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April 9, 2021

International update: Global Covid infections near 134 million as ‘fourth wave’ hits Asia

By Paul Dennis

9 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.9 million with a figure of 2,902,328 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 133.9 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 31 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 560,116 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Brazil: Brazil registered a record 4,249 deaths on Thursday, pushing the total to 345,025, the Health Ministry said. Confirmed cases rose by 86,652, totalling almost 13.3 million as the pandemic continues to worsen in Latin America’s largest country. President Jair Bolsonaro has argued against lockdowns, suggesting on Wednesday there’s little point because the virus is “here to stay.” A poll last week reported a 48% disapproval rating for his government, compared with 31% in October.

Thailand: The bad news from Thailand continued on Friday, as the south-east Asian nation reported 559 new coronavirus cases and one new death. At least 12 hospitals in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, said as of Friday they were suspending testing for Covid-19 due to high demand and shortage of supplies, amid a new spike in cases.

Vaccine news

US: North Carolina stopped administering Johnson & Johnson doses at a mass vaccination site in Raleigh as well as clinics in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill after at least 26 people experienced adverse reactions, AP reports, citing local health officials. Reactions included fainting and at least four people were taken to hospitals for further examination, the report said. The CDC said that reactions like fainting are not uncommon after someone is vaccinated. All those taken to hospitals are expected to recover, local health officials said, according to the report

The US stockpile of the controversial AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has grown to more than 20 million doses, according to people familiar with the matter, even as the shot looks increasingly unlikely to factor into President Joe Biden’s domestic vaccination campaign. AstraZeneca has yet to request Food and Drug Administration authorization for the two-dose vaccine, and the company faces safety questions abroad and scrutiny from US regulators who’ve already rebuked it for missteps during clinical trials and partial data releases.

Thailand: Thailand has approved a list of eight Covid-19 vaccine makers, including Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and Pfizer Inc., for foreign visitors seeking to shorten a mandatory quarantine on arrival.

China: China’s ambitious efforts to vaccinate 560 million people by the end of June is running into a supply shortage, forcing health authorities to extend the intervals between doses, and leaving some people unable to book second shots.

Australia: the government’s announcement last night that people under 50 should not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine due to risk of blood clots, unless it is clear the benefits outweigh the risks, has been wreaking havoc with Australia’s already fraught vaccine rollout.

France: France’s top health body is reportedly set to announce today that recipients of a first dose of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine who are under 55 should get a second shot with a new-style messenger-RNA vaccine.

France met its target of inoculating 10 million people with a first dose of vaccine on Thursday, a week ahead of schedule, as the country endures its third lockdown. France opened mass vaccination centers across the country this week in a bid to further accelerate the roll-out of the shots, in a campaign that started sluggishly after the first vaccine was administered on 27 December.

Netherlands: The Netherlands won’t administer the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to people under the age of 60 for the time being, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said, according to a report on Dutch news agency ANP.

Portugal: Portugal’s Directorate-General for Health said it recommends the Astra vaccine be used only by people over 60 years old.

Slovakia: Slovakia and Russia clashed over the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine after the European Union member accused Moscow of delivering shots that were different from those used in a peer-reviewed study. Russia rejected the allegations and demanded Bratislava return the 200,000 doses it sent. The dispute may set back efforts to use Sputnik widely in Europe. Slovakia was one of a few members of the bloc pushing to use the Russia-developed vaccine to help speed the roll-out of inoculations.

EU: The EU has exported more than 80 million vaccine doses since the beginning of February, a document with updated data circulated among the bloc’s governments and seen by Bloomberg shows. A total of 112 million doses had been delivered to EU member states as of April 5, according to the memo circulated to diplomats in Brussels. Japan has overtaken the UK as the main export destination, getting 17.7 million shots produced in the EU, versus 13.3 million for shipment to Britain. European governments have been under pressure to curb exports as their rollout lags behind vaccination rates in the US and the UK. However, out of the 534 export requests submitted by drugmakers so far, only one has been refused and two are pending, according to the memo dated 8 April.

India: India is attempting to boost its capacity to make vaccines, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, as new coronavirus cases in the world’s second-most populous nation surged to a record. Modi made the comments during a meeting with chief ministers to discuss ways to check the rapid rise of infections in the South Asian nation. Some states have said that they are facing a shortage of vaccines.

Lockdown updates

UK: The UK will decide by early next month whether Britons can resume taking international holidays on May 17, with destination countries rated according to their Covid-19 risk in a traffic light system. Different Covid testing and quarantine regimes will be compulsory according to whether a destination is rated green, amber or red under the new system, the Department for Transport said.

South Korea: South Korea will reimpose a ban on nightclubs, karaoke bars and other nightly entertainment facilities, as cases grow. “Signs of a fourth wave of epidemics that we had so striven to head off are drawing nearer and becoming stronger,” said prime minister Chung Sye-kyun.

Japan: Tokyo has asked the central government for permission to implement emergency measures to curb a surge in a rapidly spreading and more contagious coronavirus variant, just over three months before the start of the Olympics.

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