United States approves plasma to treat virus, global death toll exceeds 800,000

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Washington (AFP)

The United States has announced an emergency clearance to use blood plasma from recovered coronavirus patients as treatment for the disease, which has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide.

Many governments around the world are renewing their efforts – including reimposing lockdowns – to contain the virus, which has infected more than 24 million people.

The United States remains the hardest-hit country with more than 176,000 dead, and President Donald Trump is under intense pressure to stem the contagion.

Plasma therapy shows “an incredible success rate” and “will save countless lives,” Trump said on Sunday – but it went much further than the cautious reception of the treatment by his own health officials.

Plasma is believed to contain strong antibodies that can help fight COVID-19 faster and has been used in patients in the United States and other countries in the past.

But the extent of its effectiveness is still debated by experts, and some have warned that it could lead to side effects.

Asked by a reporter to explain the contradiction between his confidence in the treatment and the cautiousness of the experts, Trump passed the question on to one of his experts and then ended the press conference.

Trump will try to galvanize support for the Republican convention, which begins Monday, as he grapples with anger over the pandemic and the economic crisis that follows ahead of the November presidential election.

In the polls, he lags behind Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who criticized the president for “walking away” as the virus ravaged the United States.

– Extended locks –

Frantic efforts to develop a vaccine or effective treatments are underway around the world, but until one exists, social distancing measures remain among the few weapons against the virus.

New Zealand extended the lockdown of its largest city to Sunday as it battles a small but persistent outbreak on Monday.

Auckland went into lockdown on August 12, a day after the virus reappeared in the city and New Zealand’s 102-day period with no local transmission ended.

European countries have also tightened border restrictions, wary of new virus clusters.

Strict border controls came into effect in Finland on Monday, with arrivals from only a handful of countries able to enter without viral restrictions.

Norway had already tightened its border controls on Saturday, while South Korea on Sunday imposed social distancing measures across the country to fight its latest outbreak.

Indonesian authorities have banned foreign tourists from Bali, a popular holiday destination, for the remainder of 2020 – dropping plans to open the island from next month.

– ‘I have no money to bury him’ –

The pandemic has devastated the global economy, and policies to reduce the high risk of transmission in large groups of people have impacted everything from sports and religious services to music concerts and elections.

This caused the unprecedented postponement of the Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics until next year.

The president of the International Paralympic Committee, Andrew Parsons, warned in an interview with AFP that for the Paralympic Games to take place next year, a zero-case guarantee was needed.

Some major world sports have resumed but without spectators.

There was no roar as Bayern Munich won Sunday’s Champions League final – the biggest game in European club football – at an empty 65,000-seat Lisbon stadium.

At least 13 young people suffocated in a crush during a raid on a nightclub in Lima, Peru’s capital, over the weekend, with people trying to escape with just one exit.

“I learned that my daughter died of suffocation this morning,” Gregoria Velasquez, mother of Maryori Salcedo Velasquez, 26, told America Television.

“I have no money to bury him. ”

strawberries-blood / kma

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