COVID-19 SUMMARY: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine partially effective against cases of Indian variant detected in Israel, Italy to open to tourists in mid-May


21st April 2021 – (Hong Kong) Total worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached 143,193,032 with 3,049,591 deaths as of 1.30am today.

China and Hong Kong

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that China, while comprehensively promoting domestic vaccination, will continue to carry out vaccine cooperation with Indonesia, help Indonesia build a regional vaccine production centre, and jointly resist the “vaccine divide.”

China is expected to produce more than 3 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, an official said Tuesday. The country’s current production capacity is around 5 billion vaccine doses annually, said Zheng Zhongwei, head of the working group for vaccine development under the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19.

South China’s Guangdong Province and Shanghai began inoculating Taiwan compatriots against COVID-19 on Monday. Yang Chun-chue, a Taiwanese student at Jinan University, received his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday afternoon, together with 61 other Taiwanese residents, in the city of Zhuhai, Guangdong Province.

China is planning to dispatch another batch of COVID-19 vaccines to Gabon to help the African country defeat the pandemic as soon as possible, said Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday.


At least 12 of the European Union’s 27 member states have said they are confident of being able to vaccinate 70% of their adult population by mid-July, the EU executive’s vaccine task force chief said on Tuesday. The European Commission has set a target of inoculating 70% of the EU’s adult population by the end of this summer, banking on a big increase in vaccine deliveries to accelerate its vaccination drive.

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it will resume shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union, Norway and Iceland after the European Medicines Agency said the overall benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has found a possible link between rare blood clots and Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, but says the overall benefits of getting the shot outweigh the risks. 

The number of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care keeps rising in Sweden, and that of the confirmed cases now exceeds 900,000, the authorities said here on Tuesday. Despite the ongoing vaccination campaign, the country continues to register high daily caseloads. On Monday afternoon, Sweden reported that 416 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units (ICUs) around the country. At the beginning of January, 390 people required ICU treatment.

Italy is aiming to open the country to tourists in mid-May, pledging a range of measures to protect visitors from the coronavirus as it scrambles to rescue a sector devastated by lockdowns and restrictions on movement.

People under the age of 65 in Sweden who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be given a different vaccine for their second dose, with a so-called mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna, the Swedish Health Agency announced on Tuesday.

U.S. and Canada

The White House informed governors during their weekly call Tuesday that 28 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines will be allocated this week.

Latin America

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador received the AstraZeneca shot against COVID-19 on Tuesday, urging trust in vaccines after several countries limited the use of AstraZeneca due to suspected links to rare blood clots.

Argentina’s government received 800,000 does of Russia’s Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine Monday, the President’s office said.

Rest of the world

 Israel has registered eight cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India and believes that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at least partially effective against it, an Israeli health official said on Tuesday. An initial seven cases of the Indian variant were detected in Israel last week among people arriving from abroad and who have since undergone preliminary testing, the Health Ministry said. “The impression is that the Pfizer vaccine has efficacy against it, albeit a reduced efficacy,” the ministry’s director-general, Hezi Levy, told Kan public radio, saying the number of cases of the variant in Israel now stood at eight.

 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday ruled out a lockdown amid the second wave of COVID-19 in the country. Addressing the nation on TV for the first time amid the second wave of COVID-19, Modi also appealed to state governments to consider lockdown as a “last resort.” India’s COVID-19 death toll reached 180,530 on Tuesday. Besides, as many as 259,170 new cases were recorded between Monday and Tuesday, taking the total tally to 15,321,089.

Rahul Gandhi, the senior leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) party, tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, becoming the latest Indian politician to test positive for the virus. The news comes a day after India’s former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also contracted coronavirus and was admitted to a Delhi hospital.

 India’s Bharat Biotech has announced to scale up its COVID-19 vaccine capacity to 700 million doses annually, a company statement said Tuesday.

 Nepal’s drug regulator on Tuesday approved Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V for emergency use in Nepal.

Morocco’s COVID-19 tally rose to 506,669 on Tuesday as 720 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.

Yemen’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign began in government-held areas on Tuesday three weeks after the first shipment from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme arrived in the war-torn country. Yemen on 31st March received 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, part of a consignment from COVAX expected to total 1.9 million doses this year.

Lebanon registered on Tuesday 1,608 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 513,006, the Health Ministry reported. Meanwhile, the death toll from the virus went up by 36 to 6,995.

The number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 142,661 in Myanmar on Tuesday, according to a release from the Health and Sports Ministry.

Intensive care unit beds in the Iranian capital of Tehran are at 100% capacity, as a coronavirus surge takes a toll on one of the worst hit countries in the Middle East, a health official told Iranian semi-official news agencies. Iran continues to record its highest ever coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic after 25,490 infections and 395 deaths were reported over 24 hours on Tuesday. 

Thai health authorities on Tuesday assured the public there were sufficient hospital beds for the rising number of COVID-19 patients, amid a new wave of infections this month that has spread fast across the country.

New local COVID-19 cluster involving three cases has been linked to an imported case who was probably reinfected in India before arriving in Singapore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday.

Travellers from India to Singapore will be tested after their 14-day stay-home notice period, according to current requirements, and again after the seven-day stay-home notice period.  “Travellers who have yet to complete their 14-day stay-home notice by 22nd Apr, 2021, 11.59pm, will also be subjected to the additional seven-day stay-home period,” said MOH. “Migrant workers arriving from India in the construction, marine and process sectors will continue to be subjected to a 21-day stay-home notice. These measures will minimise importation risks and protect public health.”

The Singapore Health Ministry also announced that it is easing measures for travellers arriving from Hong Kong following an improvement of the COVID-19 situation in the city.  Their stay-home notice period will be reduced from 14 days to seven, and the notice period can be served at their place of residence “if suitable”, said MOH.  This will apply to travellers who have remained in Hong Kong in the last 14 consecutive days and who enter Singapore from Thursday 11.59pm.

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