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The Latest: UK to infect healthy volunteers to speed vaccine

LONDON — U.K. researchers are preparing to begin a controversial experiment that will infect healthy volunteers with the new coronavirus to study the disease in hopes of speeding up development of a vaccine.

The approach, called a challenge study, is risky but proponents say it may produce results faster than standard research, which waits to see if volunteers who have been given an experimental treatment get sick.

Imperial College London said Tuesday that the study, involving healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30, would be conducted in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and hVivo, a company that has experience conducting testing .

Professor Peter Openshaw, co-investigator on the study, says that “deliberately infecting volunteers with a known human pathogen is never undertaken lightly. However, such studies are enormously informative about a disease, even one so well studied as COVID-19."

In the first phase, researchers will aim to determine the smallest level of exposure needed to cause the disease. Researchers will then use the same challenge model to study how potential vaccines work in the body, the bodies immune response and potential treatments.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— An angry Trump criticizes disease expert Fauci, the news media, and polls that show him trailing Biden in key states 2 weeks before Election Day

Argentina is 5th nation to surpass 1 million cases; 3 others in Latin America near the milestone

— Some progress claimed in Washington's negotiations for a new coronavirus relief package, but the same core problems remain

— A World Series like no other opens Tuesday night with Major League Baseball relieved to reach championship of pandemic-delayed season

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

PRAGUE — The Czech government is further tightening its restrictive measures in efforts to slow a record surge in coronavirus infections.

Health Minister Roman Prymula says the new restrictions expand mandatory wearing of face makes to outdoor spaces in cities, towns and villages if people are closer to each other than two meters (6.5 feet).

At the same time, face covering will be mandatory in cars if the driver and other passengers are not members of the same family. The measures will become effective on Wednesday.

The Czech Republic has about 178,00 infections while 1,501 people have died.

The number of new cases has tripled in the past two weeks, from a seven-day rolling daily average of 23.81 per 100,000 people on Oct. 4 to 75.74 on Sunday.

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ISLAMABAD — A Cabinet minister says Pakistan has witnessed a 140% increase in fatalities from COVID-19 in recent weeks due to widespread violations of social distancing rules.

Asad Umar, the planning and development minister who oversees Pakistan’s response to coronavirus, warned on Twitter “We will lose both lives and livelihoods” if people did not adhere to social distancing rules.

His comments Tuesday came shortly after the military-backed Command and Operations Center reported 14 deaths and 625 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had warned on Monday that Pakistan’s big cities could face a second wave of COVID-19 in the coming weeks because of increasing pollution in winter. Pakistan has reported 324,084 cases, including 6,673 COVID-19 deaths.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A number of fishing crew who flew into New Zealand on chartered planes have the coronavirus.

Health officials said Tuesday that 11 have tested positive so far and another 14 cases are being investigated.

The crew members have been in quarantine at a Christchurch hotel since they arrived, and tested positive during routine testing, officials said. The news could deal a blow to New Zealand’s efforts to restart its fishing industry, which has struggled to find local workers to crew vessels.

Jeremy Helson, the chief executive of Seafood New Zealand, said all the men tested negative before flying to New Zealand. “While we await to see how many cases there are, the fact that they were all detected in quarantine shows the system is working well,” Helson said in a statement.

The origin of the infected crew members wasn’t immediately clear, although a number of fishing crew have been arriving in New Zealand in recent days from Russia and Ukraine.

New Zealand has managed to stamp out community spread of the virus.

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NEW DELHI — India has added over 46,000 cases of coronavirus infection and 587 deaths in the past 24 hours.

With 7.59 million cases, India’s total detected cases is second in the world, behind only the U.S. Although the number of new infections detected daily in the country has been been declining in the past month, independent experts have cautioned against laxity.

They pointed out that people not wearing masks or maintaining distance during the upcoming festival season, combined with cold weather, could lead to a surge in cases.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday that India is strategizing to immunize its population by using a digital health plan, under which each person gets an identity card containing all health-related information.

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LONDON — Ireland’s government is putting the country at its highest level of coronavirus restrictions for six weeks in a bid to combat a rise in infections.

Premier Micheal Martin said Monday the measures take effect at midnight Wednesday and run until Dec. 1.

People are being asked to stay at home, with exercise allowed only within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius of their home. Only essential stores can open. Restaurants and bars can provide only takeaway service. No social or family gatherings will be allowed in homes or private gardens, but schools will remain open to prioritize education.

Martin urged the country to “pull together” for six weeks so that the virus can be suppressed and people can still enjoy Christmas.

Ireland has seen daily cases rising. It had 1,031 new confirmed cases Sunday and the death toll stands at 1,852.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state won’t allow distribution of coronavirus vaccines until it is reviewed by the state’s own panel of experts.

Newsom said Monday that California wants its own independent review no matter who wins the presidential election next month.

The governor named 11 doctors and scientists to review any rollout of vaccines by the federal government or vaccine developers. The board members hail from top California top universities and medical providers, along with state and local public health officials.

Newsom’s position pledge raises the possibility that California’s 40 million residents might not receive a vaccine as distribution begins in other states.

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SALEM, Ore. -- As Oregon’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic nears 40,000, state health officials say face-covering requirements are being expanded.

Currently, Oregonians are required to wear masks at indoor public spaces and outside where they cannot maintain six feet of space between others. Health officials said Monday that they are expanding the guidance to include all private and public workplaces, including classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, colleges, universities, outdoor markets and private career schools.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Health officials in Texas have reported 4,319 COVID-19 hospital patients, the most since Aug. 28.

The state estimated Monday that 82,930 coronavirus cases are active in Texas. That is about a third more than the 64,431 reported a month ago, on Sept. 20.

In Houston, schools in the state’s largest school district resumed in-person classes Monday for the first time since campuses doors were closed in March when the coronavirus came to Texas.

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says he is imposing a mask mandate for public indoor spaces and other restrictions in nine of the state’s counties to curb the spread of the coronavirus after weeks of steadily rising case numbers.

Reeves notes that Mississippi saw a spike in cases during the summer. He says: “We know what can happen if we allow this to get out of control, so want to be proactive to prevent that from happening.”

The governor adds that he does not think what is happening in Mississippi qualifies as a spike, saying that “we’ve seen a relatively slow, slight increase over the last six weeks.”

In the past week, Mississippi has had two days when the daily number of new cases reached more than 1,000. That hadn’t happened since mid-August.

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TOPEKA, Kansas — A coronavirus outbreak has killed 10 residents in a nursing home in a northwestern Kansas county that already had proportionally the nation’s largest increase in cases over two weeks.

The health department in Norton County reported Monday night that all 62 residents and an unspecified number of employees at the Andbe Home in Norton had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The agency also said one Andbe Home resident was hospitalized, while the remaining 51 were being treated at the home.

The local health department said residents are being quarantined in their rooms and the home is not allowing outside visitors.

The outbreak at the nursing home came after the state Department of Health and Environment last week reported more than 100 cases at the state’s prison in Norton over the two weeks ending Wednesday.

Kansas is seeing an average of more than 700 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases a day, its largest numbers since early March.

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