Thousands of unvaccinated French health workers face suspension – as it happened

By Lucy Campbell, Nicola Slawson, Kevin Rawlinson, Miranda Bryant and Helen Sullivan
Protestors  demonstrate yesterday against the mandatory health passport obligation for hospital workers in France.
Protestors demonstrate yesterday against the mandatory health passport obligation for hospital workers in France. Photograph: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

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The vast majority of employees at Fox Corporation, the umbrella company for the conservative Fox News channel, are vaccinated against coronavirus and those who are not will be required to do daily testing, according to a memo sent out from bosses – despite some of its biggest screen stars questioning the vaccine.

A daily test is stricter than the Biden administration’s firm mandate that businesses with more than 100 employees must require either vaccination or weekly testing.

More on this story here:

All diplomats attending the UN general assembly in New York next week will have to provide proof of vaccination, the city government has confirmed, prompting an angry response from Russia.

Delegates must be vaccinated to enter the debate hall, the mayor’s office told the assembly president in a letter dated 9 September.

They must also be vaccinated if they want to eat or exercise indoors, the letter added.

New York began enforcing a vaccine mandate on Monday, requiring proof of at least one shot for many indoor activities, including restaurants and entertainment venues.

The letter signed by New York City’s health commissioner and confirmed by his spokesman said the UN debate hall was classified as a “convention center”, meaning all attendees must be vaccinated.

“They must also show proof of vaccination prior to dining, drinking or exercising indoors on the UN campus, and in order to partake in all of New York City’s wonderful entertainment, dining and fitness activities,” he said.

Russia’s ambassador requested an urgent Thursday meeting of the general assembly to discuss the move.

Vassily Nebenzia wrote to assembly president Abdulla Shahid Wednesday saying he had been “very much surprised and disappointed” by a letter Shahid wrote to members in which he supported the proof of vaccination requirement.

“We strongly object that only people with a proof of vaccination should be admitted to the GA hall,” Nebenzia wrote in the letter seen by AFP.

He described it as “a clearly discriminatory measure”, adding that preventing delegates to access the hall was a “clear violation of the UN charter”.

The full story is here:

Hackers stole the personal data of around 1.4 million people who took Covid-19 tests in the Paris region in the middle of 2020, hospital officials in the French capital disclosed on Wednesday.

AFP reports that hospital officials said they filed a complaint with the Paris prosecutor’s office on Wednesday after confirming on 12 September that such a cyber attack took place over the summer.

Stolen were the identities, social security numbers and contact details of people tested as well as the identities and contact details of health professionals who dealt with them, along with the test results, the hospital organisation said.

But no other health information was stolen, they said.

In all, “the stolen files concern 1.4 million people, almost exclusively for tests taken in the middle of 2020” in the Paris region, the hospitals organisation said in a statement.

Those affected “will be notified individually in the coming days”, they said.

The facts of the case were also reported to France’s data watchdog, the CNIL, and the French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI).

The CNIL said it had “opened an investigation into this violation”.

The hackers did not target the national testing files but rather a “secure service for sharing files”, which were used in September 2020 to transmit information “useful for contact tracing” to various health authorities.

The ministry of health also told AFP it has decided to file a complaint so that “all light is brought to bear on the leak, its consequences, and all the measures needed are taken to prevent a repeat of such an event”.

New data from Moderna’s large Covid vaccine trial shows that the protection it offers declines over time, supporting the case for booster doses, the company said in a news release reported by Reuters on Wednesday.

Several recent studies have suggested that its vaccine may have an edge over a similar shot from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech in terms of maintaining efficacy over time.

Experts said the difference is likely due to Moderna’s higher dose of messenger RNA (mRNA) and the slightly longer interval between the first and second shots.

Both vaccines proved to be exceedingly effective at preventing illness in their large phase III studies.

The analysis released on Wednesday, however, showed a chink in the Moderna shot’s armour over time, with higher rates of infection among people vaccinated roughly 13 months ago compared with those vaccinated roughly eight months ago. The study has yet to undergo peer review.

Moderna on 1 September submitted its application to the US Food and Drug Administration seeking authorization for a booster shot.

Briefing documents from the FDA’s analysis of Pfizer’s booster application, released earlier on Wednesday, suggest that a key issue the agency will consider is whether vaccine protection is waning.

Previous data on Moderna’s shot had shown lasting protection, making the case for boosters more challenging.

In the new analysis, Moderna compared the vaccine’s performance in more than 14,000 volunteers vaccinated between July and October of 2020 to some 11,000 volunteers originally in the placebo group who were offered the shot between December 2020 and March 2022 following its US emergency use authorization.

They identified 88 Covid cases among those who got the two shots more recently, compared with 162 cases among those vaccinated last year. Overall, however, only 19 cases were considered severe, a key benchmark in assessing waning protection.

Moderna said there was a trend toward a lower rate of severe cases among the more recently vaccinated, although the finding was not statistically significant.
The company said the waning immunity seen in the new analysis adds to evidence that a booster is needed.

The company also highlighted two studies showing long-lasting protection against severe disease.

In a study conducted with Kaiser Permanente Southern California while the highly transmissible Delta variant was circulating, researchers found the Moderna vaccine was 87% effective at preventing a Covid diagnosis, and 96% effective at preventing hospitalisation.

They had analysed data on more than 352,000 people who got two doses of the Moderna vaccine compared with the same number of unvaccinated individuals with similar ages and risk factors.

Moderna also highlighted a study published last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looking at data from more than 32,000 visits to urgent care centres, emergency rooms and hospitals in nine states or major cities.

It found that Moderna’s vaccine was 95% effective at preventing hospitalisation among individuals of all ages compared with 80% for the Pfizer/BioNTech shot and 60% for the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

As more adults get their Covid vaccines, children who aren’t yet eligible for vaccination in most countries are representing a larger percentage of hospitalisations and even deaths, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned on Wednesday.

Nine months in to this year, infections among children and adolescents in the Americas have surpassed 1.9 million cases, and they face significant health risks, the regional branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Experts say the pandemic has triggered the worst educational crisis ever seen in the Americas due to the absence of in-person schooling.

