France imposes new national lockdown as virus deaths mount

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron ordered his country into a new month-long, nationwide lockdown Wednesday aimed at stopping a fast-rising tide of virus patients filling French hospitals, but said schools and some workplaces will stay open.

With over 520 deaths recorded Tuesday, the French leader said the measure that will come into effect Friday would be the only possible way to successfully fight COVID-19.

“We are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus,” he said in a national televised address. France has been “overpowered by a second wave.”


All France’s restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses were ordered shut down starting Friday, and Macron said people should return to full-time remote work wherever possible, but said factories, farms and construction sites could continue working. He said unlike in the spring, this time nursing homes will remain open to visitors when possible, and cemeteries will be open so that people can hold in-person funerals.

The French government is scheduled to lay out the full details of the new lockdown on Thursday.

Macron said that France needs to put on the “hard brakes” on the circulation of the virus to protect the country’s most vulnerable. A stay-at-home order, similar to the March lockdown had been the preferred solution by French scientists. But it had been a guessing game in France if the president would cede to those voices, or choose a more moderate path.

“Nothing is more important than human life,” Macron said, noting that France has one of the highest coronavirus rates in Europe currently.

French markets fell Wednesday on expectations of some kind of lockdown, and economists warn that a full lockdown could impact Europe more broadly if other European countries hit hard by rising infections follow France’s lead.

Many French doctors urged strict confinement, noting that 58% of the country’s intensive care units are now occupied by COVID patients and medical staff are under increasing strain.

Dr. Karim Debbat, head of intensive care at the Joseph Imbert Hospital in the southern city of Arles told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his service has no more space because of a rise in COVID patients.

While he said his staff now have more knowledge of the virus than during the spring, half of the hospital’s non-urgent surgeries have been canceled and there’s not enough personnel to deal with a real crisis.

“I’m like a coach with no substitutes,” he said. “We’re walking a tightrope, and unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be getting outside help since all of the regions are affected and each hospital is going to hold (onto) its staff because we’re all affected.”

France’s confirmed virus-related death toll so far is 35,785, the world’s seventh-highest. France has for weeks been reporting tens of thousands of new infections per day and is now recording more than 380 new cases each week per 100,000 people.

France saw a rise in infections over the summer but virus hospitalizations and deaths stayed low, so the government encouraged people to return

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Quebec fitness centre owners back down on threat to defy COVID-19 lockdown orders

An empty gym is seen in Montreal, on Oct. 26, 2020.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

A group of Quebec fitness centre owners says its members are no longer planning to open Thursday in defiance of the government’s lockdown orders.

The owners released a statement today calling on their clients to instead join them in a series of protests outside their gyms and fitness studios on Thursday.

On Monday, a coalition of more than 250 gym owners threatened to open their doors this week, prompting a warning from Premier Francois Legault that they and their clients would be fined.

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This week Legault extended lockdown orders across regions under the government’s highest pandemic-alert levels – including Montreal and Quebec City – from Oct. 28 to Nov. 23.

Bars, restaurant dining areas, gyms and entertainment venues have been ordered to close.

The gym owners say their protests on Thursday will conform to the provincial COVID-19 health regulations.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Countries around the world are working on a coronavirus vaccine, including right here in Canada. Globe and Mail science reporter Ivan Semeniuk discussed the timeline and challenges in developing COVID-19 vaccines during a facebook live. The Globe and Mail

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The Latest: German area goes into de-facto virus lockdown

BERLIN — A second German district has gone into a de-facto lockdown as new coronavirus infections surge in the country and across Europe.

The restrictions in Bavaria’s Rottal-Inn county, on the border with Austria, began Tuesday, news agency dpa reported. Rottal-Inn follows Berchtesgaden, another Bavarian county in Germany’s southeastern corner, which introduced similar restrictions last week.

Schools and kindergartens will be closed and events canceled, and people told not to leave their homes without good reason.

Rottal-Inn has recorded well over 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days. In Germany, measures are required once new infections top the 50 per 100,000 mark.

On Tuesday, the country’s national disease control center reported 11,409 new infections. Another 42 people died, bringing the country’s overall virus death toll to 10,098.

Hospitals and intensive units are filling up again and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed grave concern, saying the current restrictions are not strong enough to slow down the spread of the virus.

