Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL UPDATE

Fauci sees broader booster roll-out; South Africa registers 2,281 new cases

Residents in an observation area following their Covid-19 vaccine inside the Discovery mass vaccination site at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, on Tuesday, 7 September 2021. (Photo: Dwayne Senior / Bloomberg via Getty Images)
By Bloomberg
19 Sep 2021 0

South Africa registered 2,281 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,882,630. A further 58 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 86,174. A total of 15,992,374 people have been vaccinated.

Covid-19, and the uneven global distribution of vaccines, move to the center of a scaled-back United Nations General Assembly that begins in New York this week. 

At the meeting, President Joe Biden plans to set a new course for global vaccine allocation, even as the US is set to give booster doses to millions of fully inoculated Americans. The US government is negotiating with Pfizer to buy an additional 500 million vaccines to donate globally.

Anthony Fauci said booster shots for more of the US population remain a possibility soon, as additional data on the still-widening outbreak come in.

Singapore added 1,012 new cases, the highest since its lockdown in April 2020 and surpassing 1,000 new infections for a second day. There are signs that Italy’s inoculation campaign is picking up steam after the government moved to introduce vaccine “passports” for state and private-sector workers. 

Key developments 

Lagos to vaccinate third of residents in year 

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, plans to give Covid-19 shots to 30% of residents within a year, the state’s governor said in an emailed statement. 

To be able to do so “the world must ensure that vaccines were available to all, especially poorer countries that had struggled with supply”, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who governs Africa’s biggest city said. 

Lagos has only been able to vaccinate 1.2% of its estimated 24 million residents, which is far below the recommendation set by the World Health Organization, Sanwo-Olu said. 

Chris Rock has Covid, tells fans: ‘Get vaccinated’ 

Chris Rock, who has said he is vaccinated, tweeted on Sunday that he had Covid-19. His advice: “Trust me, you don’t want this. Get vaccinated.” 

The 56-year-old comedian has had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. His announcement set off yet more social media debate about inoculation. In thousands of tweets, some wished him well, others explained accurately that vaccines don’t prevent illness but are effective against hospitalisation and death. Others said his infection was proof vaccines don’t work. 

Singapore’s cases surpass 1,000 for second day 

Singapore added 1,012 new cases, the highest since its lockdown in April 2020 and surpassing 1,000 new infections for a second day.

A total of 873 patients are currently hospitalised, with 21 in the ICU. In the past month, almost all the cases – 98.1% – had mild or no symptoms. Four patients died, including the 60th fatality for the city-state that was reported on Saturday.

United CEO sees travel recovering in January  

Demand for air travel will likely not recover until January, as many companies have delayed their September return-to-office plan due to the Delta variant, said Scott Kirby, the chief executive officer of United Airlines.

The US government’s workplace vaccine mandate is “the right way” to boost vaccinations, because it covers a wide population, he said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

Nevertheless, United is prepared to check the vaccination status of flyers if the government imposes a vaccine mandate for travel, he said. The company hasn’t been given a timeline by the U.S. on lifting travel bans, but he is “hopeful” that the border with Europe will open soon.

Biden’s booster and export plans to collide at UN 

President Joe Biden will set a new course for global vaccine allocation this week, hosting a summit on the shortage of shots in poorer countries even as the US moves to give booster doses to millions of fully inoculated Americans.

The US plan for boosters will steer tens of millions of doses into the arms of many US adults starting as soon as Friday. That’s angered nations where many people are still struggling to obtain a first shot. 

As world leaders gather for the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, Biden aims to counter their criticism by hosting a virtual summit on Wednesday where he’ll propose a target of fully vaccinating 70% of the world by September 2022.

US nears deal for shots to give abroad 

The Biden administration is negotiating with Pfizer to buy an additional 500 million Covid-19 vaccines to donate globally, a person familiar with the matter said, doubling the government’s commitment to helping less-wealthy countries. 

A deal is expected to be announced in the coming days, ahead of an international Covid summit Biden has called for on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information isn’t yet public.

Fauci suggests broader booster roll-out likely  

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said booster shots for more of the US population remain a possibility soon, as additional data on the still-widening outbreak come in.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke two days after an advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration rejected a national roll-out of boosters for all ages, approving them only for people 65 and older and those who are medically vulnerable.  

“The story is not over because more and more data is coming in and will be coming in,” Fauci said Sunday on ABC’s This Week.  

Belgium to phase out Covid support by year-end 

Belgium will gradually phase out support for businesses affected by the pandemic by year-end, Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem said on Flemish TV show De Zevende Dag

The government hasn’t reached an agreement yet to extend any support measures beyond September 30. A measure that will definitely lapse at the end of this month is the reduced VAT rate of 6% for bars and restaurants, Van Petegem said. Drinks will be subject to a 21% VAT rate again as of October 1 and prepared food will be taxed at the usual 12%. 

End of holidays increases spread in Russia 

Russia reported 20,174 new cases on Sunday, pulling the seven-day average higher to 19,265 cases, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 793 people died from the illness. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, speaking in an interview to Rossiya-1 state television, said rising infections in the capital are due to people returning from holidays and children going back to school.

Covid passports boost Italy vaccine uptake  

Italy’s decision to make Covid-19 “passports” mandatory for all public and private sector workers from October 15 is boosting the country’s vaccination campaign, said Covid emergency czar Francesco Paolo Figliuolo.

“This week we have seen a 20-40% increase in bookings for first vaccine doses, compared to last week,” Figliuolo wrote on Saturday.

Last week, Italy’s government approved a measure requiring workers to demonstrate vaccination, a past Covid infection or a recent negative test before entering workplaces. Workers will face fines of as much as €1,500  if they don’t comply, while employers who fail to check their workers may have to pay as much as €1,000.

Melbourne expects to end lockdown next month 

Melbourne will exit its sixth lockdown once 70% of Australia’s Victoria state is fully vaccinated, authorities said on Sunday as they outlined plans to unwind virus measures next month.

Limits on “reasons to leave your home and the curfew will no longer be in place” once that target is met, Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters. That’s expected to happen around October 26. 

About 44% of Victoria is fully vaccinated, according to federal government data. 

Germany worries that millions of elderly lack vaccine 

Health Minister Jens Spahn expressed concern about the large number of elderly Germans still unvaccinated: “Of the 24 million people over the age of 60, just under four million are still unvaccinated,” Spahn told Funke Mediengruppe newspapers. “If the very contagious Delta variant were to infect a large proportion of this group within a few weeks, our intensive care units would come under great stress.”

The pace of new infections in Germany continues to slow, according to the latest figures published by the Robert Koch Institut, with the seven-day incidence rate – a key measure watched by the government – dropping to the lowest since August 27. DM  

With assistance from Scott Rose, Flavia Rotondi, Rainer Buergin, John Martens, Yueqi Yang and Linus Chua.

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