UK reports 38,975 new cases – as it happened

By Lucy Campbell (now); Nicola Slawson, Martin Belam and Helen Sullivan (earlier)
Empty Moderna vaccine vials donated via the Covax scheme in Kenya.
Empty Moderna vaccine vials donated via the Covax scheme in Kenya. Photograph: Daniel Irungu/EPA

Thanks for following along – this blog is now closed. You can catch up with the latest coronavirus coverage here.

Idaho public health leaders have activated “crisis standards of care” allowing healthcare rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more patients with coronavirus than the institutions can handle.

The Idaho department of health and welfare quietly enacted the move on Monday and publicly announced it in a statement on Tuesday morning – warning residents that they may not get the care they would normally expect if they need to be hospitalised.

The move came as the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases rocketed in recent weeks. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US.

Governor Brad Little, a Republican, called the move to limit care “an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state” and urged residents to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

The full story is here:

WHO urges Covid vaccine booster moratorium until 2022

The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for countries to avoid giving out extra Covid jabs until year-end, pointing to the millions worldwide who have yet to receive a single dose, AFP reports.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists:

I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers.

Speaking from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Tedros urged wealthy countries and vaccine makers to prioritise getting the first jabs to health workers and vulnerable populations in poorer nations over boosters.

We do not want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated.

The WHO called last month for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine booster shots until the end of September to address the drastic inequity in dose distribution between rich and poor nations.

But Tedros acknowledged Wednesday that there had “been little change in the global situations since then. “So today I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year,” he said.

High-income countries had promised to donate more than one billion vaccine doses to poorer countries, he said - but less than 15% of those doses have materialised.

We don’t want any more promises. We just want the vaccines.

Washington pushed back against the call for the moratorium, saying Joe Biden has “a responsibility to do everything we can to protect people in the United States.”

“We are doing both, we think we can do both and we will continue to do both,” said the White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Despite the call for a moratorium, some countries have been arguing for booster jabs not only for vulnerable people, but also for the wider population, citing signs of waning vaccine effectiveness against the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The WHO has acknowledged that an additional dose could be needed for immunocompromised people, but stresses that, for healthy people, the vaccines still seem very effective, especially in preventing severe disease.

“There is not a compelling case to move forward with a generalised recommendation for booster doses,” Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s vaccines chief, told the news conference.

The UN health agency has set a global target of seeing every country vaccinate at least 10 percent of its population by the end of this month, and at least 40 percent by the end of this year.

It wants to see at least 70% of the world’s population vaccinated by the middle of next year.

But Tedros complained that while 90% of wealthy countries have hit the 10% mark, and more than 70% have already reached 40%, “not a single low-income country has reached either target”.

He expressed outrage at a statement by a pharmaceutical industry organisation that the world’s seven wealthiest nations, known as the G7, now had enough vaccines for all adults and teenagers - and to offer boosters to at-risk groups - and so the focus should shift to dose sharing.

When I read this, I was appalled.

In reality, manufacturers and high-income countries have long had the capacity to not only vaccinate their own priority groups, but to simultaneously support the vaccination of those same groups in all countries.

Three Vermont state troopers have resigned after being accused of creating fake Covid-19 vaccination cards, state police announced on Tuesday.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Vermont police said the three former troopers are suspected of having “varying roles” in creating false Covid-19 vaccine cards.

“Based on an initial internal review, we do not believe there is anything more the state police could have done to prevent this occurring. As soon as other troopers became aware of this situation, they raised the allegations internally,” said the Vermont public safety commissioner, Michael Schirling.

The full story is here:

The past 18 months have left many parents and carers feeling overwhelmed, irritable and wrung bone dry. Can balance ever be restored? My colleague Saima Mir explores parental burnout during the Covid pandemic:

Good evening from London. I’m Lucy Campbell, I’ll be bringing you all the latest global developments on the coronavirus pandemic for the next few hours. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

Email: lucy.campbell@theguardian.com
Twitter: @lucy_campbell_

Summary

Here’s a roundup of the key developments from the day:

  • The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, asked about the possibility of a so-called “October firebreak” in England, said: “I haven’t even thought about that as an option at this point.”
  • Javid also backed 12- to 15-year-olds being able to take Covid vaccines against the wishes of their parents, and said that he was ‘confident’ that a booster jab programme will start this month in the UK.
  • In the UK, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has defended the planned introduction of Covid vaccine passports, telling MPs “this approach is designed to reduce transmission and serious illness”.
  • Data shows that road traffic in the UK was at 100% of pre-crisis levels on Monday. Demand for buses also reached the highest level for a weekday since March 2020.
  • The Covax vaccine-sharing initiative is set to receive 575m fewer anti-Covid shots this year than previously estimated, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) has warned.
  • Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious disease in Germany, has said that the country could see a “massive momentum” in new Covid cases in autumn if the vaccination rate does not increase.
  • The Czech Republic on Wednesday recorded 588 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily tally since 25 May, as government officials predict a continued rise in infections.
  • People will need to show a Covid-status certificate to enter bars, restaurants and fitness centres in Switzerland from Monday, the government ordered
  • The city of Brussels is expected to introduce a Covid vaccine pass from 1 October, requiring residents to prove their health status to enter bars, restaurants and other public places.
  • The pandemic had a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.
  • In the US, Idaho public health leaders announced that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle.
  • Australia will support a global push to waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to allow for cheaper generic versions to be manufactured in developing nations, following months of pressure from human rights groups and foreign governments.
  • Countries in the Americas should prioritise pregnant and lactating women in distribution of Covid-19 shots, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, hailing the ability of the vaccines to protect women and their babies.