Merkel will meet with the state governors Wednesday and the government is likely to introduce further restrictions.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— The coronavirus is getting worse in states that Trump needs to win the most

— U.S. sees coronavirus deaths rising, just like the experts predicted

— European nations enact sweeping restrictions like curfews to try to slow surging infection rates

— In a year marked by fear and death, Americans wrestle with celebrating a holiday hinged on turning fear and death into fun

— World Series is being played at a neutral site in front of smallest crowds in a century, but Dodgers and Rays are just happy that some fans are there

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— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PARIS — France’s government is holding emergency virus meetings Tuesday and warning of possible new lockdowns, as hospitals fill up with new COVID patients and doctors plead for backup.

President Emmanuel Macron is convening top ministers and Prime Minister Jean Castex is meeting with lawmakers, unions and business lobbies as the government weighs its next steps in the fight against surging infections. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France-Inter radio that “we should expect difficult decisions.”

Among possible new measures for the hardest-hit areas are lengthening existing curfews, full confinement on weekends or all week, and closing non-essential businesses.

Doctors describe growing pressure on emergency services and intensive care wards, where COVID patients now take up 54% of beds nationwide.

France is now reporting more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people each week, and nearly 18% of its widespread tests are now coming back positive. It has reported Europe’s third-highest virus death toll, at more than 35,000 lives lost.

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MOSCOW — Russian authorities on Tuesday have issued a nationwide mask requirement amid a rapid resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak.

Health authorities registered 16,550 new cases and 320 new deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily death toll

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How Melbourne’s long lockdown crushed a second wave



a bus on a city street: Melbourne residents have endured one of the world's longest lockdowns


© Getty Images
Melbourne residents have endured one of the world’s longest lockdowns

Melbourne’s grinding second coronavirus lockdown began in the chill of winter.

In early July, the nights were long and dark, and Australia’s cultural capital was confronting the terrifying reality of another deadly wave of infections.

More than 110 days later, experts say it is emerging as a world leader in disease suppression alongside places including Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Raina McIntyre, a biosecurity professor at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute, told the BBC that Australia’s response had been “light years ahead” of the US and the UK.

“It is just thoroughly shocking. When we think of pandemics we don’t think that well-resourced, high-income countries are going to fall apart at the seams, but that is exactly what we have seen,” she said.

At the end of Tuesday, Melbourne’s five million residents will see an end to strict stay-home orders that put an entire city into a type of protective custody.

When the restrictions are lifted, Melburnians will have endured one of the world’s longest and toughest lockdowns.

It’s been controversial, calamitous for jobs and crushingly hard for many, but health specialists believe it has worked.

There is cautious optimism that with very low case numbers, the worst is over.



chart, histogram: Victoria's daily cases. Entered lockdown 7 July. .


© Provided by BBC News
Victoria’s daily cases. Entered lockdown 7 July. .

“I’m pretty proud of what we have achieved here,” said Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Doherty Institute in Melbourne. “The outcome has been extraordinary – not without its pain, though.”

On Monday, Melbourne reported no new daily cases for the first time since June. In early August, it was recording more than 700 daily, and dozens of people were dying.

The Victorian state capital was at the heart of an unfolding public health crisis, and in other parts of Australia, which had mostly contained Covid-19, people held their breath.

“Europe and the US are facing enormously high numbers. In Victoria, we had an isolated outbreak pretty much just in Melbourne, and the rest of the country had extremely low, and in many states zero, numbers,” Prof Lewin told the BBC.

“We had absolutely no choice but to go into a significant lockdown if we were going to rejoin the rest of the country, and that gave us motivation.”

Face coverings became mandatory in Victoria, and a night-time curfew blanketed Melbourne.

Life retreated indoors, while on the front-line of an invisible war, a growing number of casualties included health care workers and nursing home residents. The true impact on mental health may never be known.

More on Melbourne’s lockdown:

“We understand why the government has taken that approach and it has worked, but we do feel that the government could move quicker to start easing the restrictions. They are taking an overly cautious approach,” explained Adel Salman, vice-president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, last week.

“The strain on families, the rise in domestic violence – these

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Italy imposes harshest coronavirus restrictions since spring lockdown as second wave sweeps Europe

Italy became the latest European country to announce new restrictions to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus on Sunday as countries across the continent continue to report surging infections.



A waiter wears a mask while working Sunday at a bar in Rome.


© Yara Nardi/Reuters
A waiter wears a mask while working Sunday at a bar in Rome.

France on Sunday announced more than 50,000 new infections, a new record for the fourth day running. Germany, widely lauded for its initial handling of the virus, reported a surge of its own. The number of coronavirus cases in Poland has doubled in less than three weeks. And Spain has also imposed new restrictions.

