World News in Brief: August 13

German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Thursday (August 13) told ZDF television that he expected there would be a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming months and definitely next year. Spahn declined to give a specific month and said it was not yet possible to say how often people would need to be vaccinated or how long-lasting the immunity it conferred would be.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is “optimistic that in the next months, and certainly in the next year, there can be a vaccine”.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn is “optimistic that in the next months, and certainly in the next year, there can be a vaccine”.

* A Brazilian technology institute said on Wednesday (August 12) it expects to produce a controversial coronavirus Russian vaccine by the second half of 2021, shortly after the state of Parana signed a memorandum of understanding with Moscow. Paraná's Technology Institute, known as Tecpar, said it may import the vaccine earlier than the production date, if Brazil's federal health regulator Anvisa allows. Brazil has the world's worse coronavirus outbreak after the United States, with over 3,164,785 confirmed cases and 104,201 deaths as of Wednesday.

* The Philippines plans to launch clinical trials for a Russian coronavirus vaccine in October, with President Rodrigo Duterte expected to be inoculated as early as May next year, the presidential spokesman said on Thursday. Harry Roque, Duterte's spokesman, made the announcement a day after Philippine scientists met with representatives of the vaccine developer, research facility Gamaleya, to discuss trials and information about the inoculation.

* Argentina and Mexico will produce the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for most of Latin America, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said on Wednesday after a meeting with company executives involved in the project. An agreement signed between British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the biotechnology company mAbxience of the INSUD Group includes transfer of technology to initially produce 150 million doses of the vaccine to supply all of Latin America with the exception of Brazil, the Argentine government said.

* China reported 19 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on Aug. 12, down from 25 on the previous day, the country's health authority said on Thursday. The National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin that 11 of the new cases were imported, versus 16 a day earlier. It also said 20 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases had been found on Wednesday, the same as the day before. China's total number of cases now stands at 84,756. The official death toll is unchanged at 4,634.

* Mexico's health ministry on Wednesday reported 5,858 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 737 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 498,380 cases and 54,666 deaths. The government has said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

* Russia reported 5,057 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, bringing its nationwide tally to 907,758, the fourth largest caseload in the world. Russia's coronavirus taskforce said 124 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing its official death toll to 15,384.

* The Philippines' health ministry on Thursday reported 4,002 more novel coronavirus infections and 23 additional deaths in the country. In a bulletin, the ministry said total number of confirmed cases in the Philippines had risen to 147,526, the highest in Southeast Asia, while confirmed deaths had reached 2,426.

* Indonesia reported 2,098 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, taking the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 132,816, data from the country's health ministry showed. The data also showed 65 additional deaths, taking the total to 5,968.

* Australia's second-most populous state of Victoria on Thursday said eight people had died from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a day after recording the deadliest day of the pandemic with 21 casualties. The state reported 278 new daily infections compared with 410 on Wednesday. A cluster of infections in Melbourne, the Victorian capital and Australia's second-largest city, forced authorities last week to impose a night curfew, tighten restrictions on people's daily movements and order large parts of state economy to close.

* New Zealand was scrambling to trace the source of its first coronavirus outbreak in more than three months, reporting 13 new community infections on Thursday, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had sought to eradicate the virus with a hard lockdown. Officials reported 13 new cases in the community on Thursday, and one overseas arrival who had not left quarantine since arriving in the country, bringing the total number of active cases to 36.

* US President Donald Trump on Wednesday released eight recommendations for reopening US schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, including that masks be used when social distancing is not possible. Trump said at a White House press briefing that the federal government would provide 125 million reusable masks to school districts around the country.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,445 to 219,964, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 4 to 9,211, the tally showed.

* Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra on Wednesday banned family gatherings and extended lockdowns to five more regions of the country amid a fresh spike in cases of the novel coronavirus. In recent days, the Andean country has registered a daily average of 7,000 confirmed infections and 200 deaths, according to official data. There have been 489,680 confirmed cases while the dead totalled 21,501 by Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said.

* Ukraine recorded a record daily jump of 1,592 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the national council of security and defence said on Thursday. The number of infections has increased sharply in Ukraine in the past two months as authorities have eased some restrictions, allowing cafes, churches and public transport to reopen. Health minister Maksym Stepanov urged people to obey broader restrictions that remain in place. The total number of cases rose to 86,140, including 1,992 deaths and 46,216 recoveries, as of Aug. 13.

* Italy ordered travellers arriving from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain to be tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday and added Colombia to a list of countries under a complete travel ban amid growing concern over new infections. Once the world's worst-affected country, Italy has managed to bring down and contain the number of infections in recent weeks but officials are worried by a gradual resurgence.

* The French government's economic recovery plan, which will be unveiled later this month, will entail EUR3 billion (US$3.5 billion) in aid for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Sud Ouest reported citing Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. Le Maire said the French state could also use instruments such as convertible bonds to help boost smaller firms' finances.

* France will send two Rafale fighter jets and the naval frigate 'Lafayette' to the eastern Mediterranean as part of plans to increase its military presence in the region, the armed forces ministry said on Thursday, amid signs of tension with Turkey. Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron called on Turkey to halt oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters in that area, which has resulted in heightened tensions with Greece.

* Lebanese security forces deployed heavily in Beirut on Thursday, stopping protesters from reaching a conference centre where MPs began meeting for the first time since the catastrophic chemicals explosion last week that killed 172 people.

* Belarusian police detained about 700 people on a fourth night of protests following President Alexander Lukasheko's contested election victory, the former Soviet republic's interior ministry said on Thursday. Security forces have clashed daily with protesters since Lukashenko claimed a landslide re-election victory in a vote on Sunday that his opponents say was rigged.

* Israel on Thursday said it will stop shipments of fuel into Gaza in response to Palestinians in the enclave launching incendiary balloons that have torched tracts of farmland on the Israeli frontier. Palestinians in Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza in recent days have launched dozens of helium balloons laden with incendiary material in a bid to pressure Israel to ease its blockade of the Strip and allow new economic projects.

* Sudan has beefed up security in Red Sea state and imposed a curfew in its main sea gateway of Port Sudan after 32 people died in recent tribal clashes, the country's interior ministry said late on Wednesday. Sudan is one year into a three-year transition after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir and faces challenges including simmering insecurity in several regions and a deep economic crisis.