The pandemic has also disrupted sexual and reproductive health services across more than half of the region’s countries, helping to fuel one of the largest jumps in teenage pregnancy seen in a decade, PAHO said.

Lockdowns and economic disruptions have increased the risk of domestic violence and for many kids, their homes may not be a safe place, said PAHO director Carissa Etienne in a briefing.

Our kids have missed more school days than children in any other region. Each day that children go without in-person schooling, the higher the likelihood they drop out and never return to school.

So far, the only vaccine approved by the WHO for adolescents is the Pfizer shot, while Moderna has asked for emergency use approval of its vaccine for 12-15-year-olds, according to PAHO assistant director Jarbas Barbosa.

He said China’s Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm have also requested WHO approval or the use of their vaccines for adolescents and children from 3 to 17 years old.

Some countries have gone ahead and started vaccinating children and adolescents, such as Chile and Cuba, not waiting for WHO approval, Barbosa said.

Cuba began vaccinating adolescents this month in a drive to immunise more than 90% of its population by December, and will start inoculating children aged 2 to 10 this week, becoming the first country in the world to vaccinate children under six years of age en masse.

It’s the only country in Latin America to develop vaccines against Covid: the Abdala, given to most adult Cubans, the Soberana-2, administered so far mainly to adolescents and children, and the booster Soberana Plus. They do not yet have WHO approval.

PAHO praised Chile, Uruguay and Colombia for successful programs to limit the pandemic’s impact on young people.

“Children and teens across our region are at risk of becoming the generation that missed out on the health, education and social opportunities,” Etienne said.

Summary

Here’s a roundup of the key developments:

  • The European Union’s chief executive has warned that Covid vaccinations must be accelerated to avoid “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”. Speaking in Strasbourg, Ursula von der Leyen said in her state of the union address: “Let’s do everything possible [so] that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
  • Italy is to make a Covid-19 “green pass” mandatory for public and private sector workers, a minister said on Wednesday, becoming the first European country to do so as it tries to accelerate vaccination rates and stamp out infections.
  • Thousands of unvaccinated French health workers face suspension without pay from Wednesday under a new Covid-19 law that punishes people in care professions who refuse to get immunised against the virus.
  • Covid restrictions to the UK will return if the virus gets “out of control” again this year, the health secretary has said, with a dangerous new variant or the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed identified as the moment “plan B” could be triggered.
  • A surge in coronavirus cases has pushed the healthcare system in the Canadian province of Alberta to the verge of collapse, as healthcare workers struggle against mounting exhaustion and a growing anti-vaccine movement in the region.
  • Republican lawmakers in over half of US states have removed powers to protect the public against infectious diseases since the start of the pandemic, reports Kaiser Health News. A review by the news organisation found that at least 26 states have passed laws that permanently weaken government powers to protect public health.
  • The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has condemned the lack of distribution of Covid vaccines to African countries and called for stronger medical manufacturing capacity across the continent.
  • Singapore has reported its highest one-day Covid case total in more than a year, with 837 cases recorded on Tuesday. In response to the growing outbreak, the government has paused reopening plans and reimposed some restrictions.
  • The WHO special envoy for the global coronavirus response, David Nabarro, has praised the UK’s approach of “learning to live with the virus” but criticised the government for giving booster shots and doses to 12- to 15-year-olds.
  • The European Union is donating an additional 200m vaccine doses to other countries in a bid to speed up global immunisation. EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to add to the 250m doses already promised with a further 200m doses by the middle of next year.
  • Pfizer has said US regulators should approve a booster dose of the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech six months after the second dose, due to waning effectiveness of the shot over time, Reuters reports.
  • The US is pushing for global leaders to support a target to get 70% of the world’s population vaccinated against Covid by 2022 in a bid to end the pandemic, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
  • The UK health secretary Sajid Javid has said that people in the public eye should be “very careful with their language” after Nicki Minaj drew widespread condemnation for spreading Covid misinformation on Twitter.
  • Javid has said there are “no risk-free decisions” as he defended the government’s “sensible” autumn and winter plan. Asked why the government has not immediately introduced its more restrictive “plan B” amid warnings of a surge in hospitalisations, he told Sky News that although it is “right for the government to reassure people we have a plan”, vaccines are the “first line of defence”.
  • Healthcare staff in England can decide whether children get a Covid vaccine against the wishes of their parents, according to government guidelines published on Wednesday that left some headteachers fearing protests at the school gates.
  • Rates of Covid-19 have risen by a third in North America over the past week, due to surges in the US and Canada, where new infections have doubled in the province of Alberta, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.
  • More than four million people stopped wearing face coverings in public in the UK this summer, official figures have revealed as a senior government scientific adviser warned Tuesday’s maskless cabinet meeting would be “toxic” to already falling public adherence to guidance.
  • Vaccination clinics in England have been given orders to be ready to start delivering boosters jabs “as soon as possible”. NHS chiefs in England have sent a letter to all local health organisations providing instructions for an imminent start to the booster campaign, PA news reports.

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Leading doctors have expressed dismay over comments made by the Health Secretary about mask wearing.

Sajid Javid, who has retained his position as health secretary in the cabinet reshuffle, said the Government’s advice was that people should consider wearing face coverings when they were gathered in a crowded space with people they did not normally mix with, PA news reports.

Javid said a photograph of the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, showing ministers around the table with their faces uncovered, was consistent with that advice. And Tory MPs do not need to wear masks in the Commons because they are not “strangers”, he added.

But the British Medical Association (BMA) said that the remarks “send a message that the pandemic is over”.

The BMA said that ministers should be “leading by example”.

Javid told Sky News:

What we said is that people should consider wearing masks in crowded places when they are with strangers, when they are with people they are not normally spending time with.

Asked about Conservative MPs who were not wearing masks when he made his statement in the Commons, he said:

They are not strangers. Conservative backbenchers, whether they are in Parliament, in the chamber itself or other meeting rooms, you have to take measures that are appropriate for the prevalence of Covid at the time.

Addressing the remarks, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of council at the BMA said: “As the Government’s own health advisers recognise, we are at a critical moment in the development of the pandemic.

For a government which has extolled the importance of personal responsibility to show so little personal responsibility themselves is quite shocking. Ministers should be leading by example.

Covid-19 is no less likely to pass between loved ones and friends than it is between strangers; it doesn’t discriminate.

Evidence suggests that transmission within households has been a major feature of the pandemic.

What is even worse is the dangerous message these comments and photographs send out to all of us as members of the public, a message that says the pandemic is over, life can go back to as it was before, and all will be well.

Nagpaul highlighted that there are thousands of new Covid-19 cases every day and Covid-19 patients occupying more than 8,000 hospital beds.

He added:

The vaccination programme is making a huge difference, but it cannot work in isolation.

Wearing face masks in enclosed crowded spaces together with adequate ventilation in shops, schools and offices are also important measures in the fight to overcome this virus.

The Health Secretary and ministers desperately need to recognise the reality of the virus and lead by example.

Vaccination clinics in England have been given orders to be ready to start delivering boosters jabs “as soon as possible”.

NHS chiefs in England have sent a letter to all local health organisations providing instructions for an imminent start to the booster campaign, PA news reports.

It is expected that the National Bookings System will open on Monday to some people as they become eligible for the jab.

People will be called forward to book six months after they had their second dose.
Most vaccination clinics will begin the booster programme next week but a small number of sites, including some hospitals, could begin sooner.

And care home residents should expect to get their booster by the end of next month.
The letter states that vaccination of health and social care workers “can begin immediately” in some hospitals.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) set out its plan for boosters for more than 30 million British adults on Tuesday.

The JCVI expressed a preference for people to get the Pfizer jab as a third dose, regardless of which jab they were initially given.

But it said that half doses of the Moderna jab could be used as an alternative.

The letter, from Professor Sir Keith Willett and Dr Nikita Kinnari from NHS England, states people will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and initially the Moderna vaccine will not be used in the programme, but it could be at a later date.

On the co-administration of the flu jab, health leaders said that this should be considered “wherever eligibility for both programmes, supply and regulation allow”.

But the NHS has been keen to stress that people should not delay one vaccine in order to get both jabs at the same time.

GPs have also been ordered to offer the jab to care home residents before November 1.

The letter states:

Sites should make preparations to start vaccinating as soon as possible,” the letter states. It is expected that we will open the National Booking System for bookings and issue first national invitations on Monday September 20.

Vaccination of health and social care workers can begin immediately in Hospital Hubs.

“This should be co-administered with flu vaccine wherever possible.

It states that the national booking system will be “open to people when they become eligible, six months after their second jab, with priority for “those who are most at risk and those with the longest interval since the second dose of their primary course”.

On the vaccine to be used it states:

We do not expect to go live with Moderna half doses immediately. Sites should not administer half dose Moderna boosters until instructed to do so.

In the meantime, systems should begin administering booster vaccinations with Pfizer.

More than four million people stopped wearing face coverings in public this summer, official figures have revealed as a senior government scientific adviser warned Tuesday’s maskless cabinet meeting would be “toxic” to already falling public adherence to guidance.

Use of face coverings has been dropping since its peak at the beginning of May, when 98% of people said they had worn one in the past week when leaving the house. That dipped to 89% this month, implying 4.5 million people in Great Britain stopped wearing masks at all, Office for National Statistics data showed.

ONS does not gather data on regular mask-wearers, whose numbers will be lower. YouGov asked if people had “worn a face mask when in public places” in the past fortnight and found only 61% said yes, a fall of 10 percentage points from mid July to 9 September.

In London, where masks remain mandatory on Transport for London services, compliance was at about 82% in August, implying hundreds of thousands of people were not wearing masks. However, officers had excluded only 221 people from using services and directed 53 to leave in the seven weeks since 19 July, when wider UK law on masks changed and passengers no longer faced the threat of prosecution.

Finn Brennan, an organiser for the trade union Aslef, said there were “fewer and fewer people wearing masks and … no obvious sign of enforcement … staff are feeling much more at risk”. Train passengers have also complained of patchy usage.

Behavioural scientists and Covid bereaved this week voiced anger at the message sent by images of Boris Johnson and his cabinet gathering closely around the cabinet table without masks, as average weekly fatalities from Covid rose to the highest level since March.

Read more from my colleagues Robert Booth, Hannah Devlin and Gwyn Topham here:

Reports of a “death of the city” due to the Covid crisis have been greatly exaggerated, according to a survey of Parisians and Londoners that found little change in people’s satisfaction with urban life or plans to move out in the near future.

The report by King’s College London and the Université de Paris, based on polling carried out in April and May, found that cafe, club and restaurant closures, lockdowns and home working had not dented inhabitants’ enthusiasm for the two capitals.

Compared with a pre-pandemic survey in 2019, the study found little change in the share of Londoners and Parisians planning to leave, greater satisfaction with local services and majorities believing their capital will bounce back, albeit slowly.

Kelly Beaver of pollsters Ipsos Mori said:

The pandemic has forced a change in the way we live our lives, and that has had a particular impact on cities, with offices left vacant or only minimally used for long periods of time.

The ‘decline of the city’ doesn’t seem to take enough account of the views and beliefs of the people who live in them – who are mostly happy with where they live. The future of London and Paris as powerhouse capital cities seems secure.

Read the full story here:

Pope Francis has spoken about the “denier” cardinals who refused the coronavirus vaccine, in a thinly veiled barb against his main opponent who recently contracted Covid-19.

The pontiff told reporters as he flew home from a trip to Slovakia:

In the College of Cardinals, there are a few deniers. One of them, the poor man, contracted the virus.

The 84-year-old did not name the man he was referring to, but conservative US Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of Francis’ fiercest and most vocal critics in the Catholic Church, was recently admitted to hospital in the US with Covid-19.

The pope said that in the heart of the Vatican, “everyone is vaccinated, with the exception of a small group”.

The pope is a strong advocate of coronavirus vaccines and has previously expressed his incomprehension with those who refuse to take it.

