US Presidential Election & covid-19 updates: news summary for 22 November

US Presidential Election & covid-19 updates: Trump, Biden, results, cases, latest news

News summary:

Electoral college votes (270 needed to win) 

Joe Biden: 306
Donald Trump: 232

US covid-19 cases: 12.22 million

US covid-19 deaths: 256,741 (Source: JHU)

- Widespread reports suggest that Biden will name Anthony Blinken as his secretary of state

- Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific advisor on Operation Warp Speed, believes that the US could achieve herd immunity by mid-May

- President's legal team publically distances itself from "Trump Campaign Lawyer" Sidney Powell

- WHO COVID envoy fears third wave of covid-19 in 2021, following the pattern from Asia

- Growing number of GOP lawmakers call on Trump to concede, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski calling it "inconsistent with our democratic process"

- Team Trump's Pennsylvania lawsuit is dismissed by Judge Brann as "strained legal argument without merit."

- Biden's inauguration will be scaled down amid covid-19 fears

- Biden victory confirmed in Georgia after a hand recount and audit of approx. 5 million ballots, Trump appeals the result

- President-elect's team begins fundraising after being denied access to transition funding by the GSA

- Biden's winning margin in the popular vote now exceeds six million

- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on GOP election challenges: 'I think this borders on treason'

- FDA could approve Pfizer coronavirus vaccine "within weeks", Americans could start to receive it by mid-December

- CDC pleads with Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel amid skyrocketing covid cases

Browse the latest stories on the US election:

Trump

Biden marches forward with Cabinet, Trump hopes likely to fade in key states

US President Donald Trump's increasingly tenuous efforts to reverse his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden could be dealt a lethal blow on Monday, as Biden turns to the task of building his cabinet. Michigan is set to certify its results on Monday, and Pennsylvania is likely to move a step closer to doing so.

Trump, a Republican, lost both battleground states in the 3 November election, but he has refused to concede defeat and has, instead, launched a legal battle to overturn the results there and in other close races across the country. Trump's hopes of preventing the Democrat Biden from taking office on 20 January will likely be doomed if Michigan and Pennsylvania certify their results, confirming Biden as the winner of a combined 36 electoral votes.

It remains unclear whether the process in Michigan will work as state law dictates. Michigan's canvassing board, which is evenly split between two Democrats and two Republicans, will meet on Monday to decide whether to certify the results. Biden defeated Trump in Michigan by more than 150,000 votes, and the board is required by law to validate the count. But a Republican member of the board, Norman Shinkle, has suggested in recent media interviews that he favors delaying certification because of technical irregularities. Officials in one county noted irregularities that may have affected a few hundred votes, and the Trump campaign has suggested that points to widespread fraud. A deadlock on moving ahead with certification would likely force the matter into state appeals courts, where an order would be sought to compel the board to perform its function. If the members refused, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has the authority to replace them. 

Some Republicans are afraid of Trump, says Kasich

Former governor of Ohio, John Kasich is of the few Republicans who has conceded that Joe Biden won the elections and feels that some party members have refused to acknowledge defeat because they fear Donald Trump. "[Biden] has clearly won this election and it is just sort of amazing to me that Republicans just keep sitting on their hands. It makes no sense," Kasich told NPR. "They're afraid that they'll be primaried or they're afraid they'll be severely criticized, and it's a pretty remarkable situation."

Biden expected to name Linda Thomas-Greenfield UN ambassador

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, media outlets reported on Sunday, citing Democratic sources close to Biden. The appointment of Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman who held a top diplomatic post in the administration of former President Barack Obama, was intended to restore morale and help fulfill Biden's pledge to choose a diverse Cabinet, Axios, which first broke the news, reported.

Thomas-Greenfield is the 'leading contendor' for the job, CNN reported. Thomas-Greenfield served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa under Obama, from 2013 to 2017. She led U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa during tumultuous events such as the massive Ebola outbreak in West Africa. After leaving the State Department, Thomas-Greenfield took a senior leadership position at former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's global strategy company, Albright Stonebridge Group. She is currently on leave from the company, according to her page on its website.

