Coronavirus: A timeline of how the deadly outbreak is evolving
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Coronavirus: A timeline of how the deadly COVID-19 outbreak is evolving

11:31 am

International update: Pfizer in advanced testing of experimental oral Covid antiviral drug

28 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.7 million, with a figure of 4,758,001 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 232 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 43 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 690,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Pfizer advanced testing of an experimental oral antiviral drug. The medicine, PF-07321332, is intended to be given at the first sign of exposure or infection, without requiring patients to be hospitalized first. Pfizer’s new trial is enrolling as many as 2,660 adults who live in the same household as someone with a confirmed infection. Participants will get either a placebo or a combination of the experimental drug plus ritonavir twice daily for five or 10 days, the company said.

India: India reported 179 Covid deaths on Tuesday, the smallest daily toll since the middle of March, taking the total to 447,373. Infections rose by 18,795, the smallest increase since early March, lifting the total to about 33.7 million, health ministry data showed.

UK: Covid infection control measures in UK hospitals should be relaxed to help the NHS tackle a record backlog of patients waiting for treatment, the UK’s public health agency has advised.

The British prime minister Boris Johnson has finally agreed to meet the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group at Downing Street, well over a year after first promising to do so.

Australia: Australia will introduce at-home testing for Covid-19 from Nov. 1, as cases in Victoria surged past those in New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, for the first time since July. Regulatory agency Therapeutic Goods Administration recommended the at-home testing, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Tuesday. Some 76.7% of Australians have now received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, he added.

Vaccine news

US: President Joe Biden has had a coronavirus booster jab, the White House confirmed. It comes days after his administration gave the go-ahead for a third shot of Pfizer’s vaccine in certain populations.In the US, health authorities have said they are confident there will be enough vaccine shots for both qualified older Americans seeking booster jabs, as well as young children.

United Airlines Holdings Inc. said 98.5% of its US-based employees have been vaccinated and expects the figure to exceed 99% in its final tally of compliance with its mandate. The carrier had set a Monday deadline for all US-based workers to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or an initial dose of a two-shot vaccine. Failure to comply could result in termination.

UK: The UK has fully vaccinated more than two-thirds of its population against Covid – one of a small number of countries to reach the milestone.

A crowdsourced effort to design a Covid-19 pill won £8 million ($11 million) in funding from the Wellcome Trust. About 250 people submitted to the Covid Moonshot effort more than 4,500 potential molecular designs intended to block a key protein that helps the virus replicate. “It is a way of working that none of us realized was possible,” said University of Oxford Professor Frank von Delft, a leader of the project. It has been “an express train on tracks we have had to lay down as we go.”  The Wellcome funding will help pay for the expensive last step of research needed to bring the project into human clinical trials but is unlikely to beat big pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer is in late-stage trials on an oral antiviral.

The younger a child is, the less likely they are to want the coronavirus vaccine, according to a new survey of students aged nine-to-18 published in the Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine. The OxWell School Survey 2021 found that only 36% of nine-year-olds were willing to take the vaccine compared to 51% of 13-year-olds and 78% of 17-year-olds. Researchers found that those less willing to take the vaccine came from the most socioeconomically-deprived backgrounds, felt less belonging to their school communities and thought they had the virus already. “Younger children more often defer to their parents, or primary caregivers, for decisions about health care and vaccination, but our data shows how important it is for good quality, accessible information to be provided to better enable our younger populations to understand more about the Covid-19 vaccine and its effects,” said Mina Fazel, an associate professor at the University of Oxford.

Lockdown updates

Japan: Japan will lift a coronavirus state of emergency in all regions on Thursday as the number of new cases falls and the strain on the medical system eases, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said. The plan, approved by a government advisory panel, takes Japan as a whole out of an emergency state for the first time in nearly six months.

Australia: Australian authorities have announced plans to reopen locked-down Sydney using a two-tiered system that will give people who are vaccinated against Covid more more freedoms than their unvaccinated neighbours for several weeks.

South Korea: South Korea is considerating  easing social distancing rules for fully vaccinated people from the end of October or early November, when 80% of adults and 90% of the elderly complete their vaccinations, according to Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol.

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its travel advisories for Hong Kong and Singapore by one notch each. Hong Kong has a moderate level of Covid-19, the agency said, while Singapore’s is high. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Singapore, where all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading variants, the CDC said.

Economy updates

UK: In Northern Ireland, shoppers have been urged not to “rush at once” to apply for a high street voucher scheme. All adults are eligible for a £100 pre-paid card to spend on the high street as the government looked to boost local businesses devastated by the pandemic.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is stuck between China’s zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus and the west’s reopening, and it has no clear idea how to satisfy Beijing’s demands so cross-border travel can resume, a top adviser to the city’s leader says. Officials in the Asian financial hub can’t loosen some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 rules, despite their chilling effect on international business and travel, because the city is prioritizing reopening the border with China, says Bernard Chan, a financier who is also the convenor of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s advisory Executive Council.

9:58 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer starts trial of antiviral to prevent Covid-19 – AZ/Sputnik V vaccine combo reports positive results in small study

Pfizer has commenced the Phase II/III EPIC-PEP study to assess the safety and efficacy of investigational oral antiviral candidate PF-07321332 in preventing Covid-19 when co-administered with a low dose of ritonavir. The study will recruit adult individuals who live in the same household with a confirmed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Pfizer plans to enrol up to 2,660 participants. PF-07321332 is an oral antiviral SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease inhibitor. Earlier trials showed that the candidate is safe and well tolerated.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has reported positive data from a small study that assessed the combined use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the first component of the Sputnik V vaccine. The assessment is based on data collected from the first 20 participants of a 100-person study in Azerbaijan. According to the RDIF statement, there was a fourfold or higher increase in neutralising antibodies to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 in 85% of the participants. The interim results are based on the data collected on the 57th day of the study.

Sanofi and GSK have secured approval for a Phase III clinical study of their adjuvanted recombinant-protein Covid-19 vaccine candidate in Nepal. The study, led by the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), will assess the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate. IVI aims to enrol around 4,000 volunteers in three sites for the study. In a separate development, GSK and Vir Biotechnology’s Covid-19 antibody treatment sotrovimab has secured emergency approval in Japan.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: US vaccination coverage may not be sufficient to control Covid surge

27 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 231,895,000, with more than 4,749,000 deaths reported.

In the United States, cases of Covid-19 have been increasing since the beginning of the summer.

On average, there have been 156,000 daily new cases of Covid-19 reported during September in the US, this is up from 13,000 daily cases in June this year.

Some 56% of the US population have now been fully vaccinated which may not be enough to control the infection surge.

As the travel restrictions for vaccinated foreign visitors have been lifted in the US, there is concern that cases may rise, among unvaccinated and vaccinated populations.

Preliminary evidence suggests that the third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine prolongs immunity and reduces the severity of Covid-19 infection.

As many developed countries, such as the US, Israel and South Korea, have a surplus supply of vaccines, they have authorized the rollout of booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for the elderly and high-risk populations.

This will likely reduce the surge of Covid-19 infections that are anticipated as travel restrictions are further modified in different ways across these countries, including allowing vaccinated foreign visitors, allowing larger vaccinated tourist groups, and expanding the list of countries that are allowed entry.

In South Sudan, there have been over 11,000 total confirmed cases of Covid-19 reported, and after several months of lockdown restrictions, daily new infections are now averaging at around 60 cases per day.

While the current situation is relatively under control, South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and much of their healthcare budget is provided through financial aid; this has restricted their ability to rollout vaccinations.

Less than 1% of South Sudanese individuals are fully vaccinated; so, it is likely that daily new cases will increase, especially with the circulation of the highly infectious Delta variant.

The World Health Organization has suggested that wealthier nations hold off on administering booster vaccinations until developing countries have higher vaccination coverage.

Despite claims that developed countries will be donating vaccines to less developed countries, it is unlikely that this will happen on a large scale until wealthier countries reach a level of herd immunity.

Anna Moody, MRES, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:38 am

Coronavirus company news summary – WHO backs Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody cocktail – Moderna to supply 20m vaccine doses to Peru

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended Regeneron Pharmaceutical’s antibody cocktail therapy, casirivimab and imdevimab, to treat non-severe Covid-19 patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation. The agency also called for a lower price and equitable distribution of the treatment, which is currently being manufactured by Roche. WHO also asked Regeneron to address the high price and limited availability of the treatment, calling for the sharing of technology to facilitate the production of biosimilar versions.

Moderna has entered an agreement with the Government of Peru to supply 20 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, beginning in the first quarter of next year. The jab is not currently approved in Peru, but the company intends to work with regulators in the country to obtain required approvals before distributing the vaccine.

Kintor Pharmaceutical has secured approval from the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency, ANVISA, to conduct a Phase III clinical trial of proxalutamide for the treatment of patients hospitalised with Covid-19. The multi-regional trial is set to recruit 1,030 patients to assess the safety and efficacy of the drug. Data from the trial is expected to support the Emergency Use Authorisation of proxalutamide and the subsequent commercialisation in Brazil.

9:32 am

International update: WHO revives investigation into Covid origin

27 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.7 million, with a figure of 4,748,539 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 231.8 million world wide.

The World Health Organization is reviving its investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 virus by building a new team of about 20 scientists, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The previous team, which had been disbanded after a visit to Wuhan, had said data provided by Chinese scientists was insufficient to reach a conclusion.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 42.9 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 688,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

American men lost 2.2 years of life expectancy last year because of Covid-19, the biggest decline among 29 nations in a study of the pandemic’s impact on longevity. Deaths among working-age men contributed the most to declining lifespans in the US, according to research led by demographers at the UK’s University of Oxford. Only Denmark and Norway, who have excelled at controlling their outbreaks, avoided drops in life expectancy across both sexes, the study published Sunday in the International Journal of Epidemiology found.

Parts of the US health system “are in dire straits,” as the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant forces some states to prepare for rationed medical care, said Rochelle Walensky, head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Connecticut colleges and universities have reported few infections since imposing vaccine mandates for the start of this school year, the Hartford Courant reported. The University of Connecticut has reported only 18 cases at its main campus this year, compared with hundreds last year that led to quarantines of entire dormitories, according to the newspaper. Western Connecticut State has reported only one case.

New York City’s school system, the largest in the US, has been temporarily blocked from imposing a mandate forcing teachers and other staff to get vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a ruling from a federal judge. That mandate was scheduled to go into effect on Monday at midnight. Late Friday, a judge from the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit referred the case to a three-judge panel “on an expedited basis.” The hearing will take place on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Pedro Guimaraes, a member of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s delegation to the United Nations, has tested positive for Covid, the CEO of state lender Caixa Economica Federal said on his one of his social media accounts on Sunday. Guimaraes, who said he was fully vaccinated, is the fourth member of the delegation that was with Bolsonaro in New York for his address to the United Nations to test positive.

Scotland: In Scotland, the army could drive ambulances for longer than the two months originally planned, according to the Scottish secretary, Alister Jack.

Also in Scotland, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has urged the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) to investigate plans for vaccine passports.

Australia: In Australia, Victoria state reported 779 new Covid infections and two more deaths.The daily increase was still the state’s second-highest, after the 847 cases recorded on Saturday, as officials battle to contain a Delta variant outbreak.

China: China reported 16 infections on Monday, as the spread of delta variant appears to be tailing off. The cluster in southeastern province Fujian dwindled to two cases, all in Xiamen, a city of 5.2 million and a manufacturing hub for electric components that was placed under lockdown following detection of cases in early September.

South Korea: South Korea reported 2,383 new cases after hitting a record of 3,272 on Saturday. Health authorities expect infections to rise sharply from the middle of this week in the aftermath of the Chuseok holiday.

Singapore: Singapore added 1,939 new cases, almost doubling from a week earlier, the latest in a string of daily records in the past week ahead of new curbs kicking in on Monday. Two more deaths were reported, both elderly with underlying conditions who were not vaccinated, bringing the death toll to 78. A total of 30 people are in the ICU.

Indonesia: Indonesia said its daily infection numbers dropped to the lowest level in more than a year. The country reported 1,760 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the least since August 2020, according to the Health Ministry.

Vaccine news

US: Pfizer Inc. will submit data to the US Food and Drug Administration on vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 within “days, not weeks,” Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO, said on ABC’s “This Week.”  “If they approve it, we will be ready with our manufacturing to provide this new formulation of the vaccine,” he said. He said the dosage for young children is one-third that of the vaccine for adults. Last week Pfizer and BioNTech said that formulation produced strong antibody responses in children in a large-scale trial. The companies also plan to share the data with regulators in Europe.

In the US, health authorities have said they are confident there will be enough vaccine shots for both qualified older Americans seeking booster jabs, as well as young children.

France: French President Emmanuel Macron said France will double the number of vaccine doses it donates to poorer countries to 120 million. “The injustice is that in other continents vaccination is far behind because of us, collectively,” Macron said in a message broadcast during the Global Citizen fundraising concert in Paris.

Indonesia: A shortage of health-care workers and logistical flaws are hampering Indonesia’s efforts to inoculate its people against Covid-19, leaving the world’s largest archipelago trailing its neighbors despite being among the first in Southeast Asia to start the program.

South Korea: South Korea will start offering booster shots to “high-risk groups,” including people over 60 and medical workers, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said during a Covid-19 response meeting, adding that the country also plans to expand vaccine eligibility to teenagers and pregnant women.

Lockdown updates

Norway: Violent clashes and mass brawls have broken out in Norway’s biggest cities after streets, bars, restaurants and nightclubs were filled with people celebrating the end of Covid restrictions.

Taiwan: Taiwan will ease controls on certain industries because the pandemic has stabilized locally, Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng said in a text message, citing Premier Su Tseng-chang.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a small pilot program will begin soon to trial self-isolation for returning international travelers. Those arriving in New Zealand are allowed to isolate at home for 14 days as an alternative for managed isolation. The program will be capped at 150 people and focus on those required to travel for work. Participants must be New Zealand citizens and residents and fully vaccinated.

Australia: New South Wales will roll back more restrictions for fully-vaccinated adults and raise caps on international arrivals once 80% of the adult population has received two shots at the end of October, as it unveils the next stages of its path out of Covid lockdown. State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the next phase of the re-opening will include increased access to hospitality venues, the ability to travel freely throughout the state and eased limits on the number of guests able to visit homes once the 80% threshold is reached, which she expects will come at the end of next month.

Japan: The Japanese government is making final arrangements to lift all coronavirus states of emergency in the nation as scheduled at the end of this month, the Asahi newspaper reported Monday, citing several unidentified officials. Daily coronavirus cases have been steadily coming down in Japan since its peak in mid-August when it saw more than 25,000 cases, according to data compiled by public broadcaster NHK. The cases dropped to 2,134 Sunday.

Economy updates

UK: The biggest state intervention in the UK’s labour market in peacetime comes to an end this week when the government finally winds up its furlough support. The wage subsidy that has been in place for 18 months and has cost £70bn will no longer be open to struggling firms.

US: Hollywood studios are planning a £250m-plus UK marketing blitz to promote the return of blockbusters to the big screen over the next 18 months, as the much-delayed premiere of James Bond: No Time to Die gives the industry the confidence to plot a post-pandemic boom in new releases.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Canada suffers fourth wave of Covid infections

24 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have exceeded 230,637,000 with more than 4,729,000 deaths reported.

The number of daily new infections in Canada has been steadily increasing since July, frequently exceeding 4,000 in recent weeks due to the spread of the Delta variant.

The country is set for its worst wave yet, as this upward trend in new cases is unlikely to change in the short term.

Even so, the number of deaths has not increased as sharply yet as vaccination might be playing a substantial role in reducing the severity of the disease.

At present, the country is experiencing its fourth wave of infections, with marked regional variation in the burden of disease.

Hospitals in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta are being stretched to capacity due to a surge in young unvaccinated patients.

Canada reached a major milestone of vaccinating 80% of its eligible population by using an unconventional strategy.

Due to vaccine shortages, people were allowed to space out doses longer than the manufacturers advised and take doses of two different vaccine types.

The impact that this will have on individual-level or population-level immunity to Covid-19 is unclear at this point.

However, at a time when evidence continues to emerge of waning vaccine immunity, longer dosing interval and mixing of vaccines is an important consideration in this context.

As daily new cases are still rising, a combination of continued vaccination efforts, strategically timed public health measures, and clear messaging from public health authorities will be necessary to curb infections.

In Denmark, new daily infections have been declining in recent weeks and currently stand at around 400 new cases per day.

Since March 2021, there have been fewer than five daily deaths in the country.

This is due to a successful vaccination campaign, in which almost 75% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

This month, the country has become the only European nation with no Covid-19 restrictions.

However, to minimize the risk of future Covid-19 outbreaks, the country will need to adapt its vaccination strategy and consider a booster campaign.

Tara Patel, MSc, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:22 am

International update: US state Idaho running out of morgue space as Covid deaths mount

24 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.7 million, with a figure of 4,729,308 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 230.6 million world wide.

Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan has told the UN General Assembly: “No one is safe unless we are all safe.” As of mid-September, fewer than 4% of people in Africa have been fully immunised and most of the 5.7bn vaccine doses administered around the world have been given in just 10 rich countries. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday recommended the synthetic antibody treatment Regeneron for Covid-19, but only in patients with specific health profiles. Persons with non-severe Covid-19 who are nonetheless at high risk of hospitalisation can take the antibody combo, as should critically ill patients unable to mount an adequate immune response, according to a WHO finding published in BMJ.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 42.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 684,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

As Covid-19 deaths mount in Idaho, where vaccination rates are lagging, funeral directors are running out of room to store the deceased, the Idaho Statesman reported. One mortuary converted a train car into an external refrigeration unit. It can hold up to 56 bodies.

Covid deaths in the US rose 2.9% during the week that ended Tuesday, with some counties in New York and Pennsylvania showing increases of 26% or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. States including Alabama, Georgia and West Virginia had among the most widespread increases in deaths. Deaths as a share of population are also soaring in eastern Texas and central Florida, according to a CDC national data update published Thursday. Hospitalizations for Covid declined 12.5% during the week through Monday compared with the previous seven days.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said hospitals remain under unprecedented strain despite a leveling off of Covid-19 cases. “If we plateau at the level we’re at right now we cannot sustain it in our hospitals,” the Democratic governor said in a news briefing Thursday. “We have more people on ventilators now than we ever imagined were possible.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the state has acquired a small number of monoclonal antibody treatments from GlaxoSmithKline Plc, after he complained that the federal government had reduced shipments of the therapeutics. Speaking in Tampa, DeSantis said the state acquired 3,000 doses of GlaxoSmithKline’s Sotrovimab. DeSantis has opened more than 25 state-sponsored sites to administer the treatments, while also raising questions about why he hasn’t continued to promote vaccines with the same zeal.

The US Department of Education reimbursed a Florida county almost $150,000 after it was fined by the state for imposing a mask mandate in its schools. The money is the latest escalation in the fight between the Biden administration and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been withholding money from school districts that defied his ban on mask mandates. The federal government said it would cover those costs. “We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them,” US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release.

UK: Coronavirus has caused male life expectancy in the UK to drop for the first time since records began. A boy born between 2018 and 2020 is expected to live until he is 79 years old – a drop from 79.2 years for 2015-2017, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in England has dropped to its lowest level since the end of June.

Covid-19 could resemble the common cold by spring next year as people’s immunity to the virus is boosted by vaccines and exposure, a leading British expert has said. Prof Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, said the UK was “over the worst”.

Russia: Covid deaths in Russia, where 820 people died from the virus in the last 24 hours, matched the all-time one-day high reached in August. Since the start of the pandemic, Russia has recorded 7,354,995 coronavirus cases.

Singapore: Singapore’s most serious Covid-19 cases – the infections now testing the government’s resolve to reopen – are almost entirely seniors age 60 or above, according to Ministry of Health data. Officials have repeatedly said the critical metric they’re watching isn’t the rising number of overall cases, but instead whether more serious infections will overwhelm the health-care system. Nearly half of Singapore’s most serious cases over the last month were people who weren’t fully vaccinated. Among those who ultimately died, some 77% hadn’t been completely inoculated.

China: China reported 30 local Covid cases as more infections were found in the northeastern city of Harbin. A larger outbreak that started earlier this month in southeast China’s Fujian province is ebbing, with 15 cases reported from Xiamen and Putian in the province.

South Korea: South Korea reported a record 2,434 new coronavirus cases in the wake of the Chuseok Thanksgiving holidays, which fell earlier this week. The total number of confirmed cases stood at 295,132, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. The death toll rose by seven to 2,434. More than 72% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose.

Vaccine news

Global: Novavax has announced that it has applied to the World Health Organization for an emergency-use listing of its Covid-19 vaccine. The listing is a prerequisite for export to several countries participating in the Covax vaccine-sharing facility.

US: The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for those ages 65 and older and some high-risk Americans, paving the way for a quick rollout of the shots, Reuters reports.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed concern that resistance to getting vaccinated will prolong the pandemic regardless of whether booster shots are offered. “My concern is that we’re just going to keep giving booster doses to the vaccinated as different variants come onto the scene, and we’re not going to be able to move forward in truly mitigating the pandemic,” said Lynn Bahta, a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Venezuela: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said 70% of Venezuelans will be vaccinated against coronavirus by the end of October, without specifying whether he was referring to one or two doses. Maduro said on state television that 40% of Venezuelans are inoculated.

Lockdown updates

Portugal: Portugal will lift almost all remaining Covid-19 restrictions, allowing full occupancy in restaurants and cultural venues from 1 October, the prime minister, Antonio Costa, said on Thursday.

Thailand: Thailand is considering cutting hotel isolation requirements for vaccinated tourists in half to one week in a bid to attract foreign visitors again. It comes amid delays to plans to waive quarantine and reopen Bangkok and other tourist destinations from next month after the pandemic caused a collapse in the country’s tourism industry.

Japan: Japan plans to conduct trials of easing Covid restrictions, with 13 prefectures indicating they’d like to participate, Jiji reported, citing a briefing by Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.

Japan plans to exempt vaccinated people from three-day hotel quarantine required for those entering from countries where variants of concern are spreading, Nikkei and other local media reported, citing plans shown at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Covid panel. Recipients of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines would be eligible for exemption starting next month. The category requiring hotel quarantine covers 45 countries and regions including the UK and India. Japan also plans to cut the duration of at-home quarantine on arrival to 10 days from 14 days, Nikkei reported Wednesday.

Seven & i Holdings will start offering Covid-19 test services from 29 September at convenience stores across Japan, excluding Okinawa prefecture.

Australia: A pilot program to allow some international students to return to Australia’s most populous state is likely to exclude Chinese nationals due to rules surrounding vaccination status. The phased plan was approved by the federal government and the first flight carrying some 500 fully-vaccinated international students will arrive in New South Wales by the end of the year, the state government said. Students from China who have taken their nation’s vaccine are likely to be ineligible because the shots aren’t recognized by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Guinea: Guinea’s ruling military junta is easing some emergency health measures imposed under ousted President Alpha Conde, due to a decline in coronavirus cases in the West African country. The occupancy rate in intensive care units fell to 25% and the number of deaths dropped in September, junta leader Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya said.

9:43 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Novavax applies for WHO emergency approval for its Covid-19 vaccine – Valneva expands Phase III vaccine trial to include adolescents

Novavax and its partner Serum Institute of India have made a regulatory submission to the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use listing of Novavax’s recombinant, adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine. The submission is based on the prior regulatory filing to the Drugs Controller General of India, Novavax said. The listing by the WHO is required for exports to countries participating in the COVAX Facility, an equitable Covid-19 vaccine access initiative run by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Valneva has expanded the Phase III Cov-Compare clinical trial of its inactivated Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001, in the UK with the initiation of adolescent enrolment. Top-line results from the trial are anticipated in the fourth quarter of this year and could support potential regulatory approval in adults. The trial is enrolling adolescents aged 12 to 17 years who will receive two VLA2001 or placebo doses at a gap of 28 days, and then a booster dose seven months post-enrolment. The company plans to further expand the trial to include subjects aged below 12 years. News of the trial’s development comes after the UK government terminated its vaccine supply agreement with Valneva.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals has extended its research alliance with Columbia University in the US to develop tailored Covid-19 vaccines and therapies with precision medicine. The partners will focus on analysing immune responses to Covid-19 in healthy people who have recovered from the infection or were asymptomatic. In addition, in vitro T cell and antibody responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be assessed. The data on immune responses is expected to enable new and specialised vaccines for the disease.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid vaccine boosters could head off fourth wave this winter

23 September

The total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 230,101,000 with more than 4,720,000 deaths reported worldwide.

With a total of over 1,242,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, Israel is 30th in the world for Covid-19 cases.

The country is currently in their third wave of infections, driven by the spread of the Delta variant.

This occurred despite a rapid and successful vaccination campaign in which 63% of the population were fully vaccinated.

On 8 September the number of new daily infections exceeded 22,000 – the highest level observed throughout the pandemic.

The country has since seen a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases.

A surge of breakthrough infections over the past month suggests waning immunity of Israel’s main vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech, against Covid-19 infection.

However, vaccine protection against severe illness seems to persist over time, as evidenced by Israel’s unvaccinated population.

Despite making up only 17% of the adult population, these unvaccinated individuals account for approximately two-thirds of severe cases.

A booster vaccination campaign was initiated by the country at the end of August in an attempt to contain the increase in cases caused by the spread of the Delta variant.

The booster campaign is open to anyone who has received their second vaccination five months prior.

Booster campaigns are also being launched in some European countries.

Germany, France, and Italy have started offering a third dose to the elderly and high-risk groups this month.

These countries have observed a similar trend of declining new daily Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.

This follows the introduction of Covid-19 health passes, which limit entry to bars, cultural sites, and sporting events to those that have been vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or tested negative.

The measure aims to encourage people to get vaccinated.

As a whole, this represents a positive step to reduce the likelihood of Europe experiencing a fourth wave of infections during the winter months.

Tara Patel, MSc, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:29 am

Coronavirus company news summary – FDA grants emergency approval to Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine booster – Gilead reports positive results from Phase III remdesivir trial

Pfizer and BioNTech have received the first US Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of a Covid-19 vaccine booster. The booster shot of the companies’ Comirnaty vaccine is authorised for people aged 65 years and above and those aged 18 to 64 years at high risk of severe disease or increased risk of serious complications due to regular institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2. The booster must be given a minimum of six months following completion of the primary vaccination series.

Gilead Sciences has reported that a three-day course of intravenous (IV) Veklury (remdesivir) led to a statistically significant 87% decrease in the risk of Covid-19-linked hospitalisation or all-cause death by day 28 versus placebo in a Phase III clinical trial in non-hospitalised patients who are at increase risk of disease progression. In addition to this composite primary endpoint, the trial also met the composite secondary endpoint of medical visits related to Covid-19 or all-cause death by day 28. Antiviral drug Veklury has been authorised for temporary use to treat Covid-19 in around 50 countries.

SAB Biotherapeutics has received an additional $60.5m from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to support its DiversitAb Rapid Response Antibody Program for advancing clinical development through licensure and commercial manufacturing of SAB-185, a therapeutic being developed for Covid-19. The grant brings the total funding secured by the company to over $200m since March 2020 to advance the DiversitAb programme. SAB-185 is a polyclonal antibody that is currently in a Phase II/III trial in non-hospitalised patients who have mild-moderate Covid-19 but are at risk of progression.

8:05 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 230 million but infection rate falls

23 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.7 million, with a figure of 4,719,193 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 230 million world wide.

Global Covid cases have fallen in the past week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed. There were 3.6 million new cases reported around the world last week, down from 4 million new infections the previous week.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 42.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 681,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The United Nations said a delegate who was in the main hall of the General Assembly on Tuesday morning tested positive. While the UN didn’t identify which country the delegate represented, heads of state speaking in the hall at that time included Biden and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. Two members of Bolsonaro’s delegation – including Brazil’s health minister – have tested positive while in New York.

Alaska, which led most US states in coronavirus vaccinations months ago, took the drastic step on Wednesday of imposing crisis-care standards for its entire hospital system, declaring that a crushing surge in Covid patients has forced rationing of strained medical resources.

The US Olympic & Paralympic Committee said all athletes and team staff using its training facilities must be fully inoculated  by 1 November, and that any athletes trying to compete at the Winter Games in Beijing will need to show proof of vaccination, the New York Times reported.

South Korea: South Korean authorities warned people returning from a holiday to get tested even for the mildest Covid-like symptoms, especially before clocking in for work amid a new surge in coronavirus cases in and around the capital.

Singapore: Virus cases are rising faster in Singapore than the government originally projected but the situation remains under control, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told a Straits Times sister publication.  The Southeast Asian city-state had 1,457 new virus cases as of noon 22 September, the Ministry of Health said – a higher per-capita rate than New York, and just below that of London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “We had planned to have a preparatory period, during which we could gradually open up while handling perhaps 100 to 200 cases a day,” Ong was quoted as saying in a Mandarin-language interview with Lianhe Zaobao, reported by the Straits Times. “But Delta did not wait for us to be ready and attacked us first.”

China: China reported 28 local cases on Thursday, as a new cluster emerged from the northern city of Harbin while an existing outbreak across the country in Fujian province started to taper. Harbin found eight more infections, as the city of 10 million underwent mass testing. In Fujian, cases started decreasing amid stringent curbs that have included a lockdown of Xiamen, home to 4.5 million people. The costal city reported 17 cases on Thursday, while Putian – where the latest outbreak started – saw cases dwindle to three.

Australia: Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, reported a daily record of 766 virus infections on Thursday. Authorities have struggled to bring the state’s current Delta surge under control, despite months of lockdown in Melbourne. The outbreak has doubled in size to more than 10,000 cases in about eight days. Meanwhile, the Delta outbreak in Australia’s most populous state – New South Wales – appears to be slowing, after a months-long lockdown and mass vaccination effort.

Germany: Health authorities in Germany are planning new rules under which unvaccinated workers would not receive compensation for lost pay if coronavirus measures forced them to quarantine.

Italy: Italy confirmed 67 deaths from Covid on Wednesday, the same number as the day before, its health ministry said.

UK: England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has told MPs that the Covid transmission rate is currently highest among children compared to all age groups.

Vaccine news

US: The US Food and Drug Administration authorized a third booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine for people aged 65 and older and individuals with a high risk of getting severe Covid. The added shots are to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series.

Future administration of mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc.’s will likely require three doses from the start, instead of two doses plus a booster, Chief Medical Advisor AnthonyFauci said. If implemented as the top infectious disease expert predicted, the third shot would become part of the primary series, potentially changing the vaccine label and plan for administering shots altogether.

New York City’s requirement for teachers to be vaccinated was cleared by a state judge following a legal challenge from labor unions.

Taiwan: The board of Taiwan’s Medigen approved a phase-3 clinical trial of its vaccine in Europe, the firm said in statement to the Taiwan stock exchange on Wednesday. There are expected to be up to 4,000 people participating in multiple locations and countries in Europe, the Taipei Times reported, citing a company spokesman.

New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wants it to become one of the world’s most vaccinated countries. Once a very high level of inoculation is achieved, authorities won’t need to turn to the strictest form of lockdown – Alert Level 4 – in the event of an outbreak, she told a press conference. The government is still trying to stamp out a current outbreak in Auckland, with 15 new cases reported in the city on Thursday.