The World Health Organization reported new daily case records worldwide three days in a row last week, with new infections reaching more than 465,000 on Saturday. Almost half of those cases were in the organization’s Europe region. The United States set a new record Friday with more than 82,000 confirmed new infections.

“The pandemic is spreading rapidly again, even faster than at the start of it more than half a year ago,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned in her weekly video podcast. 

Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, called trends in both the United States and Europe “deeply troubling.” 

“Unless the U.S. and Europe take decisive action to stop the spread of the virus, we could easily see case numbers that eclipse pre-lockdown levels,” she told The Washington Post. “If case numbers get too large, it may be too difficult to meaningfully slow the virus using measures other than shutdowns.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the new restrictions as the country reported a record 21,273 cases on Sunday. Beginning Monday, restaurants and bars will be required to close by 6 p.m., and gyms, pools and movie theaters must shut down entirely. The restrictions are the fourth round of tightening this month in Italy, and the most severe since the country lifted its nationwide lockdown in May.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks Sunday during a news conference on new measures against the coronavirus.


© Yara Nardi/Reuters
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks Sunday during a news conference on new measures against the coronavirus.

Despite a months-long shutdown in the spring, when the country suffered thousands of deaths, an overloaded health-care system and bodies piling up in hospital wards, it’s clear the fight is far from over.

Italy had 1,208 covid-19 patients in intensive care on Sunday — more than on March 9, when Conte announced the lockdown.

“These are difficult days,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Sunday, according to the Associated Press. “The curve of contagion is growing in the world. And in all Europe the wave is very high. We must react immediately and with determination if we want to avoid unsustainable numbers.”

Europe appeared to beat back infection rates during the summer. But as economies have reopened and colder weather pushes people indoors, several countries are now reporting case numbers that are eclipsing records set in the spring.

Numbers have soared in the Czech Republic, which in recent days has requested additional ventilators from an

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Mom-Of-Four Dies At 31 After Cancer Treatment Canceled During Coronavirus Lockdown

Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in diagnoses and treatments being put on hold or delayed, resulting in the deterioration or even death of several patients. One such patient was a woman battling brain cancer who died after her chemotherapy was paused during the coronavirus lockdown in the United Kingdom.

The woman, identified as 31-year-old Emma Jenkinson, was suffering from grade 4 brain cancer, a condition she had previously beaten in her early 20s.

Her treatment was put on hold after the pandemic hit the country in March this year. Her condition deteriorated and she died earlier this month, leaving her four children and husband behind.

“She has grade four brain cancer and unfortunately her chemotherapy was paused in March due to covid19, before this, the cancer was reacting well to treatment,” her husband Andrew wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for the woman’s family.

“At the beginning of May, Emma started feeling really unwell. She started losing her balance, falling over. At its worst she was falling 15-20 times a day. She actually fell over in the garden quite heavily and banged her head on a post so I had to rush her to A&E. It was later in the month she had a scan and found that the cancer had increased and was placed on chemotherapy straight away,” he added.

Her condition deteriorated in September.

“Unfortunately in September she started getting pressure in her head and feeling unwell again and after another scan she was told that the chemotherapy has stopped working,” he wrote.

They were then informed by the doctor that her surgery cannot be conducted as it will cause lot damage and affect her quality of life.

She died the following month. 

Calling her a “fantastic mother,” Andrew wrote, “All Emma wants like any mother is for her children to be healthy & happy in the future. All she wants is for the children to have happy memories of her and us all together.”

cancer chemo In this photo, patient receives chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at the Antoine-Lacassagne Cancer Center in Nice on July 26, 2012. Photo: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

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Ireland In Second Lockdown As Germany Faces Record Virus Surge

Businesses closed across Ireland on Thursday for a second national coronavirus lockdown, as record infection surges in Germany and Italy helped to spread gloom across the continent.

Most European governments have been reluctant to reimpose national stay-at-home orders, after previous restrictions led to deep recessions and widespread bitterness.

Ireland's five million people have been ordered to stay at home for six weeks, with non-essential businesses told to shut up shop, among other rules Ireland’s five million people have been ordered to stay at home for six weeks, with non-essential businesses told to shut up shop, among other rules Photo: AFP / Paul Faith

But Ireland’s five million people have been ordered to stay at home for six weeks, with non-essential businesses told to shut up shop, among other rules.

