May 19, 2020 / 6:27 AM / 18 days ago

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

A view shows an apartment block, which is decorated with a mural dedicated to medical specialists involved in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Odintsovo outside Moscow, Russia May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

Senate grilling

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testify on Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee and are expected to answer questions about actions still needed to keep the world’s largest economy afloat and missteps in rolling out some $3 trillion in aid so far. [nL1N2D01VM]

Two months into the United States’ fight against the most severe pandemic to arise in the age of globalization, neither the health nor the economic war has been won. Many analysts fear the country has at best fought back worst-case outcomes. [nL1N2CX1D3]

In remarks broadcast Sunday night, Powell outlined the likely need for three to six more months of government financial help for firms and families and said “medical metrics” were the most important data for the U.S. economy right now. [nL1N2CZ09O]

Glimmer of hope

An experimental COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), the first to be tested in the United States, produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers, according to very early data released by the biotech company on Monday.

The vaccine has gotten the green light to start the second stage of human testing. In this Phase II, or midstage, trial designed to further test effectiveness and find the optimal dose, Moderna said it will drop plans to test a 250 mcg dose and test a 50 mcg dose instead.

Reducing the dose required to produce immunity could help spare the amount of vaccine required in each shot, meaning the company could ultimately produce more of the vaccine. [nL4N2D02XU]

Empty middle seat?

As air travel restarts, travellers, airlines and airports are grappling with a hodgepodge of rules put in place during the pandemic that will make flying different in almost every country.

On planes, one of the biggest debates has been over whether middle seats should be empty. That would limit airplanes to two-thirds of their normal capacity, not enough for most airlines to make a profit without increasing fares. [nL4N2CW4RX] [nL4N2CV4LA]

Eating with your mask on

Israeli inventors have developed a coronavirus mask with a remote control mouth that lets diners eat food without taking it off, a device they say could make a visit to a restaurant less risky.

A squeeze of a lever, much like a cyclist operating a handbrake, opens a slot in the front of the mask so that food can pass through.

The process could get messy with ice cream or sauces, but more solid morsels can be gobbled up in a flash a la Pac-Man in the arcade game. [nL8N2D03XT]

Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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