(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
First ‘no-quarantine’ flights arrive into Australia
Hundreds of New Zealand passengers started arriving in Sydney on Friday as part of a new trans-Tasman travel bubble. In a tentative re-opening to international tourism, travellers on the approved flights won’t be required to quarantine in Sydney, authorities said.
The arrangements, however, are not yet reciprocal, with New Zealand requiring arrivals to be quarantined for two weeks under supervision at the cost of NZ$3,100 ($2,045) for the first person and more for additional family members.
Travellers from New Zealand on “no-quarantine” flights will be able to go to New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory without having to undergo quarantine upon arrival, authorities said.
Olympics-Japan to test anti-virus measures at near-full baseball stadium
Yokohama Stadium will hold three baseball games at about 80% capacity later this month as Japan looks to test its COVID-19 countermeasures at big events ahead of the rearranged Tokyo Olympics next year.
Economic revitalisation minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who heads Japan’s COVID-19 fight, told reporters late on Thursday that if the experiment was a success all professional stadiums would be allowed to boost capacity.
Tokyo Games organisers, who have yet to decide whether to allow spectators into venues during the Olympics, told Reuters they would assess the impact of the countermeasures on show at the Tokyo Dome, where on Thursday, the Yomiuri Giants hosted Hiroshima Carp and 19,000 fans attended with full coronavirus countermeasures on display.
Remdesivir did not cut hospital stay or mortality in COVID-19 patients, WHO says
Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir had little or no effect on COVID-19 patients’ length of hospital stay or chances of survival, a clinical trial by the World Health Organization (WHO) has found.
The results are from WHO’s “Solidarity” trial, which evaluated the effects of four potential drug regimens, including remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, anti-HIV drug combination lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon, in 11,266 adult patients across more than 30 countries. The results of the trial have yet to be reviewed and were uploaded on the preprint server medRxiv.
“We’re looking at what’s next. We’re looking at monoclonal anti-bodies, we’re looking at immunomodulators and some of the newer anti-viral drugs that have been developed in the last few months,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said.
China’s CNBG vaccine candidate shows promise in human test
One of China’s front-running coronavirus vaccine candidates was shown to be safe and triggered immune responses in a combined early and mid-stage test in humans, researchers said.
The potential vaccine, dubbed BBIBP-CorV, is being developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG). The study did not discuss whether the shot could elicit and maintain cell-based immune responses, another important weapon of the human immune system, which could be crucial if antibody-based immunity alone cannot stave off the virus.
However, whether the shot can safely protect people from COVID-19, which has killed more than 1 million people worldwide, will only become clear when final Phase III trials – which are going on outside China – are complete.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Robert Birsel)