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Coronavirus digest: 1 death every 15 seconds

The global coronavirus death toll has exceeded 700,000, with one person dying every 15 seconds in recent weeks. Catch up with this and other latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Latest developments

More than 700,000 people around the globe have died from the coronavirus, according to the latest data from the John Hopkins Institute in the US.

Read more: Coronavirus: What you should know about tests

Fatality figures from the past two weeks equate to about 247 deaths per hour, or one every 15 seconds, on average.

Over 18.5 million people have been diagnosed, and some 11 million have recovered.

Here's a Wednesday roundup of other major stories regarding coronavirus around the world:

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How to finance a COVID-19 vaccine for all


The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has recorded a trebling of infections worldwide among people between the ages of 15 and 24. The WHO says that over the past five months infection rates among young people have risen from 4.5% up to 15%.    

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebbreyesus said Wednesday: "Young people are not invincible. Young people can be infected, young people can die, and young people can transmit the virus to others."  

Vaccine race

The German pharmaceutical company BioNTech announced Wednesday that it has begun Phase 1 human clinical trials of one of its vaccine candidates in China. BioNTech, which is partnering with the Chinese company Fosun Pharma for the tests, has four different candidates and is currently conducting a global Phase 3 trial for one of them with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. 

Switzerland is close to signing a deal to secure access to a coronavirus vaccine currently being developed by US firm Moderna, according to the director of the country's Federal Office of Public Health. 

"We are only a few hours away from completing a purchase contract. With this contract we will get it very quickly," director Pascal Strupler said on Swiss television.

In India, drugmaker Zydus Cadila said its vaccine candidate was found to be safe and well-tolerated by patients in an early-stage human trial. The vaccine, ZyCoV-D,  will now pass to a mid-stage trial, the company said in a regulatory filing. Late-stage trials of ZyCoV-D are due to be complete by February or March. If approved, the Indian drugmaker could produce up to 100 million doses a year initially, the company's chairman told Reuters last month.

Read more: Vaccination: A long and perilous history

The UK has agreed to a multi-million pound (euro, dollar) joint investment with French vaccine company Valneva that would upgrade a manufacturing facility for the production of a possible coronavirus vaccine.

In a statement, the government said the upgraded facility could potentially produce 100 million vaccine doses for the UK and other countries. Previous talks indicated a possible investment in a facility in Livingston, Scotland.


Scotland has announced that pubs and restaurants in the oil-rich city of Aberdeen will be closed and visitors asked to stay away after infections spiked there. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told citizens that: "It [the virus] is still out there and it is still highly dangerous. The outbreak in Aberdeen is a sharp reminder of that. It shows what can happen if we let our guard drop." 

Both France and the Netherlands moved forward with stricter rules for compulsory mask requirements in outdoor public spaces Wednesday. The southwestern French city of Toulouse was the first to require masks on city squares and busy streets. Other major cities, such as Paris, are expected to follow soon.  

In the Netherlands, Rotterdam announced that it, too, will require people to wear masks in public, Amsterdam announced similar measures for its busiest neighborhoods.  

Sweden's economy has fared better through the coronavirus crisis than those of other European countries, data from the country's statistics office showed. Swedish gross domestic product fell 8.6% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to a drop of 12.1% in the euro zone and 11.9% in the European Union for the same period. Sweden has taken a lax and controversial approach to managing its coronavirus outbreak, allowing most schools and businesses to remain open while other countries took more severe measures. 

Meanwhile in Germany, the nation's hospital association said hospitals are well prepared for a potential second wave of outbreaks there.

"The hospitals are well-equipped for a potential second wave," the association's director Georg Blaum said. "We still have increasing vacancies for intensive care and isolation rooms." Hospitals also have better stockpiles of protective equipment than they did at the beginning of the year, he added. 

Read more: Coronavirus travel rules: With EU open for travelers, who can go where?


The Philippines on Wednesday announced a partial lockdown after a spike in infections pushed the total number of infected past 100,000. As the new rules were announced on very short notice and public transport as well as domestic air travel were halted immediately, many people on the main island of Luzon — home to some 27 million people — were left stranded with no way to get home. 

In Japan, a gargling solution flew off drugstore shelves after the governor of the western prefecture of Osaka suggested it might protect against the coronavirus. Thousands of people posted photos to social media of empty shelves and "Out of Stock" notices, images reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic, when medical masks and disinfectant were in short supply.

"Perhaps we can even overcome the coronavirus with gargling medicine," Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura had said at a news conference on Tuesday. He cited a study that showed a smaller viral load in the saliva of 41 patients with mild coronavirus symptoms that had regularly gargled with a medicine infused with povidone-iodine solution, compared to those who had not.

Read more: Tokyo Olympics: Japanese excitement waning one year to Games

Japan's top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said he was aware of the Osaka governor's comments and that the government would "closely watch developments of the research."

An empty pharmacy shelf in Japan after a run on gargling solution amid the coronavirus pandemic

Pharmacy shelves in Japan were left bare after customers rushed to buy up gargling solution. A governor had suggested the solution could protect against COVID-19.


Around 24,000 health workers in South Africa have contracted COVID-19, and 181 of them have died, the country's health ministry said.

South Africa is currently the hardest-hit country in Africa. With over 521,000 coronavirus diagnoses, the country accounts for over half of total infections on the continent and is among the top five worst affected countries globally. 

Health workers account for 5% of South Africa's total caseload. 


Latin America has become the global leader for the number of confirmed coronavirus deaths, overtaking Europe. A Reuters survey based on official data showed the region accounting for more than 206,000 deaths, or about 30% of global cases. Brazil is the most affected, with almost 96,000 deaths, followed by Mexico with almost 49,000 deaths. The virus is also spreading rapidly in Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia.

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Coronavirus: Bolivians die as overwhelmed hospitals refuse to admit them

Catch up on the best DW coronavirus content of the day

In Germany and elsewhere, whispers of a "second wave" of infections are growing louder. While hospitals say they are ready, the lack of a vaccine or reliable cure is still cause for concern. For now, countries must depend on a holistic approach to beat back the outbreak.

Read more: Coronavirus: Is Germany ready for the second wave?

Soccer clubs in Germany have approved a plan that would allow fans back into stadiums, but the popular spectator sport is still far from a return to business as usual. With new measures including no away fans, closed standing sections, and no alcohol, Germany's soccer lovers have mixed feelings about the news.

Read more: Fans could soon return to Bundesliga stadiums

kp/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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