What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

4-billion dose vaccine push

An influential foundation focused on preparation and response to epidemics that is backing nine potential coronavirus vaccines has identified manufacturers with capacity to produce four billion doses a year, the group’s top manufacturing expert told Reuters.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) is planning for two or three manufacturing plants for each vaccine and eight to 10 regional distribution sites “so that we don’t have to make everything centrally and try and ship it around the world,” said James Robinson, a longtime biopharma executive leading CEPI’S vast manufacturing push.

The Oslo, Norway-based group is backed by 14 governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Britain’s Wellcome Trust. [nL1N2E11XE]

Oxygen concentrator shortage

The world faces a shortage of oxygen concentrators, needed to support breathing of COVID-19 patients suffering from respiratory distress, as the number of worldwide cases of coronavirus infection nears the 10 million mark, the World Health Organization head said on Wednesday.

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The new coronavirus has infected 9.3 million people and killed more than 480,000 so far and is rising by about 1 million cases per week. This has pushed oxygen demand to 88,000 large cylinders per day, or 620,000 cubic metres of oxygen, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The health agency has purchased 14,000 oxygen concentrators from manufacturers and plans to send them to 120 countries in coming weeks, Tedros said. A further 170,000 concentrators – valued at some $100 million – will be potentially available over the next six months. [nL8N2E1532]

Virtual nominating convention

U.S. Democrats will hold a largely virtual convention in August to nominate Joe Biden as their presidential candidate, the party said on Wednesday, with Biden giving his acceptance speech in person in Milwaukee, but state delegations staying home.

Republicans, in contrast, plan to hold a largely in-person event in Jacksonville, Florida, in August, intending to have President Donald Trump accept his nomination on Aug. 27 before thousands in an indoor arena.

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A poll conducted by the University of North Florida released on Wednesday found that almost 60% of Jacksonville residents opposed the Republican convention being held in their city. Respondents cited concerns over the coronavirus and potential protests over racial justice and police brutality. [nL1N2E12WM]

Put your smile on a mask

With impersonal anti-coronavirus masks rapidly becoming items of everyday use, a Belgian businessman decided it was time to give them a human face. Literally.

Using a photo booth, software and a mobile phone app, Charles de Bellefroid is producing masks that have the lower half of the wearer’s features printed on them.

After placing an order, customers get a link for an app that lets them take a picture of their face and send it to the firm’s website. The physical mask with the individual’s lower half of the face printed on it arrives by regular mail few days later. It costs 19.99 euros ($22.60) and can be washed 8-10 times, Bellefroid said. [nL8N2E05K1]

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