International update: US gives thumbs up to Johnson & Johnson one shot vaccine – EU aims for early March approval

1 March 2021 (Last Updated March 1st, 2021 09:03)

1 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.5 million with a figure of 2,531,489 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 114 million world wide.

Under-reporting of cases and deaths are common worldwide, given factors like lack of testing and people dying at home.

 US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 28.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 513,091 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

hospitalizations for the coronavirus have plunged 56% from a mid-January peak as the number of patients exiting California hospitals accelerated, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show.

California reported 158 deaths yesterday, below the 14-day average of 367, according to the health department’s website. The state has reported 51,979 fatalities in total.

South Africa: South Africa’s coronavirus alert level has been downgraded from three to one following a fall in infections, president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced, with the change coming into effect at midnight.

UK: Cases of the virus variant first detected in Brazil have been discovered in the UK for the first time, Public Health England has said. Three cases have been found in England and three in Scotland. Officials will begin surge testing in the South Gloucestershire postcodes of BS320, BS328, BS329, BS345 and BS346 tomorrow.

The UK has recorded its lowest rise in cases since late September, with a further 6,035 infections registered on Sunday.

China: A study published in the British Medical Journal in February showed that deaths in the first three months of 2020 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan was 56% higher than expected, driven mostly by fatalities from pneumonia associated with Covid-19.

A separate study on the real magnitude of coronavirus infections in China, conducted in April shortly after China contained the outbreak in Wuhan, found that people with past signs of infection was ten times more than the official data on cases in the city.

France: On Sunday France reported 19,952 new cases in 24 hours, a low number compared to previous days, though weekend reporting is often incomplete. This comes against a background of tighter restrictions in several parts of the country, such as local lockdowns over the weekends, due to the spread of variants, and as the government is reluctant to impose a third nationwide confinement.

Vaccine news

EU: The Johnson & Johnson one shot jab is likely to be approved for use in the European Union in early March, a French minister said on Sunday.

US: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky formally recommended that adults 18 and older should receive Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, the agency said in a statement Sunday. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices earlier in the day voted unanimously to recommend the one-shot vaccine. Walensky’s sign-off means that J&J’s vaccine can now be administered. The company said in a statement it planned to ship 100 million doses in the first half of the year, giving the US its third approved Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, said he would take the newly approved Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine as he encouraged Americans to accept any of the three approved shots.

In total, 72.8 million doses of vaccines have been given in the US with an average over the last week at 1.65 million a day.

UK: More than 20 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of coronavirus vaccinations, new figures released on Sunday showed.

Nigeria: Nigeria will receive its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines this week, with nearly 4m of its 16m vaccines due to arrive in Africa’s most populous nation via the Covax scheme.

India: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet Monday that he took his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and urged all Indians eligible for the shot to get inoculated. Modi took Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic won’t wait for the European Union regulator’s approval to use a Russian coronavirus vaccine, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. The country has taken “concrete steps” to purchase the Sputnik V vaccine and will use it if Czech health authorities approve, Babis said on Sunday in a weekly debate show on Prima TV. Local drug authorities’ assessment of the safety of the vaccine “would be sufficient” to use the shots, he said.

Lockdown updates

Norway: The Norwegian capital Oslo is ramping up its coronavirus restrictions after a surge in infections connected to the more transmissible variant first detected in the UK.

Italy: Italy will tighten curbs in Milan, Turin and other areas starting Monday to counter an acceleration of the virus caused by new variants, particularly the strain first found in the UK People in designated medium-risk and high-risk areas, known as orange and red zones, will be barred from leaving their city or town except for work or emergency reasons. Some areas will also close schools.

Malaysia: Malaysia expects to flatten the Covid-19 curve in the coming months through ongoing restrictions on movement, adherence to virus protocols and a national immunization program, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised speech Monday. The government is drafting a strategy to contain the pandemic, that includes a more targeted approach such as strict lockdowns in cluster areas. The economy will continue to reopen, subject to social distancing and strict protocols, he said.

Economy updates

UK: London’s Heathrow airport will charge departing passengers an extra £8.90 ($12.40) in an effort to claw back costs as the coronavirus crisis depresses air travel. Heathrow has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic since it relies on long-haul markets that have been all-but wiped out. The airport last week posted a 2 billion-pound loss for 2020 after passenger numbers tumbled 73%, a decline it says has left it unable to cover the costs of providing some services.