Ukraine: Ukraine is planning to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for certain professions, including teachers and employees of state institutions and local governments.

Lockdown updates

Australia: In Australia, police in Melbourne have again fired non-lethal rounds and teargas at anti-Covid lockdown protesters to end an almost three-hour standoff at the city’s war memorial during a third straight day of demonstrations.

France: France has no plans at this stage to relax its health pass restrictions set up to deal with a fourth wave of Covid infections.

Thailand: Thai officials proposed reducing a mandatory quarantine period to just seven days – down from two weeks – for all vaccinated international travelers, according to Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control. Travelers with inoculation vaccine certificates would still need to be tested for Covid upon arrival, and before departing quarantine.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 230 million

22 September

The total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 229,628,000 with more than 4,710,000 deaths reported worldwide.

In India, the most recent wave of Covid-19 infections which occurred in May of this year appears to be stabilizing in recent months.

The country has the second-highest total confirmed cases at 33,531,000, surpassed only by the US.

Daily new cases in India have trended downwards since reaching a peak in May 2021 and have remained consistently below 40,000 in recent weeks.

However, one of the worst-affected states in India, Kerala, is exhibiting a distinct upwards trend, despite earlier success in containing the virus.

Since mid-May, the number of daily infections has remained consistently high, and the state currently accounts for around 60% of all new infections.

Covid-19 transmission in Kerala is predominantly driven by the Delta variant.

Kerala’s population remained largely unexposed, while the Delta variant caused a surge in infections in other parts of the country earlier in the pandemic.

Vaccination efforts have accelerated in recent weeks, with 41.3% of Kerala’s population vaccinated compared to a 15.3% national average.

With increasing coverage, Kerala will be better prepared to combat the current wave of infection and reduce the risk of severe illness and death caused by Covid-19.

Pakistan exhibits a similar overall trend to India, with daily Covid-19 infections declining since the beginning of September.

In Sri Lanka, a national lockdown that was implemented on 20 August has been extended despite falling new daily infections.

Since the lockdown was initiated, the number of new infections has dramatically declined to 2,700 per day.

In spite of this, restrictions remain in place as hospitals continue to be stretched to capacity.

Following a suspension of vaccine exports in May, India has committed to resume supply to 92 low- and middle-income countries through the COVAX initiative in October 2021.

This should address the issue of vaccine shortages that have hindered the campaign efforts of many developing countries thus far.

More notably, the resulting geographical expansion in vaccination coverage is critical to reducing Covid-19 transmission and consequently limiting the emergence of new variants of concern.

This development is a major leap forwards as we move towards the target of vaccinating at least 40% of the global population by the end of 2021.

Tara Patel, MSc, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:02 am

Coronavirus company news summary – J&J reports positive Phase III and real-world data for single-shot vaccine – Lilly to supply Covid-19 antibody combo doses to EU

Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) single-shot Covid-19 vaccine has confirmed its strong and long-lasting protection in data from real-world settings and Phase III clinical trials. The protection was observed to increase with a booster shot of the vaccine. When given as a booster, the vaccine was found to be generally well-tolerated. The real-world study compared data from 390,000 people who took the J&J vaccine to that from about 1.52 million unvaccinated individuals.

Eli Lilly has signed a joint procurement agreement with the European Commission (EC) to provide up to 220,000 doses of bamlanivimab and etesevimab to treat Covid-19 patients aged 12 years and above. The treatment is for patients who do not need supplemental oxygen and are at higher risk of progressing to severe disease. These doses will be supplied to participating countries in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), after authorisation for emergency use or marketing.

Ampio Pharmaceuticals has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct a Phase II clinical trial of inhaled Ampion for the treatment of Covid-19 patients with respiratory distress. The Phase II trial comes after the therapy showed safety and tolerability as well as decreased all-cause mortality by 78% when compared with standard of care in a Phase I trial. The company presented Ampion to a DCGI Subject Expert Committee, which approved the treatment protocol of AP-019 without any recommended changes.

9:42 am

International update: UN secretary general slams inequitable distribution of Covid vaccines

22 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.7 million, with a figure of 4,709,292 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 229.5 million world wide.

The United Nations secretary- general, António Guterres, described the world as getting an “F in ethics” over global vaccine distribution as he spoke at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Guterres said the pandemic had “supersized glaring inequalities” and criticized the inequitable distribution of vaccines, highlighting that 90% of Africans were still waiting for their first dose. He said the inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is an “obscenity”.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 42 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 678,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US President Joe Biden is betting on millions more rapid, at-home tests to help curb the latest deadly wave of the Covid-19 pandemic

UK: Long Covid patients told a UK parliamentary committee that they are “struggling’” to get help on the NHS.

Germany: German Health Minister Jens Spahn predicted that the pandemic will be over by next spring once so-called “herd immunity” has been achieved. “As long as no new virus variant emerges against which a vaccination has no effect — which is very unlikely — then we will have overcome the pandemic in the spring and can return to normal,” Spahn said in an interview with the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

China: Five more Covid-19 cases have been found in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin on Wednesday, bringing the total case count to eight since the first case was found on Tuesday.  The city of 10 million people is rolling out virus testing to all of its residents and will suspend vaccinations for three days. In Bayan county, where most of the cases were found, local authorities have suspended public transportation on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a cluster in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian appears to be easing, with only 13 cases reported on Wednesday, compared with a few dozen in the past few days. More than 400 infections have been found in the province, a manufacturing hub for electronic components, shoes and clothing, and a trade gateway with Taiwan across the strait.

Thailand: Thailand reported 11,252 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the first daily increase since Sept. 17, according to government data Wednesday. The country is set to reopen more of its popular tourist destinations starting next month.

Vaccine news

US: President Joe Biden plans to announce an order of 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter, as the president looks to increase donations of shots abroad and ward off criticism about US plans for boosters.

Vietnam: South Korea is offering Vietnam more than 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, with delivery expected in October, news website Zing reported, citing President Moon Jae-In during a New York City meeting with Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

South Africa: South Africa’s daily Covid-19 vaccination rate plunged this week, indicating that the inoculation drive may be losing steam amid criticism of a lack of information about the shots among more remote and impoverished communities.

UK: Cambridge University in England has reported that 96% of 12,000 students said that they had received a Covid-19 vaccination, or intended to get one, before arriving in the city for the new academic year.

Taiwan: Taiwan’s government expects to have 70% of the population at least partially vaccinated by the end of October, Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters in Taipei. It sees close to 30% fully vaccinated by then, TVBS reported, citing the Premier’s report to lawmakers.

Lockdown updates

India: India’s foreign minister on Tuesday urged Britain to remove a rule requiring Indians visiting there to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated.

Australia: Australia plans to open its international border by Christmas at the latest, unwinding one of the world’s strictest controls on overseas travel since the pandemic began. Australians will be able to travel abroad, with no restrictions on the destination, once the vaccination rate in their respective home state hits 80%, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said at a National Press Club of Australia event Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Victoria state said it would come down hard against further protests after thousands of people demonstrated in Melbourne against Covid-19 restrictions and a shutdown of the construction industry. Flanked by police officials while addressing the media, Premier Daniel Andrews condemned the “ugly” behavior Tuesday, which culminated in the business district being closed and a raft of arrests. Minister for Police Lisa Neville warned people to avoid entering the city and said she’d ordered police to use any means necessary to stamp out unrest.

New Zealand: New Zealand Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the country is “not giving up on getting back down to zero, that is exactly why Auckland is still at Alert Level 3.”  Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said on Monday that New Zealand may not get back to zero cases of Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean the country has abandoned its elimination strategy. That means trying to stamp out the virus whenever it is found, Bloomfield told Radio New Zealand. Auckland, the largest city, has been in lockdown for five weeks and won’t exit for at least another two, while social distancing and mask-wearing requirements are in place for the rest of the country. Although a handful of new cases continue to be reported daily, health officials are on top of the current outbreak and are aiming to get the vaccination rate over 90% so that restrictions can be eased, Bloomfield said.

Vietnam: Authorities in Vietnam’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City issued new Covid-19 safety rules that went into effect Monday requiring workers at plants, supermarkets, stores, traditional markets, offices and customers to at least be partially vaccinated or fully recovered from the virus, according to statements posted on the city’s media center website.

EU: The EU is expected to accept the UK NHS Covid pass as proof of vaccination across the union within days.

Economy updates

Global: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned that uneven vaccine distribution globally is affecting economic recovery from the pandemic.

Nigeria: Around 20% of workers in Nigeria have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19.

3:40 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Vaccine-skeptic countries may fail to achieve Covid herd-immunity

21 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 229,190,000 with more than 4,702,000 deaths reported.

Madagascar has ended a 17-month health state of emergency as daily Covid-19 infections drop to zero.

The move brings several changes to restrictions including lifting of the curfew, and domestic travel and outdoor events being permitted.

A mandatory mask mandate remains in all public spaces and routine international travel to Madagascar remains banned.

The country has officially reported over 42,000 cases and 958 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Due to the weak surveillance system and low testing capacity, this figure is likely to be a considerable underestimate of the true burden.

As a vaccine-skeptic country, Madagascar has only vaccinated 0.3% of the population. Instead, the government has promoted an unproven herbal remedy ‘Covid-Organics’ for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19.

The country must work to increase vaccination coverage and strengthen surveillance infrastructure prior to international travel restrictions being lifted.

Given current vaccination rates, the majority of the population remain susceptible to Covid-19, and the potential remains for another large wave of infection.

Poor governance and vaccine skepticism are reoccurring themes across the Africa region.

In addition to downplaying the risks of Covid-19, the former Tanzanian government has actively spoken out against vaccinations and failed to procure a supply of vaccines.

The new administration has vaccinated just 0.6% of the population.

Tanzania not only face challenges of logistics and distribution, but also a distrust and hesitancy surrounding Covid-19 vaccines amongst the population.

Across the country, cases have been rising in recent weeks, making it ever more critical that the vaccination campaign is successful.

Countries facing these challenges must invest time and resources into combatting vaccine misinformation with targeted public health messaging.

Without this, it is unclear whether they will attain sufficient vaccine uptake to achieve herd immunity.

Tara Patel, MSc, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:14 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech report positive vaccine trial results in children aged five to 11 years – Gritstone doses first participants in second-gen mRNA booster vaccine study

Pfizer and BioNTech have reported that their Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated a favourable safety profile and strong neutralising antibody responses in children aged five to 11 years. The trial involved a smaller dose of the vaccine; children were given a two-dose 10µg regimen versus 30µg administered in studies involving people aged 12 years and above. The antibody responses with 10µg doses were similar to those observed in a prior Pfizer-BioNTech trial in individuals aged 16 to 25 years vaccinated with 30µg doses, the companies said. The latest data will be submitted to global regulatory authorities, including in the US and EU.

Clinical-stage biotech company Gritstone has dosed the first participants in a Phase I clinical trial of its second-generation, self-amplifying mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine. The single-centre trial is being performed in collaboration with the University of Manchester in the UK, and will test the vaccine’s ability to boost and expand first-generation Covid-19 vaccines’ immunogenicity in people aged 60 years and above. Preliminary data from the Phase I trial are anticipated in the first quarter of next year.

Canadian biopharma firm Appili Therapeutics has signed an agreement with Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, securing $1m for the Phase III PRESECO clinical trial of its Avigan/Reeqonus (favipiravir) tablets to potentially treat and prevent Covid-19 in an outpatient setting. The funding will be used for multiple components of the trial, including study close-out activities. As part of the agreement, Fujifilm will gain access to the trial results to support regulatory submissions in Japan.

8:42 am

International update: India to restart exports of vaccines for Covax initiative from October

21 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.7 million, with a figure of 4,700,041 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 229 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 42 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed that of the devastating 1918-19 flu pandemic – more than 676,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

A member of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s delegation to the United Nations was put in isolation after testing Covid positive in New York, adding to concerns that the general assembly this week could trigger a spike in cases in the host city.

New York City will increase its frequency of student testing to once a week instead of its current two-week interval, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. The city’s powerful teachers union on Sunday called for weekly testing.

China: China’s northern Harbin city reported one local coronavirus infection and is telling citizens not to leave the city if not necessary, according to a statement on the municipal government’s website. Harbin is shutting mahjong places, bathhouses, cinemas, massage parlors, arcades, religious venues and indoor sporting venues, while public transport will operated at a limited frequency, the statement said.

China reported 42 local coronavirus cases for Monday, all of which were found in the southeastern province of Fujian, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.

Thailand: Thailand reported 10,919 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest daily count since July 17, according to government data on Tuesday. Cumulative infections reached 1.5 million, the data showed.

Indonesia: Indonesia added 1,932 cases on Monday, the lowest since 24 August last year, and 166 new fatalities, according to health ministry data.

Vaccine news

India: India will restart exports of vaccines for the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative from the quarter beginning October, even as it races to inoculate its own massive adult population, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Monday. The country will also resume some vaccine donations, he added, but gave no details. Home to the world’s largest vaccine-manufacturing industry, India had been expected to be a significant supplier to the equitable vaccine initiative on which most of the world’s poor countries rely. But the government halted exports in April after the Delta variant began sweeping through its major cities.

Thailand: Bangkok expects to complete at least two doses of vaccines for 70% of the residents by 22 October, a key threshold for allowing vaccinated international visitors to enter without quarantine, according to Governor Asawin Kwanmuang.

US: Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was safe and produced strong antibody responses in children ages 5 to 11 in a large-scale trial, findings that could pave the way to begin vaccinating grade-school kids within months. In a trial with 2,268 participants, two shots of a 10 microgram dose – one-third the adult shot – produced antibody levels comparable to those seen in a trial of 16-to-25-year-olds who got the adult dose, the companies said, with similar side effects.

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said that a vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 will likely be available before Halloween. “There’s a really good chance it will be” available before the 31 October holiday, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, said during an interview on MSNBC. He also said he would be in favor of schools mandating shots for kids once the jabs are fully approved. Fauci’s comments came after Pfizer and BioNTech said their shot safely produced strong antibody responses in younger children.

The US capital will require vaccines for all adults who regularly enter schools and child-care facilities by 1 November, according to Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. There will be no testing opt-out. Student athletes 12 and older will also required to get the shots to participate in school-based sports.

Lockdown updates

US: US President Joe Biden’s decision to lift travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers from the UK and most of the EU has been welcomed by the UK and airlines.

Australia: Melbourne’s construction industry is shutting down for at least two weeks amid concerns that extremist groups who have infiltrated the union movement are behind violent anti-vaccination protests in Australia’s second-largest city.

Japan: Japan will decide on 28 September whether to lift a state of emergency, broadcaster FNN reported, citing government officials. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will make the final decision, according to the report. The country’s fourth state of emergency was extended through September following a delta-variant-fueled surge in Covid-19 cases and is in effect in 19 of the country’s prefectures.

Thailand: Thailand’s key virus task force will discuss “the gradual reopening” of bars and cinemas on 27 September, according to Apisamai Srirangsan, spokeswoman for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Indonesia: Indonesia said it will allow workers in non-essential business sectors back in the office as it loosens mobility curbs further.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: UK aims to vaccinate 12-15 year age group as Covid cases rise

20 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 228,630,000 with more than 4,693,000 deaths reported.

Daily confirmed Covid-19 cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks, with the UK facing a potential surge in infections this winter.

To mitigate this risk and increase population vaccination rates, vaccination coverage will expand to include children aged 12-15 years.

The protection provided to these children and their contacts is likely to reduce the number of serious hospitalizations as well as minimize disruption to their education.

This measure is introduced at the same time as an overhaul to UK travel restrictions, which aims to boost travel for fully vaccinated passengers.

As vaccinated individuals are not entirely protected from acquiring a Covid-19 infection, there is a potential risk of increased imported transmission over the coming months.

The magnitude of this issue will depend on local restrictions, travel uptake and the success of continued vaccination efforts.

Singapore reported more than 1,000 daily confirmed cases over two consecutive days this weekend, marking the first-time infections have exceeded this milestone since the peak of the pandemic in April 2020.

Infections began to rise due to the rapid spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. Meanwhile, the number of serious cases requiring supplemental oxygen or intensive care has not risen as sharply as cases yet.

Singapore has had one of the fastest vaccination rollouts globally, with more than 80% of its population fully vaccinated.

High vaccination rates are likely to have ensured that the number of severely ill patients and deaths has been minimized.

In response to rising daily new cases, primary school children will start home-based learning on 27 September for 10 days.

The measure aims to minimize the risk of school-based transmission and protect younger students that are not medically eligible for vaccination.

The government had previously announced a gradual easing of restrictions as the country switched from a zero-tolerance approach to a strategy where the country seeks to live with the virus.

However, as cases continue to rise, this approach may waver.

Tara Patel, MSc, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:22 am

International updates: Global Covid fatalities near 4.7 million

20 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.6 million, with a figure of 4,692,927 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 228 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 42 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 673,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

India: India carried out its lowest number of daily coronavirus tests since mid-August on Sunday as its health ministry urged local governments to remain resilient throughout the autumn festival season. Only 1.18 million tests were carried out in states and federally controlled territories on Sunday, according to government data. That is down from 1.56 million on Saturday.

China: China reported on Monday 49 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland for 19 September, down from 66 a day earlier, according to National Health Commission data. Of the new infections, 28 were locally transmitted, all of them in the south-eastern province of Fujian, the health authority said. That compares with 43 local cases a day earlier.

UK: The UK has recorded 164 new Covid-19 related deaths and 30,144 new cases in the latest 24 hour period, government figures show. It brings the total number of cases to 7,400,739 and the overall death toll to 135,147.

Singapore: Singapore’s health ministry reported 1,009 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the highest since April last year. A recent rise in cases after the relaxation of some Covid-19 measures has prompted Singapore to pause further reopening.

Vaccine news

US: President Joe Biden will set a new course for global vaccine allocation this week. As world leaders gather for the U.N. General Assembly, Biden will host a virtual summit on the shortage of shots in poorer countries even as the US moves to give booster doses to millions of fully inoculated Americans. The US plan for boosters has angered nations where many have yet to get a first shot. Biden aims to mollify the critics with a proposal to target a 70% global vaccination rate by by September 2022. His administration is negotiating with Pfizer Inc. to buy an additional 500 million Covid-19 vaccines to donate globally, doubling the government’s commitment to helping less-wealthy countries. A deal is expected to be announced in the coming days.

Australia: Victorians will have access to 300,000 doses of Moderna’s Covid vaccine this month at hundreds of pharmacies across the state, premier Daniel Andrews says. Andrews announced Moderna will be available at 440 pharmacies across the state this week, and a further 281 next week.

UK: Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out to children aged between 12 and 15, with 3 million youngsters eligible across the UK, PA Media reports. The programme is expected to be delivered primarily within schools, and guidance has been issued to headteachers to contact police if they believe protests could be held outside their buildings. Children will be offered jabs at some schools in England from Monday. The rollout for 12- to 15-year-olds is also beginning in Scotland and Wales this week. Young people in this age bracket in Scotland can go to drop-in clinics or wait for a letter offering them a scheduled appointment. Jabs for children in Wales will be carried out at mass vaccination centres and some school settings. In Northern Ireland, the head of the region’s vaccination programme said jabs are likely to be offered to children aged 12 to 15 in schools from October.

Nigeria: Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and Africa’s biggest city, plans to give Covid-19 shots to 30% of residents within a year, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said in an emailed statement.

Lockdown updates

Philippines: President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has given the go-ahead for face-to-face school classes to resume in areas of the country seen as “low risk”.

Vietnam: Covid restrictions in Hanoi, Vietnam, are set to ease this week as new cases continue to decline and the majority of its adult population are at least partially vaccinated. Its government has announced that most construction projects can resume on Wednesday, according to the Reuters news agency.

Spain: Around 25,000 people joined a massive outdoor drinking party marking the start of term at a Madrid university without observing safety precautions, police said Saturday, admitting they were caught off-guard.

UK: Half-term holiday bookings are up by 200% since the relaxation of travel rules in England.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will urge Joe Biden to lift the travel ban and allow fully vaccinated people in the UK to fly into America directly, the Telegraph reported Sunday.

Australia: Victoria police clashed with anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne on Saturday afternoon, as the Australian state recorded another 535 new coronavirus cases and one death.

Japan: Japan’s government is considering ending its latest state of emergency at the end of this month, broadcaster TBS reported. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to make the decision when he returns from his trip to the US this week to meet with President Joe Biden this week.

Economy updates

US: Demand for air travel is unlikely to recover before January now that the delta variant has forced many companies to delayed return-to-office plans, said Scott Kirby, the chief executive officer of United Airlines Inc.

Belgium: Belgium will gradually phase out support for businesses affected by the pandemic by year-end, Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem said on Flemish TV show ‘De Zevende Dag.’ The government hasn’t reached an agreement yet to extend any support measures beyond 30 September. A measure that will definitely lapse at the end of this month is the reduced VAT rate of 6% for bars and restaurants, Van Petegem said. Drinks will be subject to a 21% VAT rate again as of Oct. 1 and prepared food will be taxed at the usual 12%.

10:54 am

Coronavirus company news summary – South Korea approves Celltrion’s regdanvimab to treat Covid-19 – FDA authorises Comirnaty booster shots in over-65s and high-risk populations

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) has approved Celltrion Group’s monoclonal antibody, regdanvimab (CT-P59), to treat mild Covid-19 in patients aged 50 years and above with a minimum of one underlying medical condition, and moderate symptoms of the disease in adults. This is the first monoclonal antibody Covid-19 therapy to receive approval from the MFDS. The drug previously obtained conditional approval in the country and as of this month has been used to treat more than 14,857 Covid-19 patients at 107 South Korean hospitals.

The US Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has voted in favour of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty booster shot in people aged 65 years and above, as well as those at increased risk of severe Covid-19. The panel, which recommended booster doses be given a minimum of six months following the two-dose regimen, said that healthcare workers and people at high occupational exposure risk should also be covered by the authorisation. However, the panel did not recommend a booster for the full population aged 16 and over, for which the companies sought approval.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said that the limitations of data collection methods did not allow it to confirm if women and young adults were at an increased risk of rare blood clots related to low platelets after vaccination with AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria. The European Commission requested a scientific opinion from the agency after reports of thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) linked to Vaxzevria earlier this year. Following the analysis of all available data, EMA said that the information did not enable the identification of specific risk factors that made TTS more likely.

10:48 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Health Canada grants full approval to Moderna and Pfizer jabs – Lilly’s antibody combo to be used for Covid-19 post-exposure prophylaxis in US

Health Canada has granted full approval for the use of Moderna’s Spikevax and Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty to protect against Covid-19 in people aged 12 years and above. This is the first full approval for Spikevax and is based on data from the Phase III COVE clinical trial. Comirnaty already holds full approval in the US and Health Canada granted the approval after the review of an extensive data package, including Phase III results.

The US Food and Drug Administration has updated its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for bamlanivimab plus etesevimab to include use for post-exposure prophylaxis in some people to prevent Covid-19. Eli Lilly’s antibody combination is now authorised for people aged 12 years and above who are at increased risk, not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or may have an inadequate immune response to full inoculation and have been exposed to a SARS-CoV-2 infected individual. Lilly expects the expanded EUA to aid in preventing Covid-19’s spread to certain high-risk people in the US.

A University of Oxford-led Phase II clinical trial, called Com-COV3, has expanded to assess mixed Covid-19 vaccine schedules in adolescents aged 12 to 16 years. The trial will enrol 360 adolescents, who will receive a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and then a repeat of Pfizer at full or half dose, a full dose of Novavax’s vaccine candidate or a half dose of Moderna’s jab a minimum of eight weeks later. The study’s aim is to compare immune responses from a heterologous regimen to those from a homologous regimen.

11:16 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Lilly signs new antibody supply deal with US – Moderna notes waning vaccine immunity as it pushes for booster approval

Eli Lilly is set to supply 388,000 doses of its Covid-19 neutralising antibody therapy, etesevimab, to the US Government. This drug will complement bamlanivimab doses that the government previously acquired from the company. Lilly will ship nearly 200,000 doses of etesevimab in the third quarter of 2021 and the remaining doses in the fourth quarter. The company estimates the latest deal will be worth around $330m in revenue in the second half of the year.

Moderna has reported new data from the Phase III COVE clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine which showed that the shot’s protection wanes over time, arguing that this supports the need for a booster dose to sustain high protection levels. The company noted that the vaccine has maintained its effectiveness even amid the delta variant surge, but subjects who were inoculated more recently were less likely to experience a breakthrough infection versus those vaccinated last year.

Russia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), has reported that the country’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated 97.2% efficacy and a strong safety profile according to real-world data gathered during a vaccination campaign in the Republic of Belarus. This efficacy against Covid-19 was analysed based on findings from over 860,000 individuals vaccinated between January and July this year. The vaccine was not associated with any severe adverse events or deaths, according to the RDIF.

11:21 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Regeneron to supply more antibody cocktail doses to US – CureVac ends European vaccine production contracts as demand drops

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has agreed to supply the US Government with 1.4 million additional doses of its Covid-19 antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV, which is a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab. The new deal takes the total REGEN-COV doses purchased by the US to approximately three million. The company will supply the additional doses by 31 January 2022 at $2,100 per dose, placing the value of the latest agreement at $2.94bn.

German biopharma company CureVac plans to terminate manufacturing contracts with WACKER for the mRNA drug substance of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV, and with Celonic for the production and formulation of the vaccine’s mRNA drug substance. The move is part of the company’s adjustment to the external European network for its mRNA product manufacturing. CureVac noted that the decision comes in response to the lowered short-term peak demand for vaccines after the first wave of Covid-19 vaccination initiatives and the related drop in the demand for CVnCoV. CureVac’s contracts with Rentschler Biopharma and Novartis for mRNA production and formulation are unaffected, the company said.

Emergent BioSolutions has signed a five-year development and manufacturing agreement for Providence Therapeutics’ mRNA Covid-19 vaccine candidate, PTX-COVID19-B. Next year, Emergent will produce tens of millions of doses of PTX-COVID19-B drug product and batches of the vaccine’s formulated bulk drug substance. The $90m agreement covers manufacturing services and studies to back supply chain activities, along with facility and equipment investments.

10:32 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK scraps vaccine supply deal with Valneva – No evidence for universal Covid-19 booster shots, FDA and WHO scientists argue

The UK Government has sent a termination notice to French vaccine maker Valneva regarding the supply agreement for the company’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001. The government claimed that Valneva breached its obligations under the deal; the company has denied the allegations. The development plan for VLA2001 is continuing and testing for Valneva’s Phase III Cov-Compare trial is proceeding at Public Health England.

Everest Medicines has entered a definitive agreement to licence rights to Canadian biotech firm Providence Therapeutics’ mRNA Covid-19 vaccine candidates in emerging markets in Asia, including Greater China. Providence’s lead candidate, PTX-COVID19-B, is undergoing Phase II trials. The deal will also provide Everest with rights to Providence’s next-generation mRNA Covid-19 vaccine candidates against certain variants of concern, which are currently in the pre-clinical stage. The companies also signed a separate agreement for the development of mRNA products using Providence’s mRNA technology platform.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has joined the US in approving RedHill Biopharma’s Phase II/III clinical trial of oral RHB-107 (upamostat) to treat non-hospitalised, symptomatic Covid-19 patients. The trial is underway in the US and the company is working to further expand trial sites to fast-track participant enrolment. RHB-107 is an antiviral drug candidate that acts on human serine proteases associated with preparing the spike protein for entry of the virus into target cells. The Phase II/III trial will assess the therapeutic’s safety and efficacy.

A team of scientists, including two departing US Food and Drug Administration officials and several from the World Health Organization (WHO), have argued that Covid-19 vaccine boosters are not required for the general population, Reuters reported, citing an article published in The Lancet. The team noted the need for additional evidence to validate booster shots. This publication comes as the US Government prepares to start offering boosters to fully vaccinated individuals next week, subject to health regulators’ approval.

2:05 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid Delta variant is impacting younger populations

13 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 224,749,000, with more than 4,632,000 deaths reported.

In Mexico, the third wave of Covid-19 cases has resulted in a seven-day average of over 17,400 daily confirmed cases as the country struggles to reduce the burden of the virus, which has resulted in an average daily death count of over 900 deaths in the same period.

In addition, the dramatic increase in cases has resulted in an increasing number of children and adolescents being hospitalized with the disease.

This trend has been observed in recent outbreaks in the US and Indonesia, which, like Mexico, are seeing a significant proportion of new cases attributed to the Delta variant.

Moreover, this trend adds credence to the theory that the Delta variant is impacting younger populations.

Officials predict the spread of Covid-19 in Ukraine to worsen and are currently debating whether to tighten restrictions to mitigate the spread of infection.

Covid-19 transmission in Ukraine has been low throughout the summer, averaging under 2,000 daily confirmed cases between mid-June and mid-August.

However, cases are rising as the average number of daily confirmed cases in the past week was over 3,600.

This increase indicates an increase in Covid-19 transmission in the country, which validates officials’ concerns, notably as cases of the Delta variant have already been reported.

An additional threat to Ukraine’s perilous situation is the high rates of infection in its neighboring countries as the epidemiological situation is deteriorating in Belarus, Romania, and Russia, which have reported rapid increases in daily Covid-19 cases and could catalyze the spread of Covid-19 without further restrictions.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:17 am

Coronavirus company news summary – FDA lays out approach to Covid-19 vaccine safety in children – AzurRX activates Indian sites in Phase II trial of niclosamide

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to “follow the science” on Covid-19 vaccines for children aged below 12 years. Vaccine trials involving children are currently underway, vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have reported. To ensure safety in this young population, the FDA will require a minimum of two months of follow-up safety data for at least 50% of clinical trial participants after receiving vaccine doses. The agency said it intends to carry out a thorough review of data submitted by manufacturers seeking Emergency Use Authorization or approval for Covid-19 vaccines in this population.

China-based Sinovac Biotech has begun inoculation of children and adolescents in South Africa as part of the global Phase III trials of its Covid-19 vaccine for individuals aged between six months and 17 years. Being conducted in alliance with domestic company Numolux Group, the trial will involve 2,000 subjects in South Africa, while an additional 12,000 participants will be enrolled in Kenya, the Philippines, Chile and Malaysia. The primary objective of the trial is the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity of two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine.

AzurRx BioPharma has activated seven more sites in India for its Phase II RESERVOIR clinical trial being performed to test niclosamide (FW-1022) for treating Covid-19-related gastrointestinal (GI) infections. These new sites are in addition to 11 sites in the US and five sites in Ukraine. The trial will mainly validate the safety of the treatment and assess its efficacy in clearing SARS-CoV-2 from the GI tract. Top-line data are expected in the first quarter of 2022.

9:08 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 224 million

13 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.6 million, with a figure of 4,630,729 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 224 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 40 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 659,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US president, Joe Biden, will announce new steps to slow the spread of Covid-19 before the UN general assembly meets, the surgeon general, Dr Vivek Murthy, said.

