While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 19

WHO, China could have acted faster on Covid-19 pandemic: Experts

China and the World Health Organisation could have acted faster to avert catastrophe during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, a panel of independent experts has concluded.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said its evaluation of the start of the crisis in China “suggests that there was potential for early signs to have been acted on more rapidly”.

Containment measures should have been implemented immediately in all countries where transmission was likely, the panel said in their second report, due to be presented to the WHO’s executive board on Tuesday.

Covid-19 was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 before seeping beyond China’s borders to wreak global havoc, costing more than two million lives and eviscerating economies.

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Immune system ‘remembers’ coronavirus for at least 6 months: Study

People may be able to fight off reinfection for at least six months after they recover from Covid-19 thanks to cells that can “remember” the virus, according to research published Monday.

Researchers in the United States and Switzerland studied dozens of people who had recovered from Covid-19 and found that while their antibodies may fade over time, they maintained levels of specific memory B cells.

These cells can remember the pathogen and can, if faced with reinfection, prompt the immune system to reinitiate the production of virus-fighting antibodies.

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Trump ends historically unpopular presidency with 34 per cent approval

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has dropped to 34 per cent in a Gallup poll released Monday, the low point of a presidency that already had the weakest average approval rating of any of his predecessors since the survey began in the 1940s.

The new Gallup numbers, based on a poll that began just before the assault on the Capitol on Jan 6, show Trump’s approval rating falling 12 percentage points since before the Nov 3 election.

The drop mirrors other polls that show a significant loss of support in the final two weeks of his presidency, which included not only the riot he egged on but the unprecedented second impeachment.

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Covid-19 strain identified in South Africa more contagious, experts confirm

A new variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa is more contagious than earlier versions, experts said on Monday, but there is no evidence that it is more deadly.

The new variant is 50 per cent more contagious, said epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the health ministry’s scientific committee.

“There is no evidence the new Covid variant is more severe than the original variant,” he added.

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Italy PM Conte wins key confidence vote, tougher test on Tuesday

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won a crucial confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday, hanging on to power after a junior partner quit his coalition and opened a political crisis amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

Had he lost the vote, Conte would have been forced to resign.

After his appeal to opposition and non-aligned lawmakers to back him following last week’s walk-out by former premier Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party, Conte’s government won the lower-house vote by 321 to 259.

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