Tweets from President Trump and GOP prove Sidney Powell had been on the legal team

An out-of-the-blue statement pubished today on behalf of Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, distanced the Trump campaign from Sidney Powell. The statement claimed that she was not a part of the President's legal team, despite having appeared on stage with them earlier this week. 

Making matters worse for Trump, the sudden U-turn was highlighted by a tweet of his which praised the attorney's work on "a truly great team". It is not known what sparked the change in fortunes for Powell but she has been one of the more vocal members of the team when it comes to sharing conspiracy theories. In a press conference on Thursday she appeared to link the election result to Hugo Chávez, the long-deceased Venezuelan leader. 

Anthony Blinken to be nominated as secretary of state

As was reported by CNN, Joe Biden is believed to have chosen Anthony Blinken as his secretary of state, replacing Mike Pompeo who served in the role since 2018. Blinken is well known to Biden having served during the Obama administration, when Blinken held the office of deputy secretary of state for the final year. He was also national security advisor to the Vice President for four years, during which time he was working directly with Vice President Biden. 

 

Dr Fauci calls for widespread vaccination to get back to normality

Reacting to the claim by Dr. Moncef Slaoui that the US could achieve herd immunity by mid-May, Dr Anthony Fauci was more reserved with his prediction. He praised the two highly-effective vaccines that are currently awaiting approval, but said that the true efficacy is dependent on widespread uptake. 

There have been dangerous, unsubstantiated consiracy theories relating to vaccinations, but he is at pains to explain that they will have been through incredibly rigorous testing before they reach the public. Fauci says that vaccines, if properly distributed, could be the "blanket of safety" needed to return to some form of normality. 

Trump claims that the Paris Accord was "designed to kill the American economy"

In an address to the G20 virtual summit President Donald Trump said that he has no regrets about taking the country out of the Paris Climate Accord, claiming it was purposely damaging to the US. He was only able to make the withdrawal on 4 November, as per the agreement's terms, but his decision does not look like standing for long. 

President-elect Joe Biden has said repeatedly that he intends to bring the US back in the agreement, which was signed by 189 countries. America will become the first to leave, but the return will form part of Biden's plan to properly combat climate change:

"If I have the honour of being elected president, we’re not just going to tinker around the edges", he said, before the election. "We’re going to make historic investments that will seize the opportunity, meet this moment in history."

US covid-19 case numbers continue at record levels

Latest figures show how bleak the situation currently is in the US as the country records the most infections of any month so far, despite there still being a week left in November. CNN report that the total for the month now exceeds 3 million cases, meaning that roughly a quarter of all infections have been recorded in November.

Is this just the result of more widespread testing? Not really, figures from John Hopkins data show that the weekly rise in case numbers is around 25%, while the amount of tests carried out has only increased by 14.5%, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

UNICEF to help provide billions with covid-19 vaccines in 2021

Nearly 2 billion doses of covid-19 vaccines will be shipped and flown to developing countries next year in a "mammoth operation", the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said on Monday, as world leaders vowed to ensure the fair distribution of vaccines.

UNICEF said it was working with over 350 airlines and freight companies to deliver vaccines and 1 billion syringes to poor countries such as Burundi, Afghanistan and Yemen as part of COVAX, a global covid-19 vaccine allocation plan with the World Health Organization (WHO).

"This invaluable collaboration will go a long way to ensure that enough transport capacity is in place for this historic and mammoth operation," said Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF's Supply Division, in a statement.

COVAX - co-led by GAVI vaccine group, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations - aims to discourage governments from hoarding covid-19 vaccines and to focus on first vaccinating the most at risk in every country. At a G20 summit this weekend, leaders of the biggest 20 world economies pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests so that poorer countries are not left out.

[Reuters]

Why are Trump’s legal team continuing to fight the result in Georgia?

The President's lawsuits in Arizona and Pennsylvania have been rejected but his legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, have requested another recount in Georgia. This will be the third count in the state which Joe Biden won by over 12,000 votes. What's to be gained here for Trump and why is he allowed to continue his appeal?

