Here’s what you need to know:
- India’s prime minister says his country’s vaccine industry will ‘help all humanity’ in fighting the virus.
- A police officer in Ohio used a Taser on a woman who refused to wear a mask at a middle-school football game.
- Though still relatively low, New York State’s single-day case total reaches 1,000 for the first time since June.
- Melbourne further eases its lockdown as cases drop faster than hoped.
- Thousands gather in London to protest lockdown measures and question the official virus narrative.
- Iran’s president authorizes local officials to impose new lockdowns as infections rise.
- A Maryland man has been sentenced to a year in prison after hosting parties in violation of the state’s lockdowns.
India’s prime minister says his country’s vaccine industry will ‘help all humanity’ in fighting the virus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said in his annual United Nations General Assembly address Saturday that his country’s vast vaccine-production industry would serve the world in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the largest vaccine-producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today,” Mr. Modi said in a prerecorded speech. “India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis.”
The pledge touched on a recurrent theme at this year’s General Assembly, held virtually this year because of the pandemic: worries about the availability and distribution of coronavirus vaccines, coupled with fears that affluent countries with the means and the income would be at an advantage over smaller and poorer countries that also need the vaccines.
A number of General Assembly speakers this past week, including Pope Francis, expressed concerns that vaccines might go only to those who can afford them. “If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources,” Francis said.
Mr. Modi’s seeming generosity on sharing the vaccine came amid questions about how the country would provide such protection to its own people. Just hours before Mr. Modi’s address was broadcast, Adar Poonawalla, the leader of India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker, said that the country’s Health Ministry would need close to $1 billion in the next year for a mass vaccination campaign. “This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle,” he wrote on Twitter.
India, the second-most populous country after China, has reported 5.9 million coronavirus infections. Only the United States has reported more, with more than seven million cases.
In his U.N. address, Mr. Modi said that India was proceeding with Phase 3 clinical trials — the advanced, large-scale trials of promising vaccines that help ensure their safety and effectiveness — and would assist other countries in strengthening storage capacities for delivery of approved vaccines.
Researchers are testing at least 42 vaccines around the world on humans, and at least four are in the Phase 3 stage.
A global collaboration of the World Health Organization, European Commission and France launched in April is seeking to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. Known as COVAX, it has pledged that once the vaccines are available, they will be given to countries “regardless of their wealth.”
A police officer in Ohio used a Taser on a woman who refused to wear a mask at a middle-school football game.
A woman in central Ohio was arrested and shocked with a Taser this week when she declined to leave a middle-school football game after refusing to wear a face covering, the police said.
A video of the episode shows the woman, Alicia Kitts, yelling at the officer, Chris Smith, as he struggles to handcuff her. “Get off of me!” she screams.
The Police Department in Logan, a city of about 7,000 southeast of Columbus, said in a statement that a school resource officer noticed Ms. Kitts sitting in the stands on Wednesday without a mask, which the department said was a violation of a school policy requiring all spectators to wear face coverings. Officer Smith asked her multiple times to put on a mask but she did not comply, telling the officer that she had asthma, the statement said, and he also asked her multiple times to leave the stands, which she refused to do.
When he advised her she was under arrest and tried to handcuff her arms behind her back, Ms. Kitts resisted and Officer Smith used the Taser on her shoulder, according to the police account. She was charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespassing.
“It is important to note, the female was not arrested for failing to wear a mask; she was asked to leave the premises for continually violating school policy,” the police statement said.
Ms. Kitts’s lawyer, Maurice A. Thompson, said in a statement that officials from the Logan-Hocking School District ignored Ms. Kitts when she told them she had asthma and disputed the justification that the officer was enforcing a school policy on masks.
Mr. Thompson said the school had no written policy of its own and that the officer was attempting to enforce a statewide policy for mask-wearing. However, he noted, the state policy exempts individuals with respiratory conditions. The school’s position was “not consistent with any directive or other law,” Mr. Thompson said, and the school district “misapplied the law, and misapplied it haphazardly and violently.”
