MOSCOW — Moscow authorities have issued a recommendation for the elderly to stay at home and for employers to allow as many people as possible to work remotely, following a rapid growth of coronavirus cases in the Russian capital.

On Friday, health officials reported 7,212 new cases, the highest daily surge since June. In Moscow, the number of new daily infections started to grow last week and was up to over 1,500 on Friday from under 700 two weeks ago.

“None of us want to return to severe restrictions (that were in place) this spring. I hope we can avoid that,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote in his blog.

Sobyanin urged people over 65 years old and those suffering from chronic illnesses to stay at home starting from Monday, limit their contacts with others and leave their residence only when necessary. Employers are recommended to allow as many people as possible to work from home, disinfect the workplace regularly, observe social distancing guidelines and use personal protective equipment in offices.

India’s new cases stay below 90,000 for fifth day

NEW DELHI — India has reported another 86,052 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, a declining trend with recoveries exceeding daily infections this week.

The Health Ministry raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.8 million on Friday. The ministry said 1,141 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 92,290.

India is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States, where more than 6.9 million people have been infected.

The ministry said India’s recovery rate has crossed 81.55%. This includes five worst-hit states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, which account for more than 60% of the confirmed cases.

The new daily cases have remained below the 90,000 mark for five straight days after hitting a record number of 97,894 on Sept. 16.

Though there was a 12% dip in testing for five days, it picked up again to 1.1 million on Thursday, the ministry said.

The total number of tests has surpassed 67 million in the country with nearly 1.4 billion people.

Florida governor will block restaurant closures, wants college student ‘bill of rights’

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will seek a “bill of rights” for college students in the wake of crackdowns on parties and other social gatherings that some people blame for a surge in coronavirus cases at campuses across the country.

DeSantis said Thursday that he understands university officials are trying to curb transmission of the virus, but added that he considers it “dramatically draconian that a student could get potentially expelled for going to a party.”

The governor also says he will move to block local governments from again closing restaurants. He says there is little evidence such closures have slowed the spread of the coronavirus.

Florida reported 2,541 more confirmed cases Thursday, bringing the statewide total to more than 693,000. The state also reported 177 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the toll in Florida to at least 13,795.

Oregon reports highest number of new cases since mid-summer

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon officials have reported the state’s highest one-day number of new coronavirus cases since mid-July.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 382 newly confirmed cases Thursday, raising the total for the pandemic to 31,865. The death toll is 539.

Nearly 25% of the cases reported Thursday were in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county and home to Portland.

Iowa high school switches to online as a fourth of students absent in case surge

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa school districts have sent hundreds of students home for quarantine or isolation after coronavirus outbreaks, while a high school has switched to online classes after a fourth of students were absent amid a surge in cases.

State officials on Thursday reported 1,341 newly confirmed cases across the state in the previous 24 hours, along with six additional deaths.

One Iowa district has quarantined the entire kindergarten through sixth grade elementary building of about 130 students after a staff member tested positive. Another district has 201 students and staff in isolation or quarantine, with 18 students and eight staff members testing positive.

North Scott High School has gone to all online instruction because its absentee rate surged to 23% since school started Sept. 1.

Hospitals in Missouri city nearing capacity

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Hospitals in Missouri’s third-largest city are approaching capacity due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Officials at Springfield’s two major hospital systems, CoxHealth and Mercy, told the city council they are running out of staff and capacity, according to a report in the Springfield News-Leader.

Missouri is dealing with a surge in new coronavirus cases, with 1,580 more confirmed cases reported Wednesday. That puts the state’s total for the pandemic at 116,946. More than 100,000 of those cases have been reported since the state reopened for business in mid-June.

Among the new cases are Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa. Their positive tests were announced Wednesday.

South Dakota reports record number of new cases 2 days after governor says virus spread has ‘peaked’

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for the second consecutive day as the state continued to see some of the nation’s fastest spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Health reported 463 new cases and 194 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Health officials also reported eight deaths, one of the largest single-day death tallies during the pandemic.

The new records in coronavirus numbers come two days after Gov. Kristi Noem on Twitter described the spread of COVID-19 as having “peaked” in the state. Her administration plans to continue to rely on people making personal decisions to stop the spread.

Over the last two weeks, the state has reported the nation’s second-highest number of new cases per capita. The rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by about 49% in that time.

But the surge in cases has not stopped Noem from pitching the state as a tourism destination. In a video posted on Twitter this week, she shoots at what appears to be a pheasant and says, “Less COVID, more hunting. That’s the plan for the future.”


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