I’m handing over to my colleague Lucy Campbell. Thanks so much for joining me today.

A travel industry expert has predicted that many tour operators and travel companies will start to offer free Covid tests to holidaymakers.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, made his comments as travel company On the Beach announced that it would begin to offer free Covid tests in an industry first.

The tour operator said it decided to hand out free antigen and PCR tests after a study revealed that the price of tests was preventing people from travelling. The firm has teamed up with government-backed testing provider Collinson to provide free Covid tests – to those living in England and Northern Ireland only – for departures in 2021, in time for October half-term.

Charles said many others in the industry could now follow suit:

It is very encouraging that On the Beach have taken this step. I am aware of many luxury high-end operators who have been offering this, but this is the first mass-market tour operator to do this and it will give others the confidence to do the same. This is definitely the start and we will definitely see others doing the same.

Read more here:

Countries in the Americas should prioritise pregnant and lactating women in distribution of Covid-19 shots, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, hailing the ability of the vaccines to protect women and their babies.

Dr. Carissa Etienne, the director of PAHO said during the organisation’s weekly virtual briefing:

PAHO recommends that all pregnant women after their first trimester, as well as those who are breastfeeding, receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 270,000 pregnant women have had Covid-19 in the Americas and about 1% have died, she said, adding that in Mexico and Colombia the illness is the leading cause of maternal deaths this year, Reuters reports.

Etienne said:

In Mexico, where pregnant women have been prioritized for vaccinations for some time, not a single vaccinated woman has died from COVID during pregnancy.

Countries also must ensure pregnant women are able to access pre-natal care, Etienne said. At least 40% of regional countries reported disruptions to maternal and newborn care during the pandemic.

Just 28% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 so far, Etienne said, adding that vaccination figures vary widely, with one-fourth of regional countries yet to vaccinate even 20% of its people.

Guatemala and Nicaragua are currently below 10% vaccine coverage, while Venezuela is at just over 11%. Less than 1% of Haiti’s population has been inoculated against Covid-19.

PAHO’s Emerging Viral Diseases advisor Jairo Mendez Rico joined other health officials in downplaying concerns about the Mu variant of the virus first discovered in Colombia, saying there is no solid evidence yet to show that it is more transmissible or lethal than others.

All currently available Covid-19 vaccines have so far been effective in protecting against the variant, which has been circulating in the Americas since January, he said.

There were nearly 1.5 million Covid -19 cases in the region last week and more than 22,000 deaths.

Vietnam was a Covid success story but the latest lockdown, with people unable to leave the house even for food, is leaving tens of thousands hungry.

Read the full report by Sarah Johnson and Nhung Nguyen:

The World Health Organization on Wednesday said low-income countries were ready to run effective Covid-19 vaccination campaigns and it was now down to manufacturers and rich countries to deliver the pledged doses to ease global health inequalities.

About 80% of the 5.5 billion vaccines doses that have been administered globally went to high income countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Wednesday.

Ghebreyesus said almost all low income countries have demonstrated an ability to run large-scale immunisation campaigns for polio, measles and other disease, Reuters reports.

He said:

We have heard excuses from manufacturers and some high income countries about how low income countries cannot absorb vaccines.

Because manufacturers have prioritised or been legally obliged to fulfil bilateral deals with rich countries willing to pay top dollar, low-income countries have been deprived of the tools to protect their people.

WHO has set a target to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40% of the population by the end of this year and Tedros said deliveries to poorer nations need to be boosted for this to be achieved.

More than 91m doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the UK, government data up to September 7 shows.

Of the 91,940,381 jabs given, 48,319,435 were first doses, a rise of 26,624 on the previous day.

Some 43,620,946 were second doses, an increase of 85,848.

Protesters gathered at Piazza del Popolo in Rome, Italy on Wednesday requesting for tax incentives from the government.

A protester holds up a flag during the travel agents’ protest in Rome. Protesters gathered at Piazza del Popolo requesting government for tax incentives. Since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, 35% of travel agencies in Italy have closed definitively.
A protester holds up a flag during the travel agents’ protest in Rome. Photograph: Vincenzo Nuzzolese/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

Since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, 35% of travel agencies in Italy have closed definitively.

Travel agents protest in Rome, Italy.
Travel agents protest in Rome, Italy. Photograph: Vincenzo Nuzzolese/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

Italy reported 69 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday against 71 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 5,923 from 4,720.

Italy has registered 129,707 deaths linked to Covid-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.59 million cases to date, Reuters reports.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 4,235 on Wednesday, down from 4,307 a day earlier.

There were 38 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 40 on Tuesday. The total number of intensive care patients edged higher to 564 from a previous 563.

Some 301,980 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 318,865, the health ministry said.

UK reports 38,975 new cases and a further 191 Covid-linked deaths

The British government said a further 191 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 133,674.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 158,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, PA news reports.

As of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 38,975 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the government said.

Updated

Airborne viruses recycled through a low-grade ventilation system likely created Germany’s first super-spreader event of the Covid-19 pandemic, a CSI-style analysis of a carnival celebration has found.

