Covid-19 Live Updates: Thanksgiving Travel Drops as Americans Rethink Rituals


Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Americans have agonized over Thanksgiving this year, weighing skyrocketing numbers — over 2,000 U.S. deaths from Covid-19 were reported on Tuesday for the first time since May 6 — and blunt warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention against the need, after a grim and worrying year, to gather with family for a traditional, carbohydrate-laden ritual.

Around 27 percent of Americans plan to dine with people outside their household, according to interviews conducted by the global data-and-survey firm Dynata at the request of The New York Times.

Views on whether to risk Thanksgiving gatherings appear to track closely with political views, with respondents identifying as Democrats far less likely to be planning a multihousehold holiday.

Megan Baldwin, 42, had planned to drive from New York to Montana to be with her parents, but last week, she canceled her plans.

“I thought I would get tested and take all the precautions to be safe, but how could I risk giving it to my parents, who are in their 70s?” she said, adding that they were not happy with the decision.

“All they want is to see their grandkids,” she said, “but I couldn’t forgive myself if we got them sick. It’s not worth it.”

Others decided to take the plunge, concluding that the emotional boost of being together outweighed the risk of becoming infected.

“We all agreed that we need this — we need to be together during this crazy, lonely time, and we are just going to be careful and hope that we will all be OK,” said Martha Dillon, who will converge with relatives from four different states on her childhood home in Kentucky.

Thanksgiving travel is clearly down compared with 2019.

The AAA has forecast a 10 percent overall decline in Thanksgiving travel compared with last year, the largest year-on-year drop since the recession of 2008. But the change is far smaller, around 4.3 percent, for those traveling by car, who make up a huge majority of those who plan to travel — roughly 47.8 million people.

About 917,000 people were screened by the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, less than half of the number seen on the same day in 2019, according to federal data published on Tuesday.

Airlines are struggling from a dramatic decline in demand that has forced them to drop flights and make big capacity cuts, said Katherine Estep, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, an industry trade group. “Currently, cancelations are spiking, and carriers are burning $180 million in cash every day just to stay operating,” she said. “The economic impact on U.S. airlines, their employees, travelers and the shipping public is staggering.”

Demand for travel by train is down more sharply, at about 20 percent of what it was last year, said Jason Abrams, a spokesman for Amtrak.

Susan Katz, 73, said she canceled plans to spend Thanksgiving with her daughter last Friday, after watching a monologue by Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host, describing her partner’s bout of coronavirus and her fear that it would prove fatal.

“Her emotion, Rachel Maddow’s emotion, made it so real, it just moved us,” Ms. Katz said. “I probably called her within a few hours of seeing that.”

Ms. Katz, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., said she will spend the holiday alone with her husband. She is trying to decide whether to bother thawing a turkey breast.

Warnings from experts swayed Laura Bult, 33, to cancel her Sunday flight to St. Louis two days before she was scheduled to leave.

“I’m on Twitter — there’s a lot of travel-shaming going on,” she said. “Doing the small part of being one less person circulating through an airport felt important enough to me.”

Her decision, she said, means her mother will be alone for the holiday.

“I really wanted to be with my mom,” she said. “I was trying to be careful because of her. She is not looking out for her best interests, because she just wants to see me.”

Interest in travel generally has increased after recent announcements by pharmaceutical companies that their coronavirus vaccine candidates have been effective at preventing infections, according to preliminary data.

Travel bookings increased by about 25 percent after Pfizer said in early November that a vaccine it was developing with BioNTech was more than 90 percent effective, according to Skyscanner, a travel search engine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, has strongly discouraged holiday travel as the number of new infections surges across the country

“Do you really want to have that gathering?” he said, in an interview with PBS. “Or should you say, I know it hurts not to do it, because this is such a beautiful, traditional season, but hang in there with us, because there will be future times when you can do it?”

Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

As Gov. Gavin Newsom of California was briefing reporters on a video conference call on Monday, he stopped to cough. He started to say something more, and coughed again. Then he paused and smiled.

“That’s tea that got in my throat,” he said. “Nothing more.”

It was only natural to wonder. The realities of the coronavirus surge that has reached every corner of California had just penetrated the governor’s mansion as well: Mr. Newsom and his family had gone into quarantine early that morning because three of his children had been in contact with someone who later tested positive.

California reported 17,694 new cases on Monday, well more than it or any other state had ever done before, according to a New York Times database. Over the past week, it has averaged 12,712 new cases a day — more than Maine’s total for the whole pandemic. And the trajectory in California has lately been almost straight up.

With infections and hospitalizations each rising at an alarming rate in the state, officials announced a curfew late last week for counties in the state’s purple reopening tier — in other words, the counties where almost all of the state’s nearly 40 million residents live.

Officials have implored Californians to take precautions and to reconsider traveling, even within the state. And some local officials have gone further, including closing down outdoor dining in Los Angeles “to reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposure” — an order that takes effect on Wednesday and has drawn pushback.

California is far from the only state where new case reports are shattering records. Oregon hit a new daily high on Sunday, Wyoming did so on Monday, and three states — Rhode Island, Connecticut and Kansas — that do not report separate daily figures over weekends set records for three-day periods ending Monday.

As of Monday night, 11 states — Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kentucky, Minnesota, Idaho, Tennessee, Illinois, Oklahoma, Indiana and South Dakota — had added more deaths in the last week than in any other week since the pandemic began.

Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Bars and restaurants in Pennsylvania have been ordered by the state to stop selling alcohol at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, in an effort to head off uninhibited pre-Thanksgiving gatherings where the coronavirus could spread rapidly.

“It turns out, the biggest day for drinking is the day before Thanksgiving,” Gov. Tom Wolf said at a news conference on Monday. “I don’t like addressing that more than anyone else does, but it’s a fact. And when people get together in that situation, it leads to the exchange of the fluids that leads to the increased infection.”

