World’s biggest coronavirus vaccine study begins: Live updates | Coronavirus pandemic News

  • The world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine study got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the US government along with Moderna Inc – one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race.

  • Hong Kong has announced further restrictions in a bid to curb a surge in coronavirus cases, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people, a ban on restaurant dining and mandatory face masks outdoors.

  • Vietnam has ordered the evacuation of at least 80,000 tourists on Monday from the central city of Da Nang following the re-emergence of the coronavirus. The government said it needs four days to implement the evacuation. 
  • Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reported on Monday six new deaths from the coronavirus and logged a record daily increase of 532 cases.
  • The number of coronavirus infections has hit 16.20 million worldwide, while more than 647,900 people have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 9.36 million patients have recovered.
  • Morocco will stop people from entering and leaving some of its biggest cities, including Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier starting on Monday to contain a surge in coronavirus cases. Earlier, the health ministry reported 633 new cases, one of the biggest daily rises so far.

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, July 27

11:25 GMT – Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate moves into late-stage trial 

Moderna Inc announced it has started a US government-backed late-stage trial to assess its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in about 30,000 adults who do not have the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna’s shares were up 11% at $81.31 before the bell.

The trial, named COVE, is the first to be implemented under the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed that aims to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19.

The federal government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine project with nearly a billion dollars and has chosen it as one of the first to enter large-scale human trials. The main goal of the study will be prevention of the symptomatic COVID-19 disease, the company said. 

10:45 GMT – WHO says COVID-19 by far its worst global health emergency 

The new coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 16 million people is easily the worst global health emergency the World Health Organization (WHO) has faced, its director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.

Only with strict adherence to health measures, from wearing masks to avoiding crowds, would the world be able to beat it, Tedros added at a virtual news briefing in Geneva.

“Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they are not, cases go up,” he said, praising Canada, China, Germany and South Korea for controlling outbreaks.

10:25 GMT – Germany’s Bavaria to offer virus tests at train stations, motorways 

Bavaria will set up coronavirus test sites at its two biggest railway stations as well as key points on motorways, the leader of the southern German state has announced, as fears grow that summer travel could spark a new wave of infections.    

On top of existing test centres at Bavarian airports, tests will now be offered at the Munich and Nuremberg train stations, as well as on three major motorway routes near the border, state premier Markus Soeder told a press conference.    

“We cannot completely prevent corona, so the goal must be to detect it in time to stop it from spreading,” he said.    

Soeder also joined a growing chorus of calls for tests to become compulsory for holidaymakers returning to Germany.    

“We are preparing everything so that if the federal government gives the go-ahead, we can implement it immediately,” he said.    

Germany’s 16 states agreed Friday to offer free coronavirus tests to all returning travellers but stopped short of making the tests mandatory.

09:50 GMT – Spain hopes UK to lift quarantine on Spanish island quickly 

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said she hoped Britain could lift the quarantine imposed on people returning from the Balearic and Canary Islands very quickly, “today rather than tomorrow.”

After British authorities imposed this weekend a quarantine on travellers coming from Spain, the government said it would focus its efforts on convincing them to lift it for the two archipelagos.

“We’ve been talking all weekend,” Maroto said. “What we’d like is for quarantines to be lifted on the islands as early as possible and we hope it will be today rather than tomorrow.”

09:35 GMT – We need to build back trust, Spain says after UK quarantine blow 

Spain is working on regaining confidence and convincing other countries that its coronavirus outbreak is under control, a minister has said, after Britain imposed a quarantine, threatening a tourist season already hanging on by a thread.

“We know that we are sailing through waters whose maps and characteristics are unknown to us, what we have to do is to regain that confidence and that element of security that is essential for the tourist activity”, Agriculture Minister Luis Planas told Antena 3 TV station.

Britain on Saturday shocked Madrid, and UK travellers, with an unexpected 14-day quarantine on travellers coming from Spain. The Spanish government is trying to convince London that it should at least exclude the Balearic and Canary islands, whose infection rates are very low, from the measure.

“I think the situation is under control but obviously there is a risk as in the rest of the European Union and other countries in the world,” Planas said, pointing out that Spain was not the only country witnessing a rebound in cases after lifting a lockdown. 

Spain asks UK to exempt returning British tourists from quarantine (2:35)

09:20 GMT – Pakistan sees lowest number of coronavirus deaths since early May 

Pakistan recorded its lowest number of deaths due to the coronavirus in a day since May 3 on Sunday, with 20 patients succumbing to COVID-19, taking the country’s overall death toll to 5,932. There were 1,176 new cases of the virus recorded across the country, taking the total number of cases to 274,289. While testing has remained low, with just 22,056 tests conducted on Sunday, the country’s test-positive rate registered at 5.3 percent. 

