12 October

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 4.8 million, with a figure of 4,858,033 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University . Meanwhile, infections exceed 238 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 44.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 714,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Europe: Slower vaccination rates in eastern Europe are leading to a dramatic surge in cases in comparison to higher vaccination rates and lower Covid infection and death rates in western Europe, figures from Our World in Data suggests. The exception is in the UK where case numbers are surging.

UK: A landmark inquiry has found Britain’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic to be one of the worst public health failures in UK history. The 151-page report, ‘Coronavirus: lessons learned to date’, led by two former Conservative ministers, found authorities took a “fatalistic” approach that exacerbated the nation’s death toll. Despite being one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid in January 2020, the UK “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis”, the report said.

The UK reported a further 40,224 Covid cases on Monday, according to official data. Meanwhile, a further 28 deaths were reported.

Italy: Relatives of coronavirus victims in Italy are pushing for a full public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic as documents from the European Centre For Disease Prevention And Control (ECDC) show the first Covid-19 cases registered in 16 European countries originated from Italy.

France: A French study of over 22m people finds vaccines reduces the risk of dying or being hospitalised in people over the age of 50 with Covid-19 by 90%. The research published on Monday also found that vaccines appear to protect against the worst effects of the most prevalent virus strain, the Delta variant.

Russia: Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, seen coughing during a televised government meeting, reassured officials on Monday that he was fine and said he was being tested for Covid virtually every day.

Meanwhile, Russia’s daily Covid numbers remain close to their highest figures with 957 coronavirus-related deaths and 29,409 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Vaccine news

Global: An advisory panel of immunization experts to the World Health Organization recommended that severe or moderately immunocompromised people should get an extra dose of Covid-19 vaccines. In the case of Sinopharm or Sinovac, an extra shot should be given to anyone 60 or above, said Alejandro Cravioto, chairman of the panel. Katherine O’Brien, director of immunizations at the WHO, said this is part of a normal schedule of vaccines, that and the panel will consider the issue of boosters to the main immunization schedules on 11 November.

AstraZeneca ’s antibody cocktail was effective at preventing people with mild or moderate Covid-19 infection from worsening, a study showed. The cocktail halved the risk of developing severe illness or death compared with a placebo in a primary analysis of 822 patients who weren’t hospitalized, Astra said in a statement Monday. The trial took place in countries including the UK, Brazil, the US and Germany. The results are another boon for the product after it was also found to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic Covid in high-risk people. The outcomes are a relief for Astra after an initial trial testing whether the cocktail could prevent symptomatic disease in people explicitly exposed to the virus failed in June. The company said last week it had applied for emergency-use authorization in the US.

China: China has expanded its booster-shot rollout to more parts of the country, including the central provinces of Hubei and Anhui and the southern regions of Guangxi and Guangdong, according to local media. People aged 18-to-59 who received their second shot more than six months ago are eligible for a booster, local authorities said.

Australia: Australia still lags behind many other countries on vaccine rollout – but it’s catching up fast. After a slow start and sluggish vaccine rollout, 68.2% of Australians have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of 8 October. This is ahead of Germany at 67.9%, the United States at 64.39%, and the European Union at 67.8%.

Lockdown updates

Thailand: Thailand is set to reopen its borders to sun-seeking vaccinated tourists from November. Mandatory quarantine requirements will be dropped for visitors from the UK and US and alcohol will be allowed to be served at restaurants from 1 December. Tourism made up almost 20% of the nation’s income prior to the pandemic, attracting nearly 40 million visitors a year. However, Covid-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years.

Wales: From today people in Wales must show an NHS Covid Pass or demonstrate their vaccination status to enter nightclubs and attend large events in the country.

Germany: People in Germany will now need to pay for lateral flow coronavirus tests out of their own pockets, as the government is trying to nudge vaccine-hesitant citizens into getting the jab.

Indonesia: Indonesia is reopening its borders further, allowing visitors from more countries to enter and imposing a shorter quarantine period. Southeast Asia’s largest economy will allow arrivals from 18 countries and reduce the minimum quarantine period to five days, from eight previously, said Luhut Panjaitan, coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs who’s overseeing the pandemic response. He didn’t name any of the 18 countries.

Economy updates

Global: Covid pandemic pushes poor countries to record debt levels, the World Bank says. David Malpass, the bank’s president warned the virus had widened the gap between rich and poor nations, setting back progress by years and, in the case of some countries, by a decade. Figures show the debt burden of more than 70 low-income nations had increased by a record 12% to $860bn (£630bn) in 2020.

UK: Ryanair bans Covid refund passengers from boarding new flights. The budget airline has been accused of barring passengers who pursued chargebacks during the pandemic from taking new flights this year – unless they return their refunds. An investigation by MoneySavingExpert (MSE) found that holidaymakers who sought refunds from their credit card provider faced last-minute demands of up to £600 if they want to board a Ryanair plane.

Finland: Finland’s fur industry is organizing an inoculation program for minks in a bid to avert the extermination of the farmed animals as part of disease-prevention measures. The country has about half a million doses of a domestically developed vaccine ready to be deployed this winter, enough to protect the entire population of breeding minks from Covid-19. Minks are known to be particularly susceptible to the virus. Evidence from the Netherlands suggest the virus can jump from minks to humans.