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

09 Sep 2021

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.