Sánchez slips away in the storm

The decision of Pedro Sanchez of leaving the responsibility for confinement in the hands of the Autonomous Communities is contradictory with the messages he launched to face the first wave of the pandemic. Then he said we were going out “all together.”

But even more paradoxical is his refusal to explain in Congress the reasons that lead him to request parliamentary support for an absolutely exceptional state of alarm for half a year, which also raises serious legal doubts. This task has been delegated to the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa.


It sounds like a joke that the government justifies the announced absence of Sánchez in Parliament by alleging a meeting of European leaders, especially since the meeting is telematic and will be held nine hours after the plenary session begins.

It should be remembered in this regard that during the first state of alarm the president not only appeared in the Chamber every two weeks; He also did it before the Spanish every Saturday in a media overexposure that had its echo in public opinion. Why is it now slipping away in the storm?


It must also be taken into account that Sánchez has not yet tied the 176 votes he needs to extend the alarm until May of next year. Precisely his attitude, which some see as arrogant, has generated unease among groups that, in principle, might be willing to give him their support.

Sánchez must go to the headquarters of national sovereignty to state the reasons that lead him to propose an unusual measure, and to submit to the questions and considerations of the rest of the political representatives. It is responsible. But it would also be the logical culmination of a scenography that he himself has fed, and that began last Friday with an institutional statement in a very serious tone and continued with an extraordinary Council of Ministers on Sunday, in which he announced the curfew for all Spain … although at the time it did not say that it would expire on November 9, so that, from that day on, each Community will make a tunic out of its cape.


Due to outbreaks, Europe prepares more severe restrictions before new records of covid-19 | Economy

Italy today set a new record with almost 22,000 daily infections and 221 deaths in the last twenty-four hours, while the United Kingdom registered 367 deaths, the highest number since May.

(Read: Europe surrenders to another violent wave of coronavirus)

Major European countries continue to break records and prepare for tougher social restrictions to deal with the second wave of coronavirus, which threatens to collapse healthcare systems.

(You may be interested: Europe adds restrictions to try to stop the expansion of covid-19)

Given the worsening of the pandemic and the uncertainty about new confinements, the main European stock exchanges have closed again with losses, especially in Paris, Milan, London and Madrid.

(Read: Europe returns to drastic measures to curb the wave of coronavirus)

Italy registered 21,994 new coronavirus infections in the last twenty-four hours, the largest increase recorded so far in the crisis, and 221 people have died, according to the bulletin published today by the Ministry of Health. This is the highest number of infections recorded so far, although many more tests are being done today than were done at the beginning of the emergency, in February or March. Since yesterday 174,000 diagnostic tests have been carried out.

In the last day 221 people have lost their lives due to the virus, a figure that has not been seen since the middle of May and that brings the balance to 37,700 fatalities. The situation of the hospitals is of particular concern. Of the 255,000 people sick with COVID-19 in Italy, 15,366 are admitted (1,085 more than yesterday) and 1,411 require intensive care (+127).


The United Kingdom reported 367 deaths from covid-19 in the last 24 hours on Tuesday, the highest daily figure that has been registered since the end of May. The British Government also reported the detection of 22,885 new infections and 1,152 hospital admissions in the last day.

About eight million people in England will be under the strictest regime of restrictions that the Government foresees for now from Thursday, when the city of Nottingham will enter the highest level of alert. That scenario involves closing bars that don’t serve food and banning social gatherings, but it doesn’t impose mobility restrictions.


French President Emmanuel Macron will deliver a televised speech to the nation tomorrow in which he will announce new measures to combat the advance of the coronavirus pandemic, which may include a new confinement of the population, the Elysee announced on Tuesday.

Macron will make these announcements after two meetings of his crisis ministerial cabinet and after Prime Minister Jean Castex gathered today the parliamentary political forces, associations of mayors and social partners. The head of the Government considered “essential” to adopt new measures, less than two weeks after a curfew was decreed to two thirds of the population that has not managed to stop the spread of infections.

