Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
WHO-led COVID-19 probe team in China visits Wuhan virus lab
A team of investigators working on behalf of the World Health Organization visited on Wednesday a major virus research laboratory in China’s central city of Wuhan, seeking clues to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The institute has been at the centre of a number of conspiracy theories that claim a laboratory leak caused the city’s first coronavirus outbreak at the end of 2019.
Most scientists reject the hypothesis, but some speculate that a virus captured from the wild could have figured in experiments at the lab to test the risks of a human spill over and then escaped via an infected staff member.
UK virus variant has concerning new mutation in small number of cases
The UK variant of the coronavirus has developed a new, concerning mutation in a small number of cases, which scientists said makes it similar to the South African and Brazilian variants and could reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
Several laboratory studies have found that vaccines and antibody therapy are less effective against the South African variant. The emergence of the mutation to the variant first discovered in Britain highlights how complicated exiting COVID-19 lockdown will be even once vaccines are rolled out.
Tokyo Olympics face looming headache: no medical staff
Japanese doctors and nurses fighting the novel coronavirus will not have the time to volunteer to help at the Olympics, a medical association has said, raising another headache for organisers determined to hold the postponed Games.
The director of the Tokyo Medical Association, which represents 20,000 doctors from dozens of smaller medical groups, said doctors and nurses were under too much strain dealing with a third wave of the pandemic to even consider signing up for the Olympics.
EU chief faces grilling over shaky COVID-19 vaccine strategy
EU lawmakers questioned chief executive Ursula von der Leyen for hours on Tuesday over the slow rollout and shortage of COVID-19 vaccines as she took responsibility for an export control plan that angered Britain and Ireland.
Another parliament session was set for Wednesday morning, and the groups want the EU president to appear before a full session of parliament next week. Even with the addition of an extra 9 million doses that von der Leyen announced on Sunday, the shortfall is at least 50%.
Recovered COVID patients likely protected for at least six months, study finds
Almost all people previously infected with COVID-19 have high levels of antibodies for at least six months that are likely to protect them from reinfection with the disease, results of a major UK study showed on Wednesday.
Scientists said the study, which measured levels of previous COVID-19 infection in populations across Britain, as well as how long antibodies persisted in those infected, should provide some reassurance that swift cases of reinfection will be rare.