Covid-19 has infected more than 236M people and killed over 4.8M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for October 5:
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Russia hits record daily deaths
Deaths in Russia have hit a record for the third time this month, and daily new infections once again exceeded 25,000 — a surge that comes as vaccination rates in the country remain stagnantly low and the government shuns imposing tough restrictions to stem the spread.
Russia's state coronavirus task force reported 25,110 new confirmed cases and 895 new deaths — the country's highest daily death toll in the pandemic.
The previous record, of 890 deaths, was registered on Sunday, and the one before that, of 887 deaths, occurred on Friday.
The Kremlin has said that the situation elicits concern, but still it is not considering a countrywide lockdown or any other nationwide measures.
UK reports 33,800 new cases
Britain has reported 33,869 new cases and 166 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed.
Hospitals may struggle to cope if there is a significant surge this winter even if broad vaccination means that deaths do not approach the same levels as last year, one of Britain's top epidemiologists Neil Ferguson said.
Singapore reports highest single-day rise in cases
Singapore's Health Ministry has reported 2,478 new cases, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
The country also reported two new deaths due to the coronavirus.
A recent rise in cases after the relaxation of some measures has prompted Singapore to pause further reopening. More than 80 percent of its population has been vaccinated against the virus.
From this week, Singapore tightened some curbs such as limiting social gatherings to two people and making work from home a default.
Greece names new health chief as deaths near 15,000
Greece has named a new head to the state health watchdog that oversees the fight against the pandemic as the country's death toll neared 15,000.
The Health Ministry said the new head of the Eody agency is Theoklis Zaoutis, a former chief of the division of paediatric infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
As of Monday, the virus had claimed more than 14,990 lives with an average age of 78, according to Eody.
Norway to offer vaccine booster to those aged 65 and older
Norway will soon begin to offer a third dose of vaccines to those aged 65 and older, Health Minister Bent Hoeie has said.
Beginning in late October or early November, the vaccine will be offered to those who received their second dose at least six months earlier.
"The fight against the pandemic isn't over, neither here at home nor internationally," Hoeie told a news conference.
WHO and health experts have warned rich nations against giving booster shots before sufficient number of people in poor and developing countries have been vaccinated.
India's top court orders states to pay $672 per virus death
India's top court has ordered state authorities to pay $672 (50,000 rupees) as compensation for each death, as a way to help families cope with the loss, according to its order reviewed by Reuters.
India has recorded 449,260 deaths overall, a tally experts say is a massive undercount, as millions more may have died in the vast hinterlands.
In major cities including the capital New Delhi, experts said a large number of deaths were unreported as hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen supplies.
AstraZeneca asks FDA to authorise antibody treatment
AstraZeneca, the drugmaker that developed one of the first Covid-19 vaccines, has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to authorise the emergency use of a first-of-a-kind antibody treatment to prevent the disease.
The Anglo-Swedish company said that the treatment, known as AZD7442, would be the first long-acting antibody combination to receive an emergency authorisation for Covid-19 prevention.
If authorised, the drug would likely be limited to people with compromised immune systems who don't get sufficient protection from vaccination.
J&J seeks US clearance for vaccine booster doses
Johnson & Johnson has asked the FDA to allow extra shots of its vaccine as the US government moves toward expanding its booster campaign to millions more vaccinated Americans.
J&J said it filed a request with the FDA to authorise boosters for people 18 and older who previously received the company's one-shot vaccine.
Last month, the FDA authorised booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine for older Americans and other groups with heightened vulnerability.
Ukraine daily Covid-19 deaths top 300 for first time since May
The number of daily coronavirus-related deaths in Ukraine topped 300 for the first time since mid-May, health ministry data has showed.
The ministry reported 317 deaths over the past 24 hours and 9,846 new infections.
Ukraine, with a population of 41 million, has recorded around 2.47 million Covid-19 cases and 57,205 deaths.
New Zealand to use vaccine certificates as Delta persists
New Zealand said that it will start using vaccine certificates as proof of inoculation at large events and other high-risk settings from next month, as the country battles the spread of the Delta variant.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who on Monday abandoned a long-standing strategy of eliminating coronavirus in the face of a persistent Delta outbreak, said the certificates would help ensure large gatherings such as music festivals did not become super-spreader events.