According to various media, the Government is considering various hypotheses, among which the decree of a new confinement of the population takes on weight, half a year after the one that kept the country at idle between March and May.


The Spanish Ministry of Health notified 18,418 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infected to 1,116,738, with a cumulative incidence of 436.47 positives per hundred thousand inhabitants, while the number of deaths rises to 35,298, of which 267 have been notified in the last 24 hours.

According to the data provided to Health by the autonomous communities, the hospital pressure in all Spain due to COVID-19 stands at 13.93%, while 25.04% of the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds are already occupied by covid patients (24.24% on Monday).

In one week, a total of 1,025,912 tests have been carried out in Spain, 2,181 per 100,000 inhabitants, of which 13.26% of the total have tested positive.


With an accumulated incidence of 1,390.9 cases on average per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, Belgium has surpassed the Czech Republic (1,379.8) and is already the European country hardest hit by the second wave of covid.

Belgium registers an average of 13,052 new daily infections in the last week, according to the latest bulletin from the Belgian health authorities, and the average weekly increase in infections is 38%.

Hospitalizations in Belgium increased at a weekly rate of 88%, with 502 admissions on average per day, while deaths linked to Sars-CoV-2 stood at a daily average of 48.3 deaths, a weekly increase of 50 %.

Of particular concern is the situation in hospitals, which are already under a lot of pressure and could run out of intensive care beds within two weeks. Since Monday, October 19, Belgium applies a night curfew throughout the country, which has completely closed the hospitality sector.


Greece broke a new number of covid-19 infections on Tuesday by registering 1,259 new cases, the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic that exceeds a thousand and by far. According to the health authorities, in the last 24 hours there were 12 deaths to mourn, bringing the total number of deaths to 593.

The experts had been advancing for days that this week it was foreseeable that there would be more than a thousand cases and that the figures will not begin to fall until the curfew and other measures approved last week in some parts of the country become effective, among they are the capital region of Attica and Thessaloniki, the second largest city in the country.


Russia registered 320 deaths from covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest number of deaths in a day since the beginning of the pandemic, the country’s health authorities reported on Tuesday.

According to official statistics, 16,550 new positives for coronavirus were detected last day, 4,312 of them in Moscow, which is the main infectious focus of the country. With 1,547,774 accumulated cases, Russia is today the fourth country in the world in number of coronavirus positives after the United States, India and Brazil.


The lack of staff in hospitals is becoming one of the main problems in the care of coronavirus patients in Germany, where the number of patients in intensive care units has doubled in the last two weeks. There are enough beds and extra breathing apparatus in intensive care units, but physicians fear a shortage of professionals to care for patients.


The Czech Republic, with the highest rate of covid-19 cases in the European Union, has chosen to decree a curfew between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., after verifying that the severe measures imposed to stop the pandemic are not providing the desired effect. As reported today by the Ministry of Health, in the last 24 hours more than 10,000 new coronavirus infections were registered throughout the Central European country, of 10.6 million inhabitants.


The Polish Ministry of Health reported this Tuesday that in the last 24 hours it has registered 16,300 new coronavirus infections, a new record in a country that experiences a strong rebound in cases after a gentle first wave.

Poland is experiencing a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, hitting several consecutive highs after keeping the pandemic under control between March and June this year without resorting to major restrictions. The growth is now exponential and is expected to reach 300,000 infected this week.


Portuguese hospitals are beginning to organize themselves to face the complicated next week, in which it is estimated that hospitalized patients may grow by 80% and surpass the maximum number of interned in intensive care in the first wave. With hospital pressure on the rise -Portugal currently has 1,672 covid patients admitted, the highest number in the entire pandemic- some hospitals in the Lisbon area and in the north, the area most affected by the expansion of the curve, are beginning to warn of decisions will have to be made in the coming days.

