What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Reuters , Wednesday 16 Sep 2020

Biden has questioned whether Trump is pressuring agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration to sign off on a vaccine to boost his re-election prospects

People gather in the food market in Camden in central London on September 13, 2020, the day before the UK government brings in tightened coronavirus restrictions owing to a sharp rise in cases nationwide. (Photo: AFP)

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Biden to outline how he would oversee vaccine

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will lay out on Wednesday how, if elected, he plans to develop and distribute a safe coronavirus vaccine, seeking to draw a contrast with US President Donald Trump's approach to combating the pandemic.

Biden will deliver remarks in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, after getting briefed by public health experts.

The speech is part of a delicate balancing act the former vice president has struck in recent weeks, as Trump has suggested a vaccine could be approved ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Biden has questioned whether Trump is pressuring agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration to sign off on a vaccine to boost his re-election prospects.

UK testing in chaos

Amid growing anger over a bottleneck in Britain's creaking coronavirus testing system, the government promised to do whatever it takes to boost laboratory capacity that has left people across the land with no way to get a COVID-19 test.

In an attempt to slow one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the West, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in May to create a "world-beating" system to test and trace people exposed to the virus.

But repeated attempts by Reuters reporters to get COVID-19 tests failed, while at a walk-in testing centre at Southend-on-Sea in eastern England hundreds of people were queuing to get a test - some from as early as 0500 GMT.

Russia to sell 100 million doses of vaccine to India

Russia's sovereign wealth fund has agreed to supply 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik-V, to Indian drug company Dr Reddy's Laboratories, as Moscow speeds up plans to distribute its shot abroad.

The deal comes after the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) reached agreements with Indian manufacturers to produce 300 million doses of the vaccine in India, which is a major consumer of Russian oil and arms.

Dr Reddy's, one of India's top pharmaceutical companies, will carry out Phase III clinical trials of the vaccine in India, pending regulatory approval, RDIF said in a statement. Deliveries to India could begin in late 2020.

The agreement comes as India's coronavirus cases surged past 5 million.

China inoculates before vaccine trials completed

China is inoculating tens of thousands of its citizens with experimental coronavirus vaccines and attracting international interest in their development, despite concerns among experts over the safety of drugs that have not completed standard testing.

Aiming to protect essential workers and reduce the likelihood of a resurgence of the pandemic, the vaccines are also grabbing attention in the global scramble by governments to secure supplies.

China's approach runs counter to that of many Western countries, where experts have warned against authorising the emergency use of vaccines that have not completed testing, citing a lack of understanding about longer-term efficacy and potential side effects.

Australia on track to relax extended hard lockdown

Australia's Victoria state on Wednesday said the daily rise in infections in its coronavirus hot spot of Melbourne has eased further, putting it on course to relax an extended hard lockdown in the city by the end of the month.

Construction sites, manufacturing plants, warehouses and childcare facilities can reopen, allowing more than 100,000 workers to return to their jobs, if the 14-day rolling average is under 50 cases as of Sept. 28.

From late Wednesday, in regional Victoria, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted, residents of a household will be allowed to visit one other home, and cafes will be able to seat up to 50 people outdoors.

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