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June 30, 2021

International update: Global Covid vaccinations exceed 3 billion

By Paul Dennis

30 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,937,985 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 181.8 million world wide.

At least 3.01 billion doses of Covid vaccine have been administered around the world, according to the latest data from Bloomberg, as the pace of the global rollout continues to accelerate.

The delta variant first reported in India is about 55% more transmissible than the alpha variant, making it likely to outcompete other strains and predominate in coming months, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, noting 96 countries have reported cases of the delta variant. A number of these countries are attributing surges in infections and hospitalizations to delta, the WHO said in a weekly report.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 33.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 604,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

France: France is likely to have a fourth wave of the virus, due to a resurgence of cases caused by the Delta variant, said the French government’s leading scientific adviser, Prof Jean-François Delfraissy, this morning.

Thailand: Thailand reported a record 53 Covid-19 fatalities on Wednesday and 4,786 infections, as the country struggles to contain its most severe outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

North Korea: The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has sacked several senior party officials over a “grave” coronavirus incident that had threatened public safety, fuelling speculation that the coronavirus has breached the country’s defences.

India: India added 45,951 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday, taking the total tally to more than 30 million infections in the second worst-hit nation. Covid-related deaths rose by 817 to more than 398,400, according to latest data from the health ministry.

Portugal: Portugal reported 1,746 new cases on Tuesday, the most since Feb. 19, according to government data. The number of patients in intensive-care units rose by four to 119. There were six fatalities, taking the total to 17,092. The latest figures are still a fraction of the daily record reported at the end of January.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc. said its vaccine produced protective antibodies against the delta variant spreading in the US and many other parts of the world. Moderna researchers tested blood samples from eight people for antibodies against versions of the spike protein from different coronavirus variants, including delta, which emerged in India. The vaccine “produced neutralizing titers against all variants tested,” the company said in a statement. The results were released on the pre-print server bioRxiv.

US: The gap between the most and least vaccinated places in the US has exploded in the past three months and continues to widen despite efforts to persuade more Americans to get a shot. In the bottom fifth of counties – which tend to be more rural, more poor, less educated and more likely to lean politically to the right – only 28% of people have received a first dose, on average, and 24% are fully vaccinated.

EU: More than 60% of European adults have received at least one shot, and 41% are fully vaccinated, Ursula Von Der Leyen said at the Brussels Economic Forum.

India: India has administered about 333 million vaccine doses as it races to avert a possible third wave. Five Indian drugmakers, including Cipla Ltd., Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., announced late Tuesday plans to collaborate in clinical trials of an experimental anti-viral drug Molnupiravir for the treatment of mild Covid-19 infections.

Malaysia: Malaysia says it will receive 1m AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan tomorrow.

Brazil: Brazil is to suspend its $324m Indian vaccine contract that has mired President Jair Bolsonaro in accusations of irregularities.

Romania: Romania is to sell 1.7m excess doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to Denmark because it was unable to use them within its own population due to vaccine hesitancy.

Guatemala: Guatemala has demanded its money back from Russia after it failed to deliver paid-for vaccines. Guatemalan health minister Amelia Flores has said the government has not received its promised Sputnik V vaccines.

Australia: The Australian state of Queensland has just eight days of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine left, authorities warned on Wednesday, as confusion over who should receive the AstraZeneca jab continued and outbreaks across the country grew.

In Australia, a number of state governments have directly criticised the commonwealth’s new position on the AstraZeneca vaccine, with Queensland saying that it does “not want under-40s to get AstraZeneca” and Victoria accusing Scott Morrison of creating unnecessary confusion.

Singapore: People in Singapore who opt for the Sinovac vaccine won’t get the same benefits as those vaccinated with government-approved mRNA vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Lockdown updates

Japan: Japan is considering an extension of its coronavirus prevention measures in Tokyo and other areas by two weeks to a month, Japanese media said, with less than a month to go until the Tokyo Summer Olympics are set to open.

Japan’s Osaka prefecture will remove social restrictions imposed to contain coronavirus outbreaks if more than 70% of its population receives a second dose of Covid vaccine, Kyodo reported, citing a draft of its exit strategy.

UK: Senior executives who have traveled to England can temporarily leave quarantine if their work is likely to bring major benefits to the UK economy, the government announced on Tuesday. The exemption from isolation rules for newly arrived travelers applies to multinational executives who are visiting British branches of their firms. Critics of the decision questioned why it wasn’t also extended to smaller businesses.

Meanwhile, Malta, Balearic and Caribbean islands are added to UK ‘green list’ from today.

Tunisia: Tunisia extended curfews in all of its provinces and introduced new travel restrictions as the country reported 5,251 Covid-19 cases along with 106 deaths Tuesday, a daily record since the beginning of the pandemic.

Economy updates

Global: The slump in tourism caused by Covid-19 will cost the global economy more than $4 trillion for 2020 and 2021, much worse than anticipated, as an uneven vaccination rollout crushes developing countries that are highly dependent on international visitors. The losses this year alone could amount to $1.7 trillion to $2.4 trillion, even as international tourism rebounds in the second half in countries like the US., the UK. and France, which have higher vaccination rates, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in a report.

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