The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than a million people and infected 35.7 million worldwide. Here are the developments for October 6:

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland on October 5, 2020.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland on October 5, 2020. (Reuters)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

WHO chief says vaccine may be ready by year-end

A vaccine against Covid-19 may be ready by year-end, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, without elaborating.

"We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The EU health regulator has launched a real-time review of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech, following a similar announcement for rival AstraZeneca's jab last week. 

The announcement by the European Medicines Agency could speed up the process of approving a successful vaccine in the bloc.

Turkey reports 1,511 new patients

Turkey has reported 1,511 more patients of the novel coronavirus and 1,229 recoveries from the disease.

According to data by the Health Ministry, the total patient count rose to 327,557 while the recoveries totalled 287,599 with the additions in the last 24 hours.

The health officials conducted 112,421 more Covid-19 tests over the past day, bringing the overall count to over 11 million.

The death toll from the virus reached 8,553, with 55 more fatalities.

The figures also showed that the number of patients in critical condition now stands at 1,414, while 6.2 percent suffer from pneumonia.

Rich world could be close to normal by late 2021 if vaccine works – Bill Gates   

Rich countries could be back to close to normal by late 2021 if a Covid-19 vaccine works, Bill Gates said.

He added that in the United States people should be thinking about ways to reduce hesitancy about having a Covid-19 vaccine when one is ready.

BioNTech: Vaccine waiting for approval

BioNTech, a German biotechnology firm, has applied for the approval of a potential vaccine for Covid-19 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Dr. Ugur Sahin, a Turkish scientist and co-founder of BioNTech, along with American medicine firm Pfizer, is expecting a license from the EMA for the Covid-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b1 they have been developing.

“It is our duty to ensure that while we are working to develop a potential vaccine at an unprecedented speed to help address this pandemic, we do so with the highest ethical standards while adhering to sound scientific principles,” Sahin said on BioNTech's official website.

He added that they will be in open dialogue with the EMA during the approval process.

Italy to approve stricter measures

The Italian health minister has said that the government is considering new restrictive measures as the country faces a constant growth in Covid-19 infections, raising the possibility of a new pandemic wave.

Roberto Speranza told parliament that the new measures include a proposal to make face masks mandatory in outdoors as well, a step already taken by some regions including the southern Campania, which recently saw a spike in new cases.

Speranza ruled out, for now, the option of another nationwide lockdown, which would bring the country back to last spring, when an almost total lockdown was imposed at a national level. Restrictions were gradually lifted in late spring and during the summer months.

UK reports 14,542 cases 

Britain reported 14,542 new cases of virus, up from 12,594 on Monday, according to government data.

There were 76 deaths within 28 days of a positive test. 

White House nixes FDA guidelines on vaccine approval

The White House has blocked new Food and Drug Administration guidelines on bringing potential vaccines for Covid-19 to market that would almost certainly have prevented their introduction before the November 3 election.

At issue was the FDA's planned instruction that vaccine developers follow patients enrolled in their trials for at least two months to rule out safety issues before seeking emergency approval from the agency. 

A senior administration confirmed the move Monday evening, saying the White House believed there was “no clinical or medical reason” for the additional requirement.

The White House action was first reported by The New York Times.

Virus confirmed in 321 Sri Lanka garment workers

Sri Lanka has confirmed a cluster of more than 300 garment factory workers infected, days after reporting its first community infection in two months.

The health ministry said all 321 people infected are co-workers of the first patient, who was diagnosed at a hospital two days ago and was from the densely populated Western province.

The cluster in the suburbs of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo was identified despite the government saying it has successfully controlled the spreading of the virus.

The country has reported 3,471 patients with 13 deaths. Of the total patients, 3,259 have recovered.

Scotland to impose two-week mini lockdown 

Scotland is to impose a two-week mini lockdown from Friday, reported The Sun newspaper, citing reports from doctors.

Sources at the National Health Service told the newspaper to expect the "circuit breaker" stay-at-home order for the whole of the country of Scotland from 1800GMT on Friday.

Covid-19 deaths in South Africa exceed 17,000

South Africa has recorded 40 new deaths, bringing the total number fatalities nationwide to 17,016, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced.

He also announced that 926 people had been diagnosed with the virus in the past 24 hours after some 10,714 people were tested.

The country’s top health official said at least 4.2 million people have been tested since the virus was first detected in the country six months ago.

India's cases reach 6.69 million

India's total cases have risen by 61,267 in the last 24 hours to 6.69 million, data from the Health Ministry showed.

Deaths from infections rose by 884 to 103,569, the ministry said.

India's death toll rose past 100,000 on Saturday, only the third country in the world to reach that bleak milestone after the United States and Brazil, and its epidemic shows no sign of abating.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 2,639 

The number of confirmed cases in Germany has increased by 2,639 to 303,258, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 12 to 9,546, the tally showed.

Australia's Victoria state reports biggest daily rise in 5 days

Australia's hotspot, Victoria state, has reported a slight rise in new cases, but authorities sought to allay fears by saying they could link most of those infections to known outbreaks.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, reported one death from the virus in the last 24 hours and 15 cases, its biggest daily rise in infections in five days.

Australia currently has a total of 27,173 cases with 895 reported deaths.

Mexico reports record new fatalities

Mexico has reported a record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths, with 28,115 new cases and 2,789 deaths, according to the country's health ministry.

That takes total confirmed cases to 789,780, with a total reported death toll of 81,877. True total figures are likely significantly higher due to limited testing.

Brazil sees over 300 new deaths

Brazil has registered 11,946 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing its total to 4,927,235, the Health Ministry said.

Deaths rose by 323 to 146,675, according to the data released on Monday.

China reports 12 more cases

Mainland China has reported 12 new Covid-19 cases on October 5, down from 20 a day earlier.

The National Health Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that all new cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not count as confirmed Covid-19 cases, rose to 31 from 27 reported a day earlier.

Total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 85,482, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4, 634.

NYC schools closed amid virus flare-up

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered schools in certain New York City neighbourhoods closed within a day in an attempt to halt flare-ups of the coronavirus. 

The governor took the action on Monday a day after the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio, asked the state for permission to reinstate restrictions on schools and businesses in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens where the virus was spreading more quickly than in other parts of the city. 

Cuomo said the closures would take place by Tuesday, a day ahead of when the mayor wanted. 

“These clusters have to be at tackled,” Cuomo said, likening the state to a field of dry grass ready to ignite if burning embers aren't put out fast.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies