(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
WHO study casts doubt on remdesivir’s benefits
Gilead Sciences has questioned the findings of a World Health Organization (WHO) study which concluded that its COVID-19 drug remdesivir does not help patients who have been admitted to hospital.
The American company told Reuters the data appeared inconsistent, the findings were premature and that other studies had validated the drug’s benefits.
In a blow to one of the few drugs being used to treat people with COVID-19, the WHO said its “Solidarity” trial had concluded that remdesivir appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays among patients with the respiratory disease.
U.S. cases surpass 8 million
U.S. coronavirus cases crossed 8 million on Thursday, rising by 1 million in less than a month, as another surge hits the nation hard at the onset of cooler weather.
The United States reported 60,000 new infections on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since Aug. 14, with rising cases in every region, especially the Midwest.
According to a Reuters analysis, 25 states have so far set records for increases in new cases in October.
UK moves closer to vaccine trials that infect volunteers
“Human challenge” trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines, where volunteers are deliberately infected with the disease, could become a reality after a British biotech firm said it was in advanced talks with the government to create and provide strains of the virus.
Preliminary work for the trials, which aim to speed up the process of determining the efficacy of a vaccine candidate, is being carried out by hVIVO, a unit of pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan.
If agreed, this would involve creating a human challenge study model that could be used should such trials gain ethical and safety approval from regulators.
First ‘no-quarantine’ flights arrive in Australia
Hundreds of New Zealand plane passengers started arriving in Sydney on Friday as part of a new trans-Tasman travel bubble set up amid a rapidly falling growth rate in cases at the epicentre of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak.
In a tentative reopening to international tourism, travellers on the approved flights won’t be required to quarantine in Sydney.
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.
Japan to test anti-virus measures at stadium
Yokohama Stadium will hold three baseball games at around 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.
Professional sports stadiums in Japan have been limited to 50% capacity, with the vast majority of games going ahead without issue.
Economic revitalization 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.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Mark Heinrich)