Highlighting the jabs that have for decades protected children against measles or polio, he said during a press conference onboard the papal plane:

We are studying how to help them.

It’s a bit strange because humanity has a history of friendship with vaccines.

We should clarify things and speak calmly.

Healthcare staff in England can decide whether children get a Covid vaccine against the wishes of their parents, according to government guidelines published on Wednesday that left some headteachers fearing protests at the school gates.

The guidelines say vaccinations for children aged 12 to 15 will be administered by School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) teams that already carry out flu and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations in England. The role of schools will be limited to providing a site and distributing information and consent forms to pupils and parents.

In cases where parents withhold consent but the child wants to go ahead, the guidelines say the vaccination teams will determine if the child is able to make an informed decision – known as Gillick competence – and “make every effort to contact a parent to check before they proceed”.

“If a parent objects to their child being vaccinated but the child wants to be vaccinated and is judged to be Gillick competent, the healthcare professional will try to reach agreement between the parent and child. However, the parent cannot overrule the decision of a Gillick competent child,” the guidelines state. In that scenario the child will be vaccinated.

In cases where parents refuse consent and the child is not deemed to be Gillick competent or does not want to be vaccinated, the guidelines from the UK health security agency say a vaccination will not be given.

According to the NHS, Gillick competence is when children under the age of 16 “can consent to their own treatment if they’re believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what’s involved in their treatment”.

Read the full story here:

Rates of Covid-19 have risen by a third in North America over the past week, due to surges in the US and Canada, where new infections have doubled in the province of Alberta, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

Hospitals in Alberta are facing critical staffing shortages, according to PAHO, the regional branch of the World Health Organization.

The US is reporting more than 100,000 new daily infections for the first time since January and hospital capacity in many southern US states remains worryingly low, the agency said.

As many parts of the world report a steady decrease in coronavrius infections, the Americas reported a nearly 20% increase in new cases, PAHO said.

Most South American countries are seeing continuing declines in Covid-19 cases and deaths, it said, while infections are surging in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize and many hospitals there are saturated with Covid patients.

Meanwhile, infections have slowed in the Caribbean, with the exception of Grenada, Barbados and Bermuda that are reporting sharp jumps in new cases, and Jamaica saw its highest weekly case count since the beginning of the pandemic.

Carissa Etienne, PAHO director, said in a weekly briefing:

We are encouraged that more than 30% of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

But she said doses have not been equally distributed in the region and there is still a long way to go to reach everyone who needs a vaccine.

The British government said a further 201 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 134,647.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 159,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

As of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 30,597 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the government said.

Meanwhile, government data up to September 14 shows that of the 92,650,551 Covid jabs given in the UK, 48,480,178 were first doses, a rise of 21,478 on the previous day.

Some 44,170,373 were second doses, an increase of 61,627.

Updated

The world’s poorest countries will be left $12tn (£8.7tn) worse off by 2025 amid a weaker economic recovery from Covid-19 as wealthy nations limit their access to vaccines, the United Nations has warned.

In its annual trade and development report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said low-income countries had been hit much harder by the pandemic than during the 2008 financial crisis, adding to their debts and piling pressure on their public finances.

The UN’s economic arm said there were growing risks that low-income developing countries would fall further behind due to limited progress in deploying coronavirus vaccines, despite western leaders promising to “build back better” from the crisis.

“So far, the world economy appears to be building back separately,” it said in the report.

Unctad said the global economy was bouncing back strongly this year thanks to the continuation of financial support measures begun in 2020 from governments around the world, as well as rapid progress with vaccines in advanced economies. It forecast global growth would hit 5.3% this year, the fastest rate in nearly five decades, after a fall of 3.5% in 2020.

However, the UN agency warned it would take several years for the world economy to recover the losses dealt by the Covid-19 shock, as the pace of growth slows from an initial rapid rebound in 2021, and as governments and central banks come under pressure to scale back emergency support.

Read the full story here:

Chile has announced plans to reopen its borders to visitors on Wednesday as it seeks to restore its critical tourism industry ahead of the southern hemisphere summer following the outbreak of the pandemic. Reuters reports:

Travellers will be required to show a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before entering the country, make a legal declaration of their destination and origin, have medical travel insurance and show proof of vaccination, the public health chief Paula Daza said.

All people arriving in the country, both residents and tourists, must undergo five days of quarantine at a hotel or private home, she added, where they will be checked on, asked to complete another PCR and complete a daily health report.

Daza warned visitors not to book their trip to Chile until their vaccination certificate was validated by the Chilean health ministry, which could take a month.

Visitors without vaccines – including children – will be allowed to enter Only under strict criteria, such as for humanitarian reasons.

Updated

Pfizer has said US regulators should approve a booster dose of the vaccine it developed with Germany’s BioNTech six months after the second dose, due to waning effectiveness of the shot over time, Reuters reports.

The news agency cites documents the drugmaker submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration. Reuters reports:

The FDA released the documents on Wednesday for consideration by a committee of outside experts who will meet Friday to vote on recommending if US regulators should approve the extra shots.

Pfizer said data from its own clinical trials showed that the vaccine efficacy had waned by around 6% every two months after the second dose. It also said the incidence of breakthrough cases in that trial was higher among people who received their shots earlier.

The drugmaker also pointed to real world data from Israel and the United States showing declining effectiveness of the vaccine.

It said that a roughly 300-participant clinical trial showed that the third dose generated a better immune response than the second dose. It also pointed to data from the booster program recently started in Israel to show that a third dose restores high levels of protection from the virus.

Updated

Thousands of unvaccinated French health workers face suspension

Thousands of unvaccinated French health workers face suspension without pay from Wednesday under a new Covid-19 law that punishes people in care professions who refuse to get immunised against the virus.

President Emmanuel Macron gave workers including staff at hospitals, retirement home workers and the fire service – 2.7 million people in total – an ultimatum on 12 July to get at least one shot by 15 September or resign.

Two months later, thousands of healthcare workers are still baulking at getting jabbed, raising the spectre of disruptions to services in facilities forced to suspend staff without pay, AFP reports.

