8 September

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim milestone of 4.5 million, with a figure of 4,586,339 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 221.9 million world wide.

A coalition of environmental groups have called for this year’s Cop26 climate summit to be postponed, arguing that too little has been done to ensure the safety of participants amid the continuing threat from Covid-19.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed the unwanted figure of 40 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 650,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The true number of US infections at the end of 2020 was more than 100 million, just under a third of the population and far more than the 20 million previously reported, according to a study cited by the National Institutes of Health. Many cases were undetected because of limited testing and asymptomatic infections early in the pandemic. The study, by researchers at Columbia University, used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how many people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which indicate past infections. The researchers calculated that just 11% of all cases were confirmed by a positive test result in March 2020.

Idaho public health leaders announced Tuesday that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle. The pandemic had a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.

UK: Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said the NHS in the UK needs £10bn next year to make inroads into the backlog of care and keep up with the costs associated with Covid-19.

Singapore: Singapore recorded its highest number of cases in a year, with 328 reported on Tuesday. Worryingly for authorities, the number of cases they could not track back to a source has tripled compared with a week ago.

South Korea: The chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said the country will be ready by the end of October to shift its strategy from suppressing Covid-19 to managing it while living a normal life, Yonhap reported on Tuesday.

Japan: Japan’s health ministry is planning to hold a panel meeting later this month to decide whether to approve GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s and Vir Biotechnology Inc.’s Covid-19 antibody drug Sotrovimab, broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified person.

Vaccine news

US: Three-quarters of US adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The country hit the 70% threshold in early August, four weeks beyond President Joe Biden’s target. The spread of the delta variant caused another surge of infections in the US over the last month and accelerated vaccinations. But hesitancy among many Americans has left the nation well behind many other countries for inoculation. Biden plans on Thursday to address efforts to curb the pandemic.

Italy: Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, has announced that third doses of Covid-19 will be made available to groups of “clinically vulnerable” people this month. “We have the third dose in Italy,” Speranza said. “We’ll start in September with fragile patients like oncology and transplant patients.”

Indonesia: The government has issued emergency use authorization for Covid-19 vaccines made by CanSino Biologics Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, Bisnis Indonesia reported, citing the food and drug regulator. Both shots will be administered to people aged 18 years and older.

UK: Four in five over-16s in Britain have been fully vaccinated according to the latest data, with 43,535,098 second doses delivered since vaccinations began. Meanwhile, Britain recorded 209 Covid deaths on Tuesday, the highest number since March.

China: A study from China looking at mixing Covid-19 vaccines showed that receiving a booster shot of CanSino Biologics’ vaccine after one or two doses of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine yielded a much stronger antibody response than using the Sinovac shot as a booster.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s junta said it wants to receive 10 million vaccine doses each in September and October and 4 million in November. The country targeted vaccinating half its population by year-end.

South Africa: Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine cut the risk of getting infected by about half, according to a trial of almost half a million health workers in South Africa. The vast majority of the breakthrough infections were mild, the study’s co-leader said, citing unpublished data.

Lockdown updates

Philippines: The Philippines backtracked on easing lockdown in the capital Manila, deciding to delay a move to localised lockdowns for another week. The change was due to start on Wednesday.

Sweden: Sweden will remove virtually all coronavirus restrictions on 29 September with the pandemic under control and the vaccination rollout well-advanced, the government said.

UK: UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said he is not aware of any planning for an “October firebreak” if case numbers in England begin to rise following the return of schools but the government has refused to rule it out.

India: Experts in India are calling for schools to reopen, warning that the benefits would outweigh the risk of infection spreading. According a recent survey, only 8% of children in rural areas regularly studied online.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia lifted a travel ban to neighboring United Arab Emirates starting Wednesday, opening up a key market weeks ahead of the Dubai Expo 2020 trade fair. The lifting of restrictions, which also included resumption of travel to South Africa and Argentina, came a day after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke to de facto UAE leader, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

Australia: The Australian state of Victoria will end its lockdown of all regional areas outside Melbourne except for one council zone with high case numbers, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference Wednesday. Lockdown will end for all parts of regional Victoria except for Greater Shepparton. The regions will have movement restrictions eased with venues also allowed to open with numbers caps. Schools will also re-open.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s health ministry is considering relaxing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people on a trial basis in some unspecified southern localities, the government website reported. Separately, Ho Chi Minh City plans green cards for vaccinated residents and will ease social distancing curbs for those partially and fully inoculated, Tuoi Tre reported, citing the city’s mayor.

Japan: The Japanese government is making arrangements to extend the state of emergencies in areas including Tokyo to the end of September, the Asahi newspaper reported, citing several unidentified officials. The emergencies are scheduled to expire 12 September.

Economy updates

Tanzania: The International Monetary Fund approved nearly $600 million in emergency lending for Tanzania’s health system and economic-recovery efforts as the nation battles the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s central bank ordered commercial banks to continue to delay payments for some loans until June 30, 2022, to help businesses hurt by the pandemic, the State Bank of Vietnam said. Central bank also asked lenders to exempt or reduce interest payments on some loans until June 2022.

UK: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the national insurance payroll tax will rise 1.25 percentage points starting next year to help rescue the National Health Service from backlogs generated during the pandemic. A tax on dividends will also increase 1.25 percentage points. All working adults, including those of state pension age, will be subject to the higher levies, which are expected to generate 36 billion pounds ($50 billion) over the next three years. The House of Commons is expected to vote on the tax package Wednesday.