- The US Centers for Disease Control is asking states to get rid of red tape to allow distribution of a potential vaccine by 1 November
- Under the scenario being planned for, a vaccine would be rolled out for certain groups days before the US election
- India is coming closer to surpassing Brazil's total number of cases after another 83,883 were reported
- England's testing system is struggling to keep up with demand as a growing number of people apply for swabs
- Leading figures in UK aviation have expressed frustration that the government has still not backed testing at airports
- Meanwhile, English holidaymakers wait to see which countries will be added to quarantine list later on Thursday
- Globally, there have been more than 26m confirmed cases since the outbreak began and 863,000 deaths
Good morningHare are some of the stories that have broken in the latest few hours:
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told health officials that a Covid-19 vaccine could be ready for distribution for certain groups by the start of November, according to media reports. This is an ambitious deadline leading to concern among some experts that the rush for a vaccine is being driven by the forthcoming presidential election rather than public health and safety
- India has recorded another surge in daily infections, with 83,883 new cases. The total number now stands at 3.85 million, making it the world’s third most affected nation. The ministry said 1,043 people had died, taking the death toll to 67,376
- A scathing report into the use of South Africa’s Covid-19 relief fund has revealed overpricing and potential fraud. Auditor General Kimi Makwetu called the findings “frightening”. In some cases, personal protective equipment was bought for five times more than the price advised by the national treasury
- Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi has described as a “setup” her visit to a hair salon in breach of coronavirus rules. Ms Pelosi was pictured in the salon without a face covering, sparking accusations of hypocrisy as she has frequently criticised President Donald Trump for not wearing a mask
Testing system struggling and other UK newsHere is a round-up of the main UK stories this morning:
- The coronavirus testing system is struggling to keep up in some areas amid a continued "high demand" for swabs. Areas with fewer cases have had their testing capacity reduced in order to cope with outbreaks
- Leading figures in UK aviation have expressed frustration that the government has still not backed Covid-19 testing at airports. The head of Southampton, Aberdeen and Glasgow airports have accused ministers of "overseeing the demise of UK aviation"
- Low-deposit mortgage deals available to borrowers have plummeted in recent months as lenders play safer during the economic fall-out from coronavirus . Borrowers with a 10% deposit could have chosen from 779 deals at the start of March - but that is now down to around 60, new figures reveal
- A dementia charity is seeking a judicial review of the government guidance on care home visits . John's Campaign says many care homes in England are still refusing regular face-to-face visits, often essential for people with severe dementia
Australian 'anti-lockdown' arrest stirs controvery
The arrest of a crying pregnant woman in Australia for promoting an anti-lockdown protest online has drawn criticism, after video of the incident went viral.
Footage shows officers handcuffing Zoe-Lee Buhler, 28, in her home in the state of Victoria on Wednesday in front of her partner and children.
She starts crying during the arrest, telling police: "I didn't realise I was doing anything wrong."
Authorities have defended the officers, saying they acted appropriately.
.Last week police in Victoria - which has been in lockdown since July - warned they would arrest people for organising protests in breach of the ban on gatherings.
Europe infections back to March levels - EUThe numbers of coronavirus infections are back to levels seen in March when the virus gripped the continent, according to the head of the European Union's public health agency.
"The virus has not been sleeping over the summer. It did not take vacation," Andrea Ammon said on Wednesday, according to Reuters news agency.
Across Europe there are 46 cases per 100,000 people, she explained. In March there were 40 cases per 100,000, reaching around 70 per 100,000 by the end of April.
New cases now mostly involve young people, but she says that re-opening of schools does not necessarily pose a risk.
Decision on adding Portugal to UK quarantine list due on FridayA decision on whether travellers will need to quarantine for 14 days when arriving in the UK from Portugal will be made on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Amid speculation Portugal could be added to the list, he told Sky News: "The simpler answer is that we follow the data and we make these announcements in an organised way on a Friday lunchtime.
"We are going to publish a further decision tomorrow, having looked at the data and I'm not going to pre-judge that."
Mr Hancock also pleaded with the public to get coronavirus tests if they have symptoms.
Defending the testing system in an interview with BBC Breakfast, he said "the vast majority" of people get tests close to home, despite some being directed to centres more than 100 miles away.
"If you have symptoms, please come forward and get a test," he said.
"It is straightforward, it is easy and the vast majority of people get one close to their home."
US states told 'to be ready for November vaccine distribution'A plan to roll out a vaccine to several groups in the US just days before the election has sparked concern.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told health officials in all 50 states to be ready to distribute a vaccine by 1 November.
Three documents, sent out on 27 August, set out detailed scenarios for distributing two unidentified vaccine candidates, the New York Times reports. The guidance notes priority for the vaccine would be given to health care professionals, the over-65s and communities known to be at greater risk of infection.
A number of possible vaccines are undergoing clinical trials, and some are in their final stage of testing. The US’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, had indicated that a vaccine might be made available before trials were completed if the results were overwhelmingly positive, but other scientists fear politics is driving the CDC’s announcement.
Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist in Arizona, told the New York Times: "This timeline… is deeply worrisome for the politicization of public health and the potential safety ramifications. It’s hard not to see this as a push for a pre-election vaccine.”