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April 23, 2021

International updates: Covid survivors have increased risk of dying within six months

By Paul Dennis

23 April

Global: The global Covid death toll is rising past the grim tally of 3 million with a figure of 3,072,522 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections are nearing 145 million world wide.

Covid-19 survivors had a 59% increased risk of dying within six months after contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, researchers reported in Nature. That works out to about eight extra deaths per 1,000 patients, worsening the pandemic’s hidden toll as many patients require readmission – and some die – weeks after the viral infection abates.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 31.9 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 570,345 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

UK: The UK found 55 more cases of the B.1.617 Covid variant first detected in India in latest weekly figures, Public Health England said.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said there had been 168 cases up to 14 April of blood clots with low platelet counts in the UK in people who had had the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

France: Prime minister Jean Castex confirmed that domestic travel restrictions will be lifted on 3 May and that secondary schools will reopen that same day. France is due to impose a 10-day quarantine starting from Saturday for travellers from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India.

Netherlands: New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by more than 9,000 in 24 hours on Thursday, the highest level since early January, figures show.

Ireland: Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, said 70 people working for a construction contractor at an expansion of the company’s manufacturing plant in Ireland have contracted Covid-19. The chipmaker said Thursday that it was told about the outbreak last weekend. Intel’s plant is in Leixlip, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of the center of Dublin.

Vaccine news

Global: The head of the World Health Organization called on governments and companies that “control the global supply” to share doses and know-how to increase equitable vaccine distribution. “Scarcity drives inequity and puts the global recovery at risk,” WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus said in a New York Times op-ed. Even with almost 1 billion doses administered, many countries face a crisis of high Covid-19 transmission and intensive care units overflowing with patients and running short on essential supplies such as oxygen, he said.

EU: EU capitals have been asked by the European commission to back legal action against AstraZeneca by the end of the week over an alleged breach of its contractual obligations to supply member states with its Covid vaccine. Earlier on Thursday, a commission spokesperson confirmed legal action had not been launched against the company, following comments by Ireland’s health minister Stephen Donnelly.

Venezuela: Opposition leader Juan Guaido plans to make the biggest one-time withdrawal from offshore accounts frozen by US sanctions to purchase Covid-19 vaccines as well as pay wages, legal fees and expenses. Guaido approved the release of $152 million, of which about $100 million will be used to buy vaccines through the World Health Organization-backed Covax initiative or other organizations, according to a budget report approved by the National Assembly.

US: Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson officials on Thursday balked at calls from the global community to waive patent rights in favor of broader immunization. US President Joe Biden is facing calls from some lawmakers to back a proposal before the World Trade Organization that seeks a broad waiver of rules on intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines.

The University of California and California State University systems are proposing a policy to have students, faculty and staff vaccinated before they return in the fall. Cal State Chancellor Joseph I. Castro called it “the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for Covid-19 vaccines” in the US. The university systems comprise more than 1 million students and employees across 33 major campuses.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong expanded access to the BioNTech vaccine to anyone 16 and above starting Friday, the latest effort to boost the city’s tepid progress on inoculations. Parental consent is required for 16- and 17-year-olds. The minimum age to receive the Sinovac vaccine is 18, the government said.

China: The Covid-19 mRNA vaccine co-developed by Germany-based BioNTech and China’s Fosun Pharma is “highly likely” to be approved in China before July, Global Times said Thursday. The report affirms information receieved earlier this week by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, which was told by a government official to expect a similar time frame.

Lockdown updates

Japan is set to declare a new state of emergency from Sunday to 11 May in Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures, imposing a set of measures that calls for the closure of bars and restaurants serving alcohol, establishments with karaoke equipment and large commercial facilities. The government also wants professional baseball and soccer events to be held without spectators. The government has already called on bars and restaurants in several major urban areas to close by 8 pm But that has not been enough to stem infections, which have hit daily records this month in Osaka and climbed in Tokyo to levels not seen since January, when the capital was under its second state of emergency.

UK: All travelers arriving in the UK from India will be required to isolate in managed quarantine facilities for 10 days, with testing for the coronavirus on the second and eighth day, Public Health England said Thursday. Travelers who test positive will be required to stay in quarantine for another 10 days from the date of the positive test. The requirement comes amid an increase in cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections caused by a variant first detected in India. The strain contains a number of mutations associated found in other variants of concern, Public Health England said in a technical report.

Canada: Canada imposed a 30-day ban on direct flights from India and Pakistan as of 11:30 p.m. Thursday in Ottawa. Some Canadian provinces have found cases of a virus variant detected in India, which reported almost 315,000 new infections on Thursday.

Indonesia and Malaysia: Will limit travel toward the end of the month-long fasting period which typically sees more than 81 million people head home to regional towns from urban centers. The restrictions are aimed at avoiding a resurgence in cases similar to those playing out in other developing countries, which are threatening overall global growth. India set a daily record for cases this week, while infections are also rising in Turkey, Argentina and Brazil.

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