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Coronavirus digest: 1 death every 15 seconds
20:15, 05.08.2020

The global coronavirus death toll has exceeded 700,000, with one person dying every 15 seconds in recent weeks. Catch up with this and other latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 700,000 people around the globe have died from the coronavirus, according to the latest data from the John Hopkins Institute in the US.

Fatality figures from the past two weeks equate to about 247 deaths per hour, or one every 15 seconds, on average.

Over 18.5 million people have been diagnosed, and some 11 million have recovered.

Here's a Wednesday roundup of other major stories regarding coronavirus around the world:

Switzerland is close to signing a deal to secure access to a coronavirus vaccine currently being developed by US firm Moderna, according to the director of country's Federal Office of Public Health.

"We are only a few hours away from completing a purchase contract. With this contract we will get it very quickly," director Pascal Strupler said on Swiss television.

In India, drugmaker Zydus Cadila said its vaccine candidate was found to be safe and well-tolerated by patients in an early-stage human trial. The vaccine, ZyCoV-D, will now pass to a mid-stage trial, the company said in a regulatory filing. Late-stage trials of ZyCoV-D are due to be complete by February or March. If approved, the Indian drugmaker could produce up to 100 million doses a year initially, the company's chairman told Reuters last month.

The UK has agreed to a multi-million pound (euro, dollar) joint investment with French vaccine company Valneva that would upgrade a manufacturing facility for the production of a possible coronavirus vaccine.

In a statement, the government said the upgraded facility could potentially produce 100 million vaccine doses for the UK and other countries. Previous talks indicated a possible investment in a facility in Livingston, Scotland.

Sweden's economy has fared better through the coronavirus crisis than those of other European countries, data from the country's statistics office showed. Swedish gross domestic product fell 8.6% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to a drop of 12.1% in the euro zone and 11.9% in the European Union for the same period. Sweden has taken a lax and controversial approach to managing its coronavirus outbreak, allowing most schools and businesses to remain open while other countries took more severe measures.

Meanwhile in Germany, the nation's hospital association said hospitals are well prepared for a potential second wave of outbreaks there.

"The hospitals are well-equipped for a potential second wave," the association's director Georg Blaum said. "We still have increasing vacancies for intensive care and isolation rooms." Hospitals also have better stockpiles of protective equipment than they did at the beginning of the year, he added.

In Japan, a gargling solution flew off drugstore shelves after the governor of the western prefecture of Osaka suggested it might protect against the coronavirus. Thousands of people posted photos to social media of empty shelves and "Out of Stock" notices, images reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic, when medical masks and disinfectant were in short supply.

"Perhaps we can even overcome the coronavirus with gargling medicine," Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura had said at a news conference on Tuesday. He cited a study that showed a smaller viral load in the saliva of 41 patients with mild coronavirus symptoms that had regularly gargled with a medicine infused with povidone-iodine solution, compared to those who had not.Japan's top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said he was aware of the Osaka governor's comments and that the government would "closely watch developments of the research."

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