What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

A US Marine is posted at the West Wing door, an indication that President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office as he remains out of public view while fighting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at the White House in Washington, US October 8, 2020.
A US Marine is posted at the West Wing door, an indication that President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office as he remains out of public view while fighting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at the White House in Washington, US October 8, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

US President Donald Trump, who announced he had been infected with the coronavirus on October 2 and spent three nights in a military hospital receiving treatment, said late on Thursday he was feeling "really good" and, with a doctor's blessing, aimed to campaign in Florida on Saturday and in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

The White House has repeatedly refused to say when the president last tested negative for the virus - information essential to tracing the timeline of when and where he was likely infected.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends patients avoid contact with others for 10 days after the onset of symptoms. That means Trump should assume he is contagious through Saturday, October 10, if he was first symptomatic on October 1.

On Thursday, the president said he is no longer contagious, which some experts say is unlikely.

China joins COVAX

China said on Friday it has joined the COVAX global Covid-19 vaccine initiative co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), becoming the biggest economy to date to pledge support to help buy and distribute the shots fairly.

The move by China, where the virus was first reported, comes as it holds separate talks with the WHO to have its locally produced Covid-19 vaccines assessed for international use.

China has at least four experimental vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials - two are developed by state-backed China National Biotec Group (CNBG), and the remaining two are from Sinovac Biotech and CanSino Biologics, respectively.

China joins some 168 countries that have already announced their participation in COVAX including 76 wealthy, self-financing ones. But neither the United States nor Russia have joined the programme. The COVAX initiative aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021.

Takeda starts blood plasma trials

Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical said on Friday an alliance of drugmakers it spearheads has enrolled its first patient in a global clinical trial of a blood plasma treatment for Covid-19 after months of regulatory delays.

Patients will be treated with Gilead Science Inc's Remdesivir alongside the plasma treatment, a hyperimmune globulin therapy derived from blood plasma, which offers a standardised dose of antibodies and doesn't need to be limited to patients with matching blood types.

The WHO has urged caution about plasma treatments for Covid-19 saying evidence they work is "low quality", even as the United States issued emergency authorisation for such therapies.

Eli Lilly antibody treatment supply planned for low and middle-income countries

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co said on Thursday it had entered into an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for potential supply of its experimental antibody treatments for Covid-19 to low and middle-income countries.

As part of the deal, Lilly said it will make antibody therapies available to lower-income countries prior to April 2021, but did not elaborate on the number of doses.

Lilly in September partnered with Amgen to increase supply of its antibody therapies, a day after data showed Lilly's single antibody therapy, LY-CoV555, helped cut hospitalization and emergency room visits for Covid-19 patients.  

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