June 5, 2020 / 5:46 AM / Updated 2 hours ago

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: Nurses talk near a screen showing heartbeats information of patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Municipal Hospital Parelheiros SPDM, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 3, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

When coronavirus and protests collide

Australian authorities are taking legal action to try and stop a Black Lives Matter protest scheduled for Saturday in Sydney, citing the risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 given the thousands expected to attend. State police had originally approved the protest on the understanding that there would be fewer than 500 participants.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had earlier on Friday told people not to attend the gathering and similar rallies in Melbourne and other cities.

His warnings joined those of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield, who urged participants in protests sweeping the United States since the death of George Floyd to get tested for coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine or not?

Scientists are resuming COVID-19 trials of the now world-famous drug hydroxychloroquine, as confusion persists about the anti-malarial hailed by U.S. President Donald Trump as a potential “game-changer” in fighting the pandemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which last week paused trials when the Lancet in a study showed the drug was tied to an increased risk of death in hospitalised patients, said on Wednesday it was ready to resume trials.

But the jury is still out, according to Martin Landray, co-lead scientist on the Recovery trial, the world’s largest research project into existing drugs that might be repurposed to treat COVID-19 patients. “People can quote data, people can quote experts, but there is continuing huge uncertainty,” he said.

Breakthrough generosity

The GAVI vaccines alliance said it had raised $567 million towards an initial goal of $2 billion from international donors for an Advanced Market Commitment to buy future COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.

The deal would help secure enough COVID-19 vaccine doses - when the shots have been developed - for poor countries to immunise healthcare workers and those at high risk, it said, as well as creating a “buffer of doses” for use when needed.

“To beat the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs more than breakthrough science. It needs breakthrough generosity,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the philanthropic Gates Foundation, told the summit.

GAVI is a public-private partnership backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO, the World Bank, UNICEF and others.

Contact-tracing wearable

Singapore plans to soon launch a wearable device for novel coronavirus contact tracing that, if successful, it will distribute to all of its 5.7 million residents, the government said on Friday.

The city-state has already developed the first-of-its-kind smartphone app to identify and alert people who have interacted with novel coronavirus carriers, but the bluetooth technology has been beset with glitches and the app is not widely used.

The device being developed can be worn on a lanyard or kept in a handbag and will be battery-operated, foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan said last month in an interview with Sky News Australia.

Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Robert Birsel

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