The event at the town hall of Gangelt, a municipality on the border with the Netherlands, was labelled “Germany’s Wuhan” after it was found to be the driver of a major outbreak in the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia last year.

Of 411 partygoers who were later tested by the scientists, almost half were found to have been infected with the virus. A 47-year-old man who performed in the “male ballet” at the carnival was the first person in the country admitted to intensive care with the coronavirus infection.

After spending months analysing the location and movements at the carnival party, researchers from the University of Bonn say the town hall’s poor ventilation system, which brought only 25% of fresh air into the air flow, was a key factor in spreading the virus among the crowd.

Individuals sat close to the air outlets had the highest risk of infection, the researchers write in a pre-print of a scientific paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

“Once again everything points towards aerosols and ventilation playing a crucial role in deciding whether there will be an infection or not,” said virologist Hendrik Streeck, one of the paper’s authors.

Streeck and his co-authors were criticised last year for going public with some of their findings at an early stage of the investigation, drawing accusations that the project was designed to lend scientific support for politicians pushing for a lockdown exit.

Read the full story here:

Updated

People will need to show a Covid-status certificate to enter bars, restaurants and fitness centres in Switzerland from Monday, the government ordered, in a move to relieve pressure on hospitals that are struggling to cope with a fourth wave of infections.

The government last week had held fire on the move – set to last four months initially – amid a public debate over whether it was going too far to infringe individuals’ liberty, Reuters reports.

But with the situation in hospitals strained and some postponing operations, the cabinet pushed ahead on Wednesday with the plan.

Health minister Alain Berset told a news conference in Bern:

The situation remains unstable with more than 3,500 cases today. The alternative is to close everything, and we will do our utmost to avoid that.

The Swiss Covid certificate provides proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a negative test result.

The hospitality sector blasted the move, which it said would hurt sales just as the pandemic was showing signs of easing.

Demanding the state compensate businesses for lost revenue, Casimir Platzer, the president of hospitality and dining sector lobby GastroSuisse, said:

This decision is disproportionate and leads to a blatantly unequal treatment of the population.

Its expanded use has moved into focus as the number of new infections in Switzerland and tiny neighbour Liechtenstein show the highest incidence rate in continental Europe.

More than 800,000 have contracted the respiratory disease since the pandemic began. The death toll has exceeded 10,500.

Just over half the Swiss population has been fully vaccinated, lagging behind the rate in other European countries.

The government is also mulling new travel restrictions for people who had not been vaccinated or recovered from the virus. Those could include quarantines or Covid-19 testing.

It may require individuals to provide a negative test result to enter the country, no matter from where or how they arrive.

Updated

A misinformation campaign on social media in support of Chinese government interests has focused on spreading fake news about the virus, according to new research, Reuters reports.

Experts at the security company FireEye and Google said the operation was identified in 2019 as running hundreds of accounts in English and Chinese aimed at discrediting the Hong Kong democracy movement.

The effort has broadened its mission and spread from Twitter, Facebook and Google to thousands of handles on dozens of sites around the world. This expansion suggests Chinese interests have made a deeper commitment to the sort of international propaganda techniques Russia has used for several years, experts said.

Some of the new accounts are on networks used predominantly in countries that have not previously been significant Chinese propaganda targets, such as Argentina.

Other networks have users around the world but with a large proportion in Russia or Germany.

False information about COVID-10 has been a major focus, the research found.

For example, accounts on social networking sites vKontakte, LiveJournal and elsewhere in Russian, German, Spanish and other languages have asserted that the virus emerged in the United States before China and that it was developed by the US military.

Multiple Russian-language LiveJournal accounts used identical wording: “U.S. Ft. Detrick was the source of COVID-19,” referring to the US Army’s Fort Detrick installation in Maryland.

Many of the posts echo claims in state-controlled Chinese media, and they are consistent with other government propaganda efforts. The researchers do not have proof of involvement by a specific arm or ally of Beijing. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Covax 575m doses short of previous estimates

The Covax vaccine-sharing initiative is set to receive 575m fewer anti-Covid shots this year than previously estimated, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) has warned.

Gavi, which runs the Covax scheme, said it is likely to get just 1.425bn doses from donor countries this year, down from a July estimate of 2bn.

Reasons for the cut include export restrictions on key supplier Serum Institute of India (SII), Gavi said in a joint statement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the World Health Organization and Unicef.

Manufacturing problems at Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca as well as delays in the regulatory review of shots developed by U.S. biotech firm Novavax and China’s Clover Biopharmaceuticals were further limiting factors, the organisations said.

“The global picture of access to Covid-19 vaccines is unacceptable,” the statement said.

It added:

Of these doses, approximately 1.2bn will be available for the lower income economies participating in the Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC). This is enough to protect 20% of the population, or 40% of all adults, in all 92 AMC economies with the exception of India. Over 200m doses will be allocated to self-financing participants. The key Covax milestone of two billion doses released for delivery is now expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2022.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to claim lives, destroy livelihoods and stunt economic recovery, we continue to emphasise that no one is safe until everyone is safe. There is only one way to end the pandemic and prevent the emergence of new and stubborn variants and that is by working together.

Updated

“Africa is paying the price of western hoarding, and my country will endure Covid lockdowns until we get more doses,” writes Jackee Budesta Batanda.