A hospital in the southern city of Montelimar confirmed that it had already begun cancelling non-urgent operations because of a shortage of vaccinated anaesthetists.

The hospital’s deputy director, Philippe Charre, said three allergy specialists would also be absent over their refusal to comply with the vaccine mandate.

Public sector union the CGT has warned of a “health catastrophe” if the government suspends large numbers of hospital workers and bars vaccine-shy GPs.

“We have to keep these people on the job until they have been replaced,” said Christophe Prudhomme, an emergency services doctor and MP with the leftwing France Unbowed party.

The government has vowed to see the policy through. “We will not back down,” prime minister Jean Castex said last month.

Updated

Covid restrictions will return if the virus gets “out of control” again this year, the UK health secretary has said, with a dangerous new variant or the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed identified as the moment “plan B” could be triggered.

Sajid Javid said he thought another lockdown was unlikely but admitted it would be “irresponsible” to rule out ordering people stay at home in England for a fourth time since the pandemic began.

He urged the public to remain vigilant after ministers published their “winter plan”, which will rely on vaccines to help life remain as close to normal as possible in the run-up to Christmas, despite Covid cases and deaths already being at a much higher point than they were at this time last year.

Under plan A, the focus will remain on ensuring the 10% of people who have not had a jab yet get their first shot, rolling out boosters to the over-50s and clinically vulnerable and offering to inoculate children aged 12 to 15.

However, if the Covid situation deteriorates, face masks could be made mandatory again on public transport and in shops, vaccine passports may be introduced and people could be asked to work from home again where possible.

Javid said there was not one single trigger point that would lead to plan B being introduced, but suggested it was likely to come into force if a dangerous new variant emerged against which vaccines were less effective or the NHS was at risk of being overwhelmed.

Read more here:

Cuba is seeking approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) for three Covid-19 vaccines, according to the state-run corporation that produces them, even as it begins administering shots en masse to toddlers.

Rolando Perez Rodriguez, director of research and development at BioCubaFarma, made the announcement during a discussion broadcast by state media on Tuesday evening on a vaccination campaign that aims to immunize more than 90% of the population by November, Reuters reports.

Perez said:

There have already been some exchanges in Havana and at the office in Geneva. Now begins a procedure and exchange to evaluate the documentation delivered.

The Caribbean island is vaccinating its population at one of the fastest rates in the world with local drugs Abdala, Soberana-2 and Soberana Plus, all authorised for emergency use by local regulators amid a Delta variant-driven surge that has strained its health system.

Cuba, which is the only one in the region to develop a vaccine against the virus, says its vaccines have an efficacy above 90% and initial results are similar to those of other top vaccines significantly reducing transmission, critical illness and death, though critics have complained those results have yet to be peer reviewed.

The vaccination campaign includes children as young as two with toddlers across the country scheduled to get the first of two shots starting on Thursday, public health ministry official Dr Maria Elena Soto said during the same broadcast, becoming the first in the world under six years of age to be immunised en masse.

Over the past week, Cuba averaged about 7,500 cases per day and nearly 80 deaths, down significantly from a month ago but still one of the highest rates in the world in terms of cases per 100,000 inhabitants, with about 20% under 20 years of age.

Updated

Italy to make Covid-19 'green pass' mandatory for public and private sector workers

Italy is to make a Covid-19 “green pass” mandatory for public and private sector workers, a minister said on Wednesday, becoming the first European country to do so as it tries to accelerate vaccination rates and stamp out infections.

The pass, a digital or paper certificate showing someone has received at least one vaccine dose, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus, was originally conceived to ease travel among EU states.

Italy was among a group of countries that also made it an internal requirement for people to access venues such as museums, gyms and indoor dining in restaurants, Reuters reports.

Regional affairs minister Mariastella Gelmini said on state radio that a cabinet meeting on Thursday would be “an important moment” in extending the obligatory use of the document.

Italy has also gradually extended use of the pass in the workplace, despite frictions over the issue in prime minister Mario Draghi’s national unity coalition. Gelmini said the government was now ready to go further.

She told RAI radio:

We are heading towards a mandatory Green Pass not only for public sector workers but also private sector ones.

The vaccine is the only weapon we have against Covid and we can only contain infection by vaccinating a great majority of the population.

Italy has the second-highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. About 73% of its 60-million-strong population have had at least one Covid shot, and 65% are fully vaccinated, figures broadly in line with most other European Union countries.

Thursday’s cabinet meeting may be a tense one. Rightwing leader Matteo Salvini, the leader of the co-ruling League, has repeatedly resisted extending the use of the green pass, but his party is internally split on the issue.

It remains to be seen if the government will go as far as pre-announced by Gelmini, who is from Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia party.

Opponents of the green pass say it tramples on freedoms and is a backdoor way of forcing people to vaccinate. Talk of making it mandatory for public sector workers alone had already triggered muted protests, which would probably be stronger if it were extended to private firms.

Several other European countries use the health pass for leisure activities and travel, but none has made it mandatory for all public or private sector workers.

Updated

A surge in coronavirus cases has pushed the healthcare system in the Canadian province of Alberta to the verge of collapse, as healthcare workers struggle against mounting exhaustion and a growing anti-vaccine movement in the region.

The province warned this week that its ICU capacity was strained, with more people requiring intensive care than any other point during the pandemic – nearly all of them unvaccinated.

“It’s not easy to go to work everyday and watch people in their 30s die,” an ICU nurse in Edmonton told the Guardian. “Having to help a family say goodbye and then going through the actions that are required at the end of someone’s life, is worse than anyone can imagine.”

Alberta has long boasted of its loose coronavirus restrictions – including advertising the previous months as the “best summer ever” as it rolled back those few restrictions. It has also been the site of North America’s highest caseloads.

In a province with a long history of scepticism towards government, the pandemic has become fertile ground for protests and anti-vaccine rhetoric, including from elected officials, firefighters and police officers. During the ongoing federal election, most support for the People’s party of Canada, a fringe rightwing party that has come out against public health measures, has come from rural Alberta.