“We’re going to defeat this virus,” the governor added. “That should be what we’re focused on, not whether we want to get a transitory benefit from going out with friends the day after tomorrow and having some drinks. Let’s forgo that, this one time.”

The regulation, which allows alcohol sales to resume at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, was immediately slammed by restaurant and bar owners, who said it put further strain on businesses that are already struggling to survive.

Marc Vetri, a Philadelphia restaurateur, described Mr. Wolf on Twitter as the “dumbest governor in history,” and used an obscene expression that caused a brief social media storm because it appeared to refer to the state’s secretary of health, Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, using the pronoun “he.” Mr. Vetri quickly deleted the remark and apologized.

Mr. Wolf said he was fully aware of the ill will the decision had engendered. “The virus is what’s doing this —  it’s not me, and it’s not the administration, it’s not the government,” he said. “The more we learn about it, the more we know that this is the kind of place that speeds the transmission of the disease.”

Facing the same concerns in neighboring Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the state police and local authorities would step up enforcement of pandemic restrictions on bars, restaurants, nightclubs and catering halls starting on Wednesday, including cutting off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and other measures the governor imposed last week.

In Utah, on the other hand, Gov. Gary Herbert partly relaxed the state’s restrictions on casual private gatherings this week for the holiday. The governor said on Monday that he was not extending an expiring earlier order that banned indoor gatherings of people from more than one household; the state’s mask mandate and other restrictions remain in force.

Federal health officials may shorten the recommended quarantine period for individuals who have been exposed to the coronavirus in an effort to make the guidance more palatable and to improve compliance, a federal official confirmed on Thursday.

The official was not authorized to speak about the discussions and asked to remain anonymous. The possible change was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advises people who may have been exposed to the virus to seclude themselves for 14 days in order to avoid spreading the disease, even before they know whether they are infected or develop symptoms.

The proposed change would scale back the required quarantine period to between one week and 10 days, followed by a test for the virus.

If adopted, the more relaxed guidance could lead to some infections being missed. Studies have found that the median incubation period for the virus is five days. A significant majority of people — 97.5 percent of those exposed to the virus — develop symptoms by the 12th day after infection.

Credit…Joel Saget/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Three weeks after announcing a second lockdown, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that France had succeeded in thwarting a spike in new cases and laid out a plan to ease restrictions.

Mr. Macron said that new cases last week were a third of what they had been in early November. Although France’s Covid-19 death toll officially topped 50,000 on Tuesday, the number of people in hospitals and intensive care has been trending downward for the last few days.

Mr. Macron detailed a three-part softening of the lockdown in a televised address on Tuesday evening. He said that a first phase of lifting would take place on Nov. 28, with the reopening of all nonessential businesses, such as toy stores or bookshops, under strict health rules and with a 9 p.m. time limit.

But bars and restaurants will remain closed for the time being, and are unlikely to reopen until mid-January, Mr. Macron said.

People will still have to carry a permission slip to leave their homes, but the one-kilometer travel restriction will be expanded to 20 kilometers, and for a maximum of three hours away from home, instead of the current one-hour allotment. Outdoor after-school activities will also be allowed.

Mr. Macron said that places of worship will reopen on Saturday with a 30-person capacity limit. Catholic groups had lobbied the government intensely to allow religious ceremonies to take place again.

Health experts had warned the government not to relax restrictions too quickly and repeat the mistakes France made as it emerged from a lockdown in the spring, with no clear policy on masks and limited testing capacity.

Starting on Dec. 15, and provided that daily new cases are limited to 5,000 and that the number of intensive-care patients does not exceed 3,000, restrictions on people’s movement will largely be lifted and theaters and museums will be allowed to reopen with strict health rules.

A nightlife curfew from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. will replace the current restrictions, and people will be free to move, but not to assemble, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

“It won’t be Christmas holidays like any other,” Mr. Macron said, as he urged people to respect social distancing during family gatherings. He added that amusement parks and ski resorts would remain closed for the rest of the year.

“The logic of all these decisions is the same,” Mr. Macron said. “To limit as much as possible all the activities that multiply gatherings, that lead people to gather in enclosed places and to gradually allow the reopening of activities where we can protect ourselves.”

The third phase will start on Jan. 20 with the reopening of all bars, restaurants and gyms as well as the return to class of university students, provided that case numbers remain low. Financial support for companies forced to remain closed until Jan. 20 will be reinforced.

Mr. Macron added that authorities were moving forward to prepare for a wide-ranging vaccination campaign in France. As soon as late December or early January, elderly people will be vaccinated. Hospitals, retirement homes and doctors will be given priority, but vaccination will not be mandatory.

“The return to normal will therefore not be for tomorrow, but I am convinced that we can control the epidemic in the long term,” Mr. Macron said, adding that this year of health, economic and security crises had also shown France’s strengths, as well as the weaknesses that needed to be addressed.

“Today we stand together, tomorrow we will win together,” Mr. Macron said.

Credit…Pfizer, via Reuters

Around mid-December, 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine will be shipped out across the United States in an initial push after it receives an expected emergency authorization, officials leading Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s push to fast-track a vaccine, said on a call with reporters on Tuesday.

The first doses — which are expected to go to health care workers and potentially a few other vulnerable groups — will be allocated to all 50 states and eight territories, as well as six major metropolitan areas. The quantities will be based on how many adults live in each jurisdiction.

“We wanted to keep this simple,” said Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services.

Officials decided on that allocation formula, as opposed to one that would prioritize the hardest-hit parts of the country, in part because the virus is spreading rapidly nationwide, Mr. Azar said.

Operation Warp Speed notified states late Friday night of how many doses they’d be receiving in the first push to assist them in their planning, officials said Tuesday. Governors and other local leaders will be responsible for deciding where the shipments should go.

Pfizer will ship doses of the vaccine via UPS and FedEx in special coolers packed with dry ice that will hold a minimum of 975 doses, which must be used up within a few weeks or stored in an ultracold freezer for up to six months.

