The French government says President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“The president tested positive for COVID-19 today,” a statement from the presidency said Thursday. It said Macron had been tested after the “onset of the first symptoms.”
The government said Macron will self-isolate for seven days, in accordance with national regulations, and will continue to work and carry out his activities remotely.
The French president adds to the list of heads of state and government around the world who have contracted COVID-19, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump.
The World Health Organization announced Wednesday it was sending a team of researchers to China in the first week of January to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus that led to the global pandemic that has so far killed more than 1.6 million people out of a total of 74.2 million total cases.
The 10-member team will examine medical data and test samples to determine how the virus that causes COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans, and where it originated. Most researchers believe the virus, which was first detected in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan, originated in bats.
Trump has accused the Chinese government of covering up information about the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the formal approval process for a second COVID-19 vaccine in the United States begins Thursday.
The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccines advisory committee will review data on a vaccine developed jointly by Massachusetts-based drugmaker Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. FDA regulators earlier this week confirmed Moderna’s claims of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
If the advisory panel approves the Moderna vaccine, the FDA could grant emergency use authorization as early as Friday, meaning nearly 6 million doses could be distributed across the U.S. beginning next week. The Moderna-NIH vaccine will add to the 2.9 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipped out this week that began the inoculation effort in the U.S., starting with frontline health care workers and nursing home residents.
The White House announced Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence will receive the vaccine on Friday. President-elect Joe Biden will be vaccinated sometime next week, according to the transition team. The 78-year-old Biden is at high risk of contracting the virus due to his age.
The FDA said Wednesday that pharmacists could draw extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine if there is any extra solution leftover in the vials. The vials are supposed to hold enough of the vaccine for five doses, but pharmacists have found there was enough for an additional sixth or even seventh dose. A spokesperson said in a statement the FDA was working with Pfizer to determine “the best path forward.”
At least one health care worker in the Northwest Pacific state of Alaska suffered an allergic reaction just minutes after being inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, the first such case of an adverse reaction in the United States. The New York Times is reporting that a second health care worker at the same hospital in Alaska also suffered an allergic reaction within minutes of being inoculated. Two health care workers in Britain also suffered allergic reactions after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Vaccines normally produce various side effects, such as fever, fatigue, headache or pain at the injection site, but officials say such effects are common and disappear within a day or two. The report on the Moderna-NIH vaccine submitted to the FDA revealed that four volunteers in the late-stage clinical trial developed Bell’s palsy, a condition that involves temporary paralysis or weakness in the facial muscles. Three of those participants had received the two-dose vaccine, while the other one was given a placebo.
The Inter-American Development Bank pledged $1 billion Wednesday to help Central American and Caribbean nations fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The IDB will devote the money to purchasing vaccines, strengthening national institutions distributing the shots, and building immunization capacity.
The pledge is in addition to $1.2 billion the bank already mobilized in the region to pay for testing and treatment.
Wednesday’s announcement comes as Latin America reports surges in COVID-19 cases and deaths. According to the Reuters news agency, roughly 33% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths were recorded in Latin America, though the region only accounts for 9% of the global population.
Voice of America – English