Local media reported that the Logan Police Department said that calls had come in from people who directed racial slurs at Officer Smith, who is Black. On Thursday, district schools were placed on lockdown after various callers made threats directed at the school system and the police department, The Marietta Times reported.
The police said that the case remained under investigation, and that additional charges were pending against Ms. Kitts and another woman involved in the altercation.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, mask policies have been at the center of disputes that sometimes turn violent.
In May, a security guard in Flint, Mich., was fatally shot after an altercation that his wife said had occurred over a customer refusing to wear a face covering. Various viral videos have captured tense standoffs about mask wearing in grocery stores and other businesses.
Though still relatively low, New York State’s single-day case total reaches 1,000 for the first time since June.
New York State has recorded over 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time since June, when far fewer tests were being conducted.
Out of the 99,953 tests that were reported to the state on Friday, 1,005 were positive, the governor’s office said, for a positivity rate of around 1 percent. That is still well below the 5 percent positivity rate that health experts say indicates containment of the virus’s spread in a community.
On June 5, when there were 1,108 new cases in the state, only 77,895 people were tested — a positivity rate of 1.4 percent, Jack Sterne, a spokesman for the governor, said in an email; the seven-day average positivity rate at the time was 2 percent.
In South Dakota, where the positivity rate is the highest in the country, nearly one in five tests are positive.
New York’s total on Friday did not come close to the numbers at the height of the state’s crisis in the spring, when cases soared to an average of about 10,000 per day, but it was a reminder of what could lie ahead as schools reopen and people begin to spend more time indoors.
“It’s vital that New Yorkers continue to practice the basic behaviors that drive our ability to fight Covid-19 as we move into the fall and flu season,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement on Saturday.
The number of new cases in the state had gradually grown as summer turned to fall; the seven-day average of new cases per day on Friday was 909, while in early August, the seven-day average was around 650.
Deaths from the virus in New York State have stayed much lower since the height of its outbreak. Four new deaths were reported on Friday, the governor’s office said.
The virus has claimed more than 203,000 lives in the United States, over 32,000 of them in New York State.
Melbourne further eases its lockdown as cases drop faster than hoped.
Efforts to combat the coronavirus in the Australian state of Victoria are “ahead of schedule,” Premier Dan Andrews said Sunday, as he announced a further easing of restrictions after two months of a severe lockdown in Melbourne, the state capital.
The curfew in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, will be lifted starting at 5 a.m. Monday, said Mr. Andrews, who denied it was because of a looming legal challenge. Child care facilities will reopen, and outdoor public gatherings of up to five people from two different households will be allowed. Primary students will return to school starting Oct. 12.
Melbourne residents are still required to stay at home except for care or caregiving, essential shopping, exercise and work or education that cannot be done from home. Restaurants and cafes remain closed for dine-in service. Other rules have been tightened, with fines for unlawful indoor or outdoor gatherings of almost 5,000 Australian dollars, or about $3,500, and residents now required to wear fitted face masks rather than scarves or bandannas.
The rolling 14-day average of new cases in Melbourne — which was over 400 at the height of the city’s outbreak last month — is now 22.1, well below the target of 30 to 50 for taking this second step out of lockdown. If the decline in cases continues, Mr. Andrews said, all restrictions on leaving home could be lifted on Oct. 19, a week earlier than planned.
“It’s a remarkable thing — and an achievement that belongs to every single Victorian,” he said. “Because with grit and with guts and with heart — we are beating this thing. We are driving it down. We are winning.”
Victoria’s road maps for easing restrictions in Melbourne and the rest of the state, where the outbreak is less severe, are broken down into several stages with the goal of having a “Covid-normal Christmas.”
On Sunday, Victoria reported 16 new cases and two deaths. The announcement came a day after the resignation of the state health minister, Jenny Mikakos, who said she disagreed with Mr. Andrews that she was at fault for a bungled quarantine program that allowed returning travelers to spread the virus via hotel security guards, resulting in a second wave of infections that prompted the current lockdown. The mental health minister, Martin Foley, was sworn in as her replacement.
Thousands gather in London to protest lockdown measures and question the official virus narrative.