The pressure on these centers concentrates the concern in the second covid wave in Portugal, where the number of patients hospitalized for coronavirus is expected to increase more than 80% between now and next week, to exceed 3,000 admissions on November 4, with 444 in intensive care.



The recovery of British hotels will take up to 4 years

The UK hotel industry could take time up to four years to return to 2019 business levels, even if an effective vaccine is discovered that can help the industry recover from the profound financial impact caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The country will not recover the levels of last year of daily income per hotel room, a key indicator for the sector, until 2023, while London will have to wait until 2024, according to the forecasts published by the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that collects’ The Guardian ‘.

In this way, the constant closures of the Boris Johnson government, the decrease in the number of foreign tourists and the virtual disappearance of business trips They have left British establishments scrambling to find customers, leading to a dramatic bottom line.

Likewise, the drop in the demand for corporate travel, as well as the absence of major sporting events or live music, have made hotels in large cities suffer the most from this crisis, according to PwC

It so happens that these establishments have not been able to take advantage of the increase in Britons who have stayed in the United Kingdom to spend their holidays.

London hotels, the most affected by the crisis.

According to PwC, rooms are expected to hotels are occupied an average of 45% of the time in 2021. However, although that rate would represent an improvement of between one third and two fifths compared to 2020, “the industry still faces an unprecedented gloomy outlook,” according to the firm.


Of all the establishments in the country, it will be those in London that will be most affected. Daily revenue per room in the capital has plummeted to just £ 29 in 2020, less than a quarter of the £ 129 achieved in 2019, PwC says, marking the biggest impact the hotel industry has seen, with data comparable to those recorded in the 1970s.

The firm’s forecasts suggest that Room revenue in London would rebound to just £ 65 in 2021. Meanwhile, hotel room revenues outside the capital fell to more than half from £ 54 in 2019 – reaching just £ 23 this year – although PwC expects to recover to £ 40 in 2021.

“The reason London is typically so powerful is because it relies heavily on international travel and the corporate market,” explained Samantha Ward, UK hotel leader for PwC. “Unfortunately for London, it is those two markets that have been affected the most and will have a longer recovery,” he warned.

This grim outlook for the industry has triggered concern on the job prospects of thousands of workers. The UK hotel and accommodation sector employed 433,000 workers last June, according to the Office for National Statistics, a drop of 27,000 jobs since March, when the country’s first lockdown began.

According to Ward, there is no “quick fix” for hotels struggling to make up for lost revenue and seeing domestic demand “peaking.” Along with London, the cities that have been most affected by the drop in tourism are Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge, he detailed.

However, some areas have benefited from increased domestic leisure travel, for example coastal and rural areas such as Bournemouth, Devon and Cornwall which have seen an increase in income per room as British tourists chose to holiday at home this summer, the famous ‘staycations’. (See Staycations in the UK: Almost € 9bn Extra Money in Revenue and How the UK Made Brits Spend the Summer at Home).


The coronavirus leads to unemployment to 17,000 more people in the heat of summer campaign

More unemployment and also, more from Alicante looking for work. In other words, the labor market in the province is not capable of absorbing all the demand from people who want to have an occupation. That is the X-ray that the Active Population Survey (EPA) published yesterday showed the labor market of the province during the third quarter of the year, in the middle of the tourist campaign, once the de-escalation had begun, after the state of alarm decreed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Between July and September, Alicante reached the figure of 175,300 unemployed people, which meant that it added 16,900 unemployed compared to the previous quarter and the unemployment rate rose to 19.2%, almost one point higher than that of the previous three months , and also higher than the national average, which stood at 16.2% and the regional average, 17.2%. And the index in the province and in the Community is not higher because the EPA, like the statistics of registered unemployment, does not count the workers included in a File of Temporary Employment Regulation (ERTE) as they are considered occupied, although temporarily suspended from employment, as warned by the CEV employer, chaired by Salvador Navarro. And, in comparison with the third quarter of 2019, the province has 50,400 more unemployed.

