Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Image: AP/Salvatore Di Nolfi)

Victoria’s surge continues sees a new surge, but Melbourne still looks a lot better than plenty of other places. Another dire pronouncement from the World Health Organisation. And the race to develop a vaccine sees some more success.

Saliva test misses infections

Victoria is struggling with its recent COVID-19 scare. The 75 new infections recorded yesterday, 74 of which were locally acquired, was the fourth-highest daily total in the state for the whole pandemic.

With health authorities admitting they’re starting to get stretched, mandatory face masks and localised lockdowns are now on the table.

But one tool in the state’s arsenal appears to be less than solid. Victoria is now offering a saliva test, as an alternative for people unable (or perhaps unwilling) to have a swab shoved far up their nose. But so far, early studies indicate the test is missing 13% of infections. 

Meanwhile, South Australia has recorded its first new cases in more than a month, in three recent arrivals from India.

The worst is yet to come

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is “not even close to being over” and that the worst is yet to come.

While restrictions are easing in Australia, parts of Europe, and, rather absurdly, the United States, the WHO says the pandemic is speeding up in many parts of the world.

In the US, early reopeners like Florida, Texas and Arizona are seeing a surge in cases that puts Victoria’s outbreak into a bit of perspective. And in India, there have been around 20,000 new cases a day for the last few days. 

Vaccine watch

There has been some positive news on the vaccine front.

A vaccine candidate developed by CanSino has been cleared for use on China’s military, after positive results in clinical trials. CanSino, which is working with China’s Academy of Military Medical Science has always been out the front of the vaccine race.

Outside China, the two leading candidates are those developed by American outfit Moderna, and Oxford University-AstraZeneca.

The WHO recently said AstraZeneca was probably the leading candidate, and recently, the company signed a $127 million deal with Brazil to produce 30 million doses of the vaccine by January next year.

No, go away, stop it

It would be almost comically unfortunate if another pandemic hit right now.

But, according to scientists, a flu with pandemic potential has been recently discovered in China. The flu is carried by pigs, and researchers are concerned it might have been picked up by workers in abattoirs.

While it’s not a great risk yet, there are worries that if the flu mutates in a way that allows it to spread more easily from person to person, we could be in real trouble.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey