Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times

President Trump’s vaccine chief sees a ‘very, very low chance’ of a vaccine by Election Day.

Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser for the White House vaccine program, said on Thursday that it was “extremely unlikely but not impossible” that a vaccine could be available by the end of October.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Dr. Slaoui said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance to states to prepare for a vaccine as early as late October was “the right thing to do” in case a vaccine was ready by then. “It would be irresponsible not to be ready if that was the case,” he said, adding that he had only learned of the notification through the news media.

But Dr. Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser of the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine and treatment initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, described getting a vaccine by late October as a “very, very low chance.”

That message ran counter to optimistic assertions from the White House that a vaccine could be ready for distribution before Election Day in November. President Trump, during the Republican National Convention, said a vaccine could be ready “before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.”

Dr. Slaoui confirmed that the two main candidates, referred to as Vaccine A and Vaccine B by the C.D.C., were being developed by Pfizer and Moderna. He said there was “no intent” to introduce a vaccine before clinical trials were completed. The trials would only be completed when an independent safety monitoring board affirmed the effectiveness of the vaccine, he added.

The NPR interviewer, Mary Louise Kelly, raised the timing of a possible vaccine given in the documents the C.D.C. recently sent to public health officials, and asked whether its delivery was being motivated by political concerns.

“For us there is absolutely nothing to do with politics,” Dr. Slaoui responded, saying that those involved were working as hard as they could because so many people were dying of the coronavirus every day. “Many of us may or may not be supportive of this administration. It’s irrelevant, frankly.”

Though he expressed doubt that a vaccine would be ready by the end of October, Dr. Slaoui said, he firmly believed “that we will have a vaccine available before the end of the year and it will be available in quantities that can immunize patients, subjects at the highest risk.” That included the elderly and those working in jobs with high exposure to the virus.

He estimated that there would be enough of the vaccine by the end of the year to immunize “probably between 20 and 25 million people.” Manufacturing would be ramped up so that there would be enough doses to immunize the U.S. population “by the middle of 2021,” he said.

Over the past two decades, millions of young people in Latin America became the first in their families to go to college, a historic expansion that promised to propel a generation into the professional class and transform the region.

But as the pandemic grips the region, killing hundreds of thousands and devastating economies, an alarming reversal is underway: Millions of university students are leaving their studies, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

For example, enrollment is expected to drop by as much as 25 percent in Colombia by the end of the year, with similar numbers expected in other countries.

The exodus threatens decades of achievement that helped move entire communities out of poverty.

Since the early 2000s, enormous investment in elementary and high school programs — and a decision to build new universities — helped higher education enrollment across Latin America more than double, according to the World Bank.

As the health crisis deepened, The New York Times spent weeks speaking to students, parents, professors, officials and university rectors across Colombia.

Amid lockdowns, youth unemployment has spiked, and many students cannot pay tuition, which even at public schools can cost anywhere from one to eight times the monthly minimum wage.

Most courses have moved online, but millions do not have internet, or even a reliable cellphone connection.

Some students said they were going hungry to pay for data, while others hid in stairwells to steal Wi-Fi from neighbors.

At the Universidad Nacional, a prestigious public university in the capital, Bogotá, several students went on hunger strike on Aug. 10, camping out in a dozen tents on the otherwise empty campus, calling on the government to cover their tuition as their families hit bottom.

“I don’t see any other way to pay for the semester,” said Gabriela Delgado, 22, a music student and hunger striker.

For weeks she slept in a tent between the economics and humanities buildings, shuffling to daily medical check-ins. When she had the energy, she pulled out her cello to play fragments of Bach for fellow protesters.

The strike ended on Aug. 28 without the government’s having met their demands.

Just as Thailand reached 100 days without detecting a locally transmitted case of the coronavirus, health officials announced on Thursday that a man jailed for drug use was found to be infected.

The man, who worked as a D.J. in Bangkok nightclubs, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, a week after being admitted to a jail in the city. The discovery prompted a lockdown of the detention facility and dozens of inmates and staff members were placed in isolation. So far, no one else has tested positive, officials said.

Thailand is one of the few major countries to reach the 100-day milestone. New Zealand celebrated reaching 100 days last month only to discover a new local outbreak two days later that prompted officials to lock down the city of Auckland.

Vietnam came close to 100 days before discovering an outbreak in coastal Danang that spread throughout the country and claimed 34 lives, Vietnam’s first deaths from the pandemic.

Taiwan, one of the most successful places in containing the virus, has gone more than 140 days without a case of local transmission, with the last case recorded on April 8.

Thai health officials said it was unclear how the 37-year-old man became infected, adding that he had not traveled outside the country. He was living with his family in Bangkok and had worked at three locations in the Khao San Road tourist area before reporting to jail on Aug. 26.

Thailand was the first country outside China to discover a case of the coronavirus. As of Friday morning, it had more than 3,400 cases and 58 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Thailand has succeeded in containing the virus in part by halting the arrival of foreign tourists, which has dealt a major blow to the nation’s economy. Thailand is one of the world’s most popular destinations and tourism makes up about a fifth of the economy.

The discovery of the new case comes as the government is considering opening its borders to select foreign tourists. Under one plan, they would have to undergo 14 days of quarantine at a hotel before being allowed to travel within the country.

  • New Zealand on Friday reported its first death from the coronavirus in more than three months, after a man in his 50s who contracted the virus in Auckland died in a hospital. The country, which had previously come close to eliminating the virus, has recently seen a small spike in cases from an unknown source. “We have always recognized that further deaths linked to Covid-19 were possible,” said Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of the Health Ministry.

  • Doctors in South Korea on Friday agreed to end a two-week strike after the government committed not to push through medical system overhauls until after the coronavirus subsided. Thousands of doctors, mostly interns and residents, have been on strike since Aug. 21, protesting the government’s plan to increase the number of medical school students and open public medical schools. In a deal signed Friday, the Health Ministry and the Korea Medical Association, a lobby for doctors, agreed to revisit and review the government’s proposals after the epidemic is over. Some doctors criticized the deal as insufficient and threatened to continue their walkout.

  • France has closed 22 schools because of virus infections, the French education minister said on Friday, less than a week after millions of students returned to classes around the country amid a surge in cases. The minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, told Europe 1 radio that ten of the shuttered schools were in La Réunion, an overseas French territory in the Indian Ocean, and he noted that a vast majority of France’s 60,000 schools were still open. About a hundred or so classes were also closed, he said, adding that an entire school was usually shut down after the detection of three or four positive cases.

  • Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who tested positive this week for the virus, was admitted to a hospital Thursday night, his staff said. “There was the need for a small precautionary hospitalization,” Senator Licia Ronzulli, a close aide, said on the Italian TV show Agorà, “to monitor the development of Covid-19.” She added that Mr. Berlusconi, 83, was feeling good. Mr. Berlusconi, the leader of the center-right party Forza Italia and a media mogul, was initially asymptomatic and isolated in his mansion near Milan. He was hospitalized after the appearance of some symptoms, his staff said in a statement. “The clinical picture is not worrisome,” the statement added.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Aurelien Breeden, Choe Sang-hun, Richard C. Paddock, Campbell Robertson, Julie Turkewitz, Emma Bubola and Gaia Pianigiani.


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