Pfizer’s vaccine, which was developed with the German company BioNTech, was found to be 95 percent effective in a late-stage study earlier this month. An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to meet on Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer’s clinical-trial data and vote on whether to recommend that the agency authorize it.

From there, it’s not clear how long it will take to make a decision. The agency could take “days” to deliberate on whether to authorize the vaccine, F.D.A. Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in an interview with USA TODAY published Tuesday.

But Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said during a television appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the first doses could be administered as soon as Dec. 11. Federal health officials have said the first Americans will start getting vaccinated within 24 hours of an authorization being issued.

Another leading vaccine developer, Moderna, is expected to soon follow Pfizer’s lead in filing for emergency authorization for its vaccine candidate, which an early analysis found to be 94.5 percent effective.

The path forward in the United States is less clear for AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which on Monday announced that they had zeroed in on a promising dosing plan for their vaccine candidate.

All three of those vaccines require people to get two doses, spread several weeks apart.

After the initial distribution push, vaccine shipments will go out to states and other jurisdictions on a weekly basis. Federal officials have said they expect to have 40 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines available by the end of the year.

Credit…Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

Britons from up to three households will be able to come together and celebrate Christmas under plans announced on Tuesday for a brief relaxation of the rules designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The decision, agreed upon by political leaders in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, means that people will be able to move freely around the United Kingdom between Dec. 23 and 27, regardless of whatever local restrictions are in force before those dates.

Those moving to or from Northern Ireland will be given an additional day to travel at both ends of that period to reflect the additional complexity of some of their journeys.

Under the rules, members of up to three households will be able to gather in private homes and outdoor spaces and travel together to places of worship. But the exemption will not allow these larger groups to meet in pubs or restaurants, where normal restrictions will still apply.

Those rules on indoor dining and drinking will vary from region to region. On Monday, the government in England said that when it ends a national lockdown on Dec. 2 the country will be divided into three tiers of restrictions, depending on the severity of the health situation in each area.

However, the government is not expected to announce which regions will be placed in which tier until Thursday.

Michael Gove, a senior British cabinet minister, said that, while “the Christmas period this year will not be normal,” successful talks with Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish leaders meant that “families and friends will now have the option to meet up in a limited and cautious way across the U.K. should they wish.”

That message was echoed by Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales. “Everyone has done so much to help control the spread of the virus and to save lives,” he said in a statement. “But that has meant many sacrifices, including not seeing family and close friends. We are all looking forward to Christmas and a chance to spend some time with all those we hold dear.”

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Until now, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Covid-19 task force has had to prepare its battle plan without the keys to the government agencies leading the pandemic response.

That changes this week, when Mr. Biden can finally dispatch what are known as landing teams to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

They will have prepared the traditional welcome gift: enormous briefing books that detail nearly everything the agencies have been working on for the past four years; lists of friendly lawmakers, budgets, accomplishments, roadblocks; and suggested targets for the new administration.

The president-elect will also inherit something nobody would want: a national crisis that is accelerating by the day. The daily average of new cases in the United States over the past week is at record levels, a staggering 173,000, and growing. Forty-two states are recording sustained caseload increases, and nine are reporting more than twice as many new cases a day as they did two weeks ago.

In the weeks since Election Day, the dire outlook has been tempered by encouraging early results from three major vaccine developers. But Mr. Biden and his top aides have said their ability to effectively plan a pandemic response had been stymied by President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his victory and the refusal of the head of the General Services Administration to formally authorize the transition process that would grant Mr. Biden’s transition team access to funds, equipment and government data. That argument has been seconded by a growing chorus of senior Republican lawmakers, business executives and other public figures.

On Monday, President Trump’s government finally authorized Mr. Biden to begin a formal transition process. It is supposed to be led by career staff, not political appointees — and the Biden team can expect to find a warm welcome from them, particularly scientists on the team who Mr. Trump has criticized for years.

But in a pandemic, there is no time to waste. The F.D.A. landing team will need to get up to speed on a planned vaccine roll out, as well as the most promising new vaccine candidates and therapeutics. It may also designate a career staff member to be the agency’s acting commissioner if the current one, Stephen M. Hahn, leaves before a replacement can be nominated and confirmed.

At the C.D.C., one of the most pressing issues will be taking over a public education campaign, now in development, to persuade the public to trust — and take — the vaccine.

In the absence of a formal transition, Mr. Biden had been left trying to signal to Americans that he is prepared to take charge of a disjointed federal virus response.

“It doesn’t matter who you voted for, where you stood before Election Day,” Mr. Biden said in Delaware in early November after announcing a coronavirus task force. “It doesn’t matter your party, your point of view. We can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives — American lives.”

New York roundup

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered to celebrate a wedding inside a cavernous hall in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood earlier this month, dancing and singing with hardly a mask in sight. The wedding was meticulously planned, and so were efforts to conceal it from the authorities, who said that the organizers would be fined $15,000 for violating public health restrictions.

The four-hour wedding, held on Nov. 8 by the leaders of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, is the latest incident in a long battle between city and state officials and members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who prize autonomy, chafe at government restrictions and have frequently flouted guidelines like mask-wearing and social distancing.

In October, state officials announced a series of restrictions in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens with large Orthodox Jewish populations after the positive test rate in those areas rose above 4 percent. Many residents protested the restrictions, which included the closing of nonessential businesses and limiting capacity at houses of worship.

While the rates in several of these areas have decreased since the implementation of the restrictions, tensions between city officials and area leaders have continued.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the fine on Monday night after video of the wedding — and a florid account of the event and the extensive efforts to conceal it appeared in a Hasidic newspaper — drew backlash online. He said additional penalties could be imposed on the organizers.

“We know there was a wedding,” the mayor told the local news network NY1. “We know it was too big. I don’t have an exact figure, but whatever it was, it was too big. There appeared to be a real effort to conceal it. Which is absolutely unacceptable.”