Senior government officials on Sunday claimed the country has achieved success against the virus due to its “smart lockdown” policy, of not shutting down entire cities, but rather specific neighbourhoods with higher rates of infection. Dr Zafar Mirza, the head of the country’s health ministry, however, warned that the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha this weekend, followed by the Shia Muslim observance of Ashura, could lead to a spike to infections due to the holding of large religious congregations.

Studies on Pakistan’s experience with the coronavirus are still in their preliminary stages, but one sero-prevalance survey conducted by multinational pharmaceutical firm Getz Pharma suggests the number of people who have, or have earlier had, the virus could be as high as 17.5 percent among the country’s urban, office-going population. The Getz study suggests Pakistan’s official number of cases, 274,289, is a small fraction of the true spread of the virus. It found that most carriers of the virus in Pakistan – as many as 90 percent – appear to be symptom-free.

08:55 GMT – Hong Kong records 145 cases of coronavirus, new daily high 

Hong Kong authorities have reported 145 new cases of coronavirus, of which 142 were locally transmitted, setting a new daily high just hours after the city announced its toughest measures yet to curb a community outbreak. 

07:55 GMT – Spain’s Catalonia to take stricter measures if coronavirus situation does not improve

Spain’s Catalonia may take stricter measures to limit coronavirus contagion if situation does not improve in the next 10 days, regional leader Quim Torra has announced.

Torra warned that in many parts of Catalonia the data was similar to the situation before Spain declared a national lockdown in March. He added his administration’s goal was to avoid taking as strict measures as the ones that were taken back then.

Catalan authorities on July 17 advised some four million people to remain home and leave only for essential trips, banned gatherings of more than ten people and limited the occupancy of bars and restaurants as the number of cases in the region is rising faster than in the rest of the country.

Authorities on July 17 advised some four million people to remain home and leave only for essential trips [File: Nacho Doce/Reuters]

07:40 GMT – Russia new coronavirus cases drop to lowest levels since late April 

Russia has reported 5,635 new cases of the novel coronavirus, its lowest daily rise since April 23, pushing its national tally to 818,120, the fourth largest in the world.

In a daily readout, the official coronavirus taskforce said 85 people had died over the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 13,354. 

Russia's coronavirus cases exceed 806,000

More than 13,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Russia since the pandemic’s outbreak in March [File: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu]

07:20 GMT – Hong Kong extends virus restrictions to gatherings of more than two people

Hong Kong has announced further restrictions to curb a surge in coronavirus cases, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people, a total bar on restaurant dining and mandatory facemasks in all public places, including outdoors.

The measures, which will take effect from Wednesday, are the first time the city has completely banned dining in restaurants. Since late January, more than 2,600 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 20 of whom have died. 

People wearing protective face masks walk at Mid-Levels Central, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong

People wearing protective face masks walk at Mid-Levels Central, following the coronavirus disease outbreak in Hong Kong [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

06:45 GMT – UK minister says France, Germany under review for travel quarantine 

The British government is watching the situation in Germany and France closely and continuously reviewing the situation in popular holiday destinations, a junior health minister has said when asked about widening a quarantine for Spain.

“We have to keep the situation under review and I think that is what the public would expect us to do,” junior health minister Helen Whately told Sky when asked about Germany and France possibly being next to face a quarantine.

“If we see rates going up in a country where at the moment there is no need to quarantine, if we see the rates going up, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the UK,” she said.

Britain abruptly imposed a two-week coronavirus quarantine on travellers returning from Spain, a decision that filled holidaymakers with dismay. 

06:35 GMT – India set to open three high-capacity coronavirus testing centres 

India on Monday will launch high-capacity coronavirus testing facilities in three major cities able to test over 10,000 samples a day.

The opening event with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be organized via video link at the Indian Centre of Medical Research (ICMR). 

The testing facilities have been “set up strategically” at ICMR facilities in Noida, Mumbai, and Kolkata,” said a government statement. 

India has so far recorded 1,435,453 coronavirus cases, including 32,771 deaths.

06:30 GMT – UK tells people to eat less to reduce COVID-19 death risk 

British people should eat less to lose weight as being obese increases the risk of dying from the novel coronavirus, junior health minister Helen Whately has said.

