Fauci warns on path of Covid; South Africa registers 9,718 new cases

By Bloomberg 25 July 2021

Vaccines being prepared at the South African Police Service Western Cape vaccination drive in Cape Town. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

South Africa registered 9,718 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,377,823. A further 287 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 69,775. A total of 6,384,382 people have been vaccinated.

The top US infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, warned that the nation is moving in the “wrong direction” in combating a new wave of the pandemic as vaccinations slow, and said a booster shot may be needed, especially for the most vulnerable.

In Germany, senior politicians have floated the possibility of tough restrictions for the unvaccinated, or even compulsory inoculation, amid similar sentiment throughout Europe as the Delta variant spreads in the region.

Meanwhile in the UK taxpayers will be paying an “eye-watering” price for the coronavirus for decades after the pandemic is over, according to a pair of reports released Sunday. Countries including Algeria, Thailand and Vietnam are imposing curfews in cities to battle a surge in cases.

Key developments

  • Global Tracker: Cases top 193.9 million; deaths exceed 4.1 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 3.82 billion doses administered
  • Snowmobiles, rifles and gold on offer in world’s Covid lotteries
  • BioNTech sees enough immunity to avoid third shot, DJ says
  • New cases at the Tokyo Olympics confirmed, including athletes
  • Australia secures 85 million more Pfizer-BioNTech doses
  • The US is moving in the “wrong direction,” Fauci says

Protests emerge globally to protest Covid rules

More than 100 gathered outside the Iowa state Capitol on Saturday to protest against vaccination rules including those issued by some hospitals in the state, the Associated Press said.

In France, more than 160,000 demonstrators gathered on Saturday to oppose the government’s Covid-19 health pass policy, The New York Times reported. Tear gas was used after clashes with police in Paris, it added. 

Protests also emerged in cities across Italy where thousands rallied against the government’s requirement for a so-called green pass next month for a number of venues.

Hundreds of children die in Indonesia

Hundreds of children – many under the age of five – have died in Indonesia from Covid in recent weeks, a mortality rate that’s higher than any other country, The New York Times reported, citing doctors.

The children’s deaths challenge the notion that they face a far lower risk than adults, the paper said. The surge in child deaths corresponds with the spread of the Delta variant, the paper said, and the outbreak now makes Indonesia the new epicenter of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Indonesia will extend its tightest mobility curbs for another week until August 2 as cases remain high following near month-long restrictions. Traditional markets selling staple foods will open as normal, while shops selling non-food items and small businesses are allowed to operate at half capacity for shorter trading hours.

Algeria declares curfew in major cities

Algeria declared an 8pm. to 6am curfew in major cities as the North African nation battles a surge in cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The curfew will be imposed in places with large numbers of infections, state TV reported Sunday, citing a Cabinet meeting and without identifying the cities. Algeria has had over 158,000 Covid-19 cases and about 4,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization.

Ho Chi Minh City orders 12-hour curfew

Ho Chi Minh City officials are imposing a 6pm-to-6am curfew beginning on Monday to contain a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, news website VnExpress reported, citing the chairman of the City People’s Committee, Nguyen Thanh Phong.

All activities in Vietnam’s business hub will be suspended during the curfew, except for emergency and epidemic coordination activities, according to the report.

The government said it’s working to lock up deals for as many as 170 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by year-end. Vietnam has secured 130 million doses and is trying to negotiate for an additional 40 million shots, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said in a speech to the National Assembly on Sunday.

UK cases drop for fifth day, Sky says

New Covid infections in the UK declined for a fifth day, falling to 29,173, the lowest daily count since July 6, according to Sky News.

The spread of the Delta variant, which coincided with the UK easing remaining Covid restrictions, pushed the rate of new cases near record levels earlier this month and the government estimated that daily infections could top 100,000 within weeks.

The steady decline in new cases could indicate that the peak won’t reach those levels, though it is too soon to gauge how the lifting on July 19 of final restrictions, including the reopening of night clubs, will affect new case levels.

Ex-FDA head says boosters may be needed

Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said scientists are considering whether vulnerable people may need a booster shot in light of the Delta variant.

“If you have a vaccine that you got seven or eight months ago and your antibody levels are declining, if you get this new Delta variant, it’s easier for this Delta variant to overwhelm low antibody levels,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

Fauci says US moving in ‘wrong direction’

The US is moving in the “wrong direction” in combating a new wave of Covid-19, and a booster vaccine shot may be needed especially for the most vulnerable, said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

It’s a problem that half of the country is still not fully vaccinated, he said. Based on the modelling of data, the US faces a worst-case scenario of daily deaths reaching the winter peak of 4,000.

