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June 10, 2021

International update: India reports record daily Covid death toll

By Paul Dennis

10 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,758,344 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 174.4 million world wide.

Meanwhile, Experts at the Wuhan Institute of Virology reiterated that no one at the lab has contracted the virus that causes Covid-19, in an interview with state media, the latest pushback from China against the theory that it leaked from there that has gained renewed traction. The experts, who requested anonymity, called on individuals from the West to present their proof and dismissed US intelligence report saying three researchers were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms consistent with that of the flu and Covid, according to the interview with state-backed English-language newspaper China Daily. China has repeatedly denied that the virus leaked from the lab. The Group of Seven leaders are set to call for a fresh, transparent, World Health Organization-convened study into the origins of the coronavirus, according to a draft statement seen by Bloomberg News.

Anthony Fauci, the top Covid-19 adviser for the US government, said he never played down the possibility that the coronavirus could have been leaked from a laboratory in China, amid accusations that he did so for political reasons. “Until you nail it down definitively, you always have to keep an open mind that it might be something else,” he said. “And that’s the way I have always been from the very beginning, I have not changed my mind.” Fauci made the comments during a speech at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Health event.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 598,765 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Americas: There were 1.2 million new Covid cases in the Americas over the past week, according to the Pan American Health Organization. It warned that Covid-19 could remain a problem for the region for years unless the current spread is slowed.

EU: Confidence in the EU’s ability to handle crises has taken a hit from Covid-19, a major survey shows, but dissatisfaction with national political systems is even higher and most people still support EU membership and want a stronger, more cooperative bloc.

India: India reported a record daily Covid-19 death toll of 6,148, after a state revised its tally. Bihar’s Health Department on Wednesday said the coronavirus had killed 9,429 people, about 72% higher than its previous reported death toll, confirming suspicions that the devastation in the Asian nation has been far worse than official numbers show.

South Africa: The number of new confirmed cases in South Africa surged to 8,881, with a positivity rate of 16.5% on tests conducted. “The increased number of tests and cases, and increased positivity are all evidence of the predicted third surge in Covid-19 cases,” the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said in a statement on Wednesday. The commercial hub of Gauteng accounted for 58% of the new cases. South Africa is the worst-affected nation on the continent, with over 57,000 deaths and 1.7 million confirmed infections.

France: French prime minister Jean Castex is self-isolating for seven days after his wife Sandra tested positive for Covid-19, the prime minister’s office said. The prime minister, who had received his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 19, tested negative on Wednesday evening. However as a contact of a person who tested positive, he is self-isolating for seven days, his office said.

UK: The UK is facing a “substantial third wave” according to new data presented to the government, Prof Neil Ferguson told reporters. He said that the scale of the problem would depend on how effective vaccines are against the Delta variant, originally found in India. Meanwhile, according to new data, 8 in 10 adults in the UK are likely to have Covid-19 antibodies through either vaccination or previous infection.

The UK reported 7,540 more cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, the most since 26 February, according to the government’s data dashboard. The number of people hospitalized stood at 1,024 as of 7 June, crossing 1,000 for the first time since 12 May.

A judge has ruled that the UK government acted unlawfully when it awarded a contract for polling the public about Covid messaging without a tender last March. The company was owned by friends of Dominic Cummings, then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.

Malaysia: Intensive care beds for Covid patients in Malaysia have reached full capacity, according to the country’s health director general, who said the country’s pandemic remained at a critical level. The country’s king started a series of meetings with leaders of political parties amid public discontent over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Singapore: Singapore authorities detected two new coronavirus cases in the community, marking the lowest daily total since 6 May as restrictions appeared to curb an outbreak of contagious variants.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Trade Organization’s members have agreed to talks on boosting global vaccine supplies, though there is still opposition to the idea of waiving patents, in particular from the EU which will propose its own plan.

The US will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to share through the global COVAX alliance for donation to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the next year, a source told AP.

More than 80% of the athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics next month have been vaccinated, according to the International Olympic Committee. “We are over and above the 80% mark,” Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said during a virtual press conference Wednesday in Lausanne.

China: China approved another inactivated Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use as the world’s most populous country aims to speed up inoculations. The two-shot vaccine developed by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was green-lighted for emergency use on Wednesday, and is now available to population aged 18 and above, local media reported. The vaccine’s annual output capacity is expected to rise to 500 million to 1 billion doses by the end of this year.

US: Seattle has become the first major city in the U.S. with 70% of residents 12 and above fully vaccinated, Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted. San Francisco may be next to cross that mark. Some 69% of San Franciscans 12 and older have completed their vaccine series, according to city data, while 79% have received at least one dose.

In the US, a pharmacist has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to trying to spoil hundreds of doses of the Moderna vaccine because he was skeptical about them.

Czech Republic: The Czech health ministry has recommended only people over 60 should receive Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson due to a potential risk of blood clots, Reuters reports.

Taiwan: The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration announced review standards for emergency use authorization of locally-made Covid vaccines, including that their neutralizing antibody levels in phase 2 clinical trials must be shown to be on par with those of the AstraZeneca Plc shots. In addition, 3,000 or more people tested need to be tracked for at least one month following their last inoculation to evaluate safety. Taiwan has been struggling to procure its own vaccine supplies and blamed China for impeding shipments of the shots.

Malaysia: Malaysia will begin vaccinating workers involved in key economic sectors, especially those operating during the lockdown, according to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. Targets include manufacturing, exports, utilities, logistics, transportation and energy.

Indonesia: President Joko Widodo ordered the acceleration of vaccine rollouts as Indonesia faces a new surge in Covid-19 infections. The nation’s vaccination rate must increase to 700,000 doses a day this month, and going up to 1 million daily by July, Jokowi, as the president is known, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Lockdown updates

Spain: Spain’s health ministry has scrapped a nationwide plan to gradually reopen nightlife just a week after introducing it, following widespread complaints from regional authorities who dismissed it as either too strict or too loose.

Hong Kong: A Hong Kong government advisory panel suggested the city could shorten hotel quarantine periods for some fully-vaccinated inbound passengers, in what would mark an easing of some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 restrictions for travelers.

Canada: Canada is prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July, Reuters reports.

UAE: Abu Dhabi will restrict entry to public venues including malls and beaches to people who have a “green pass” as coronavirus cases start to inch higher in the United Arab Emirates. The green pass, which can be accessed via the government’s health app, will use a color-coded system to indicate vaccination status and PCR test validity. The new rules in oil-rich Abu Dhabi will be effective June 15 for venues including malls and large supermarkets, gyms, hotels, public parks and beaches, as well as restaurants and cafes.

Thailand: Public schools will reopen on 14 June as planned, according to Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong. The beginning of the 2021 academic year, previously set for 17 May, has been postponed twice due to concerns over the Southeast Asian nation’s worst wave of coronavirus infections to date. Since Covid’s resurgence in early April, new infections in Thailand have jumped more than sixfold.

Denmark: Danish lawmakers have agreed to phase out the bulk of the European country’s coronavirus restrictions by 1 September, Ritzau reported. People will also be free to stop using face masks from Monday in all situations except public transport, the news outlet said. Danes will use a so-called corona passport to show whether they’re immune or have tested negative for Covid.

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