Covid-19 has infected more than 245M people and killed over 4.9M globally. Here are the coronavirus-related developments for October 27:

People walk along a platform after departing from a train at King’s Cross Station, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in London, UK.
People walk along a platform after departing from a train at King’s Cross Station, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in London, UK. (Reuters)

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Covid cases start to rise again globally: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that after months of decline, global Covid-19 cases and death numbers rose slightly week-on-week, with more than 2.9 million infections and over 49,000 fatalities.

The number of weekly Covid cases rose by 4%, while deaths climbed by 5%, said WHO in its weekly update.

Moreover, Europe reported its fourth consecutive week of increase in new Covid-19 cases, with an 18% rise compared to the previous week, while other regions reported decline.

WHO said the most significant decrease in new weekly coronavirus cases was reported from the Africa region, falling by 21%, followed by the Western Pacific Region, down 17%.

Ukrainians rush to get jabs as anti-virus measures imposed

New anti-Covid measures requiring vaccinations have recently seen people flock to vaccine centres with more than 1.6 million jabs administered this week, compared to 906,000 in the previous seven days.

The country reported a record number of inoculations since it began offering jabs in February with more than 291,000 people fully vaccinated over the past 24 hours.

Despite three vaccines being available in Ukraine, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and the Chinese-made CoronaVac, only 18 percent of the country is fully vaccinated.

Germany records highest daily cases since April

Germany’s daily Covid-19 cases climbed to a six-month high, as the country braces for a potential surge in infections this winter.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 23,212 more coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 114 coronavirus-related fatalities.

The last time the institute recorded over 23,000 cases was on April 30.

Germany’s active cases reached 174,000, marking a new high in the current fourth wave of the pandemic.

UK reports 43,941 more cases, 207 further deaths

UK reported 43,941 more cases of Covid-19 and 207 further deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.

Italy reports 50 coronavirus deaths, 4,598 new cases

Italy reported 50 coronavirus-related deaths against 48 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 4,598 from 4,054.

Italy has registered 131,954 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after the UK and the ninth-highest in the world.

Merck signs pact to broaden generic manufacturing of Covid-19 pill

Merck & Co has signed a licensing agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) that will allow more companies to manufacture generic versions of its experimental oral antiviral Covid-19 treatment, the US drugmaker and the organisation announced.

Merck said the royalty-free license would apply to 105 low- and middle-income countries. It allows manufacturers selected by MPP to make generic versions of molnupiravir, the antiviral pill Merck has developed with Rid geback Biotherapeutics.

"This is the first transparent, public health-driven voluntary license for a Covid-19 medical technology," Merck and MPP said in a joint statement.

Companies will be able to apply for a sub-license from MPP and the license, which also includes technology transfer, will remain royalty-free so long as the World Health Organization classifies the pandemic as a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern," the statement said.

Merck earlier this year signed bilateral licensing deals with eight Indian generic drugmakers, including Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla Ltd, Dr. Reddy's Labs, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs, Sun Pharmaceuticals , and Torrent Pharmaceuticals.

Philippines to receive 300,000 courses of Merck's pill

The Philippines will receive 300,000 courses of Merck & Co's Covid-19 antiviral drug next month, licensed importers and distributors said.

"Molnupiravir can now be accessed by our countrymen upon being prescribed for such use by their respective physicians," Monaliza Salian, president of MedEthix, a Philippine healthcare products importer, told a news conference.

MedEthix will import 300,000 courses of Molnupiravir for Covid-19 patients in four hospitals, she added. The shipment will be the first batch of the drug to arrive in the Philippines.

Each pill is estimated to cost 100 to 150 pesos ($1.97 to $2.96), said Meneleo Hernandez, president of pharmaceutical firm JackPharma, which will distribute the drug locally.

Russia reports record deaths

Russia has reported 1,123 new Covid-19 deaths, its highest one-day toll of the pandemic amid a surge in cases that has forced officials to partially reimpose some lockdown measures.

The coronavirus task force also said it had recorded 36,582 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, including 5,789 in Moscow.

Russia will go into a nationwide workplace shutdown in the first week of November, and the capital Moscow will reimpose a partial lockdown from Thursday, with only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets allowed to remain open.

Australia removes travel restrictions for vaccinated citizens next month

Australia has announced removing travel restrictions and opening its international borders for vaccinated people from November 1.

