What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

·2-min read
La Crosse, Wisconsin as COVID-19 cases surge
La Crosse, Wisconsin as COVID-19 cases surge

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

France, Germany re-enter lockdown, second wave sweeps Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.

World stock markets went into a dive in response to the news that Europe's biggest economies were imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.

"The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated," Macron said in a televised address. "Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus."

England's COVID-19 infections doubling every nine days

The spread of the coronavirus continues to increase across all parts of England with cases doubling every nine days, according to a new study by Imperial College, putting pressure on the government to introduce more drastic lockdown restrictions. The infection rate is rising in all age groups with the highest spread of the disease in the northwest of England and Yorkshire and the Humber region, Imperial found.

The study, which involved testing more than 85,000 volunteers, found 128 per 10,000 people were infected in England in the two weeks ending Oct. 25, compared to 60 per 10,000 in the same period ending Oct. 5.

UK expects verdict soon on Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Senior sources in the British government expect that a verdict on whether Pfizer Inc-backed COVID-19 vaccine works will be available before the results are in on AstraZeneca Plc's competing vaccine, the Times reported. Britain believes that the vaccine, which Pfizer is co-developing with Germany's BioNTech, could be ready to distribute before Christmas, the report said.

Some COVID-19 patients' brains may age 10 years - study

People recovering from COVID-19 may suffer significant brain function impacts, with the worst cases of the infection linked to mental decline equivalent to the brain ageing by 10 years, researchers warned on Tuesday.

A non-peer-reviewed study of more than 84,000 people who completed a study called the Great British Intelligence Test, led by Adam Hampshire, a doctor at Imperial College London, found that in some severe cases, coronavirus infection is linked to substantial cognitive deficits for months.

Scientists not directly involved with the study, however, said its results should be viewed with some caution. "The cognitive function of the participants was not known pre-COVID, and the results also do not reflect long-term recovery - so any effects on cognition may be short-term," said Joanna Wardlaw, a professor of applied neuroimaging at Edinburgh University.

"Overall (this is) an intriguing but inconclusive piece of research into the effect of COVID on the brain," Derek Hill, a professor of medical imaging science at University College London, said.

(Compiled by Karishma Singh)