West Virginia reported more than 2,200 new cases on Sunday, as the state endures its worst outbreak of the pandemic. As cases begin to level off in hot spots like Florida and Missouri, West Virginia now has one of the worst per capita outbreaks in the US, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with intensive-care cases breaking pandemic records and hospitalizations almost even with previous highs. The outbreak, driven by the delta variant, is expected to get worse. “The weather is going to get bad, and absolutely we’re going to be overrun in our hospitals, and there are going to be decisions that have to be made on who is going to live and who is going to die,” Governor Jim Justice said at a press briefing on Friday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. “It’ll be terrible beyond belief.” The Republican governor strongly urged people to get vaccinated, though he added that he opposes vaccination mandates.

South Africa: South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced plans to introduce Covid-19 “vaccine passports” amid widespread scepticism of vaccines in the country.

Scotland: Scotland’s first minister has ruled out the possibility of a second referendum on independence until all day-to-day Covid restrictions are lifted. Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly pledged to hold another poll by the end of 2023, but only if the public health crisis is over.

China: China reported 46 new Covid-19 cases on the mainland for 11 September, up from 25 a day earlier, the national health authority said.

China is experiencing another Covid-19 outbreak caused by the delta variant, with dozens of infections detected in the southeastern province of Fujian less than a month after the nation’s last flare-up was contained.  The cluster was detected thanks to routine testing in local schools, where two students tested positive on Friday. Their father, who returned from Singapore in early August, was also found to have been infected. The man did three weeks of quarantine and took 10 tests with no signs of infection before returning to the community, underscoring how difficult it can be to identify every case. China’s so-called Covid Zero policy relies on aggressive testing and contact tracing.

Thailand: Thailand reported 12,583 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest one-day tally since July 20, according to government data on Monday. The Southeast Asian nation reported 132 deaths in the past 24 hours, the lowest daily fatalities since July 30. The lower tally comes as Thailand keeps strict containment measures in 29 provinces considered as virus hotspots at least until the end of September to prevent a spike in infections.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s ministry of health has reported 100 Covid-19 deaths yesterday, and announced a further 492 backlog deaths, via its Covid information website.

Indonesia: Indonesia recorded 3,779 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the fewest Since 16 May, according to data from government’s Covid-19 task force. The disease has infected a total of 4.17 million people in the world’s fourth most-populous nation.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka is facing food shortages with customers in state-run supermarkets reporting long queues for items such as rice, sugar, lentils and milk powder.

Australia: The delta-strain outbreak centered in Sydney is showing signs of peaking as New South Wales state begins easing some restrictions and remains on track to inoculate more than 70% of its adult population by mid-next month.

Germany: The spread of the coronavirus slowed in Germany on Sunday. The number of people newly infected rose by 7,345 – some 3,108 cases less than a week ago. The death toll fell to eight on Sunday, compared with 21 a week ago. The country recorded in total 4,077,640 Covid-19 infections.

Vaccine news

EU: Europe has emerged as the biggest vaccine-producing continent in the world and makes enough doses in less than a month to administer third shots to its population, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said. Europe “is the world’s pharmacy,” he said Sunday in an interview on CNews. The region and the US need to do more to get vaccines to Africa, he said, in part because of the importance of heading off new viral variants.

Israel: Israel is making preparations to ensure it has sufficient vaccine supply in case a fourth round of Covid-19 shots is needed, the country’s top health official said on Sunday. “We don’t know when it will happen; I hope very much that it won’t be within six months, like this time, and that the third dose will last for longer,” Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash said in an interview with Radio 103FM.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel urges Germans to get vaccinated ahead of the winter months. Four million people in Germany have contracted the virus and more than 90,000 people have died from it, she said on Sunday in her regular podcast. This week volunteer workers will offer vaccinations on soccer fields, in the streets and at mosques, she said.

Iraq: Iraq has received a donation of more than 100,000 AstraZeneca doses from Italy via the Covid-19 vaccine-sharing scheme Covax, according to Unicef. More than 4 million people, around 10% of Iraq’s population, have already received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab.

Japan: Japan’s Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Sunday that more than 50% of people have been fully vaccinated on NHK broadcaster’s weekly TV program. He expects to surpass 60% by the end of this month, on a par with levels seen in Europe. Tokyo on Sunday reported 1,067 new daily cases of coronavirus infections, below the seven-day average of 1,384.

New Zealand: New Zealand has purchased 500,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine from Denmark.

US: Alabama quietly shifted its rules earlier this summer to require parental consent for anyone younger than 19 to receive the vaccine at state-run clinics in public schools. reported. Generally, children older than 14 can consent to routine medical treatment, reported, but the state’s Department of Public Health changed the rules after complaints from several legislators that children were being vaccinated without parents’ consent.  Medical officials were quoted as worrying that the change may further depress the rate of vaccination in Alabama, already one of the lowest in the US.

Meanwhile, Scott Gottlieb, a board member of the Pfizer Inc. and the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said Covid-19 vaccines for kids could arrive as soon as Halloween this year. Pfizer has said it will have data on Covid-19 vaccines for children by the end of Sept., and the FDA will take “weeks, not months,” to evaluate the data and make a decision, he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “In a best-case scenario, given that timeline they’ve just laid out, you could potentially have a vaccine available to children age five to 11 by Halloween,” Gottlieb said. Parents should consult with pediatrician to decide the number of doses and dosage for vaccinating their kids, he added.

Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a strong proponent of the Covid-19 vaccines, said President’s Joe Biden’s announcement of federal mandates last week only “hardens the resistance” to taking the vaccine.  “This is an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate authority that really disrupts and divides the country,” the Republican governor said NBC’s “Meet the Press. “It increases the division in terms of vaccination when we should all be together trying to increase the vaccination uptake.” Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, also a Republican, called the mandates “an egregious overreach of federal authority” and said that attorneys general of several states are conferring about legal action. “So many people told me they’re just going to be fired if they’re forced to take the vaccine,” Ricketts said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is really going to create huge problems for all small businesses and for our American workers.”

UK: The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, has confirmed that plans for vaccine passports in England are going to be scrapped. Javid also said he expects the booster vaccination programme for Covid-19 to start this month.

Meanwhile, Conservative MPs fear vaccine passports could still be made mandatory later this year amid a warning the NHS faces “the worst winter in living memory”, despite the health secretary’s announcement earlier today that they are to be scrapped.

Valneva said the UK government is cancelling a supply contract for Covid-19 vaccines, a blow to the French drugmaker’s attempt to develop an alternative to existing shots. The company said Monday it contests allegations by the UK government that it’s in breach of its obligations under the agreement. Valneva’s shot targets the whole virus rather than just the spike protein and some scientists expect it could potentially stand up better to variants.

Lockdown updates

New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended a strict lockdown in the largest city Auckland as an outbreak of the delta variant of coronavirus proves difficult to vanquish. Auckland will remain at Alert Level 4, the strictest setting,for at least another week while the rest of the country, which exited lockdown last week, will remain at Level 2, Ardern said.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island will be the country’s first tourist destination reopened to fully-vaccinated foreign visitors beginning in November, according to the government website, which cited the tourism administration. Foreign travelers will be required to have received their second vaccine shot at least 14 days before traveling to the island in the southern province of Kien Giang and no more than 12 months ahead of arrival. This comes even as Ho Chi Minh City will extend its Covid-19 lockdown for most areas through the end of September as officials work to roll out green cards for vaccinated residents that will allow them more movement freedoms, Vietnam Television reported on its website.

1:21 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 223 million

10 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 223,266,000 with more than 4,607,000 deaths reported.

Covid-19 daily confirmed cases in South America are in steady decline despite the concern raised by the Lambda and Mu variants of the coronavirus.

With over 20 million total confirmed Covid-19 cases, Brazil is third worldwide for total cases and second for total deaths, but daily confirmed cases and deaths have been trending downwards since late July.

Similar patterns are seen for other South American countries, including Argentina and Colombia, which are also among the top ten countries for total confirmed cases.

The possible reason for this decline could be the increasing number of vaccinated population as well as immunity acquired through infection.

Brazil and Argentina have both partially vaccinated 60% of their population whereas Uruguay and Chile have fully vaccinated more than 70% of their population.

Countries in South-East Asia are continuing to report a high number of Covid-19 cases.

Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have experienced an alarming spike in new daily confirmed cases.

These countries did not have a major outbreak of Covid-19 before the arrival of the Delta variant.

The Delta variant is highly infectious and the mitigation measures which prevented the surge previously were inadequate.

Thailand and the Philippines have fully vaccinated less than 20% of their population whereas Malaysia has vaccinated 50% of its population.

Countries in South East Asia are struggling to access enough vaccines for their population.

Thus, the only realistic solution is to continue the mitigation measures such as mask mandates with regional lockdowns where necessary.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections exceed 222.5 million

9 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 222,574,000 with more than 4,596,000 deaths reported.

Russia has reported nearly seven million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

This is the fifth-highest number of cases in the world.

Covid-19 deaths are also rising from under 400 daily deaths in June to over 700 daily deaths on average in August.

Cases in Russia began to spike in June driven by the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant.

Russia became the first country in the world to authorize a Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V.

However, the vaccine rollout has been slower than other European countries with less than 30% of the population fully vaccinated.

Vaccine hesitancy and lack of mitigation measures are the possible reasons for a high number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.

New Zealand has implemented a ‘zero-covid’ strategy from the start of the pandemic.

This strategy has worked very well in suppressing the Covid-19 outbreak.

The arrival of the highly infectious Delta variant in August was a concern, and it was feared that New Zealand might not be able to control the surge in daily new cases.

Other countries such as Australia and Vietnam adopted the same strategy but are struggling to control the Delta variant.

Daily new cases in New Zealand, which spiked in late August, have started to decline.

This suggests that New Zealand has been able to control this outbreak.

Vaccine rollout has been slow with less than 30% of the population fully vaccinated; however, New Zealand can afford a slow rollout of vaccines as it has demonstrated a very effective test and trace strategy in controlling the outbreak.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

12:09 pm

International update: WHO calls for Covid vaccine booster moratorium until year end

9 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,596,554 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 222 million world wide.

The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for countries to avoid giving out extra Covid jabs until year-end, pointing to the millions worldwide who have yet to receive a single dose. The head of the World Health Organization complained of “too little action” toward achieving vaccine equity. Manufacturers striking deals with affluent countries had left lower-income ones “deprived of the tools to protect their people,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. Less than 15% of the 1 billion doses promised by high-income countries had materialized, he said. “We don’t want any more promises,” he said. “We just want the vaccines.” Tedros called for an extension of a moratorium on booster shots until at least year-end. A month ago, he asked for a global halt through September to prioritize vaccinating the most at-risk people globally who haven’t received their first doses.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 40 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 652,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Texas reported more than 25,000 new virus cases, the biggest one-day surge since late January. Hospitalizations in the second-most populous US state have exceeded 13,000 for more than two weeks and are not far off the all-time peak reached on 11 January, according to state health department data. Adult and pediatric intensive-care wards are filled to capacity in six of the state’s 22 trauma service zones.

Meanwhile, In New York City, 65% of 12- to 17-year-old students have received at least one dose of a vaccine, less than a week before the 13 September first day of school, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

New Jersey registered 14,813 breakthrough cases as of 23 August, Governor Phil Murphy said during a media briefing. Such cases accounted for 0.28% of people who are fully vaccinated. The state reported that 5.66 million individuals are fully vaccinated. Some 57% of residents age 12 to 17 have received one vaccine dose, with 66% of those 16 to 17 years old getting one shot.

Singapore: is shifting the focus of its daily Covid-19 reports to hospitalizations to turn attention to the city-state’s medical capacity, even as infections climb. At 81%, Singapore has the best vaccination rate in the world among countries of more than 1 million people, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Yet daily cases – the vast majority of which are mild or asymptomatic – are on the rise.

Germany: Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious disease in Germany, has said that the country could see a “massive momentum” in new Covid cases in autumn if the vaccination rate does not increase.

Czech Republic: On Wednesday recorded 588 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily tally since 25 May, as government officials predict a continued rise in infections.

South Africa: The third wave of infections is petering out, with the number of new cases and the positivity rate of those tested dropping, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said.

Vaccine news

Global: The Covax vaccine-sharing initiative is set to receive 575m fewer anti-Covid shots this year than previously estimated, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) has warned.

US: President Joe Biden plans to call for a meeting on global vaccine supply to be held at the United Nations General Assembly later this month, as wealthy nations face pressure to do more to bolster inoculations for developing countries, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ireland: will offer mRNA booster shots to people over 65 years old in care homes and to anyone over 80, the health ministry said. Eligibility will be restricted to those who received their initial vaccine at least six months ago. Infection rates are declining across the country, and “falling significantly” for adolescents and young adults, the ministry said.

UK: The UK government announced a consultation on mandatory vaccination for frontline health and care staff in England. The six-week consultation starts Thursday, according to a statement. Some 92% of National Health Service staff have had their first dose and 88% have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

New Zealand: More than a quarter of a million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been purchased from Spain and are due to arrive in Auckland tomorrow, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday. Ardent said she expects to make a further announcement about an agreement to buy additional Pfizer vaccines from a second country next week. New Zealand reported 13 cases of Covid-19 in the community on Thursday, taking the current outbreak to 868 infections.

Lockdown updates

Thailand: issued a digital health pass to allow users to present vaccination information and Covid-19 test results on their phones to airlines before traveling domestically. The pass can be used with seven airlines including Bangkok Airways, AirAsia and Vietjet Air, and also at restaurants and other businesses as Thailand prepares to open to more travel in October.

Switzerland: People will need to show a Covid-status certificate to enter bars, restaurants and fitness centres in Switzerland from Monday, the government ordered.

Belgium: The city of Brussels is expected to introduce a Covid vaccine pass from 1 October, requiring residents to prove their health status to enter bars, restaurants and other public places.

Australia: New South Wales will lift stay-at-home orders for fully vaccinated adults once 70% of the population has received two shots, the government said Thursday as it unveiled a roadmap to end Sydney’s 11-week lockdown.

Japan: Said on Thursday it will extend emergency restrictions in Tokyo and other regions until the end of this month to curb infections and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, saying it was too early to let down its guard.

UK: The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, asked about the possibility of a so-called “October firebreak” in England, said: “I haven’t even thought about that as an option at this point.” Javid also backed 12- to 15-year-olds being able to take Covid vaccines against the wishes of their parents, and said that he was ‘confident’ that a booster jab programme will start this month in the UK.

Meanwhile, UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has defended the planned introduction of Covid vaccine passports, telling MPs “this approach is designed to reduce transmission and serious illness”.

In other news: road traffic in the UK was at 100% of pre-crisis levels on Monday. Demand for buses also reached the highest level for a weekday since March 2020.

9:26 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Exscientia partners with Gates Foundation on infectious disease research – Novavax starts trial of combined Covid-19/influenza vaccine

UK-based Exscientia has entered a four-year $70m partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics against multiple viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The initial focus will be on broad-spectrum agents targeting coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, as well as MERS. The partnership will later extend to develop drugs for influenza and Nipah. Exscientia’s AI-driven drug discovery platform will be used to discover and develop five Phase I-ready small-molecule candidates, the partners said.

Novavax has started enrolment in a Phase I/II clinical trial to assess the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of a vaccine that combines its Covid-19 and seasonal influenza vaccines. The trial will enroll 640 healthy adults aged 50 to 70 years at up to 12 sites in Australia. Participants must have had prior Covid-19 infection or be vaccinated with an authorised vaccine. Trial data are expected to be available in the first half of next year.

Moderna has signed a multi-year agreement for National Resilience to manufacture drug substance for its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. The production will be carried out at Resilience’s facility in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. The Resilience-manufactured substance will be distributed globally. Moderna’s deal with Resilience follows a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Government to boost the country’s mRNA manufacturing and enable direct access to rapid pandemic response expertise.

The European Medicines Agency has listed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a very rare nerve disorder, as a potential side effect of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, Reuters reported. A causal relationship between the disorder and the vaccine is “at least a reasonable possibility,” the agency said. By 31 July 2021, 833 Guillain-Barré syndrome cases were noted out of 592 million AstraZeneca shots administered globally.

2:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 222 million

8 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 222,043,000 with more than 4,58,000 deaths reported.

Japan has reported over 37,000 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in September, the highest number recorded in the country so far.

Infections began to rise rapidly following the commencement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in mid-July.

Despite 48% of Japan’s population being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the highly infectious Delta variant is driving a rapid rise in local transmissions nationwide.

Death from Covid-19 is lower than the previous peak in January; however, it will rise if the current trajectory of cases continues.

A state of emergency announced in Tokyo during the Olympics will be extended until the end of September.

Vietnam has reported on average 12,000 daily new cases of Covid-19 in September, as the seven-day rolling average of cases, continues to rise.

Covid-19 deaths have also started to rise with over 300 daily deaths reported this week.

Vietnam was one of the select few countries which did not have any major outbreak of Covid-19 before the arrival of the Delta variant.

Mitigation measures which prevented the surge previously were inadequate for this variant.

Vietnam has fully vaccinated just 4% of its population and the pace of the vaccine rollout has been relatively slower compared to neighboring countries in South East Asia.

As Vietnam does not currently have enough vaccines for its population, the only realistic solution is to continue the mitigation measures with regional lockdowns where necessary.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:38 am

International update: True figure of 2020 US Covid infections could have exceeded 100 million

8 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,586,339 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 221.9 million world wide.

A coalition of environmental groups have called for this year’s Cop26 climate summit to be postponed, arguing that too little has been done to ensure the safety of participants amid the continuing threat from Covid-19.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed the unwanted figure of 40 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 650,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The true number of US infections at the end of 2020 was more than 100 million, just under a third of the population and far more than the 20 million previously reported, according to a study cited by the National Institutes of Health. Many cases were undetected because of limited testing and asymptomatic infections early in the pandemic. The study, by researchers at Columbia University, used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how many people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which indicate past infections. The researchers calculated that just 11% of all cases were confirmed by a positive test result in March 2020.

Idaho public health leaders announced Tuesday that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle. The pandemic had a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.

UK: Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said the NHS in the UK needs £10bn next year to make inroads into the backlog of care and keep up with the costs associated with Covid-19.

Singapore: Singapore recorded its highest number of cases in a year, with 328 reported on Tuesday. Worryingly for authorities, the number of cases they could not track back to a source has tripled compared with a week ago.

South Korea: The chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the country will be ready by the end of October to shift its strategy from suppressing Covid-19 to managing it while living a normal life, Yonhap reported on Tuesday.

Japan: Japan’s health ministry is planning to hold a panel meeting later this month to decide whether to approve GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s and Vir Biotechnology Inc.’s Covid-19 antibody drug Sotrovimab, broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified person.

Vaccine news

US: Three-quarters of US adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The country hit the 70% threshold in early August, four weeks beyond President Joe Biden’s target. The spread of the delta variant caused another surge of infections in the US over the last month and accelerated vaccinations. But hesitancy among many Americans has left the nation well behind many other countries for inoculation. Biden plans on Thursday to address efforts to curb the pandemic.

Italy: Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, has announced that third doses of Covid-19 will be made available to groups of “clinically vulnerable” people this month. “We have the third dose in Italy,” Speranza said. “We’ll start in September with fragile patients like oncology and transplant patients.”

Indonesia: The government has issued emergency use authorization for Covid-19 vaccines made by CanSino Biologics Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, Bisnis Indonesia reported, citing the food and drug regulator. Both shots will be administered to people aged 18 years and older.

UK: Four in five over-16s in Britain have been fully vaccinated according to the latest data, with 43,535,098 second doses delivered since vaccinations began. Meanwhile, Britain recorded 209 Covid deaths on Tuesday, the highest number since March.

China: A study from China looking at mixing Covid-19 vaccines showed that receiving a booster shot of CanSino Biologics’ vaccine after one or two doses of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine yielded a much stronger antibody response than using the Sinovac shot as a booster.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s junta said it wants to receive 10 million vaccine doses each in September and October and 4 million in November. The country targeted vaccinating half its population by year-end.

South Africa: Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine cut the risk of getting infected by about half, according to a trial of almost half a million health workers in South Africa. The vast majority of the breakthrough infections were mild, the study’s co-leader said, citing unpublished data.

Lockdown updates

Philippines: The Philippines backtracked on easing lockdown in the capital Manila, deciding to delay a move to localised lockdowns for another week. The change was due to start on Wednesday.

Sweden: Sweden will remove virtually all coronavirus restrictions on 29 September with the pandemic under control and the vaccination rollout well-advanced, the government said.

UK: UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said he is not aware of any planning for an “October firebreak” if case numbers in England begin to rise following the return of schools but the government has refused to rule it out.

India: Experts in India are calling for schools to reopen, warning that the benefits would outweigh the risk of infection spreading. According a recent survey, only 8% of children in rural areas regularly studied online.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia lifted a travel ban to neighboring United Arab Emirates starting Wednesday, opening up a key market weeks ahead of the Dubai Expo 2020 trade fair. The lifting of restrictions, which also included resumption of travel to South Africa and Argentina, came a day after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke to de facto UAE leader, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Australia: The Australian state of Victoria will end its lockdown of all regional areas outside Melbourne except for one council zone with high case numbers, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference Wednesday. Lockdown will end for all parts of regional Victoria except for Greater Shepparton. The regions will have movement restrictions eased with venues also allowed to open with numbers caps. Schools will also re-open.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s health ministry is considering relaxing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people on a trial basis in some unspecified southern localities, the government website reported. Separately, Ho Chi Minh City plans green cards for vaccinated residents and will ease social distancing curbs for those partially and fully inoculated, Tuoi Tre reported, citing the city’s mayor.

Japan: The Japanese government is making arrangements to extend the state of emergencies in areas including Tokyo to the end of September, the Asahi newspaper reported, citing several unidentified officials. The emergencies are scheduled to expire 12 September.

Economy updates

Tanzania: The International Monetary Fund approved nearly $600 million in emergency lending for Tanzania’s health system and economic-recovery efforts as the nation battles the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s central bank ordered commercial banks to continue to delay payments for some loans until June 30, 2022, to help businesses hurt by the pandemic, the State Bank of Vietnam said. Central bank also asked lenders to exempt or reduce interest payments on some loans until June 2022.

UK: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the national insurance payroll tax will rise 1.25 percentage points starting next year to help rescue the National Health Service from backlogs generated during the pandemic. A tax on dividends will also increase 1.25 percentage points. All working adults, including those of state pension age, will be subject to the higher levies, which are expected to generate 36 billion pounds ($50 billion) over the next three years. The House of Commons is expected to vote on the tax package Wednesday.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: UK Covid cases pass 7 million – highest in Europe

7 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 221,177,000 with more than 4,578,000 deaths reported.

The UK has reported more than seven million Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

This is the highest number of cases in Europe, and the fourth highest in the world.

Hospitalizations and deaths are also rising, but not as sharply as cases.

The total hospitalizations from Covid-19 are less than 20% of the previous peak in January.

This suggests that vaccines are very effective in preventing serious illness.

However, six million adults have not been vaccinated in the UK, and this is a major concern with the highly transmissible Delta variant in circulation.

Children and adolescents have also started schooling with no specific mitigation measures or vaccination coverage.

Thus, daily new cases and hospitalizations will continue to rise in the UK.

The US has fully vaccinated just over 52% of the population despite the abundance of vaccine supply.

Vaccine hesitancy is very high in the US and the daily new cases have risen sharply owing to the highly infectious Delta variant.

The US is also reporting a high number of daily new cases and hospitalizations in children, which is expected to rise further as children prepare to begin the school year.

Additionally, mitigation measures are not consistent across the country, with mask mandates varying by state.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:49 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Japan to buy 150 million doses of Takeda-made Novavax vaccine – EMA reviews data on Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot

The Japanese Government will buy 150 million doses of the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine candidate produced by Takeda Pharmaceutical in the country, subject to licensing and approval. Takeda is preparing to produce the vaccine, referred to as TAK-019 in Japan, at its domestic facilities and intends to start supply early next year. The company will also manage clinical trial and regulatory submission activities in the country.

The European Medicines Agency is reviewing data on a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, to be given six months following the second dose in individuals aged 16 years and older. The regulator expects to reach a decision in the next few weeks, unless additional information is needed. EMA is also reviewing data on the use of an additional dose of mRNA vaccines in people with weakened immune systems.

Indian pharmaceutical company Hetero has secured emergency use approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to produce a generic version of Roche’s drug, tocilizumab, to treat Covid-19. The company plans to make the drug available under the brand name Tocira for use in the country by the end of September, Reuters noted. It will be manufactured at Hetero’s facility in the Indian city of Hyderabad.

9:39 am

International update: US Covid infections pass 40 million

7 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,575,144 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 221 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed the unwanted figure of 40 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 649,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The American state of Mississippi’s hospitals are being overwhelmed by a surge in cases, which has been driven by its low vaccination rate. Only about 38% of the state’s 3 million people are fully inoculated.

UK: Britain will set aside £5.4bn for the National Health Service to help it cover the costs and the patient backlog caused by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said acting on air pollution is a “matter of life and death” after a report found it increases the risk of Covid-19 hospital admission.

Australia: The delta surge in Australia’s biggest state is showing signs of slowing after New South Wales recorded 1,220 new infections overnight, falling a third day to the lowest daily number in almost a week. Still, health authorities expect the increase in new infections to peak in mid-September, straining the state’s hospital resources. Meantime, Victoria state recorded 246 new infections on Tuesday, equaling the previous day’s record as health authorities struggle to bring an outbreak of delta under control. Victoria’s seven-day case average has doubled since 2 September.

South Africa: South African scientists said the so-called C.1.2 variant spread at a slower rate in August than in the prior month, suggesting it’s unlikely to become a dominant strain. The new variant accounted for just 1.5% of all virus samples sequenced in the country last month compared with 2.2% in July, according to the Network for Genomic Surveillance South Africa. The variant, first identified in South Africa, has been found in a number of countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Philippines: The Philippines recorded a record high of 22,415 new infections. It also recorded 103 more deaths. Meanwhile, the government said it would replace a stay-at-home order in the capital Manila with localised lockdowns.

Afghanistan: Afghanistan could lose the majority of its Covid-19 isolation beds because foreign funding for its core health programme has been suspended since August, potentially forcing 2,000 health facilities to close. The WHO said it is hoping to get several planes of medical supplies into Kabul airport this week to support health facilities.

Thailand: Thailand reported the least number of new Covid-19 cases since22  July, with the total coming to 13,821. The government is considering ending a state of emergency as the outbreak eases and it reopens the economy for tourism.

Indonesia: The portion of Covid-19 tests that turn out positive in Indonesia has fallen to a record low, paving the way for the gradual lifting of movement restrictions. The positivity rate, an indicator of the prevalence of infection in a community, fell to 4.43% on Monday – the first time in the pandemic that the nation has met the World Health Organization’s recommendation of below 5%.

Vaccine news

EU: Europe’s medicines regulator said on Monday it was evaluating data on a booster dose for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.

Japan: Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said the Japanese government agreed to buy 150 million doses of Novavax Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine that it will manufacture in the nation subject to licensing and regulatory approval. The Japanese drugmaker aims to start distribution of the vaccine in early 2022. Separately, the company said it’s working with the health ministry to investigate deaths reported after administration of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, and that there’s no reason to believe that it poses a health hazard or safety risk.

Japan’s health ministry said that a man in his 40s died after receiving the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from production lots that are being recalled due to possible contamination, public broadcaster NHK reported. The cause of death hasn’t been determined and experts will examine whether there’s any link between the administration and the death.

Chile: The Chilean government approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s vaccine for use on children six years old and higher, as the country advances one of the most advanced vaccination programs in the world.

Lockdown updates

Vietnam: Vietnam’s capital Hanoi extended Covid-19 restrictions for a further two weeks, as authorities launched a plan to test up to 1.5 million people for coronavirus in higher-risk areas of the capital to contain a climb in infections.

Singapore: Singapore, one of the world’s most vaccinated countries, is taking new steps to slow a rampant increase in Covid-19 cases but can’t rule out returning to closing restaurants and restricting public life if serious infections continue to rise.

UK: Coronavirus rules are set to be renewed in England for another six months as No 10 admitted cases are likely to increase sharply because children are returning to school.

New Zealand: New Zealand will ease Covid curbs in all regions outside its biggest city of Auckland from midnight on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will start allowing visitors from China to skip the strict quarantine process required for most arrivals, a key first step toward reopening the border with the mainland and reviving a flow of visitors that’s long been crucial to the local economy.

Economy updates

Australia: Qantas Airways Ltd. is likely to fly to several new overseas destinations next year after pushing ahead with plans to resume international flights from December.“We’ll probably try a lot of new routes internationally as certain borders open up,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said at a virtual business conference on Tuesday, without giving any specific destinations.

11:20 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna submits Covid-19 booster vaccine data to European Medicines Agency – UK’s JCVI advises against universal vaccination for children aged 12-15 years

Moderna has submitted Covid-19 booster shot data to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for a conditional marketing approval (CMA). The company seeks conditional approval for a booster dose of its mRNA-1273 vaccine at the 50 µg dose level. The move comes after an analysis of an amended study showed that the booster dose induced robust antibody responses for all variants of concern.

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued updated advice recommending against universal Covid-19 vaccination for young people within the age group of 12-15 years. The committee made the recommendation after an assessment concluded that the health benefits from vaccination are only “marginally greater than the potential known harms”. However, JCVI said that children with existing health conditions are at a higher risk and should be offered Covid-19 vaccination.

Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi) has reported positive data from the Phase III SAVE-MORE study assessing the efficacy of anakinra plus standard of care in patients with moderate-to-severe Covid-19 pneumonia. The study was published by Nature Medicine. Based on day 28 results, anakinra reduced risk of disease progression and death by 64%. It also found that the percentage of patients who fully recovered was over 50%, while the number of patients remaining with severe disease dropped by 54%.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 219 million – continued rise in Australia

3 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 219,070,000 with more than 4,541,000 deaths reported.

Australia has reported more than 1,000 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 as the seven-day rolling average of cases continues to rise.

Authorities have implemented strict lockdown measures in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, which are home to Sydney and Melbourne respectively, to reduce the local transmissions of Covid-19.

Australia’s ‘zero-covid’ strategy has been successful in the past, but a lower vaccination rate compared to European countries and the highly contagious Delta variant are driving the spread of the coronavirus.

Australians are also beginning to experience quarantine fatigue after enduring multiple periods of strict stay-at-home measures.

The current strategy in Australia is to vaccinate the majority of the population before loosening the strict lockdown measures.

In the UK, where children are preparing to begin the school year, cases of Covid-19 in children and adolescents are expected to rise.

This will be driven by the Delta variant as they return to in-person schooling with no specific mitigation measures such as mask mandates.

Although the UK has been quite successful in vaccinating adults, vaccination coverage in children and adolescents has been negligible.

For children younger than 12, there is no authorized vaccine, whereas vaccination for 12-15 years has not started yet.

The UK is an outlier as other European countries such as France, Spain, and Italy have started vaccinating 12-15 years age group children.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:44 am

International update: Covid mu variant reaches South Korea

3 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,541,482 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 219 million world wide.

