The number of nations with more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to seven.
Spain and France are the latest nations to reach the unfortunate mark, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The United States tops the list with more than 8.3 million total cases, followed by India (7.6 million), Brazil (5.3 million), Russia (1.4 million) and Argentina, which has 1,037,325. Spain is in sixth place with 1,005,325 cases, followed by France with 1,000,369.
Spain and France are also the first nations in Western Europe to record more than 1 million COVID-19 infections.
Scores of researchers around the world are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.1 million people around the globe and sickened more than 41.1 million.
Brazil’s health authority Anvisa said Wednesday that a volunteer in a late-stage clinical trial of a vaccine developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca had died but gave no further details about the circumstances.
The volunteer was one of the 8,000 who either received the actual vaccine or a false drug known as a placebo. Because the testing has not been suspended, sources say the volunteer was likely a part of the control group that received the placebo.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in cooperation with Britain’s University of Oxford, is being tested in large-scale Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials in several nations, including the United States, Britain, South Africa and India. The drug maker temporarily put the trial on hold last month after a volunteer in Britain was diagnosed with a form of spinal inflammation after receiving a second dose of the vaccine.
The trial has since resumed in Britain, Brazil, India and South Africa but remains on hold in the United States.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its definition about “close contact” with a person infected with COVID-19.
The agency had previously determined that close contact was spending 15 consecutive minutes within 2 meters of an infected individual. The revised changes announced Wednesday now defines a close contact as someone who spent a total of 15 minutes accumulated over a 24-hour period.
The change by the CDC was prompted by a report of a prison officer in the northeastern U.S. state of Vermont who became infected with COVID-19 after more than 20 brief interactions with inmates who later tested positive for the virus. The brief visits added up to about 17 total minutes of exposure.
Source: VOICE OF AMERICA