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Chile approves vaccine for kids; South Africa registers...

Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL UPDATE

Chile approves vaccine for kids; South Africa registers 4,118 new cases

A woman receives her Covid-19 vaccination at the launch of the Athlone drive-through vaccine site in Athlone, Cape Town, South Africa, on Thursday, 2 September 2021. (Photo: Victoria O’Regan)
By Bloomberg
06 Sep 2021 0

South Africa registered 4,118 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,824,063. A further 198 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 83,617. A total of 13,673,651 people have been vaccinated.

The Chilean government approved Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine for use on children as young as six, with shots being administered beginning this month.

The European Union’s drug regulator is reviewing Pfizer-BioNTech’s application for an extra dose of their vaccine six months after the second shot. In the US, officials are discussing the timing and efficacy of booster shots, with the White House pushing back at criticism that it’s rushing the process.

Thailand is reopening for tourism, hoping that vaccines will revive one of its most important industries. Much of New Zealand is exiting lockdown amid progress in fighting the Delta-variant outbreak. Singapore eased some testing rules for travellers, while tightening other restrictions to stave off another surge.

Key developments

Chile approves Sinovac shots for children

The Chilean government approved Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine for use on children aged six and higher, as the country advances one of the most advanced vaccination programmes in the world.

Five experts at Chile’s Institute of Public Health backed the measure, according to its website. Two voted to restrict shots to children 12 and older; another voted against allowing kids to get Sinovac, saying that there still wasn’t enough available data.

Previously, only Pfizer had obtained approval in the country to use its vaccine on people 12 to 17 years old. Sinovac, which has proven to be less effective than more costly mRNA vaccines to prevent infection, represents about two-thirds of the vaccines used in Chile.

Ho Chi Minh City eases grocery restrictions

Vietnam’s commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City will continue to enforce a stay-at-home order at least until September 15 but allow residents in areas with low reports of virus patients to visit supermarkets once a week. Mayor Phan Van Mai said the city will gradually restart more services after that date if efforts to contain the virus show signs of success.

EU regulator reviews Pfizer booster data

The European Medicines Agency has started an accelerated review of data on a booster dose of Comirnaty, the PfizerBioNTech vaccine.

The review will take a few weeks and will look broadly at boosters six months post-vaccination for people aged 16 and older, the agency said. Separately, EMA is also reviewing a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots specifically for people with weakened immune systems.

Indonesia cases start to ease

Southeast Asia’s largest economy added 4,413 new cases in the 24 hours through midday on Monday, the least since May 18. The government has been easing restrictions across many cities as the local outbreak starts to subside from its peak, even as the number of daily deaths remains among the world’s highest. The country reported 612 fatalities from the virus on Monday. 

Indonesia will impose movement limits on Java and Bali islands through September 13, and in the rest of the country until September 20, while easing some curbs. Dine-in at shopping malls in some cities will be allowed for a maximum of one hour, while the government will trial a reopening for shopping centres in Bali. The government is maintaining its target of administering 2.5 million vaccine doses a day to curb severe illness and death.

Singapore tightens some restrictions

The country will increase the frequency of mandatory testing for higher-risk environments, such as personal care services and gyms, and will extend this requirement to more settings with frequent community interactions, such as mall workers and supermarket staff. The government also said it will no longer allow social gatherings and interactions at workplaces from September 8.

Thailand begins to reopen

Thailand is set to reopen more of its popular tourist destinations starting next month, betting that a higher local inoculation rate can help draw more foreign visitors and revive an economy battered by the pandemic. The reopening of capital city Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as beach resorts Pattaya, Cha-Am and Hua Hin from October 1 will be modelled after an initiative to bring back vaccinated tourists to Phuket, tourism ministry officials said.

France under fire over Covid actions

A French high court is fielding “thousands” of complaints against ministers for allegedly mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic, Le Parisien reported, citing comments by magistrate Francois Molins to LCI channel.

The surge in complaints is affecting the functioning of the court that handles government cases, according to the report. 

