(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Study finds AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions
AstraZeneca’s Oxford COVID-19 vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions programmed into it by its developers to successfully provoke a strong immune response, according to a detailed analysis carried out by independent scientists.
“The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness,” said David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, who led the research.
In WHO overhaul push, EU urges changes to handling of pandemics
The European Union wants the World Health Organization to become more transparent about how states report emerging health crises, a draft proposal on reforming the U.N. agency says, following criticism of China’s initial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The paper, drawn up by the German government after discussions with other member states, is the latest to outline the EU’s plans to address the WHO’s shortcomings on funding, governance and legal powers.
Drastic steps needed to tackle out-of-control pandemic, Spanish minister says
Spain needs drastic measures to combat an out-of-control new wave of the coronavirus pandemic and is considering new restrictions including curfews, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Thursday.
Illa will hold a video meeting on Thursday afternoon with regional health chiefs to agree on new measures. On Wednesday Spain became the first country in Western Europe to have recorded more than 1 million cases of the virus.
“The second wave is a reality. In many areas of our country, the epidemic is out of control,” Illa told Onda Cero radio. “I insist we have to take drastic measures, as do several regions.”
Hungary looking at Russian and Chinese COVID-19 vaccines – PM aide
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has asked local health experts to look into the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Russia and China for possible later purchases, Orban’s chief of staff said on Thursday.
Hungary has also committed to buy 6.5 million vaccines from AstraZeneca at a cost of 13 billion forints ($42.24 million) under a wider European Union agreement, Gergely Gulyas said at a news briefing.
Masks do block coronavirus, but not perfectly
Japanese researchers showed that masks can offer protection from airborne coronavirus particles, but even professional-grade coverings can’t eliminate contagion risk entirely.
Scientists at the University of Tokyo built a secure chamber with mannequin heads facing each other. One head, fitted with a nebulizer, simulated coughing and expelled actual coronavirus particles. The other mimicked natural breathing, with a collection chamber for viruses coming through the airway.
A cotton mask reduced viral uptake by the receiver head by up to 40% compared to no mask. An N95 mask, used by medical professionals, blocked up to 90%. However, even when the N95 was fitted to the face with tape, some virus particles still sneaked in.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, William Maclean and Alex Richardson)