27 July

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4 million, with a figure of 4,167,758 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 194.7 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 34.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 610,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The number of Covid-19 cases across the US may have been undercounted by as much as 60%, researchers at the University of Washington have found.

Singapore: Singapore’s Covid-19 case numbers have remained steady at over a 100 infections daily, but the severity of cases is increasing, according to the Ministry of Health. There were 18 serious cases that require oxygen supplementation as of Monday and another two in the intensive care unit. That’s up from a total of 14 serious cases the day before. There are also rising numbers of seniors over the age of 60 who are critically ill, the ministry said.

Thailand: Thailand has started transferring patients from Bangkok to the country’s northeast to reduce the strain on the capital’s medical facilities that have been overwhelmed by a surge in cases, government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said. About 30% of Thai infections during the current wave of outbreak that started in early April have been in Bangkok. The nation reported 14,150 new infections on Tuesday, taking cumulative cases to 526,828. There are 171,921 patients who are hospitalized, with 4,284 in critical condition and 954 on ventilators, according to Health Ministry data.

Indonesia: Indonesian maternal deaths due to Covid-19 are accelerating and could worsen as infections keep spreading across the country, said Project Hope, a global health and humanitarian group. Mortality during pregnancy in the Central Java districts of Grobogan and Banyumas has more than doubled this year, it said in a statement. Nearly 70% of Indonesian maternal deaths this year have been the direct result of Covid-19 infection, Project Hope said.

UK: Cases fell in the UK fell for the sixth day running, to 24,950 new cases. That’s the lowest number of new cases since 4 July, three weeks ago.

Vaccine news

Global: Developing countries will be able to buy Covid-19 vaccines collectively through the Covax facility using a new World Bank financing mechanism.

Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. are expanding the size of their studies in children ages 5 to 11 — a precautionary measure designed to detect rare side effects including heart inflammation problems that turned up in vaccinated people younger than 30, the New York Times reported.

US: The US Department of Justice issued a memorandum saying federal law allows governments, universities and private businesses to require their employees to be vaccinated. Although the Office of Legal Counsel memo isn’t binding authority and thus doesn’t guarantee court approval of a vaccine mandate, it provides a boost to employers and others that either have imposed such a requirement or are considering it. The memo, dated 6 July, became public as concern is growing that unvaccinated Americans are contributing to the rapid spread of the Delta variant. It signals that the White House is beginning to embrace vaccine mandates, a sharp departure from the Biden administration’s earlier hesitancy on the subject.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that all municipal workers will be required to receive the Covid-19 vaccine or get tested weekly starting 13 September, when students return to classrooms. The vaccine mandate is the first expansion of a policy announced last week that requires health care workers in public hospitals and clinics to be vaccinated by Aug. 2 or submit to weekly tests. About 60% of the city’s more than 42,000 public hospital employees have been vaccinated, according to Mitchell Katz, president and chief executive officer of the system.

Africa: African nations should build capacity to produce vaccines on the continent and work with pharmaceutical companies to ensure the raw materials needed to produce the inoculations are available, according to World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. While a waiver on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, is seen as way a to improve the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to the world’s least inoculated continent, Okonjo-Iweala cautioned that only a handful of African countries have the capacity to produce the life-saving drugs.

India: Reliance Industries, helmed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is one of the big Indian corporations that have pulled off the feat of inoculating almost all of their employees in a chronically resource-crunched country that’s currently scrambling to boost its supply of coronavirus shots. India’s largest company by market value said in a statement Friday that more than 98% of its employees have received at least one dose against Covid-19. The retail-to-refining conglomerate had more than 236,300 employees as of 31 March.

The local unit of consumer giant Unilever Plc has given at least one shot to about 90% of its employees or more than 88,000 people, while technology titans, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Infosys Ltd. have inoculated 70% and 59% of their workforce respectively.

Russia: Russia has approved clinical trials combining the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines, according to Russia’s state drug register.

Tanzania: Tanzania received its first shipment of vaccines through the Covax facility, donated by the US.

South Korea: Moderna Inc. has notified South Korea that an adjustment of its vaccine supply schedule is “inevitable” due to a “production setback issue,” South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said. Seoul and Moderna are discussing details on shipments for July and August, he said. Around 14% of South Koreans have been fully vaccinated, while 34% have had one shot.

Lockdown updates

US: The White House has cited the Delta variant as reason to keep in place a travel ban from the UK and Schengen countries.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, filed suit to stop the reimposition of a mask mandate in St. Louis County and St. Louis City, his office said in a press release. The lawsuit notes that St. Louis had some of the most restrictive orders in Missouri and yet still suffered some of the highest Covid-19 case and death rates. It also argues that mandating children to wear masks in school is arbitrary and capricious.

Tunisia: The Tunisian president, Kais Saied, has ordered a month-long nighttime curfew, banning the movement of people and vehicles from 7pm to 6am.