Three cases of the Covid mu variant were identified in South Korea from those who visited Mexico, the US and Colombia, according to a statement from Korea Disease Control & Prevention Agency. Authorities will strengthen monitoring of the variant, the statement said.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 39.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 643,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Young Americans through age 17 are the only group showing an upward trend in per-capita hospitalizations for Covid-19, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Weekly average admissions during the seven days through Tuesday rose 11% to the highest level yet. By contrast, the same weekly measure fell 4.5% among the 18-29 age group. Both groups had been rising steadily since July. Covid hospitalizations for all US age groups declined 1.7% during the period. Among the 0-17 age group, a four-state region comprising Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska led the US with a rate of increase almost triple the national average. The CDC cautioned that the data may be subject to reporting delays.

US health officials will resume distribution of Eli Lilly & Co.’s combination antibody therapy for Covid-19 across the country, as the treatment appears to be active against the now-widespread delta variant.

Australia: Victoria has 208 new locally acquired cases detected overnight, and one case detected in hotel quarantine. There has been one further death, a man in his 60s, with 64 Victorians hospitalised including 60 people in intensive care and 11 requiring ventilation.

Meanwhile, Australia’s most populous state expects daily coronavirus infection numbers to peak within two weeks, after another day of record cases Friday. New South Wales, which includes Sydney, recorded 12 deaths and 1,431 new cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. The state’s outbreak has surpassed 25,000 cases since it began in mid-June, including 160 in intensive care.

New Zealand: New Zealand, which had largely eliminated the virus until a recent outbreak of the delta variant, saw daily new cases drop to 28 on Friday, from 49 on Thursday and 75 a day earlier, according to a Health Ministry statement. “These results are encouraging,” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told a news conference.

Israel: Israel reported a record of 11,187 new cases, topping the previous record of 11,140 recorded earlier in the week, amid widespread testing of children ahead of school-year opening. The percentage of positive tests rose to 7.92%, the highest for the current wave of infections, but only about half the rate at the end of last September. About 30% of the new cases were children age 0-11 and an additional 13% were teenagers age 12-18. Serious cases declined to 666, well below levels recorded at the beginning of the year.

Thailand: Thailand reported 14,653 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the lowest daily level in more than five weeks, according to government data Friday. Total cumulative infections were at 1.25 million, while the country reported 271 new Covid-related deaths, taking the cumulative death toll to 12,374.

Philippines: The Philippine capital region may see anywhere from 16,000 to 43,000 Covid-19 cases per day by the end of September, the Health Department said in a statement. Faster isolation of infections, strict use of masks and distancing, and quicker vaccine rollout can still change the high daily case projections, the agency added. Authorities recorded 16,621 Covid-19 cases Thursday, bringing total infections in the Philippines to more than 2 million.

UK: The UK reported 38,154 new Covid cases on Thursday and 178 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.

Members of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have been sent suspicious packages and hate mail throughout the pandemic, one of the UK’s leading virologists has revealed.

Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he plans to resign so he can devote the remainder of his time in office to fighting the pandemic rather than campaigning for re-election.

Malaysia: New infections in Malaysia have soared despite containment measures, turning the country into Southeast Asia’s Covid hotspot. The nation added 20,988 cases Thursday. However, the virus’ effective reproduction rate has fallen below 1 nationwide “for the first time in a few months,” Ismail Sabri said, as the vaccination drive ramps up.

Vaccine news

US: Three doses of Covid-19 vaccine may become the standard regimen for most people, White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said at a briefing Thursday. A study in Israel showed dramatic improvement in protection among recipients of three doses of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, normally given in two doses, Fauci said. If the gains last, “you’re going to have very likely a three-dose regimen being the routine regimen,” he said. The durability of immunity will need to be confirmed when data are presented to the Food and Drug Administration, Fauci added.

The US plans to invest $3bn (£2.2bn) in the vaccine supply chain as it continues to work to position the United States as a leading supplier of vaccines for the world, Reuters reports. A decision on extending Covid vaccinations to 12- to 15-year-olds is expected to be announced imminently, the Guardian understands.

Amtrak will require all of its employees to be vaccinated by 1 November. “The science is clear,” Bill Flynn, chief executive officer of the passenger rail line, said in an email to passengers signed up for Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program. “The Covid-19 vaccines are safe, effective and lifesaving. They are proving effective against the current surge of variants, especially at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death.”

Asia: In some of Asia’s Covid-19 hot spots, powerful and wealthier citizens are nabbing booster shots even as most people remain unvaccinated, undermining the inoculation strategies of nations struggling with the highly infectious delta variant. The growing trend in countries like Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines is worsening inequities at a time when they’re grappling with vaccine shortages.

EU: The European Union has agreed to send millions of coronavirus vaccine doses made in South Africa back to the continent, AFP reports.

Meanwhile, The African Union’s Covid envoy has announced that vaccine doses produced by a plant in South Africa will no longer be exported to Europe.

Italy: Italy will eventually make vaccination compulsory, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in a press conference Thursday. Italy will start administering a third vaccine shot from September, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, adding that the campaign will start with those with a weak immune system. Speranza stressed that vaccination is already required for health workers, and that this requirement could be expanded to other groups.

UK: The UK will send Australia four million Pfizer doses in a vaccine swap deal, with the first batch of 292,000 doses to be shipped “shortly,” the UK Department of Health and Social Care said in an emailed statement. Australia will return the same overall volume of doses before year-end. It’s the third vaccine swap deal Australia has made in as many weeks – first with Poland then Singapore – as it races to inoculate its population to ease lockdown restrictions in its two biggest cities. Prime Minister Scott Morrison lauded the UK agreement, which he said would speed up Australia’s vaccine rollout.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said the UK needs to “go faster” with the vaccination of 16- to 17-year olds, despite a “strong” uptake within the age group.

Greece: In Greece, unvaccinated healthcare workers have been offered a second chance to get jabbed after hundreds protested against the mandatory shot.

Germany: Germany is experiencing a “pandemic of the non-vaccinated,” and it’s vital to convince more people to take Covid-19 shots to prevent hospitals from being overloaded, according to Health Minister Jens Spahn. “In intensive-care units, 90% of the Covid-19 patients aren’t vaccinated, and the infection numbers among non-vaccinated are 10-12 times higher,” Spahn said in an interview with DLF radio. “That’s why the decisive question for the fall and winter is whether in these September weeks many millions – above all younger people – can be convinced to get a shot.”

Philippines: The Philippines approved the use of Moderna’s vaccine for ages 12-17, the head of the country’s Food and Drug Administration said by text message.

Lockdown updates

Bulgaria: In Bulgaria, restaurants and bars will have to close at 10pm from 7 September, while indoors sports will have to be held without spectators.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s capital will continue to apply strict stay-home orders in high-risk zones while easing rules in other areas from Monday, Vietnam News newspaper reported, citing a decision from the Standing Board of the Hanoi Party Committee. The city will introduce a three-color system, with red zones designated as very high risk and orange and green areas as less risky, according to the report. No details were provided on how exactly the city will be divided, or for how long.

South Korea: South Korea will maintain current level 4 social-distancing measures in the Greater Seoul area and level 3 rules in other areas through 3 October, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said.

Japan: Japan plans to ease Covid-19 restrictions in October or November as the vaccination drive progresses, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing a draft of the plans. The plan would allow eateries to serve alcohol and stay open later even in areas covered by a state of emergency and allow vaccinated persons to travel across prefectures. It also considers easing restrictions on large events and resuming initiatives designed to stimulate local tourism. The government also may use vaccination certificates and Covid test results, the paper reported.

Singapore: Singapore has issued Vaccinated Travel Passes to 735 travelers from Germany and 20 from Brunei Darussalam, according to a statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. Under Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme, there will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirement for a controlled itinerary or sponsor, part of the city-state’s experiment in gradually reopening to the world while treating the virus as endemic. Singapore also is finalizing plans to ease Covid-19 restrictions on migrant workers’ movements, the Straits Times reported, citing an interview with Manpower Minister Tan See Leng. Dormitories for foreign laborers – the locus of Singapore’s first major outbreak last year – will undergo a major revamp, he said.

9:56 am

Coronavirus company news summary – AZ settles EU vaccine delivery lawsuit – US unveils $3bn vaccine supply chain investment plan

AstraZeneca (AZ) has reached a settlement with the European Commission that confirms the delivery of Vaxzevria vaccine doses to the continent and resolves the ongoing legal proceedings that the bloc had started against the company. The agreement will see AZ deliver 60 million vaccine doses by the end of Q3 2021, 75 million by the end of Q4 2021 and 65 million by the end of Q1 2022. The company will provide regular delivery schedules to EU member states and will issue capped rebates if any deliveries are delayed. The deal has ended the Commission’s legal proceedings against AZ, which were due to go to court at the end of September.

The US Government plans to invest $3bn in its Covid-19 vaccine supply chain as part of its efforts to boost the country’s manufacturing capacity for vital vaccine components. Companies manufacturing vaccine inputs will be able to access these funds to add production lines and facilities, as well as to bolster fill-finish capacity. The investment is expected to create thousands of jobs in the US and expand the country’s capacity to respond to infectious disease outbreaks in the future.

MGC Pharmaceuticals has received approval to import its phytomedicine CimetrA into India. This will enable the final product assessment to conclude the company’s application for Emergency Use Authorisation to treat Covid-19 patients. Medopharm will import and market the therapy in the country. CimetrA is currently being assessed in a Phase III trial in Israel for the treatment of Covid-19.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Mexico Covid third wave ‘far worse’ than previous two

2 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 218,516,000 with more than 4,544,000 deaths reported.

In Latin America, Mexico has experienced a third wave of the virus far worse than previous ones.

Mexico reported a record high of daily confirmed cases on 19 August with over 28,000 new cases.

Additionally, Mexico’s case fatality rate is 7.74% as of 31 August; this is four times the case fatality rate observed in the top 10 economies combined (1.84%)*.

The positive test rate in Mexico has hovered between 34–40% since October 2020, indicating that community transmission is very high and not enough testing is being done.

As a result, the number of people infected is underreported and unaware they need to self-isolate, causing even more spread of the virus within their community.

In Uruguay, approximately 73% of the population is fully vaccinated, and the government has announced it will reopen its borders in September to allow entry of fully vaccinated visitors who own property.

Since late July, Uruguay has reported fewer than 10 daily deaths due to Covid-19.

However, their positive test rate is 11.5%, higher than the 5% threshold the WHO has recommended before countries re-open.

In Asia, Thailand has vaccinated approximately 11.2% of its population.

The current surge peaked on 13 August with 23,000 new cases reported.

However, the number of daily confirmed cases reported remains high, with a seven-day average of 15,900 new daily cases.

Despite this, restrictions on indoor dining have been lifted, which will likely lead to another increase in cases as vaccination rates are still low.

*Top 10 economies: Brazil, Canada, Mainland China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:17 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer starts dosing in trial of antiviral drug for Covid-19 – Moderna launches FDA submission for Covid-19 booster shot

Pfizer has commenced dosing in a pivotal randomised, double-blind Phase II/III clinical trial of its oral antiviral drug, PF-07321332, to treat Covid-19 in non-hospitalised patients who are at low risk of severe disease. The drug is a protease inhibitor developed to hinder the activity of the main protease enzyme that SARS-CoV-2 requires for replication. The study aims to recruit around 1,140 patients, who will receive a combination of PF-07321332 and ritonavir – another protease inhibitor, generally used as part of combination HIV therapies – or placebo.

Moderna has started its submission to the US Food and Drug Administration seeking authorisation for a booster shot of its Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, at the 50µg dose. The filing is backed by data demonstrating strong antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, the company said. These data will also be submitted to the European Medicines Agency and other global regulatory authorities soon.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics have launched the global Phase III MOVe-AHEAD trial of molnupiravir to prevent Covid-19. The trial will involve people aged 18 years and above who live in the same household as a symptomatic Covid-19 patient. Currently, the drug is in Part 2 of the Phase III MOVe-OUT trial to treat certain adult outpatients with mild to moderate Covid-19, with results expected in the coming months.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid two month peak and decline cycle identified

1 September

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 217,769,000 with more than 4,520,000 deaths reported.

The US has fully vaccinated 53% of its population.

The vaccine administration rates peaked in early April and have declined since due to the high initial vaccine uptake in individuals who were the most eager to receive the vaccine.

Since the rise of the Delta variant in the US, breakthrough infections have been reported.

Among fully vaccinated people in each state, breakthrough infections account for less than 6% of all Covid-19 related deaths.

Among fully vaccinated patients with Covid-19 breakthrough infections, people ages 65 and older accounted for 87% of deaths and 70% of hospitalizations.

In the US, where children are preparing to begin the school year, cases of Covid-19 in children and adolescents are increasing because of low vaccination rates.

For children younger than 12, there is no authorized vaccine.

Cases in children are likely to continue increasing as they return to in-person schooling; this will be driven by the highly infectious Delta variant and low vaccination coverage.

Other countries where children are set to resume in person school will likely experience similar trends.

Among the top 10 infected countries, Iran, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Colombia and Argentina have reported a decrease in cases over that last 14-days.

The most recent surge of Covid-19 cases appears to be levelling off in these countries.

The reason is unclear, but health experts have noted that the peak and decline of the Covid-19 virus, regardless of which variant, appears to have a two month cycle.

One explanation health experts have offered for this cycle is that each strain circulates for about two months before it recedes, and a new strain emerges, or herd immunity is reached.

Another explanation is that this is the time it takes for the virus to circulate among people’s social circles infecting people who are the most vulnerable.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist, GlobalData

2:11 pm

International update: New Covid variant identified in Colombia

1 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,520,473 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 217.7 million world wide.

A new coronavirus variant named Mu has been designated a variant of interest by the World Health Organisation. Mu, or B.1.621, was first identified in Colombia and cases have been recorded in South America and Europe. The WHO’s weekly bulletin on the pandemic said the variant has mutations suggesting it could be more resistant to vaccines, as was the case with Beta, but that more studies would be needed to examine this further.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 39 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 640,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Children account for the fastest rate of new Covid-19 infections in Colorado, Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, told an online news briefing Tuesday. The trend started in July before schools opened, she said, and officials are encouraging schools to require face masks, though there is no mandate.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox said Tuesday the state’s hospitals are at a “breaking point” amid the latest wave of Covid-19 cases, the Deseret News reported. Staffing shortages have reduced bed capacity, Cox said. Neighboring Idaho plans to deploy as many as 150 National Guard members to help short-staffed hospitals. “We’ve reached a point in the pandemic we have not been before,” Governor Brad Little said, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Italy: Italy reported 75 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, up from 53 the previous day, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 5,498 from 4,257, the health ministry said.

Israel: Israel has recorded its highest daily coronavirus case tally of nearly 11,000 new infections, amid a surge caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant as schools prepare to reopen.

Japan: Japan’s current wave of Covid infections has mostly affected its younger generations, reflecting both the efficacy of its vaccination program among the elderly and the pitfalls of a slow rollout that still hasn’t reached most of the youth population.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna’s Covid vaccine generated more than double the antibodies of a similar shot made by Pfizer and BioNTech in research that compared immune responses evoked by the two inoculations. The study is one of the first to compare levels of antibodies produced by the two vaccines, which are thought to be one of the important components of the immune response. It didn’t examine whether the antibody differences led to a difference in efficacy over time between the two shots, which both were more than 90% effective in final-stage clinical trials.

US: Around 14 million people in the US received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in August, about 4 million more than in July, officials said on Tuesday as the government pushes inoculation as infections rise.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she is allocating $65 million for local communities to set up facilities to administer booster shots. The Biden administration said it wants to start rolling out boosters on 20 September, though the plan hasn’t yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Meanwhile, Manhattan prosecutors filed charges against two women who were allegedly selling fake vaccination cards and, in some cases, entering those fake vaccinations into a New York State database. Jasmine Clifford, who called herself “@AntiVaxMomma” on Instagram, was charged for allegedly selling about 250 fake Covid-19 vaccination cards for $200 each.

Europe: Seven in 10 (70%) of the European Union’s adult population has been fully vaccinated against Covid, hitting a target it had set at the beginning of the year. The figure masks the contrast among EU countries, with some nations being well above the 70% goal while others in the poorer eastern region of the bloc are far behind.

Australia: Australia’s Victoria state will set a 70% vaccine target for reopening and may reach that around Sept. 23, premier Daniel Andrews said in Melbourne. The target is for the first dose, he said.

Philippines: The Philippines is expecting 137 million additional doses of Covid-19 shots to arrive by year-end, driven by “steady” supply from Sinovac, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said. Deliveries from Moderna and Pfizer will “significantly increase” next month. The nation plans to ramp up vaccinations outside the capital, with nearly 13% of its population fully vaccinated amid a rise in infections fuelled by the delta variant.

Morocco: Morocco started administering shots to 12-to-17-year-olds on Tuesday, as the kingdom speeds up one of Africa’s most advanced vaccination campaigns ahead of the start of the new school year. Some 3 million Moroccans from that age category are expected to be vaccinated, Hespress online newspaper reported.

Lockdown updates

US: The US State Department has raised its travel advisory alert for Canada to a “level 3: reconsider travel” status amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it said.

Raymond James Financial has pushed back its return-to-office date to the middle of October as the coronavirus surges in its home state of Florida. The St. Petersburg-based firm has told workers they don’t have to return to the office until Oct. 11, according to people familiar with the matter. The firm had initially wanted some workers to return to work next week, one person said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

Deutsche Bank will require anyone entering its new US headquarters to be vaccinated against Covid-19, broadening its policy as other financial firms restrict access for those who don’t get shots. The rule applies to staff, vendors and clients seeking access to Deutsche Bank Center at 1 Columbus Circle in New York, according to a person familiar with the matter. That represents an expansion from guidance provided earlier in August, when the lender said it would allow only fully vaccinated employees to access US trading floors.

Google pushed back the date when its employees must return to the office until after 10 January, citing uncertainty related to the pandemic. It previously delayed a compulsory office return to 18 October.

Italy: Italy will require travellers on planes, ferries and long-distance trains and coaches to show proof of vaccination or of a recent negative Covid test. The so-called green pass, a digital certificate also given to those who have recovered from Covid, will also be required for school and university personnel. University students attending in-person lessons will also be asked to show proof of vaccination. The long-announced measures have been criticized by anti-vaccine activists, who are organizing protests to block the country’s main railway station on Wednesday. Doctors and journalists have also been targets of online intimidation and hate campaigns.

Ireland: The Irish government has announced plans to remove all Covid-19 restrictions by 31 October.

UK: The UK government will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues in England from the end of next month, the Guardian reports. Officials also restated their intention to roll out a Covid-19 booster programme from September.

Economy updates

South East Asia: Manufacturing managers across Southeast Asia reported a heavy blow in August from one of the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreaks, while producers in North Asia continued to enjoy robust output. Manufacturing purchasing managers’ indexes for Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia all remained deep in negative territory in August, reflecting the disruption from lockdowns that forced factories to halt or slow production.

China: An investor in Sinovac Biotech Ltd. reported a nearly six-fold increase in first-half profit, giving a glimpse into the windfall made during the coronavirus pandemic by the Chinese vaccine developer. Sales of more than one billion doses of the Covid-19 shot, known as CoronaVac, helped Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd., which holds a 15% stake in a subsidiary of Beijing-based Sinovac, register profit of 8.48 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) in the first six months of 2021, the Hong Kong-listed company said on Tuesday.

US: New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the state Legislature back to Albany for a rare special session to extend the state’s freeze on evictions. The state Senate and Assembly are slated to vote on Wednesday on a measure to extend the state eviction moratorium as far as 15 January. The freeze was initially put in place to help tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic and was set to expire on 31 August.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid case surge in US as global infections pass 217 million

31 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 217,257,000 with more than 4,512,000 deaths reported.

The surge in Covid-19 cases in the US is causing hospitals to reach their limits in several states.

Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina report their ICU occupancy rate at 70% or more.

In Florida, Orlando residents were asked to conserve water because liquid oxygen, used to treat the water supply, is needed for Covid-19 patients.

Health officials in the US expect cases to surge again in the Autumn and Winter as people move indoors.

Should vaccination levels remain stagnant, and with so many cases of Delta circulating, a new variant will likely emerge.

Looking at Delta surges in India and the UK once cases peak and decline they remain at higher levels than they were before the Delta variant took over.

This is due to the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant.

Additionally, as more adults get vaccinated, more cases are starting to spread to children under 12, for whom the vaccine has not yet been approved.

In Asia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan, record numbers of daily confirmed cases have been reported with 16,900 cases, 13,000 cases, and 21,500 cases, respectively.

Previously, Vietnam had managed to keep Covid-19 at bay through testing, effective contact tracing, and border restrictions.

However, daily confirmed cases have continued to increase since April when the Delta variant was first detected.


Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:48 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Monoclonal antibodies reduce risk of Covid-related hospitalisation, studies find – US CDC considers Novavax, AZ trial participants to be fully vaccinated

Two new studies by nference and Mayo Clinic have shown that treatment with monoclonal antibodies could lower hospitalisation rates in high-risk patients with mild to moderate Covid-19. In one study of 696 patients treated with casirivimab and imdevimab, and 696 patients on propensity-matched untreated control, the monoclonal antibodies significantly reduced all-cause hospitalisation. Another study involving 2,335 patients found that treatment with bamlanivimab significantly decreased hospitalisation rates versus usual care.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance for people who receive vaccination as part of a clinical trial in the US. As per the guidance, participants in Novavax’s Phase III PREVENT-19 Covid-19 vaccine trial can be considered fully vaccinated two weeks following completion of the two-dose regimen. This does not indicate that the vaccine is authorised by FDA or recommended by CDC or its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The CDC also advised that trial participants who have received two doses of the AstraZeneca (AZ) Covid-19 vaccine can also be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completion of the regimen. The AZ vaccine is not approved by FDA but is authorised for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia has advised that intravenous vials of Roche’s tocilizumab (Actemra), which are used as an off-label therapy for hospitalised Covid-19 patients, remain stable for another six months after their labelled shelf-life of 30 months. The guidance on tocilizumab shelf-life is due to the ongoing shortages of the drug amid the Covid-19 pandemic, TGA said. Roche expects shortages of tocilizumab intravenous vials to continue until January 2022. As per the update, the drug’s intravenous vials are stable for up to 36 months in total when stored at temperatures of 2°C to 8°C.

11:37 am

International update: South Africa detects new Covid variant

31 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,510,405 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 217 million world wide.

South African scientists have detected a new coronavirus variant that may have increased transmissibility. Scientists are yet to establish whether it is more contagious or able to overcome the immunity provided by vaccines or prior infection.

Senior WHO officials fear there could be 236,000 more Covid deaths in Europe between now and 1 December on account of stagnating vaccination rates and low uptake in poorer countries.

The number of solid organ transplants fell dramatically around the world between 2019 and 2020, a study published in the Lancet Public Health journal has found, highlighting the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on health services and patients.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 39 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 638,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data. The number of US Covid-19 fatalities in August is already the highest since March, underscoring the deadly nature of the delta variant. The nation recorded 24,274 deaths this month as of Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Confirmed cases of 3.8 million are the highest since January, at the peak of the winter surge.

The Education Department opened civil rights investigations in five Republican-led states asking whether bans on school mask mandates discriminate against students with disabilities at severe risk from contracting Covid-19. The agency’s Office for Civil Rights sent letters to state education leaders in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah Monday notifying them of the reviews.

A conservative talk radio host in Florida who said he wouldn’t get vaccinated has died from Covid-19, making him the third on-air personality who voiced skepticism about the shots to die in August, the New York Post reported. Marc Bernier, 65, who had characterized himself as “Mr. Anti-Vax” on his weekday WNDB radio show from Daytona Beach, died after a three-week fight against the virus, station officials announced. Bernier died about a week after Tennessee conservative talk radio host Phil Valentine, 61, died from a protracted battle against the virus. Newsmax anchor and radio host Dick Farrel died from the virus on 4 August.

UK: The UK has reported 26,476 new cases of Covid-19 between 24 August and 30 August, bringing reported cases up by 1.8% compared with the previous seven days.

New Zealand: New cases of Covid-19 have continued to drop in New Zealand, in a promising early indication that the country’s strict lockdown is working and its latest outbreak may be coming under control. The country reported 49 new cases on Tuesday, down from 53 a day earlier.

Australia: Australia’s months-long outbreak of delta variant cases is worsening, despite half the nation’s population being in lockdown. New South Wales state, the nation’s largest, recorded its fourth straight day of over 1,000 cases. More than 21,200 people have been infected since mid-June after authorities failed to contain a surge seeded from an unvaccinated chauffeur who was transporting flight crew in Sydney.

Meanwhile, Australia has reported a huge increase in illegal importations of ivermectin, which is typically used to deworm livestock, prompting health authorities to warn people against using it as a treatment for Covid-19.

Thailand: Thailand’s 14,666 new cases on Tuesday are the lowest since July 27, and the fourth straight day of declines. From tomorrow, the country’s strictest restrictions in 29 provinces, including Bangkok, will be relaxed. Restaurants will be allowed to offer dine-in services, more businesses in shopping malls will reopen and domestic flights will resume.

Vaccine news

Global: A third-dose booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine is a way to keep the most vulnerable safe and “not a luxury”, the WHO has said. It urged European countries with excess vaccines to share them with other countries, particularly those in eastern Europe and Africa.

Brazil: Brazil became the latest major country to pass the US in the percentage of its citizens who have had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, as the government’s inoculation campaign picks up speed and resistance to the shots fades away. About 63% of Brazilians have now received at least one dose, versus 62% of people in the US, according to Bloomberg’s Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. Countries including Germany, France and the UK have vaccinated at least 65% of the population with one shot, the data show.

Czech Republic: The Czech government will offer a booster Covid-19 vaccine to any previously vaccinated person. The jabs will be available from 20 September.

Japan: Japan’s health minister says it is highly likely that foreign matter found in Moderna Inc Covid-19 vaccines in the southern prefecture of Okinawa came about when needles where stuck incorrectly into vials.

France: France will provide 10m doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines for Africa over the next three months, President Emmanuel Macron’s office has announced.

Singapore: Singapore, which has fully vaccinated more than 80% of its population, is sending 500,000 Pfizer shots to Australia this week in return for receiving the same number back in December, when “they will have more potential use for us as booster shots,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post.

Lockdown updates

Europe: European Union countries voted to reimpose restrictions on non-essential travel from the US amid a surge in new cases, dealing a fresh blow to the tourism industry. A qualified majority of ambassadors voted to reintroduce the curbs, which had been lifted in June, according to an EU statement.

Schools across Europe must stay open and be made safer for staff and children, the WHO and Unicef have demanded, as a new term gets under way with the highly transmissible Delta variant still dominant in the region.

US: The US State Department told residents to reconsider travel to Germany and Canada amid a “high level” of Covid-19 in the two countries. It raised their travel advisories, separately, by one notch to Level 3.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico is once again tightening restrictions amid a surge in cases. Starting 2 September, most public-facing businesses – including restaurants, shopping centers and nightclubs – must close from midnight to 5 a.m., and alcohol sales are prohibited during those hours. While masks are already required in enclosed areas, they will also now be required outdoors in spaces where there are more than 50 people.

Economy updates

South Korea: South Korea’s budget increase will push the country’s debt load to a record level of more than half the size of the economy, fueling concern over the sustainability of its pandemic spending. The Finance Ministry proposed an 8.3% increase in fiscal expenditure, to 604.4 trillion won ($518 billion). That’s only slightly smaller than total spending in 2021, which included two extra budgets.

US: Landlords may evict some 750,000 US households by the end of the year, as lapsing eviction bans and high demand for rental housing push property owners to remove tenants, analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wrote. As many as 3.5 million households are behind on rent, with landlords owed as much as $17 billion, the analysts estimated. Delinquent renters have been able to remain in their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Supreme Court lifted a federal ban on evictions last week, and remaining state and local moratoriums are slated to expire later this year.

10:07 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Japan partly suspends Moderna vaccine rollout over batch contamination concerns – Pfizer/BioNTech find Brazilian partner to produce Covid-19 jab for Latin American markets

Japan’s health ministry has stopped the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine over contamination reports. Contaminants were observed in some unused vials and 1.63 million doses from the same manufacturing line have been suspended as a precaution, reported Kyodo News. Moderna and Takeda Pharmaceutical, which is responsible for the sale and distribution of the vaccine in Japan, have not received any reports on safety issues. Moderna stated it was working with Takeda and regulators to resolve the issue.

Pfizer and BioNTech have signed a letter of intent with Brazil’s Eurofarma Laboratórios for the production of their Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, for supply in Latin America. Eurofarma will begin manufacturing finished doses in 2022. Eurofarma’s vaccine production work will join Pfizer and BioNTech’s worldwide Covid-19 vaccine supply chain and manufacturing network, which includes over 20 production facilities across four continents. At full capacity, Eurofarma expects to manufacture more than 100 million finished doses per year.

Inovio has obtained approval from the Brazilian regulatory agency, ANVISA, to start the international Phase III part of the Phase II/III INNOVATE clinical trial assessing its DNA vaccine candidate, INO-4800, for Covid-19. Inovio and its partner Advaccine Biopharmaceuticals Suzhou intend to carry out the Phase III segment of INNOVATE in various countries.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 214 million as Middle East suffers resurgence

26 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 214,091,000, with more than 4,467,000 deaths reported.

The Middle East is amidst a resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

In Iran, both daily confirmed cases and deaths are trending upwards, with daily deaths close to or exceeding 700 in recent days.

With a total of over 4,796,000 cases since the pandemic began, Iran is eleventh in the world for Covid-19 cases.

In Lebanon, hospitals are struggling with an influx of Covid-19 cases, the outbreak there compounded by the country’s economic crisis.

Although the recent peak in cases has not reached levels seen earlier in the pandemic, shortages in hospital staff and a low vaccination rate (15%) may continue to hamper Lebanon’s ability to control the pandemic.

With over 20,645,000 total confirmed Covid-19 cases, Brazil is third worldwide for total cases and second for total deaths, but daily confirmed cases and deaths have been trending downwards since late July.

Similar patterns are seen for other South American countries, including Argentina and Colombia, which are also among the top ten countries for total confirmed cases.

However, the level of fully vaccinated individuals is approximately 27% in all three countries, and vaccination rates in South America remain relatively low.

In response, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is launching a new effort to boost regional vaccine uptake in Latin America, which will help prevent future outbreaks in a region that has already suffered greatly during the pandemic.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:11 am

International update: Global health security ‘dangerously underfunded’ says WHO

26 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,463,845 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 213.9 million world wide.

The World Health Organization has backed a proposal to set up a $10 billion fund to plug the financial gap in the global health-care system exposed by the pandemic. The annual Global Health Threats Fund is part of efforts by G20 finance ministers to double spending in health care and boost the financial capacity to respond to future pandemics, said Singapore Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam during a WHO press briefing on Wednesday. According to Tharman, global health security is “dangerously underfunded,” making it vulnerable to a prolonged Covid-19 pandemic and future ones, unless public funding is increased.

China criticised the US “politicisation” of efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus and restated dubious demands for a US military laboratory to be investigated, amid the release of an “inconclusive” American intelligence community report on the virus’ origins.

The scientists dispatched to China by the WHO to discover Covid’s origins said that the window of opportunity for solving the mystery is “closing fast”. They appeared to be attempting to reframe their original finding, which said a lab leak was “extremely unlikely”, after details emerge on how terms were agreed with Chinese officials.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 38 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 632,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who took office Tuesday, reported nearly 12,000 more deaths in the state from Covid-19 than had been publicized by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo. The state database on pandemic deaths was updated to include both the official tally from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of nearly 55,400 and previously reported state numbers of 43,400.

