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May 6, 2021

International update: Global Covid cases pass 155 million – US projects sharp decline by July

By Paul Dennis

6 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising past 3 million with a figure of 3,242,872 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections have passed 155 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 579,276 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US Covid-19 cases could see a sharp decline by July if nationwide vaccination efforts continue to be successful, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers used scenario modeling techniques to show long-term projections of potential trends in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in data released Wednesday in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

France: The number of new Covid-19 infections in France is rising much more slowly and hospitalisations declined on Wednesday, in the first week after the French government eased its third nationwide lockdown.

Kenya: A Covid variant first diagnosed in India has been detected in Kenya, the health ministry confirmed.

Vietnam: Vietnam reported eight more infections linked to a cluster in the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases Campus of Dong Anh in Hanoi, taking the tally in the center to 22, the health ministry’s newspaper Suc Khoe Doi Song reported.

Japan: World Athletics president Sebastian Coe has reiterated that the Tokyo Olympics will take place in July despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Japan.

Meanwhile, Tokyo will ask the Japanese government to extend a virus emergency, Jiji Press reported, a request likely to be approved by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as he seeks to stem infections ahead of the capital hosting the Olympics from July. The official decision to make the request will come later Thursday, the news agency said, citing sources close to the matter. The length of the extension and details of the rules to be applied are to be discussed, Jiji said.

Argentina: Argentina reported a record 663 deaths in the last 24 hours for a total of 65,865, according to the country’s evening report. There were 24,079 new Covid-19 cases reported, bringing the total to 3,071,496.

Vaccine news

Global: Novavax said initial primary analysis of Phase 2B results for its vaccine showed efficacy against a South African variant of the coronavirus. Among healthy adults without HIV, the Novavax vaccine showed efficacy of 60% in the initial analysis and 55% in the subsequent complete analysis, the company said. Novavax may have lost the race on vaccinating millions of Americans but a successful trial can still help developing nations like India and Brazil where shots are in high demand.

Moderna Inc.’s booster shots gave positive results against immune system-evading strains that emerged in South Africa and Brazil, according to early results from a mid-stage trial. Two types of booster shots studied spurred higher levels of virus-halting antibodies, Moderna said in a statement. One of the boosters is an additional low-dose shot of its existing vaccine, while the other type is customized against the South Africa strain.

US: The US supports waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, US trade representative Katherine Tai said, Reuters reports. Negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive intellectual property protections for jabs will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issue, a Biden administration official added.

India: Drugmakers in India warn that a halt on some cargo flights from China could imperil an important link in the global pharmaceutical supply chain. The US relies heavily on India to stock its medicine cabinets, and any slowdown in output could leave pharmacies short of drugs used regularly by millions of Americans. On 26 April, China’s state-run Sichuan Airlines suspended cargo flights to India for 15 days amid an alarming second Covid-19 outbreak there. If the flights remain on hold, the drug industry fears “cascading effects on its entire supply chain,” Mahesh Doshi, national president for the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association, wrote in a 29 April letter to India’s external affairs minister.

Serbia: Serbia’s president said his country would pay each citizen who gets a Covid jab before the end of May, in what could be the world’s first cash-for-jabs scheme, AFP reports.

Canada: Alberta will become the first Canadian province to offer Covid vaccines to everyone aged 12 and over from 10 May, premier Jason Kenney said.

Meanwhile, Canada is considering allowing patients to receive two different types of vaccines as the country deals with shortages of shots from AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc. Federal health officials are closely watching a UK-based trial in which participants received two kinds of shots. Results are expected in the next month or so, said Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada .

Egypt: In Egypt, the closing hours of stores, malls and restaurants will be brought forward to 9pm to help contain the coronavirus for two weeks from Thursday, the prime minister said.

Norway: Norway will introduce verifiable vaccine certificates from early June, allowing holders to use them for admittance to events held in Norway, prime minister Erna Solberg said.

Hong Kong: The number of people who have received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose has exceeded 1 million on Wednesday, Hong Kong’s government said.

Lockdown updates

Germany: Germany’s constitutional court said on Wednesday it rejected emergency appeals against the government’s decision to impose night curfews in areas with high Covid-19 infections, Reuters reports.

Ireland: Ireland’s deputy premier, Leo Varadkar, has said he is hoping for a return to normality by late summer with the “vast majority” of curbs removed by August and a “normal Christmas”.

Australia: Restrictions on gatherings are being imposed in Sydney and surrounding areas due to two Covid-19 cases detected in Australia’s most-populous city. From 5 pm Thursday, the maximum number of people allowed into homes will be 20, while singing and dancing in all indoor venues except those hosting weddings will be banned, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters. Masks will be compulsory on public transport and in all public indoor venues, such as retail, theaters, hospitals and aged-care facilities. The restrictions will last until at least the end of the weekend.

Malaysia: Malaysia tightened restrictions on movements in the capital Kuala Lumpur to stem the rise in new Covid-19 infections, a day after imposing similar curbs in Selangor, its richest state.

Economy updates

Thailand: Thailand is planning to spend billions of dollars in providing financial relief to low-income groups to cope with the economic hit from the biggest Covid-19 outbreak sweeping the nation since the pandemic began. The cabinet gave in-principle approval on Wednesday for fiscal stimulus measures at a cost of 85.5 billion baht ($2.8 billion). It also proposed 140 billion baht worth of spending for co-payment and e-voucher programs and more cash handouts to welfare cardholders and special groups, officials said.

UK: The UK insisted a meeting of top Group of Seven diplomats in London should go ahead after India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said he would self-isolate over possible exposure to coronavirus. The news risked derailing a high-profile event that marked the G-7 debut of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Britain is hosting the gathering, which began on Tuesday.

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