Coronavirus update: Over 90,000 dead in US as Trump looks internally for drug production
With more than 1.5 million confirmed cases and 90,000 Americans dead, US President Donald Trump is determined Americans will have coronavirus treatments manufactured there, handing out a billion dollar contract.
This story will be regularly updated throughout Wednesday.
Wednesday’s key moments:
US seeks to end dependence on other countries for pharmaceuticals
United States President Donald Trump’s administration awarded a contract worth up to $US812 million ($1.2 billion) for a new US company to manufacture drugs and drug ingredients to fight COVID-19 on American soil, aiming to end dependence on other countries.
The announcement comes as the US records more than 90,000 deaths and 1.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to figures by Johns Hopkins University.
The administration has been looking to build up the ability to produce drugs and their raw materials in the US after the global pandemic exposed the industry’s dependence on China and India for its supply chain.
The US Department of Health and Human Services said that it had awarded a 4-year, $US354 million contract to privately-held Phlow Corp to make COVID-19 drugs, other essential drugs and their ingredients.
The contract can be extended for up to $US812 million over 10 years.
Phlow said all pharmaceutical products will be made in the US and the contract will help it contribute to a national stockpile of active pharmaceutical ingredients for essential medicines.
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British F1 GP under threat
Formula One said the UK Government’s quarantine plans would rule out a British Grand Prix and affect tens of thousands of F1-related jobs if exemptions are not granted for sport.
Ministers said they plan a 14-day quarantine for most people arriving in the country in the coming weeks to try to prevent a second peak in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Formula One is planning two Grands Prix without spectators at Silverstone, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of hosting the first world championship race, immediately after two in Austria in early July.
Seven of the 10 Formula One teams are based in England and plans for the season, which has yet to start due to the pandemic, would be disrupted by teams being forced into two weeks’ quarantine every time they return from abroad.
“A 14-day quarantine would make it impossible to have a British Grand Prix this year,” a Formula One spokesperson said.
“It has a major impact on literally tens of thousands of jobs linked to F1 and the supply chains. If all elite sport is to return to TV, then exemptions must be provided.”
Sweden tops Europe COVID-19 deaths per capita
Sweden, which has opted for a more open strategy in combating the virus than other European countries, has the highest number of deaths in Europe per capita from the COVID-19 disease over the last seven days, data showed.
Sweden has kept most schools, restaurant and businesses open during the pandemic.
While deaths are on the decline, Sweden had 6.25 deaths per million inhabitants per day in a rolling seven-day average between May 12 and May 19, according to Ourworldinsata.org.
That was the highest in Europe and just above the United Kingdom, which had 5.75 deaths per million.
Over the course of the pandemic Sweden still has fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Belgium and France, which have all opted for lockdowns, but much higher than Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland.
Sweden’s strategy, mostly based on voluntary measures regarding social distancing and basic hygiene, has been criticised by some as a dangerous experiment with peoples lives, but also been put forward as a future model by the WHO.
Sweden’s open strategy seems to have softened the blow on the economy, with growth shrinking much less than in Denmark and Norway in the first quarter.
This chart uses a logarithmic scale to highlight coronavirus growth rates. Read our explainer to understand what that means — and how COVID-19 cases are spreading around the world.
Wuhan tests more than 400,000 people for COVID-19 in one day
The city of Wuhan, the original epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, conducted 467,847 nucleic acid tests on one day in May 18, a local health authority said.
The staggering number is up from the 335,887 tests a day earlier.
Wuhan kicked off a campaign to test all of its 11 million residents last week to look for asymptomatic carriers — infected people who show no outward sign of illness.
On May 9-10, the city confirmed its first cluster of COVID-19 infections since it reopened from a 76-day lockdown in April.
Mike Pompeo praises Taiwan’s coronavirus response
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen on her re-election, praised the country’s coronavirus response and called it a reliable partner.
His statement sharply contrasted recent US criticisms of China, which claims Taiwan as a province.
Since the coronavirus was discovered in China’s Wuhan province less than six months ago, tensions have mounted between the United States and its trade-war foe China.
“The recent COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for the international community to see why Taiwan’s pandemic-response model is worthy of emulation,” Mr Pompeo said.
China views Ms Tsai, who will be sworn into office for her second and final term on Wednesday (local time), as a separatist bent on formal independence for Taiwan.
At her inauguration, Ms Tsai is expected to say that Taiwan will seek to “actively participate” in international bodies and deepen its cooperation with like-minded countries, generally a reference to the United States and its allies.
Spaniards to change habits post lockdown
Spain lifted a ban on direct flights and ships from Italy but maintained a block on cruise ships, as a survey showed the coronavirus outbreak had put locals off travelling.
A reduced death rate from COVID-19 has encouraged Spain, with the world’s fourth-highest number of infections, to begin easing one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
But the tourism-dependent economy is likely to have to wait until late June to welcome holidaymakers back.
Madrid surprised its European partners by introducing a two-week quarantine last week.
In Barcelona, people living within a kilometre of a beach will be allowed to sunbathe on the sand from Wednesday (local time).
The pandemic has become Spaniards’ biggest worry, and most of them plan to change habits when they are free to move, according to a poll by the Government’s Centre for Sociological Studies.
Just 14 per cent of those surveyed said they planned to travel abroad when the lockdown is lifted. Big purchases are on hold — only 4.2 per cent were thinking about buying a new car and 3.4 per cent a house.
Bars and restaurants will have to coax back the 30 per cent of people who said they preferred not to eat outside their homes.
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