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June 2, 2021

International update: India aims for 10 million Covid vaccinations per day by July

By Paul Dennis

2 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,565,444 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 171 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 595,213 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New York City’s Covid positivity rate on Sunday dropped to its lowest point since the pandemic began, crossing an important milestone for a city desperate to jump start its depressed tourism industry and boost its battered economy. Only 0.83% of New York City tested positive for the coronavirus over the last seven days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday. The seven-day average of hospitalizations per 100,000 has also dropped below 1% and deaths have fallen to single digits for the first time since last summer. There was an average of seven deaths over the last seven days, according to city data.

Peru: Peru has revised its official Covid-19 death toll to 180,764, nearly triple the previous official figure of 69,342, following a government review that shows the severity of the outbreak in the country.

UK: The UK reported no additional deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. Britain’s official death toll remains at 127,782, according to government data. There were 3,165 new cases, bringing the total to 4.49 million. It’s the first time the UK reported zero daily deaths within 28 days of a positive test since the start of the pandemic, the BBC reported. Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a dilemma of whether to proceed with a highly-anticipated easing of restrictions later this month at a time when scientists are increasingly worried about another surge of cases.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization has validated the Sinovac-CoronaVac for emergency use. The validation is aimed at “giving countries, funders, procuring agencies and communities the assurance that it meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing,” according to an emailed statement by the group.

The US will detail its previously announced plan for distributing about 80 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine globally “in the next week or so,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a press conference in San Jose, Costa Rica. “Among other things, we will focus on the equitable distribution of vaccines,” Blinken said. President Joe Biden had promised to make the vaccine doses available before the end of June.

US: The US National Institutes of Health has started a year-long clinical trial to determine if vaccinated people can safely get booster shots using vaccines that are different from the ones they received initially. The trial will also monitor the effectiveness of changing vaccines in this manner. It’s designed to include about 150 individuals who have received a vaccine regimen now available under emergency use authorization in the US. Two new studies confirm that messenger RNA vaccines available in the US “appear to be completely safe for pregnant women,” according to Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, writing in a blog post. The studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. The research also indicated vaccines might offer protection to infants born to vaccinated mothers.

Meanwhile, Moderna Inc. is seeking full approval for its vaccine, a move that could make the shot a stable source of revenue for years. The company said it will submit data to the Food and Drug Administration on a rolling basis in coming weeks to support the application for use in people 18 and older. Moderna’s shot, like rival Pfizer Inc.’s, is based on messenger RNA technology and has been a linchpin of the US immunization campaign.

India: India said it is aiming to triple capacity to 10 million jabs per day by July to avert another wave of Covid-19 infections as deadly as the outbreak suffered since April.

Brazil: A decrease in local Covid-19 vaccine production has slowed the pace of Brazil’s inoculation drive and contributed to a growing number of people not taking their second doses, according to the latest data from the Fiocruz biomedical institute.

Hong Kong: HSBC Holdings Plc is offering all vaccinated Hong Kong staff two days paid leave, as it responded to the city government’s ramped-up efforts to boost uptake of the inoculation in the Asian financial center.

Japan: The seven-day average of vaccine doses has quadrupled in just two weeks, with about a quarter of the 13.2 million shots given coming from the past week alone. A flurry of initiatives are being implemented or floated to further ramp up the drive in Japan – among them an expansion of those qualified to administer the shots as well as mass vaccination at workplaces and in “nighttime entertainment” districts.

Lockdown updates

Brazil: A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has given president Jair Bolsonaro five days to submit information regarding the government’s decision to host the Copa America football tournament despite the nation’s ongoing struggles with Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria told the Brazilian Football Confederation to look for other locations to host Copa America games, as controlling the spread of Covid-19 remains a top priority for the state government. Scientists from the Contingency Center for Covid-19 consider that hosting the matches would send “a bad signal.

UK: Heathrow airport in London has begun processing arrivals from red list countries in a dedicated terminal following concerns about them mixing with other passengers. Travellers arriving from red list nations on direct flights are being taken to Terminal 3.

Malaysia: Malaysia has begun a tough nationwide lockdown to battle a worsening coronavirus outbreak. Of almost 2,800 deaths from Covid-19 recorded in the country of 32 million since the start of the pandemic, over 40 percent were in May alone.

US: The Coachella music festival will return to the US in April 2022 after being repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers have announced.

Australia: Melbourne’s lockdown will be extended beyond the initial seven days announced last week as authorities struggle to contain a Covid-19 cluster that’s grown to 60 and is more infectious than seen in the Australian city’s previous outbreaks.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s aviation authority directed local carriers to reduce domestic round-trip flights to Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport to a total of 63 a week amid a Covid-19 surge in the metropolis, according to the government website.

Scotland: Scotland will keep a swathe of the country under tighter coronavirus restrictions because of concern about the number of cases of the variant first identified in India. Edinburgh, the capital, will remain in the current level rather than seeing a further easing of some rules on household mixing and on businesses on 7 June as planned, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday. Glasgow, the biggest city, will drop to the same level as Edinburgh after a surge in cases had kept restrictions there for longer.

Economy updates

Israel: Israel announced it will begin phasing out coronavirus-related payments to the unemployed and Ireland announced similar steps later this year while maintaining other income and business supports as the economy fully reopens.

Chile: The Chilean government will create a $2 billion fund to finance the fight against Covid-19 and strengthen health services, President Sebastian Pinera said in his annual speech to Chile’s congress. The government will resort to increased public debt and state savings to pay for emergency funding, the president said.

Canada: Canada’s highest-earning families were the biggest beneficiaries of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pandemic aid, opening his government to criticism that its programs were wasteful. The top 20% of income-earning families received an average of C$6,728 ($5,577) from emergency Covid-19 assistance programs, according to Statistics Canada data. The lowest-earning households got C$4,097 in aid, on average. All told, the bottom 20% of earners got just 14% of the C$95.2 billion in direct government transfers related to Covid-19 last year, data from the statistical agency show. The numbers have fueled concerns that Canada’s pandemic support — among the world’s most generous, and financed with hundreds of billions in new debt — was inefficient as cash was funnelled to dozens of different groups, and ended up being hoarded in bank accounts.

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