'COVID may make 28mn in US homeless'

Nearly 28 million people in the US may be forced to leave their homes as a number of states were ending bans on evictions enacted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, raising concerns over public health during the crisis, experts have said. A number of US state governments introduced eviction bans in March as COVID-19 ravaged the country’s economy and forced millions of Americans into unemployment.

According to data by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, eviction bans have been lifted in cities, including Houston, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St Louis. In Milwaukee, the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, eviction filings dropped to nearly zero after the state introduced an emergency ban in March. But after the order was lifted in May, evictions surged past the pre-pandemic levels, the Princeton lab’s data showed. Earlier this month, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland found that in 44 cities and counties, eviction filings by landlords have almost returned to the levels where bans were never enacted.

The massive displacement in the middle of the Coronavirus outbreak has raised concerns among health experts. Displaced families are less able to shelter in place, thus creating conditions for the virus to spread widely, said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “A key tenet of prevention in a pandemic is to have the infrastructure that will minimise transmission from person to person,” said Nasia Safdar, an infectious disease physician. “Any activity that breaks down that structure … makes containment of exceedingly difficult.”

EU eyes COVID-19 vaccine at less than $40

The European Union is not interested in buying potential COVID-19 vaccines through an initiative co-led by the WHO as it deems it slow and high-cost, two EU sources said, noting the bloc was in talks with drugmakers for shots cheaper than $40. The position shows the EU has only partly embraced a global approach in the race for vaccines as, while it is a top supporter of initiatives for worldwide equitable access, it prefers prioritising supplies for the EU population.

US now says no new foreign students for all-online classes

The United States announced on Friday that it will not take in any new foreign students seeking online-only study, after rescinding a hotly contested order to expel those already there, and preparing for that because of the pandemic. The policy change was announced in a statement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. President Donald Trump has made a tough line on immigration and has suspended several kinds of visas for foreigners during the Coronavirus crisis.

No COVID-19 herd immunity yet, says WHO chief scientist

The WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Friday said herd immunity is still a long way ahead for COVID-19 since 50 to 60 per cent of the population will need to be immune to the novel Coronavirus to protect the uninfected. She said that more waves of the infection would be required to get to a stage of natural immunity. Therefore, the world needs to be “geared up” to do everything possible to keep the virus at bay while scientists work on vaccines.

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