That scepticism towards masks and vaccines has come at a steep cost, say frontline workers.

On Monday, more than 60 infectious-disease doctors wrote a letter to premier Jason Kenney, warning of a catastrophic outcome if the province didn’t address the escalating caseload.

“Our healthcare system is truly on the precipice of collapse,” the physicians wrote. “Hospitals and ICUs across the province are under enormous strain and have reached a point where it is unclear if, or for how much longer, we can provide safe care for Albertans.”

Read the full story here:

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As Covid-19 swept through India last year, there was one state that was always seen to stand out in its handling of the pandemic.

The “Kerala model” became a byword for success in containing the virus, named after a series of measures introduced early on by the south Indian state, including rigorous and focused testing, containment, community support and contact tracing. The state boasted the lowest death toll from the virus and Kerala’s now-ousted health minister, KK Shailaja, became known as the “Covid slayer” and was named Vogue India’s woman of the year.

Yet as India’s nationwide Covid cases have fallen to record lows after the devastating second wave in April, Kerala’s cases have consistently remained high since mid-May. Last week, the state accounted for almost 70% of India’s new Covid-19 cases and the state’s positivity rate continues to hover at about 17%.

“Almost 68% of total cases in the last week were from Kerala. We’re still witnessing the second surge, it’s not over,” said national health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, last week.

While there are signs that cases in Kerala are finally tailing off – new cases have now fallen by 13%, the first significant drop in weeks – questions have remained over how why the state has remained a hub of the virus. Kerala’s high cases also have been heavily politicised, with figures from the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) recently accusing the Communist-run Kerala state government of having a “model of mismanagement” for the pandemic.

Read more here:

Here is a summary of recent developments

  • The European Union’s chief executive has warned that Covid vaccinations must be accelerated to avoid “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”. Speaking in Strasbourg, Ursula von der Leyen said in her state of the union address: “Let’s do everything possible [so] that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
  • Republican lawmakers in over half of US states have removed powers to protect the public against infectious diseases since the start of the pandemic, reports Kaiser Health News. A review by the news organisation found that at least 26 states have passed laws that permanently weaken government powers to protect public health.
  • The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has condemned the lack of distribution of Covid vaccines to African countries and called for stronger medical manufacturing capacity across the continent.
  • Singapore has reported its highest one-day Covid case total in more than a year, with 837 cases recorded on Tuesday. In response to the growing outbreak, the government has paused reopening plans and reimposed some restrictions.
  • The WHO special envoy for the global coronavirus response, David Nabarro, has praised the UK’s approach of “learning to live with the virus” but criticised the government for giving booster shots and doses to 12- to 15-year-olds.
  • The European Union is donating an additional 200m vaccine doses to other countries in a bid to speed up global immunisation. EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to add to the 250m doses already promised with a further 200m doses by the middle of next year.
  • The US is pushing for global leaders to support a target to get 70% of the world’s population vaccinated against Covid by 2022 in a bid to end the pandemic, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
  • The UK health secretary Sajid Javid has said that people in the public eye should be “very careful with their language” after Nicki Minaj drew widespread condemnation for spreading Covid misinformation on Twitter.
  • Javid has said there are “no risk-free decisions” as he defended the government’s “sensible” autumn and winter plan. Asked why the government has not immediately introduced its more restrictive “plan B” amid warnings of a surge in hospitalisations, he told Sky News that although it is “right for the government to reassure people we have a plan”, vaccines are the “first line of defence”.

That’s it from me for now. Handing over to my colleague Nicola. Thanks for reading.

Updated

EU leader says Covid vaccinations must speed up to avoid a 'pandemic of the unvaccinated'

The European Union’s chief executive has warned that Covid vaccinations must be accelerated to avoid “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

Speaking in Strasbourg, Ursula von der Leyen said in her state of the union address: “Let’s do everything possible [so] that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

She also announced a new donation of a further 200m vaccine doses by the middle of next year to non-EU countries (see 08:38).

But she said she is also concerned by the varying vaccination rates with the EU, reports Reuters.

She said there will be a rebound in 19 EU economies to their pre-pandemic size this year with others to follow next year. But she warned that the coming year will be “another test of character” for the EU.

Updated

Republican lawmakers in over half of US states have removed powers to protect against infectious diseases during pandemic

Republican lawmakers in more than half of US states have removed powers to protect the public against infectious diseases since the start of the pandemic, reports Kaiser Health News.

A review by the news organisation found that at least 26 states have passed laws that permanently weaken government powers to protect public health. In three additional states longstanding public health powers have been removed by other means.

It also found that in all 50 states legislators have proposed bills to curb public health powers.

In Arkansas, mask mandates were banned except for in private businesses or state-run health care settings and branded “a burden on the public peace, health and safety of the citizens of this state”. In Idaho, county commissioners can veto countywide public health orders.

President Joe Biden last week announced vaccination mandates and other coronavirus measures and said he was forced to do so in part by this kind of legislation.

He said:

My plan also takes on elected officials in states that are undermining you and these lifesaving actions.

Updated

WHO director general condemns lack of vaccine distribution to Africa and calls for stronger medical manufacturing capacity across the continent

The director general of the World Health Organization has condemned the lack of distribution of Covid vaccines to African countries and called for stronger medical manufacturing capacity across the continent.

Speaking at an Invest Africa debate, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday: “The distribution of vaccines has been terribly unfair.” Adding that many African countries are still without sufficient access and that less than 2% of the world’s vaccines have been distributed to the continent.

He said the WHO aims to support African countries to reach 40% vaccination by the end of the year.

He said:

The pandemic is clear demonstration that we must strengthen manufacturing capacity in Africa, for vaccines and other medical products.

He called on businesses to do everything they can to fight the pandemic, to support building industry for vaccines and other medical products in Africa and to seek support for building stronger health systems in the continent.

He added:

The pandemic is a powerful demonstration that health is not a luxury item or simply an outcome of development. It is the foundation of social, economic and political stability.