“It’s devastating to see us locked down again… during our busiest line-up for the Christmas period,” Dublin antique jeweller John Farrington told AFP this week.

German diners have been finding novel ways to socialise in a time of severe restrictions German diners have been finding novel ways to socialise in a time of severe restrictions Photo: AFP / STEFANIE LOOS

Germany and Italy are both facing record surges, registering their highest one-day tallies since the pandemic began.

While German health experts said it was still possible to combat the outbreak by observing recently-toughened rules on distancing and gatherings, Italy ordered curfews in regions that cover the capital Rome and business hub Milan.

As Europe suffers, China — where the virus first emerged at the end of last year — continues to make strides back to normality, announcing it would allow 10,000 fans to watch the final of its Super League football competition.

Essential workers, members of the clergy, parents and activists participate in a 'die-in' and memorial service to honor those who have died of Covid-19 in Los Angeles Essential workers, members of the clergy, parents and activists participate in a ‘die-in’ and memorial service to honor those who have died of Covid-19 in Los Angeles Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

“It’d be that kind of ceiling because it’s a big game for sure,” Chinese Football Association secretary-general Liu Yi told AFP.

The virus has killed more than 1.1 million people and prompted a catastrophic economic downturn — the International Monetary Fund predicting a 4.4 percent drop in global output for 2020.

Graphic highlighting the countries with the largest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the past week. Graphic highlighting the countries with the largest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the past week. Photo: AFP / John SAEKI

In the City of Love, masks and curfews have put a damper on romance, as dating and flirting gives way to a fear of contamination. In the City of Love, masks and curfews have put a damper on romance, as dating and flirting gives way to a fear of contamination. Photo: AFPTV / Guillaume BONNET

Germany, along with most European countries, has already banned large gatherings and made face masks compulsory in certain areas.

“The overall situation has become very serious,” said Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute disease control centre, adding that it was still possible to bring the virus under control through “systematic compliance with restrictive measures”.

In a symbol of Germany’s woes, Health Minister Jens Spahn — widely praised for his calm stewardship during the pandemic — tested positive and went into home isolation.

In Israel, people were enjoying their freedom after the government raised the second lockdown In Israel, people were enjoying their freedom after the government raised the second lockdown Photo: AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA

In Belgium, which has one of the worst records of virus infections per person, Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes is being

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Ireland to reimpose national lockdown amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Ireland’s government is set to impose a six-week lockdown on the entire country as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, according to The New York Times.

The country will become the first in Europe to reimpose a nationwide lockdown when it shuts down nonessential businesses on Wednesday night, according to the Times.

“While we have slowed the spread of the virus, this has not been enough and further action is required,” Micheal Martin, the taoiseach, or leader of the government, said in a national address on Monday night, the Times reported.

Irish residents will be urged to remain at home and restaurants will be relegated to takeout or delivery only, according to the Times.

The country will impose fines on people who travel more than 5 km from their homes during the lockdown, The Guardian reported.

While schools and child care providers will remain open under the new action, gatherings and visits to private homes will be prohibited, the Times reported.

“If we pull together over the last six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way,” Martin told the nation, according to the Times.

Ireland reported 1,031 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, according to The Guardian. The total number of cases there is 50,993, according to John Hopkins University’s count. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: ‘The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it’ Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE has made public comments in the past about avoiding a future lockdown in the U.S. Though coronavirus cases have risen across the country, Trump said he would not be in favor of a lockdown.

“[Joe] Biden would terminate our recovery, delay the vaccine, prolong the pandemic and annihilate Florida’s economy with a draconian, unscientific lockdown,” Trump said at a Florida rally in October, seeking to frame the narrative around his Democratic opponent in the presidential election. 

Biden has not pledged to reimpose lockdowns if he becomes president, saying only that he’ll “listen to the scientists.”

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Two Week ‘Firebreak’ Lockdown for Wales



These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Lockdown Wales

A two-week national ‘firebreak’ aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 will be imposed in Wales.

Everybody in Wales will be required to stay at home from 6pm on Friday 23 October until Monday 9 November, the Welsh Government announced.

People deemed critical workers, and those who were unable to work from home would be exempted.

As widely anticipated, non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, leisure businesses, community centres, libraries, and recycling centres will close.

Gatherings for Halloween and Bonfire Night will not be allowed, but there will be some exemptions for limited Remembrance commemorations.

Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, described the lockdown as “a time-limited firebreak” and a “short, sharp shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus, and give us more time”.

Mr Drakeford, who met with Government colleagues this morning, said that critical care units in Wales were already full.

He warned that the number of people being taken to hospital with coronavirus symptoms was growing every day and that, without tough action, there was “a very real risk that our NHS would be overwhelmed”.

He told a news conference: “Unless we act, the NHS will not be able to look after the increasing number of people who are falling seriously ill.”

The start of the Welsh firebreak lockdown has been timed to coincide with the beginning of the half-term break for schoolchildren. However, some children will be allowed to return to class after the holiday period ends.

The restrictions mean that:

  • Childcare facilities will remain open

  • Primary schools will reopen after half-term

  • Secondary schools will reopen, but only for children in years 7 and 8, and those taking exams

  • Children in other school years will continue their learning from home

University students would be required to stay at home in their accommodation and continue their education through a blend of online and in-person learning.

Mr Drakeford said that during the two-week lockdown, people would be banned from gathering with people not in their household, either indoors or outdoors.

However, exceptions would made for adults living alone, and single parents, who would continue to be able to join with one other household for support.

Places of worship would be closed, other than for funerals and weddings.

The Welsh Government said that it would announce a package of financial measures to help individuals and businesses affected by the lockdown. It would include an economic resilience fund of nearly £300 million.

Convalescent Plasma

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) appealed for more people who have had COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma at 14 new donation centres in England for use in treatment trials for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The NHS trials of convalescent plasma are the largest randomised controlled trials for this “promising” treatment for COVID-19.

NHSBT already collects plasma in its 23 permanent blood donor centres and in five pop-up plasma centres.

It said donations were urgently needed to ensure that if the trial

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Fauci: COVID-19 outbreaks would have to ‘get really, really bad’ before advocating for national lockdown

New COVID-19 cases are accelerating across the U.S., rising swiftly above previous record case counts set during the tumultuous spring and summer months. 

There has been a documented 30 percent increase in testing positivity rates over the past two weeks and more than 8 million COVID-19 cases reported in the country. But, even as the U.S. enters a potentially troubling winter season, Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert, says that a nationwide lockdown may not be the best solution at this time. 

Speaking to “60 Minutes,” Fauci says outbreaks would have to “get really, really bad” before he would advocate for a national lockdown. 


ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE COULD GET WORSE DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

PROPOSAL TO LET CORONAVIRUS SPREAD NATURALLY THROUGH US POPULATION INTERESTS WHITE HOUSE, ALARMS MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT

EUROPE REENTERS LOCKDOWNS AS COVID-19 CASES SURGE

THE FIRST DEATH FROM A CORONAVIRUS REINFECTION HAS BEEN REPORTED


First of all, the country is fatigued with restrictions. So we wanna use public health measures not to get in the way of opening the economy, but to being a safe gateway to opening the economy,” Fauci said. “So instead of having an opposition, open up the economy, get jobs back, or shut down. No. Put ‘shut down’ away and say, ‘We’re gonna use public health measures to help us safely get to where we want to go.’” 

Instead, Fauci says, the emphasis remains on practicing now-familiar public health measures like wearing masks, physically distancing and washing hands frequently — key steps in controlling virus transmission. 

He elaborated that these practices are not intended to halt the reopening of public spaces, but to facilitate a gradual reopening while still mitigating transmission levels or how quickly the virus spreads.

Responding to President Trump’s criticism that he suddenly reversed course on his stance regarding the public wearing facial coverings, Fauci explained that his initial decision to discourage public mask-wearing came during the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). 

When masks, especially homemade ones, became widely available and were shown to prevent virus transmission, Fauci advocated for their universal use.

“It became clear that cloth coverings…not necessarily a surgical mask or an N95, cloth coverings, work,” Fauci said. “Now there’s no longer a shortage of masks. Number two, meta-analysis studies show that, contrary to what we thought, masks really do work in preventing infection.”

Still, he admits he was wrong in his initial decision to discourage widespread mask-wearing.

“When you find out you’re wrong, it’s a manifestation of your honesty to say, ‘Hey, I was wrong. I did subsequent experiments and now it’s this way,’” he said. 

Many are looking toward an upcoming COVID-19 vaccine as a final piece to the puzzle of ending the COVID-19 pandemic. A treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is on the distant horizon, with multiple pharmaceutical companies in late stage clinical trials with their vaccine candidates.

Public confidence in a forthcoming vaccine, however, is relatively low, with only just more than half of the population

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