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June 4, 2021

International update: Precise Covid virus origin ‘may never be known’

By Paul Dennis

4 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,701,957 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 172 million world wide.

US Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said it was possible the world would never find out the precise origin of the pandemic, after President Joe Biden last month ordered a new 90-day review from the intelligence community about the possible origins of the virus Fauci said during an appearance on MSNBC that while he feels it is still “more likely” that the virus jumped from animals to humans, “we still don’t know what the origin is. Reports that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick in November 2019 gave more credence to the possibility that Covid-19 may have emerged from a “lab leak,” but those reports still needed to be verified and animal to human transition happens “all the time,” he said.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 593,288 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

UK: The UK has recorded 5,274 new cases – the highest daily figure since March. There were 18 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive test.

The Delta variant of coronavirus that was first identified in India is now the dominant variant in the UK, according to Public Health England. Early evidence suggests there “may be an increased risk of hospitalization” for Delta, although “more data is needed for us to have more confidence in that finding,” PHE said in an emailed statement. UK cases of the Delta variant more than doubled in the last week to 12,431.

France: France’s seven-day moving average of daily Covid-19 deaths fell below 100 for the first time since October 27th, official figures show. The Covid-19 death toll increased by 70 to 109,828, the eighth-highest total globally, Reuters reports. The seven-day moving average stood at 95 versus 105 on Wednesday.

Brazil: Brazil reported a total of 16.8 million cases, with 83,391 confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Health Ministry. The death toll rose by 1,682 to 469,388.

Argentina: Some 32,291 new Covid cases were reported Thursday, bringing the total to almost 3.9 million, according to the country’s evening report. A total of 553 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, for a total of 79,873.

Vaccine news

Global: John Hopkins university confirmed that more than two billion vaccine doses have been distributed worldwide, with Israel remaining the country with the most vaccinated – as nearly six-in-10 people are fully inoculated against Covid.

The heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank also urged the G7 advanced economies to release any excess Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries as soon as possible, and called on manufacturers to ramp up production.

EU: The potential Covid treatment based on a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies developed by US drugmaker Regeneron and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche was purchased by the EU to the tune of about 55,000 doses.

Italy: Italy opened vaccinations for everybody over the age of 12, after the European Medicines Agency approved the Pfizer/BioNTech jab for 12 to 15-year-olds last week.

US: The US is to donate 75% of its unused Covid-19 vaccines to the UN-backed Covax global vaccine sharing program, president Joe Biden announced as more Americans have been vaccinated and global inequities have become more glaring.

The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to enlist colleges to help community members, including faculty and staff, get shots. The administration will host regular training sessions for college and student leaders to organize their colleges, peers, and communities in what’s being billed as a Covid Community Corps. It will also promote partnerships between retail pharmacies and high-enrollment community colleges to provide on-site clinics. Colleges themselves, including Purdue University, and state governments are also offering incentives, such as free tuition in New York and Ohio.

Experimental drug Tempol “may be a promising oral antiviral treatment for Covid-19,” the US National Institutes of Health said, citing findings from a study of cell cultures by its researchers. Tempol can limit Covid-19 infection by impairing the activity of a viral enzyme called RNA replicase, NIH said in a statement.

India: India placed an order for 300m doses of an as-yet unapproved coronavirus vaccine, a day after its Supreme Court criticised the government for bungling the country’s vaccination programme.

Pakistan: The head of a Pakistan province decreed that government employees who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid would not be paid from next month.

Vietnam: Vietnam has secured deals for 170 million Covid-19 vaccine doses so far, the government said on its website, citing Deputy Health Minister Truong Quoc Cuong in a Hanoi briefing Thursday.

Mexico: Mexico administered 1.06 million shots of Covid-19 vaccine on 2 June, surpassing the million mark in a day for the first time, according to data presented by Health Ministry official Jose Luis Alomia on Thursday.

Japan: Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward said it aims to prioritize young people in their 20s and 30s when it begins vaccinating those under the age of 59 in July, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Japan is planning  to send some of its Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan, which has been struggling to procure its own supplies and blamed China for impeding shipments of the shots.

Sanofi said it would start a final phase of clinical trial for its Covid-19 vaccine in Japan, without providing a date, Nikkei reported.

Lockdown updates

US: The US embassy ‘strongly suggested that US citizens make plans to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible’ amid spiking reported Covid cases and US citizens reportedly being denied admittance because of a lack of beds, with other concerns unrelated to the virus in the country also growing.

UK: Portugal was removed from the UK government’s “green list” of destinations from which people can return to England without having to quarantine, and no extra countries have been added, sparking industry fury.

Italy: A cruise ship arrived in Venice, Italy, for the first time in 17 months, signalling the return of tourists after the pandemic but enraging those who decry the impact of the giant floating hotels on the world heritage site.

Hong Kong: HSBC Holdings Plc will allow all Hong Kong employees to work from the bank’s offices starting on Monday, in a further sign that the Asian financial center is getting back to full business after containing a fourth wave of infections.

China: Panyu district in Guangzhou in southern China will suspend dine-in service at restaurants from 4 June to 17 to contain coronavirus risks, according to a statement from the local government. Guangzhou has suffered from new wave of Covid infections recently with 15 local confirmed cases reported in the city on 2 June, according to local health authorities.

Wales: Wales will allow groups of as many as 30 people to meet outdoors from Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford says in e-mailed statement late on Thursday. Large outdoor activities also to be allowed from Monday, with up to 10,000 people seated or 4,000 people non-seated. More households will also be allowed to mix.

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