“I’m not sure if it would be the worst-case scenario but it’s not going to be good,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We’re going in the wrong direction.”

BioNTech sees enough immunity

Immunity provided by the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech may drop but most recipients will remain protected against severe Covid-19 illness and may not need a third shot, Dow Jones reported, citing BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.

German politicians float bans for unvaccinated

Some of Germany’s most senior politicians have floated the possibility of tough restrictions for unvaccinated people, or even compulsory inoculation, echoing similar sentiment throughout Europe as the Delta variant spreads in the region.

The unvaccinated would have to curb contact in the event of a high level of infections in Germany and would be banned from “restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums,” Helge Braun, chief of staff in Angela Merkel’s chancellery, told Bild am Sonntag on Sunday. Those restrictions may be imposed regardless of tests, he added.

UK health minister apologises for tweet

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has apologised and deleted a tweet where he used the word “cower,” adding that it was a “poor choice of word”.

In an earlier tweet, where he said he had made a full recovery from Covid, Javid urged people to get vaccinated, saying, “As we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.” Opposition politicians seized on the remark. In his latest tweet Javid said that, “like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus.

“I’ve deleted a tweet which used the word ‘cower’. I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise.

“Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact.”

Japan’s Shionogi trials once-a-day pill

Osaka-based Shionogi & Co. has started human trials of the first once-a-day pill for Covid-19 patients, Dow Jones reported.

The Japanese company started testing the pill and any potential side effects this month and trials are likely to continue until 2022. Pfizer and Merck & Co. are months ahead in their later-stage tests of pills and Pfizer has said its twice-daily pill could enter the market as soon as this year.

UK faces pandemic costs for decades

British taxpayers will be paying for the coronavirus long after the pandemic is over, according to a pair of reports released on Sunday by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers. “The Covid-19 response means government will be exposed to significant financial risks for decades to come,” the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts said.

The estimated lifetime costs of the government measures reached £372-billion in May, with £172-billion reported spent, the committee said. The reports come days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions for England.

Distancing extended in South Korea

South Korea will expand social distancing measures outside the capital, Seoul, from Monday and ban gatherings of more than five people. The country reported 1,487 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

“The proportion of confirmed cases in the non-capital areas has reached over 35%,” South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in told a virus response meeting Sunday. “It is clear that the virus is spreading across the country.” Seoul is already subject to strict curbs.

India’s virus cases climb

India recorded 39,742 new daily Covid-19 cases, according to a health ministry statement on Sunday. There are currently 408,212 active cases in the country, which has had a total of 31.4 million.

About 433 million vaccine doses have been administered so far, the ministry said.

Australia warns of infection risk from protests

Weekend protests in Australia’s largest cities, which saw thousands of maskless demonstrators breach stay-at-home orders, risk fuelling new infections and causing an extension of restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

More than 50 people were arrested in Sydney and 500 fines issued, with others detained in Melbourne. “It was self-defeating, it will achieve no purpose,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. “It will not end the lockdowns sooner, it will only risk the lockdowns running further.”

New South Wales on Sunday confirmed 141 new Covid 19 cases in 24 hours, and two deaths, including a woman in her late 30s.

Japan to open virus passport system

Japan will begin accepting applications Monday for a Covid-19 passport that’s intended to allow vaccinated travellers to bypass some testing measures and restrictions.

The certificate will ease entry conditions for travellers heading to five countries – Italy, Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria and Poland – though initially won’t entitle people to avoid curbs on their return, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday, without citing any source. Japan is likely to start using the passport for incoming travellers after the Tokyo Olympics end next month, according to the newspaper.

Thailand cases hit record

Thailand reported 15,335 new Covid cases, a daily record, as the Southeast Asian nation battles the spread of the Delta strain. A near two-week semi-lockdown, which has included an overnight curfew and the shuttering of shopping malls to gyms, has failed to halt the deadliest outbreak the country has experienced since the pandemic began.

A total of 129 fatalities were reported in the past 24 hours, the highest one-day tally in more than a week, official data showed on Sunday. Almost half of the country’s about 4,000 deaths have occurred this month. DM

– With assistance from Anisah Shukry, Yoshiaki Nohara, Thomas Kutty Abraham, Anuchit Nguyen, Taís Fuoco, Nguyen Kieu Giang, Atul Prakash, Jeong-Ho Lee, Deana Kjuka, Faseeh Mangi, Yueqi Yang, David Stringer and Jon Menon.


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