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Coronavirus live news: WHO updates stance on masks and urges countries not to relax | World news

3.01pm EDT 15:01 Estonia has developed an app that could serve as a digital “immunity passport”, allowing users with antibodies to show employers and others their reduced risk of spreading coronavirus. The Immuunsuspass (ImmunityPassport) app being tested out this month was developed by tech firms Transferwise and Guardtime in cooperation with health specialists for the





Hydroxychloroquine does not work against Covid-19 and should not be given to any more hospital patients around the world, say the leaders of the biggest and best-designed trial of the drug, which experts will hope finally settle the question, writes Sarah Boseley, the Guardian’s health editor.

“If you are admitted to hospital, don’t take hydroxychloroquine,” said Martin Landray, the deputy chief investigator of the Recovery trial and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University. “It doesn’t work.”

Many countries have permitted emergency use of the drug for Covid-19 patients in hospitals, following claims from a few doctors, including Didier Raoult in France, that it was a cure and the ensuing clamour from the public. President Donald Trump backed the drug, saying it should be given to patients and later said he was personally taking it to protect himself from the virus.

Landray said the hype should now stop. “It is being touted as a game-changer, a wonderful drug, a breakthrough. This is an incredibly important result because worldwide we can stop using a drug that is useless.”

The first results from the Recovery trial, which has been testing seven therapies for Covid-19, swiftly followed the retraction of a paper in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday night that claimed hydroxychloroquine was linked to an increased risk of death in Covid-19 patients. The authors of the paper withdrew it after the US company Surgisphere refused to cooperate with an independent audit of the data it had supplied for the study. A Guardian investigation had showed serious errors in the data and raised questions about Surgisphere and its CEO.


The politicisation of the coronavirus crisis and the Brazilian government’s deliberate “torpedoing” of social distancing efforts has condemned South America’s largest country to a historic tragedy that will most punish the poor, Brazil’s most respected medical voice has said, writes Tom Phillips, the Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, in Rio de Janeiro.

As Brazil’s death toll surpassed that of Italy, Drauzio Varella told the Guardian that historians would be unkind to president Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing international condemnation for his handling of the pandemic.

“I think history will ascribe to him a level of guilt that I really wouldn’t want for myself,” said Varella, an oncologist, author and broadcaster who is a household name thanks to decades of public health activism.

Only two countries, the US and the UK, have lost more lives, and Brazil seems poised to overtake the latter. Brazil has confirmed 615,000 cases, second only to the US.

“Because in Brazil we are already the third country in the world in terms of deaths, we will soon become the second, and we are going to come close to the level of mortality in the US, which has 330 million citizens – that’s 60% larger than Brazil’s population,” predicted Varella.

“The situation couldn’t be worse. It just couldn’t.”

UK becomes second country with 40,000 Covid-19 deaths

On Monday, more than half of Spain will enter the fourth and final phase of the country’s lockdown de-escalation, the government announced on Friday, writes Sam Jones, the Guardian’s Madrid correspondent.

However, the 52% of Spaniards in the last stage will not include those in the Madrid region or the Barcelona metropolitan area – the two parts of the country hit hardest by Covid-19.

Along with many other regions, they will instead proceed to the penultimate phase, in which groups of up to 15 people can meet.

People living in areas in the final phase, such as Andalucía, the Balearic islands and the Canary islands, can once again eat inside restaurants as long as social distancing is practised, while shops, cinemas and theatres can open at 50% capacity.

Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, appealed for people to continue to behave responsibly so that the progress made during the lockdown was not squandered, adding: “The virus is still around.”

On Wednesday, the Spanish congress approved a sixth and final extension of the state of emergency, which is now set to end on June 22.

Spain is due to reopen to foreign tourists from 1 July.


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Susan E. Lopez

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