Whately said that those with a body mass index of over 40 had double the risk of dying from COVID-19.

COVID-19 crisis has devastating effect on artists, performers (2:14)

06:25 GMT – Diagnostics group Novacyt to launch more COVID-19 testing products 

Clinical diagnostics company Novacyt  – one of many healthcare companies whose shares have surged during the pandemic – has announced more new products to test for the presence of the coronavirus.

Novacyt said it was developing a respiratory testing panel to diagnose and distinguish between the ‘A’ and ‘B’ types of influenza, the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19, with the launch of this product expected in September in time for the 2020/21 flu season in the northern hemisphere.

“The immediate pipeline of new products is expected to drive incremental revenue for the company in the near-term, but Novacyt’s strengthened financial position also means we are able to redefine our R&D pipeline for the next three years, which we expect to drive significant and continued growth opportunities in the longer-term,” said Novacyt CEO Graham Mullis.

06:05 GMT – Ryanair dives into first-quarter loss on virus fallout 

Irish no-frills airline Ryanair nosedived into the red in the first quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic decimated air travel demand and grounded fleets worldwide, the group said.

Dublin-based Ryanair suffered a loss after taxation of 185 million euros ($216 million) in the three months to the end of June, or first quarter of its financial year, compared with net profit of 243 million euros in the same part of 2019, it said in a statement. 

Passenger numbers fell by 99 percent to just 0.5 million people compared with 42 million a year earlier, while more than 99 percent of the airline’s fleet remained on the tarmac.

“The past quarter was the most challenging in Ryanair’s 35-year history. COVID-19 grounded the group’s fleet for almost four months, from mid-March to end June, as EU governments imposed flight or travel bans and widespread population lockdowns,” the carrier said in a statement.

04:32 GMT – Vietnam evacuates 80,000 tourists from Da Nang

Da Nang, Vietnam

A health worker takes temperatures of residents at the area of a newly found coronavirus infected patient in Da Nang on Sunday [Quoc Dung/VNA via Reuters]

Vietnam has ordered the evacuation on Monday of at least 80,000 tourists from the central city of Da Nang following the re-emergence of the coronavirus.

The government said on Monday it needs four days to implement the evacuation in Da Nang after three residents of the city tested positive of the coronavirus. 

The country raised its alert level once again after medical officials detected the country’s first few locally transmitted cases in three months.

According to a government news portal, as of Monday morning, Vietnam recorded 420 total cases of coronavirus, of which 365 have already recovered. The country has reported no deaths from the pandemic.

04:24 GMT – Trump to skip first pitch at Yankee Stadium in August

President Donald Trump will not be throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium next month, according to the AP news agency.

Trump tweeted that he would not be able to make the trip because of his “strong focus” on the coronavirus, vaccines and the economy. Trump said in the tweet: “We will make it later in the season!”

He had announced at a briefing on Thursday on Major League Baseball’s opening day that he would be at Yankee Stadium on August 15 to throw out the first pitch.

Trump has been trying to show voters that he is taking the virus seriously by holding briefings and cancelling Republican convention events set for Jacksonville, Florida. Florida is among several states where the virus is raging.

03:51 GMT – Germany’s confirmed cases rise to 205,609

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 340 to 205,609, Reuters news agency reported on Monday quoting data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The reported deaths remained unchanged at 9,118, the tally showed.

03:10 GMT – Vietnam postpones Asia’s largest security forum

Vietnam has postponed its hosting of Asia’s largest security forum, which includes North Korea, and an annual meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers by a month to September due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two Southeast Asian diplomats said on Monday Vietnam, which leads the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, hopes to hold face to face meetings in mid-September instead of doing them online due to travel restrictions if the annual gatherings were to be held as originally scheduled later this week.

The 10-nation bloc hosts the ASEAN Regional Forum, which brings together its top diplomats with counterparts from the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India, the two Koreas and other Asia Pacific countries to discuss the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and other security issues.

Most of about 1,300 ASEAN meetings this year have so far been shifted online due to the pandemic, including an annual summit last month.

02:55 GMT – China reports 61 new cases, mostly from Xinjiang

China on Monday reported 61 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, spread between its northeastern and northwestern regions.

The Xinjiang region in the northwest reported 41 new cases, while Liaoning and Jilin provinces in the northeast saw a combined total of 16.

Another four cases were brought by Chinese travellers from abroad.

No death was reported, leaving the toll from COVID-19 in the country at 4,634 among 83,891 cases.

