19 August 2020

• According to a US intelligence report, local officials in Wuhan, China initially concealed the potential severity of the coronavirus outbreak for fear of reprisal from their leadership in Beijing. Source
• Top US health experts urge the FDA to hold off on granting emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19, citing need for evidence of benefits from randomized, controlled clinical trials; making it widely available outside of trials would stymie enrollment, making it difficult to obtain much-needed evidence. Sources 1,2
• A 2000-person phase III trial of Sputnik V is launched in Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Mexico. Source
• CARE releases a report estimating that COVID-19 is driving severe food insecurity; globally, the number of people facing a food crisis could nearly double to reach 270 million people by the end of 2020. Source
• South Africa, which has nearly 600,000 cases of COVID-19, is also struggling with corruption: funding for food and aid have gone missing and officials have awarded inflated contracts to their cronies. Source
• Pope Francis calls for universal access to a coronavirus vaccine, especially for people living in poverty, to address “…social injustice, lack of opportunity and marginalization of the poor.” Source
• Australia’s government strikes a deal with AstraZeneca for its experimental coronavirus vaccine, promising to provide it to 25 million people at no change if it proves to be safe and effective. Source
• The first evidence that coronavirus antibodies can protect people comes from a study of a 122-person fishing boat crew; all were tested for the virus and antibodies before setting off. Only three people had antibodies. During the study, 103 crew members fell ill with COVID-19, but the three sailors with neutralizing antibodies did not, a finding that is highly unlikely to be due to chance. Source

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