COVID-19 SUMMARY: Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide cross 3 million, EMA confirms link between AstraZeneca vaccine and very rare blood clots

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6th April 2021 – (Hong Kong)   Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 132,624,580 with 2,877,134 deaths as of 11.45pm today.

Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide crossed 3 million on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the latest global resurgence of COVID-19 infections is challenging vaccination efforts across the globe. Worldwide COVID-19 deaths are rising once again, especially in Brazil and India. Health officials blame more infectious variants that were first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, along with public fatigue with lockdowns and other restrictions.

China and Hong Kong

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported 17 new locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases Tuesday. All of the new infections were recorded in Yunnan, a southwestern province on the border with Myanmar.

About 113,000 persons have received their second dose in Hong Kong, with about 89,300 persons receiving the Sinovac vaccine and about 23,700 persons receiving the BioNTech vaccine.

Europe

It is a travesty that some countries still have not had enough access to vaccines to begin inoculating health workers and the most vulnerable people against COVID-19, the head of the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

Most European Union member states will have sufficient vaccine supplies to immunize the majority of people by the end of June, much earlier than the bloc’s official target, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.

Plans by European Union countries to issue certificates showing that citizens have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should have a legal basis to ensure that they are necessary and proportionate, the bloc’s privacy watchdogs said on Tuesday. The European Union’s data protection bodies strongly advised against extending the use of vaccine passports beyond the current pandemic, warning they could pose “risks to the fundamental rights of EU citizens.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said he wanted a testing regime for international travel to be easy and cheap, hinting that rapid tests could be used after criticism from the airline industry that current requirements were onerous. Vaccine certification as means of unlocking British society would not be discriminatory, the U.K. vaccines minister insisted on Tuesday, as the proposal continues to attract controversy in the UK.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the country shouldn’t “close its mind” to the idea of vaccine passports as part of opening up services after lockdown.

Austria’s eastern provinces around capital Vienna will remain under a stricter lockdown for one more week until 18th April, while the western and southern parts of the country will remain somewhat less restricted, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

There is a link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots in the brain but the possible causes are still unknown, a senior official for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in an interview published on Tuesday. However, the EMA later said in a statement that its review of the vaccine was ongoing and it is expected to announce its findings on Wednesday or Thursday. An AstraZeneca spokesman declined to comment on the matter. “In my opinion, we can now say it, it is clear that there is an association (of the brain blood clots) with the vaccine. However, we still do not know what causes this reaction,” Marco Cavaleri, chair of the vaccine evaulation team at the EMA, told Italian daily Il Messagero.

Norwegian Cruise Line wants to start US cruises again on 4th July, and it’s willing to require all passengers and staff to be vaccinated before it sets sail.

Sweden’s government will spend a further 6.9 billion kronor (US$792 million) on measures to fight the pandemic, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said. 

About 207,000 Romanians have cancelled their appointments to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot since March amid concerns about rare blood clots.

Spain expects to vaccinate 5 million people by the first week of May, ramping up the effort to reach 25 million people by the week of 19th July, with a goal of immunizing 70% of the population by the end of August, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised statement.

U.S. and Canada

President Biden plans to announce Tuesday that he is moving up his deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by almost two weeks.

Michigan topped the coronavirus daily tally among U.S. states on Monday after a steep rise in infections, about a month after the state eased restrictions when new cases showed a downward trend. It reported 11,082 cases on Monday, which included Sunday and Monday’s case load as the state does not report on Sunday. Michigan’s daily COVID-19 tally is hovering close to its previous single-day peak of 10,140 new cases on 20th November.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on “Good Morning America” Tuesday that he hopes people who go on cruises take the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations and get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott banned state agencies from creating so-called vaccine passports or otherwise requiring proof of a Covid inoculation in order for someone to receive services, the Texas Tribune reported.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is under increasing pressure to close in-person schooling as a more deadly strain of coronavirus surges through the Canadian province.

Elsewhere in the world

The Indian capital of New Delhi on Tuesday imposed a night-time curfew until 30th April with much of the country struggling to contain a second surge in coronavirus infections that has eclipsed the first wave. India, the world’s second most populous country with 1.35 billion people, has administered 80.9 million vaccine doses, the most after the United States and China, but it lags far behind in immunisations per capita. The Indian Medical Association (IMA), an association of doctors, on Tuesday urged the federal government to open up COVID-19 vaccination for everyone above 18 years of age. India’s financial capital Mumbai will have all its beaches in the city shut till 30th April as part of additional restrictions levied by the city’s civic authority on Tuesday to control the rising COVID-19 cases.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday received an injection of coronavirus vaccine produced by China’s Sinopharm in front of the media in the village of Rudna Glava in the municipality of Majdanpek.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it has “not received any official application” from North Korea regarding its reported decision to pull out of this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Private vaccinations with Sputnik V shots from Russia came to a stop in Kenya after the government barred companies from shipping and administering the COVID-19 vaccines.

Russian officials have slowed authorsation of China’s CanSino Biologics Inc.’s vaccine, the only foreign inoculation undergoing domestic testing, because local authorities are prioritizing Russian-developed shots, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The number of new cases in Iran exploded to 17,430 over the last 24 hours, the highest since the pandemic surfaced in the country. The surge comes as millions of people defied government advice by traveling during the Persian new year holiday, which started on 20th March.

Tanzania’s new president will appoint a committee to advise her on how to curb the spread of COVID-19, reversing her predecessor’s denial of the pandemic.

Australia has fallen dramatically short of its initial vaccine targets due to difficulties in importing stock, including a 3.1 million dose shortfall in imports of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged Tuesday.

The world’s first fully COVID-19 vaccinated flight took to the skies on Tuesday, carrying only inoculated passengers and crew members on board.   Passengers on Qatar Airways QR6421 were also serviced by fully vaccinated staff members at check-in, the airline said in a media release. The flight departed Hamad International Airport at 11am local time and will return to Doha at 2pm. The airline also announced that it is the first in the Middle East to trial the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass.

Myanmar reported 11 more COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the tally in the country to 142,541, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada has been put on a ventilator in a hospital to help him breathe after being infected by the coronavirus, his son said on Tuesday. The 83-year-old Estrada, the most prominent Filipino politician to test positive for COVID-19, was hospitalised more than a week ago and initially was recovering well, said his son, former Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Thailand reported 250 new virus cases as testing of hundreds of patrons from Bangkok bars confirmed several new infection clusters. The flareup prompted authorities to close almost 200 night-life entertainment venues for two weeks, including bars, pubs and karaoke centers.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 24 new imported COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 60,519.

Indonesia’s government expanded movement restrictions to Aceh, Riau, South Sumatra, North Kalimantan and Papua, according to the coordinating minister for economic affairs, Airlangga Hartarto. Curbs are now being implemented in 20 provinces through 19th April.  Indonesia has reported its first case of a more transmissible new variant of the coronavirus known for reducing vaccine protection, but the government on Tuesday said vaccines being used in the country could withstand the mutation. The new variant contains the E484K mutation found in variants first identified in South Africa and Brazil.

Malaysia will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Star reported, citing Health Minister Adham Baba. The decision was taken because the vaccine has more benefits than drawbacks, the report cited Baba as saying.

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

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
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