More demand than supply

All in all, 32,300 jobs were created in three months, exceeding the 733,900 employed, despite the restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis. Companies and unions valued this rebound in employment, “although it is not usual for unemployment to rise in the middle of the summer tourist season,” the CEV warned, admitting that the assessment of the EPA data had to be “negative.” And he regretted that the increase in unemployment was due to “the shock wave that the pandemic continues to cause in our economy,” as added by the employers. Compared to a year ago, Alicante has 61,400 jobs destroyed.

In addition, the representatives of the social agents and the experts themselves stressed that this apparent distortion that implies that unemployment and employment rise is also due to the fact that, likewise, the number of active workers (the sum of unemployed and employed) has grown significantly. . “Which means that there are many people who in the survey declare that they are looking for work, but the labor market is not capable of absorbing this demand,” explained Martín Sevilla, professor of Applied Economics at the University of Alicante (UA). Although this situation is not new, because it usually occurs in crises, the figures do point to the serious deterioration that employment is suffering in the province.

At the end of September, the workforce was made up of 909,200 Alicante residents, 49,200 more than in the second quarter, which coincided with the quarantine forced by the state of alarm. Also the unions UGT and CC OO emphasized this increase. For them, the 49,200 new assets who are working or looking for a job «show the vulnerability of families due to the decrease in productive activity and explain the increase in the number of people who are employed and those who are also looking for a job, but not so. they have found », stressed José María Ruiz Olmos, Head of Employment of CC OO in l’Alacantí-La Marina, and Yaissel Sánchez, territorial secretary of UGT in the same regional area.

“The domestic crisis that cause the deterioration of the economy, as in this pandemic, prompts many members of the family to demand a job, “added Professor Martín Sevilla. Normally, it is students or housewives who embark on this search to bring income home, taking advantage of the traditional impulse of employment during the summer season. However, this year, the pandemic has reduced these prospects. After the confinement, there were great expectations regarding a rebound in economic activity and employment in the summer, after the long alarm period decreed to try to stop the contagion of the coronavirus.

However, the latest data from the EPA confirmed yesterday what they had been warning from the tourism sector, in addition to the hospitality and commerce sector: that in summer all the activity lost months ago had not recovered nor had it been able to give a strong boost to job creation, as is usual in these summer months.

Another of the figures that corroborate the weakness of the Alicante labor market to generate jobs in this crisis is the comparison between the number of employed persons who were lost in the second quarter of the year (59,200) compared to the previous one and the jobs created in the summer (32,300) compared to the previous three months, which means that in the third quarter only 54.5% of the jobs lost between April and June could be recovered, right in the middle of confinement, during the first state of alarm .

Frustrated expectations

And that there were certain prospects for improvement when at the beginning of July the hotels on the Costa Blanca began to open, although not all, to be able to receive the tourism international and national. “But those expectations were not fully met,” reiterated Yaissel Sánchez. The hotel establishments that were open registered an average occupancy of 50% in summer and their customers were mainly national visitors. Why? Because of the mobility limitations imposed in some European countries such as Germany or the United Kingdom, the province’s main tourist markets. British tourists are especially important to Benidorm, but they were conspicuous by their absence. And the few who came had to return to their countries due to the quarantine measures to return to the country that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded in midsummer. Also in August the hospitality industry suffered time restrictions due to measures by the Generalitat and nightlife had to close its premises to stop the contagion curve. Services was the sector that created the most jobs in the summer, with 32,500 new hires compared to the second quarter.

The services also include businesses such as communications, logistics or those related to internet services, whose employment is on the rise and point to hiring growth, according to Professor Martín Sevilla.


Also the farming employment increased by 900 people and construction, by 3,700. However, the industry lost 3,700 jobs in three months and 34,200 compared to a year earlier. A downward trend about which employers and unions show great concern. The union leaders Ruiz Olmos and Sánchez lamented this important collapse “because it is one of the sectors that, traditionally, generates more stable employment.” The CEV also pointed out that the fall in employment in the industrial sector was “worrying.” And the president of the business organization in Alicante, Perfecto Palacio, demanded “that the focus be on this sector to stop the decline.” The CEV insisted that the “severity of the economic situation requires countercyclical economic policy measures in the short term.”

And the stimulus policies launched by the Government and the Consell at the beginning of the pandemic, such as ERTE, aid to companies and the most vulnerable groups or guarantees to access financing, among others, “could neutralize the drastic fall in statistics, but we will have to wait until the last quarter of the year to see that the drop in employment is important, “said David Montoya, professor of Labor Law and Social Security at the UA.

Valencian Community

The expert also stated that the national and provincial labor market “has not yet recovered all the unemployment that was generated by the 2008 crisis. This was a pending issue, but which has aggravated the coronavirus crisis,” Montoya explained. On the other hand, in the autonomous sphere, unemployment rose by 31,700 people in the third quarter of the year, reflecting the effect of the covid crisis, and the unemployment rate stood at 17.26%, with a total of 422,800 unemployed. However, employed persons increased by 81,800 people, reaching 2,027,500 people with work. The Regional Secretary for Employment, Enric Nomdedéu, stressed that the Community is the second that has generated more jobs, with a growth above the average, + 4.21% compared to +3.06 ». At the national level, unemployment rose by 355,000 people between the months of July and September, which is 10.5% more than in the previous quarter, and employment grew by 569,600 jobs (+ 3%), its highest quarterly increase of the entire historical series, begun in 1976.


The 26,647 files registered since March have affected 138,200 employees

At the moment, the number of Alicante workers who have left a Temporary Employment Regulation File (ERTE) stands at 81,566, according to data provided yesterday by the Department of Sustainable Economy directed by Rafa Climent. But, likewise, with the last extension of these processes until January 31, 2021, the new ERTE formula for regrowth continues to register new entries. As of yesterday, companies in the province have already submitted 245 files that affect 1,759 workers.

This new type of ERTE for regrowth was modified in September; Companies that have impediments or limitations to their activity can take advantage of them, either due to restrictive measures approved by the administrations or that affect mobility. In this case, there would be businesses in the tourism sector that are seeing how, since August, countries such as Germany or the United Kingdom, which are their main markets, have imposed quarantines on their citizens when they return from a trip to Spain.

The ERTE measure was launched by the Government at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, as a way to avoid layoffs and keep companies that suffered more intensely from the impact of the covid-19 crisis. From mid-March to October 26, before the labor authority and the Ministry of Economy, a total of 26,647 have been presented from Alicante, which have led to 138,219 temporary layoffs. However, since the de-escalation, service sector firms have been removing part or all of their workforce from ERTE to face the tourist campaign, but others have also included them again, due to the low activity they recorded.


Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive for coronavirus again

The expectations for this clash were very high but Ronaldo tested positive for coronavirus a few days ago, while he was with the Portugal National Team. Juventus had requested that UEFA be allowed to play the forward in case of negative 24 hours before the match. That is why the player underwent a new swab this Tuesday and the result was not as expected.

The coach, Andrea Pirlo, had already announced that Cristiano would not play the 90 minutes against Barcelona because having been complying with isolation, the Portuguese could not appear for training and was not in a state to play the entire game.

Ronaldo’s first positive appeared on October 13. It was the striker who reported that he was in good health and that he felt good. In any case, in recent days he shared different images through his social networks where he could be seen enjoying the sun and the pool at home.


Extinction Rebellion calls a “civil disobedience” for the climate in Madrid the first week of November

The movement against the climate emergency Extinction Rebellion (XR) has convened various “actions of civil disobedience” for next week with which, under the slogan “Inaction is death”, they intend to warn that “ecological collapse exacerbates the context of health crisis.”