Becton, Dickinson and Co. said the US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for its BD Veritor at-home test, which uses a nasal swab and a mobile app to provide a diagnosis in 15 minutes.

Just over half of Florida’s 2.8 million public school students are now required to wear masks in classrooms as a courtroom battle continues over efforts by Governor Ron DeSantis to leave such decisions up to parents.

Deutsche Bank AG is allowing only those employees fully vaccinated onto its US trading floors, joining a growing number of financial firms restricting access for staff who don’t get the shots.

Delta Air Lines Inc. will impose a $200 monthly surcharge on employees who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19, becoming the first major US company to levy a penalty to encourage workers to get protected.

Australia: Sydney’s outbreak of delta variant cases is worsening, with Australia’s largest city responsible for the bulk of new daily Covid-19 infections as New South Wales state passed 1,000 for the first time. Stay-at-home orders for New South Wales will be extended until at least 10 September, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney on Thursday. The state saw a record 1,029 daily infections since the outbreak began in the city in mid-June, she said, and three more people died.

Singapore: A jump in Covid cases to more than 100 a day poses a potential test of resolve for Singapore officials who are counting on one of the world’s best vaccination rates to allow them to stay the course and keep reopening. A cluster at Bugis Junction, a local shopping mall, added 38 new cases on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health. Most of them are linked to multi-story department store BHG, which was closed through 30 August for deep cleaning. The government is encouraging anyone who went to the mall since 17 August to get a free Covid test.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reiterated that the data on the benefits and safety of a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot is inconclusive – yet richer states continue to move towards the policy. Meanwhile, Pfizer and BioNTech said they have initiated submission for a full US approval of a booster dose of their vaccine.

Japan: Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd. said it would suspend use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in Japan after it received reports of foreign particles in the vials from several vaccination sites. Takeda is the vaccine’s local distributor. There have been no safety concerns tied to the affected vials, and vaccinations using other Moderna shots in Japan will progress as usual. A Moderna spokesperson confirmed the halt of some batches in Japan and said it is currently investigating. It believes a manufacturing issue arose at one line of its contract manufacturing site in Spain.

US: Military troops must immediately begin to get vaccinated against Covid after Pfizer’s jab received full approval, the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, said as more than 800,000 service members out of 2.1 million, including reserves, remain unvaccinated.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they’re seeking full approval from US regulators for a booster shot of their vaccine for people age 16 and older.

Italy: Italy will donate 801,600 AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses to Vietnam via the Covax facility, with delivery expected in early September, according to a post on the Vietnam government’s website.

Brazil: Brazil announced it will give Covid booster shots to immunosuppressed or vulnerable people, and citizens over the age of 80, after it emerged yesterday it had leaked its supply contract with Pfizer – showing it provided the pharma giant with indemnity from possible citizen lawsuits over potential adverse events after it provided jabs at cheaper prices.

Indonesia: Political elites in Indonesia are admitting to getting a third dose of Covid-19 vaccines, defying calls from the health ministry as most of the country haven’t received even their first shot. Military Chief Hadi Tjahjanto and East Kalimantan Governor Isran Noor said during a meeting with President Joko Widodo they’ve received their third jabs, at a time when booster shots are only given to health care workers. In the livestreamed video of them casually chatting before a public event on Tuesday, the president said he hasn’t gotten a third dose and that he’s waiting for the Pfizer Inc. vaccine.

Lockdown updates

EU: The European Union will discuss on Thursday whether to reimpose curbs on visitors from the US as new coronavirus cases soar. The change was recommended by Slovenia, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency and is responsible for triggering an assessment of countries allowed non-essential travel there, according to two officials familiar with the plans.

Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea has banned all repatriation flights from India, after accusing the country’s high commission of a deliberate “deception” that resulted in passengers infected with Covid-19 arriving in the country.

New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a nationwide lockdown is working and she remains committed to stamping out a delta outbreak of coronavirus even as case numbers continue to grow. “Overall, lockdown is having an impact,” Ardern told a news conference Thursday in Wellington. “No one wants to use lockdowns forever and I can tell you now that is not our intention. But for now, while we vaccinate, elimination is the goal, and we can do it.” Health officials on Thursday reported 68 new cases in the current community outbreak of the highly infectious delta strain, taking the total to 277. The strict national lockdown has been in place for more than a week and Ardern is due to announce tomorrow whether it will be extended.

Economy updates

Australia: Qantas Airways Ltd. said its current target of resuming some overseas services in December “remains in reach,” with domestic travel demand expected to surge once Australia reaches vaccination targets and the likelihood of future lockdowns reduces. The airline posted a second consecutive annual loss, as did Air New Zealand, which suspended earnings guidance.

India: Indians have flocked to tourist spots across the country from the beaches of Goa on the west coast to the mountainous north on planes and in cars after the easing of restrictions. Air travel has climbed sharply, said Subhash Goyal, the chairman of STIC Travel – one of India’s biggest travel agents – estimating that domestic flights this month are around 75% of pre-virus levels. That’s translated into the biggest month-on-month increase in jet fuel sales in more than a year, according to preliminary data for the first half of August, although sales are still 45% below the same period in 2019.

US: Manhattan employers now see 41% of office workers returning by 30 September, down from an estimate of 62% in May, according to a survey by the Partnership for New York City. About 23% of workers have returned to the workplace, up from 12% in May. About 44% of employers have delayed return plans because of the rise in Covid-19 cases, though 54% have not made changes.

9:56 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Study finds Covid-19 vaccine protection wanes over time – Pfizer/BioNTech seek FDA approval for vaccine booster dose

A new real-world study has shown that protection offered by Covid-19 vaccines against the disease is waning over time. The ZOE COVID Study app analysed data on positive Covid-19 PCR test results between May and July this year, involving over 1.2 million test results and participants. Findings revealed that protection following two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine decreased from 88% at one month to 74% at five to six months. A similar decrease was observed in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, with protection falling from 77% to 67% during the same period.

Pfizer and BioNTech have started a rolling submission of a supplemental biologics license application (sBLA) to the US Food and Drug Administration, seeking approval for the booster, or third, dose of their Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, to prevent the disease in people aged 16 years or above. The submission follows the FDA approval of a BLA for a two-dose regimen of the vaccine in this age group. The sBLA comprises data from a Phase III clinical trial in 306 subjects aged 18 to 55 years who received a booster shot of Comirnaty between 4.8 and eight months after the second dose. The companies expect to complete the submission by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Moderna has completed the rolling submission process for its BLA to the FDA for full approval of its Covid-19 vaccine in people aged 18 years and above.

Johnson & Johnson has reported interim data from two Phase I/IIa clinical trials demonstrating that a booster dose of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine sharply increased antibodies levels in previously inoculated subjects. The rise in spike-binding antibodies was observed to be nine times higher compared to 28 days after the primary single-dose vaccination. Subjects aged 18 to 55 years and those 65 years and above who were vaccinated with a lower booster dose had substantial rises in binding antibody responses, J&J added.

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GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Japan expands state of emergency as Covid case build continues

25 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 213,396,000, with more than 4,455,000 deaths reported.

In Southeast Asia, Covid-19 cases in Indonesia have started trending downward after peaking toward the end of July, while Vietnam continues to grapple with its outbreak.

In Vietnam, daily case numbers have surpassed 10,000 in recent days, while daily confirmed deaths peaked at over 730 over the weekend.

Less than 2% of Vietnam’s population is fully vaccinated, leaving much of the country vulnerable to Covid-19 and at higher risk for hospitalization and death.

In Japan, daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 have continued to exceed 20,000 cases since the end of last week.

Today, Japan expanded its state of emergency, which now covers 21 of the country’s 47 prefectures and is expected to last until 12 September.

The expanded emergency order is an effort to curb the current surge in Covid-19 cases and prevent additional cases as the Tokyo Paralympics get underway.

Nearly 41% of Japan’s population is fully vaccinated, but this still leaves a large portion of the country vulnerable to severe illness and death from Covid-19.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:54 am

International update: US – Covid could cause Idaho hospitals to turn away patients and reduce services

25 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,452,856 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 213 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 38 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 630,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US President Joe Biden received a classified report from intelligence services that was inconclusive about the origins of the virus, the Washington Post reported, citing two unidentified US officials. Agencies will seek to declassify parts of the report to the public within days, it said.

Idaho’s hospitals are “at or over capacity” and could soon be granted state authorization to turn away patients and reduce services as Covid-19 cases rise, a top official said Tuesday. “We are dangerously close to crisis standards of care,” said Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, noting that the number of intensive care patients across the state is the highest since the pandemic started.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is requiring employees to wear masks from Wednesday and prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter US workplaces. People who aren’t fully vaccinated by 7 September will be expected to work from home, a company spokeswoman said.

Deloitte will require vaccination against Covid-19 for employees to enter its office beginning 11 October. The requirement will go into effect seven weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the company said in a statement.

Massachusetts is set to mandate masks at its public schools as early as Wednesday, the New York Times reported, after its state education board voted to give the education commissioner power to require masks. Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, has been criticized for not backing a mask mandate, the newspaper said.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she would institute a mask mandate for students at schools in the state and require staff to be vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly.

United Parcel Service Inc. is mandating vaccines by 1 October for office workers at some locations, including its Atlanta headquarters and large office in New Jersey, California and Maryland, according to an emailed statement. The mandate comes along with a requirement for employees to return to their offices on 7 September, although UPS also is offering more flexible work guidelines.

Australia: New South Wales announced 753 new local Covid cases, as chief health officer Kerry Chant said citizens could be wearing masks indoors for years and proof of vaccination may be required to enter high-risk venues, even when the state reaches 80% vaccination coverage. The state has now administered six million Covid vaccine doses.

Victoria recorded 50 new Covid cases, with anyone over the age of 16 eligible to book a Covid vaccine appointment from Wednesday, including Pfizer.

The Australian Capital Territory recorded 30 new Covid cases in its outbreak.

Greece: Greece reported 4,608 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day jump since the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier, the country’s health minister announced measures for the autumn/winter period that target unvaccinated people, including a ban on entering indoor areas of eateries and entertainment venues, as well as all sports fields or stadiums.

Taiwan: Taiwan reported no local Covid-19 cases for the first time since 9 May, according to Taipei-based United Daily News.

Thailand: Thailand reported 297 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours, taking its cumulative total past 10,000, official data showed Wednesday. Total fatalities reached 10,085, with more than 8,000 of those coming in the past two months alone.

Vietnam: The Covid outbreak in Vietnam’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City may continue through late this year or into next year, according to a post on the city’s media center, citing Mayor Phan Van Mai.

Switzerland: The number of hospitalizations has surged 30-fold since the beginning of July, said Patrick Mathys of the Federal Office of Public Health. Nine out of 10 hospitalizations could have been avoided with a vaccine, officials said. Switzerland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with less than 57% having received at least one shot.

Vaccine news

US: Anthony Fauci said a third vaccine dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine could lead to lasting levels of protection against the virus. Speaking on MSNBC, he said that “it’s entirely conceivable” that a third dose “very well may allow for a rather prolonged period of protection.” This means booster shots may not be needed “indefinitely,” he said.

The US will increase payments for health-care providers to deliver Covid-19 vaccines at home. Medicare will pay $75 per dose, up from $40, for at-home vaccinations, the agency said Tuesday. The policy is intended to boost vaccinations “including second and third doses” for homebound Medicare beneficiaries, including those in group homes, assisted living and other settings.

Vietnam: The US will offer Vietnam assistance in distributing vaccines during Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to the country, according to a White House official familiar with the plans, as both countries seek to stem a rise in infections that has shuttered factories and led to lockdowns in the Southeast Asian country. Just 1.9% of Vietnam’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, among the lowest vaccination rates in Asia. Vietnam announced Tuesday that China would give it another 2 million vaccine doses.

Israel: Israel expanded its coronavirus booster drive, lowering the minimum age for the shot to 30 from 40 previously, the health ministry said. Israel started inoculations with a third vaccine dose at the beginning of the month, starting with people over the age of 60. It has now administered the booster to more than 1.5 million people.

Lockdown updates

US: Credit Suisse Group AG will only allow fully vaccinated staff into its US offices beginning 7 September, Insider reported, citing an internal memo and four people directly familiar with the matter. Vaccinated employees can voluntarily work from the office, according to the report, but full return is being pushed back to 18 October.

Indonesia: Indonesia will allow more cities, including greater Jakarta, to have dine-in services at restaurants with limited capacity and let export-oriented industries operate with a full workforce as it extends the curbs through 30 August. Three soccer matches will be allowed to go ahead this week with no spectators.  As the delta variant pushes Indonesia’s goal of reaching herd immunity out of reach, the government will maintain some form of virus curbs for as long as the pandemic is still happening, said Luhut Panjaitan, the coordinating minister in charge of the virus response.

Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to hold a news conference at 9 pm local time to discuss the expansion of a state of emergency to include eight more prefectures as the country battles record infection numbers. The formal decision is expected to come a few hours before the news conference. Kyodo News reported the prefectures to be added are Hokkaido, Miyagi, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Okayama and Hiroshima, which will be under a state of emergency from Friday that runs until 12 September. When the expansion takes effect, more than 20 areas in Japan will be under a state of emergency.

Mauritius: The tourism-dependent Indian Ocean island of Mauritius will ease travel restrictions starting 1 September as 56% of its population has been vaccinated. Inoculated visitors with a negative PCR test on arrival will have to spend seven days in a special resort bubble hotel, down from the current 14 days, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority said. A full reopening of the borders is envisaged for 1 October.

Economy updates

China: The Meishan terminal at China’s second-busiest port is reopening following a two-week shutdown that further snarled already stressed shipping routes in Asia. The terminal was about a quarter of the Ningbo-Zhoushan port’s capacity and was shut from 11 August after a worker was found to be infected with Covid-19.

Japan: The Japanese government will tap about 1.4 trillion yen ($12.8 billion) in reserves earmarked in its 2021 fiscal-year budget for its coronavirus response, the Nikkei reported. More than 1 trillion yen will be spent on additional vaccine purchases and securing Covid drugs, with the spending to be approved as soon as Friday.

Murata Manufacturing halted all production at its plant in Japan’s Fukui prefecture after a coronavirus cluster emerged involving more than 100 people, FNN reported, citing an unidentified person.

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Coronavirus company news summary – EU approves new sites for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine manufacturing – Gennova moves India’s first mRNA jab into Phase II/III trials

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has approved additional production sites to manufacture the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines of PfizerBioNTech and Moderna for the European Union. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty will be produced at a site run by Delpharm in Saint Rémy sur Avre, France. A new line at BioNTech’s manufacturing site in Marburg, Germany also secured approval. CHMP has further approved a site operated by Catalent to produce Moderna’s Spikevax jab in Bloomington, Indiana, US.

India’s first mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine developed by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals is set to enter Phase II/III trials after demonstrating safety and efficacy in a Phase I trial. The vaccine, HGCO19, was tolerable and immunogenic in Phase I subjects. The Phase II/III trial received the Drugs Controller General of India’s approval to proceed and will be conducted at 10-15 sites in Phase II and 22-27 sites in Phase III.

A new clinical trial partially funded by the UK Government is set to evaluate the ability of a third Covid-19 vaccine dose to improve the immune response in immunocompromised individuals with weakened immune systems. Named OCTAVE DUO, the study is led by the University of Glasgow and the University of Birmingham. Building on the OCTAVE trial in immunocompromised people, the new trial will assess a third dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Novavax Covid-19 vaccines in up to 1,200 participants. Preliminary data from OCTAVE DUO is expected this year.

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GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 212.7 million

24 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 212,717,000, with more than 4,445,000 deaths reported.

Some European Union countries, such as France, Germany, and Italy, have seen slight upticks in daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in July and August.

France, with over 6,708,000 cases since the pandemic began, is fourth worldwide in total confirmed cases, surpassed only by the US, India, and Brazil.

As the Delta variant strains the healthcare system in France, the country is also reporting that the number of people currently hospitalized for Covid-19 is higher than it has been in over two months.

Israel has surpassed 1,005,000 total confirmed Covid-19 cases and saw an uptick in daily confirmed cases and deaths in August.

While over 5,445,000 people (61.3%) in the country are fully vaccinated, over 1,000,000 Israelis have still not received any dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

This gap is in part due to vaccine hesitancy in some groups, which Israel’s Health Ministry reports is highest among more underprivileged communities in the country.

In addition to lower vaccination rates in some communities, the influx of cases can also be attributed to the widespread circulation of the more infectious Delta variant, cases of which have also been on the rise in Israel.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:08 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty receives first full FDA approval – Valneva starts UK rolling submission for Covid-19 vaccine candidate

Pfizer and BioNTech have received the first full approval for a Covid-19 vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which authorised the companies’ Comirnaty vaccine for the prevention of Covid-19 in people aged 16 years and above. The vaccine will continue to be available under emergency use authorization for adolescents aged 12 to 15 years. Meanwhile, the UK Government has agreed to procure 35 million additional doses of Comirnaty, to be supplied from the second half of 2022.

Valneva has started a rolling submission to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the initial approval of its whole virus, inactivated, adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001. The company expects approval before the end of 2021, contingent on positive results from the ongoing Phase III Cov-Compare clinical trial and regulatory review. To date, the UK has ordered 100 million VLA2001 doses for delivery this year and next year.

Bavarian Nordic has signed a funding agreement valued at up to $126m (DKK800m) with the Danish Ministry of Health to support the development of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, ABNCoV2. The funds are intended to help move the vaccine’s development towards regulatory approval as a booster jab. The agreement follows the launch of a Phase II trial of ABNCoV2 as a booster vaccine for people with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection or vaccination.

9:49 am

International update: US records more than 1,000 Covid deaths per day as monthly toll triples

24 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,441,429 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 212 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 37.9 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 629,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US is recording more than 1,000 deaths a day from Covid-19, with the daily toll more than tripling in a month. The seven-day average of fatalities topped 1,000 on Saturday and Sunday, crossing that level for two straight days for the first time since March, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

China: China added only one confirmed local case in the central province of Henan, after zero new cases in the country a day earlier, containing one of the nation’s worst outbreaks since the virus first emerged in 2019.

Singapore: Singapore’s daily tally of locally-transmitted Covid-19 cases rose to the highest since 5 August, after 59 infections were discovered linked to a dormitory for foreign workers in the north of the island.

Australia: New South Wales announced 818 new Covid cases, the third consecutive day above 800 cases. Meanwhile, Covid is spreading rapidly in the majority Aboriginal town of Wilcannia in far western NSW, with at least 39 cases recorded in a week in a community of just 750 people.

Victorian health authorities announced 71 new Covid cases, while the Australian Capital Territory recorded 16 further cases.

Scott Morrison has said Australia must “learn to live with” Covid-19. “Once you get to 70% of your eligible population being vaccinated, and 80% … the plan sets out we have to move forward, the prime minister said, adding that people had to change their mindsets. “Because if not at 70% and 80% then when? Then when?”.

Indonesia: Indonesia added 9,604 new cases on Monday, the fewest in more than two months, while daily deaths numbered 842, the lowest since 10 July, as the government starts to ease restrictions for shopping malls and export-oriented industries. The country still tops the world’s tally of daily Covid-19 deaths. The government has already distributed nearly 90% of total vaccine supply.

Lockdown updates

Indonesia: Indonesia will allow more cities, including greater Jakarta, to have dine-in services at restaurants with limited capacity and let export-oriented industries operate with a full workforce as it extends the curbs through Aug. 30. Three soccer matches will be allowed to go ahead this week with no spectators.  As the delta variant pushes Indonesia’s goal of reaching herd immunity out of reach, the government will maintain some form of virus curbs for as long as the pandemic is still happening, said Luhut Panjaitan, the coordinating minister in charge of the virus response.

Thailand: Thailand is preparing for life with Covid, with preliminary plans being drawn up to relax some restrictions and reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors even as new cases hover around 20,000 a day.

Economy updates

Global: The number of Covid-19 infections is surging in Malaysia, threatening to aggravate shortages of semiconductors and other components that have hammered automakers for months. The Southeast Asian country hasn’t historically had the kind of importance to technology supply chains that Taiwan, South Korea or Japan do. However, in recent years, Malaysia emerged as a major center for chip testing and packaging, with Infineon Technologies AG, NXP Semiconductors NV and STMicroelectronics NV among the key suppliers operating plants there. Now infections are soaring in the country, jeopardizing plans to lift lockdowns and restore full production capacity. The seven-day average for reported daily infections has pushed past 20,000, up from just over 5,000 in late June.

US: In the US, Southwest Airlines Co. is blaming the delta strain for a rash of canceled bookings and a slowdown in demand that may push it and several others to quarterly losses. After leading the industry’s recovery for much of last year, China is in retreat with airlines offering the fewest seats in six months as authorities attempt to stamp out an outbreak. Australia’s carriers are also in reverse with more than half of the country in lockdown.

11:10 am

International update: Australia Covid cases hit record daily high

23 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,431,554 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 211 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 37.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 628,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US average daily fatalities ticked over 1,000 on Saturday, apparently for the first time since March, at the tail of last winter’s surge, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Deaths are a lagging indicator, growing weeks after a surge in Covid-19 cases. While fatalities are accelerating as the US is battered by the delta variant, they remain a fraction of the peak last winter. Average daily fatalities rose to more than 3,400 in January, the data show. Now 60% of those eligible in the US are fully vaccinated.

The US is diagnosing “just a small fraction” of children with Covid-19, and schools now reopening around the nation could become centers for broader transmission, said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration. Tens of thousands of students are already in quarantine in states including Florida and Mississippi. “It’s proving to be hard to control in schools,” Gottlieb, a Pfizer Inc. board member, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I think that this is a harbinger of the challenges that we’re going to face nationally as schools reopen. The schools could become focal points of community transmission and can become environments that aren’t safe for children.”

Australia: Today was a record day for positive cases of coronavirus declared in Australia across the entire pandemic. There were 894 locally transmitted cases. New South Wales recorded a record high 825 new cases for any day across the pandemic. Victoria announced 77 cases and the ACT had eight. Queensland and Western Australia both had zero cases. NSW health authorities said three people had died with coronavirus – a woman in her 80s and two men in their 90s. Some 16 cases in NSW have been linked to a party held in Maroubra last weekend. The Indigenous community in Wilcannia is on edge after 12 new cases were recorded and issues like housing overcrowding are putting people at greater risk. There are 554 people in hospital across Australia with coronavirus – including 94 in intensive care and 36 on ventilators. About 80 people, including Australian citizens and permit holders, arrived on an Australian air force flight from Kabul.

New Zealand: New Zealand earlier on Monday reported 35 new infections, with 33 of those in Auckland.

UK: People in the UK will be able to receive Covid-19 antibody tests for the first time next week as part of a new government programme. Up to 8,000 adults will be able to take part in the scheme.

Meanwhile, nearly one-fifth of companies advertising Covid tests for travellers coming back to the UK from abroad face removal from the government’s list of providers over misleading prices. More than 80 private travel testing companies will be issued a two-strike warning and could be removed, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said Monday. The new action marks a clamp-down on “cowboy” practices, he added.

Iran: Iran has reported an all-time record daily coronavirus death toll, with 684 further fatalities recorded. Sunday’s figure passes the 655 deaths recorded in 24 hours on 16 August.

Russia: Russia reported 20,564 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the national tally to 6,747,087. Of this total, 1,661 were recorded in Moscow and 1,481 in St. Petersburg.

Israel: Israel has launched an antibody testing programme for children aged three and above as it seeks to monitor how much protection from the virus unvaccinated children have developed.

Japan: Japan’s top coronavirus adviser has asked the government to call on doctors who have not been treating Covid patients to help tackle the wave of rapidly rising infections.

Thailand: Thailand added the fewest number of new Covid cases in more than three weeks after quasi-lockdowns in the capital Bangkok and other virus hotspots entered its second month. The Southeast Asian nation, battling its most severe outbreak since the pandemic began reported 17,491 new cases in the past 24 hours, the lowest single-day increase since July 30, official data showed Monday. It also reported 242 deaths, taking the cumulative fatalities to 9,562.

China: China had zero locally transmitted cases and 21 imported coronavirus infections on 22 August, the National Health Commission said in a statement, as the country has worked to control a wave of delta variant cases. It also reported 16 imported asymptomatic infections.

Vaccine news

US: The expected full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration of Covid-19 vaccines could help businesses and institutions impose more vaccine requirements, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said. “For businesses and universities that have been thinking about putting vaccine requirements in place,” Murthy said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” full approval “will actually help them to move forward.” The FDA is expected to give full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as early as Monday. Murthy also said that people who’ve been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot will “likely” need a booster. But, he said, “We are waiting on some data from the company about a second dose of J&J, so the FDA can fully evaluate the safety and efficacy of that dose.”

Philippines: The Philippine Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the single-dose version of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. Some 10 million individuals can be administered with Sputnik Light, Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said. The Southeast Asian nation is also in talks with at least four vaccine-makers for booster shots.

Taiwan: Taiwan will begin administering its first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccines as it seeks to rely more on local options after struggling to secure sufficient supply of the major international shots. President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday got the vaccine developed by Taipei-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation. The company is yet to complete phase-3 trials for its vaccine but has been granted an emergency use authorization to begin inoculations.

Lockdown updates

Vietnam: Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City is preparing to enter lockdown as cases in the southeast Asian country’s most populous city surge. Residents will be under stay at home orders from Monday, with the army and police deployed.

Australia: Prime minister Scott Morrison has said Australia’s stringent lockdown strategy will remain in place until at least 70% of country is fully vaccinated as the country sees record numbers of cases.

Melbourne’s lockdown was extended across the entire state from 1pm, with the premier, Dan Andrews, giving regional Victoria less than two hours notice of the restrictions.

More than 4,000 anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Melbourne, where demonstrators clashed with police officers. Police made 218 arrests and six officers were hospitalised. Protests also took place in Sydney and Brisbane.

New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended a nationwide lockdown for several more days, through midnight on 27 August 27, as the country battles an outbreak of delta variant cases. All of New Zealand will remain at Level 4 restrictions, the highest level of lockdown, she told a briefing in Wellington. That means the lockdown, initially put in place for three days, will now be in force for at least 10. Auckland – the epicenter of the outbreak, will remain in lockdown until midnight on 31 August.

Hong Kong: Vaccinated Filipino workers will be allowed to enter Hong Kong from 30 August, Manila’s labour minister has said.

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Coronavirus company news summary – India grants EUA to Zydus Cadila’s three-dose DNA vaccine for Covid-19 – US investigates Moderna vaccine for possible heightened risk of myocarditis

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Zydus Cadila’s three-dose plasmid DNA vaccine, ZyCoV-D, for Covid-19. Designed for needle-free administration with the PharmaJet applicator, ZyCoV-D is described by Zydus Cadila as the world’s first approved DNA vaccine for the disease. The vaccine secured authorisation for use in adults and adolescents aged 12 to 18 years, the first approval for a Covid-19 vaccine in India targeting this younger age group. The company intends to produce 100-120 million doses of the vaccine each year, and will also seek approval for the vaccine’s two-dose regimen.

US health officials are investigating reports that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine may be associated with an increased risk of myocarditis in younger adults than previously assumed, the Washington Post reported. The regulatory investigation is focusing on data from Canada that suggests the risk of the inflammatory heart condition could be higher after vaccination with Moderna’s vaccine when compared to the mRNA jab produced by Pfizer and BioNTech. The Moderna vaccine has not yet been approved for use in adolescents in the US, while the Pfizer/BioNTech shot was cleared for 12- to 15-year-olds in May. Meanwhile, Moderna has mandated Covid-19 vaccination for all of its employees in the US. The company noted that the requirement is effective from 1 October 2021 and will consider medical or religious exemptions.

AstraZeneca has reported positive data from the Phase III PROVENT trial of its antibody combination, AZD7442, for the prevention of Covid-19. AZD7442 was observed to lower the risk of symptomatic illness development by 77% versus placebo. Among participants treated with the drug, none reported severe Covid-19 cases or related deaths. AZD7442 was found to be well tolerated, and preliminary analyses revealed adverse events were balanced between the treatment and placebo arms.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Africa’s low vaccine rate increases variant proliferation risk

20 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 210 million with more than 4,407,000 deaths and over 143,880,000 recoveries reported.

Today, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia led the world in reported new daily deaths related to Covid-19 with over 970, 830, and 760 deaths, respectively.

In the US, daily deaths continue to rise as the seven-day average increased 48% over the past two weeks.

This trend will likely continue to increase as daily confirmed cases have risen 47% over this period and increases in deaths tend to lag by two weeks.

In Africa, South Africa, Morocco, and Botswana are seeing high transmission in daily confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Over the past two weeks, cases in South Africa have increased 12% to over 12,100 new daily cases, while in Morocco cases have increased by 12% with over 8,800 daily cases.

Although cases in Botswana have declined by 11% over the past two weeks, Botswana reported over 1,600 daily confirmed cases indicating that transmission remains high in the country per capita.

Given the high prevalence of the Delta variant in most African countries, the WHO is worried that cases may continue to rise.

This concern is well-founded given the low prevalence of fully vaccinated individuals throughout the continent, as only 2% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated according to the WHO.

With such low vaccination rates, Covid-19 infections may continue to rise in Africa, which increases the likelihood of new variants arising due to the large number of people at risk for infection.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:47 am

International update: Covid vaccine hoarding and booster shots make a mockery of vaccine equity pledges

20 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,403,579 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 210 million world wide.

The hoarding of Covid jabs by rich countries which are also rolling out booster shots “makes a mockery of vaccine equity” pledges, the Africa director for the World Health Organization said. But she noted that cases across Africa are levelling off and more vaccine doses are finally arriving on the continent.

An online open-source intelligence group last year identified that a virus studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology taken from an abandoned copper mine in Yunnan province was the closest known relative to Sars-CoV-2, the Economist reports in a piece which also considers the case for a zoonotic origin to Covid.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 37.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 625,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Hospitalisations of people under the age of 50 with Covid-19 are now at the highest levels seen in the US since the start of the pandemic, the latest government data shows. The largest increases in hospitalisations was among those in their 30s and the under-18s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Covid-19 stress on public services led Shawnee County, Kansas, to declare a state of emergency Thursday. Topeka is the county seat and Kansas state capital. The county is “maxed out” on resources “from hospital beds to staffing to everything else,” Dusty Nichols, Covid-19 incident commander, told local officials, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

US cases jumped the most in Michigan, Tennessee and Minnesota during the week that ended Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. While those states recorded the biggest percentage increases, their cases relative to population remain well below the prevalence in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, the top states in that category.

Tennessee intensive care beds are full in most metropolitan areas because of the wave of Covid-19 patients, state hospital officials said. The Tennessee Hospital Association said Covid hospitalizations rose almost eightfold between 1 July 1 and 15 August, from fewer than 300 patients to more than 2,300.

Three US senators tested positive for Covid-19 despite being vaccinated, bringing to at least six the number of members of Congress to report recent infections. GOP Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, independent Angus King of Maine and Democrat John Hickenlooper of Colorado revealed getting positive tests Thursday.