Myanmar may ease curbs as new cases slow

Myanmar may relax mobility curbs in some townships as new Covid-19 cases decline and vaccination picks up, Khin Khin Gyi of the Ministry of Health told state broadcaster MRTV. Myanmar reported 2,829 new cases on Sunday, the lowest daily tally in about two weeks.

Most of New Zealand to exit lockdown

Auckland, New Zealand’s most populous city, will remain in Level 3 lockdown until at least September 15, but the rest of the country will go to a Level 2 alert in which people can return to work and school, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Level 2 requires masks in most public venues and indoor gatherings will be limited to 50.

“We’ve done so well to get this outbreak under control,” Ardern said. “The job is not done. We’re within sight of elimination but we cannot drop the ball.”

New Zealand appears on track to once again eliminate Covid-19 from the community after the lockdown reduced new case numbers to just 20 a day. If it succeeds, it will be a rare victory over the highly infectious Delta strain of the virus. China last month hit zero cases after imposing curbs, but that was more difficult than its previous, successful effort to eliminate local transmission. 

Australia moves to speed vaccines

Australia’s New South Wales state reported 1,281 new cases on Monday, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison races to boost vaccination rates so as to remove lockdown curbs and reopen domestic and international borders by the end of the year.

There are stay-at-home orders on more than half the nation’s population. Still, Morrison told Melbourne’s Herald Sun paper that the increasing vaccination rate means “everyone can make plans for a family Christmas”.

Singapore tightens rules on visitor tests

From 11.59pm on September 9, individuals arriving in Singapore from high-risk areas must show a negative pre-departure Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction test result taken within 48 hours before departure, the Health Ministry said on Sunday. Previously, the test could be taken within 72 hours of travel.

G20 wants more equal vaccine access

Group of 20 health ministers agreed to work towards more equity in the distribution of vaccines, DPA reported, citing Italy’s Health Minister, Roberto Speranza. A key commitment of a deal reached in talks in Rome is a fairer distribution of vaccines beyond wealthy nations, with vaccination being a right for all. 

UK looking at vaccine passports for big venues

The UK may require vaccine certification for entry to large venues where infection risks may be higher, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News. He also confirmed that all frontline healthcare staff may be required to have a vaccine, after the Sunday Telegraph said Health Secretary Sajid Javid is pushing ahead with the plans. The government will consult before making a decision, Zahawi said.

He also said the government hasn’t yet decided on whether to roll out vaccines to healthy 12- to 15-year-olds, but if the move proceeds, then parental consent would be needed. On Friday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said that the benefits of vaccination for healthy children in this age group were “marginally greater” than the potential known harms, though it advised the government to ask the UK’s chief medical officers to weigh in on the decision.

Daiichi Sankyo positions vaccine as booster

Daiichi Sankyo’s home-grown Covid vaccine, a cutting-edge mRNA shot on the cusp of its final clinical trials, could be used mainly as a booster starting next year for people who have already been immunised, the Japanese drugmaker said. 

“The most likely scenario is that most people in Japan would’ve gotten one of the already-approved vaccines by next year,” said Shizuko Ueno, the project leader for Covid vaccine development at Daiichi Sankyo. “We expect that it could be used as a third booster shot and are looking into running a trial for that as well.” 

Argentina cedes Brazil match over broken quarantine 

Argentina walked off the field in a World Cup qualifier match after Brazilian health officials stopped the game because three players violated quarantine. The game against Brazil was scoreless when play was suspended in the seventh minute. Four Argentine players will be fined and deported after breaking quarantine, the Associated Press reported. 

US booster shots likely to start with Pfizer

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said US booster shots against Covid-19 are likely to start only with the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech, while the Moderna shot may be delayed.

The administration remains hopeful that booster shots will kick off in the US in about two weeks, though it will need approval by regulators and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on CNN’s State of the Union

He pushed back at criticism that Biden is attempting to rush booster shots ahead of scientific evidence, saying that officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration were involved in setting the week of September 20 as the target date. DM

– With assistance from Reade Pickert, Alexander Pearson, Jason Scott, Chanyaporn Chanjaroen, Dong Lyu, Matthew Brockett, Marthe Fourcade, Naomi Kresge, Yudith Ho and Eduardo Thomson

Gallery

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