Thousands of unmasked demonstrators gathered in central London on Saturday to protest new lockdown measures, but the Metropolitan Police dispersed the crowds within hours because they were not respecting social distancing rules.
The protesters chanted “Freedom” and called to “end the crazy rules,” as some held signs declaring, “No more lies, no more masks, no more lockdown.” They engaged in tense faceoffs with officers trying to shut down the protest.
The police said nine officers were injured and 16 people were arrested on charges including assaulting an officer and violent disorder, the Reuters news agency reported.
A day earlier, Britain reported its highest daily number of new infections since the pandemic began — nearly 6,900 — and 34 new deaths, bringing the country’s toll of lives lost to the virus to nearly 42,000. Conspiracy theories undermining authorities’ warnings of the danger of contagion are gaining traction, and various news organizations have reported that the QAnon movement that began in the United States is taking root, as it has in Germany.
Over all, Britain has been the hardest-hit country in Europe, though its current seven-day average of new infections per capita is far lower than the averages in Spain and France. But with its daily raw numbers rising sharply over recent weeks, the authorities are reimposing lockdown measures. More than 20 million people are set to be affected by new measures by Sunday night, as numerous parts of northern and central England as well as Wales go under tighter restrictions.
Bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m. in England, and in countless areas, household visits and gatherings have been restricted. In London, Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban household visits to the city’s nine million inhabitants, and the city has been placed on the government’s watchlist.
Fifteen police officers were injured in lockdown protests earlier this month, and on Saturday, the local authorities said they would not tolerate any violence against law enforcement.
“I know there is great frustration to these regulations, but they have been designed to keep everyone safe from what is a lethal virus,” said Ade Adelekan, a commander for the Metropolitan Police who was leading Saturday’s operation. “By flagrantly gathering in large numbers and ignoring social distancing, you are putting your health and the health of your loved ones at risk.”
Iran’s president authorizes local officials to impose new lockdowns as infections rise.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said on Saturday that he would begin allowing the country’s provincial leaders to impose lockdowns as needed to beat back a rise in infections.
The move empowers local officials to shut down parts of the country for one-week intervals in places where infections flare up.
“We are forced to intensify regulations and supervisions, starting in the capital Tehran,” Mr. Rouhani said. “If provincial governors deem it necessary, these centers will have to close for a week.”
Mr. Rouhani’s televised remarks were reported by Press TV, a state-controlled English- and French-language news network, at the end of an article that led with the leader’s accusations that the White House was targeting Iran with “illegal and inhumane sanctions as well as terrorist operations.”
Mr. Rouhani has consistently blamed the United States for making its situation worse by refusing to lift the painful sanctions. But corruption and a breakdown in the country’s health care system caused by months of strain also appear to have played a major role.
While Iran weathered a punishing first wave that turned it into an early epicenter of the pandemic throughout March and April, it progressed to largely keeping the virus in check since.
But months of mismanagement and poor governance have jeopardized Iran’s ability to keep a lid on the outbreak. Stockpiles of medical equipment are running out, health workers have gone months without pay and, most alarming, about $800 million of emergency funding set aside to combat the virus appears to have vanished, the country’s health minister, Saeed Namaki, said on Wednesday.
With signs that the country could be headed for a second wave, Mr. Rouhani appeared to be delegating some control in hopes of pre-empting a resurgence.
According to Iranian news broadcasts, local officials could shut down a range of public spaces, including schools, mosques and businesses.
A Maryland man has been sentenced to a year in prison after hosting parties in violation of the state’s lockdowns.
A man from Hughesville, Md., was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine after hosting two parties in March that violated Gov. Larry Hogan’s emergency order prohibiting large gatherings, the local authorities said Friday.
The man, Shawn Marshall Myers, 42, was arrested on March 27 after he hosted two parties with more than 50 guests, just five days apart, according to the Charles County State’s Attorney’s Office. Mr. Meyers had been argumentative with police officers when asked to shut the parties down, and refused to ask guests to leave when the police responded the second time, leading to his arrest.