As reported by XR through a statement, the “week of the rebellion” will take place in Madrid between the next November 1 and 6 and is part of a series of acts of protest at the international level that have already taken place in countries such as the United Kingdom and in other Spanish cities such as Barcelona, ​​Granada or Santander.

This “week of rebellion” was scheduled for the beginning of October and the movement decided to postpone it “due to uncertainty” current, but finally it will be carried out since, as explained from XR, “we cannot stand indefinitely before the critical situation of the ecosystems”.

The movement ensures that the climate crisis and the loss of biodiversity “pandemic effects worsen”, and give as an example studies that link higher levels of pollution with higher mortality from covid-19, to conclude that “healthy and functional ecosystems are the best containment barrier against these health hazards.”

Actions of “civil disobedience” are aimed at achieving “a green recovery after the coronavirus” that would happen “to implement more robust systems of democracy, such as citizen assemblies that, advised by the scientific community, are capable of making decisions that contain the climate crisis,” they add from XR.


Management & Stock Market: Wall Street; perfect storm for the next few weeks | VIDEOS

Updated 10/27/2020 at 03:37

The world stock markets have generated a mixed behavior, the American and European stock markets entered negative territory, losing 1.03% and 1.54% respectively. On the other hand, the Asian and Latin American markets have registered positive numbers, mainly due to the rebound in copper, generating 1.44% and 4.28% respectively.

“We have a perfect storm that will threaten the financial markets In the next weeks. On the first front, we are uncertain about who will be the winner in the American elections, since it is very difficult to have that data the next day, ”says specialist.

On the other hand, there is the second phase of COVID-19, that this wave is projected to be higher than the previous one. Finally, a slowdown in economic activity is underway, mainly affected by the lack of fiscal stimulus.

“This perfect storm, we believe that it will generate a correction of more than 10% of the financial markets. Joe Biden it has an advantage in the national polls, but we know that these are a thermometer, but not a confirmation of who is the winner ”, he adds.

It should be remembered that the vote count is not immediate, this means that it may take several weeks until a winner is found, this will ultimately increase the uncertainty and volatility of the markets.


Mexico accumulates more than 40,000 cases in a week and reaches 895,326

For several days the federal government has warned that there are “early signs” of an outbreak, which is why it has called on state and municipal authorities to evaluate and supervise the activities that they have decided to resume.

José Luis Alomía, general director of Epidemiology, considered that the country’s conditions would not allow a measure to be applied for the entire country to prevent infections from escalating.

“If we took at this moment the two most distant risk levels, the maximum and the lowest, we have Chihuahua on the one hand and Campeche on the other, we could not implement a national measure or in this case in the same magnitude of reduction of the public space “, exemplified the official in the conference in which he presented the most recent report on the advance of the virus.

Alomía highlighted that in the last two days there has been a lower hospital occupancy, although he acknowledged that the data is still not enough to confirm a downward trend, this indicator is one of those that have caused the alert of the federal authorities as a possible sign of a regrowth.

There are currently 11,591 people in the country’s hospitals, both in general beds and in those enabled for seriously ill patients.

“The following days are important because they are the ones that will give us stability or continue the ascent,” he said.

AstraZeneca and Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Volunteer Dies


++ Coronavirus today ++ WHO asks ″ not to lower your arms ″ in the face of COVID-19 | Coronavirus | DW

The latest figures on COVID-19according to the last count of the American Universidad Johns Hopkins– they detail that, worldwide, the virus has infected 43,385,581 people and 1,157,714 lives have been claimed worldwide.

