A medical specialist, wearing a protective suit, checks a young woman's lung X-ray inside a restaurant that was converted into a clinic in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Picture: Vladimir Voronin/AP
A medical specialist, wearing a protective suit, checks a young woman's lung X-ray inside a restaurant that was converted into a clinic in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Picture: Vladimir Voronin/AP

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

By Reuters Time of article published Jul 28, 2020

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Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Vaccine updates

US and company officials were hopeful on Monday that Moderna Inc's vaccine against Covid-19 could be ready for widespread use by the end of this year, after the drug maker announced the start of a 30 000-subject trial to demonstrate it is safe and effective, the final hurdle prior to regulatory approval.

German biotech BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Monday they would begin a pivotal global study to evaluate their lead Covid-19 vaccine candidate. If the study is successful, the companies could submit the vaccine for regulatory approval as early as October.

Meanwhile, European efforts to secure potential Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson are mired in wrangles over price, payment method and potential liability costs, three EU officials told Reuters.

Swift moves in Vietnam

Vietnam suspended all flights to and from Danang for 15 days after at least 14 cases of the novel coronavirus were detected in the city. Two of the Danang cases were in critical condition, Vietnam's health ministry said.

"All evacuation flights now are cancelled," CAAV deputy director Vo Huy Cuong told Reuters by phone on Tuesday. "We operated 90 flights to evacuate tourists stranded in Danang yesterday but most tourists had already left Danang on Sunday, mostly by coach or train to nearby provinces."

All bus and train services to and from Danang have also been suspended from Tuesday, a government statement said. With over 95 million people, Vietnam is the most populous country in the world to have recorded no Covid-19 fatalities.

Fly all you want

China Southern Airlines, China's biggest carrier by passengers, on Tuesday rolled out a "Fly Happily" deal, which allows buyers to use passes for as many flights as they wish for destinations across the country from August 26 to January 6 for 3,699 yuan ($529).

At least eight of China's dozens of airlines have introduced similar deals since June. Industry watchers say the packages have been a shot in the arm.

But Luya You, transportation analyst at BOCOM International, said these promotional packages can only stimulate demand when coronavirus risks are already sufficiently reduced. "While these packages may work in domestic markets, we do not expect similar rollouts for outbound routes anytime soon," she said.

Recovered patients develop heart issues

More than three-quarters of 100 recently recovered Covid-19 patients aged between 45 and 53 had inflammation in the heart muscle and lining show up during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, German doctors reported on Monday in JAMA Cardiology.

Half of the former patients were more than two months out since their diagnosis at the time of the MRI. Thirty-six patients reported ongoing shortness of breath and general exhaustion, and 71 had blood markers of heart muscle damage.

Dr Valentina Puntmann of University Hospital Frankfurt suspects the abnormalities are signs of permanent problems. "While we do not have direct evidence for late consequences yet, such as the development of heart failure ... it is quite possible that in a few years, this burden will be enormous based on what we have learned from other viral conditions that similarly affect the heart," she said.

Play ball, but at what cost?

Just four days after beginning a truncated coronavirus-delayed season, Major League Baseball ran into a serious obstacle on Monday with the postponement of two scheduled games due to a Covid-19 outbreak among Miami Marlins players. According to an ESPN report, at least 13 Marlins players have tested positive in recent days.

The postponement of the games in Philadelphia and Miami was a potentially ominous development for MLB and other major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada hoping to forge ahead during the pandemic. The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League are set to resume play this week after a hiatus of more than four months, while National Football League training camps are opening.

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