Covid-19 has infected more than 237M people and killed over 4.8M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for October 8:

A health official prepares a syringe with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine prior to administering it during a mass Covid-19 vaccination drive in Nairobi on September 17, 2021.
A health official prepares a syringe with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine prior to administering it during a mass Covid-19 vaccination drive in Nairobi on September 17, 2021. (AFP)

Friday, October 8, 2021

Moderna commits more doses to poor

The US-based mRNA vaccine maker Moderna has said it aims to deliver one billion doses to low-income countries in 2022, in addition to the doses it has already committed to the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX.

These vaccines will be part of the 2-3 billion doses the company had forecast to produce next year.

Turkey administers over 112M shots

Turkey has administered over 112.05 million doses of coronavirus vaccines since the country launched an immunisation drive in January, according to official figures. 

More than 54.43 million people have been given a first dose of a vaccine, while around 46.04 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.

Separately, the ministry also recorded 30,201 new cases, 188 Covid related deaths and 28,167 recoveries over the last 24 hours.

Canada's current surge to decline

Canada's latest wave could decline in the coming weeks with increasing numbers of Canadians now vaccinated against the virus, a top medical official said, citing longer-term forecasts.

As of October 4, almost 81 percent of Canadians above age 12 were fully vaccinated.

Italy reports over 3,000 new cases

Italy has reported 30 deaths against 41 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 3,023 from 2,938.

Italy has registered 131,228 deaths since the outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth-highest in the world. 

The country has reported 4.7 million cases to date.

Singapore on alert

Singapore's Health Ministry has reported 3,590 new cases, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic, while it recorded six new deaths.

A recent spike in infections after the relaxation of some restrictions has prompted Singapore to pause further reopening. 

It also tightened curbs from last week that limited social gatherings to two people and made work from home a default.

UK records over 36,000 new cases

Britain has recorded 127 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, a slight increase on a day earlier when 122 people died, government data showed.

The figures also showed 36,060 new cases. 

Portugal hails jab 'success' 

Portugal has reached its goal of vaccinating 85 percent of its population and will administer a third booster dose to people 65 years of age and over, health authorities said.

"The vaccination is an unequivocal success... we have achieved full vaccination coverage of around 85 percent as Portuguese citizens have embraced the process," said Graca Freitas of the Directorate General of Health (DGS).

"From next week we will start to vaccinate people aged 65 and over with a third dose."

Russia reports record daily death toll

Russia has reported 936 coronavirus-related deaths, the largest single-day death toll it has recorded since the pandemic began.

The government coronavirus task force also said it had recorded 27,246 new cases in the last 24 hours, a slight decrease from 27,550 cases a day earlier. 

Japan seals deal to get 120M more Pfizer doses

Japan has signed a deal with the US vaccine manufacturer Pfizer to procure additional 120 million vaccine doses, with the delivery to start in January, said the health minister.

“We will work toward the smooth provision of vaccines,” Shigeyuki Goto, the new health, labor and welfare minister, told a news conference in the capital Tokyo.

The contract was signed on Thursday, Kyodo News reported.

EU envoy says Russia delays EMA Sputnik V vaccine inspections

Russia has repeatedly delayed inspections by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) necessary for the certification of its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in the European Union, the EU's ambassador to Moscow was quoted as saying on Friday.

The Sputnik V vaccine, widely used in Russia and approved for use in more than 70 countries, is undergoing a review by the World Health Organization and the EMA.

Russia has accused the West of refusing to certify its flagship vaccine for political reasons. Without EMA approval, it is harder for Russians to travel throughout the EU.

"This is a technical rather than a political process," EU ambassador Markus Ederer told Russia's RBC media outlet in an interview.

Panama to purchase 3 million more vaccines

Panama is purchasing 3 million additional doses of the Pfizer Inc (PFE.N)/BioNTech SE vaccine against Covid-19 for its inoculation efforts next year, the government said.

The $45 million order will bring the total number of Pfizer/Biontech vaccines bought by Central American country to 10 million.