New Zealand was among just a handful of countries to bring cases down to zero last year and largely stayed virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in mid-August frustrated efforts to stamp out transmission.
China reports no new local cases for first time in over 3 weeks
China has reported no new local cases for the first time in more than three weeks after outbreaks in the provinces of Fujian and Heilongjiang were brought under control.
The first case in Fujian in its recent outbreak was reported on Sept. 10 in the city of Putian. Infections later spread to nearby Xiamen, but were contained within the southeastern province.
Heilongjiang reported its first case in its outbreak on September 21. Infections were also contained within the northeastern province.
All of the new 26 infections reported in mainland China for October 4 were imported, the National Health Commission said.
China administered about 873,000 doses of vaccines on Monday, bringing the total number of doses administered so far up to around 2.215 billion, data from the National Health Commission showed.
India reports 18,346 fresh infections
India reported 18,346 new cases and taking the total tally of cases to 33,85 million according to the country's health ministry data.
The death toll climbed to 4,49,260 with 263 fresh fatalities.
Study shows Pfizer jab prevents severe Covid for at least 6 months
Vaccination with two doses of the Pfizer jab stays highly effective against severe Covid –– including the Delta variant –– for at least six months, an analysis of US patients said.
While previous data from clinical trials has shown jabs protect against hospitalisation, the study published in the Lancet measures one vaccine's effectiveness over time in a real-world setting.
Pfizer and healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente looked at records from 3.4 million residents of southern California, about a third of whom were fully vaccinated between December 2020 and August 2021.
After an average period of three to four months, fully vaccinated people were found to be 73 percent protected against infection and 90 percent protected against hospitalisation.
But while protection against infection from Delta fell by 40 percent over five months, protection against hospitalisation involving cases from all variants remained very high for the duration of the study.
The results, the study notes, are consistent with preliminary data from US and Israeli health authorities.
Reduced infection defence is "likely to be primarily due to waning vaccine effectiveness rather than the delta variant escaping vaccine protection", the authors conclude.
"Our findings underscore the importance of monitoring vaccine effectiveness over time and suggest that booster doses are likely to be needed to restore the initial high amounts of protection observed early in the vaccination programme," it says.
UNICEF: Battered by pandemic, kids need mental health help
Governments must pour more money and resources into preserving the mental well-being of children and adolescents, the UN's child protection agency urged in a report that sounded alarms about blows to mental health from the pandemic that hit poor and vulnerable children particularly hard.
The United Nations Children’s Fund said its "State of the World’s Children" study is its most comprehensive look so far this century at the mental health of children and adolescents globally.
The coronavirus crisis, forcing school closures that upended the lives of children and adolescents, has thrust the issue of their mental well-being to the fore.
UNICEF said it may take years to fully measure the extent of the pandemic's impact on young people's mental health.
Psychiatrists quickly saw signs of distress, with children and adolescents seeking help for suicidal thoughts, anxiety, eating disorders, and other difficulties as lockdowns and switching to remote learning severed them from friends and routines and as Covid-19 killed parents and grandparents.
"With nationwide lockdowns and pandemic-related movement restrictions, children have spent indelible years of their lives away from family, friends, classrooms, play — key elements of childhood itself," said UNICEF's executive director, Henrietta Fore.
Australia to buy 300,000 doses of Merck's antiviral pill
Australia will buy 300,000 doses of Merck & Co's experimental antiviral pill, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said, as the country looks to boost its vaccine arsenal to fight Covid-19 and aims to reopen its borders next month.
Molnupiravir, which would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19 if it gets regulatory approval, could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for people most at risk of contracting severe Covid-19, according to experts.
Merck, last week, said it plans to seek US emergency use authorization for the pill as soon as possible and make regulatory applications worldwide including Australia.
Vaccine mandate takes effect for NYC teachers, staff
A Covid-19 vaccination requirement for teachers and other staff members took effect in New York City's sprawling public school system Monday in a key test of the employee vaccination mandates now being rolled out across the country.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said 95 percent of the city's roughly 148,000 public school staffers had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday morning, including 96 percent of teachers and 99 percent of principals.
Some 43,000 doses have been administered since the mandate was announced August 23, de Blasio said.