At the time, Mr. Hogan’s order prohibited gatherings larger than 10 people. Mr. Myers was not arrested after he agreed to shut down the first gathering, but was ultimately convicted of two counts of failing to comply with an emergency order, one for each party.
The sentence is a rare case of an individual facing serious punishment for violating lockdown orders, as many of the early restrictions states placed on travel and private gatherings were not strongly enforced.
First, workers at state-owned companies were dosed. Then government officials and vaccine company staffers. Up next: teachers, supermarket employees and people traveling to risky areas abroad.
The world still has no proven coronavirus vaccine, but Chinese officials have nonetheless tried to inoculate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people. Three vaccine candidates are being injected into workers whom the government considers essential, along with many others, including employees of the pharmaceutical companies.
Officials are laying out plans to give shots to even more people, amounting to a big wager that the vaccines will eventually prove safe and effective.
China’s move has bewildered global experts. Many of the injections appear to be taking place outside the typical drug approval process. Yet the unproven vaccines could have harmful side effects, and ineffective vaccines could lead to a false sense of security and encourage behavior that can lead to even more infections. The wide use of vaccines also raises issues of consent.
While China is racing the United States and other countries to develop a vaccine, its rivals are moving more cautiously. U.S. companies have pledged to thoroughly vet a vaccine before wide use, despite pressure from President Trump to go faster. In Russia, the first country to approve a vaccine even before trials were completed, the authorities have yet to administer it to a large population, according to health officials and experts.
Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert, said that part of the government’s motivation was to “test” the public’s willingness to take a vaccine.
In other global developments:
Spain’s health minister warned residents in Madrid and its surrounding region on Saturday that they were at “serious risk” without tougher restrictions and urged the authorities there to tighten them, beyond a new partial lockdown in 45 districts, the Reuters news agency reported. As the virus surges again in Spain, hospitals in Madrid are close to capacity and the government has said it is preparing to reopen field hospitals in hotels and in the city’s largest exhibition center. The districts covered by the new lockdown are mostly high-density, low-income areas, and the restrictions elicited complaints about “class confinement” during a protest outside the regional assembly building late on Friday, Reuters reported. The national government has called for a citywide lockdown.
Two months after reopening Asia’s most popular tourist destination, the governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster, disclosed this week that more than 20 workers at his official residence had tested positive for the coronavirus, including aides, a waiter, a gardener and a typist, and his wife posted on Instagram that she had tested positive, though was not suffering any symptoms.
A study offers an explanation for children’s ability to fight off the virus better than adults.
The first study to compare the immune response in children with that in adults suggests a reason that the coronavirus affects children much less severely.
In children, a branch of the immune system that evolved to protect against unfamiliar pathogens rapidly destroys the coronavirus before it wreaks damage on their bodies, according to the research, published this week in Science Translational Medicine. In adults, the immune response is much more muted, the research found.
“The bottom line is, yes, children do respond differently immunologically to this virus, and it seems to be protecting the kids,” said Dr. Betsy Herold, a pediatric infectious disease expert at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine who led the study.
When the body encounters an unfamiliar pathogen, it responds within hours with a flurry of immune activity, called an innate immune response. The body’s defenders are quickly recruited to the fight and begin releasing signals calling for backup.
Children more often encounter pathogens that are new to their immune systems. Their innate defense is fast and overwhelming.
Over time, as an immune system encounters pathogen after pathogen, it builds up a memory of known villains. By the time a body reaches adulthood, it relies on a more sophisticated and specialized system that has adapted to remembering and fighting specific threats.
If the innate immune system resembles emergency responders first on the scene, the adaptive system represents skilled specialists at a hospital.
The adaptive system makes sense biologically, because adults rarely encounter a virus for the first time, said Dr. Michael Mina, a pediatric immunologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Epidemiology in Boston.
But the coronavirus is new to everyone, and the innate system fades as people grow older, leaving them more vulnerable. In the time it takes for an adult body to get the specialized adaptive system up and running, the virus has had time to do harm, Dr. Herold’s research suggests.
