Two studies offered new hope of a potential vaccine for coronavirus on Monday, as the World Health Organization warned about a possible acceleration of the disease in Africa.
Seven months after COVID-19 was first identified in China and has since killed more than 600,000 people worldwide and battered economies, there is growing alarm over fresh outbreaks of the disease.
Until recently, Africa had remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared to other parts of the world.
But the situation has become increasingly worrying, particularly in South Africa, where the death toll passed 5,000 mark and the number of infections reached 350,000 at the weekend.
Meanwhile, as European leaders in Brussels struggled to salvage a 750-billion-euro (860 billion dollar) coronavirus aid package for the EU, two studies published in The Lancet medical journal appeared to show progress towards a vaccine.
British biotech firm Synairgen also said on Monday a randomised trial of an aerosol-based treatment shows it could drastically reduce the number of new coronavirus patients dying of the disease or requiring intensive care.
Europe has been the worst-hit continent by the pandemic with more than 200,000 deaths, but European Union leaders remain bitterly split on how to help member countries like Italy and Spain, which have suffered the highest death tolls.
Despite the vocal and stubborn opposition to lockdowns and face masks in some parts of the world, they remain among the few options for authorities to control new outbreaks in the absence of a vaccine.
There was grim evidence of how quickly the virus can spread over the weekend, with Irans president saying an estimated 25 million people in the country have already been infected.