2 July

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,955,824 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 182 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed the grim milestone of 605,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The “hyper-transmissible” delta variant is likely to become the dominant one in the US, underscoring the importance of further expanding vaccination, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Delta accounts for almost 50% of newly recorded infections in parts of the US, she said. “The delta variant is predicted to be the second-most prevalent variant in the United States and I expect that in the coming weeks it will eclipse the alpha variant,” Walensky said in a briefing.

Facebook Inc. is under investigation by the attorney general for the District of Columbia over whether it has taken adequate steps to curb the spread of misinformation about vaccines. Attorney General Karl Racine is seeking internal documents that show how the social media giant penalizes users who violate its misinformation policies around vaccines, as well as materials related to a Facebook study about vaccine hesitancy among users, according to a copy of a subpoena issued by Racine’s office last month. The subpoena also demanded data on the total volume of content that has been removed or demoted by Facebook for violating its vaccine misinformation policies.

Europe: New Covid cases in the World Health Organization’s 53-country European region rose 10% last week after falling for ten straight weeks, the body has said, warning a new surge could come before autumn and calling for more monitoring of Euro 2020 matches.

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By GlobalData

Seychelles: Six fully vaccinated people died in the Seychelles, which has the highest per-capita vaccinations in the world. Five had received Covishield, an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and one got the Sinopharm shot, Jude Gedeon, the island nation’s public health commissioner, told reporters.

India: India’s health ministry has said that 853 people died in the past 24 hours, raising the official number of total fatalities to 400,312. It also reported 46,617 new cases, taking the country’s pandemic total past 30.4 million.

Philippines: In the Philippines thousands of people were being evacuated from villages around a rumbling volcano near the capital, but officials said they faced another dilemma of ensuring emergency shelters will not turn into centres of Covid transmission.

Thailand: Reported on Friday the third straight day of record coronavirus deaths, with 61 fatalities, as authorities struggle to tackle the country’s latest wave of infections.

South Korea: South Korea’s daily count of coronavirus cases topped 800 on Thursday, the highest in nearly six months, due to new cluster infections and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, officials said on Friday.

Spain: Reported 12,345 new coronavirus infections and eight deaths on Thursday, with health ministry data showing daily increases this week at their highest levels since mid-April, in part due to the more contagious Delta variant.

Israel: Israel, a world leader in coronavirus vaccinations, reported its highest daily infection rate in three months as it scrambled to contain the spread of the new Delta variant – though there has been no increase in deaths.

UK: The UK recorded 27,989 new cases, the second straight day that the total is at a five-month high. Hospital admissions in England are rising sharply, according to the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group. The seven-day average climbed to 227, three times as many as in mid-May, with nearly all regions showing a strong increase.

Africa: Coronavirus cases in Africa are rising so quickly that the continent will soon face its worst week since the start of the pandemic, with the more infectious delta variant becoming more widespread. Almost 202,000 new cases of the illness were reported in the past week, and infections are doubling every three weeks, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in an online briefing Thursday. More than 5.4 million cases have been reported on the continent, with 141,000 deaths, she said.

Vaccine news

Global: The Covid vaccine-sharing initiative Covax urged governments to consider equally all people inoculated with WHO-approved products to avoid creating a two-tiered travel and trade regime. It spoke out after an EU-wide Covid certificate took effect that recognises four vaccines but not others, notably the Covishield version of AstraZeneca’s jab widely used in Africa.

Johnson & Johnson said that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine neutralizes the fast-spreading delta variant and provides durable protection against infection more broadly. The company said in a statement Thursday that recipients of its vaccine produced strong neutralizing antibodies over the course of at least eight months against all variants including delta, which was first seen in India and has been spreading around the globe.

France: The French government is preparing a draft bill to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for hospital and nursing home workers, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a government source. Only 57% of nursing homes employees and 64% of workers at health institutions are vaccinated, according to Federation Hospitaliere de France, a group that calls for vaccination to become mandatory.

US: The Biden administration is sending response teams to unvaccinated pockets of the US in an attempt to combat the spread of the highly transmissible delta Covid-19 variant. US health officials will boost testing, provide therapeutics and deploy federal personnel where needed and requested, said Jeffrey Zients, President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator.

