Jair Bolsonaro brazil coronavirus
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (Image: EPA/Joedson Alves)

A new study in Spain has found developing immunity to COVID-19 is not as likely as we first thought. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the virus. Victoria confirms another 134 cases. And tonight Melbourne will go into stage three restrictions, causing a hefty hole in Victoria’s economy.

Herd immunity a pipe dream

A study from Spain — where the coronavirus has infected more than 250,000 people — has dismissed the dream of herd immunity: Out of 61,075 Spaniards tested, fewer than 5% developed antibodies to the coronavirus.

Of those who had previously tested positive for antibodies, 14% tested negative just weeks later. About 70% to 90% of a population needs to be immune to protect the uninfected.

The paper, published in medical journal The Lancet, is one of the largest of its kind on the coronavirus in Europe.

It’s back, baby 

Stage three restrictions are back for suburbs across Victoria, including metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. The restrictions will begin at midnight tonight and will last for at least six weeks.

Residents have been issued a stay at home direction, with visits to holiday homes off the table. Schools, which were expected to open on Monday for term three, will stay closed for at least an extra week for students from prep to Year 10. 

Victoria had yet another record-breaking day yesterday with 191 new cases confirmed. The Victoria-NSW border closed at midnight last night, with police expected to use number-place recognition software to track if residents are travelling away from where they’re supposed to to be. 

Those who disobey restrictions face a $1652 fine. 

Lockdown a blow to state economy

The six-week lockdown is expected to cost the state’s economy $6 billion, with beauty salons and entertainment venues shuttered, and restaurants and cafes restricted to takeaway and delivery services.

Banks will extend some loan deferrals by four months.

The 2.4 million early superannuation withdrawals have already met exceeded the Treasury’s initial forecast of $27 billion — and there’s still another three months still left on the scheme. 

International students will be allowed back in to study even if state borders are still closed– though fewer than half of students in China who had studied abroad are expected to return. 

While the economy has taken a hit, at least Australia has avoided a large death toll.

In Sweden, it’s been a lose-lose situation. It didn’t impose restrictions on its citizens, leading to thousands more deaths than in neighbouring countries, it still experienced a similar hit to the economy as Denmark, which went into lockdown.

Sweden’s death toll sits at nearly 5500, while Denmark had had just 609 fatal cases.

Bolsonaro tests positive

After weeks of downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has confirmed he’s tested positive for the virus. He made the announcement on television, in an interview where he also defended his response to the pandemic. Brazil is second only to the United States in the number of cases and deaths it has recorded during the pandemic.

How’s that vaccine looking?

China is behind almost half the world’s 19 vaccine candidates in human trials, largely thanks to co-ordination between state, military and private sectors. 

The US government will fork out $1.6 billion to vaccine maker Novavax to develop 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by early next year. It’s a big bet on a company which has never brought a product to market. 

In Australia, human trials of a protein-based coronavirus vaccine have entered its second phase. In Western Australia, 4000 participants have volunteered for the trial, with 150 chosen to participate in the two-year study. They received the first dose of the vaccine just over a week ago. 

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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