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As the world is racing to find a way to fight the novel coronavirus, scientists at Oxford University may have a head start on a vaccine. They plan to schedule test involving more than 6,000 people by the end of May. If the trial is successful and safe, with emergency approval, several million vaccine doses could be available by September.
And while some ethicists have questioned “human challenge” trials, thousands are willing to be infected if it could speed up an innoculation.
In the US, the FDA is likely to issue an emergency approval for remdesivir, an anti-viral drug developed against Ebola, as a treatment against COVID-19. A recent trial, which is still up for peer-review, shows it could modestly speed recovery times.
And: Chile’s ‘COVID-19 card’ sparks controversy over ‘uncertainty of evidence’ about immunity
Also: Healthcare workers across Africa share their coronavirus stories
‘Only renewables’ holding up in global energy slump
The International Energy Agency says the novel coronavirus pandemic will cause energy demands worldwide to plunge — especially for fossil fuels. “Only renewables are holding up during the previously unheard-of slump in electricity use,” the agency’s director said. Earlier this month, oil prices fell into the negatives, and analysts predict the drop in demand will be the deepest in 25 years. But demand for renewable energy is poised to grow, which could prompt a shift to cleaner energy — and help ease the consequences of global carbon emissions.
Also: Will coronavirus help nature reclaim the Earth?
South Korea reels from latest high-tech, online sex trafficking case
The Nth Room online sex trafficking case is the latest in a series of high-tech sex crimes online. Activists worry that at least 74 victims — all women and children — will not receive justice for these crimes. The case is a shock to many in South Korea, but it’s part of a greater trend of high-tech, national sex crimes.
And: Pope Pius XII, accused of silence during the Holocaust, knew Jews were being killed, researcher says
As the coronavirus drags on, Mexico’s food prices soar
Wholesale prices of vegetables, fruits and dairy products in Mexico have fluctuated wildly since the coronavirus crisis hit. But most of the prices are going in one direction: up. The trend of rising food costs is playing out across the world because of a combination of disrupted supply chains, natural harvest cycles, plummeting currencies and limits on key exports. Experts worry that the longer the coronavirus crisis lasts, the bigger the food problem will become — creating a perilous cycle of uncertainty, supply, demand and — eventually — hunger.
Also: The wasteful fate of a third of food
And: Russia’s coronavirus outbreak is getting bad. Putin says the worst is yet to come.
Bolsonaro’s ‘so what’ response to coronavirus deaths is latest in spiraling political crisis
As confirmed coronavirus deaths in Brazil passed 5,000, President Jair Bolsonaro responded: “So what? I’m sorry, what do you want me to do about it?” Bolsonaro, who has undermined safety measures and scoffed at the severity of the global pandemic, is wading through the worst political crisis of his administration — and the calls from Bolsonaro’s supporters for a return to military rule don’t help.
“Bolsonarism is a political ideology that depends on enemies,” said one political scientist. “To justify his behavior and mobilize his followers, he consistently needs new enemies and traitors.”
And: Jair Bolsonaro’s dangerous divorce
Lithuania reworks outdoor spaces for recreation amid coronavirus
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is getting innovative as it starts to ease coronavirus lockdown measures. The city announced it will open up public spaces to create a huge open-air cafe, allowing bars and restaurants to reopen while still following social distancing norms. And while flights have slowed from Vilnius Airport, the Vilnius International Film Festival will hit the tarmac instead as it showcases a drive-in “Aerocinema” to take viewers to new destinations — from the comfort of their cars.
And: Scientists know ways to help stop viruses from spreading on airplanes. They’re too late for this pandemic.
French dentists strip naked to protest lack of protective gear
In France, dozens of dentists have taken pictures of themselves naked in their offices and posted the photos online with the hashtag #dentisteapoil — or, dentists in the buff. The images have shocked people around the world, but the intention was not to draw attention to French dentists’ naked bodies. Health specialists across Europe are going nude to show how naked they feel without sufficient personal protective equipment.
These kids in Hangzhou have got safety and style on lock.
In case you missed it
Listen: Global disruption of supply chains impacts food security
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted supply chains, prompting incidents of price gouging along with higher prices for fruits and vegetables around the world. How are poorer countries absorbing the costs? And, Israel’s Supreme Court has weighed in on the country’s controversial COVID-19 digital tracking program. Also, dozens of French dentists are stripping down naked in their offices to protest the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the coronavirus crisis.
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