  • The United States is the country with the highest number of confirmed cases in the world with 8,695,375, followed by India with 7,909,959, Brazil with 5,394,128, Russia with 1,520,800, France with 1,209,079 and Spain with 1,098,320 .
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean -after Brazil- Argentina is the second country with the most positive cases, reaching 1,090,589 patients, followed by Colombia with 1,015,885, Mexico with 891,160, Peru with 888,715, Chile with 503,598, Ecuador with 161,635 and Bolivia with 140,853.
  • Panama continues on the Latin American list with 129,200 cases, then the Dominican Republic with 124,843, Guatemala with 104,894, Costa Rica with 104,460, Honduras with 93,214, Venezuela with 89,565, Paraguay with 59,594, El Salvador with 32,925, Haiti with 9,026 and Jamaica with 8,749.
  • The registry includes Cuba with 6,595 cases, Bahamas with 6,410, Trinidad and Tobago with 5,535, Nicaragua with 5,434, Suriname with 5,170, Guyana with 4,026, Belize with 3,145 and Uruguay with 2,851.
  • The list is followed by Barbados with 233 confirmed cases, Antigua and Barbuda with 124, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with 73, Saint Lucia with 54, Dominica with 38, Grenada with 28 and Saint Kitts and Nevis with 19 patients.

All updates in Central European Time (CET)

00:00 WHO insists on “not lowering its arms” before the second wave of COVID-19

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made this Monday (10.26.2020) a call to “not lower your arms” given the deterioration of the COVID-19 situation in Europe and the United States .

“We cannot lower our arms, we cannot lower our arms,” ​​insisted Ghebreyesus during a press conference, in which he defended that “when leaders act quickly, the virus can be stopped.” The official added that “it is dangerous to give up control” of the pandemic in reference to the statements of the chief of staff of the US president, Donald Trump, who on Sunday hinted that they would give up trying to control the virus and would bet on finding a vaccine and medical treatments.

but (efe, afp)


London to infect human volunteers with covid to speed up vaccine: is it ethical?

A group of about 90 healthy volunteers between 18 and 30 years will be deliberately infected with covid-19 in the UK, in what will be the first ‘human challenge’ trial of its kind with coronavirus. The goal is to accelerate the development of a vaccine. The experiment, led by Imperial College London and funded largely by the British Government, It will start in January and results are expected in May. There is still regulatory and ethical approval from the British regulatory body MHRA, but it is a process that is practically taken for granted.

Human trials have been carried out since the late 19th century, when the English doctor Edward Jenner inoculated his gardener’s son with the virus of smallpox to produce the world’s first vaccine. Subsequently, they have been carried out, among others, with malaria and influenza. However, the perspective of now deliberately infect people with SARS-CoV-2, a life-threatening pathogen with very few proven treatments, is uncharted medical and bioethical territory.

Alicia alamillos

Ian Haydon is one of 45 volunteers who will participate in Phase I with humans of one of the experimental vaccines against coronavirus

Experts warn that once the virus has been transmitted to the individual, all scenarios are possible. Ultimately, control is lost and there is only the ability to react. And among the more than a million deaths that COVID-19 has already left on both sides of the Atlantic, there is no shortage of cases of young people (even athletes) who have lost their lives when they did not present any previous pathology.

In any case, Chris Chiu, from the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College, defends in the official statement published by the British Executive the urgency of this type of test and ensures that are taking all necessary steps to reduce hazards to the minimum. “This research will allow us to better understand how the coronavirus behaves, its biology, the signs it shows in a person who is protected and those it reveals in a person who is developing the infection,” he says.

“It is not justified”

However, the scientific community is divided. Carlos Estévez Fraga, a neurologist at University College London and a sub-researcher on the Oxford vaccine, is one of those who believes that the risk is not justified. “There are different reasons. Although the main one for me is that there are several vaccine trials around the world already in phase 3 [la previa a su aprobación]. If the results could be as late as summer, Why are you going to expose these people to something like this now? ”, He points out to El Confidencial. “There is a fundamental ethical principle in medicine which is not to harm,” he adds.