“Australian citizens and permanent residents who want to travel overseas will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with the second dose occurring at least seven days prior to travel,” the country's Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“These changes will also facilitate travel by children under 12 years of age,” he added.

The health minister said the government is planning to allow international students and critical workers to come back to Australia in the second stage.

Czech daily Covid-19 cases top 6,000 for first time since April

The Czech Republic has reported 6,274 new Covid-19 cases, almost doubling in a week as the country struggles to contain a new wave of the pandemic.

The latest number is the highest of six months in the country of 10.7 million.

Hospitalisations have risen to more than 1,146, up from 249 at the start of the month, with 166 people in intensive care.

Despite the rapid growth, cases and hospitalisations are still well below peak levels of early 2021 and the end of last year.

Vaccination has been gathering pace after a slowdown, with 6.06 million people fully vaccinated.

Poland reports over 8,000 daily Covid-19 cases

Poland has reported 8,361 daily Covid-19 cases and 133 deaths, with the number of new cases reaching the highest level since late April.

Central and eastern Europe, where vaccination rates are lower than in the west of the continent, has seen a surge in cases in recent weeks, with officials in Poland urging the public to get vaccinated and follow the restrictions in place.

Poland's health minister Adam Niedzielski said the country would have to consider tighter Covid-19 restrictions if average daily cases exceed 7,000.

Since the pandemic began Poland, with a population of around 38 million, has reported 2,990,509 cases and 76,672 deaths

Bulgaria hits record high daily coronavirus cases

Bulgaria's coronavirus infections has risen by 6,813 in the past 24 hours, a record daily increase as the European Union's least vaccinated country grapples with a fourth wave of the pandemic.

The virus has killed 124 people in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 23,440.

The Balkan country struggled to deal with the inflow of coronavirus patients amid a shortage of medical staff.

The interim government imposed a health pass entry to most indoor public venues in a bid to slow the spread of the more contagious Delta variant and spur vaccinations in the country, where only one in four adults has had at least one shot.

Out of 700 intensive care beds across the country, 608 are occupied.

"If these measures do not work, the only option left will be a full lockdown and a halt of economic life," Katsarov said.

US, Indonesia call for new G20 forum to prepare for next pandemic

The world's biggest economies should create a forum to facilitate global coordination for the next pandemic, as well as a new financing facility to keep up with emerging threats, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have said.

In a letter to their G20 colleagues, the two finance ministers said the forum would allow health and finance ministers to better cooperate and coordinate prevention, detection, information-sharing, and any needed response.

A copy of the letter, dated on Monday, was posted on Tuesday by the Treasury Department.

Yellen and Indrawati said the pandemic, which has killed nearly 5.2 million people around the world, had revealed a lack of readiness at the country level and a lack of coordination among G20 countries.

"While we are making progress in fighting Covid, we also face a stark reality: this will not be the last pandemic," they wrote ahead of Friday's joint meeting of G20 health and finance ministers. 

"We must not lose this opportunity to demonstrate leadership with a decisive commitment to act."

China marks 100 days to Winter Olympics amid Covid

With 100 days until the start of the Winter Olympics, Beijing is promising a "simple and safe" 2022 Games –– although preparations are anything but simple as China readies to host thousands of athletes and personnel as it battles Covid-19 flare-ups.

Beijing will be the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter Games, but the 2022 event is shadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and calls from human rights groups for a boycott over China's alleged crimes in Tibet, the Uighur region, and Hong Kong.

The Games will run from February 4 to 20, with all participants subject to daily tests and no international spectators. Unlike this year's Tokyo Summer Games local spectators will be allowed at events in and around the Chinese capital.

Athletes and other Games-related personnel will be enveloped in a "closed loop" including three clusters of venues - one in downtown Beijing, one in the outskirts near the Great Wall, and one to the northwest of the city, in Hebei province.

Australia approves vaccine booster shots for adults

Australia has authorised booster shots of Covid-19 vaccines for over-18s, with the third dose expected to be offered to the entire population from next month.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration regulatory authority said it had granted provisional approval for one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be given as a booster shot to adults.

"The provisional approval means that individuals aged 18 years and older may receive a booster (third dose), at least six months after the completion of a Covid-19 vaccine primary series," the agency said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said a population-wide booster program would begin no later than November 8, subject to approval from the nation's immunisation advisory body.

"We will commence with aged care and disability as a priority," he told reporters. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies