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April 30, 2021

International update: Global Covid infections pass 150 million – India approaching 19 million cases

By Paul Dennis

30 April

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising past the grim tally of 3 million with a figure of 3,166,697 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 150 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 575,193 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

India: India added a record 386,452 coronavirus cases in a day, according to government data. Deaths rose by 3,498 to 208,330. The country’s total cases increased to 18.8 million.

Indian scientists and medical researchers have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release data on the patterns and severity of coronavirus infections in the country, local newspaper Telegraph reported. More than 200 experts, in an online appeal, told Modi that their inability to analyze the data has contributed to his government’s inability to curb the spread of the virus. They said a database maintained by the Indian Council of Medical Research has data on all people who’ve tested positive so far but it’s inaccessible to anyone outside the government and even to researchers in other government agencies.

Brazil: Brazil on Thursday registered a further 3,001 Covid-19 fatalities, taking its official death toll since the start of the pandemic past 400,000, the health ministry said, second only to the death toll of the United States.

Romania: Romania has reported its first case of a Covid variant first identified in India, according to its health ministry.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong found a local virus case with an unknown source, with the preliminary test result involving the N501Y mutant strain. The patient is a 39-year-old domestic helper. A baby who lives with her is also infected. Residents from about 400 units at the same building were quarantined for 21 days.

Argentina: Argentina reported a record 561 deaths, for a total of 63,508, according to the country’s evening report. Another 26,053 new cases were reported, bringing the total to 2,954,943.

Vaccine news

Global: BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin is “confident” the company’s Covid-19 vaccine with Pfizer will be effective against a variant of the virus first identified in India, CNBC said. Sahin said BioNTech has tested its two-dose vaccine against similar “double mutants” and felt assured the shot will still be protective. The company is evaluating the strain and the data will be available in the coming weeks, he said on CNBC.

US: Emergent BioSolutions Inc. has produced more than 115 million doses worth of drug substance used in the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, according to a person familiar with the matter, 60 million doses of which are in vials and ready to deploy at US regulators’ discretion. The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based contract manufacturer has been producing the J&J single-shot vaccine since the fourth quarter of 2020, said the person. The size of the stockpile, which isn’t yet cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for release, hasn’t been previously reported.

The US focus on increasing supply of Covid-19 vaccines for other countries may mean boosting manufacturing at American facilities rather than waiving intellectual-property protections for doses, the White House said. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai has yet to make a recommendation to the White House on the waiver proposal, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in an interview with CNN Thursday. President Joe Biden and his Covid-19 team will then make the ultimate decision on the U.S. waiver position, she said.

Japan: Taro Kono, Japan’s vaccine minister, indicated in a TV program Thursday that a Covid-19 vaccine made by a Japanese drugmaker could be approved as soon as this year. Kono said in a TBS program that four companies are developing vaccines in Japan and he heard there’s a company that could meet various conditions required and be approved for use as soon as this year.

Lockdown updates

Europe: The World Health Organization has warned European governments that relaxing Covid restrictions too soon could cause cases to spiral again, potentially triggering a wave of new infections as seen in India.

France: The French president, Emmanuel Macron, unveiled a roadmap on Thursday for a progressive unwinding of France’s lockdown over the next two months.

Thailand: Thailand has added more measures to contain its biggest Covid outbreak yet, including a nationwide requirement to wear masks in public and a ban on dining at restaurants in and around its capital, Bangkok.

Italy: Italy has extended Covid restrictions already in place on travellers from other European countries for 15 days, the health ministry said.

Ireland: Ireland will press ahead with plans to reopen all retail stores, personal services and non-residential construction in May with hotels, the foreign minister said.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong extended a ban on passenger flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The city will also prohibit flights from Nepal starting from 1 May for 14 days.

Philippines: The Philippines has allowed restaurants to partially resume indoor dining services and barbers to open with limited capacity even as the lockdown in the capital region and neighboring provinces remains.

US: New York City is moving to fully reopen by 1 July with arenas, gyms, stores, restaurants and hair salons returning, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “This is going to be the summer of New York City,” de Blasio said Thursday during a press briefing. “We’re all going to get to enjoy this city again, and people are going to flock here from all over the country.” Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has ultimate reopening authority, said he hopes the city can fully reopen before de Blasio’s 1 July target, but isn’t going to make projections. “I don’t want to wait that long,” he said.

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