13th April 2021 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 136,911,859 with 2,953,526 deaths as of 1am today.
China and Hong Kong
The efficacy of Chinese COVID-19 vaccines is “not high” and authorities are weighing options to bolster protection, China’s top disease control official has said. “The protection rates of existing vaccines are not high,” Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a conference in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Saturday. Gao’s remarks are a rare public admission from the country’s top health official that the efficacy of China’s coronavirus vaccines is not ideal — and improvements are needed to boost protection.
Hong Kong will consider relaxing some social distancing measures if more people receive their first COVID-19 vaccination, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a briefing. Measures being considered include extending restaurant dining times and increasing seating limits, as well as limited reopening of bars and night clubs, if all staff and customers have had their first shot and use the government’s contact-tracing app.
There have now been seven consecutive weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases and four weeks of increasing deaths globally, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, said during a news briefing in Geneva Monday. Increases are occurring despite more than 780 million vaccine doses being administered globally, he said, adding that vaccines are a vital and powerful tool, but not the only one. “Confusion and complacency in addressing COVID-19 means the pandemic is a long way from over, but it can be brought under control in months with proven public health measures”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
Johnson & Johnson on Monday began delivering its COVID-19 single-dose vaccine to EU countries, European Union officials and the company said. The company had initially planned to start its deliveries at the beginning of April, but delayed the rollout due to production issues.
Non-essential shops opened their doors in England Monday, as the government continued to ease the country out of lockdown. England’s gyms, zoos and hairdressers also reopened, while restaurants and pubs will welcome customers outdoors. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday is a “major step forward” for England’s “roadmap to freedom” as further coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Germany’s ICUs are at near peak capacity, according to Christian Karagiannidis, the director of the German intensive care association. Karagiannidis warned over the weekend that even with a hard lockdown, case numbers in the country will rise for the next 10-14 days, adding that healthcare workers are “breaking down.” He called for immediate action to deal with the rise in infection. Germany has recorded more than three million total cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic and 78,500 deaths.
In Italy, protesters scuffled with police for a second week running on Monday as frustrated restaurant and small business owners demonstrated against continued coronavirus restrictions that are pounding the economy. Around 200 people from all over Italy tried to reach Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office, but were held back by lines of police in full riot gear.
The number of people with COVID-19 in intensive care units in Sweden has hit its highest point since the first wave, according to data from the Swedish Intensive Care Registry on Monday. There are currently at least 393 people in intensive care with COVID-19 across the country.
The city of Vienna extended the regional lockdown measures for the Austrian capital until 2nd May as intensive-care resources are increasingly strained by severe cases of coronavirus patients, Mayor Michael Ludwig told reporters.
Ireland has identified six stillbirths tied to Covid placentitis, a virus-related condition that leads to inflammation of the placenta. The findings make it “even more important that pregnant women do not come in contact with Covid,” Peter McKenna, the Irish health authority’s head of healthcare for women and infants, told RTE Radio. “The fact that this can affect the baby does change the emphasis a little bit.” Ireland is expected to announce a decision on AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine later Monday. A number of countries in Europe, including the U.K., France, Germany and Greece, have already restricted its use to certain age groups.
The Czech Republic recorded 976 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours through Sunday, the lowest number since 13th September. The country is partially opening some schools and lifting limits on movement between counties after weeks of strict lockdown measures.
U.S. and Canada
COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 12 to 15 may be available as soon as early fall and will likely be administered through pediatricians’ offices, according to the White House.
Breakthrough coronavirus infections – which occur even though someone has been vaccinated – are inevitable because no vaccine is 100% effective, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We see this with all vaccines, in clinical trials and in the real world. No vaccine is 100% efficacious or effective, which means that we will always see breakthrough infections, regardless of the efficacy of the vaccine,” Fauci said during a virtual White House briefing on Monday.
If COVID-19 vaccinations continue at the current pace, the United States will likely hit a milestone this week: vaccinating half of adults with at least one dose of vaccine. Over the past week, more than 3.1 million doses of vaccine have been administered each day on average, according to data reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those doses could be first doses, second doses or single doses.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state’s colleges and universities will get direct allocations of COVID-19 vaccines to administer vaccinations directly to their student populations.
Los Angeles residents ages 16 and above are now eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination at one of 19 vaccination sites currently being run by the city, the Los Angeles mayor’s office told CNN.
Eli Lilly & Co. said U.S. health officials cancelled a deal for doses of its single antibody drug for COVID-19 to focus on the drugmaker’s combination treatment.
Facebook users will now receive notifications at the top of their news feeds advising them of their vaccine eligibility in states that have opened vaccination appointments to all adults, the company said in a blog post Monday.
Doctors in the Canadian province of Ontario may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive treatment in intensive care as the number of coronavirus infections sets records and patients are packed into hospitals still stretched from a December wave. Protests broke out Sunday night in Montreal after the city’s latest curfew went into effect due to spikes in COVID-19 cases. The curfew began at 8pm Sunday, according to the Quebec government website. The stricter curfew came after small reopenings and capacity increases made for certain industries in February and March led to an increase in cases.
Elsewhere in the world
India granted emergency use approval to Russia’s highly effective Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, making it the third such shot approved by the nation as it races to contain an escalating health crisis amid a record daily surge in infections. India reported a record 168,912 new COVID-19 cases Monday, with its total tally pushing past 13.5 million. India has seen more than 170,000 Covid deaths and administered 104.5 million vaccinations so far, according to data from its health ministry.
Iran reported a record-breaking 23,311 new coronavirus cases overnight and a further 274 deaths, the highest since 10th December, another sharp rise after the Persian new year public holiday, the country’s health ministry said.
Experts from the European Medicines Agency visited a pair of clinics in Moscow that were involved with Phase 3 trials of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, Interfax reported Monday, citing an unidentified person familiar with the trip.
Botswana’s health ministry asked the country’s health regulator to probe two deaths of people who had recently taken a COVID-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India Ltd. on behalf of AstraZeneca Plc.
Kenya will only accept applications for emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines for jabs that have been listed by the World Health Organization, according to Ronald Inyangala, director in charge of products registration at the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 4,829 within one day to 1,571,824, with the death toll adding by 126 to 42,656, the Health Ministry said on Monday. According to the ministry, 5,289 more people were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 1,419,796.
Japan will secure 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of June, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday.
Vietnam recorded 12 new cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 2,705, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.
Bangladesh’s has ordered a shutdown of all offices, public transport and shopping malls from the morning of 14th April to the midnight of 21st April, according to a government statement. Until now, offices have been allowed to open during the country’s current lockdown.
Thailand reported 985 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, a record daily tally, as a new wave of outbreak linked to pubs and bars in capital Bangkok spread to more areas. Authorities have imposed travel curbs and tightened quarantine rules for people traveling between provinces seen at higher risk of Covid ahead of the annual Songkran festival.
People aged 60 and above will be given the Sinovac vaccine under Phase 2 of Malaysia’s national COVID-19 immunisation programme starting on 19th April, said coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Monday. Malaysian Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced on Monday that movement control orders (MCOs) would be extended across the country, Bernama reported.
Information compiled from Reuters, CNN, Xinhua News and Bloomberg.