Commuters at Clapham Junction station
Commuters at Clapham Junction station Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Tens of thousands more commuters have this week poured back into central London, which is seeing its busiest morning rush-hour periods since the pandemic hit.

More businesses appeared to have heeded the call to bring employees back to their headquarters than during the short-lived return last September. However, it remains to be seen whether the move will spark an increase in coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, was asked about plans for an “October firebreak” to curb cases before winter. He responded that he “hadn’t even thought about that as an option”.

Updated

The vaccines minister has been accused of defending a policy he does not fully believe in by a senior Conservative.

The former cabinet minister Karen Bradley questioned Nadhim Zahawi on the introduction of vaccine passports in nightclubs and other venues in England at the end of this month.

Bradley said:

Can I contribute to [Zahawi], who is defending a policy that I don’t think his heart is truly in?

Can I ask him a technical question? If a fake vaccine passport is used, who bears responsibility? Will it be the venue, the person who checked it or the individual who used the fake passport and who will police it?

Are we asking our local police, a local authority, or some other agency?

Zahawi replied saying he or a minister from the cabinet office will share this detail when the house is addressed in full.

The Conservative MP Mark Harper, who chairs the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, said vaccine passports are a “discriminatory policy”, before adding in the Commons:

This is a pointless policy with damaging effects. I’m afraid the minister is picking an unnecessary fight with his own colleagues. I say to him, the government should think again.

Harper highlighted how Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has stated there is no need for vaccine passports for MPs to attend the chamber.

He added: “Let’s not have one rule for members of parliament and another rule for everybody else. Drop this policy.”

Zahawi said it was not in the government’s DNA to curtail people’s freedoms or require people to show a piece of paper before they enter a nightclub.

He added:

The reason that we are moving forward on this is because if you look at what has happened in other countries where nightclubs were opening and then shutting again, opening and shutting again, is that we want to avoid that disruption and maintain sectors that can add to people’s enjoyment of life and dance, as it did for the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster [Michael Gove who was recently pictured clubbing]

That they can do so sustainably, the reason for the end of September … is because by the end of September all 18-year-olds and above would have had the chance to have two doses.

He added: “It is not something … we do lightly, it is something to allow us to transition this virus from pandemic to endemic status.”

Updated

In the UK, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has defended the planned introduction of Covid vaccine passports, telling MPs “this approach is designed to reduce transmission and serious illness”.

He said:

It is in line with the approach we’ve taken on international travel where different rules apply depending on whether you’ve had both jabs.

His comments came as the Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael asked an urgent commons question on the issue, warning:

We must, however, not lose sight of the fact that a scheme of this sort opens the door to a major change in the relationship between the citizen and the state.

The introduction of vaccine passports will have enormous practical implications for the literally thousands of businesses across the country who will be required to gather and to hold our data.

Zahawi was accused of talking “rubbish” and starting a “needless fight” with Tory MPs over vaccine passports.

Conservative William Wragg, speaking after Zahawi had defended the need to introduce the measure from the end of September, told the Commons:

What a load of rubbish. I don’t believe [Zahawi] believes a word of what he’s just uttered because I remember him very persuasively stating my position – which we shared at the time – that this measure would be discriminatory and yet he’s sent to the dispatch box to defend the indefensible.

This is a needless fight that we seem prepared to have in this house over the issue, it’s completely unnecessary.

Wragg encouraged people to have the jab, adding: “But to go down this route, which is overtly discriminatory, would be utterly damaging to the fabric of society.”

Zahawi said it “pains” him to have to take such a step, adding: “We do not take it lightly.”

Updated

In the US, Idaho public health leaders have activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health are rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle.

The Idaho department of health and welfare quietly enacted the move on Monday and publicly announced it in a statement Tuesday morning – warning residents that they may not get the care they would normally expect if they need to be hospitalised.

The move came as the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases skyrocketed in recent weeks. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US.

Gov Brad Little, a Republican, called the move to limit care “an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state” and urged residents to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

The state health agency cited “a severe shortage of staffing and available beds in the northern area of the state caused by a massive increase in patients with Covid-19 who require hospitalization”.

The designation includes 10 hospitals and healthcare systems in the Idaho panhandle and in north-central Idaho. The agency said its goal is to extend care to as many patients as possible and to save as many lives as possible.

Idaho department of health and welfare director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement:

Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect.

This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid. The best tools we have to turn this around is for more people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded public places. Please choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible – it is your very best protection against being hospitalized from Covid-19.

The move allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive and make other dramatic changes to the way they treat patients. Other patients will still receive care, but they may be placed in hospital classrooms or conference rooms rather than traditional hospital rooms or go without some life-saving medical equipment.

Read the full story here:

Updated

All the administrations of the UK should receive the same level of scrutiny over decisions made during the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh secretary has said.

A UK-wide public inquiry into the decisions taken by Boris Johnson’s government is due to begin next year, while the Scottish government under Nicola Sturgeon has announced its own independent inquiry.

Opposition politicians in Wales and those who have lost family members to Covid-19 have called on the Welsh government to hold its own inquiry, PA Media reports.

The Welsh government said last month it was engaging with the UK government on the detail of the UK-wide inquiry.

The Welsh secretary, Simon Hart, told journalists that the Wales first minister, Mark Drakeford, should receive the same level of scrutiny as the prime minister.