Dr Tedros said the impact of Covid-19 goes far beyond the virus and has “taken a heavy toll on lives and livelihoods”. He added that inflation is “rampant”, millions have lost their jobs and that tourism has slowed, factors which are having a “destabilising impact on the economic stability and security of our continent and prospects for its young people.”

Although he said cases in Africa have been declining for several weeks, “the pandemic is not over yet” and that “no country can afford to let down its guard”.

Updated

Global coronavirus news will continue here. For UK politics and coronavirus news, please follow Andrew Sparrow’s liveblog which is now up and running:

One in 500 Americans have died from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, reports CNN.

The broadcaster cites Johns Hopkins University data reporting that so far 663,913 people in the US have died and US Census Bureau data calculating the US populating at 331.4 million.

A worker plants white flags on the National Mall in Washington as part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, In America: Remember to commemorate those who have died from coronavirus.
A worker plants white flags on the National Mall in Washington as part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, In America: Remember to commemorate those who have died from coronavirus. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

Updated

Russia has reported 18,841 new coronavirus cases and 792 deaths in the past 24 hours.

Singapore reports highest one-day Covid case total in more than a year

Cases in Singapore are soaring, writes Helen Sullivan:

Singapore has reported its highest one-day Covid case total in more than a year, with 837 cases recorded on Tuesday.

In response to the growing outbreak, the government has paused reopening plans and reimposed some restrictions.

As of Tuesday, a total of 809 people were in hospital. Of these, 75 were seriously ill and required oxygen, and nine were in intensive care. The majority of seriously ill patients were older than 66, according to the Ministry of Health.

Eighty-one per cent of the population is fully vaccinated – excluding under-12s, it is 90% – and the number of seriously ill patients is fairly low overall. Only four people have died in the past 28 days, all of whom were unvaccinated, according to the health ministry.

However, the number of those seriously ill is increasing. The number of patients requiring oxygen doubled to 54 on Sunday from two days before, an important gauge to judge whether the medical system could get overwhelmed.

Bus passengers in face masks in Singapore
Bus passengers in face masks in Singapore on Tuesday. Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

West Virginia was once one of the leading US states in rolling out Covid-19 vaccinations, writes Melody Schreiber. Now it is one of the least vaccinated, with the fastest-growing rate of infections in the country.

WHO praises UK's 'learning to live with the virus' approach but criticises use of booster shots and vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds

The WHO special envoy for the global coronavirus response has praised the UK’s approach of “learning to live with the virus” but criticised the government for giving booster shots and doses to 12- to 15-year-olds.

He also warned the government must be ready to move quickly from plan a to plan b if infections surge.

David Nabarro told Sky News:

Speed is of the essence. We’ve been through this before and we know, as a result of past experience, that acting quickly and acting quite robustly is the way you get on top of this virus, then life can go on …

Whereas if you’re a bit slower, then it can build up and become very heavy and hospitals fill up, and then you have to take all sorts of emergency action.

So I really like what the UK is doing. I think this emphasis on people learning to live with the virus is also the right one.

He added:

I actually think that we should be using the scarce amounts of vaccine in the world today to make sure that everybody at risk, wherever they are, is protected – and you’re at risk if you’re a health worker, you’re at risk if you’ve got diabetes or heart disease or immune suppression.

So why don’t we just get this vaccine to where it’s needed?

Updated

The UK health secretary has said there will not be a “single trigger” for bringing in more stringent Covid measures, known as plan B, but that the government is reviewing the situation “daily”.

Sajid Javid told BBC Radio 4’s Today that together with the NHS the government will be watching “a number of measures” including hospitalisations, pressure on A&E, ambulance services and staffing levels

He added: “On a daily basis we are working on those, reviewing that with the NHS. At the same time we’re looking at how we can improve capacity and how we can do further measures that will provide protection.”

Asked why Conservative MPs are not setting an example by wearing masks, he said coronavirus protection is about “not just one particular measure”.

He also suggested that many MPs will not wear masks at Conservative party conference next month and said he does not think vaccine passports will be necessary for the mass gathering.

He said: “I’m sure many of them will wear masks … but many also will be vaccinated, many also will be taking tests.”

Updated

EU pledges an additional 200m vaccine doses to other countries

The European Union is donating an additional 200m vaccine doses to other countries in a bid to speed up global immunisation.

EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to add to the 250m doses already promised with a further 200m doses by the middle of next year, reports Reuters.

“Our first and most urgent priority is to speed up global vaccination,” she told the European parliament in Strasbourg.

“We have already committed to share 250m doses of vaccine. I can announce today that our mission will add a new donation of another 200m doses until the middle of next year.”

Ursula von der Leyen speaking in Strasbourg
Ursula von der Leyen speaking in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Photograph: Yves Herman/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

The US is pushing to get 70% of world's population vaccinated by 2022

The US is pushing for global leaders to support a target to get 70% of the world’s population vaccinated against Covid by 2022 in a bid to end the pandemic.

According to a draft US document addressed to attendees of a virtual summit planned for the sidelines of the UN general assembly, seen by Reuters, countries with “relevant capabilities” are asked to donate an additional billion vaccine doses and speed up delivery of the 2bn already promised.

The White House deputy press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, has confirmed the 70% vaccination target, but did not give further details. The New York Times reports that summit invitations to world leaders were sent last week.

The document reportedly calls for richer countries to ensure at least $3bn to be made available this year and $7bn next year to fund vaccine readiness and to target vaccine hesitancy. Other targets include making sure that at least one in 1,000 people are tested each week before the end of this year.

Abdulla Shahid, president of the 76th session of the United Nations general assembly,
Abdulla Shahid, president of the 76th session of the United Nations general assembly, at the event’s opening on Tuesday. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

UK health secretary says people in public eye should be 'very careful with their language' following widespread condemnation of Nicki Minaj

The UK health secretary Sajid Javid has said that people in the public eye should be “very careful with their language” after Nicki Minaj drew widespread condemnation for spreading Covid misinformation on Twitter.

The rapper attracted criticism from Prof Chris Whitty on Tuesday after claiming on Twitter that her cousin’s friend was made impotent by the Covid vaccine.