Representatives for the Satmar community did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in New York:

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an agreement with Verizon to offer internet service to half a million households, prioritizing public housing units and community districts known to lack broadband. Mr. de Blasio said he hoped the new access would offer families an alternative way to connect during the holiday season and support students who were scrambling now that schools are closed indefinitely. The effort to bridge the digital divide was first initiated by the former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who struck an agreement with Verizon in 2008 to make high-speed Fios internet service available to every household in the city. Nine years later, under the de Blasio administration, the city sued the company for failing to fulfill its obligations.

  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, facing a barrage of condemnation after discussing his Thanksgiving dinner arrangements in a radio interview, changed his plans. The governor was accused of hypocrisy after he said on Monday that his 89-year-old mother and two of his daughters would be traveling to Albany to join him; he has been pleading with New Yorkers for days to reconsider family gatherings as cases of the virus spike across the nation.

  • On Staten Island, an emergency hospital will reopen to address a new surge in coronavirus cases that is straining the capacity of the borough’s hospitals. The facility will be located at the South Beach Psychiatric Center and will take in virus patients after officials at Staten Island University Hospital and Richmond University Medical Center said they were running short on beds. The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in the borough has essentially tripled in the past three weeks — to 91 on Sunday from 33 on Nov. 2 — with no indication that the pace is slowing, Governor Cuomo said Monday.

Credit…Mulugeta Ayene/Mulugeta Ayene, via Associated Press

Thirteen African countries will take part in a clinical trial aimed at identifying treatments that could prevent moderate coronavirus cases from becoming more severe. The randomized trial will be carried out by ANTICOV, a consortium of 26 African and European clinical institutions, and the study’s authors hope the results will lead to fewer hospitalizations, which could overwhelm fragile health systems in the continent.

While many Western countries are preparing plans to distribute a successful vaccine in the coming months, vaccine nationalism and a $4 billion gap in procurement financing in Africa could mean that many countries there experience delays or are left out of the rollout. Governments in these countries are instead exploring other ways to manage any potential case surges.

The clinical trial will explore therapeutic medicines currently used to treat malaria, H.I.V. and certain cancers, among other diseases. Testing is already underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with Kenya expected to follow soon. Once individual countries give regulatory approval, the Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan, and Uganda will also come on board.

Africa has largely avoided the devastating spikes that have swept across Western nations. Experts believe this could be because of younger populations, existing cross-immunity and fewer travel links, among other reasons. Some have suggested numbers may be underreported, although lower hospitalization rates would seem to rule out huge numbers of undetected cases.

But the continent is experiencing a new uptick in cases, and experts warn the holiday season may lead to new outbreaks as families travel or relax social distancing measures.

Africa this week passed the two million cases mark, with the bulk of recorded infections — almost 800,000 — coming from South Africa, the most developed economy in the sub-Saharan region.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Credit…Loren Elliott/Reuters

Australia’s largest airline, Qantas, is planning to make coronavirus vaccines — when they become available — compulsory for passengers who want to fly internationally, and its chief executive predicted that other airlines would follow.

Alan Joyce, the head of Qantas, said on Monday that the airline was looking at changing its terms and conditions to make vaccines compulsory for those traveling into or out of Australia.

He also said he believed vaccinations as a condition for international air travel would be mandated by more airlines: “I’ve talked to my colleagues at other airlines across the globe, and I think it’s going to be a common theme across the board.”

He said airlines and governments around the world have considered developing an electronic vaccination passport that would certify if passengers were vaccinated and with what vaccine. Mr. Joyce’s comments coincided with an announcement by the International Air Transport Association that it was in the final stages of developing a digital health pass that would provide travelers’ testing and vaccine information to governments and airlines.

The Australian government has said that coronavirus vaccines will be “as mandatory as you can possibly make it.”

Qantas has not finalized any changes since no vaccines are predicted to be available in Australia until early next year, but one British travel company said it would stop selling Qantas flights.

In other news from around the world:

  • In an upcoming book, Pope Francis criticizes those who do not wear masks, saying, “It is all too easy for some to take an idea — in this case, for example, personal freedom — and turn it into an ideology.” The pope has himself been criticized for not wearing masks at his public appearances.

  • King Felipe VI of Spain has started a 10-day quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid-19. The royal household did not disclose whom the king had met but said in a statement that all of his official activities had been canceled during the quarantine period. The king’s wife, Queen Letizia, and their two daughters have not been quarantined.

  • Prime Minister Johnny Briceño of Belize will isolate for two weeks after testing positive for Covid-19, Reuters reported. The country has recorded a total of 5,200 coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times database.

  • The parliament of Lithuania installed a new prime minister, Ingrida Simonyte, on Tuesday and then swiftly adjourned for a week because of a surge of coronavirus cases in the country, The Associated Press reported. The former government was heavily criticized over soaring unemployment stemming from the pandemic.

Credit…Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA, via Shutterstock

The makers of a leading Russian vaccine candidate, Sputnik V, said on Tuesday that it showed an efficacy rate of 95 percent in preliminary results from a clinical trial, which would put it at the same level as or better than three other vaccines that have yielded results in recent weeks.

However, that figure was based on an unspecified small group of volunteers within the ongoing Phase 3 trial of the vaccine, and the vaccine makers did not specify how many people with the vaccine or the placebo got sick. When the trial is done, the company said, they will release more complete data.

While it was hard to immediately assess the efficacy of the vaccine based on the announcement and the fact that the Phase 3 trials are not complete, the news promised to add to the flurry of excitement over the promise that vaccines could bring the coronavirus pandemic to an end.

The American and German team of Pfizer and BioNTech and the American company Moderna have announced efficacy rates of 95 and 94.5 percent, respectively. And AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said on Monday their vaccine is either 62 percent or 90 percent effective, depending on the manner in which the doses were given.

Russia registered the vaccine for emergency use in August before beginning a clinical trial to measure its efficacy, shortcutting the usual process and drawing international criticism. President Vladimir V. Putin claimed it was the first vaccine in the world to receive government approval.

