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Coronavirus: UK begins anti-malaria drug trials as busy beaches spark controversy

The latest developments on the pandemic around the world

Coronavirus: UK begins hydroxychloroquine trials as busy beaches spark controversy
Southend beach on Wednesday. Source: ITV

The UK has begun trials to test whether anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine can prevent Covid-19.

It is part of a global trial assessing 40,000 healthcare workers who have been in contact with coronavirus patients in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

Participants in Asia will be administered another anti-malaria drug, chloroquine, the BBC reported.

Hydroxychloroquine recently made headlines after Donald Trump said he was taking the drug as a prevention measure, despite health officials’ advice against using it at home.

There is no evidence in favour of the treatment, now approved for Covid-19 as a temporary measure, while regulators say it may cause heart problems.

Meanwhile, photos of busy beaches in the UK sparked controversy.

People flocked to places such as Southend and Bournemouth on Wednesday, when temperatures hovered around 27 degrees Celsius, in apparent breach of social distancing measures.

Lockdown measures have been eased in England, allowing people of the same household to spend unlimited time outdoors per day, even if it is not to exercise.

NHS leaders have urged health secretary Matt Hancock to develop a clear test and trace strategy to avoid a second wave of infections.

AstraZeneca intensifies vaccine efforts

AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) continues to boost operations to manufacture Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, with capacity now sitting at 1bn.

It also received fresh funding of over US$1bn from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

READ: AstraZeneca boosts capacity for coronavirus vaccine candidate, receives US$1bn in US funding

The licence agreement with Oxford University, which is developing the candidate, has been finalised and the vaccine is now known as AZD1222.

The first deliveries will start in September to distribute jabs to the 30,000 participants of the final phase of clinical trials.

The second phase on over 1,000 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years has been concluded and data is expected shortly.

HIV scientist: “I wouldn’t count on it”

According to William Haseltine, top US scientist on  HIV research, said governments should focus on controlling the virus by isolating, testing and implementing hygiene measures.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” he told Reuters in relation to a potential vaccine.

He said that previous vaccines for coronaviruses did not protect the membranes in the nose, where the virus usually enters.

Fresh lockdown in China

In China, the authorities have placed the north-eastern city of Shulan in a similar lockdown to the epicentre of the pandemic, Wuhan.

Only one person from each household can go out to buy essential items every other day, the Guardian reported.

Last week, a new cluster of cases was detected in the city, located near the border to Russia.

They were all connected to a woman who had no apparent history of travel or exposure to the virus.

South Korea still reports new cases

Remaining in Asia, around 65 South Korean schools decided not to take back kids after two cases were found in one institution.

The plan was for 500,000 pupils aged 17 and 18 to return to school in a phased manner by 1 June.

However, strict rules impose to revert to online teaching for two weeks when there are cases in a school.

The country, which has lifted lockdown and has a wider programme of testing, reported 32 new cases on Wednesday.

Quick facts: AstraZeneca

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