UK: In the UK, the House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, is facing calls to urge MPs to wear masks in the chamber, after cabinet ministers and many Tory backbenchers shunned the advice during a packed eight-hour debate on Afghanistan.

Brazil: Brazil has now registered 20,494,212 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 572,641, according to ministry data, in the world’s third worst outbreak outside the US and India and its second-deadliest after the US.

Japan: Japan is facing its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic, as cases spiral out of control and strain the limits of the nation’s medical care system. The country recorded 25,156 new infections Thursday, the highest ever and more than 10 times the daily count a month earlier.

Thailand: Thailand reported 19,851 new cases, taking cumulative infections past 1 million as the more contagious delta strain sweeps across the entire Southeast Asian nation. Still, new cases in the past 24 hours were the lowest since 10 August, official data showed Friday. The country has added about 750,000 new cases since the end of June alone.

Vaccine news

Israel: Israel’s health minister said on Thursday that people over 40 and teachers would be eligible for a third dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, expanding its booster campaign to fend off the coronavirus Delta variant.

UK: A plan to start offering Covid booster vaccinations in the UK from early September is extremely unlikely to happen, it is understood, given the concerns of the government’s vaccines watchdog about the clinical benefits and potential wider risks to vaccine confidence. Immunologist Prof Peter Openshaw also said that the results of ongoing studies to determine their effectiveness “should not be prejudged”.

US: The US recorded more than 1 million Covid-19 shots on Thursday, topping that level for the first time in almost seven weeks, a White House official said. Of the 1.02 million doses, 562,000 were given to people who were getting their first shot.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pushed back by one week a meeting by a group of outside advisers who were set to review Covid booster shots as debate swells about the need for a third dose. The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices, originally scheduled to meet and possibly make a recommendation about the need for boosters on 24 August, is now set to convene the following week.

President Joe Biden said he and his wife, Jill, would receive a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to boost their immunity, as his administration announced booster shots would be offered to Americans in September. He also announced that nursing home staff would need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.

US federal health officials are investigating reports that Moderna’s vaccine may be linked to higher risk of a heart condition called myocarditis in younger adults than previously thought, according to the Washington Post, citing two unidentified people familiar with the matter. It’s too early to reach a conclusion, one of the people told the Post. Moderna didn’t immediately respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Lockdown updates

Spain: A Spanish court has lifted a coronavirus curfew imposed on most of Catalonia, including the capital Barcelona, leaving it in place in just a fraction of the northeastern region. The high court of justice of Catalonia said the measure was “not justified” because infection rates had improved.

Australia: Sydney’s two-month long lockdown will be extended until at least the end of September as the delta variant outbreak in Australia’s most populous city worsens. From Monday, mask-wearing will be mandatory when outside, except when exercising, in all regions throughout New South Wales, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. A curfew will be placed on areas of western Sydney hardest hit by the outbreak.

New Zealand: New Zealand extended a nationwide lockdown by four days after an outbreak of the delta strain of coronavirus spread outside the largest city, Auckland. The outbreaks are placing unprecedented pressure on the so-called Covid Zero strategy pursued by New Zealand and Australia since the start of the pandemic.

US: Apple Inc. is delaying its return to corporate offices from October until January at the earliest because of surging Covid-19 cases, according to a memo sent to employees on Thursday.

Philippines: The Philippines will relax its lockdown on the capital, enabling more businesses to reopen even as the delta variant fuels a rise in infections. The Metro Manila region, which accounts for about a third of the economy, will shift to the second-strictest movement restrictions called “modified enhanced community quarantine” from Aug. 21 to Aug. 31, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

South Korea: South Korea will maintain current level 4 social distancing rules in the Greater Seoul area, and level 3 rules in other areas for another two weeks, according to Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum.

Economy updates

Hong Kong: A major business group has issued an unprecedented open letter warning Hong Kong’s leader that her strict quarantine rules leave residents trapped in the city, threatening its standing as a global finance hub.  The European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong sent the letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday, calling the city’s newly-tightened quarantine rules this week a “significant setback” following a quickly abandoned attempt to relax some of the world’s strictest requirements for inbound travelers.

10:23 am

Coronavirus company news summary – GSK/Vir’s monoclonal antibody sotrovimab provisionally approved in Australia – Oxford study finds vaccines broadly effective against Covid-19 Delta variant

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted provisional approval to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology’s monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, to treat adults and adolescents aged 12 years and above with Covid-19. The indication is for patients who do not need supplemental oxygen and are at high risk of progression to hospitalisation or death. Sotrovimab is the first monoclonal antibody approved to treat the disease in Australia.

A new study by the University of Oxford has found that two Covid-19 vaccine doses are effective against the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines offered ‘good protection’ against the Delta variant, the study found, but their efficacy was lower compared to their effectiveness against the Alpha variant. After four to five months, the effectiveness of these vaccines was similar against the Delta variant but long-term effects are yet to be analysed. The study also showed comparable or greater effectiveness of a single dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine against Delta versus single doses of the other vaccines.

Sorrento Therapeutics has reported that its protein-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate, DYAI-100, triggered neutralising B-cell immune responses against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and its emerging variants in preclinical studies. Protective neutralising activities were seen in the sera of vaccinated animals against an extensive spectrum of the virus and its major variants of concern (VoCs). Inoculated mice developed immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies recognising the spike protein of the prototype virus and the VoCs.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid variants drive infection increase in Americas and SE Asia

19 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 209,489,000, with more than 4,396,000 deaths and over 143,880,000 recoveries reported.

Daily confirmed cases remain high throughout Southeast Asia.

Thailand has reported over 21,000 daily confirmed cases while Malaysia reported over 20,000 daily confirmed cases in the last 14 days.

The number of daily cases has spiked by 22% and 21%, respectively, over the last 14 days.

While daily confirmed cases in Indonesia have declined by 32% over the past two weeks, the country reported over 24,000 daily confirmed cases yesterday and thus remains high.

These increases are indicative of a failure in the public health system in containing the new variants.

Cases throughout Southeast Asia were very limited in 2020 and these three countries have seen increasing proportions of the Delta variant throughout the late spring and summer.

Southeast Asia now is home to three known variants of concern circulating (Alpha, Beta, and Delta).

Daily confirmed cases are also increasing throughout Latin America.

Mexico reported the most daily confirmed cases in the region with over 17,900, an increase of 15% over the past two weeks.

In Guatemala, daily cases have increased 30% over this period to over 3,000 daily confirmed cases.

Likewise, in Honduras and Costa Rica, cases increased by 42% and 29%, respectively over the past two weeks with over 1,800 daily confirmed cases in Honduras and over 1,600 daily confirmed cases in Costa Rica reported yesterday.

In Mexico, more than two-thirds of states have been deemed at “high” or “critical” risk as hospitals fill with Covid-19 patients.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, the Delta variant accounts for 67% of new cases in Mexico.

This is a troubling trend as the high rate of transmission in the neighboring US, coupled with a low proportion of fully vaccinated individuals, may further exacerbate transmission.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:42 am

International update: Mexico Covid deaths exceed quarter million

19 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,393,039 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 208 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 37.1 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 624,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Convalescent plasma didn’t stop Covid-19 from progressing in high-risk patients with milder forms of the disease, the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday. The use of plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients didn’t harm any patients, but it also didn’t help them very much, according to a study. The clinical trial tested whether convalescent plasma could lead to a 10% reduction in disease progression but the benefit was never higher than 2%. The results of the clinical trial are the latest of several studies showing that a potential treatment touted by former President Donald Trump does not appear to provide significant benefit.

Nearly all positive coronavirus cases in New York state are linked to the high transmissible delta variant, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. The state is seeing a dramatic increase in cases, with 4,737 new positives reported on Wednesday, up from 823 cases one month ago, according to state data. There were 20 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,888 hospitalizations. Samples collected between 1 August and 14 August showed 95% of the recent positives in the state are linked to the variant, Cuomo said in a news release. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65.5% of New Yorkers have at least one vaccine dose.

President Joe Biden said authorities should ensure kids are wearing masks in schools and criticized governors who are trying to block mask mandates in school, threatening them with legal action.

Meanwhile, the President plans to announce that his administration will require nursing homes to vaccinate their staff against the coronavirus in order to receive federal funding, a person familiar with the matter said. The new requirement will apply to more than 15,000 facilities that currently participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to the person who discussed the policy before the president’s remarks on condition of anonymity.

Mexico: Mexico reported a record daily rise in cases with 28,953, bringing the total to 3,152,205, the Health Ministry said in its daily report Wednesday. The ministry reported 940 new Covid-19 deaths, for a total of 250,469.

Australia: In NSW cases have again risen to new heights. The state recorded 681 new Covid cases and one more death, a man in his 80s from south-east Sydney. The death toll during the outbreak is now at 61.

The premier, Gladys Berejiklian, continues to insist the state’s lockdown measures are adequate even as cases rise in week nine of an extended lockdown. Berejiklian has again foreshadowed the potential of easing some restrictions once vaccination rates rise. She also sent a message to state premiers such as WA’s Mark McGowan who has continued to push for a zero Covid approach in Australia, saying “everyone will have to learn to live with Delta”.

Western NSW remains a concern, with 25 new cases in the region. The regional NSW lockdown has been extended until at least 28 August.

Victoria recorded 57 new cases of the virus, though 44 of those were in isolation for the entirety of their infectious period. “That’s exactly what we want,” the premier, Daniel Andrews, said. “That is the system working exactly as it should work.”

The ACT recorded 16 new cases of the virus, a slight drop from yesterday. Eleven of those are linked to known outbreaks while the other five are still under investigation. “We either stop this virus now, or we live like Sydney for the rest of this year,” the chief minister, Andrew Barr, told reporters.

The Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, confirmed Darwin would exit lockdown after recording no new cases. The town of Katherine though will remain in lockdown until at least tomorrow.

New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said officials are confident they have discovered how the delta strain of the virus entered the country. Current positive cases are a close match to a recent returnee from Sydney who arrived on 7 August, Ardern told a press briefing Thursday in Wellington. This was a “significant development,” she said. Ardern put the country into a three-day lockdown this week after just one positive case was found in the community. Auckland and the nearby Coromandel region that the positive case visited were placed into lockdown for seven days. Case numbers have now grown to 21, will 11 new infections reported Thursday.

China: China’s latest Covid outbreak is almost contained as the daily number of infections continues to come down. The country reported five local confirmed cases and zero asymptomatic infections on Thursday. One case was found in a suburb of Shanghai, escalating the area “middle-risk” status. The world’s most populous country managed to deploy an even more intense approach to control the more contagious delta variant as the nation sticks to its Covid-zero strategy. Eastern Yangzhou city, the most hit region in this outbreak, has rolled out as many as 12 rounds of mass testing.

The city of Shenzhen on Wednesday eased quarantine rules for visitors from neighboring Hong Kong with a negative nucleic test done within 24 hours. Those with an accommodation in Shenzhen suitable for home quarantine can shorten their quarantine at a centralized facility to 7 days from 14 and then spending the following week in home quarantine followed by another seven for health monitoring at their residence.

Hollywood actor Nicole Kidman secured an exemption from strict Hong Kong quarantine rules that have faced criticism from the financial hub’s business community, local media reported. Kidman, 54, flew into the city in a private jet that took off from Sydney on Aug. 12, according to the Standard newspaper. The star arrived to shoot the “Expats” television series for Inc. and was spotted with her bodyguards in many places, including at a boutique shop, the report said.

South Africa: As many as four out of five South Africans may have contracted the coronavirus, indicating that the country may be one of the world’s hardest-hit nations, the chief actuary at Africa’s biggest health insurer said. Emile Stipp, the actuary at Discovery Health, based his calculations on the country’s case-fatality rate and excess deaths, a measure of the number of fatalities compared with an historical average. They are thought to provide a more accurate picture of the impact of the pandemic than the official toll.

Vaccine news

China: Scientists from Institute of Microbiology under Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions are developing a new antibody that may be effective against coronavirus and variant strains. Stopped the virus from replicating and sickening laboratory animals, the study in the journal Nature showed. The antibody effectively prevented and treated infections from coronavirus and its variants, the institute says in a statement in WeChat account.

Mexico: Mexico had vaccinated 61% of adults as of Aug. 16 with at least one dose, a little more than half having received complete vaccination, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Twitter on Tuesday.

UK: Vaccines against Covid-19 are less effective against the delta variant, a large UK study showed in results that may fuel a push for booster shots for fully vaccinated people. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s messenger RNA vaccine lost effectiveness in the first 90 days after full vaccination, though that shot and the one made by AstraZeneca Plc still staved off a majority of Covid infections. When vaccinated people did get infected with delta, they had similar levels of virus in their bodies as those who hadn’t had their shots, backing up a recent assessment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lockdown updates

US: The California Supreme Court declined to take up the latest challenge to the state’s Covid-19 response Wednesday, rejecting a school board’s request that the justices strike down Gov. Gavin Newsom’s declared state of emergency. The Orange County Board of Education said Newsom’s suspension of rulemaking procedures has resulted in health directives to California schools without public debate or transparency. Newsom (D) first declared a state of emergency in March 2020. But while the state eased some coronavirus restrictions in June 2021, the governor has kept the state of emergency in place.

Department of Transportation issues order restricting four Chinese carriers flying to US to 40% capacity in response to an action against United Airlines on 6 August. Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Xiamen Airlines were affected by the order. China had acted against United after people who flew on the airline had tested positive for Covid-19.

Economy updates

Thailand: The country started a pilot program to test, vaccinate and isolate factory workers to limit Covid-related disruptions to its export-driven manufacturing industry, one of the few bright spots in an economy crushed by the virus. The “Factory Sandbox” initiative aims to protect 3 million jobs and support manufacturers who contribute about 700 billion baht ($21 billion) to gross domestic product, according to a government statement this week. Meanwhile, new cases stayed below 21,000 for the third straight day, while fatalities topped 300 for a second day, government data showed. Cumulative infections rose to 989,859 and total deaths reached 8,586.

10:25 am

Coronavirus company news summary – J&J in talks to use single-shot vaccine as booster jab – NIH-funded study on Covid-19 convalescent plasma fails to reach endpoint

Johnson & Johnson is in discussions with US authorities including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding using its Covid-19 vaccine for booster dosing. A formal recommendation is expected to be made after assessment of new data. In July this year, Johnson & Johnson shared data that showed that its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine generated strong immune response against the Delta variant and other mutations. A Phase 1/2a study showed that the immunity did not fade for at least eight months.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have announced that the Clinical Trial of Covid-19 Convalescent Plasma in Outpatients (C3PO) failed to reach its primary endpoint. The agency noted that Covid-19 convalescent plasma could not prevent disease progression in a high-risk group of outpatients with Covid-19. The study was stopped in February 2021. Covid-19 convalescent plasma is the blood plasma procured from patients who have recovered from Covid-19. The research team expected that administering plasma in patients within the first week of their symptoms would lead to at least 10% reduction in disease progression. However, the figure was observed to be less than 2% in the study.

NRx Pharmaceuticals has provided a positive safety update on Zyesami (aviptadil), which is being tested in hospitalised patients with acute respiratory failure due to Covid-19. The ACTIV-3 Critical Care Phase III study is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. After reviewing 140 patients, an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board identified no new safety concerns in the trial and recommended continued enrolment. Zyesami is a synthetic version of vasoactive intestinal peptide, which can deliver lung-protective, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory effects.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Low vaccination rates promote Covid Delta spikes

18 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 208,757,000, with more than 4,385,000 deaths and over 143,880,000 recoveries reported.

The US has reported over 623,000 Covid-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic and leads the world in this category.

Brazil and India follow behind in Covid-19 deaths with over 570,000 and 432,000 deaths, respectively.

In the US, the moving seven-day average for Covid-19 deaths has more than doubled since mid-July from roughly 300 deaths per day to approximately 750 Covid-19 deaths per day.

These increases correspond with an increase in average daily confirmed cases in the US, which have increased by 52% over the last two weeks and are heavily concentrated in areas with lower proportions of fully vaccinated individuals.

These trends are associated with an increase in the Delta variant, and show how quickly the variant can spread through areas with lower vaccination as areas with higher vaccination rates are not seeing such a sharp rise in daily confirmed cases.

In Canada, daily confirmed cases have increased by over 145% over the last couple of weeks.

The increase is driven by rises in daily confirmed cases across most provinces, indicating that Covid-19 is not isolated to a single geographical location.

Canada has mandated vaccinations for all federal employees and travellers using air and rail as a means of transportation.

It is unclear if the mandate will significantly slow down the spread of transmission as data on the Delta variant, which is quickly becoming the dominant variant in Canada, suggests that fully vaccinated individuals may still transmit the virus.

However, these measures should be effective in reducing mortality as the vaccines are very effective at preventing death.

Walter Gabriel, MPH at GlobalData Plc.

10:10 am

International update: Covid cases surge in Australia, India, Greece and Japan

18 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,382,381 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 208 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 37 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 623,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Idaho hospitals are “completely stressed” and “overwhelmed” by staffing shortages due to Covid-19 infections, virus exposure and burnout, Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator for the state Division of Public Health, said during an online briefing. A hospital in Northern Idaho has 500 job openings, more than twice as high as normal times, Shaw-Tulloch said.

Hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama are sending patients across their borders to Kentucky even as Bluegrass State officials warn their hospitals are running short on available staff and beds. New infections in Kentucky, population 4.5 million, have risen to 2,000 or more per day from a low of fewer than 150 cases per day in June, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Helping other states’ overwhelmed hospitals no longer may be possible, because this week Kentucky will exceed its record for intensive care unit patients, around 1,200 patients, and several Kentucky hospitals are deciding to limit or stop non-emergency care to preserve stretched staff, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said.

Los Angeles will require universal masking at outdoor mega events regardless of vaccination status, according to health officials. Masks are required to be worn by everyone at all times except when actively eating or drinking at these events, said the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in a statement. Outdoor mega events are outdoor events with crowds greater than 10,000 attendees.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered use of face masks in all public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, as hospitalizations in the state is at a six-month high.

In Colorado, Denver ordered mandatory mask use in schools and childcare settings for those 2 years and older, effective Wednesday. Meanwhile, in Florida, the state board of education directed the education commissioner to “take all legal steps” to enforce Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban on mask mandates in schools.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement from his office. The Republican leader of the second-largest US. state is isolating in the governor’s mansion and receiving monoclonal antibody treatment, according to the statement. Abbott already was fully vaccinated and so far has been asymptomatic.

Australia: Australia is on track to break its daily coronavirus case record with surging infections and more deaths in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, fuelling national concern. The state, which is under lockdown, reported a record-breaking 633 new cases in the past 24 hours. Some 34 aged care facilities in New South Wales are currently in the grips of a Covid-19 outbreak.

India: India reported on 35,178 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, nearly 40% higher than yesterday. Deaths remained low, with 440 reported in the past 24 hours.

Indonesia: The country reported 17,384 confirmed infections on Monday, the least since June 23. One in five people tested were found to have the virus, a sign of insufficient testing. Indonesia continues to top the world’s tally of daily deaths, with 1,245 fatalities reported on Monday.

Thailand: On Tuesday, the country reported a daily record 239 Covid deaths and 20,128 new cases. Thai police again used water cannon and teargas to disperse protesters near the office of the prime minister, as opposition parties moved to censure him in parliament over his handling of the pandemic. Hundreds marched on government house to demand his resignation.

Greece: Greece reported 4,205 new cases, the highest daily increase since 6 April and the third-biggest one-day jump since the start of the pandemic. Greek authorities are worried by the situation on the island of Crete, which is a popular vacation destination for foreigners and Greeks alike. The Heraklion area of the country’s largest island saw the third-biggest increase in new cases nationwide after Thessaloniki and central Athens.

Switzerland: Switzerland recorded 3,150 new infections within the last 24 hours, the biggest daily increase in months. Since early July, the number of hospitalizations has risen 10-fold, Patrick Mathys of the Federal Office of Public Health said. The government has redoubled efforts to get more people vaccinated with a publicity campaign this week. Just 56% of the public has received at least one dose. With demand for vaccinations weak, the government agreed take delivery of just half the 1 million doses it was due to receive from Moderna

Vaccine news

Rome: Pope Francis has encouraged people to get Covid vaccines in new media campaign. Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is “an act of love,” Pope Francis says in a public service advert that will start circulating online and on television on Wednesday.

Asia: The International Federation of Red Cross has called for southeast Asian countries to be given more help securing Covid-19 vaccines, as the region struggles to contain record infections and deaths driven by the Delta variant.

US: The number of people getting a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine has risen to almost half a million a day, a level last seen at the end of May when the US vaccination campaign was still in full swing in much of the country.  Unlike the spring rollout, however, the new bump in vaccinations has been driven by counties in the South, which earlier in the year were among the most resistant to getting the shots and still have lower rates of vaccination than many other places. Those regions, however, have been hit by a fast-moving wave of Covid infections that have sent thousands of people to the hospital.

New York has become the first US city to require proof of vaccination to enter gyms, theatres and restaurants.

Morgan Stanley is stepping up efforts to ensure employees comply with its rule that they be vaccinated to enter its buildings. The firm told vaccinated workers to provide documentation of their shots by 1 October, after previously letting them attest to their status, according to an internal memo. The extra step is meant to “provide greater comfort for those working in the office,” it wrote.

UK: The UK has approved the use of the US-made Moderna vaccine for 12 to 17 year olds. The Pfizer jab was given the same approval a few weeks ago.

Vietnam: Poland will provide Vietnam with more than 3.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, including a donation of 501,000 AstraZeneca Plc. shots, according to Vietnam’s government website, which cited Poland’s ambassador to Vietnam, Wojciech Gerwel. Vietnam has received more than 19 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from various sources, of which nearly 15.3 million doses have been administered. About 1.4% of residents in the country of 98 million people was fully vaccinated as of Monday.

South Korea: South Korea wants to have 70% of its population vaccinated by the end of September, the premier said, speeding up one of the lowest inoculation rates among major Asian economies as cases surge to record highs. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, at the forefront of the government’s pandemic policy, said Tuesday that South Korea would keep funneling aid to small businesses hurt by strict social distancing measures aimed at stemming a record Covid-19 wave powered by the delta variant. Kim indicated Seoul would do all it can to avoid a lockdown.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s runaway virus outbreak is presenting wealthy nations donating Covid-19 vaccines and supplies with a tough choice: work with the generals that overthrew the civilian government, or let the situation spiral further out of control. Since the military took over in a coup more than six months ago, virus infections and deaths have soared. The country has officially disclosed a few hundred fatalities each day for the past month, though doctors say the real numbers are exponentially higher. The true scope of the catastrophe is unknown, as many citizens avoid healthcare facilities that have recently been the target of military attacks.

Lockdown updates

Australia: Qantas airlines will require all of its frontline employees, including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

New Zealand: “A very prolonged outbreak” is not the working premise “at this time,” said New Zealand Finance Minister Grant Robertson at a news conference in Wellington after the RBNZ rate decision. The government announced nationwide lockdown to contain outbreak of delta strain of coronavirus.

A further six cases have been identified in New Zealand, all connected to the single delta infection discovered Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters in Wellington. That was the first community case detected in the nation since February, with genome testing of the original case showing a clear link to the outbreak in Australia’s New South Wales state.

Japan: Japan’s government on Tuesday expanded a coronavirus state of emergency to seven more regions as it battles a record wave of infections a week before the Paralympic Games.

The Japanese Grand Prix, scheduled for 8-10 October, has been cancelled due to a rise in Covid cases in the country.

Philippines: The Philippines’ Health Department said it’s recommending the use of surgical instead of cloth masks, as the Southeast Asian nation fights the spread of the delta variant. Cloth masks can however still be used by those who don’t have access to medical-grade masks. To speed up vaccinations, the government has allowed shots for caretakers of the elderly and of those with weak immune systems. Covid infections have reached over 1.76 million as of Tuesday, with nearly 12% of the population fully vaccinated.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s quarantine about-face – coming less than two months after it eased one of the world’s toughest Covid-19 border regimes – is upending travel plans and causing chaos for hotels just weeks before the start of the school year and the end of the summer vacation period.  Triggered, officials say, by growing concern about the delta variant, Tuesday’s reversal saw the scrapping of a new rule that allowed vaccinated residents returning from medium-risk locations to quarantine in a hotel for just one week, half the typically required time. The day before, countries including the US, Spain and France were classed as high risk, requiring a longer quarantine stay of 21 days.

Economy updates

New Zealand: New Zealand’s central bank refrained from raising interest rates during a coronavirus outbreak and nationwide lockdown, but signaled it intends to start tightening monetary policy soon. The Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Adrian Orr, on Wednesday held the official cash rate at 0.25% but said the decision was made in light of the lockdown. Projections published by the RBNZ show the OCR lifting at least once later this year, suggesting hikes are imminent if the outbreak is contained.

10:04 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK approves Moderna vaccine for adolescents – Uni of Washington study shows vaccination well-tolerated by pregnant recipients

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax, in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. This Conditional Marketing Authorisation (CMA) extension is valid only in Great Britain. The vaccine received authorisation in this age group in Northern Ireland under the CMA extension approved by the European Medicines Agency on 23 July. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will now advise on whether this age group should be vaccinated with Moderna’s jav as part of the country’s vaccine rollout, noted MHRA chief executive Dr June Raine.

A study by University of Washington Medicine has shown that pregnant and lactating individuals who were inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine had symptoms with severity comparable to those seen in non-pregnant individuals. Of a total of more than 17,000 surveyed individuals, 62% were vaccinated with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and most resided in the US. Symptoms reported were pain at the injection site (91%) and fatigue (31%), and a mean temperature of 100˚F. A small number (5-7%) experienced a reduction in milk supply after vaccination. Based on the findings, researchers concluded that the vaccine is well tolerated in women and they should be part of trials for other relevant vaccines.

Gritstone Bio has signed a funding agreement of up to $20.6m with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to progress the development of its CORAL Covid-19 vaccine programme. The programme is progressing a second-generation vaccine platform offering spike and other SARS-CoV-2 T cell epitopes for broad and long-lasting protection against viral variants. CEPI will provide funds for a multi-arm Phase I trial of CORAL’s SAM vaccine in naïve, convalescent and HIV+ patients. The funds will also be used for pre-clinical studies, scale-up and development of a formulation to allow a stable drug product.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid Delta variant pushes global infections towards 208 million

17 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 207,882,000, with more than 4,371,000 deaths and over 143,880,000 recoveries reported.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the top three countries for total confirmed cases of Covid-19, with the US reporting the highest number of daily confirmed cases out of all countries, with over 130,000.

Immediately following the US are Iran and India with over 38,000 and 36,000 daily confirmed cases.

Iran has set a new national record for Covid-19 related deaths with over 655 reported yesterday, as the rate of transmission continues to rise with 26% more daily confirmed cases than two weeks ago.

In response to these trends, government officials have closed all non-essential businesses for the following week.

While this response may help reduce transmission, only 3.8% of individuals in Iran are fully vaccinated.

Therefore, these measures may not be enough to appreciably reduce mortality in the near future given the effectiveness of vaccines at preventing death, even against the Delta variant.

The country of Georgia currently has reached an all-time high since last December, with over 6,000 daily confirmed cases reported.

This widespread community transmission has forced the government to issue several restrictions to prevent new infections.

In major cities, 100% of new cases in the past week have been linked to the Delta variant, compared to 80% in the rest of the country.

These numbers highlight the high virulence of the variant, as only couple of months ago the Delta variant made up only 15-20% of daily confirmed cases in Georgia.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:17 am

International update: Covid origin debate rumbles on as US deaths soar

17 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,371,736 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 207 million world wide.

The origin story of Covid-19 remains a mystery mired in contentious geopolitical debate. But a research paper that languished in publishing limbo for a year and a half contains meticulously collected data and photographic evidence supporting scientists’ initial hypothesis—that the outbreak stemmed from infected wild animals—which prevailed until speculation that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a nearby lab gained traction.

The former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was in the post at the beginning of the pandemic, has said the hypothesis that Covid was manipulated or “taught” to infect humans must be investigated further. He said he believes the virus “was most likely uncontained in a laboratory where it was being worked on, and that it escaped unintentionally”.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 36.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 622,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The number of US people dying with Covid-19 in hospitals is hitting previous highs in some hot-spot states with low-to-average vaccination rates, upending hopes the virus has become less lethal. In Florida, an average of about 203 people a day are dying in the hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, matching the state’s November 2020 peak, according to US Department of Health and Human Services data. That’s a daily average of about nine per million residents, the data shows. Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri have also seen deaths among patients with Covid-19 soar in the past two weeks.

New Zealand: New Zealand officials are investigating a new community case of Covid-19 in largest city Auckland. The case was identified early Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Health said. New Zealand has run a successful elimination strategy, defined as having zero tolerance for new cases, which has limited the South Pacific nation to fewer than 2,600 confirmed cases and just 26 deaths. The last case of community transmission was in February. Health officials today said ministers will meet this afternoon once additional information is gathered to confirm a response. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to hold a press conference at 6 p.m. in Wellington, news website Stuff reported.

Australia: Australia’s delta outbreak continues to spread despite more than half the nation’s 26 million people being placed into lockdown. New South Wales state recorded 452 new cases on Tuesday, down from the record of 478 set the previous day, with the vast bulk of those infections detected in Sydney. Melbourne and national capital Canberra are also enforcing stay-at-home orders, and on Tuesday recorded 24 and 17 new cases respectively. Authorities are increasingly concerned that the outbreak’s spreading into the continent’s interior is threatening vulnerable Indigenous populations. On Monday, the tropical city of Darwin was placed into a snap lockdown, while on Tuesday it was confirmed the virus had reached the Outback town of Broken Hill.

China: Covid cases in China are dwindling amid an intense slew of curbs authorities have put in place to slow delta’s spread. Only six symptomatic infections were reported on Tuesday, down from 90 a week ago. Meanwhile, Beijing Communist Party chief Cai Qi told the city’s officials to take detailed and customized measures to prevent spread of coronavirus at 2022 Winter Olympics venues, Beijing Daily reported.

Indonesia: The country reported 17,384 confirmed infections on Monday, the least since June 23. One in five people tested were found to have the virus, a sign of insufficient testing. Indonesia continues to top the world’s tally of daily deaths, with 1,245 fatalities reported on Monday.

Thailand: On Tuesday, the country reported a daily record 239 Covid deaths and 20,128 new cases. Thai police again used water cannon and teargas to disperse protesters near the office of the prime minister, as opposition parties moved to censure him in parliament over his handling of the pandemic. Hundreds marched on government house to demand his resignation.

Vaccine news

Global: People vaccinated with CoronaVac face a small increased chance of developing a temporary facial paralysis known as Bell’s palsy, according to scientists, but the benefits of getting the shot still outweigh the risks. Nearly 5 in 100,000 more people may experience Bell’s palsy after the CoronaVac jab produced by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. than you would expect to see in the population, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. The study, conducted in Hong Kong, compared Bell’s palsy rates reported within 42 days of either receiving the CoronaVac or the locally-produced Pfizer Inc. vaccine. The study found two more people per 100,000 were likely to suffer from the side effect than normal after the Pfizer shot, though cautioned more research was needed. The authors of the study led by Ian Chi Kei Wong, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, recommended its continued use in protecting people against Covid-19 noting that “Bell’s palsy remains a rare, mostly temporary, adverse event.”