She and her colleagues compared immune responses in 60 adults and 65 children and young adults under the age of 24, all of whom were hospitalized at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City from March 13 to May 17.
The patients included 20 children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, the severe and sometimes deadly immune overreaction linked to the coronavirus.
Over all, the children were only mildly affected by the virus, compared with adults, mostly reporting gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and a loss of taste or smell. Only five children needed mechanical ventilation, compared with 22 of the adults; two children died, compared with 17 adults.
Children had much higher blood levels of two particular immune molecules, interleukin 17A and interferon gamma, the researchers found. The molecules were most abundant in the youngest patients and decreased progressively with age.
In the Navajo Nation, residents are ordered to stay home or face fines as high as $1,000 as cases surge again.
The Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation, has reinstated a full weekend lockdown to try to contain new spikes in infections.
Weekend lockdowns helped curb the spread of the virus after harrowing outbreaks earlier in the year, and the 57-hour lockdown that started at 8 p.m. on Friday will last through Monday at 5 a.m.
Residents were ordered to stay home or face fines as high as $1,000. Stores, restaurants and businesses such as hay vendors are prohibited to operate during the lockdown, and the measure also bans wood hauling, a common weekend activity this time of year. The authorities said they would confiscate firewood from violators.
The nation has had more than 10,200 infections and 551 related deaths since the pandemic began. Months ago, when the virus first exploded on the reservation, leaders instituted full weekend lockdowns. Infections subsided, but they kept the restrictions from Saturday night through Monday morning.
The reservation recently experienced a stretch of weeks with few or no new virus cases on some days, but then new clusters were detected, and new daily cases reached 42 on Thursday, followed by 26 on Friday and 32 on Saturday.
Jonathan Nez, the Navajo Nation’s president, said that contact tracers had found the new clusters to be connected to Navajo citizens who had contracted the virus after traveling off the reservation. All three of the states the nation is spread over — Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — are enduring high or rising rates of infection, and only New Mexico has a statewide mask requirement.
“Please do not hold family gatherings, and please do not travel to hot spots off the Navajo Nation,” Mr. Nez said in a statement after the new clusters were disclosed.
A judge in Texas blocked a change to the state’s ballots that was years in the making, citing the pandemic.
Only a handful of states still allow for straight-ticket voting, the option of choosing a party’s entire slate of candidates with one mark of the ballot.
On Friday, just three weeks before the start of early voting, a U.S. district judge in Texas blocked plans to fully eliminate the straight-ticket option in the state, citing an interest in minimizing the time voters have to spend in their polling places amid a pandemic.
The judge, Marina Garcia Marmolejo, said in her ruling on Friday that she feared that eliminating the practice would “cause irreparable injury” to voters “by creating mass lines at the polls and increasing the amount of time voters are exposed to Covid-19,” according to The Texas Tribune.
The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature passed a law in 2017 eliminating straight-ticket voting beginning in 2020. While supporters said the move would force voters to make more informed choices, Democrats argued at the time that it was actually done to stem their party’s growing margins for down-ballot races, particularly in the state’s large cities.
Democratic organizers filed a legal challenge in March of this year, arguing that the straight-ticket option saved voters time. In some of Texas’ urban counties, races for local and statewide candidates can force voters to pore over ballots that are several pages long.
Whether straight-ticket voting actually benefits either party disproportionately is unclear, and both Democrats and Republicans in Texas have expressed concern about how eliminating it could affect voters’ behavior. But the Democrats who challenged the proposed changes said it placed an undue burden on voters and could discourage turnout.
Judge Marmolejo agreed in her ruling, saying that removing the option would not only inconvenience voters lining up to cast ballots amid a pandemic, but was likely to disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic voters as well.
Reporting was contributed by Hannah Beech, Emma Bubola, Damien Cave, Karen Crouse, Matthew Futterman, Rick Gladstone, Mike Ives, Jennifer Jett, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Zach Montgomery, Richard C. Paddock, Bryan Pietsch, Elian Peltier, Simon Romero, Adam Satariano, Mitch Smith, Amanda Taub and Sui-Lee Wee.