What is critical in this inquiry or inquiries is that each of the administrations of the UK comes under the same degree of scrutiny and examination.

Whether that is achieved by a UK-wide inquiry which covers the role of the devolved administrations or whether a Wales-specific inquiry would be able to deliver the same level of scrutiny is a matter of judgment.

As long as it asks the right questions of the right people and devotes a sufficient amount of energy and focus on the decisions of those devolved administrations as. otherwise, we will get a not entirely analytical exploration and examination of what went well and what went less well.

I think it’s important Mark Drakeford receives the same degree of scrutiny as Boris Johnson.

In Scotland, a judge-led inquiry will be established by the end of the year and in Wales the Senedd Conservatives and Plaid Cymru have called for the same.

A Welsh government spokesman said last month:

We are considering the Scottish government’s proposal alongside our continued engagement with the UK government on the detail of the four-nation inquiry.

We are seeking commitment that the four-nation inquiry will deal comprehensively with the actions of the Welsh government and the experiences of the people of Wales.

Updated

The city of Brussels is expected to introduce a Covid vaccine pass from 1 October, requiring residents to prove their health status to enter bars, restaurants and other public places.

Belgian media report that authorities will announce the measure next week, which will only affect the capital, which lags the rest of the country in vaccination rates.

While Belgium has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, with 84% of adults fully vaccinated, the picture from the capital is somewhat different. The latest data shows 62% of Brussels adults are fully vaccinated, compared with much higher rates in the more populous regions – 90% in Flanders and 79% in Wallonia. Vaccination rates for people aged 18-34 are much lower in the capital than anywhere else in the country.

According to the Belgian daily Le Soir, from 1 October everyone living in Brussels aged 16 and above will need a health pass (pass sanitaire) to visit a hotel, bar, restaurant, night club, sports centre or any big event. Children aged 12 and above will need to have one to visit a hospital or care home.

As in France, the health pass does not mandate vaccines, but authorities hope to encourage younger people to get the jab. To enter public places, people will need to show double vaccination status, a negative PCR test, or proof of recovery from coronavirus.

Updated

A pilot bus service has been launched in Thailand’s capital to ensure that the elderly and other vulnerable groups in Bangkok are vaccinated against Covid-19, underscoring the country’s push to speed up its inoculation campaign.

Driven by the especially virulent Delta variant, Thai authorities have been struggling to contain the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic, Reuters reports.

In an effort to reach those who find it hard to travel far from their homes, the Bangkok city administration has laid on a bus equipped with a mobile vaccination team.

People wait in front of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mobile vaccination bus set-up to serve the elderly and disabled groups in Bangkok, Thailand, September 8, 2021. REUTERS/Juarawee Kittisilpa
People wait in front of the mobile vaccination bus in Bangkok, Thailand. Photograph: Juarawee Kittisilpa/Reuters

Manat Phumklahan, 58, a Bangkok resident who was receiving his first shot of a vaccine and uses a wheelchair said:

I can’t really travel much, it’s not convenient for me, but this has made it so much easier.

Another resident, Boonsak Suwannakij, 22, also stressed the benefits of the bus:

I am in a risk group living in a red zone district in Bangkok, so it is more convenient to have this within the local community.

Once the procedures are ironed out, the bus should be able to move around to different locations every day and more mobile teams can be brought in, the city’s governor said.

Woman receives a jab of the coronavirus vaccine inside a mobile vaccination bus.
A woman receives a jab of the coronavirus vaccine inside a mobile vaccination bus. Photograph: Juarawee Kittisilpa/Reuters

“This is the first of its kind … We are in the process of building more,” Aswin Kwanmuang told a group of people waiting to get inoculated in the bus, which was parked beside the Thepnaree Buddhist temple.

Kwanmuang said the bus needed only five or six people to operate – the driver, three medics administering vaccines and up to two others handling paperwork. The scheme could inoculate more than 1,000 individuals a day, he said.

Thailand’s vaccination rollout got off to a slower start than some neighbours. About 16.5% of the country’s 72 million people of all nationalities have now been fully vaccinated.

The country has reported more than 1.3m infections and more than 13,500 coronavirus-related deaths, most of them since April.

Updated

In the UK, the Covid vaccine booster programme and jabs for 12- to 15-year-olds could be given the go-ahead within days, Sajid Javid has said, as he confirmed that young people will have the right to overrule their parents on whether to be vaccinated.

The health secretary said he expected to hear from the UK’s four chief medical officers in the coming days on their views as to whether there should be a mass rollout of vaccines to 12- to 15-year-olds.

Javid told Sky News:

I want to give them the breathing space, it’s their independent view and that’s exactly what it should be. But I would expect to hear from them in the next few days.

He said consent would be sought from parents of 12- to 15-year-olds as it has been “for decades”, but if children and their parents cannot agree, then the child’s view would take precedence as long as they are competent enough to decide.

He said:

If there is a difference of opinion between the child and the parent then we have specialists that work in this area, the schools vaccination service. They would usually literally sit down with the parent and the child, and try to reach some kind of consensus.

If ultimately that doesn’t work, as along as we believe that the child is competent enough to make this decision then the child will prevail.

The decision on whether children aged 12-15 should be offered a Covid vaccine is being taken by the chief medical officers, after government advisers on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided against backing the move on health grounds alone, since Covid-19 presents such a low risk to that age bracket.

