(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
“Super-spreader” fears for Trump’s Tulsa rally
Several U.S. states including Oklahoma reported a surge in new coronavirus infections, days before a planned campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Tulsa that would be the nation’s largest indoor social gathering in three months.
An uptick in coronavirus cases in many states over the past two weeks, along with rising COVID-19 hospitalisations, reflected a troubling national trend that has seen daily U.S. infection numbers climbing after more than a month of declines.
Public health experts worry that assembling thousands of shouting, chanting people inside an arena – particularly if many aren’t wearing masks – could turn Trump’s rally into a coronavirus “super-spreader event.”
Trump, in a Fox News interview on Wednesday, repeated an assertion he has made in the past that the coronavirus, with or without the advent of a vaccine or new effective treatment, is “fading away.”
WHO hopes for hundreds of millions of vaccine doses
The World Health Organization hopes hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine can be produced this year and 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Thursday.
Rush for tests in Beijing
China’s capital has mandated coronavirus tests for hundreds of thousands of people as it widens measures against a new outbreak of the disease that has sent anxious residents flooding to clinics for voluntary tests, putting a strain on the system.
Crowds of masked people waiting for tests have become a common sight in recent days across Beijing, which has tested more than 350,000 people, with many more expected.
The measures are part of the city’s “wartime” response to a surge of 158 infections since last week, the majority linked to its huge Xinfadi wholesale food centre.
Fresh case rattles New Zealand
New Zealand recorded its third new case of the coronavirus this week as quarantine breaches and other failures undermined public confidence days after it declared itself among the first countries in the world to be free of the virus.
The new case is a man in his 60s who flew in from Lahore in Pakistan, via Doha and Melbourne, on June 11, and is in quarantine.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday called in the military to oversee quarantine facilities and to manage border defences.
EU in vaccine talks with Johnson & Johnson
The European Commission is in advanced talks with pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to reserve or buy up-front doses of its COVID-19 vaccine under development, two officials familiar with the talks told Reuters.
The move would be the first arranged by the European Union executive since it was mandated last week by the 27 EU national governments to use an emergency fund to reach advance purchase or call-option deals with up to six vaccine makers.
Johnson & Johnson plans next month to start human clinical trials for its experimental vaccine.
By buying vaccines under development, the EU risks acquiring shots that may eventually prove unsuccessful against COVID-19. But the risk is justified by the need to secure enough doses for the EU population in the global race for an effective vaccine, EU officials say.
‘Sesame Street’ tackles pandemic
Elmo, Cookie Monster and Muppets from Asia and the Middle East are joining forces for a special episode of “Sesame Street” aimed at helping kids cope with a world turned upside down by the pandemic.
“Elmo’s World News,” airing over the next few weeks in 13 languages across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, will share activities, play, and advice on how to manage “big feelings” like frustration and sadness.
In the 25-minute special, Elmo hosts a news show from his bedroom, with Cookie Monster playing a special correspondent showing his “Things That Make Me Happy” activity box.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes)