What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

July 16 (Reuters) - Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Vaccine timeline

The leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, predicted on Wednesday the country will meet its goal of having a coronavirus vaccine by year's end. While there are no guarantees, "I feel good about the projected timetable," Fauci told Reuters.

Many experts see a safe and effective vaccine as the only way out of the pandemic that has infected millions and killed more than 575,000 people worldwide.

Even if a vaccine succeeds in provoking an immune response, Fauci said it is still not clear how long that protection will last. "These are questions that don't have answers right now, because we're only six months into the outbreak."

He said it may take a year before that immunity question is answered.

No Beijing without Tokyo

If the postponed Tokyo Olympics do not go ahead next year due to COVID-19 then the 2022 Beijing Winter Games will likely also fall victim to the pandemic, said long-time International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound.

The Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 4 to 20, 2022, just six months after the Tokyo Summer Games, which are now set to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021 after being pushed back a year.

Pound, a Canadian lawyer who has served as both an IOC vice-president and head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), also speculated on a range of scenarios, including one where a threat to the Beijing Games is not so much a U.S. boycott, but one where China might consider barring the U.S. from taking part if the country cannot gain control over the virus.

"That is an extreme supposition. There are all kinds of crazy things that could happen," he said.

Reopening fears

Canada's efforts to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases have put the country on the cusp of zero deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since March, but officials see worrying signs of a new spike as provinces lift restrictions, after months of Canadians following strict public health rules on social movement.

"Opening up the economy is not a linear path," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital. "There will be setbacks (and) we will very likely have to reimpose public health restrictions in certain areas because of an unacceptable number of new cases."

"We did so much work to keep the number of cases down," said Alex Magdzinski, a Montreal nurse who treated COVID patients at a nursing home. "All healthcare workers are asking (people) is to put in a minimal effort."

Cirque du Soleil eyes return to high-wire

As the coronavirus pandemic ripped around the globe, Cirque du Soleil, a circus troupe formed by Quebec street performers that has become a global powerhouse, saw most of its operations grind to a halt in barely 48 hours.

This month, the company, internationally renowned for extravagant shows featuring acrobats, jugglers, firebreathers and musicians, filed for bankruptcy protection and is close to reaching a restructuring deal.

Some green shoots of recovery are afoot with the resumption of its Land of Fantasy show in Hangzhou, China. "When we stepped on the stage again, we felt almost the same (as) when we made our debut in last August," said performer He Guowei who specializes in body-juggling. "The effort we made during this time was not in vain." (Compiled by Karishma Singh)

07/16/2020 5:47

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