5 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.8 million, with a figure of 4,809,690 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 235 million world wide.

China: The Chinese province that was the initial epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak made significant purchases of equipment used to test for infectious diseases months before Beijing notified international authorities of the emergence of a new coronavirus, according to research by a cybersecurity company. The province’s purchase of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing equipment, which allows scientists to amplify DNA samples to test for infectious disease or other genetic material, shot upward in 2019, with most of the increase coming in the second half of the year, the Australian-US firm Internet 2.0 found.  Based on the research, Internet 2.0 concluded with “high confidence that the pandemic began much earlier than China informed the WHO about Covid-19,” according to the report.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 43.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 703,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data. Epidemiologists are hopeful that the Delta wave of the virus has reached its peak in the US after the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations dropped.

Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for a disproportionate number of the half million excess deaths last year, according to a new US study that examines mortality both directly and indirectly related to Covid-19.

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized a rapid at-home Covid-19 test from closely held ACON Laboratories Inc. on Monday, a move the regulator said should double the country’s capacity to run such tests in the coming weeks.

National guard medical teams have been deployed to several hospitals in California’s Central Valley and its rural north where case rates are three or four times higher than the state average.

New Zealand: There is anger and fear in New Zealand as it prepares to switch to a suppression approach against Covid after holding fast to a Covid-zero strategy for the past 18 months.

UK: England’s Covid hospital admissions are in decline for the first time since the start of the pandemic, experts say.

Vaccine news

Global: Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine have been found to be “highly effective” at preventing hospitalisations for at least six months, a large-scale study published in the Lancet has shown.

EU: The EU regulator has encouraged people with weakened immune systems to get a third dose of a Covid vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna .

Russia: The Kremlin has implored people to get vaccinated against Covid as daily cases rise to their highest levels since January.

Economy updates

Global: The World Trade Organization raised its projection for global trade growth in 2021 and 2022 to 10.8% and 4.7%, respectively, citing the resurgence of economic activity in the first half of the year. This year’s increase in merchandise trade would mark the biggest year-over-year jump since 2010, the group said.

UAE: Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways plans to hire as many as 1,000 cabin crew in the latest sign of an improving outlook for travel. The announcement comes a month after Emirates unveiled plans to recruit 3,000 cabin crew and 500 airport services employees to join its Dubai hub. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are part of the United Arab Emirates, which has inoculated more than 80% of its population.