Russia has marketed its vaccine mostly in former Soviet states and countries with developing economies, saying the cost of one dose will be less than $10 for international markers. Officials said that vaccine makers have received orders for 1.2 billion doses from around 50 countries. The Russian Direct Investment Fund has said that about 10,000 people have been inoculated under the emergency-use approval.

On Nov. 11, the government-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund announced that an analysis of the first 20 volunteers indicated an efficacy rate of 92 percent. On Tuesday, the fund provided a similar estimate with more details. They analyzed 18,794 volunteers who have received both injections of the two-dose regimen; 14,095 got the vaccine and 4,699 got the placebo.

A week after the second dose, they found 39 cases of Covid-19, with only eight of the volunteers who got sick having received the vaccine. Based on the ratio of volunteers who got the vaccine to the placebo, the researchers estimated the efficacy at 91.4 percent.

But in their announcement, the fund said that researchers also looked at an unspecified number of volunteers three weeks after the second dose. In those volunteers, they calculated an efficacy rate of 95 percent.

The researchers will take another look at the results when they reach 78 cases of Covid-19 in the volunteers.

Some experts expressed skepticism about the announcement, which was based on an incomplete dataset and apparently not compiled during a regularly scheduled review of the trial results.

“That’s not how it should be done,” said Dr. John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine. “It seems to me what they’re doing is slicing and dicing and data-dredging to come up with the 95 percent figure.”

In August, the Russian Direct Investment Fund named the vaccine Sputnik V for the first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, though at the time, other vaccines were further along in development.

Russian scientists have begun Phase 3 clinical trials on two other vaccines.

Credit…Carlos Osorio/Reuters

Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America, went into lockdown on Monday. But in contrast to New York and other big American cities, officials are finding it more beneficial to keep schools open.

“We cannot put in-class learning at risk,” Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, said last week. Along with trying to avoid overwhelming hospitals and protecting older adults in long-term care homes, Mr. Ford said, educating students was “what matters most.”

Mr. Ford’s announcement illustrated how Canada has followed the lead of much of Europe, prioritizing the opening or reopening of schools, while just across the border, many U.S. states have focused on keeping businesses open.

In most places, there are no official thresholds for shutting schools down and there is little appetite to do so, according to Ahmed Al-Jaishi, an epidemiologist who is part of an academic team compiling school outbreaks across Canada. And, despite fears among parents that students would bring the disease home and among teachers that they would get infected, such outcomes have been rare.

Even so, some parents in Toronto have been reluctant to allow their children to return to in-class learning, particularly now, with the city seeing its biggest surge in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. Last week, the city reported a 6.2 percent positive test rate. That is more than double the 3 percent positive test rate in New York that triggered school shutdowns last week.

Most schools across Canada shut in March, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Canadians to stay home and closed the border. In many cases, the schools didn’t reopen until September, after months of parental complaints, children falling behind in schoolwork and rising concerns about the effects of social isolation.

Credit…Vincent Yu/Associated Press

Facing a spike in coronavirus infections, the government in Hong Kong ordered all bars and nightclubs to shut starting on Thursday.

The city’s fourth wave of cases has emerged under cooler temperatures and what officials warned of as fatigue after months of social distancing. A cluster that began at a dance studio has since spread to similar venues across the city, bringing infections to another high since the summer.

Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s health secretary, said that all bars, nightclubs, bathhouses and rented rooms for private parties must close, and that live performances and dancing would be banned. Banquets could have 10 tables at most, with each seating up to four people, she said.

The city’s authorities have toughened and relaxed its social-distancing rules with rises and falls in coronavirus cases. On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 80 new cases, including 54 linked to the dancers, bringing the cluster that originated at Starlight Dance Club — a ballroom and Latin dance studio — to 187 cases, a health department spokeswoman said.

Also on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, defended a plan to pay about $645 to those who test positive and who are in financial difficulty. Critics said the government was giving people an incentive to intentionally infect themselves, but officials have since clarified the eligibility requirements for the payments. Mrs. Lam said it was intended to help those who would lose income as a result of getting infected.





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US stock exchange rockets as Biden transition looks set to begin; Aussie retailers under scrutiny; Travel interest surges after Queensland reopens border


President-Elect Joe Biden is introducing his Cabinet nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts, including the first woman to lead the US intelligence community and first Latino to helm the Department of Homeland Security.

The six foreign policy and national security nominees and appointees, which were unveiled yesterday, are on stage with him in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Today I’m pleased to announce nomination for positions in my administration. It is a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure. And it is a team that reflects the fact that America is back. Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,” Mr Biden said.

“The team meets this moment, this team behind me. They embody my core believes that America is strongest when it works with its allies,” Biden continued. “Collectively this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory.”

Earlier, President Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, abruptly came into the White House briefing room Tuesday for remarks scheduled minutes before on the stock market that clocked in just over one minute.

The Dow hit 30,000 for the first time earlier Tuesday as uncertainty about the outcome of the presidential election lifted and new hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine could soon be available.

Mr Trump made brief remarks and did not take any questions.

“I just want to congratulate everybody. The stock market, Dow Jones Industrial Average, just hit 30,000, which is the highest in history. We’ve never broken 30,000, and that’s just, despite everything that’s taken place with the pandemic.

“I’m very thrilled with what’s happened on the vaccine front, that’s been absolutely incredible. Nothing like that has ever happened, medically, and I think people are acknowledging that, and it’s having a big effect.”



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Travel latest news: International trips will not be illegal for people living in Tier 3



More than half of skiers are willing to accept the Government’s new five-day quarantine rule in exchange for the chance to go on a ski holiday this winter, reports Lucy Aspden.

A survey carried out by ski equipment rental company Intersport, which has shops all over Europe, found that 80 per cent of skiers still hope to be able to hit the slopes this season, wth the majority (59 per cent) happy to quarantine for five days on their return.