Panama plans to offer booster doses to vulnerable segments of its population, including health workers, people who are immune-compromised, or older than 55 years.

Singapore plans to expand quarantine-free travel with South Korea, US

Singapore plans to widen its quarantine-free travel programme to include fully vaccinated individuals from South Korea and the United States as the financial hub moves cautiously to reopen its borders.

Fully vaccinated travelers can travel between the city-state's Changi airport and South Korea's Incheon airport, taking Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests instead of observing quarantine from November 15, the transport ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Singapore, a travel and tourism hub, began a similar programme for visitors from Germany and Brunei last month, and is working to include the United States by year-end.

Pfizer, BioNTech seek US vaccine clearance for children 5-11

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have asked US regulators to authorise emergency use of their vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a group for whom no shot is currently allowed, Pfizer said on Thursday.

The US Food and Drug Administration has set a date of October 26 for its panel of outside advisers to meet and discuss the application, making it possible for children in this age group - numbering around 28 million - to begin receiving the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine shortly afterward.

"With new cases in children in the US continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against #COVID19," Pfizer wrote on Twitter.

The vaccine already has won US emergency use authorisation in teens ages 12 to 15 and is fully approved by regulators for people ages 16 and up.

Brazil in talks to buy up to 150 mln Pfizer vaccines for 2022

Brazil is in talks to buy up to 150 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for next year, according to a document sent by the Health Ministry to a Senate inquiry on Thursday.

The document was shared with the inquiry, which is probing Brazil's handling of the pandemic, after senators requested information on plans for the country's vaccination campaign next year.

The Health Ministry said it was negotiating the purchase of 100 million doses with Pfizer, with a possibility of acquiring another 50 million doses.

On top of the Pfizer vaccine, Brazil will rely on the Astrazeneca shot which it produces in the country - currently with imported active ingredients.

Despite a slow start, Brazil has ramped up a successful vaccination campaign. Over 70 percent of Brazilians have now received a first dose, compared to 65 percent in the United States. 

Mexico reports 7,613 new cases, 514 more deaths

Mexico's health ministry on Thursday reported 7,613 new cases in the country and 514 more deaths, bringing the overall number of infections since the pandemic began to 3,707,234 and the death toll to 281,121.

It has previously said that these numbers are likely significantly higher than those reported.

Sydney readies to exit lockdown amid concerns over faster reopening plans

An Australian doctors group warned that a too-rapid easing of restrictions in Sydney could put pressure on health systems and risk lives, as the country's biggest city prepares for an end to more than 100 days in lockdown.

Many restrictions are due to be lifted on Monday after New South Wales state hit a targeted 70 percent rate for full vaccinations, and authorities on Thursday bumped up permitted limits for home gatherings, weddings and funerals in the capital Sydney.

However, the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which represents the country's doctors, said opening "too fast or too early" will result in avoidable deaths and the reintroduction of lockdowns.

"New South Wales must not be reckless at this critical time," AMA President Omar Khorshid said in a statement late on Thursday.

State Premier Dominic Perrottet has defended his move to bring forward the relaxation of several restrictions amid a steady fall in infections, saying the pandemic "is an economic crisis too.”

Neighbouring Victoria, meanwhile, logged a record 1,838 new cases on Friday, the highest number of any state in the country since the pandemic began, exceeding the previous high of 1,763 set three days earlier, and five new deaths.

Brazil registers 15,591 new cases of, 451 deaths 

Brazil registered on Thursday 15,591 new cases of coronavirus and 451 additional deaths, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

In total, registered deaths in Brazil have reached 599,810.

Europe approves Merck's plant to make J&J vaccine

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday it had approved US drugmaker Merck & Co Inc's manufacturing site in West Point, Pennsylvania to make Johnson & Johnson's vaccine.

Earlier this year, Merck agreed to make its rival's shot, after scrapping two of its own experimental vaccines.

The US government at that time invoked the Defense Production Act to help equip two Merck plants to make the J&J vaccine.

The EMA said Merck's site, to become operational immediately, was expected to support the continued supply of J&J's vaccine in the European Union. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies