Global COVID-19 Update: Denmark's Mink Cull, French Trial Suspended

Medscape, Univadis, & MediQuality Staff

November 06, 2020

These are the global coronavirus stories you need to know about this week.

As England entered a 4-week national lockdown and GPs were put on standby for a coronavirus vaccination programme next month, COVID-19 continued to have an impact globally. Here are some highlights reported by Medscape's global editions, Univadis, and MediQuality.

Denmark is culling 15 million mink because of a COVID-19 mutation already transmitted to 12 people, threatening the effectiveness of a future vaccine, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced on Wednesday. Denmark has now been removed from the UK's 'travel corridor' list.

In France, the second wave has seen 18,866 new hospital admissions over the past 7 days, including 2884 in intensive care. There's also been a rise in cancelled operations. Dr Philippe Cuq, president of the Union of Surgeons of France called for these cancellations  to remain a medical decision

French health workers wonder if they will hold up in the second wave. "We were asked to run a sprint and we did. Today we are facing a marathon", says pulmonologist Dr Colas Tcherakian.

Meanwhile, a potential treatment didn’t fulfil its promise. Following safety issues in the French ANACONDA-COVID-19 clinical trial, all trials evaluating the interleukin-1 antagonist anakinra in the treatment of COVID-19 were suspended.

Australia’s  Ministry of Health has secured a further 50 million doses of two more COVID-19 vaccines. The Novavax and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are expected to be available in the country from early to mid-2021. 

In the midst of the presidential election, the United States registered 121,000 new cases of coronavirus yesterday.

Meanwhile,  a US study found robust neutralising antibodies persist for months in roughly 90% of patients.

In Brazil, 160,785 deaths and 5,575,289 cases were confirmed by Wednesday lunchtime. Despite these high numbers, average daily deaths were down 30% to 367 over the past week compared to 2 weeks ago. This is the lowest average since April 28 and the largest drop since the beginning of the pandemic.

In Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard, minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that the phase 3 trial of a CanSino Biologics vaccine will start this week under strict monitoring. It aims to vaccinate 15,000 Mexican volunteers over 18 years of age in 20 health centres in more than 10 states. There are currently more than 938,405 confirmed cases and 92,593 confirmed deaths in Mexico.

The Argentinian government will purchase 25 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine between December and the first half of January if phase 3 results are positive. Data reporting "a good safety profile" and "strong humoral and cellular immune responses" were published in September. However, experts have expressed concerns with the data. 

Germany is facing its second wave with up to 20,000 daily infections. The Robert Koch Institute has revised its test strategy this week, advising doctors not to test everybody with symptoms of a cold, but focusing on the ones who have 'typical' COVID-19 symptoms like cough, fever, and impaired taste and smell, and who belong to high risk groups, or who have had contact with infected people.

Meanwhile, intensive care doctors demanded that hospitals should change to emergency measures and cancel routine operations if possible.

Belgium imposed a partial national lockdown for 6 weeks. The country’s prime minister warned that healthcare services were becoming overwhelmed, with intensive care capacity set to be breached.

Spain has exceeded 1.2 million cases of COVID-19 with more than 15,000 cases per day. Central and regional governments agreed a national plan to limit the spread of the virus. They'll wait to see if the new measures are effective before moving to a general lockdown.

Italy  imposed a lockdown in 'red zones' and a partial lockdown in other areas.

Red, orange, and yellow zones are defined by cases, deaths, and available ICU beds. The zones are re-evaluated every 15 days.

In Portugal, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased dramatically in the last month and several public hospitals are close to full capacity. More hospital beds were opened and more doctors and nurses have been hired. New restrictions for at least 2 weeks have begun but schools will remain open.

Editor's note, 6 November 2020: This article was updated with the latest US data.

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