However, there are a number of hurdles these determined skiers will face before they hit the slopes. Lack of travel options and insurance cover are two of the main reasons skiers are holding off booking their trips just yet. The majority haven’t yet secured a holiday, with over 41 per cent intending to leave it until the last minute, once their safe in the knowledge resorts in Europe will reopen.

“Of course we all want to see British skiers out here this winter,” said Arnaud Coppell, head of Intersport Rent in France. 

“We know that the quarantine on the way back into the UK is a real problem for our British friends. We welcome the UK Government’s change in the number of quarantine days, and we can assure our customers that our shops are ready for this unusual winter, with a virtual queueing system, obligatory alcohol gel and masks and a no-questions-asked refund policy. To our friends in Great Britain we say this: whenever you can get here – no matter how late in the season – we’re ready!” he added.

The brand’s ambassador and Ski Sunday presenter Ed Leigh predicts increased demand for spring ski holidays. “I’ve been pushing Easter as the best time to go skiing regardless of Covid. But with this change in quarantine regs, it actually means that for 2021 there’s actually a perfect week lining up.”





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US coronavirus cases soar past 12 million as Americans warned against Thanksgiving travel



The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 12 million on Sunday, according to the Johns Hopkins University real-time tracker, just days ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday that health experts have warned could fuel the surging spread of infection around the country.

The milestone marks a worsening of the country’s COVID-19 epidemic, which has claimed a quarter of a million lives in the United States, more than in any other nation, and has prompted more than 20 states to impose sweeping new restrictions this month to try to curb the virus.

Data shows the pace of new infections in the United States has quickened, with nearly one million more cases recorded in just the last 6 days since the country recorded 11 million. This compares with the 8 days it took to get from 10 million cases to 11 million cases, and the 10 days it took to get from 9 to 10 million.

Health officials have warned that the wave of infections could soon overwhelm the healthcare system if people do not follow public health guidance, particularly around not traveling and mingling with other households for the traditional Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday.

The US Centers for Disease Control issued a “strong recommendation” to Americans this week to refrain from travelling over Thanksgiving.

“We’re alarmed with the exponential increase in cases, hospitalisations, and deaths,” CDC official Henry Walke told reporters.

Many Americans appeared to defy that guidance in the days leading up the holiday. On Friday, video footage on Twitter showed more than a hundred people, wearing masks, crowding departure gates at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, Arizona.

The number of people in the United States traveling by air for Thanksgiving was expected to decline by 47.5 per cent from 2019, while the number traveling by car was only expected to fall by about 4 per cent, according to a report released earlier this month by the American Automobile Association.

“For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure,” AAA senior vice president Paula Twidale said in a statement.

As the United States set a new record for COVID-19 cases on Friday – 196,815 infections in a day – Pfizer said it would seek emergency-use authorisation of its vaccine from US regulators, the first such application.

At a press briefing on Friday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci likened Pfizer’s vaccine and others like it to “cavalry” coming to the country’s aid, and he said Americans should meanwhile continue to follow measures such as social distancing and the use of face masks.

“If you’re fighting a battle and the cavalry is on the way, you don’t stop shooting. You keep going until the cavalry gets here,” Dr Fauci said.



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Will Australians be able to travel again once a coronavirus vaccine is available?


The news of two potential COVID-19 vaccines showing promising results in late stage trials has been welcomed by many, including those itching to start travelling or return home.

Earlier this month, the Federal Government released Australia’s vaccination policy, which said that while vaccinations will not be mandatory, a proof of vaccination may be required for people entering or returning to the country.

It was the first time the Government had given a firm indication of what future international travel might look like.

Further details of international travel requirements are still emerging, but experts have given some insight into what we might expect when those overseas journeys become possible again.

It’s been done many times before

Australian travellers returning from a yellow fever-risk country are already required to have a proof of vaccination.(ABC News: Melanie Vujkovic)

Certain vaccinations had already been required for travel before the coronavirus pandemic, depending on the passenger’s origin or destination.

For example, travellers must have an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (ICVP) to enter countries that have mandated a yellow fever vaccination, or to leave places with a high risk of polio.

In Australia, travellers returning from a country where yellow fever is a risk — including places in Africa, South America and Central America — are required to have a valid ICVP.

Epidemiologist Raina MacIntyre, from the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, said she believed a proof of vaccination for COVID-19 “will become a requirement” for future travel.

“Some countries which cannot vaccinate everyone will remain as COVID-19 hotspots into the future, and this is why vaccination will be a prerequisite for travel … much in the way that yellow fever vaccination is required,” she told the ABC.

However, viral diseases such as the mosquito-borne yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis are bound to geographical locations, whereas COVID-19 is not.

Photo of sitting stationary on the Sydney airport runway.
Some experts believe proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be a requirement for travel in the future.(ABC News: John Gunn)

Paul Griffin, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at the University of Queensland, said allowing international travel would likely have the potential to invite COVID-19 cases into the country, despite the availability of a vaccine.

“COVID-19 at the moment is so ubiquitous,” he said.

“If we were to allow for international travel and were to get vaccinated, basically, any internal mitigation strategies will be completely overrun by COVID cases.”

He said it made sense to protect people who were travelling through vaccinations, but it cannot be the only method of mitigation to ensure the disease doesn’t continue to spread.

Not all nations can wait on a vaccine

Jordan and Julia Erisman on a quad bike overlooking the coast.
Jordan (left) and Julia Erisman feel safe during their overseas honeymoon due to the extra safety measures required to travel.(Supplied)

Nations heavily reliant on tourism and migration have seen an influx of cases since opening up their borders to travellers — the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia is one of them.

Its economy faced a financial crisis during the pandemic and that prompted the Government to open its borders to international tourists in July.

Within a month, it had recorded 70 new cases of COVID-19, with bars and restaurants visited by tourists identified as hotspots for transmission, but the French territory continued to encourage people to visit.

American couple, Julia Erisman and her husband Jordan, told the ABC they were able to make their honeymoon in Bora Bora last week due to the extra safety measures put in place by the French Polynesian Government.

