What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

HERE’S what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

With cases soaring, Biden to announce COVID-19 task force

The United States became the first country to surpass 10 million novel coronavirus infections, according to a Reuters tally, as a third wave of the virus surges across the nation. The milestone came on the same day as global coronavirus cases exceeded 50 million.

The United States has reported about a million cases in the past 10 days, the highest rate of infections since it reported its first case in Washington state 293 days ago.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who spent much of his election campaign criticising President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, pledged on Saturday to make tackling the pandemic a top priority. Biden will announce a 12-member task force on Monday charged with developing a blueprint for containing the disease once he takes office in January.

Nasal spray vaccine to begin mid-stage trial in China

Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co Ltd plans to start a mid-stage clinical trial this month of a nasal spray coronavirus vaccine in China, clinical trial registry data showed.

An alternative to the common injection in the arm, the spray vaccine can trigger specific immune responses in airways by mimicking the natural infection of a respiratory virus, its researchers have said.

The candidate uses a weakened influenza virus to ferry a genetic snippet of coronavirus protein. The Phase 2 study will also evaluate how pre-existing antibodies against a specific type of flu virus in healthy people affect the vaccine.

Homebound workers inject life into suburban malls

As the pandemic rages and most downtown office employees in many cities work from home, at least through to the end of the year, the loss for urban retailers is turning out to be a gain for suburban shopping centres.

With the crucial year-end holiday shopping season looming and few shoppers expected to turn up at downtown malls, the surge in permanent store closures and bankruptcies already seen this year is likely to worsen.

Within suburbs, outlet malls and unenclosed shopping centers – the former luring cost-conscious shoppers in uncertain economic times, and the latter seen as safer amid the coronavirus outbreak – have fared better than enclosed ones.

Gymnasts show how Olympics can pass coronavirus challenges

Gymnasts from four countries took part in a friendly meet in Tokyo on Sunday in a closely watched event aimed at showing the world Japan can safely put on the postponed 2020 Olympics in the era of the coronavirus. Tested daily for the virus, they wore masks as they marched into the gymnasium behind national flags, and there were fist bumps of congratulations instead of hugs or high fives.

The 2,000-some spectators had temperature checks and were misted with disinfectant on entrance. At the venue, they clapped enthusiastically but didn’t cheer, mindful of posted rules against it.

Though some athletes said it had been hard to be confined to moving only between their hotel and the gym, U.S. gymnast Yul Muldauer said he’d just been happy to compete again. “To continue competitions, to continue the Olympic year, we have to be more safe than you’d ever expect,” he told a post-match news conference.