02:45 GMT – South Korea new cases fall below 30

South Korea’s new coronavirus cases have fallen back to below 30 as imported cases dwindled from a record high over the weekend, according to Yonhap news agency. 

The country added 25 new cases, including 16 cases from abroad, bringing the total to 14,175, Yonhap quoted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) as saying.

The tally marked a sharp fall from 58 new cases reported on Sunday and a four-month high of 113 on Saturday.

The country also reported one death, raising the death toll to 299, according to the KCDC. The death rate reached 2.11 percent.

02:10 GMT – Japan to urge more telecommuting as cases surge

Coronavirus - Japan

Tokyo last week reported a daily record of 366 cases, with 239 on Sunday [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

Japan’s economy minister says the government will urge businesses to aim for 70 percent telecommuting and enhance other social distancing measures amid a rise in coronavirus cases among workers, some infected during after-work socialising, Reuters reported.

Though Japan has largely avoided the mass infections that have killed tens of thousands overseas, a record surge in cases during the past week in Tokyo and other important urban areas has experts worried the country faces a second wave.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura late on Sunday called on business leaders to enhance anti-virus measures such as encouraging the level of telecommuting achieved during Japan’s state of emergency this year.

Tokyo last week reported a daily record of 366 cases, including 239 on Sunday. The southern city of Fukuoka reported a record 90 cases on Sunday, along with rising numbers in Osaka.

01:50 GMT – Austrian resort town shuts down restaurants, clubs

A popular resort town in Austria has ordered restaurants and clubs to close early and urged people to avoid going out as it grapples with a new outbreak of the coronavirus.

The DPA news agency reported that hundreds of people have already been tested in the town of St Wolfgang, east of Salzburg, after the outbreak was first detected on Friday. At least 44 of those have tested positive, the Kurier newspaper reported.

They were thought to have become infected while partying in the town’s bars, two of which have now been temporarily closed to prevent further spread.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week announced that the country was reintroducing mandatory face masks again in supermarkets, smaller grocery stores, post offices and banks.

01:30 GMT – Australia’s Victoria reports record-high new cases

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria reported on Monday six deaths from the coronavirus and logged a record daily increase of 532 new cases compared with 459 a day earlier, according to Reuters.

“Five of those six deaths are connected to outbreaks in aged care,” state Premier Daniel Andrews said in a media briefing in Melbourne.

Victoria on Sunday suffered its deadliest day since the pandemic began after reporting 10 deaths, mostly at aged-care facilities.

The state recorded its previous one-day high of 484 cases last week.

Coronavirus - Australia

Medical staff dispose of clinical waste at an aged care facility experiencing an outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Melbourne [AAP Image/Daniel Pockett via Reuters]

01:05 GMT – Serbia reports record number of daily cases

Serbia has reported a record number of daily cases of the coronavirus, according to the AP news agency.

Health authorities said 467 people have tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, the highest since the start of the outbreak. They said eight people have died.

Epidemiologist Darija Kisic Tepavcevic, however, said there is reason to be optimistic because there have been fewer people in need of hospitalisation.

Serbia has confirmed 23,730 cases of the virus while 534 people have died of COVID-19 in the country of some seven million people.

00:36 GMT – Mexico reports 5,480 new cases, 306 deaths

Mexico’s Health Ministry has reported 5,480 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 306 deaths, bringing the total in the country to 390,516 cases and 43,680 deaths.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases, according to Reuters.

00:20 GMT – Spain seeks exemption from UK quarantine order

Spain says it is negotiating with the United Kingdom to exclude the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands from a 14-day quarantine imposed on travellers returning to the UK from Spain, AP reported.

Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said, hours after the British measure took effect, that “our efforts at the moment are focused on ensuring that the British authorities can exclude the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands from their quarantine measures.”

The emergence of clusters of the coronavirus has worried authorities in northeast Catalonia and Aragon but has not appeared in Spain’s two archipelagos, which are highly popular tourist destinations for British and other European visitors.

Gonzalez Laya says that the islands are “highly controlled territories” and that their current epidemiological situation is not worse than that of the UK.

00:01 GMT – Brazil registers 555 coronavirus deaths

Brazil has registered 555 deaths attributable to the novel coronavirus over the last 24 hours and another 24,578 confirmed cases, Reuters reported, quoting the country’s health ministry.

The South American nation has now registered 87,004 deaths and nearly 2.42 million cases.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Ted Regencia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

You can find all the key developments from yesterday, July 26, here.