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August 10, 2021

International update: Covid vaccinations to be mandatory for US military

By Paul Dennis

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.

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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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