CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL UPDATE
Pfizer submits kids’ data; South Africa registers 1,367 new cases
South Africa registered 1,367 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,898,888. A further 201 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 87,417. A total of 17,176,603 people have been vaccinated.
White House Covid-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients says the booster campaign is off to a “strong start” with more than 400,000 Americans getting an additional dose at pharmacies last weekend. Pfizer and BioNTech came a step closer to bringing their vaccine to school-age kids in the US.
European nations dominate the top of Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking for a third month, with Ireland taking the lead after a startling turnaround. At the same time, a record number of Covid cases were reported in Romania, which has the lowest vaccination rate in the European Union after Bulgaria.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health workers that went into effect this week is working to boost vaccination rates. Japan will lift a State of Emergency this week as infections recede.
- Global Virus Tracker: Cases pass 232.6 million; deaths exceed 4.76 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 6.17 billion shots given
- Europe’s giant job-saving experiment pays off in pandemic
- A rural Arkansas county became a vaccine success story (podcast)
- Understanding the debate over booster shots: QuickTake
Booster side effects mostly mild, CDC says
People who got Covid-19 vaccine boosters after the shots were cleared for people with weakened immune systems had mostly mild to moderate reactions, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some 22,191 booster recipients registered with a federal monitoring system starting on August 12, when the doses were first authorised on an emergency basis by US regulators, to September 19, the CDC said in a report on Tuesday. The data were reported by the shot recipients from zero to seven days after getting the third dose.
De Blasio warns teachers on mandate
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed vaccine mandates after a court panel decision on Monday that the city could proceed with a vaccine requirement for teachers and other education workers. Workers at the largest US school district have until Friday at 5pm to get their first Covid shot or be placed on unpaid leave. Principals will have the weekend to find substitute teachers so that “by Monday morning, 100% of staff will be vaccinated”, De Blasio said during a briefing.
New York says vaccine mandate is working
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health workers that went into effect this week is working to boost vaccination rates, providing a road map to other states trying to fight the highly transmissible Delta variant.
About 92% of nursing home staff in New York had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday evening, up from 70% on 15 August, before the vaccine mandate was announced, according to the governor’s office. And 84% of hospital staff were fully inoculated as of 22 September, up from 77% on 10 August, according to state data.
Healthcare workers statewide were required to get at least their first dose of the vaccine by 27 September, as the state continues to battle a rise in Covid cases, especially among unvaccinated people. Those who refuse the shot or who don’t receive an exemption face termination.
Airlines add Europe-US flights
Airlines are cautiously adding capacity between the US and Europe over winter, as carriers try to capitalise on looser travel restrictions without overstretching during the seasonally slower months.
The number of flights from Western Europe to North America is poised to jump by 7.5% between late October and early November, when the US ban lifts on visits from most European countries, based on data from BloombergNEF. Traffic will then head for a peak in late December.
Perella Weinberg bankers to return on 1 November
Perella Weinberg Partners told its bankers to be back in the office most weekdays starting on 1 November, with some flexibility remaining in when and where they work.
Denmark set to offer some extra doses
The Danish Health Authority said it expects to offer an extra vaccine to people older than 65, health workers, people with chronic diseases and anyone who initially received the shot from Johnson & Johnson. The roll-out will be completed with vaccines from either Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna pending regulatory approval.
Pfizer/BioNTech submit data for kids’ shot
Pfizer and partner BioNTech said they submitted initial data to US regulators about the use of their vaccine in children aged five to 11, coming a step closer to bringing shots to school-age children.
The companies expect to make a formal request for emergency authorisation in the coming weeks. Submissions to regulators in Europe and elsewhere are also planned.
Romania reports record cases
Romania reported a record number of daily infections. More than 11,000 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, data released on Tuesday showed. Large cities including Bucharest are approaching infection rates that will lead to new restrictions, including a weekend curfew and online schooling.
The country has the second-lowest rate of vaccination in the European Union after Bulgaria. With the government struggling to boost the number of intensive-care beds available for virus patients, another 208 deaths were also reported since Monday. That brings total fatalities to more than 36,000, with the worst toll coming in the past three months.
ImmunityBio to trial second shot in South Africa
ImmunityBio, the US company controlled by biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, plans to conduct a trial for a second Covid-19 shot in South Africa.
The new vaccine will combine the use of both ribonucleic acid, or RNA, and deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, as well as the adenovirus used in an inoculation that’s already being tested, Soon-Shiong said in an interview late last week.
Ireland leads Covid resilience ranking
European nations dominate the top rungs of Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking for a third month, and Ireland has taken over pole position after a steady recovery from the worst outbreak at the start of 2021. With more than 90% of the adult population fully vaccinated, the country has been scrapping restrictions this month.
Ireland used a strategy common across Europe that’s emerging as a global model of success: largely limiting quarantine-free international travel to the immunised helps hold down serious illness and death even as infections spread; allowing some domestic freedoms only for inoculated people drives up the local vaccination rate.
The US dropped three spots to No 28 in September as unfettered normalisation, regardless of vaccination status, drove a surge in cases and deaths. Inoculation has hit a wall, with places that started shots later than the US now overtaking it. Southeast Asian economies continue to populate the ranking’s bottom rungs in September, with Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines the last five.
Japan to end emergency nationwide this week
Japan will lift a State of Emergency at the end of September as new infections recede. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would end the restrictions on Friday for Tokyo and 18 other areas that make up about 75% of Japan’s economy.
His government is looking to roll back curbs gradually that called on places such as eateries and pubs to close early, and restricted sales of alcohol. DM
– With assistance from Deirdre Hipwell and Arun Devnath.
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