Covid-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Published on August 27, 2020 at 13.59
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Public distrust of China’s offer for HK testing
A Chinese government offer to test all Hong Kong residents for the novel coronavirus is meeting scepticism from the city’s medical community and public and is emerging as a politically charged issue ahead of the launch of the plan next week. A 60-person mainland Chinese team will carry out tests and build temporary hospitals in the first direct help from Chinese health officials for the semi-autonomous city in its battle with the epidemic. Some medical experts have cast doubt on the effectiveness and need for the tests, with some branding the exercise more of a political effort by Beijing to burnish its image rather than a medical necessity.
Plans to start UK-US 'air bridge'
The UK and US governments are in talks to introduce an “air bridge” between London and New York to enable travellers to sidestep quarantine, The Telegraph newspaper reported on Wednesday. Ministers are studying plans for regional air bridges that would enable business and other travellers to come to Britain from “low-risk” areas such as New York City within countries that are “red listed” because of their continued overall high coronavirus rates, the report said.
Chinese companies face difficulties
China’s BGI Genomics said on Wednesday its coronavirus testing kit has “relatively high accuracy”, a day after Sweden said about 3,700 people received false positive results due to a fault in the company’s product. BGI said devices sensitive enough to detect a smaller amount of the virus would deliver positive results, while less sensitive products would return negative results. Separately, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) said on Wednesday that it has ended its partnership for a coronavirus vaccine with CanSino Biologics, saying the Chinese company lacks the authority to ship the vaccine at this time.
Decisions in China on whether to send the vaccine to Canada were “caught in the bureaucracy”, and some divisions of the Chinese government were not clear if the vaccine should “go to global trials or how to handle it”, chairman and CEO of CanSino Biologics, Dr Xuefeng Yu, told the Globe and Mail in an interview. CanSino’s vaccine candidate is one of the few being tested in a late-stage study, as companies race to develop a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19.
Gender differences in Covid-19 response
The immune system of women may induce more appropriate responses to the coronavirus, a small study of 98 mostly older adults hospitalised with mild or moderate Covid-19 suggests, providing a clue to why Covid-19 tends to be more severe in men. The women overall had more “robust” and “sustained” attacks on the virus by their immune systems’ T cells, researchers reported on Wednesday in Nature. Poor T cell responses in men were linked with worse outcomes, they found. Sex hormones may contribute to gender differences in Covid-19 mortality, new research suggests. Researchers studied electronic health records of nearly 37,000 female Covid-19 patients from 17 countries, and found that among women over age 50, those receiving HRT with the female hormone estradiol had a two-thirds lower risk of death from the coronavirus compared to non-users in that age group.