“I do not deny that this type of evidence [desafío humano] can offer an interesting analysis on the development of the virus, but I do not think that where we are is justified, taking into account all the associated risks. If it had been six months ago, I could still understand it, but I do not think that now they will accelerate the development of a vaccine, “he says.

Photo: Reuters.Photo: Reuters.
Photo: Reuters.

Apart from the ethical question, the expert also explains that there are different factors that can invalidate the results at the biological level. The first one is related to how the volunteer is infected. “The way in which you acquire the disease is by breathing virus particles that have been emitted by an infected person in your environment. And this is not the same as taking a person and putting the virus up their nose [como se realizará en el ensayo con humanos]. It is not a natural way to infect and that can interfere with the results ”, he clarifies.

On the other hand, in this type of study, the virus is usually modified so that it does not generate such serious infections. And also the volunteers are young people who are very healthy. “This sector of the population is proven to have a lower mortality rate in the pandemic, so the way they respond will not be the same as in older people or those with previous pathologies, which are precisely what are dying the most. ”, He emphasizes.

Financial compensation: although the amount that the volunteers will receive has not been provided, there is talk of around 4,500 euros

Likewise, the neurologist highlights that another of the key aspects is that “you can cause an outbreak by infecting by accident beyond the volunteers, such as the doctors or assistants who assist the participants.” “This is a very important collateral damage“, Add.

And finally, the question of financial compensation is still relevant. Although the exact amount that the volunteers will receive has not been provided, the specialized press speaks of around 4,500 euros. “No matter how advised they are, no matter how clear things are explained to them, there will always be people who for money submit to a type of risk that otherwise I would not do it ”, he points out.

A. Alamillos

Faced with the growing number of covid-19 cases throughout Europe, governments are applying measures such as the “curfew”, which is increasingly extended to more countries

Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at the Langone Center at New York University, advises against paying participants precisely because he is concerned that the economic issue could blind people without understanding everything that is at stake.

In any case, the expert does support this type of evidence. “This pandemic is killing a lot of people. If we wait a couple of years for everyone to get infected naturally and get an answer to the question of whether a vaccine works or not, there will be more loss of life. The impact on the whole world is so great that, morally, what under normal circumstances I would say is not defensible, now I think it is”, He pointed out in an ‘online’ seminar by WCG Clinical.

Isolated applicants

Pedro Rosa Dias and Ara Darzi, economists at Imperial College London, have calculated that accelerating the development of the vaccine in just one month would prevent the loss of 720,000 years of life and 40 million years in poverty, mainly in developing countries .

The human challenge study will be led by Imperial College, in collaboration with Dublin-based medical research company Open Orphran and its subsidiary hVivo, specializing in this type of respiratory pathogen testing. The British Government has confirmed an investment of 33.6 million pounds (37 million euros).

To the participants, who will be in the maximum isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in North London, they will be given minimal doses of the virus that will be increased – with the permission of an independent security monitoring board – until they become infected. The volunteers will be monitored 24 hours a day by doctors and scientists to see how they react to the disease and the remedies developed so far. “We are not trying to make these guys sick. In fact, quite the opposite. We are trying to get them to have enough virus so that we can study it, ”says Andrew Catchpole, scientific director of hVivo.

Carlos Prieto

The ‘hype’ about the coronavirus vaccine is not only generating exaggerated expectations about its arrival, but also about the complex panorama that will open after the vaccination

As of today, there are more than 100 vaccine trials in development around the world and some are in a very advanced stage, including that of the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. After successfully completing phases 1 and 2, the third phase is now carried out with UK, Brazil and India participants, among others.

This week, the news of the death of one of the participants in Brazil was known. The country’s health authorities have not provided details, citing confidentiality protocols, but the University of Oxford stated that “a careful evaluation” had found no safety problems in the experimental vaccine, so the tests are ongoing.

About half of the volunteers in the trials are receiving the actual vaccine, while the other half are being given a licensed meningitis vaccine. Neither the participants nor their relatives know which one they actually receive.