International update: Covid-19 crisis is far “far from finished” - WHO
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International update: Covid-19 crisis is far “far from finished” – WHO

27 Oct 2021

27 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.9 million, with a figure of 4,965,156 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 244.5 million world wide.

The Covid-19 crisis is far “far from finished”, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee has said. The 19-member committee, which meets every three months to discuss the pandemic and make recommendations, also called for research into next-generation vaccines and long-term action to control the virus.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 45.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 738,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Hospital admissions are declining sharply among US children with Covid-19, even more than adults, quieting concerns for now that the return to school could trigger a major uptick in viral transmission. Daily pediatric admissions with confirmed Covid have fallen 56% since the end of August to an average of about 0.2 per 100,000, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. Among adults, new admissions fell 54% to 2.1 per 100,000 in the same period, the data show.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s extending its pandemic-era rules for cruise ship operation until 15 January, after which it will move to a voluntary Covid-19 mitigation program. The rules – under the umbrella of the CDC’s so-called conditional sailing order – were set to expire on 1 November. The CDC said it decided to extend the protocols with a slight variation because of the spread of the more infectious Delta variant, the rise of breakthrough cases and other factors.

UK: A damning report to come out of the UK has lambasted the NHS test and trace system, saying it failed to achieve “its main objective” to cut infection levels and aid in returning to life as normal. The initiative was handed an “eye-watering” £37bn in taxpayers’ cash but ultimately “has not achieved its main objective to help break chains of Covid-19 transmission and enable people to return towards a more normal way of life,” the Commons spending watchdog has said. At the time of its launch, Boris Johnson claimed the programme would be “world-beating” but the watchdog says its aims had been “overstated or not achieved”. The funding – equal to about 20% of the health service’s entire annual budget – was used to hire more than 2,000 consultants who were employed on rates of more than £1,000 a day, the report by the public accounts committee (PAC) found.

The UK recorded 40,954 new Covid cases today and 263 more people have died, official figures show.

Brazil: A Brazilian Senate committee recommended on Tuesday that president Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions related to the world’s second highest Covid-19 death toll. The 7-to-4 vote was the culmination of a six-month committee investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Eastern Europe: Russia, Bulgaria and the Ukraine all reported a record number of daily deaths on Tuesday. Russia reported 1,106 deaths in 24 hours, the most since the start of the pandemic bringing the total death toll to 232,775, Europe’s highest by far. Sluggish vaccination rates have allowed the virus to spread quickly across Eastern Europe.

Bulgaria, the EU’s least-vaccinated country, reported a record rise in daily Covid deaths, at 243. The Balkan country last week limited most public leisure activities to those who have either been vaccinated or already had Covid. The number of new cases on Tuesday was also a record high at 5,863. The health ministry isn’t ruling out a lockdown, Deputy Health Care Minister Alexander Zlatanov said.

Belgium: Belgium will extend the use of a Covid pass (a proof of vaccination, recovery or negative test) to restrict access to bars, restaurants and fitness clubs in the northern Flemish region starting next week. The Brussels capital region and southern Wallonia already decided to use the pass in those venues.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also announced the reinstatement of a mask requirement in indoor public spaces as of Friday, less than a month after abolishing the nationwide rule. Finally, Belgians got a “strong recommendation” to work from home again.

Belgium has reported the highest daily number of Covid-19 infections of 2021 in recent days. Cases are currently doubling every nine days.

Denmark: Denmark, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, has registered a rise in Covid-19 cases with several key indicators showing that the virus has accelerated in the past month. The reproductive rate of the virus, known as the R rate, is now 1.2, up from 1 a week ago, which means the virus is spreading, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke tweeted on Tuesday.

China: China’s capital city Beijing has reported 17 confirmed local Covid cases as of Monday. They are all over 57 years old and some have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the local government briefing. China hasn’t reported any death from Covid since February.