Javid told Sky News: “I don’t want to draw attention to such ridiculous tweets.” But he added that people in the public eye should be “very careful with their language”.

Updated

Sajid Javid says there are 'no risk-free decisions' as he defends UK government's Covid plan

The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, has said there are “no risk-free decisions” as he defended the government’s “sensible” autumn and winter plan.

Asked why the government has not immediately introduced its more restrictive “plan B” amid warnings of a surge in hospitalisations, he told Sky News that although it is “right for the government to reassure people we have a plan”, vaccines are the “first line of defence”.

He added: “This is all working and has allowed us to make the gains we have in the last few months and return almost to normal.”

While Javid said “we’ve got to remain cautious”, he insisted the government has got a “good plan A”.

“What we’ve announced is well thought through and it is the act of a responsible government to say this is out plan … but just in case things don’t go this way we have to have another plan,” he added.

He said there is going to be “the biggest flu vaccination programme this country has ever seen” and that he wants to increase vaccine uptake.

When asked why they are not adopting the more stringent plan b measures after Sage warned there could be 2,000-7,000 Covid hospitalisations a day in England next month unless the government urgently implements a “basket of measures”, he said “there is no risk-free decision”.

He insisted that the government has “made huge progress” since the start of the year and comparing now and this time last year he said “the big difference, this is huge, are the vaccines”.

He refused to identify specific numbers that would lead to the adoption of plan b but said a new variant would be of “significant concern” and that they would be monitoring factors including hospitalisations and pressures on A&E and the workforce.

Even in a normal winter without Covid he said it can get “very tough” for hospitals. But he said: “Like anyone else, as we remove measures, I want them to be irreversible”

Asked why he and other cabinet members were not wearing masks in a photo he defended not taking such precautious with his colleagues, saying “they’re not strangers”. But he admitted that “of course people are influenced by others”.

Hi, I’m looking after the global coronavirus blog for the next few hours. Please get in touch with any tips or suggestions: miranda.bryant@guardian.co.uk

Updated

France health worker vaccine mandate comes into effect

The French government faces a standoff with tens of thousands of health workers and carers Wednesday over a new rule requiring them to receive a Covid-19 vaccine or face suspension without pay, AFP reports.

Starting on Wednesday, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, retirement home workers, private doctors, fire service members and people caring for the elderly or infirm in their homes – 2.7 million people in total – must be able to prove they have had at least one shot of a vaccine.

President Emmanuel Macron issued the ultimatum two months ago, but tens of thousands of carers remain unvaccinated.

One of France’s biggest public sector unions, the hardline CGT, has warned of a “health catastrophe” if the government suspends large numbers of health workers and bars private-sector doctors from practising.

Defiant health workers have joined opponents of a new coronavirus “health pass” required for entry to restaurants, cafes and museums at weekly protests held across France in the past two months.

On Tuesday, a few hundred people attended a union-led demonstration outside the health ministry in Paris.

Updated

Healthcare rationing ‘imminent’ for Idaho

Idaho’s public health officials say crisis standards of care are imminent for the state’s most populated region as hospitals continue to be overrun with unvaccinated coronavirus patients, AP reports.

The south-western and southern Idaho regions that include Boise and Twin Falls may get official authorisation to begin rationing health care – a step intended to ensure the patients most likely to survive are given access to scarce resources like intensive care unit beds – any day now, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare director Dave Jeppesen said Tuesday.

“We continue to set new records each week,” said Jeppesen about coronavirus hospitalizations. “We do not see a peak in sight.”

Hospitals in the northern half of the state were given permission to begin rationing care last week, when Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene was forced to begin treating some patients in a field hospital set up in a conference centre instead of regular hospital rooms.

“Nearly all the metrics we track are trending in the wrong direction,” when it comes to coronavirus, deputy state epidemiologist Dr Kathryn Turner said.

On 11 September, the state had more than 600 patients hospitalised with Covid, far beyond last winter’s peak when 466 people were hospitalised. Coronavirus patients in intensive care units and on ventilators are also setting record highs in the state. The vast majority of them – more than 91% – are not vaccinated against coronavirus.

Updated

Summary

Hello and welcome to today’s live coronavirus coverage.

The French government faces a standoff with tens of thousands of health workers and carers on Wednesday over a new rule requiring them to receive a Covid-19 vaccine or face suspension without pay.

Starting on Wednesday, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, retirement home workers, private doctors, fire service members and people caring for the elderly or infirm in their homes – 2.7 million people in total – must be able to prove they have had at least one shot of a vaccine.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s public health officials say crisis standards of care are imminent for the state’s most populated region as hospitals continue to be overrun with unvaccinated coronavirus patients.

More on these stories shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • The WHO warned that Africa has been left behind the rest of the world because of vaccine inequality, with its head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying rich countries and pharmaceuticals have held up efforts to fairly distribute vaccines.
  • The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is self-isolating after cases of coronavirus were detected among close contacts. The Kremlin has said that he will no longer travel to Tajikistan this week as planned for regional security meetings and will instead do them by video conference. He will self-isolate for “a certain period”, the Kremlin said.
  • Turkey reported its highest number of cases since May and a near-record 276 deaths.
  • A WHO official said the vaccine hub established in South Africa may need a year to replicate the Moderna vaccine, as talks with the company on sharing information have not progressed.
  • Mauritius is battling an explosion of coronavirus cases. Hospitals are overwhelmed, ventilators in short supply and cemeteries are running out of space.
  • The UK vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has said he is hopeful that the over-50s booster campaign will be the “last piece of the jigsaw” for ending lockdowns, as the government announced its winter plan for dealing with the coronavirus. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said it hoped the boosters would top up immunity. MRNA vaccines are being recommended, regardless of which vaccine was originally administered.
  • Sierra Leone has ended a curfew in place since early July after infections dropped to single figures over the past few weeks.
  • A Republican governor in the US, Kim Reynolds, has said she will appeal a temporary order by a federal judge allowing schools in Iowa to make face masks mandatory amid coronavirus. Meanwhile, in Florida, governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to fine cities and counties that force employees to get coronavirus vaccines.

Updated


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