The precautions included a negative COVID-19 test result prior to travelling, and then another test four days after arriving.

“We feel safer here than back at home.”

In Singapore, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said the country “can’t afford to wait around” for a vaccine, according to local media reports.

The island nation has no prospect for domestic air travel and its partially state-owned aviation industry has been struggling.

From November 22, Singapore will allow quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong, but arrivals will be required to take a COVID-19 test and provide a negative test result 72 hours before departure.

Visitors will also have to download the country’s contact tracing app.

Singapore has opened its borders to tourists from certain countries including Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, mainland China and Vietnam.

Besides Australia, other nations with closed borders to tourists include Vietnam, Chile and Fiji.

Vaccine not a silver bullet to open up travel

A health professional with gloves injecting in a person's arm.
Experts say there are still many factors up in the air before we know when we can travel again.(AP: Ted S. Warren)

While there are a number of promising vaccination candidates, they are yet to be approved, Dr Griffin said.

“We’ll need that information before we can say exactly how it’s going to be implemented and what sort of restrictions will be tied to that,” he said.

“And it’s not going to be the sole solution, it’s going to need concurrent mitigation strategies, even simple things like masks where people can’t socially distance.”

Dr Griffin said there also needed to be sufficient vaccine coverage in a traveller’s country of origin and at their destinations before things can begin to open up.

“It’s going to take a long time to get from rolling out a vaccine … to getting to the stage where the coverage is sufficient that the risk is diminished,” he said.

There are also no guarantees the broader population will be receptive to being vaccinated for COVID-19, which can further hinder progress towards reopening or accepting foreign visitors.

In August, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth said those who refused vaccination would need “some sort of incentive”.

Hassan Vally, associate professor at the Department of Public Health at La Trobe University, told the ABC there were also other factors to consider, including how much protection a vaccine can offer.

“We still don’t know how long immunity lasts and so regardless of whether you’ve had a natural infection or whether you’ve been vaccinated, we’re unsure as to how long that offers protection for,” he said.



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Australian Open junior tournament, boys and girls tournaments, postponed due to travel restrictions, COVID-19 difficulties


The decision is complex, given players and their support staff would prefer to get into the country well before the tournament.

When asked on Saturday about reports suggesting the Open could be pushed back to March or April, Premier Daniel Andrews said: ‘‘… from the seventh of next month we can have flights returning to Melbourne and a hotel quarantining system will be reset and set up at that point and this is not a simple thing, to have many hundreds or indeed potentially well more than 1000 athletes and others who support them, media, being here for a very important event. It has to be done safely, it has to be done right.

‘‘I am very confident we will have an Australian Open in the early part of next year. The exact timing of it, the exact arrangements we put in place, they are not settled yet.’’

The Open’s junior events have been postponed, with officials telling participants on Saturday that it had been pushed back due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley and Australian Open juniors tournament director Francis Soyer announced the postponement in a letter to players, with an aim to hold a replacement tournament in 2021.

“Australia has had relatively few cases of COVID-19 … and this has been achieved through strict biosecurity measures which include limiting international travellers into Australia, and mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international arrivals,” the letter read.

“These limits along with the increased biosecurity requirements have unfortunately made it extremely difficult for us to run a junior event at the 2021 Australian Open.”

The Australian Open Junior tournament won’t go ahead as ususal. Credit:Chris Hopkins

Tennis Australia declined to comment further on Saturday.

The current timeline has raised doubts about players taking part in any lead-in events, such as the ATP Cup men’s teams event, which remain shrouded in uncertainty

Australian doubles great Todd Woodbridge said on Saturday that moving the two-week event to another spot in the calendar remained possible.

“I don’t think that’s an outcome we would be wanting,” Woodbridge said on the ABC.

“But stranger things have happened in 2020, haven’t they? Roland Garros – being played in September instead of May, even in the golf world the [US] Masters recently just finished a week ago and of course that’s played in April normally.

“These are all things that at some point you would have said ‘no, that’s not possible’.

“[But] financially, to sustain these events, you can’t lose a year. There’s so much at stake.”

Woodbridge said, despite the great uncertainty, it was highly unlikely the Open – a mainstay of Melbourne’s major events strategy – could somehow be shifted to another city.

“I think that would be hard-pressed now given the timeframe to be honest with you,” Woodbridge said.

“The thing we have is that the size of the event in terms of the draws and so forth [and] the facilities required … Melbourne Park is the perfect place to be able to do that.

“The early part of next year, 2021 – all of the tennis calendars are looking shaky.

“All of those discussions are ongoing too, between Tennis Australia, the men’s tour, the women’s tour and the International Tennis Federation about trying to work out what’s best.”

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The manager of Alex de Minaur, one of Australia’s best players, has said there was a risk other players could boycott the tournament if preparations were not deemed to be up to scratch.

International sport has been thrown into turmoil since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March. Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since 1945, while the US Open was held without spectators and Roland Garros shifted to September.

Wimbledon had the benefit of cancelling this year with pandemic insurance protection to draw upon but, as The Age revealed in July, Tennis Australia had previously taken out similar insurance coverage for the Australian Open but that policy was due to expire. Thus, they would not be able to draw on the policy for the 2021 event.

Tennis Australia had proposed for players to land in Melbourne in early December and exist in biosecure “controlled bubble” environments in which movement is limited to travel between hotels and the practice court. Tiley has previously told The Age that costs for organising quarantine conditions would exceed $30 million.

Central to TA’s negotiations with health officials has been the capacity for players to practice while undergoing quarantine. World No.1 Novak Djokovic this week called for “support and understanding” from Australian authorities while even advocating for players to be allowed to compete in the second week of quarantine.

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Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble continues as Hong Kong Covid cases rise


Singapore Airlines crew members at Changi International Airport in Singapore on Oct. 24, 2020.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Singapore and Hong Kong will go ahead with their air travel arrangements on Sunday as planned, but there will be additional precautionary measures imposed as new coronavirus cases in Hong Kong rise.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced Saturday that all arriving passengers from Hong Kong will now be required to take an additional Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test upon arrival.

They will also need to self-isolate in their place of residence — be it a hotel or home — as they wait for the results which will take about six to eight hours, the aviation authority said.

To be clear, all passengers from Hong Kong under the air travel bubble agreement were already required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 PCR test and obtain a negative test result before departing for Singapore.

“As mentioned, travellers will now undergo a further on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test,” according to the latest release from CAAS.

The initial air travel bubble agreement announced on Nov. 11 did not require any isolation of passengers from Hong Kong upon arrival.

Hong Kong’s ‘new wave’

Hong Kong reported Friday that the number of new daily cases rose to 26, and most of them were local infections.

“We have probably entered into a new wave of cases,” the city’s Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said in a press briefing on Friday, citing experts from the Centre for Health Protection.

She said the situation was “severe” and urged citizens to stop all unnecessary gatherings.

The government met late Friday to finalize other contingency measures aimed at stemming the spread of the virus, and will not rule out more stringent restrictions, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a Facebook post.

Hong Kong imposed new restrictions on Saturday, including the banning of clubs and party rooms, as well as prohibiting live performances and dancing in bars and pubs. The government announced earlier that primary schools will be suspended for two weeks from Monday.

The Singapore and Hong Kong health authorities are in close contact and monitoring the situation.

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

Travel authorities from both sides have always said the deal will be suspended if the Covid-19 situation in either city deteriorates.

The Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble agreement is due to start on Nov. 22 with a single flight daily into each city, limited to a maximum of 200 passengers per flight. The number of flights will increase only if the spread of Covid-19 in both cities remains under control.

Singapore’s aviation authority reiterated on Saturday that the air travel bubble “will be suspended if the seven-day moving average of unlinked cases exceeds five per day.”

“The figure for Hong Kong is currently at 2.14,” CAAS said. “The threshold will be exceeded if there are more than 22 unlinked cases in Hong Kong over the next three days. This will trigger a two-day notice period, after which suspension will come into effect.”

“The Singapore and Hong Kong health authorities are in close contact and monitoring the situation,” the aviation authority said.



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Two Whitsunday destinations trending for Qld travel


THE Whitsundays has landed a prized place on Australian traveller’s bucket lists as international border closures prompt a rush to holiday at home.

Both Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island were named among Queensland’s top 10 trending destinations in the Booking.com Future of Travel report.

Airlie Beach nabbed silver behind Noosa Heads while Hamilton Island landed sixth place on the list.

The list was based on the most searched non-metro destinations by Australian users.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler said she was “thrilled” to see Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island had both landed a spot.

“The Whitsundays is the most tourism reliant region in Queensland, it is critical for our industry that we are top of mind for holiday-makers,” she said.

Airlie Beach was named the second most trending Queensland holiday destination, Picture: File

“It is becoming clear that a silver lining we can take from the international borders being closed is that more Australian’s will have an incredible tropical holiday right here in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef.”

Mrs Wheeler hoped a combination of world-class resorts, beaches, sailing experiences and top quality dining would continue to draw visitors.

Other destinations on the list included Mooloolaba, Port Douglas and Caloundra.

Booking.com Australian area manager Luke Wilson said that while the future of international travel remained uncertain, it was encouraging to see Aussies exploring their own backyards.

“For Australia, the impact the pandemic has had on travel has been keenly felt,” he said.

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“As restrictions continue to ease in Queensland, we can see holiday planners are getting ready to rediscover travel in their own state backyard.”

The report also revealed working remotely had impacted Australian’s travel plans where more than one third of travellers had already considered booking somewhere to stay in order to work from a different destination.

Travellers were also prioritising sustainable travel and looking for an escape with strong health and hygiene standards in the wake of the pandemic.





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Coronavirus live news: China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine; US CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel | World news





























Mexico becomes fourth country to pass 100,000 deaths




























WHO warns against taking remdesivir

Remdesivir, one of the drugs Donald Trump took when he developed Covid-19, should not be used in hospitals because there is no evidence it works, the World Health Organization has advised.

The US president was an enthusiastic proponent of the drug, to the point where he boasted in July that he had bought up the world’s entire stock for Americans. The WHO’s guidelines committee, however, has said Covid patients may be better off without it.

The WHO issued what it calls a “living guideline”, which can be updated as evidence comes in, largely as a result of a Solidarity trial it led in several countries. Solidarity allocated patients randomly to several drugs including remdesivir and found that those who took it were no more likely to survive severe Covid than those who did not.

There are other issues with remdesivir. Made by the US company Gilead, is extremely expensive and has to be given intravenously. The guideline, published in the British Medical Journal, concluded that “most patients would not prefer intravenous treatment with remdesivir given the low certainty evidence. Any beneficial effects of remdesivir, if they do exist, are likely to be small and the possibility of important harm remains”:










The NHS is preparing to open dozens of mass vaccination centres across England to vaccinate people against Covid-19.

There will be at least 42 centres, based in places such as conference centres, and the NHS is planning to hire tens of thousands of staff to run them, the Health Service Journal reported.

The fresh details of how people will get the vaccine come as NHS England prepares to publish its “deployment plan” for how it will store, distribute and administer the vaccine:










California enacts coronavirus curfew for majority of state’s 40m residents










CDC advises against Thanksgiving travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised Americans not to travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, due to the nationwide surge in new coronavirus cases.

“CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period,” Dr Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said during a briefing today.

“For Americans who decide to travel, CDC recommends doing so as safely as possible by following the same recommendations for everyday living,” Walke added.

Walke particularly expressed fear about the possibility of Americans unknowingly spreading coronavirus to family members, saying, “One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it.”

In a set of updated guidelines, the CDC recommended celebrating Thanksgiving virtually or only with members of one’s own household.

The guidance says, “In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.”

The news comes a day after the US coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000, which is far higher than any other country in the world:










China has given 1m people Sinopharm vaccine










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