India: India administered a record 8.8 million vaccine shots in a day, the country’s record for doses administered in a single day, according to a government statement Tuesday. India has given 554.7 million vaccine doses so far, but only 8.9% of the country’s population is fully inoculated against the virus, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. India added 25,166 cases while deaths rose by 437 to 432,079, according to data released Tuesday.

US: The US government is poised to offer coronavirus booster shots as soon as next month, with the country facing a renewed wave of infections fueled by the delta variant. Biden administration officials are finalizing a plan expected to recommend booster shots eight months after people received their second dose, according to two people familiar with the deliberations who asked not to be identified. The plan is not yet finalized but an announcement could come as soon as this week, they said.

Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said they have submitted Phase 1 trial data to the US Food and Drug Administration for a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine. The companies said in a statement that people who received a third dose of their mRNA vaccine showed “a favorable safety profile and robust immune responses.”

Several major California law enforcement agencies are reporting Covid-19 vaccination rates that are significantly lower than those of the general population, and seven state prisons have disclosed that less than a third of their officers are vaccinated.

Taiwan: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will be among the first people to get the first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine next week. Tsai signed up to get the Medigen shot on 23 August, the first day it’s available to the public, according to a Presidential Office spokesman. Around 42,000 Taiwanese have registered for Medigen vaccines via the government website since Monday, local media reported. Promoting self-produced vaccines has been a crucial step in the government’s Covid-fighting strategy as Taiwan faced difficulties in acquiring enough foreign doses. As of now, over 39% of Taiwan’s total population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine injection.

Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked for more vaccine doses from the US In a taped briefing televised Monday night, he said the government is ready to pay for more supply. In the same briefing, the official leading the vaccine procurement, Carlito Galvez, said they expect 6 million shots to arrive this week after receiving 8.7 million shots in the previous two weeks. The government has so far administered 7.33 million shots this month, compared with a target for 15 million.

UK: The UK’s health regulator said Covid-19 vaccines did not raise the risk of miscarriage, and that it had not found any link between the shots and changes to menstrual periods. It came after Europe’s drugs regulator said it had so far not found a causal link between Covid-19 vaccines and menstrual disorders.

Lockdown updates

Singapore: Singapore plans to set up pilot programs next month to allow vaccinated business travelers from some countries to enter on carefully controlled itineraries as it takes steps to reopen its borders. Singapore is in talks with Germany, Australia, Canada and South Korea to be the first batch of countries for such arrangements, though it is also looking at the possibility of leisure travel, trade minister Gan Kim Yong told Bloomberg News in an interview Tuesday. He said factors like infections, vaccination rates and the ability to control outbreaks will be considered in these discussions.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will end a short-lived rule that allowed travelers from most parts of the world to spend just one week quarantined in a hotel, provided they had an antibody test proving they were vaccinated against Covid-19.

Japan: Japan plans to expand its current virus emergency now in place for Tokyo and other areas to seven more prefectures as well as extend it to 12 September, trying to stem a delta variant-fueled surge that has sent infections to records. Covid-19 czar and Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told an advisory panel Tuesday the government planned to add seven prefectures to the emergency, bringing the total to 13 areas. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was expected to make the decision official later Tuesday, local media including Kyodo News reported. Suga’s office said he will hold a news conference at 9 pm to discuss the virus situation.

Indonesia: Indonesia will also allow some export-oriented companies to operate with 100% workforce on site using two shifts and strict health protocol, in a bid to find a way to reopen the economy without worsening its coronavirus outbreak. That program will involve 390,000 workers. The government is preparing roadmaps to reopen other sectors, including education and tourism, as it gears up to live with the virus for a few more years. It will focus on accelerating vaccination, stepping up testing and tracing, while enforcing mask mandates. Indonesia aims to administer 100 million total vaccine doses as of the end of the month, from 83 million so far. Indonesia will also lower the maximum price for real-time polymerase chain reaction testing.

US: MGM Resorts International, the largest casino operator on the Las Vegas Strip, is now mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for all of its salaried employees. Staff that work exclusively at home are exempt. The company is working on ways to vaccinate more of its hourly staffers: housekeepers, bartenders and dealers who are typically represented by unions.

New York City plans to require visitors to its museums and other cultural institutions to be vaccinated, the New York Times reported, citing an unidentified city official.

The Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, will temporarily be allowed to enforce an order banning mask mandates, the state supreme court ruled. However, the ultimate fate of mask mandates in Texas is far from clear, as school districts and localities fight to maintain control of public health orders.

Ireland: A troubling divide in Irish schools looks likely to emerge as unvaccinated children would have to take up to two weeks out of school if they were a close contact of a Covid-positive peer, but vaccinated children would not – despite still being able to contract and transmit the virus.

Economy updates

New Zealand: The New Zealand dollar fell more than half a US cent on the health ministry’s statement of a new case of Covid. It bought 69.62 US cents at 3:28 p.m. in Wellington. Investors now see a 72% chance of the RBNZ raising rates on Wednesday, down from more than 100% yesterday, swaps data show.

China: UBS Group AG lowered its projection for China’s full year GDP forecasts for 2021 and 2022 as well as for 3Q 2021 on the impact of the latest virus outbreak and slow infrastructure investment. Third-quarter GDP forecast was cut to 5.8% y/y from 6.3% y/y, while 2022 forecast was lowered to 5.8% from 6.2%. Tighter mobility restrictions and cautious consumer sentiment will likely linger even after the latest virus outbreak is contained, UBS economists led by Wang Tao wrote in a report late Monday.

Thailand: Thailand’s central bank governor called for an additional 1 trillion baht ($30 billion) in government spending to counter coronavirus, saying the blow to the economy from the pandemic is greater than from the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Meanwhile, Thailand will extend the closure of non-essential businesses and movement controls in its virus hotspots, including the capital Bangkok, until the Covid outbreak shows clear signs of easing.

US: Pfizer Inc. is tapping the US investment-grade market with a sustainability bond that will help fund Covid-19 vaccine expenses, according to a person familiar with the matter. The note, due in 2031, may yield 0.75 percentage points above Treasuries, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. Proceeds from the sale are marked for research and development expenses and the manufacturing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The New York-based pharmaceutical company sees the vaccine bringing in $33.5 billion of revenue this year, which would make it one of the top-selling medicines ever.

10:06 am

Coronavirus company news summary – GSK/CureVac’s next-gen Covid-19 mRNA vaccine shows strong efficacy – Pfizer/BioNTech submit initial data to FDA for Comirnaty booster dose

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and CureVac have reported that their second generation Covid-19 mRNA vaccine candidate, CV2CoV, showed increased immune responses and protective efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 when compared with CureVac’s first-generation candidate, CVnCoV, in a study in non-human primates. The new vaccine had improved antibody neutralising capacity across all variants tested, including the Beta, Delta and Lambda variants. With the original viral strain, CV2CoV demonstrated higher protection in vaccinated animals via effective clearance of SARS-CoV-2 in the lungs and nasal passages.

Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted Phase I clinical trial data to the US Food and Drug Administration to support the review of a booster dose of their Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty (BNT162b2), for licensure in the future. The Phase I trial is part of the companies’ clinical trial programme analysing the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of a third, or booster, dose in adults. Data revealed substantially greater levels of neutralising antibodies with the booster shot following the two-dose regimen. The data will also be submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulatory agencies soon.

EMA has begun its review of Roche’s RoActemra (tocilizumab) to expand its use for treating hospitalised adults with severe Covid-19. The potential expansion of use is for patients who are on corticosteroids and need supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation. The agency’s human medicines committee (CHMP) will perform an accelerated evaluation of the evidence submitted in the application, including data from four large, randomised trials. The CHMP’s opinion, along with any need for additional studies and safety monitoring, will be provided to the European Commission, which will make the final regulatory decision. RoActemra was first authorised for use in the European Union in 2009, and is currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

2:57 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 207 million – continued rise in Europe

16 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 207,348,000, with more than 4,365,000 deaths and over 143,880,000 recoveries reported.

In Europe, the UK reported over 28,000 daily confirmed cases yesterday, up 8% over the past two weeks, indicating another rise in the incidence of Covid-19.

Cases are also on the rise in Germany and Italy.

Germany reports over 4,300 daily confirmed cases, up 29% over the last two weeks, while Italy’s 6,300 daily confirmed cases are up 17% over the same period.

In response to rising cases, Germany has placed the US on the ‘high risk’ Covid-19 list and individuals traveling to Germany from the US will face tighter entry restrictions.

Given that Germany’s population has a similar proportion of fully vaccinated individuals compared to the US, the measure is intended to slow the transmission of the Delta variant, which is significantly more infectious and has quickly become the most prevalent variant in the US.

This strategy, however, does not replace vaccinations in preventing localized transmission and thus it remains critical for Germany to reach its vaccination target.

In Asia, the highly infective Delta variant continues to drive up confirmed Covid-19 case numbers as Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and the Philippines have seen increases to their average daily confirmed cases over the past two weeks by 28%, 22%, 77%, and 69%, respectively.

In Indonesia, where daily confirmed Covid-19 cases have declined by 31% over the past two weeks, over 26,900 daily confirmed cases were reported yesterday.

The country has the second-highest total in Asia and is followed by Thailand and Malaysia.

Moreover, Indonesia’s daily Covid-19 deaths have neared 1,500 and are the highest in the world; this situation looks grim as only 9.5% of individuals are fully vaccinated, which will do little to mitigate the high rate of localized transmission.

Children in Indonesia have been particularly affected by the spread of the Delta variant as nearly 70% of the over 1,200 deaths in Indonesian children occurred during the past two months, corresponding to when the Delta variant began spreading.

This impact suggests that the Delta variant may be more dangerous for children than previous Covid-19 variants.

Similar observations in the US have helped fueled debates about mask mandates as schools re-open for the year.

Such a strategy is critical to reducing the spread and impact of the Delta variant, as masks may not only reduce the risk of infection, but may at the very least help reduce the initial viral load to prevent more severe infection.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

9:26 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Merck begins molnupiravir rolling submission to Health Canada – FDA rejects Rigel’s fostamatinib for Covid-19 treatment, seeks more data

Merck has started a rolling submission to Health Canada for its antiviral agent, molnupiravir, for the potential treatment of Covid-19. The agency accepted the rolling submission process under the interim order of the Minister of Health, enabling the review of initial safety, quality and efficacy data. Results from the ongoing late-stage studies will be submitted to Health Canada upon availability. The agency will make a regulatory decision after reviewing all the required data.

The US Food and Drug Administration has declined to authorise Rigel Pharmaceuticals’ fostamatinib for emergency use to treat Covid-19 in hospitalised patients, stating that the results from the drug’s 59-patient NIH/NHLBI-sponsored Phase II clinical trial are not sufficient. Rigel intends to again seek authorisation from the regulator if its ongoing 308-patient Phase III trial of fostamatinib in hospitalised Covid-19 patients meets its endpoint of reducing the proportion of patients who progress to severe or critical disease within 29 days.

Moderna has signed an agreement to supply more doses of its vaccine to the Government of Canada during 2022 and 2023, with an option to extend into 2024. The agreement is for 40 million doses, with up to another 65 million if all options are exercised. Depending on how the epidemiological situation evolves in the country, Moderna will provide access to new adapted Covid-19 vaccines to address viral variants.

9:43 am

Coronavirus company news summary – FDA expands EUAs for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to include third booster dose – Canada funds research into detection of Covid-19 jab adverse events

The US Food and Drug Administration has expanded the emergency use authorisations of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to include an additional booster, or third dose for some immunocompromised people, particularly recipients of solid organ transplant or individuals with conditions that are considered to have an identical immunocompromise level. Some countries, including Israel and Germany, intend to or have already given a third dose to avoid the risk of further Delta variant cases, Reuters reported.

The Government of Canada has announced funding support for the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) to research the detection and response to potential adverse events after the Covid-19 vaccination. The study will be conducted across Canada and is expected to aid people who are at risk of adverse reactions to get a Covid-19 jab safely.

The US Government has shipped approximately 569,000 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) 15 member countries. These doses were delivered to Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago on 12 August while Barbados will receive them today. The shipments are part of the 5.5 million doses that the US committed to donate to the 15 CARICOM member countries.

11:11 am

Coronavirus company news summary – WHO expands trial of three repurposed drugs against Covid-19 – EMA investigates potential new side effects of mRNA Covid-19 jabs

The World Health Organization has initiated a new phase of its Solidarity clinical trial to assess three new drugs – artesunate, imatinib and infliximab – in hospitalised patients with Covid-19. These drugs, currently used to treat other diseases, are expected to lower mortality risk in Covid-19 patients. The new trial, Solidarity PLUS, will be conducted at more than 600 hospitals across 52 countries.

The European Medicines Agency has launched an investigation regarding a possible link between two mRNA Covid-19 vaccines and new suspected side-effects reported in a few recipients. The agency is assessing whether Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax vaccines can cause an allergic skin reaction called erythema multiforme or two kidney disorders – glomerulonephritis and nephrotic syndrome.

I-Mab has reported positive interim results from the Phase II/III clinical trial of its antibody candidate, plonmarlimab, to treat cytokine release syndrome (CRS) in severe Covid-19 patients. The drug was observed to increase mechanical ventilation free rate, decrease mortality rate and shorten time to recovery and hospitalisation period. It also mitigated pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that are considered vital in CRS. Plonmarlimab was well tolerated during the trial, without any notable safety issues.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Slow Covid vaccine rollout takes toll on Iran’s population

11 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 204,192,000 with more than 4,318,000 deaths reported.

Iran has reported almost 40,000 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 as the country battles its largest surge in infections so far.

More than 500 daily deaths have been reported, as the country approaches a tragic milestone of 100,000 total deaths from Covid-19.

The highly contagious Delta variant and a slow vaccination rate are likely to have contributed to the recent spike of cases the country has experienced since the beginning of June.

Iran has administered around 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, which accounts for less than 15% of its population being fully vaccinated.

A slow vaccine rollout can be attributed to the country’s refusal to use Western vaccines, and the slow development of COVIran Barekat, Iran’s domestically produced vaccine.

Indonesia has reported 32,000 new daily confirmed cases and 2,000 new daily deaths, the highest number of daily deaths reported globally.

Indonesia experienced a rapid spike in Covid-19 infections in early July, soon after the highly contagious Delta variant was first identified in the country.

The seven-day rolling average of new daily confirmed cases is beginning to decline especially in Jakarta; however, the infections and deaths are still rising in regional areas.

Recent surges in Covid-19 cases across South-East Asia can be attributed to the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant and a low vaccination rate.

Oliver Whittingham, Intern at GlobalData Plc

1:26 pm

International update: Covid accounted for 4% of all UK deaths in the last week of July

11 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,315,066 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 204 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 36 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 618,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Hospitals across the US are parceling out beds for Covid patients, hunting for doctors and nurses as the disease outstrips any mitigation measures. In a few states, the unvaccinated are entering intensive care units at rates matching the winter wave. The vaccinated are coming to realize that a sweet summer of release may have been a fantasy, as they again calculate the risks of working, seeing relatives and circulating in society.

President Joe Biden said he doesn’t think he has the power to overrule governors who nullify requirements imposed by school systems calling on kids and staff to wear masks to protect against Covid-19. “I don’t believe that I do thus far. We’re checking that,” Biden told reporters Tuesday in response to a question at the White House. “On federal workforce, I can.” Biden’s comments came as school leaders across the country face a dilemma as millions of students prepare to return in person to classes as the delta variant of Covid-19 spreads rapidly.

Meanwhile, a group of parents in Florida have gone to court to block an executive order by Governor Ron DeSantis that bans school districts from imposing mask requirements when classes resume this fall. At least six other states, including Arizona, Texas and Arkansas, have banned local school districts from requiring students to wear masks.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis predicted that the Covid-19 wave may begin easing in northeast Florida, one of the hardest-hit parts of the US. In Duval County, home to Jacksonville, DeSantis noted that the seven-day average of new cases has begun to drop. He also said that emergency-room visits with Covid-like illness were down in the past week, and that the effective reproductive number was below 1, which theoretically signals declining infections ahead. “If those trends are durable, you will absolutely see the hospital census reflect that for sure,” DeSantis said. “And I think we’re seeing in other parts of the state as well a flattening.”

Donald Trump was “afraid” when he put on a display of bravado at the White House after being treated for a severe coronavirus infection, his estranged niece Mary Trump has claimed. The then US president had a pained expression that Mary recognised from her grandmother, but dared not admit his fear even to himself.

UK: The UK said Covid accounted for 4% of all deaths in the last week of July, the highest weekly share of all deaths in three months. These figures reflect a progressive loosening of lockdown rules starting in April that resulted in most restrictions being scrapped on 19 July. Infections have been rising steadily since, but serious sickness and hospitalizations remain below peak levels last year because of a rapid takeup of vaccines.

Thailand: In the south-east Asian country today, police fired teargas and rubber bullets at protesters calling for the government to resign over its handing of the pandemic. Lines of police, backed by trucks spraying jets from water cannons, fired tear gas and rubber bullets at scores of demonstrators in Bangkok, as they threw rocks and fireworks and set fire to a traffic police booth.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s army has carried out at least 252 attacks and threats against health workers since the February coup, killing at least 25 medics and hampering the response to a resurgent outbreak of Covid-19, rights groups have said. More than 190 health workers have been arrested and 86 raids on hospitals carried out since the coup, said the report.

India: Researchers are aiming to find out whether ashwagandha, a traditional but increasingly popular Indian herb, can help promote recovery from long Covid. The herb is traditionally used in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine and recent trials have reportedly proven it reduces anxiety and stress, improves muscle strength and reduces fatigue in patients with chronic conditions.

Greece: Greece recorded 4,181 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the highest daily increase in just over four months. The Heraklion area of the island of Crete saw the largest rise in new cases over the past 24 hours after central Athens. Greek authorities announced a nighttime curfew for the area.

Vaccine news

Global: Coldplay, Billie Eilish and Ed Sheeran are among those who will perform a day of concerts across multiple cities on 25 September to raise awareness about vaccine distribution, climate change and poverty. New York, Paris and Lagos are the first cities to be announced for Global Citizen Live, which will run for 24 hours and be screened around the world via TV stations and social media.

Canada: Moderna Inc. reached a tentative agreement with Canada’s government to build a messenger RNA vaccine factory in the country, a move that could boost domestic supplies of shots for Covid and other viruses while expanding the shot maker’s footprint.

UK: More than three out of every four UK adults has now had two doses of coronavirus vaccine, the country’s Department for Health and Social Care said on Tuesday. Some 47,091,889 people have received at least once dose, while 39,688,566 have received two, it said.

The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, said preparations are being made to offer Covid booster jabs in the UK from next month, but a leading expert suggested that such a move would not be supported by the science and that it was likely to be unnecessary. The head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Prof Andrew Pollard, said data so far suggested that the vaccines were holding out against the virus that causes Covid-19 and that the doses would be much better used elsewhere in the world.

Meanwhile, reaching herd immunity is “not a possibility” with the current Delta variant, Pollard told MPs, since the vaccines do not stop the spread of Covid. Therefore reaching the threshold for overall immunity in the population is “mythical”, although the existing vaccines are very effective at preventing serious Covid illness and death, he said.

Portugal: Portugal began recommending the use of vaccines for 12- to 15-year olds on Tuesday as the southern European country accelerates its vaccination program. Vaccines for teens will become available around the time the school year begins in September. The government began easing restrictions last month as the latest surge shows signs of slowing. Portugal’s government expects 70% of the population to be fully vaccinated by early September.

Lockdown updates

EU: The European Union decided not to reinstate restrictions on non-essential travel from the US despite new cases there exceeding the bloc’s threshold. The guidance from the bloc is a recommendation and any decision on who to let in, and what restrictions to impose, ultimately rests with the government of each member state. The Biden administration has kept foreign travel restrictions in place despite pressure to allow visitors from places like the EU. US officials have cited rising delta variant cases as one reason for that decision.

Germany: Germany’s leaders are expected to set out new coronavirus regulations for the coming months, including abolishing free testing to incentivise people to get vaccinated. The unvaccinated will be expected to undergo tests which they must pay for themselves as a condition for attending all manner of events, from indoor gatherings to restaurant visits to church services.

US: Citigroup Inc. told employees returning to offices in the New York area and other big US cities that they’ll need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, among the more restrictive moves by a US financial firm as companies contend with the deadly virus and its highly contagious delta variant. The decision also affects workers in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C., the bank told employees in a memo Tuesday. Citigroup expects employees to return to offices starting 13 September. Staffers at the company’s bank branches are encouraged but not required to get Covid-19 vaccines. Mask-wearing is required for all office and branch workers regardless of whether they’ve gotten shots, Citigroup said.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong extended regulations allowing it to implement measures to contain the pandemic, including rules on group gatherings, compulsory quarantine of visitors, compulsory testing and mask-wearing. The legislation extended until 31 March, 2022 is meant to maintain the legal framework needed to enact curbs, the government said.

Economy updates

Germany: Investor confidence in Germany’s recovery dropped to the lowest level since late last year after a rise in infection rates stoked concerns over a possible tightening of pandemic curbs. ZEW’s gauge of expectations declined to 40.4 in August from 63.3 the previous month. Although more than half of Germany’s population is fully vaccinated, coronavirus infections in Europe’s largest economy are on the rise. The government has already tightened some travel rules and is set to discuss additional steps during a summit on Tuesday.


11:58 am

Coronavirus company news summary – US trials third mRNA vaccine dose for kidney transplant recipients – Australia to consider Merck’s molnupiravir for Covid-19 treatment

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a pilot Phase II clinical trial to analyse antibody response to a third dose of an authorised mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in kidney transplant recipients who had no response to two Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses. The CPAT trial will recruit up to 200 adult participants aged 18 years and above. The trial expects to report initial data next month, and will inform a subsequent larger trial of increased risk strategies to trigger an immune response against SARS-CoV-2 in solid organ transplant recipients not responding to a third mRNA vaccine dose.

Merck has received provisional determination from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for molnupiravir, an oral antiviral single agent, to treat adults with Covid-19. The provisional determination makes Merck eligible to file for provisional registration of the drug in the country. Molnupiravir targets SARS-CoV-2 replication and is thought to possess broad-spectrum activity against various RNA viruses.

South Korea-based SK bioscience has announced plans to conduct a Phase III clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, GBP510, which was developed in alliance with the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design and adjuvanted with GlaxoSmithKline’s pandemic adjuvant system. The Phase III trial comes after favourable interim results from a Phase I/II trial, which showed neutralising antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in all subjects who received the adjuvanted vaccine.

3:12 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 203.5 million

10 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 203,569,000 and more than 4,307,000 deaths were reported.

India has reported 28,000 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19, the lowest number of new cases reported in the country since mid-March.

India experienced a rapid surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the Spring, which peaked at around 400,000 daily cases in early May.

The rapid increase in infections in India was driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, which emerged in the country in late 2020.

Although there is still a high prevalence of the Delta variant in India, the seven-day rolling average of new daily confirmed cases has been falling consistently since mid-May.

India has administered more than half a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to date, and the recent approval of Johnson and Johnson’s single dose vaccine brings hope that the government could reach its target of fully vaccinating the entire adult population by the end of 2021.

The US has reported the highest number of new daily confirmed cases globally (165,000) as infections continue to rise across the country.

Although more than half of the population have been fully vaccinated nationwide, vaccine hesitancy has led to a poor uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in the Southern US.

Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are all experiencing a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, amid concerns healthcare facilities could be overwhelmed as schools prepare to reopen after the summer vacation.

Oliver Whittingham, Intern at GlobalData Plc

11:55 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Switzerland approves Moderna vaccine for adolescents – Gilead to require Covid-19 vaccination for all US workers

Switzerland’s medical regulator Swissmedic has expanded the temporary authorisation for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax, in adolescents aged 12 years to 17 years. The decision comes after the agency reviewed data from an ongoing trial in 3,732 participants of this age group. Moderna has also secured provisional registration from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for the vaccine in people aged 18 years or above, with delivery set to begin next month.

Gilead Sciences has said it will require all its employees and contractors in the US to receive vaccination against Covid-19, as of 1 October 2021, where permitted by law and where vaccine supply is readily accessible. The aim is to protect the health of workers and the patients the company serves, Gilead said. For workers with religious beliefs or medical conditions that prevent them from being inoculated, Gilead plans to provide a review process.

Inovio and its partner Advaccine Biopharmaceuticals Suzhou have received regulatory approval to conduct two clinical trials of heterologous boosting with Covid-19 vaccines in China. The trials will assess a mixed-dosing regimen with Inovio’s DNA vaccine candidate INO-4800 and Sinovac Biotechnology’s inactivated vaccine CoronaVac. Sponsored by Advaccine, the studies will enrol healthy adults aged 18 years or above.

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International update: Covid vaccinations to be mandatory for US military

10 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,303,377 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 203 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 35.9 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 617,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Fuelled by the highly transmissible delta variant, new coronavirus cases in the US rose to 761,216 in the week ended Sunday, the highest total since early February, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The death toll climbed 49% to 3,486 for same period. It was the biggest weekly increase since December.

The Defense Department will make vaccinations against Covid-19 mandatory for members of the US military by 15 September as the highly contagious delta variant spreads globally, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Monday.

Oklahoma City is running low on ambulance crews amid rising Covid-19 cases and staffing shortages, the Oklahoman newspaper reported Monday. In an attempt to stem the shortage, the city has established a plan to allow fire department vehicles to transport heart attack patients to hospitals if need be, according to the newspaper.

The number of people hospitalized because of Covid-19 in Arkansas rose to a record 1,376, topping January’s peak of 1,371, according to the Associated Press. The state added 103 virus patients in hospitals, the biggest one-day increase.

Perella Weinberg Partners told staff primarily in New York and London that return-to-office plans will be delayed as the Covid-19 variants spread. The investment bank may seek to bring more workers back in October, depending on the trajectory of the virus, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing internal decisions. It had previously sought a September return.

Iran: One person is now dying with Covid-19 every two minutes in Iran, state TV has said, as the Middle East’s worst-hit nation reported a new record daily toll of 588 fatalities. It compares to a reported rate of about one death per three minutes a month ago.

China: China’s latest Covid outbreak continues to expand, with more than 100 symptomatic cases reported on Tuesday. With 50 new confirmed infections found in the eastern province of Jiangsu, the latest resurgence has spread to around 1,000 people across more than half of the mainland’s provinces. China is battling the delta variant with some of the most aggressive measures in the world, even though the majority of the population is vaccinated. Mass testing and targeted lockdowns in some cities are key parts of its playbook. The capital Beijing has banned residents from “high-risk” cities from returning, while escalating containment efforts by closing some entertainment venues and halting certain gathering activities.

Australia: The delta-variant virus outbreak roiling Sydney has reached a fresh record, even as Australia’s most populous city is well into the seventh week of a lockdown ordering residents to stay-at-home. New South Wales, Australia’s biggest state economy, recorded 356 new cases Tuesday — the highest tally since this outbreak started in Sydney in mid-June and up from 283 the day before. With the nation’s two largest cities in lockdown, the delta variant of the coronavirus is placing increased pressure on Australia’s so-called “Covid Zero” strategy, which has relied on closed international borders and rigorous testing to eliminate community transmission of the virus.

Thailand: Thailand recorded 235 fatalities from the coronavirus, the nation’s highest daily level, according to government data Tuesday. The country reported 19,843 new Covid-19 cases, while the number of total daily recoveries were 22,806. The worsening outbreak may scuttle plans to reopen borders to fully vaccinated tourists from mid-October and jump-start the tourism-reliant economy.

Vaccine news

India: Inadvertently mixing a first dose of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covishield vaccine with a second dose of Covaxin – a vaccine made by an Indian drugmaker – led to a higher antibody response in 18 people in a north Indian state against the alpha, beta and delta variants, according to a recent study by the Indian Council of Medical Research. India, which has fully inoculated only 8.2% its population, recorded 35,499 Covid-19 cases Monday, taking the total tally to almost 32 million. Deaths rose by 447 in a day to 428,309, according to health ministry data.

UK: The UK is on course to “hoard” up to 210m spare coronavirus vaccines by the end of the year, new research suggested, as ministers were accused of leaving poorer countries “fighting for scraps” after the UK opposed a move to allow more companies abroad to manufacture the doses themselves.

Singapore: Singapore said 70% of its population has been fully vaccinated, and 79% have received at least one dose, giving the city-state one of the best vaccination rates in the world as it starts to ease social distancing restrictions and restart parts of the economy.

Australia: The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has put the issue of vaccine mandates firmly in the hands of employers, saying government legal advice backs the view that bosses may be able to require workers to get a Covid-19 jab, particularly in high-risk fields.

Mexico: The US is preparing to send Mexico vaccines from Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc in coming days to bolster its southern neighbor’s fight against Covid-19, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Lockdown updates

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the travel advisory for France and Israel to the highest level. The agency lowered the advisory for Canada to level 2, or moderate.

France: An extension to France’s “health pass” covering activities including going to restaurants and cafes, taking long-distance train journeys and visiting hospitals has come into effect after a fourth weekend of protests. Opponents believe the pass sanitaire violates the most fundamental of French principles: the liberté and egalité of the national motto.

Canada: Canada today lifted its ban on Americans entering, though under a strict regime they must be both fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19 within three days. Long delays were reported at as tourists rushed to travel north during the busy summer season.

Meanwhile, Canada is extending its restrictions on direct commercial and private passenger flights from India to Sept. 21 because of Covid-19. The government will also extend testing requirements for passengers arriving from India via an indirect flight.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is from today taking travel requests from vaccinated foreign visitors seeking to visit the holy city of Mecca as part of the Umrah pilgrimage. The tight restrictions, including rules on which vaccines are considered acceptable, means that millions of Muslims could be prevented from going on the pivotally important journey.

Italy: Fake versions of anti-Covid “green passes” have begun to circulate in Italy just days after they were introduced to gain entry to a number of indoor places, police said. One network selling false evidence of vaccination, recovery or testing has been broken up, they claimed, saying they have identified four suspects, including two minors.

Scotland: Scottish clubbers have vowed to be “out every night” as the easing of coronavirus restrictions allowed venues to reopen for the first time in more than a year. Nightclubs across the country opened their doors as the clock moved a minute past midnight today.

Singapore: Singapore began allowing dining in to resume and is raising group sizes to five for those who’ve been fully vaccinated. Work from home rules are expected to ease next week.

Indonesia: Indonesia will gradually ease restrictions in several cities, including the capital Jakarta, as it sets out a roadmap for life with the coronavirus for the next few years. Those who are vaccinated can go to shopping centers and places of worship in Jakarta and other major cities, with the capacity set at maximum 25%, said Luhut Panjaitan, the government minister overseeing the pandemic response. Bali’s situation remains concerning, he added.

Economy updates

Germany: BioNTech SE raised its forecast for this year’s Covid-19 vaccine sales to 15.9 billion euros and said it is pushing forward plans to test its messenger RNA technology in cancer drugs. BioNTech and partner Pfizer Inc. signed contracts to deliver some 2.2 billion doses of the two-shot vaccine this year and more than 1 billion doses in 2022 and beyond, the Mainz, Germany-based company said Monday. BioNTech had previously predicted 12.4 billion euros in 2021 revenue from its only marketed product. The Covid vaccine is on track to be one of the best-selling drugs of all time, with Pfizer saying last month it may generate $33.5 billion in sales this year.

