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International update: Global Covid cases pass 156 million

7 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising past the grim tally of 3 million with a figure of 3,256,425 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 156 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 580,264 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

India: A mathematical model prepared by advisers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggests India’s coronavirus outbreak could peak in the coming days, but the group’s projections have been changing and were wrong last month. The team’s most recent forecast puts them more in line with at least some other scientists, who have suggested a mid-May peak for India.

Singapore: Authorities found two new Covid-19 cases in the local community on Thursday, marking the third straight day of single-digit infections just before tighter social distancing rules and border controls kick in later this week.

UK: England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty has said that Covid-19 is unlikely ever to be eradicated, and the outlook for the pandemic remains “pretty bleak” in the medium term.

The Indian variant of the virus was found across England, the Guardian reported, citing leaked emails on the latest case count. The variant was uncovered in care homes, the paper said, raising concerns that it’s spreading quickly across communities. Public Health England is set to escalate one of the variants to one “of concern,” the newspaper said.

Vaccine news

Global: Pfizer and BioNTech have capacity to make as many as 3 billion doses of their Covid-19 vaccine this year, more than double the amount the partners had predicted less than six months ago. The partners will further increase their capacity for 2022 to more than 3 billion doses, BioNTech said in an e-mailed statement.

Africa: The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of a new wave of Covid-19 infections in Africa due to delayed vaccine supplies, a slow rollout and new variants.

US: The United States has administered 251,973,752 doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country and distributed 324,610,185 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is working with state officials to offer free vaccines to visitors as a way to encourage them to visit and spur tourism. Mobile vans will bring Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots to Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park and other popular locations, de Blasio said Thursday during a briefing.

UK: The UK plans to offer under-40s an alternative to the AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccination because of concerns about blood clots that so far have affected a tiny proportion of those receiving shots, a person familiar with the matter said. The decision following a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation may be announced as soon as Friday, according to the person.

Lockdown updates

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City officials ordered the temporary closing of classes excluding those for 9th and 12 graders beginning May 10 over Covid-19 concerns, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing the city government’s order. The city’s school closures follow similar moves in Hanoi and 13 provinces, according to the paper.

Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to extend a virus state of emergency that includes Tokyo to the end of May and expand it to cover two more regions hit by rising case numbers, public broadcaster NHK said Friday.

Denmark: Denmark has eased more Covid restrictions with a “corona pass.” Gyms, theatres and cinemas opened on Thursday as part of the country’s Covid-19 relaxation programme.

Australia: Will resume repatriation flights for citizens stranded in pandemic-hit India from 15 May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.Three flights are planned for May, aiming to evacuate some of the 900 Australians in India considered to be vulnerable to the pandemic to a facility in the Northern Territory, Morrison told reporters in Newcastle on Friday. There’s been no decision on the resumption of normal commercial flights from the country, he said.

Australia’s international borders may not completely open until the middle or the second half of 2022, the Australian Financial Review said, citing reported comments Friday by Trade Minister Dan Tehan.

Los Angeles County is easing restrictions on capacity limits from theme parks to restaurants starting Thursday after meeting the threshold to move to the least restrictive yellow tier. The county’s test positivity rate on Wednesday was 0.7%. Theme parks will now be able to boost their capacity to 35% and open their doors for fully-vaccinated out-of-state visitors. Bars will be able to operate indoors at a 25% cap, with that limit rising to 50% for breweries and wineries. The capacity limit for restaurants, gyms and movies theaters will also increase to 50%.

Economy updates

Asia: Shares of Covid-19 vaccine developers in Asia got some relief after the German Chancellor rejected a US proposal to waive patent protections for coronavirus shots. Chinese vaccine makers including Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. rebounded after slumping on Thursday following the initial news that the US would support discussions for a waiver of the rights to develop vaccines.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in against a US proposal to waive intellectual-property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, casting doubt on whether the idea has enough international support to become a reality. “The limiting factor in the manufacture of vaccines is production capacity and the high quality standards, not the patents,” a government spokeswoman in Berlin said by email. “Protecting intellectual property is the wellspring of innovation and it must remain so.”

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