Patients wait in line at a walk up COVID-19 testing site at A+ Academy Secondary School on June 27, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. Texas is facing a surge of new cases of COVID-19 after the state government allowed business to open prematurely. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

Europe extends block on US travellers: Global virus update

Patients wait in line at a walk up COVID-19 testing site at A+ Academy Secondary School on June 27, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. Texas is facing a surge of new cases of COVID-19 after the state government allowed business to open prematurely. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

Key Developments:

Europe Extends Block on US Travellers

EU governments deemed the American response to the coronavirus pandemic insufficient to allow its citizens to enter the bloc for non-essential reasons. The decree will be reassessed every two weeks. In the same decision, the EU will lift travel restrictions for Chinese residents as of July 1, on the condition that Beijing confirms that the same applies to EU citizens.

Inovio Says Early Vaccine Study Yields Positive Results

Inovio, one of the front-runners in the race to come up with a COVID-19 vaccine, said 94% of subjects showed an immune response to its experimental shot based on initial data from an early trial.

The US biotech company’s vaccine was also selected to be part of a non-human primate challenge study as part of the government’s Operation Warp Speed, the program aimed at providing substantial quantities of vaccines for Americans by January 2021. The shares fell as much as 18% after surging more than 800% in 2020.

US Hopes for Hundreds of Millions of Vaccine Doses by Early 2021: Azar

“We are hoping to have hundreds of millions of doses of a safe, effective vaccine, or multiple of them, by early next year, with tens of millions of doses by the fall of this year,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in an interview on Fox Business.

Separately, Azar said it is “very unlikely” patients will have to bear the cost of Gilead’s Remdesivir drug.

Iran to Start Human Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine Soon

Iran is preparing to test a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine in people, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said. “Most animal tests have been passed and we will work on clinical trials of the vaccine in humans in the very near future,” Namaki said in a statement on the ministry’s website. Iranian scientists have been developing the vaccine for four months, he said.

Nigeria May Re-impose Local Lockdowns

Nigeria may impose movement restrictions in 18 municipalities that together account for 60% of all coronavirus infections in the country, Punch Newspaper reported, citing Boss Mustapha, head of the Covid-19 Presidential Task Force. The government eased a six-week lockdown of its two biggest cities — Lagos and Abuja — as well as Ogun state on May 4, but has warned since that restrictions could be reinstated if people don’t comply with public-health guidelines.

Swine Flu Infecting Humans Raises Fears of Pandemic Potential

A strain of flu virus spreading in Chinese pigs has shown it can also infect humans, suggesting that another pathogen with pandemic potential waits in the wings behind the coronavirus.

The flu strain that jumped to humans has become predominant among pigs across China since 2016, according to a team of researchers that includes George Gao Fu, head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers based their findings on surveillance studies conducted in 10 provinces from 2011 through 2018.

England & Wales COVID-19 Deaths Fall to Lowest in 12 Weeks

Weekly deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales fell almost 30% to 783 in the week ended June 19, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. That brings weekly Covid-19 deaths to their lowest in 12 weeks.

UK Approves More Than 1 Million Virus Loans to Firms

The number of emergency virus loans approved by the UK government has topped 1 million, a milestone that highlights the economic damage done by the restrictions to control the pandemic. The government has paid out almost 43 billion pounds ($53 billion) across its three lending programs, according to new figures published Tuesday.

Shell to Write Down Up to $22 Billion as Virus Hits Big Oil

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it will write down $15 billion to $22 billion in the second quarter, giving investors a wider glimpse of just how severely the coronavirus crisis hit demand. The pandemic left no part of the energy giant’s sprawling business unscathed. Oil production slowed, fuel sales fell and shipments of everything from liquefied natural gas to petrochemicals suffered.

Australian State Imposes 4-Week Lockdown on Hotspot Suburbs

Australia’s second-most populous state is imposing a four-week lockdown across areas of Melbourne in an attempt to contain a spike in coronavirus infections.

From late Wednesday night, people across 10 areas will face fines if they leave their homes other than for work or school, for care or care-giving, for daily exercise, or to buy food and other essentials, state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters.

The state has requested that all flights to Melbourne be diverted to other cities for two weeks as a precaution.

Mexico Reports Lowest Daily Rise in Cases in Two Weeks

Mexico reported 3,805 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 220,657, according to data released by the Health Ministry. That’s the lowest daily increase in confirmed cases since June 15.