Michigan Sec of State: lawmakers will not be swayed by Trump

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has confirmed that the state's Republican lawmakers will listen to the will of the people when it comes to confirming their Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden. There had been concern that President Trump was trying to influence the state's GOP Senators when he met with them in Washington on Friday. Trump has been attempting to delay the certification of results in a number of states where he lost, but Michigan's Senators have confirmed that they will not deviate from election result that gave Biden victory. 

Biden may have already decided on two more top officials

Jennifer Epstein, political reporter at Bloomberg News, has reported that President-elect Joe Biden is moving quickly to get a team in place ahead of inauguration day. Sources have revealed that Tony Blinken will be named Biden's secretary of state, with Jake Sullivan in line to become the new national security adviser.

Both men have worked with Biden before, a common theme amongst the President-elect's appointees so far. Blinken served as staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 2000s, during Biden's time on on the panel. Sullivan served during the Obama administration and would have worked directly with Biden for a spell. He was national security advisor to the Vice President for 18 months, and this role would see the two reunited again. 

Trump legal team dismisses Sidney Powell

U.S. President Donald Trump's election campaign issued a statement on Sunday distancing itself from Sidney Powell, a lawyer who made baseless allegations of voter fraud at a campaign press conference on Thursday. However she had previously been referred to as part of the legal team in tweets by both the President and Jennis Ellis, who posted the statement on Twitter. 

"Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own," Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Ellis said in the statement. "She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity."

The announcement came one day after a judge dismissed the campaign's lawsuit seeking to halt President-elect Joe Biden's victory in Pennsylvania, dealing a major blow to Trump's flailing efforts to overturn his Nov. 3 election loss.

[Reuters]

Another Republican lawmaker calls for Trump to concede

In what has become a fairly frequent event over the last week, another GOP Senator has publically called for the President to concede the 2020 election and allow Joe Biden to press on with the transition planning. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski described the baseless lawsuits as "inconsistent with our democratic process"

She added: "President Trump has had the opportunity to litigate his claims and the courts have thus far found them without merit."

Trump continues to ignore calls for him to concede

Despite an emphatic court setback in Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump showed no sign on Sunday of dropping his long-shot efforts to overturn the U.S. presidential election even as Democratic President-elect Joe Biden moves ahead with planning for his incoming administration.

Since Biden was declared the winner of the Nov. 3 election two weeks ago, the Republican president has launched a barrage of lawsuits and mounted a pressure campaign to prevent states from certifying their vote totals.

Critics of Trump, including Democrats and some Republicans, have accused him of trying to undermine faith in the American electoral system and delegitimize Biden's victory by promoting false claims of widespread voter fraud. Biden is due to take office on Jan. 20.

"Fight hard Republicans," Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning as he pressed his unsubstantiated narrative of voter fraud.

So far, attempts to thwart certification of vote tallies have failed in courts in Georgia, Michigan and Arizona. On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, a Republican appointed by Democratic former President Barack Obama, dismissed a similar effort in Pennsylvania, writing that the case presented by Trump's lawyers claiming voter fraud amounted to "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations."

[Reuters]

Republican Senator calls for Biden to be given presidential briefings

Senator John Cornyn of Texas tweeted on Sunday: "I agree briefings should occur," in reference to the presidential briefings that are normally shared with the President-elect, but which Joe Biden has not yet been given. The idea is that sharing the information now helps the transition process, but Donald Trump has shown little appetite for easing that path so far. 

He has reportedly pressurised Emily Murphy, the head of the GSA, to not carry out the process of 'attainment' which would kickstart the presidential transition officially. As such, Biden's team have not yet recieved the transition funding that they are entitled to, leaving them to call on the supporters to donate the funds. 

Thanksgiving travel could be fatal as covid-19 cases continue to rise across the US

Millions of people in the United States were expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, ignoring warnings from health officials about furthering the spread of covid-19 as the nation surpasses 12 millions cases.

More than 1 million people flew through U.S. airports on Friday, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. That made it the second-heaviest domestic air traffic day since the start of the pandemic, despite pleas from health officials for Americans to stay home and stop the spread of the virus.

