EMA considers experimental Merck pill, Spain approves third jabs: COVID-19 Daily Bulletin
Catherine Newman


The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said it's considering whether to start an accelerated review of an experimental new COVID-19 pill. If approved, it will be the first oral antiviral medicine to be used in coronavirus treatment. Merck has just secured a supply-and-purchase agreement that will provide Singapore with access to the drug. 

Spain is to begin administering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to the over-70 population from October 25. The decision was reached by Spain's Public Health Commission. 

Findings from scientists in the British Journal of Dermatology say that they can explain why some people who catch COVID-19 develop chilblain-like lesions on their toes and fingers. "COVID toe" is a side effect of the body switching into attack mode to fight off the virus but these findings may help with treatments to ease symptoms. 

The UK's $27-a-week increase to universal credit, which was brought in to support those on low incomes during the pandemic, is being withdrawn. The government says higher wages, rather than taxpayer-funded benefit rises, will be the better option as the country emerges from COVID-19 restrictions but some MPs say they want the universal credit boost to be permanent. 

Russia reported 895 more deaths over the past 24 hours, the highest daily rise since the pandemic hit the country, bringing the death toll to 211,696, according to the official monitoring and response center on Tuesday. Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is also self-isolating. 

Ireland is "close to suppressing" the coronavirus, says a National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) senior official. Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET, told Irish broadcaster RTE: "We're fortunate with our very high level of vaccinations and, frankly, the very sensible manner in which each and every one of us is taking the precautions, we seem to have come close to suppressing what is a very transmissible virus." 

A Dutch court has dismissed a call to scrap the "corona pass" required to enter restaurants, bars, museums, theaters and other public places in the Netherlands. The court in The Hague said the government has the right to demand proof of a vaccination or a recent negative test to prevent the spread of the virus, as most other social distancing measures were lifted last month. 

Romania's weekly average case numbers and deaths have exceeded all previous coronavirus waves and the country's hospitals have suspended non-emergency surgeries and admissions. The nation has also asked the EU for help with medical supplies by activating the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. 


A hospital in Moscow, Russia receives patients as Russia reports a record high in coronavirus deaths during the pandemic. /Alexander Nemenov/AFP

A hospital in Moscow, Russia receives patients as Russia reports a record high in coronavirus deaths during the pandemic. /Alexander Nemenov/AFP

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