Germany: Germany’s vaccine committee recommended that everyone who received an AstraZeneca first dose switch to Pfizer or Moderna jabs for better protection against Covid. Studies show that the immune response is “clearly superior” when an AstraZeneca shot is combined with a second mRNA vaccine, compared with double AstraZeneca jabs, said the German public health vaccine committee.

Africa: The African Union’s head of vaccine procurement has said “not a single” Covid jab has so far left the EU for Africa, hitting out at the bloc for hoarding supply. Strive Masiyiwa criticised the global effort meant to distribute vaccines to less developed countries, accusing Covax of withholding crucial information including that key donors had not met funding pledges – with “not one dose, not one vial, [having] left a European factory for Africa”.

Kazakhstan: Has ordered mandatory vaccinations for a wide range of workers in sectors from the service industry to banking to entertainment who came into contact with others after cases of the Delta variant were discovered in the central Asian country.

Pakistan: A province suspended 70 paramilitary troops without pay after they repeatedly refused to receive Covid-19 vaccines, officials said, after the national government advised all its employees to get vaccinated.

Romania: Has asked AstraZeneca to extend the shelf life of some 43,000 Covid-19 vaccines that expired on 30 June, as the country has been unable to administer them in time due to the low take-up by the public.

Japan: Some Japanese municipalities have stopped taking vaccination reservations due to short supplies from the central government, possibly slowing inoculations nationwide just weeks before Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

Indonesia: The food and drug regulator has granted emergency use authorization for the Covid-19 vaccine made by Moderna, its chief Penny Lukito says in a press briefing. Moderna’s Covid vaccine is the first M-RNA shot to obtain EUA in Indonesia, and will be administered to those aged 18 years and older, Lukito said.

India: Cadila Healthcare Ltd. has sought approval from the local drug regulator for its DNA-based vaccine against Covid-19 after the shot proved effective in clinical trials. The drugmaker applied for emergency use authorization for the shot, which uses DNA to instruct the body’s cells to produce proteins that spark a protective response, according to an exchange filing Thursday. The Phase 3 trials on more than 28,000 volunteers across 50 centers showed an efficacy rate of 67%, Cadila said. That is below the rates of the shots from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer-BioNTech that use messenger RNA technology.

Lockdown updates

Japan: Could be forced to reverse a decision to allow up to 10,000 local sports fans to attend events at this summer’s Olympics, as a rebound in coronavirus cases has made it less likely that restrictions now in place in Tokyo can be lifted, as planned, before the Games open.

Australia: The number of international flight arrivals into Australia will be halved nationwide in a blow to Australians stranded abroad, while Scott Morrison attempts to reassure the public that the federal government is working with states and territories on a plan out of the Covid crisis.

Portugal: A night-time curfew will be imposed in several Portuguese municipalities, including the capital Lisbon and the city of Porto, as authorities scramble to bring under control a surge in Covid-19 infections, the government said.

Hungary: Will no longer require people to wear masks indoors as part of the further relaxation of virus curbs, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. The country is on track to exceed on Friday the 5.5 million mark, or about 56% of the population, for the number of people who have received at least one Covid-19 dose, triggering the easing of rules, he said in a state radio interview.

Germany: A senior German official criticized European soccer’s governing body for allowing large crowds to attend European Championship matches in England, calling the decision “absolutely irresponsible.” With the UK hit by the delta variant, health authorities say 1,991 Covid-positive people from Scotland have attended one or more Euro 2020 events since June 11. Scotland on Thursday reported more than 4,000 cases, a one-day record. Wembley Stadium will host the tournament’s semifinals and final. UEFA should shift to “a common-sense policy” to limit crowds, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in Berlin.

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said some “extra precautions” could still be required even after the July 19 date he has said will mark the end of the country’s Covid restrictions. The premier said he was “impatient” to get back to normal life but would not rule out keeping regulations or guidance in place on wearing masks in crowded public areas or on people keeping a specified distance apart.

Economy updates

Indonesia: Indonesia will increase spending on social assistance and healthcare in response to a rise in Covid cases and to soften the blow on the economy with tougher restrictions set to take effect this week, its finance minister said today.