"This is the 2nd time since the pandemic passenger volume has surpassed 1 million," TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Friday marked another milestone in the United States as the highest number of new covid-19 cases was reported - 196,815 infections in a day. Health officials have warned that the burgeoning wave of infections could soon overwhelm the healthcare system if people do not follow public health guidance, particularly around not traveling and mingling with other households for Thursday's traditional Thanksgiving celebration.

[Reuters]

WH staffer: Trump's legal team a "laughing stock"

Earlier today a statement from President Trump's lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani, attempted to claim that Sidney Powell was nor a part of the legal team, despite having taken part in their press conferences and been explicitly mentioned as part of the team previously.

The clunky reversal from Guiliani was too much for one White House insider, who accused the President's legal team of turning his administration into "a national laughingstock.” Trump has not yet commented on the matter but can not be too pleased with how his legal challenge has panned out so far. 

Trump waves at supporters outside golf course

Trump waves at supporters outside golf course

The President spent a second consecutive afternoon at his Virginia golf course today. He waved at supporters from his vehicle but many have questioned why he is spending so much time away from the Oval Office while the US slips further into a second wave of the coronavirus.

n the past week at least five states have recorded their highest-ever number of daily cases and the situation is only expected to worsen as we enter the colder months. 

Chief scientific adviser thinks US could be back to normal by the summer

In an interview with CNN Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific advisor on Operation Warp Speed, has said that he anticipates that the US could achieve herd immunity through the use of vaccinations by mid-May. Two vaccines have been submitted to the FDA for emergency approval with officials hoping that vaccinations could start in December.

Dr. Slaoui is aiming for 20 million people to be vaccinated in December, with 30 million per month from then on. The magic figure for herd immunity is 70% - once that proportion of the population have recieved the vaccine he believes it would be safe for things to return to normal. Operation Warp Speed, the body tasked with finding a medical solution to the pandemic in the US, believes this could be achieved by mid-May. 

Biden signals his support for a second round of stimulus checks

The Economic Impact Payments from the CARES Act provided $1,200 checks for individuals and the President-elect is eager to agree more financial support. However his ability to get a bill passed is dependent on the outcome of January's run-off races in Georgia, with the balance of power in the Senate still undecided. 

More info on Biden's cabinet to be announced next week

President-elect Joe Biden will announce the first of his Cabinet picks on Tuesday, incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Sunday. Biden has already named a number of senior members of his White House Staff and has already formed a covid-19 task force to organise his administration's response to the pandemic. 

"You're going to see the first Cabinet picks this Tuesday. But if you want to know what Cabinet agencies they are, who's going to be in those Cabinet agencies, you'll have to wait for the president-elect to say that himself on Tuesday," Klain said in an interview with ABC's "This Week."

Trump campaign denies that Sidney Powell is a member of his legal team

There have been some incredible accusations thrown around by members of the President's legal team as they try to overturn the election result, but Sidney Powell has outdone them all. On Sunday she suggested that one of the Republican candidates for the Georgia Senate raceKelly Loeffler, may have benefitted from electoral fraud to get herself on the ticket ahead of Trump loyalist Doug Collins.

That completely unsubstantiated claim was clearly a conspiracy too far and has been met with a swift resposne from Rudy Giuliani, who now claims that she is not a part of Trump's legal team. This comes despite the fact that Powell joined Giuliani on stage at the ill-judged Washington press conference earlier this week and the President himself described her as part of "a truly great team" little over a week ago. Another bizarre series of events from the Presidents flailing legal team. 

Biden inauguration will be scaled down amid covid-19 fears

The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will be a scaled-down version of the usual traditions that will not endanger Americans health amid the coronavirus pandemic, a top aide said on Sunday.

"I think it's going to definitely have to be changed," incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said. "Obviously, this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we had in the past."

The Democratic president-elect was attacked repeatedly by Republican President Donald Trump for wearing masks and practicing other covid mitigation measures during the campaign for the White House.

Trump, who did not follow the same precautions, contracted covid-19 himself in early October, and there have been multiple outbreaks among White House staff and in his own family. Klain said Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would continue stressing safe practices when they take office on Jan. 20, but would not elaborate on details.

Presidential inaugurations traditionally have featured a swearing-in and speech by the new president at the U.S. Capitol before crowds backed onto the National Mall, as well as lunch with lawmakers and a parade to the White House. Biden's team is consulting with leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate on details and best practices, said Klain.

[Reuters]

Biden sets out his covid-19 plan

The President-elect will look to collaborate with local government to ensure that his administration's response to the pandemic is effective. He has already named several key figures on his covid-19 task force and his chief of staff, Ron Klain, said that we will soon see some of Biden's cabinet picks. 

"You're going to see the first Cabinet picks this Tuesday. But if you want to know what Cabinet agencies they are, who's going to be in those Cabinet agencies, you'll have to wait for the president-elect to say that himself on Tuesday," Klain said in an interview with ABC's "This Week."

 

Trump returns to his Virginia golf course for second consecutive day

After skipping part of a G20 virtual summit yesterday to play a few holes the President was back at his Trump-branded course on Sunday. He was roundly criticsed for missing a meeting on pandemic preparedness yesterday but he appears to be in the mood to make the most of his presidential privileges. 

From his motorcade he waved and smiled at some supporters but not everyone was so pleased to see him out and about. One held a banner that said, simply, "Trump Lost By 6 Million Votes". 

First vaccines could be distributed by mid-December, says govt health official

The first Americans could receive a covid-19 vaccine as soon as 24 hours after the FDA grants approval, which would kick off the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history starting in mid-December.

"Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses," Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the government's "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine program, told NBC's "Meet the Press."

The effort to roll out vaccines across the country of 330 million people comes as President Donald Trump has blocked the normal transition of government before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20. Slaoui said he hoped for a smooth transition and did not expect the vaccination effort to be derailed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss whether to authorize the covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech for emergency use. Moderna Inc is expected to seek approval later in December for its covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccines will be distributed based on each state's population, Slaoui said. Each state will decide who gets the vaccine first with the recommendation that priority be given to health care workers, front-line workers and the elderly who face the highest risks of dying from the virus.

[Reuters]

Trump's lawyer claims Republican Senator benefitted from vote fraud

In the latest bizarre twist Sidney Powell, attorney on Trump's legal team, seemed to suggest that the GOP Senator for Georgia was only on the ticket for the Senate race because of election fraud. Powell claims that Doug Collins was cheated out of a place in the election, with Powell taking his place. 

The outcome of the Georgia Senate race is still undecided after two incredibly close elections have triggered a run-off. The run-off elections will be held on 5 January with the balance of power in the Senate still undecided. The Republicans will be desperate to maintain control of the Senate to prevent the Democrats holding both Houses, but the GOP need to win only one of the two seats to keep their majority. 

Republican Governor describes Trump's actions as embarrassing for the party

Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland has appeared on CNN to criticise President Trump's refusal to concede the election, saying that he is making America look like "a banana republic". The comments come more than two weeks after the election was called for President-elect Joe Biden but Trump's team is still looking to contest the result in the courts. 

Gov. Hogan makes reference to the meeting Trump held on Friday with Michigan lawmakers, where it is thought that he attempted to pressure them into not certifying the result in their state for Biden. However despite the President's attempts, the Michigan delegation said they were not "aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan."

Trump's legal team appeal Pennsylvania decision

On Friday the President suffered another legal setback as his team's lawsuit in Pennsylvania was dismissed. In court documents, Judge Matthew Brann described the legal challenge as "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence."

However that has not deterred Team Trump and they have appealed the ruling, with Rudy Giuliani keeping his place as lead attorney despite a number of mishaps in recent weeks. 

Cuomo to receive International Emmy for Covid-19 briefings

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to receive the International Emmy Founders Award in recognition of his daily televised briefings on the coronavirus pandemic, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has announced. The Academy said Cuomo will be acknowledged for "his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world" in a live-streamed show on Monday. 

Scramble is on for Kamala Harris' vacant seat in California

California Governor Gavin Newsom is under growing pressure to name the state’s first Latino US senator as a replacement for Kamala Harris.California is nearly 40% Latino and advocacy groups see the departure of Harris in January as an opportunity to better represent the state’s diversity in Washington, Bloomberg reports. Newsom is sure to replace Harris with another Democrat. The incoming senator will face voters in 2022 and the governor is being encouraged to make a statement with his pick.

Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler tests positive for Covid-19

Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler is self-isolating after returning a positive Covid test result. Officials said she took two rapid tests on Friday morning which both came back negative. However, the results of a PCR test taken on the same day were positive.     

Trump

Trump facing new pressure to concede election

After a scathing court setback in Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump faces increased pressure from his fellow Republicans to drop his effort to overturn the US presidential election and concede to Democrat Joe Biden. Since Biden was declared the winner two weeks ago, Trump has launched a barrage of lawsuits and mounted a pressure campaign to prevent states from certifying their vote totals. So far, attempts to thwart certification have failed in courts in Georgia, Michigan and Arizona.

On Saturday, Matthew Brann, a Republican federal judge nominated by former President Barack Obama, dismissed a similar effort in Pennsylvania, writing that the case amounted to 'strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.' For Trump to have any hope of remaining in the White House, he needs to eliminate Biden's 81,000-vote lead in Pennsylvania. The state is due to begin certifying its results on Monday. Trump's lawyers vowed a quick appeal, but lawyers who opposed him in court say he is out of time. 'This should put the nail in the coffin on any further attempts by President Trump to use the federal courts to rewrite the outcome of the 2020 election,' said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Some of Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress are now breaking ranks. Republican Senator Pat Toomey said the ruling closed off any chance for a legal victory in Pennsylvania and called on Trump to concede the election. Liz Cheney, a member of the Republican leadership team in the House of Representatives, earlier called on Trump to respect 'the sanctity of our electoral process' if he does not succeed in court. 

Jeremih out of ICU

Chicago-born R&B singer Jeremih is now out of intensive care and appears to be winning his battle against coronavirus, his family have confirmed. The 33-year-old is believed to have been admitted to hospital last week suffering Covid-19 symptoms.

'Deceased' voter Deborah Jean Christiansen is alive and well

Trump's campaign and Fox News host Tucker Carlson alleged last week that a vote cast by a Georgia woman named Deborah Jean Christiansen was fraudulent. But the voter, who the Trump campaign claimed was deceased, has come forward, CNN reports. Christiansen branded the accusations as ridiculous. "The guy lost the election. He should be worried more about taking care of people, with this Covid-19 going on. Biden won. Let's move on," she explained.

Hospital

WHO COVID envoy fears third wave of coronavirus next year

A World Health Organization (WHO) special Covid-19 envoy predicted a third wave of the pandemic in Europe in early 2021, if governments repeat what he said was a failure to do what was needed to prevent the second wave of infections. "They missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months, after they brought the first wave under the control," the WHO's David Nabarro said in an interview with Swiss newspapers. "Now we have the second wave. If they don't build the necessary infrastructure, we'll have a third wave early next year," said Nabarro, a Briton who campaigned unsuccessfully to become the WHO director general in 2017.

Europe briefly enjoyed sinking infection rates that are now surging again: Germany and France on Saturday saw cases rise by 33,000 combined, Switzerland and Austria have thousands of cases daily, while Turkey reported a record 5,532 new infections. Nabarro singled out Switzerland's move to allow skiing - with masks required in gondolas - as other Alpine nations like Austria have shuttered resorts. Nabarro said Switzerland could reach a very high level of sicknesses and deaths. "Once the infection rates sink, and they will sink, then we can be as free as we want," Nabarro was quoted as saying by the Solothurner Zeitung. "But right now? Should ski resorts open? Under what conditions?"

Nabarro lauded the response of Asian countries like South Korea, where infections are now relatively low: "People are fully engaged, they take on behaviours that make it difficult for the virus. They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they're sick, wash hands and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups." Nabarro also said Asia did not relax restrictions prematurely. "You must wait until case numbers are low and stay low," he said, adding that, "Europe's reaction was incomplete."

US election and coronavirus: latest news

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the US elections, with all the ongoing reaction, breaking news and regular updates of the fall-out from the historic election on 3 November.

We'll also be keeping you updated on all the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic, which is the number one priority for President-elect Joe Biden who is already getting to work on how he plans to govern a very divided United States with Donald Trump still yet to recognise or acknowledge defeat.

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