News : Coronavirus


Published October, 26th, 2020

The current bulletin will be updated regularly until the situation stabilizes. Find more articles about COVID19 in our blog.

Where is information sourced from:  the most reputable international sources (WHO, Chinese CDC, CDC, international media, medical journals etc …) and government websites.


Current key news, facts and data

The pandemic is still extremely active, actually worsening in Western Europe. Three countries, the USA, India, and Brazil, account for half the total cases, and the USA and India are the main contributors to the total of new cases. The total worldwide cases as of 7 PM Beijing time, October 21st, is 41 120 954 cases , with 1 130 999 deaths.


TESTS – The point of getting large numbers of tests efficiently has become of crucial importance. Delays in both accessing the tests and receiving the results reduce the system efficiency in isolating positive cases. PCR remains the diagnostic standard but antigen testing has a place in screening programs and will rapidly increase testing abilities as soon as it is more widely accepted by authorities despite its lower sensitivity.

TREATMENT – There are still no breakthroughs in terms of treatment modalities, as aside from hydrocortisone and anticoagulants in the intensive care phase of the disease, no drug has proven to be effective in reducing the impact of the disease or the transmission of the virus. Thanks to a better knowledge of the disease, treatment protocols now allow to reduce the incidence of invasive respiratory support. The Solidarity Therapeutics trial was published on October 15th and it produced conclusive evidence that four widely used repurposed drugs, namely Remdecivir, Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir/Ritonavir and interferon have no favourable impact on mortality or on in-hospital treatment variables such as need for ventilation support or length of stay.

VACCINES – At this stage over one hundred vaccine projects, many of them at the human testing stage, and several at the phase III of extensive human testing stage are registered at the WHO. GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, together with the WHO, supports an initiative by 172 countries to develop and distribute formally supported vaccines in an equitable way. Hopefully the first vaccine could be available very late 2020 or early 2021. The WHO and its partners hope to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of 2021 in an equitable fashion. The vaccine development file is progressing as of October 19th, as at least 10 vaccines have reached phase 3, where one wants to determine the large scale efficacy. Informally some vaccines, notably in Russia and more so in China, are being administered “experimentally” to health care staff and even expatriation candidates.


Key recommended actions items

At the current stage, social distancing remains the most important tool. Avoiding close personal contacts except with non-fragile members of one’s own household is the key. Therefore work environments must be adapted as must shops, public facilities and transport systems. The avoidance of any public or private event producing large groups or close physical contacts is part of this action item.
A necessary addition to this component of the strategy is the obligation from anyone with the symptoms or close contacts with detected case to isolate him/herself, seek medical attention and get tested if indicated. To this, the active use of regular cleaning with either soap and water or hydroalcoholic gel must be added. The proper use of masks is a recognized must in all closed and / or crowded environments.
Travel is acceptable where allowed in as much as the above are respected, and temperature control can be added as a means of detecting part of the potential carriers.

Quite a few patients with COVID, especially those in countries where it is difficult to provide high end care to critical cases, but not only, repatriations have taken place. This requires a fairly challenging authorization process both in the country of origin and at the country of destination. Several providers in Europe, Africa and the Americas provide this service.