8 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.8 million, with a figure of 4,836,281 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 236.8 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 44 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 710,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

More than 140,000 US children lost a parent or caregiver to Covid, a study found. Published on Thursday in the journal Pediatrics, the study estimated that from April 2020 through June 30 this year, more than 140,000 children under the age of 18 lost their mother, father, or grandparent who provided their housing, basic needs and daily care to the disease.

A measure of new hospital admissions in Florida has declined almost to the level of May 13, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed mask guidance for fully vaccinated people  – a change it reversed when the delta variant struck the US. Admissions in at least eight other states and Washington, D.C., are less than or close to May levels. The one-week average of new cases nationally has dropped 40% from its Sept. 21 peak, according to CDC data.

New Guinea: Hospitals in Papua New Guinea are being pushed to the brink and morgues are overflowing, as the country suffers what health authorities say is the worst surge in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. The country’s health care system has long been plagued by shortages of drugs, funding, an ailing infrastructure and a severe lack of health workers.

UK: A coronavirus report warned of the impact on the UK four years before the pandemic began, the Guardian can reveal. Senior health officials who war-gamed the impact of a coronavirus hitting the UK, warned of the need for stockpiles of PPE, a computerised contact tracing system and screening for foreign travellers.

In the UK, a further 40,701 Covid infections were reported in the past 24 hours – the highest daily figure since 6 September.

Japan: Japanese drugmaker Shionogi & Co. Ltd. said the Covid-19 pill it’s developing could be a $2 billion drug potentially used in combination with a similar offering from Merck & Co. Inc., as the pandemic’s focus shifts to the need for easy-to-take medications able to combat mild cases. Shionogi expects to have late-stage trial data for its pill by December and will move quickly on filing for regulatory approval in Japan, chief executive officer Isao Teshirogi told Bloomberg in an interview. The company will began manufacturing the drug this month.

Vaccine news

Global: UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has appealed for $8 billion to help vaccinate 40% of people in all countries by the end of the year. It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a plan that aims to inoculate 70% of the world by mid-2022.

US: US president Joe Biden has talked up vaccine mandates, saying the unvaccinated have “put our economy at risk”. Speaking in Illinois on Thursday, he said: “vaccination requirements are good for the economy” and called on more business owners to enact them.

Meanwhile, a Covid vaccine for children aged five to 11 is another step closer to authorisation in the US, with Pfizer-BioNTech announcing that the full application has been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

International Business Machines Corp. said all of its US-based employees must be vaccinated by 8 December or be put on unpaid suspension. The Armonk, New York-based company told workers that because it’s a government contractor, the company is required to adhere to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The requirement applies to US employees regardless of where they work or how often they go into a company office, with limited medical and religious exemptions.

American Airlines Group said employees must be fully vaccinated by 24 November. Failure to comply will lead to termination, American Airlines said in a memo to employees. Workers can request medical and religious exemptions. The “majority” of employees already are vaccinated, the company said, without providing specifics.

UK: The NHS aims to issue 35m flu jabs in a bid to immunise a record 35 million people – more than half the UK’s population. It would be the most ambitious programme of flu jabs in NHS history as the country prepares to face its first winter with Covid and flu circulating at the same time. Experts have warned there could be up to 60,000 deaths.

Adults in the UK are severely underestimating the impact that the combination of coronavirus and flu could have this winter, research showed. Almost a third of respondents to a survey in England said they were unaware that Covid and flu can circulate at the same time. Just over a quarter didn’t know that influenza can be fatal.

Finland: Finland announced it will pause the use of Moderna’s vaccine for men under-30 due to reports of a rare cardiovascular side effect. It follows similar moves by Swedish and Danish health officials after a pan-Nordic study.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority granted conditional approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be used as the country’s first Covid-19 booster shot. The dose must be administered at least six months after the second shot, and is only for those 18 years old and above, said Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Japan: Japan’s health ministry signed a contract with Pfizer for 120 million more doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. The additional vaccination will be supplied from January, the ministry said.

Australia: The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization recommended a third Covid-19 vaccination for people who are severely immunocompromised. The recommended interval for the third dose is two to six months after the second jab, the government advisory group said.

Greece: Greece’s national vaccination committee approved a third vaccine dose for people older than 50, Health Ministry official Marios Themistocleous said Thursday. A minimum of six months must have passed since the second dose. A third dose for vulnerable groups, such as people with cancer, was approved earlier.

Lockdown updates

UK: England’s latest ‘red list’ restrictions have confounded many South Americans. Strict Covid travel rules remain in place for seven South American and Caribbean countries in a move which has prompted further fury and confusion in the nations which remain on the ‘red list’.

Children could be forced to wear masks in schools across England again as part of the government’s back-up plan if the country’s Covid situation deteriorates significantly, the education secretary has admitted.

US: San Francisco will ease its indoor mask requirements beginning Oct. 15 for areas including offices, gyms and college classes. People in those settings can remove masks if everyone is fully vaccinated, provided the gatherings don’t exceed 100 people.

Italy: Italy has increased the maximum attendance capacity allowed at cultural and sporting venues for those who can show documents of immunity. As of 11 October, cinemas, theatres and concert venues will be able to fill all their seats, scrapping the current limit of 50%, the government said, following advice from its panel of public health advisors. The maximum capacity of sports stadiums will be raised to 60% from 35% for indoor venues and to 75% from 50% outdoors.

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong government’s top priority is trying to fully reopen the border with China by convincing authorities there that the city won’t leak the virus into the mainland, a top adviser to Hong Kong’s leader said. While foreign executives in Hong Kong might want the city to relax quarantine requirements  – as long as 21 days in some cases  – most Hong Kong residents appreciate the current Covid-free environment, said Bernard Chan, a financier and convener of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s advisory Executive Council.