COVID-19 SUMMARY: Britons under 30 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, British variant most common in U.S


8th April 2021 – (Hong Kong)   Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 133,321,956 with 2,891,267 deaths as of 12.30am today.

China and Hong Kong

China’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is impressive, and it has once again fared well in a major crisis, said an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official on Tuesday.

The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Wednesday reported a new imported COVID-19 case, bringing the SAR’s total number of confirmed cases to 49, according to the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre of Macao.


European and British medicine regulators said on Wednesday they had found possible links between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and reports of very rare cases of brain blood clots, in a setback for inoculation campaigns.

The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee – known as PRAC – “has confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19 overall outweigh the risk of side effects,” EMA’s Executive Director Emer Cooke said Wednesday at a news conference in Amsterdam.  

Britain should give an alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to under 30s where possible due to a “vanishingly” rare side effect of blood clots in the brain, Britain’s vaccine advisory committee said on Wednesday. British Health Secretary said the rollout of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the UK has started in Wales on Wednesday. Moderna’s vaccine is the third to be approved by British authorities after Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.

Several European countries are considering mixing up COVID-19 vaccines for citizens who received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s shot, an unprecedented move that highlights challenges for governments struggling to tame fresh rises in infections.

Authorities in several Spanish regions ratcheted up COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday to rein in a rising infection rate and prevent it from evolving into a fourth wave of contagion. Though Spain is faring better than neighbouring France, where rampant infections have pushed hospital admittance rates to near five-month highs, the daily caseload has been increasing for three weeks. Spain’s national infection rate, as measured over the past 14 days, rose to 165 cases per 100,000 people on Tuesday, up from 128 cases in mid-March, but still well below the 900-case peak seen in late January.

The wealthy German state of Bavaria is set to buy 2.5 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, as soon as it is approved by the European Union’s drug regulator, the state’s prime minister said on Wednesday.  The German government is calling for a short country-wide lockdown to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman reiterated the government’s support for the short, sharp shutdown proposed by Armin Laschet, the chairman of her CDU party.

Hungary begins to ease anti-coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, just as the country has vaccinated 2.5 million people and despite battling a third wave of COVID-19 infections. Starting on Wednesday morning, the country’s shops opening times are being extended from 7pm to 9.30pm local time, with capacity reduced to one costumer per 10 square metres.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Wednesday installed his fourth health minister during the COVID-19 pandemic as a lagging vaccination campaign heightened pressure to use Russia’s Sputnik dose.

U.S. and Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to swell global public debt in 2021, but spending more money to accelerate vaccinations is the fastest way to start to normalise government finances, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

A White House official says that by the end of this weekend, the US will be approaching having nearly half of all adults with their first shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

U.S. President Joe Biden will offer COVID-19 vaccine shipments to all of the nation’s community health centres, adding 2,500 delivery sites in a program aimed at closing the racial gap in inoculations.

The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most common strain of coronavirus in the United States, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.

There were about 453,000 new cases in the country in the past seven days, New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey reported nearly 198,000 of those cases.

An ensemble forecast published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 568,000 to 588,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by 1st May.

While vaccine requirements won’t come from federal government mandates, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would be very surprised if there weren’t local level requirements. 

In response to a question about when the United States can reopen more broadly, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outlined the conditions she believes are needed to reach that point alongside the vaccination of the population.

New York City’s beaches will open for Memorial Day weekend, and public outdoor pools will open in late June, a signal that the pandemic’s worst days may be over, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey lifted the state’s mask mandate, saying the order would go into effect on Friday. 

 Ontario, Canada’s most populous province with a population of 14 million, reported 3,215 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths Wednesday morning.

Latin America

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has shrugged off criticisms that he is “genocidal” in his opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, as the nation recorded its deadliest 24 hours of the pandemic so far. Brazil reported a record 4,195 new COVID-19 deaths, the latest health ministry data on Tuesday showed. The new figures increased the country’s total pandemic death toll to 336,947.

Chile is postponing local, regional and Constitutional Assembly elections for five weeks over a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the country’s President Sebastian Piñera announced Tuesday.

Mexico’s health regulator Cofepris has authorized the emergency use of India’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin.

Elsewhere in the world

Algeria on Wednesday reported 125 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the North African country to 117,879.

 Lebanon registered on Wednesday 3,120 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 485,918, the health ministry reported.

Kenya and the United Kingdom on Wednesday resolved to set up a joint emergency committee to address COVID-19 travel restrictions after London added Nairobi to its COVID-19 travel red list.

A total of 32,711 people in Sierra Leone have received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines, the country’s health ministry said Wednesday.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Myanmar has increased to 142,549 as of Wednesday, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Turkey’s daily cases rose to a record 49,584, a five-fold increase since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a relaxation of social distancing rules on 1st March. Deaths climbed to 211, the most since 1st January.

India’s Maharashtra state, where the country’s highest new daily coronavirus cases are being reported, has asked the central government to increase vaccine supply amid a shortage, the state’s minister of health said.

Bangladesh on Tuesday reported 7,213 new COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths — its highest daily increases in new infections and fatalities since the outbreak began, the country’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said in a statement.   

South Korea will temporarily suspend use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people under 60 and nursing teachers, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a press release on Wednesday.  South Korea granted a conditional approval for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, according to the country’s Food and Drug Safety Ministry.

Bhutan on Wednesday said it had given about 60 per cent of its entire population a first jab against COVID-19 since the Himalayan kingdom started an ambitious vaccination drive nine days ago.

The governor of Japan’s Osaka prefecture has said he will not allow Olympic torchbearers to run on public streets as planned next week after a surge in COVID-19 infections prompts officials to declare a state of medical emergency. Tokyo will prepare to ask the Japanese government to impose new restrictions to match the virus control measures currently in effect in Osaka, Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters in remarks carried by broadcaster TBS. 

An investigation has been launched in the Philippines following the death of a man who is said to have been forced to do “pumping exercises” as a punishment for breaking Covid-19 curfew rules, CNN affiliate CNN Philippines reports.  The Philippines is deploying more volunteer doctors and nurses to Manila, the epicentre of a new surge in cases that has overwhelmed hospitals.

Australia will receive its order of 3.1 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine initially blocked by the European Union, Trade Minister Dan Tehan said Wednesday in an interview with public broadcaster ABC.

Bangkok could be declared a COVID-19 red zone ahead of the Thai water festival next week after new clusters involving pubs and bars caused a sharp increase in infections in the Thai capital.  The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) reported 334 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, which included 216 patients from Bangkok alone.  

One-third of the world’s cruise travellers are now from Singapore as international travel restrictions encourage the nation’s residents to board ships that sail out to sea and back again.

Information compiled from Reuters, CNN, Xinhua News, CNA and Bloomberg.