The advisers said that while the health gains from vaccinating the entire age group were greater than the risks, “the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy 12- to 15-year-olds at this time”.

Read the full story here:

Today so far …

  • The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, asked about the possibility of a so-called “October firebreak” in England, said: “I haven’t even thought about that as an option at this point.”
  • Javid also backed 12- to 15-year-olds being able to take Covid vaccines against the wishes of their parents, and said that he was ‘confident’ that a booster jab programme will start this month in the UK.
  • Data shows that road traffic in the UK was at 100% of pre-crisis levels on Monday. Demand for buses also reached the highest level for a weekday since March 2020.
  • Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious disease in Germany, has said that the country could see a “massive momentum” in new Covid cases in autumn if the vaccination rate does not increase.
  • The Czech Republic on Wednesday recorded 588 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily tally since 25 May, as government officials predict a continued rise in infections.
  • Authorities say that South Korea is drawing up a plan on how to live more normally with Covid-19, expecting 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated by late October.
  • The pandemic had a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.
  • In the US, Idaho public health leaders announced that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle.
  • New Zealand’s plans to reopen its borders to the world early next year will have to undergo a complete reworking, the government has warned, as the country races to stamp out an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.
  • Australia will support a global push to waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to allow for cheaper generic versions to be manufactured in developing nations, following months of pressure from human rights groups and foreign governments.
  • Victoria Police in Australia say future organised large gatherings will not be tolerated, and police will act on intelligence to stop them, after dozens of worshippers gathered near a synagogue in south-east Melbourne earlier this week, in breach of Covid-19 lockdown rules.
  • A medical clinic in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs has been offering patients off-label prescriptions for the anti-parasite drug ivermectin to treat Covid-19, despite a lack of evidence for its use in treating the virus.

Updated

A very quick snap from Reuters on Germany here. Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease, has said that the country could see a “massive momentum” in new Covid cases in autumn if the vaccination rate does not increase. He told a press conference “It is still in our hands”, adding it was very important to intensify the vaccination campaign.

Madeline Holcombe at CNN has this update on the Covid situation in the US:

Children now represent 26.8% of the weekly Covid-19 cases, according to new data released Tuesday. Over two weeks, from 19 August 19 to 2 September, there was a 10% increase in the cumulated number of Covid-19 cases in children since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, 13 school employees have died from Covid-19 since 16 August, the school district and local teacher union told CNN. All 13 – three teachers, one security monitor, one cafeteria worker, and seven school bus drivers – were unvaccinated, they said.

“I think this underscores the big tragedy that we see occurring across America,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “Even though in my community, 98% of individuals have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, there is still a lag specific to individuals that represent ethnic minorities in Miami-Dade.”

Carvalho said the 13 individuals who died were African Americans and were unvaccinated, according to their families.

You can read more here: CNN – Schools don’t need to see a big uptick in Covid-19 cases if they follow these measures, Fauci says

PA Media has some figures from the UK’s Department of Transport this morning that suggest there’s not going to be much of a post-Covid dividend in terms of permanently reduced traffic.

Data shows that road traffic was at 100% of pre-crisis levels. Demand for buses has also reached the highest level for a weekday since March 2020.

The number of journeys made on buses in Britain – excluding London – was at 71% of pre-pandemic levels on Monday. That coincided with the end of the summer holiday period and the return of some schools.

Provisional figures for trains show demand was at 60% of what it was before the pandemic.

Updated

Australia to support vaccine waiver after months of pressure from human rights groups

Australia will support a global push to waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to allow for cheaper generic versions to be manufactured in developing nations, following months of pressure from human rights groups and foreign governments.

Australia has been one of the last holdouts not to publicly back the plan, and following months of outright resistance and then support only for ongoing negotiations, the trade and investment minister, Dan Tehan, said Australia will now support the waiver at the World Trade Organisation.

For months, Australia’s reluctance to back the waiver had generated criticism from human rights and aid groups, and had even triggered protests outside Australia’s consulate in San Francisco.

On Wednesday, Tehan cited a shift in US policy in May as the reason behind Australia’s support. Russia and China had also supported the waiver in recent months.

A group of 15 NGOs and churches in the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network met Tehan on Tuesday, and released a statement on Wednesday revealing that the minister had told them Australia will support a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver for Covid-19 vaccines.

Read more of Paul Karp and Elias Visontay’s report here: Australia to support vaccine waiver after months of pressure from human rights groups

Andrew Sparrow’s UK politics live blog is up and running for the day. He will, I’m sure, be swamped with news and reaction on the government’s tax rise plan, and there’s PMQs later today too. So if you would like that, you can head over here

We’ll be continuing on this live blog with major UK Covid developments and all the most important coronavirus news from around the globe.

Sangmi Cha in Seoul is reporting for Reuters this morning on a briefing by senior health ministry official Son Young-rae. They say South Korea is drawing up a plan on how to live more normally with Covid-19, expecting 80% of adults to be fully vaccinated by late October.

The country is in the middle of its worst wave of infections, but it has kept the number of severely ill cases under control through steadily rising vaccination rates.

“We’ll review measures that will allow us to live more normally, but any such switch will be implemented only when we achieve high vaccination rates and overall (Covid-19) situations stabilise,” Son Young-rae said.