China: The number of seats being offered by airline carriers in China has dropped the most since early in the Covid-19 pandemic, as rising cases of the delta variant spurred fresh restrictions on movement. Seat capacity plunged 32% in one week, hastening a decline in the country that began at the end of July, based on data from aviation specialist OAG. China’s stumble sent global capacity on a weekly 6.5% slide, as travel comebacks also stagnated in Europe and North America.

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GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 203 million

9 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 202,872,000 with over 4,297,000 deaths and over 143,933,000 recoveries reported.

Australia has reported over 300 daily new cases of Covid-19 as the seven-day rolling average of cases continues to rise.

Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, reported 283 new daily confirmed cases as infections spread from Sydney to regional areas on the East coast.

In response to a sharp rise in local transmissions, authorities have imposed strict lockdown measures upon millions of people, including military patrols in western regions of Sydney.

Australia’s largest outbreak so far this year has been driven by a low vaccination rate and the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant.

China has reported 125 new daily confirmed cases as local transmissions of the highly contagious Delta variant continue to challenge the country’s ‘zero-covid’ strategy.

Over the course of the last week, officials have achieved their goal of testing the entirety of Wuhan’s population of 11 million, and similar mass-testing programmes are planned in other regions.

Authorities have cancelled most domestic flights and rail networks between major cities, and plan to introduce stricter overseas travel restrictions on China’s 1.5 billion population.

Despite the success of China’s vaccination program, the Delta variant poses a dangerous threat to the world’s second-largest economy.

Ollie Whittingham, Intern at GlobalData Plc.

10:02 am

International update: Israel administers booster shots as Covid cases surge

9 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,293,914 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 202 million world wide.

Israel: A third of Israeli adults over the age of 60 have already received a coronavirus booster shot, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday, as the country struggles to contain a surge in infections.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 35.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 616,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Iran: Iran’s daily deaths surpassed 500 for the first time since the pandemic began, surging to a record 542 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry reported. The country also reported its highest-ever daily case count at 39,619, its fourth record for daily new infections this month. Iran now has 94,015 deaths with more than 4.1 million known cases.

Russia: Deaths in Russia remain near last month’s record high, with 787 people dying from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the country’s response center said Sunday. The seven-day moving average has been at 790 for the past four days. That brings the total death toll to 164,881, the task force said in a statement. That’s far lower than Federal Statistics Service data, which show almost 316,800 deaths through the end of June, including cases where the virus was an indirect cause. In the past 24 hours, 22,866 cases of the coronavirus were registered, compared with 22,320 the previous day, taking the total to 6.45 million, the response center said.

Malaysia: Malaysia announced a slight drop in new daily Covid-19 infections on Sunday with 18,688 cases, after 19,257 on Saturday and a record high of 20,899 on Friday. Malaysia’s health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a tweet the country has now had 1,262,540 infections.

Germany: Germany reported 3,127 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, prolonging a trend of rising infections that started about one month ago.

UK: The UK has recorded 27,429 new coronavirus cases and a further 39 deaths in the latest 24 hour period, bringing the total deaths to 130,321, government figures show.

Philippines: The Philippines’ health ministry recorded on Sunday 9,671 new coronavirus cases and 287 additional deaths, the biggest single-day rise in the country’s death toll since 9 April.

DRC: Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the coronavirus outbreak had eased in many parts of the country but remained worrying in the economic capital of Lubumbashi where not wearing a mask will now be punishable by up to seven days in jail.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s health ministry reported 9,690 coronavirus infections on Sunday, a record daily increase.

Vaccine news

EU: AstraZeneca has started to ship its vaccine from a British factory to the European Union, the Telegraph newspaper reported, in a move could improve the company’s troubled relations with Brussels.

US: The director of the National Institutes of Health said he supported vaccine mandates, given the renewed viral surge that has pushed new cases back to an average of more than 100,000 a day. “We ought to use every public health tool we can when people are dying,” Francis Collins said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I understand how that can sometimes set off all kinds of resistance. But isn’t that a shame?” he added. “I mean, how did we get here? Why is it that a mandate about a vaccine or wearing a mask suddenly becomes a statement of your political party?”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for support for vaccine mandates among teachers, after previously said that vaccinations must not be “coerced.” She said members have “stepped up,” with 90% of teacher members already vaccinated. An affiliate of the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers represents 1.7 million members nationwide.

Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious-disease doctor, said Covid-19 vaccine booster shots should be given “reasonably soon” to people with weakened immune systems. When asked if other groups should get booster shots, Fauci said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is ready to give such recommendations “as soon as” they see clear evidence to do so from the data.

Ghana: Ghana took delivery of 177,600 J&J single-shot vaccines on Saturday, through an arrangement by the African Union. The first shipments form part of the 6.4 million vaccines to be sent to members of the regional bloc this month, the AU’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust said in an emailed statement.

Lockdown updates

US: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was canceled for a second year because of Covid-19, organizers announced on Sunday, as Louisiana weathers the nation’s worst per capita outbreak of the virus.

Tesla will require workers at its battery plant in Reno, Nevada to wear masks indoor, whether vaccinated or not, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A group of parents in Florida asked a judge to block an executive order by Governor Ron DeSantis that bans school districts from imposing mask requirements when classes resume in the fall. The lawsuit, filed Friday in state court in Florida, comes amid a fierce national debate about whether children in schools should wear masks as the delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps the country and case counts rise. The lawsuit argues that DeSantis’ order violates a provision of the state constitution that requires public officials to ensure schools are safe for students.

UK: The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has dialed back requirements for staff to begin returning to the office next month, the Guardian newspaper reported. Staff were told this week that the department had scrapped plans requiring them to be in the office at least four to eight days per month from September.

Australia: In Australia, south-east Queensland has emerged from lockdown just as Cairns residents begin one, as the state grapples with a Covid-19 outbreak.

9:26 am

Coronavirus company news summary – India approves J&J single-dose vaccine for emergency use – FDA clears AZ vaccine substance for export from Emergent’s Baltimore plant

The Government of India has approved the emergency use of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) single-shot Covid-19 vaccine, which will be made available in the country in partnership with Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer Biological E. J&J applied for the Emergency Use Authorization on 5 August 2021, supported by top-line results on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in the Phase III ENSEMBLE clinical trial.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that some lots of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine drug substance produced at Emergent BioSolutions’ Baltimore plant are fit for potential export. The regulator noted a detailed review of facility records and quality testing results submitted by Emergent. AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved for emergency use in the US but can be shipped to other markets. Vaccine production at the plant had been paused after a major vaccine contamination incident at the end of March, and FDA reports of poor standards at the facility.

A new laboratory study has demonstrated that fenofibrate, a drug commonly used to address abnormal fatty substance levels in the blood, and its active form fenofibric acid can lower SARS-CoV-2 infection by up to 70% in human cells. Led by the University of Birmingham and Keele University in the UK and the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Italy, the study found that the activity against Covid-19 could be achieved with a standard clinical dose of fenofibrate. The team is now calling for additional clinical trials of the drug in hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

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GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 201 million – alarming spikes across SE Asia

6 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 201 million with more than 4,270,000 deaths and over 143,933,000 recoveries reported.

Covid-19 cases are continuing to rise across South-East Asia, as Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines all experience an alarming spike in new daily confirmed cases.

Indonesia’s cumulative death toll has exceeded 100,000 after the country reported more than 1,700 new daily deaths, the highest number reported globally.

Indonesia experienced a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in early July, soon after the highly contagious Delta variant was first identified in the country.

Malaysia has reported one of the highest number of cases per million people globally (664 cases per million population), and the Philippines’ reported 10,600 new daily confirmed cases, the highest number of cases reported in the country since mid-April.

A rising number of cases across the region can be attributed to the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant and a low prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies, in part because vaccination rates have been slow.

Australia has reported more than 300 new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 as the seven-day rolling average of cases continues to rise.

Authorities have imposed strict lockdown measures upon Australia’s three most populous states, which are home to the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, to reduce the incidence of local transmissions of Covid-19.

Australia’s ‘zero-covid’ strategy has been successful in the past.

However, a low vaccination rate is driving the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and Australian’s are beginning to lose patience after enduring multiple periods of strict stay-at-home measures.

Ollie Whittingham, Intern at GlobalData Plc.

12:06 pm

International update: Tokyo reports record Covid cases as Olympics nears close

6 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,267,859 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 201 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 35.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 615,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

CNN has fired three members of staff in the US for reporting to work without being vaccinated. Company bosses said the staff had violated its zero-tolerance policy for having the jab.

China: China reported 124 new cases of the virus on Friday, the highest number of the current outbreak amid a surge in locally transmitted infections.

Japan: Tokyo reported a record 5,042 new cases, as the Olympics entered its final few days in the Japanese capital. The leap from the previous day brought the seven-day moving average to about 3,646, while the number of serious cases rose to 135 from 115 the previous day, government data showed. While the number of cases directly linked to the Olympics remained low, the government’s top virus adviser said the event may have made people more relaxed about precautions.

Australia: New South Wales recorded another record number of cases on Friday – 291 – and more than half of Australia is in lockdown again. There were protests in Melbourne on Thursday night as the state of Victoria headed into another snap lockdown. Queensland could move out of lockdown on Sunday after only 10 new cases of the virus were reported on Friday.

Thailand: Thailand reported 21,379 new Covid-19 infections, a daily record that took the nation’s total past 700,000, as recent tightening of containment measures has failed to quell a raging outbreak. The Southeast Asian nation also reported a single-day record 191 deaths, official data showed Friday.

Singapore: Singapore’s locally-transmitted virus cases stayed below 100 for a third day, ahead of a planned government review of strict social distancing restrictions that have banned dining in and limited gatherings to just two people. Singapore is also easing regulations on visitors from Taiwan as conditions there have improved, the health ministry said in a separate statement. Those who’ve spent the last 21 days in Taiwan can enter without a 14-day stay-home notice requirement so long as they test negative on arrival.

France: French officials said that another 52 residents died of Covid-19, bringing the official toll to 112,133. The nation reported 26,460 new cases in the past day.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna’s final analysis of the company’s late-stage study, described in a statement on Thursday, suggests its vaccine’s protection remains stable for long after recipients complete the standard two-dose regimen. The 93% effectiveness level is just short of the shot’s initial efficacy of 94%.

US: The US could announce its plan to give out booster vaccines within weeks, the Wall Street Journal has reported. The US has given nearly 350m Covid-19 jabs.

The Biden administration is considering using federal regulatory powers and the threat of withholding federal funds from institutions to push more Americans to get vaccinated – a huge potential shift in the fight against the virus and a far more muscular approach to getting shots into arms, according to four people familiar with the deliberations. The effort could apply to institutions as varied as long-term care facilities, cruise ships and universities, potentially impacting millions of Americans, according to the people, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations. The conversations are in the early phases and no firm decisions have been made, the people said. One outside lawyer in touch with the Biden administration on the issue is recommending that the president use federal powers sparingly.

California officials ordered all health care workers in the state to be fully vaccinated by the end of September, in what they called the nation’s first such mandate. The order, issued Thursday by State Public Health Officer Tomas Aragon, covers all workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing facilities, and doctors’ offices – even dialysis centers. Employees must be vaccinated unless exempted by their employer for religious or medical reasons. The move goes one step farther than an announcement last week by Governor Gavin Newsom, who said the state would require health care workers to be vaccinated or wear a mask at work and submit to testing at least once per week. It comes after two of California’s biggest health care providers – Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health – said they would require their employees to be vaccinated by 30 September.

China: President Xi Jinping pledged to dramatically expand Covid-19 vaccine exports to two billion doses this year, matching commitments by Group of Seven nations amid warnings about inoculation shortages in the developing world. The developing world is counting on shots from Chinese developers Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Sinopharm Group to slow the spread of the virus, even though they appear to be less effective than vaccines developed in the West using newer technology.

Chile: Chile will start to vaccinate residents with a third dose against coronavirus next week in a campaign that mixes shots from different providers, as the government seeks to protect the population from the delta variant. Chile joins countries from Uruguay to Israel in announcing third doses as the world moves to deal with the rapid spread of the delta variant. They are looking past the World Health Organization’s calls for a moratorium on booster shots to enable poorer countries to catch up in inoculation rates.

Lockdown updates

US: Inc. says corporate employees won’t have to return to the office regularly until January, becoming the latest big company to postpone its resumption of regular work habits as infections from the delta variant surge in the US. The largest online retailer told employees in an email on Thursday that they should plan to begin going to offices the week of 3 January.

BlackRock Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. are pushing their return-to-office plans back a month to early October, as Wall Street grapples with rising Covid-19 rates across the US.

UK: The UK government has destroyed the public’s trust in travel quarantine rules, a former government adviser has said, after the latest changes to the traffic-light system for overseas travel.

Young people in the UK will “miss out” on access to nightclubs if they don’t get vaccinated, warns an advertising campaign being launched to boost take-up.Six other European nations, including Germany, were added to the lowest-risk “green” list, meaning all visitors can avoid quarantine whether or not they are fully vaccinated. All changes will come into effect from 4 am on Sunday, 8 August.

All businesses in Wales, including nightclubs, will be able to reopen from Saturday and there will be no legal limits on the number of people who can get together as the country moves to Covid alert level 0.

Australia: Australians who live abroad will not be able to leave the country if they return home unless they appeal for a special exemption as Canberra tightened its restrictions on pandemic travel.

South Korea: South Korea will extend its social distancing curbs by two weeks as the government contends with outbreaks nationwide and more people fall severely ill, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Friday.

Italy: The Italian government has said teachers will need proof of immunity from Covid-19 from the start of September, as travellers on public transport will also need the country’s “green pass”.

Philippines: The Philippines included more cities and provinces under lockdown, adding to the capital region which returned to the strictest form of movement curbs on Friday. Laguna, Iloilo City and Cagayan De Oro were placed under enhanced community quarantine, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said late Thursday.

Economy update

UK: The UK’s live events sector has finally been promised a Covid cancellation insurance scheme worth £750m after months of lobbying.

10:57 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna vaccine shows durable efficacy up to six months – Regeneron antibody cocktail sales hit $2.59bn in Q2 2021

Final data from the Phase III COVE clinical trial of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has demonstrated 93% efficacy, durable up to six months after the second dose. The company added that its booster vaccine candidates also showed strong antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in a Phase II trial.

Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV, reached $2.59bn in net sales during the second quarter of 2021. Apart from the $34m net sales anticipated from the second supply agreement with the US government, Regeneron does not expect any more US sales of the product in the third quarter. The fourth quarter REGEN-COV sales in the country will depend on the number of Covid-19 cases and associated drug use, the company added.

Novavax and its partner Serum Institute of India (SII) have made submissions to regulatory agencies in India, Indonesia and the Philippines seeking emergency use authorisation for the former’s recombinant nanoparticle protein-based Covid-19 vaccine. The companies submitted data related to all modules, including preclinical, clinical, and chemistry, manufacturing and controls findings. SII has a vaccine manufacturing agreement to produce Novavax’s jab, and is responsible for manufacturing and commercialising the vaccine in India.

10:28 am

Coronavirus company news summary – EC makes advance order for 200m doses of Novavax Covid-19 vaccine – WHO calls for pause on vaccine boosters until end of September at earliest

The European Commission (EC) has finalised an advance purchase agreement for up to 200 million doses of Novavax’s recombinant nanoparticle protein-based Covid-19 vaccine, NVX-CoV2373. The deal is for the acquisition of up to 100 million doses and an option for another 100 million doses through 2023. Novavax is currently progressing its rolling submission for the vaccine to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the third quarter of this year and the delivery of the first doses will start after approval.

The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine boosters until the end of September at least, in a bid to boost vaccine supplies to low-income countries. The aim is to allow a minimum of 10% of each country’s population to be inoculated. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that high-income nations have administered nearly 100 doses for every 100 people so far while low-income nations only administered 1.5 doses for every 100 people due to a lack of supply.

NRx Pharmaceuticals has partnered with MannKind to develop a dry powder formulation of  Zyesami, which secured the US Food and Drug Administration’s fast track designation in acute lung injury or acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by Covid-19. In a Phase IIb/III trial, the drug was able to increase survival chances in Covid-19 patients with respiratory failure.

10:01 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 200 million

5 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,257,056 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 200 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 35.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 614,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Florida hospitals are struggling to get oxygen due to a rise in Covid-19 cases attributable to the delta variant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision not to declare another state of emergency.

Florida now has a record 11,906 adults patients hospitalized with confirmed Covid-19, up from 11,515 a day earlier, further surpassing the peak from the previous summer’s wave, according US Department of Health & Human Services data.

Europe: Mental health services suffered across the whole of Europe because of pandemic restrictions. New pan-European research shows that psychiatric services were reduced to emergency care only in many countries.

China: In just two weeks, confirmed cases  – people infected and sickened by the virus  – have grown to more than 500. The infections can be traced back to three cluster areas in China: an outbreak among airport cleaning staff in eastern city Nanjing, another found at a hospital treating Covid patients in Zhengzhou and sporadic cases detected in Yunnan, the province bordering Myanmar.

Japan: The Tokyo Olympics added a record 31 Covid-19 cases, one of which is an athlete, according to its positive case list. The athlete is a Greek artistic swimmer, bringing total infections on the team to six. As of yesterday, the team previously had five of 12 competitors and officials test positive.

Australia: Sydney reported a record number of new daily delta variant cases on Thursday, with authorities to enforce stay-at-home orders beyond Australia’s largest city as Covid-19 spreads north into other regions. New South Wales state recorded 262 new cases, the vast majority in Sydney, which has been in lockdown for almost six weeks. Five more people died, and four of them weren’t vaccinated, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. “Every jurisdiction around the world is finding delta challenging,” Berejiklian said. “We can try and eliminate it but we know the vaccine is critical to stopping the spread.”

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization called for a moratorium on booster shots to enable poorer countries to catch up in vaccination rates. The halt on third doses should be in place until at least the end of September, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a media briefing on Wednesday. That would help achieve the WHO’s goal to vaccinate at least 10% of the population in every country by that date, protecting health-care workers and vulnerable people.

Europe: The European Commission approved a contract with Novavax Inc. for up to 200 million doses of the US company’s Covid vaccine, according to statement. The Novavax vaccine is under rolling review by the European Union’s drug regulator in view of a potential market authorization.

UK: Vaccinating older teenagers has been welcomed by many scientists as the “logical next step” in the rollout of the vaccine. But some experts believe more research is needed before extending the programme further. Prof Russell Viner, professor of child and adolescent health at UCL, said more safety data is needed “before we consider vaccinating younger teenagers”.

These comments followed the news earlier today that the UK will be offering 16 and 17 year olds a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said its decision had been made after ‘large changes’ in the way that Covid has been spreading in the UK, “particularly in younger age groups”.

US: Massachusetts will require that all staffers at nursing homes and other long-term care venues get a Covid vaccine by 1 September and be fully vaccinated by 10 October, state officials announced Wednesday. The mandate includes exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

Lockdown updates

US: Future travellers to the US will have to be fully vaccinated a White House official has said. The new requirement is being discussed as part of a phased approach to easing restrictions for foreign visitors.

UK: Millions of Britons have been given the green light to travel to Europe’s holiday hotspots, avoiding quarantine on return from France and Spain where concerns have been raised about Covid variants. The announcement was part of wider changes to travel rules for people travelling in and out of the UK.

The UK also eased rules for arrivals from India, Bahrain, and travel hubs the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Those countries will move from the UK’s highest-risk “red” list to its medium-risk “amber” list, meaning arrivals will no longer need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

Six other European nations, including Germany, were added to the lowest-risk “green” list, meaning all visitors can avoid quarantine whether or not they are fully vaccinated. All changes will come into effect from 4 am on Sunday, 8 August.

The boss of one of the UK’s largest insurance firms has suggested that employers in London’s financial district may be struggling more than those in other cities to persuade office workers to return to their desks as coronavirus restrictions ease. Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal & General, said there were “a lot fewer people working in the City” compared with urban centres across the UK, Europe and the US.

China: China imposed new travel and movement restrictions across the nation, including in its highly protected capital of Beijing, as a delta-driven outbreak grew to over 500 symptomatic cases scattered across 15 provinces and municipalities. Public transport and taxi services were curtailed in 144 of the worst-hit areas nationwide, while officials curbed train service and subway usage in Beijing, where three new cases were reported Wednesday. Hong Kong re-imposed quarantine on travelers from the mainland, though an exception remained for the southern Guangdong province which neighbors the financial city.

Economy update

US: Organizers of the 2021 New York International Automobile Show have canceled the event for the second year in a row, citing concerns over the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant. The annual event was to be held in its traditional venue, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. This marks the second-consecutive year that the 121-year-old New York Auto Show was canceled. The organizers expressed confidence the show will return to its regular spring schedule in April 2022.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: China ‘concerned’ as Delta variant sparks Covid case resurgence

4 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 199,742,000 with more than 4,250,000 deaths and over 142,909,000 recoveries reported.

Covid-19 cases are continuing to soar across South-East Asia, as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand all experience a growing number of new, daily confirmed cases.

For the second day in a row, Indonesia has recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began, with almost 1,600 deaths recorded today.

Malaysia has reported more than 32,500 new daily confirmed cases, the highest number identified in the country since the pandemic began and one of the highest numbers of new, daily confirmed cases per million people globally.

A rapidly rising number of cases across the region can be attributed to a low prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies amongst these populations, as only a handful of cases were reported last year, and vaccination rates have been slow.

Chinese authorities are becoming increasingly concerned about the rate of infection of Covid-19 across the country, after three cases of the Delta variant were identified in Wuhan.

More than 300 cases of the virus have been reported in multiple provinces over the last ten days, including many local transmissions.

This is the largest outbreak the country has faced since early 2020. The government’s response to the outbreaks is very heavy handed, despite the high reported vaccination rate.

Officials have announced plans to test the entirety of Wuhan’s population of 11 million; a seemingly logistical nightmare, but something that China achieved last summer.

Authorities have also introduced strict lockdown measures upon millions, cancelling many domestic flights and severing rail networks between major cities.

China has been largely successful in controlling the spread of Covid-19 within its borders so far with similar tactics, but the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant poses an altogether new challenge for the world’s second largest economy.

Ollie Whittingham, Intern at GlobalData Plc.

11:49 am

International update: US Republican states push back against mask and vaccine mandates

4 August

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,246,242 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 199.5 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 35.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 614,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US government is in “active” and “sensitive” discussions about investing in a comprehensive pandemic preparedness program, said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert. Speaking at a Tuesday event with the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, Fauci said the US is continuing to plan for the future, ever-focused on how vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics might be used to combat future pandemics.

Idaho is suffering a surge in Covid-19 infections among babies and toddlers, prompting an urgent call for unvaccinated adults to get shots and “cocoon these kids.” The current pace is 53 per 100,000 children from newborn to age 4, up from 16 per 100,000 two weeks ago, Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist at the Idaho Division of Public Health, said during an online briefing Tuesday. The most likely cause is circulation of the delta variant, Turner said.

US President Joe Biden singled out Florida and Texas, where cases are surging, criticizing the pandemic response by the Republican governors in those states. The two states are responsible for about one-third of all new cases in the US in the past week, the administration said Monday. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold funding to local school districts that have mask requirements, while Texas Governor Greg Abbott has banned vaccine mandates.

The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Florida climbed to a record 11,863, even as Governor Ron DeSantis reaffirmed his stance against against new public-health mandates.

President Joe Biden said US authorities plan to announce new measures aimed at protecting struggling renters after an eviction moratorium lapsed days ago, setting off a firestorm of criticism from fellow Democrats and housing advocates.

UK: More than 200 areas across England and Wales had at least twice as many deaths as average during the first Covid wave, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics.

Fewer than one in 20 Covid-positive children who experience symptoms continue to be symptomatic beyond four weeks, a study carried out in the UK between September 2020 and February 2021 has found.

China: China reported its highest daily number of local coronavirus cases in months as mass testing and contact tracing campaigns uncovered a trail of Delta variant infections.

Australia: The most disadvantaged areas of Sydney have had almost twice as many Covid cases as the rest of the city during the current outbreak, according to a Guardian Australia analysis.

A Sydney man in his 20s has died of Covid as local cases continue to proliferate in the worst outbreak so far in New South Wales.

Netherlands: Weekly cases in the Netherlands continue to fall with 21,005 infections reported on Tuesday, down from 37,343 in the previous week. The national health service said the country appears to have reached a peak in Covid-19 hospitalizations, with 541 new admissions reported in the past week, down by 23.

Vaccine news

Hungary: The Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine has failed to produce sufficient antibodies in a quarter of elderly people who were voluntarily tested in Budapest, according to a study by the opposition-led Budapest City Hall. The results were published just as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which has faced opposition criticism for having widely given Sinopharm shots to older people, started offering third shots this week for anyone who requests them. Hungary, which has had the highest level of Covid-19 deaths per capita after Peru, was the only European Union country to have deployed the Sinopharm vaccine.

US: Tyson Foods Inc. is requiring all of its US workers to be fully vaccinated no later than 1 November. The move by Tyson, America’s biggest meat company, is among the most aggressive yet to prevent another wave of infections that shuttered food-production plants in 2020. Walmart Inc., the biggest private employer in the US, and Walt Disney Corp. announced vaccination requirements for some employees last week.

UK: The UK is set to approve Covid-19 vaccination shots for those at age 16 and 17, the Telegraph reports, citing a government source. The demographic group will be advised to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, matching the guidance for other younger UK residents.

Scotland: Teenagers aged 16 and 17 will reportedly be given the green light for Covid-19 vaccination, according to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

New Zealand: Helen Clark, former New Zealand prime minister and co-chair of an influential Covid panel, criticised more developed countries for buying up many more vaccines than they require.

Argentina: The Russian Direct Investment Fund said it’s reached agreement to produce 3 million doses of the second shot of its Sputnik V vaccine in Argentina this month, after a presidential adviser in the Latin American country criticized delays in deliveries. Laboratorios Richmond SA will start making Sputnik vaccines available in Argentina starting this week with an initial batch of 150,000 doses, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is in charge of Sputnik’s international rollout, said by email on Tuesday.

Lockdown updates

Scotland: The legal requirement for physical distancing in Scotland will be removed from next week, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

US: New York City is to require proof of vaccination for indoor activities including entering restaurants, going to gyms and attending performances, mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Public schools in Denver will require indoor masks for students, teachers, staff and visitors when classes resume 9 August “regardless of vaccination status,” Will Jones, a spokesman for the school system, said in an email. On Monday, the city announced all municipal workers, including teachers, must be vaccinated by the end of September.

Morocco: Morocco is introducing new coronavirus restrictions, including a curfew from 9pm to 5am, as infection rates rise.

Brazil: Brazilian states and cities are preparing to suspend most limitations on businesses and gatherings as Covid cases and deaths drop to the lowest in months while vaccinations pick up speed.

Economy update

Global: CureVac and Arcturus Therapeutics rose after Sanofi agreed to buy Translate Bio Inc. for $3.2 billion. Sanofi and Translate were partnered on Covid-19 vaccine development before the French drugmaker made a bid for the Massachusetts-based biotech. Arcturus also said it got the go-ahead in Singapore to advance two mRNA candidates to a Phase 1/2 study.

9:54 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Lilly/Incyte report positive efficacy data for baricitinib against severe Covid-19 – Alnylam discontinues development of RNAi therapy

Eli Lilly and Incyte have reported new data from an additional cohort of the Phase III COV-BARRIER clinical trial, demonstrating that baricitinib decreased mortality risk in Covid-19 patients on mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). The sub-study data from 101 adults revealed that baricitinib plus standard of care (SoC) led to 46% and 44% reduced mortality risk by day 28 and day 60, respectively, versus placebo plus SoC.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals is discontinuing the development of ALN-COV, an RNAi therapeutic co-developed with Vir Biotechnology, for the treatment of Covid-19. The decision was announced as part of Alnylam’s second-quarter financial results, with the company noting the discontinuation of development is due to the availability of effective vaccines and other therapies for the disease.

Premas Biotech has entered a licensing agreement with Oravax Medical to develop and commercialise its virus-like-particle (VLP) Covid-19 vaccine technology in India. Premas will receive the rights to develop an injectable version of the VLP technology, which could offer protection against the delta SARS- CoV-2 variant. The company will produce, evaluate and potentially market the injectable VLP vaccine in India, which has recorded about 31 million cases and more than 400,000 deaths so far.

4:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases approach 200 million

3 August

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 199,040,000 with over 4,239,000 deaths and over 142,848,000 recoveries reported.

The US has reported the highest number of new daily confirmed cases globally (75,800), as infections continue to soar across the country, especially in the states of Florida and Texas.

After ramping up the national vaccination rate to its highest level since Independence Day, Joe Biden’s administration have finally achieved their goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

This milestone came almost a month after the target of 4 July.

Failure to reach the original 4 July target can be attributed to hesitancy amongst key demographics wary of getting the vaccine because of misinformation over vaccine safety.

The highest number of daily deaths globally were reported in Indonesia (1,500), which is the largest death toll from Covid-19 in the country since the pandemic began.

The government has extended the current restrictions until August 9th in response to a sustained peak in Covid-19 cases since the beginning of June, which can be attributed to Indonesia’s low vaccination rate.

Iran reported its highest ever number of new daily confirmed cases (37,000), as Covid-19 continues to surge across the Middle East.

The country has been slow to vaccinate its population, with less than 4% of the population having received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccination.

Authorities are considering imposing a nationwide lockdown enforced by the military to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Spain reported the highest number of new daily confirmed cases in Europe (56,000), despite a recent fall in the rolling seven-day average of Covid-19 cases.

The UK government has added Spain to the ‘amber’ list, which could cause havoc for UK holiday makers currently in Spain.

Ollie Whittingham, Intern at GlobalData Plc.

11:19 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK launches trial on optimal vaccine dose spacing for pregnant women – Vinbiocare to produce Arcturus’s experimental mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in Vietnam

A new clinical trial funded by the UK Government has been launched to determine the optimal interval between Covid-19 vaccine doses for pregnant women. The Preg-CoV trial will gather immune response data on the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines given at four to six weeks or eight to 12 weeks dose intervals in a total of 600 pregnant women.

Arcturus Therapeutics has partnered with Vinbiocare Biotechnology to set up a manufacturing plant in Vietnam to produce its experimental mRNA Covid-19 vaccines for potential use in the country. Vinbiocare will get an exclusive licence to produce Arcturus’s Covid-19 vaccines at the new facility for supply only in Vietnam. Vinbiocare has secured approval from the Vietnam Ministry of Health to trial Arcturus’s vaccine, ARCT-154, against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

India-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has entered an exclusive long-term strategic collaboration with Canadian company SaNOtize Research & Development to produce, commercialise and supply its nitric oxide nasal spray to treat Covid-19. The deal covers Asian markets, including India, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. The antimicrobial treatment is intended to kill the virus in the upper airways, thereby stopping its incubation and spread to the lungs.