India: India reported 12,428 new Covid cases, the lowest addition in 238 days, according to a statement from the government. India’s confirmed virus cases stood at 34.2 million while deaths totaled 455,068.

Vaccine news

US: Vaccine booster rates are now exceeding first-shot rates across the US, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

FDA advisers recommend approval of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for children aged 5-11. it will be the first vaccine available for younger children in the US. The nearly unanimous vote clears the way for possible approval for emergency use next month, making nearly 30m children eligible.

China: China started giving Covid-19 vaccines to children as young as three, as the country grapples with the return of the delta variant and more frequent virus outbreaks. Multiple places across China are rolling out vaccines to children aged between three and 11, according to reports in local media. The shots, developed by homegrown drugmakers Sinovac Biotech Ltd and state-owned Sinopharm, have already been administered to those aged 12 and above, with the country green-lighting their use in those aged over three in June.

Australia: Australia could hit the 80 per cent full Covid-19 vaccination mark within a week.

Africa: BioNTech plans to start building its first start-to-finish vaccine plant in Africa in the middle of next year, aiming to build a manufacturing network that could eventually supply hundreds of millions of doses to the continent. The German company, which makes a vaccine in partnership with Pfizer Inc., is developing the plans with the governments of Rwanda and Senegal.

Switzerland: Switzerland’s drug regulator Swissmedic approved a third shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for people at high risk.  “The latest study data indicate that an additional dose can increase the ability to form antibodies against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, particularly in patients with a weakened immune system,” it said in a statement.

Lockdown updates

China: China has locked down a city of 4m over six Covid cases. Residents in Lanzhou, Gansu, have been told to stay at home as buses, taxis and key rail routes are suspended.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will soon end most of the quarantine exemptions for overseas and mainland travelers, with the city under pressure from officials in Beijing to tighten up what is already one of the world’s strictest Covid-19 containment regimes. The city will soon announce arrangements to remove exemptions that allow some people to skip mandatory hotel quarantine stays of as long as 21 days to improve the chance that China will allow easier cross-border travel, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday at a regular briefing. Hong Kong’s government said it will stick to its “zero infection” strategy on Covid-19. In a statement issued to Bloomberg News in response to calls from the city’s top bank lobbying group for a change of course, a government spokesperson reiterated that the top priority remains reopening travel to the Chinese mainland, saying that other places that have adjusted their strategies to co-exist with the virus have seen increases in infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Australia: No exemptions are to be given for unvaccinated tennis players travelling from overseas for the Australian Open, the state’s premier has said. Players like Novak Djokovic has repeatedly refused to reveal his vaccination status.

Fully vaccinated Australians will no longer have to apply for travel exemptions to leave the country, as Australia prepares to ease its international borders from 1 November.

Economy updates

Global: Risks related to Covid-19 and the economic havoc it wreaked across the globe are keeping corporate executives up at night. That’s the takeaway from an Aon Plc survey of 2,344 risk managers, chief risk officers and chief financial officers conducted in the second quarter. Cyber attacks were the No. 1 most-cited hazard, and more than half of the Top 10 risks executives say they face today are tied to the pandemic, according to survey results released Tuesday.

US: Eli Lilly & Co. raised its full-year forecast as the delta variant-fueled surge in cases spurred demand for its Covid-19 treatment, particularly among the unvaccinated.

UK: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was warned that a switch to stricter coronavirus Plan B rules would cause as much as 18 billion pounds ($24 billion) in damage to the economy, Politico reported, citing government documents it saw.

China: China’s economy is showing signs of a further slowdown with car and housing sales dropping again this month even as exports continue their strong performance. That’s the outlook from Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators for October. Economic growth was already lower last quarter, partly due to a higher base of comparison from a year ago, but also dragged down by power shortages, repeated Covid outbreaks, and turmoil in the housing sector.

Thailand: In Thailand, businesses are pleading with the government to drop the nation’s current alcohol ban when the country reopens, saying it will deter tourists.