The strategy will be implemented in phases to gradually ease restrictions, authorities said. Masks will still be required at least in the initial stage.

The government expects to implement the plan sometime after late October, when 80% of its adult population is likely to have been vaccinated. As of Tuesday, South Korea says it had given at least one vaccine dose to 70.9% of its adult population, while 42.6% are fully vaccinated.

Updated

Sarah Johnson and Nhung Nguyen write for us today about Vietnam:

When the strictest lockdown to date was imposed in Ho Chi Minh City, Tran Thi Hao*, a factory worker, was told that the government would keep her and her family well-fed – but for two months they have eaten little more than rice and fish sauce.

She was put on unpaid leave from her job in July, while her husband, a construction worker, has not worked for months. They are behind on their rent, with another payment due soon.

“I’m trying to hold on for as long as possible but I don’t know what will come next,” she says. “I don’t know how to put what I’m feeling into words. I want to ask why there’s been no support.

“The government said they would send help to people like me but there’s been nothing,” she says. “Everyone living around me is hanging on by a thread.”

Tran is not alone. Vietnam’s biggest city is under a tough lockdown, with people not allowed to leave the house even for food. The restrictions could last until 15 September, when the city has proposed resuming economic activity.

Even before the stay at home order on 23 August, Tran, like millions of others, was falling into debt. The government promised to feed everyone and enlisted the military to help deliver supplies to those in need, but vast swaths of the population have received nothing. Last week, Vietnamese media reported that more than 100 people in one district had protested over the lack of help.

Read more here: ‘Hunger was something we read about’: lockdown leaves Vietnam’s poor without food

* Names have been changed to protect their identities

Updated

Victoria Police in Australia say future organised large gatherings will not be tolerated, and police will act on intelligence to stop them, after dozens of worshippers gathered near a synagogue in south-east Melbourne earlier this week, in breach of Covid-19 lockdown rules.

Six people so far have been fined $5,452 each for the illegal gathering in Ripponlea on Tuesday morning, held to mark the start of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

On Tuesday afternoon, officers surrounded both front and back entrances of the building, where an Orthodox Jewish group was believed to be congregating upstairs.

The standoff ended shortly after 8pm, with several people filing outside. Police are still looking to speak to some of those in attendance, and are investigating the alleged assault of a cameraman.

“Victoria Police will not tolerate anyone organising large gatherings or the encouragement of others to attend such events,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

“Our focus is to ensure community safety for all Victorians and we will continue to act on intelligence and information gathered targeting those organising such events and inciting breaches of [chief health officer] directions.”

Read more of Josh Taylor’s report: Victoria Police ‘will not tolerate’ anyone organising further gatherings against Covid rules

Updated

One of the other topics that has come up during the UK’s morning media round is the issue of vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds, and whether they should be able to overrule their parents and get the jab if they want it. Earlier on Sky News, UK health secretary Sajid Javid said:

I think we should follow the same rules that we’ve had in this country, under the successive governments, for decades, which is that you first would try to seek the consent of parents. If there’s a difference of opinion between the child and the parent, then we have specialists that work in this area, the school’s vaccination service, they would usually sit down with the parent and the child and try to reach some kind of consensus. If ultimately that doesn’t work, as long as we believe that the child is competent enough to make this decision, then the child will will prevail.

He’s just been backed in that on the same channel by former Conservative health minister Andrew Lansley, who said:

We have a lot of case law about the competence of young people to make decisions on their own. Certainly, in respect of procedure which is of benefit to them. I think we should err on the side of giving young people the opportunity to make decisions.

He added that a lot of the legal precedents come from the original Gillick case, which ruled several decades ago that children under-16 could be given contraceptives without parental consent.

Updated

Czech Republic records highest daily Covid caseload since May

The Czech Republic on Wednesday recorded 588 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily tally since 25 May, as government officials predict a continued rise in infections.

Reuters reports that prime minister Andrej Babis said today the government was not planning a return to broad lockdown measures – which had been eased going into the summer months – and ministers say local measures could be used in some instances.

The rise in reported cases was still well below peaks in daily infections seen during the waves between October 2020 and March 2021 when they reached into the thousands, hitting a peak of above 17,000 at one point.

Updated

The logistics of how Australia acquired and rolled out vaccines are under scrutiny again, as our Australian chief political correspondent Sarah Martin reports:

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer asked for a meeting with the Australian health minister Greg Hunt last June offering “millions of doses” of its coveted Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, documents released under freedom of information show.

But the correspondence with the company and the federal health department, released to Labor, shows that despite its request to meet with Hunt and senior departmental executives, a department first assistant secretary, Lisa Schofield, offered to meet company representatives instead.

In an email dated 30 June 2020, Pfizer Australia said the company would be “able to make senior members of Pfizer’s global leadership team available for this discussion, particularly if the Minister and/or Departmental leadership can be involved”.

“As the vaccine development landscape is moving swiftly, including through engagements with other nations, I am requesting this meeting occur at the earliest opportunity.”

In an attached letter to Hunt, the company said it was actively scaling up its manufacturing and distribution ability, and requested a meeting with Hunt to discuss Australia’s planned vaccination programme.

