Australia’s Victoria state posts lowest COVID-19 case rise in two months

The hard lockdown has restricted most people in Melbourne to one hour of outdoor activity per day. (AFP)
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Updated 29 August 2020

Australia’s Victoria state posts lowest COVID-19 case rise in two months

  • Melbourne is four weeks into a six-week hard lockdown
  • Hard lockdown has restricted most people in the city to one hour of outdoor activity per day

MELBOURNE: Australia’s Victoria state on Saturday reported its lowest rise in new coronavirus cases in almost two months, but authorities warned there would be no rush to lift social distancing restrictions.
The Victorian state capital of Melbourne is four weeks into a six-week hard lockdown that was spurred by a second wave of infections in Australia’s second largest city.
State officials on Saturday reported 94 new COVID-19 infections and 18 deaths. It was the first time new daily case numbers have fallen below 100 in eight weeks, and continued a steady trajectory downward this week. Australia has recorded a total of around 25,500 cases and 601 deaths so far in the pandemic.
“Every day we see the strategy working is a good day but we just need a bit more time to be able to be confident that we are, in fact, defeating this and that we can open up, gradually, steadily, safely,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said at a televised news briefing.
The hard lockdown has restricted most people in the city to one hour of outdoor activity per day. Even if the current measures are eased at the end of the six weeks, some restrictions are expected to remain.
“There’s still a way to go so stay strong and keep going,” Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on his Facebook page. “Australians all around the country are backing you.”
In bordering New South Wales state, concerns were rising about a resurgence in cases after a cluster of more than a dozen people was identified at one of Sydney’s oldest clubs.
Neighboring New Zealand, which has also seen a second wave of infections after three months of respite, reported 11 new community transmission cases on Saturday and two new infections in managed quarantine, bringing the country’s total number of cases to 1,376.


Study finds AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions

Updated 22 October 2020

Study finds AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine follows genetic instructions

  • Bristol University virology expert David Matthews: The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness
  • AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19

LONDON: AstraZeneca’s Oxford COVID-19 vaccine accurately follows the genetic instructions programmed into it by its developers to successfully provoke a strong immune response, according to a detailed analysis carried out by independent UK scientists.
“The vaccine is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness,” said David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, who led the research.
AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine with Oxford University researchers, is seen as a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
The first data from late-stage large-scale clinical trials being conducted in several countries around the world, including Brazil, the United States and Britain, are expected to be released before the end of the year.
The vaccine — known either as ChAdOx1 or AZD1222 — is made by taking a common cold virus called an adenovirus from chimpanzees and deleting about 20% of the virus’s instructions. This means it is impossible for the vaccine to replicate or cause disease in humans.
The Bristol researchers’ focus was to assess how often and how accurately the vaccine is copying and using the genetic instructions programmed into it by its designers. These instructions detail how to make the spike protein from the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
Once the spike protein is made, the immune system reacts to it, training the immune system to identify a real COVID-19 infection.
“This is an important study as we are able to confirm that the genetic instructions underpinning this vaccine ... are correctly followed when they get into a human cell,” Matthews said in a statement about the work.
His team’s research was not peer reviewed by other scientists, but was published as a preprint before review.