8th April 2021 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 133,978,952 with 2,905,518 deaths as of 11.45pm today.
China and Hong Kong
China’s plans to vaccinate 40% of its population by the end of June but it is facing a supply shortage. According to people familiar with the matter, this was factored into the decision at the end of March to issue guidelines that allow for the interval between the first and second dose to be stretched to as long as eight weeks.
In Hong Kong, about 529,400 persons have received their first dose, with about 339,400 persons receiving the Sinovac vaccine and about 190 000 persons receiving the BioNTech vaccine. About 170,700 persons have received their second dose, with about 116,200 persons receiving the Sinovac vaccine and about 54,500 persons receiving the BioNTech vaccine.
The swift rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in England is starting to have a positive impact on prevalence the disease, with infection rates dropping steeply in March, according to the findings of a closely watched survey on Thursday. The REACT study, run by scientists at Imperial College London, found that infections fell by approximately 60% from the last study in February, with an average of only 1 in 500 people infected. More than half of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK did not have symptoms, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Thursday in its latest Infection Survey. “In March 2021, 47% of people testing positive for the coronavirus in the UK with a strong positive test reported symptoms and 53% did not report having any symptoms,” the ONS said.
France is beginning to see encouraging signs after the latest lockdown measures aimed at curbing the surge in COVID-19 infections, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Thursday during his weekly press conference. The Roland-Garros Paris tennis tournament has been postponed by a week due to the epidemic, the organizers announced on Thursday following a decision from the French Tennis Federation.
A man has been jailed in the Netherlands after being found guilty of plotting to blow up a vaccine centre, a spokesperson for the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) told CNN on Thursday.
Germany plans to speak to Russia about acquiring doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, if it is approved by EU regulators. In an interview with German public radio WDR5 on Thursday, Health Minister Jens Spahn, said he has notified the EU that Berlin will “bilaterally talk to Russia,“ after the bloc made it clear it will not sign a contract to procure Sputnik shots.
Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke sought to reassure the country about the AstraZeneca vaccine, following a decision to temporarily pause administering it to those aged 18 to 55.
Spain will now give the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine only to people older than 60, marking a “pivot” in its vaccination strategy, Health Minister Carolina Darias announced in a new conference late Wednesday.
Bulgaria will reopen restaurants, theatres, galleries and universities with limited capacity from 12th April, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Bulgaria currently has the second-highest 14-day COVID-19 death rate in the EU, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Romania plans to continue a vaccination campaign with AstraZeneca and won’t impose any age limitations. In the rare cases of people who had blood clotting issues after the first dose, the second dose won’t be administered, and experts will decide whether to use another vaccine.
Poland suffered its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic after fatalities from the Easter holiday were added to the tally. The number of reported deaths rose to 954.
Italy’s government is working on plan to make ‘Covid-free’ islands including Capri, Ischia, Ponza and Elba by the summer in order to save the tourist season, Il Messaggero reported.
U.S. and Canada
The U.S. government will allot nearly 85% less Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to states next week, data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed.
Dr. Anthony Fauci explained Wednesday why the United States is now seeing more COVID-19 cases among younger people. It’s in part because so many older people are vaccinated, he said, and also because of spread in day care centers and at school sporting events.
A Brazilian Supreme Court judge on Wednesday suspended extensions of drug patents in the country, a preliminary decision that could lower costs for drugs critical to treating COVID-19 patients at the expense of pharmaceutical firms. Justice Dias Toffoli cited the “public health emergency arising from COVID-19” in his ruling. The ruling, which takes effect immediately, must still go before the full Supreme Court for consideration and could be reversed.
Brazil’s Butantan research institute has temporarily suspended production of the Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine due to a delay of the delivery of raw materials from China, three sources directly connected to the matter told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil Wednesday. A new shipment of raw materials — the so called IFA (Active Pharmaceutical Input) ingredient — scheduled to arrive in Brazil from China on 9th April, has now been pushed to 15th April, Sao Paulo Gov. Joao Doria said Wednesday during a news conference.
Chile’s Institute of Public Health authorised the emergency use of the new CanSino Biologics vaccine on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Health Ministry. President Sebastián Piñera highlighted the need for the acquisition of 1.8 million single doses from the Chinese-Canadian laboratory CanSino, and said the vaccinations would take place between April and May.
Peru’s Health Ministry reported 314 new deaths due to COVID-19 on Wednesday evening, the highest number since the pandemic started. The country’s death toll reached 53,725. At least 9,305 new coronavirus cases were also reported, bringing the total number in the country to 1,607,898.
Elsewhere in the world
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga Thursday said that Tokyo will likely be placed under stronger anti-virus measures due to a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the capital and increased pressure on healthcare facilities. The Japanese leader said the new, tougher measures will come into effect from next Monday and remain in place until 11th May, according to sources familiar with the matter. Japan’s Osaka Prefecture reported a record 905 COVID-19 daily cases on Thursday, logging a new daily high for the third consecutive day amid a fourth wave of the pandemic.
The Omani Health Ministry on Thursday announced 1,320 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the sultanate to 168,005, the official Oman News Agency reported.
Iran’s health ministry reported 22,586 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the country’s total number of COVID-19 related cases to 2,006,934 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Uruguay recorded 3,935 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday – the highest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic. That brings the number of total cases for the country to 126,987, according to the health ministry.
Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar been released from hospital but will remain in isolation at home following treatment for COVID-19, according to a statement posted on his official Twitter account on Thursday. New infections in India rose to a daily record as more than 126,700 cases were reported Thursday, pushing the country’s total tally past 12.9 million.
Bangladesh discovered a “dramatic change” in the distribution of coronavirus variants after a new South African strain appeared, Dhaka-based health research organization Icddr,b said in a report.
Australia and the Philippines limited use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, while the Africa Union dropped plans to buy the shot, dealing further blows to the company’s hopes to deliver a vaccine for the world. The Philippines suspended the use of AstraZeneca shots for people below 60 after Europe’s regulator said on Wednesday it found rare cases of blood clots among some adult recipients although the vaccine’s advantages still outweighed its risks.
Australia recommended people under 50 should get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in preference to AstraZeneca’s, a policy shift that it warned would hold up its inoculation campaign.
Indonesia may seek to elevate ongoing negotiations with China to the presidential level as the government works to secure more Sinovac vaccines to boost supply. The country is also preparing to impose sanctions during the Eid-al Fitr holiday for those caught skirting travel restrictions, which can range from fines to time in jail.
Malaysia will review the use of the AstraZeneca’s Covid shots after the European Medicines Agency found a possible link between the vaccine and rare blood clotting issues, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a tweet on Thursday.
Information compiled from Reuters, CNN, Xinhua News and Bloomberg.