Read more of Sarah Martin’s report here: Pfizer asked to meet with Greg Hunt about ‘millions of doses’ of vaccine but was offered bureaucrat instead

Updated

UK health secretary Sajid Javid: 'I haven’t even thought about' an October firebreak

The UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, will be appearing across a range of media programmes this morning, but I don’t suppose he will veer much from what he told Sky News in their 7am interview. Here is what he said about the continued floating of the idea in the media that there might be some kind of “October firebreak” in England, based around school half-term holidays:

I don’t think that’s something we need to consider. It is true that no one knows the future pathway of this. I haven’t even thought about that as an option at this point. The decisions that we’ve made in the last few weeks, and certainly the time I’ve been health secretary, I think they’ve turned out to be the right decisions.

When we made the recent decision to start opening up the country, to remove the social distancing restrictions for example, I think that’s turned out to be exactly the right decision. It’s not risk-free when you make these decisions, none of them are risk free. Our best defence against another wave or Covid ever taking off again is the vaccine wall of defence.

Updated

UK health secretary 'confident' booster jab programme will start this month

On Sky News, Kay Burley has been interviewing the UK’s health secretary Sajid Javid about vaccines for children, an October firebreak and the booster jab programme. Here’s what he said on the latter:

We’ve received interim advice on boosters and that was a few weeks ago and I published it. That was clear that there should be some kind of booster programme. In terms of that endeavour of who actually gets it, we’re waiting for final advice which could come in the next few days from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)

I need to see that advice because they rightly are looking at studies that they’ve done to look at if, it should be mixing vaccines for example, if should people get the same vaccine. They’re also looking at whether it makes sense to co-administer everyone with a flu jab, as well. So that work is almost done, and based on the timeline that they’ve given us, I am confident that we can start the booster programme this month.

Here is that JCVI interim advice by the way, which was published in June.

The JCVI’s interim advice is that any potential Covid-19 booster programme should be offered in 2 stages from September, starting with those most at risk from serious disease. This includes care home residents, people aged over 70, frontline health and social care workers, clinically extremely vulnerable adults and those who are immunosuppressed.

Updated

A medical clinic in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs has been offering patients off-label prescriptions for the anti-parasite drug ivermectin to treat Covid-19, despite a lack of evidence for its use in treating the virus.

The clinic set up a dedicated online page to apply for a consultation to be prescribed the drug to treat Covid-19 on its website after receiving an “influx of ivermectin inquiries”.

The clinic says there is no guarantee a prescription for ivermectin will be given, and it will depend on a risk assessment on issues such as location, work, contact with Covid-positive people and medical history.

Each consultation costs $85 and does not include a Medicare rebate.

Read more of Josh Taylor’s report here: Melbourne clinic offers ivermectin despite it not being approved as a Covid treatment

Good morning, it is Martin Belam taking over from my colleague Helen Sullivan. I’ll be bringing you the latest global Covid news, and keeping my eye on UK health secretary Sajid Javid who will be doing the media round this morning. He’ll be on Sky News in a moment. I imagine that will be dominated by the Conservative tax hike announced yesterday – here’s how the UK’s papers reacted this morning.

New Zealand to rethink plan to reopen borders amid Delta outbreak

New Zealand’s plans to reopen its borders to the world early next year will have to undergo a complete reworking, the government has warned, as the country races to stamp out an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

The nation recorded 15 new cases of coronavirus in the community on Wednesday, bringing the total number in the outbreak to 855.

It was the fifth day in a row that case numbers have been at or below 21, in an encouraging sign the country is on its way to stamping out the virus. But how the virus got into the community in the first place remains a mystery.

All of the new cases were in Auckland, which remains in a level 4 lockdown until next week, and all but two were epidemiologically linked to existing cases. There were 25 unlinked cases in total. Three-quarters of the recorded cases were in isolation throughout the period they were infected.

The rest of the country was in level 2, although some restrictions remained on gathering size and using masks in some public places.

The likelihood of New Zealand reopening its border to the world any time soon is looking less promising. The country has had strict border measures in place since the pandemic started:

More now on the Global Fund’s report:

The impact of the pandemic on the fight against TB worldwide had similarly been “catastrophic”, the report said.

The number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries where the Global Fund invests dropped by “a staggering” 19%, with those on treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB registering an even bigger drop of 37%, it said.

The fund calculated that around 4.7 million people were treated for TB in 2020, around one million fewer than in 2019.

Interventions to combat malaria “appear to have been less badly affected by Covid-19 than the other two diseases,” the report found.

“Thanks to adaptation measures and the diligence and innovation of community health workers, prevention activities remained stable or increased compared to 2019.”

The number of mosquito nets distributed increased by 17% to 188 million and structures covered by indoor residual spraying increased by 3%.

Pandemic has had ‘devastating’ impact on fight against HIV, TB and malaria

The pandemic had a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.

“To mark our 20th anniversary, we had hoped to focus this year’s report on the extraordinary stories of courage and resilience that made possible the progress we have achieved against HIV, TB and malaria over the last two decades,” said Peter Sands, the Global Fund’s executive director.

“But the 2020 numbers force a different focus. They confirm what we feared might happen when Covid-19 struck,” he said.

“The impact of Covid-19 on the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and the communities we support has been devastating. For the first time in the history of the global fund, key programmatic results have gone backwards.”

There were “significant” declines in HIV testing and prevention services, the fund said. Compared with 2019, the number of people reached with HIV prevention and treatment dropped by 11% last year, while HIV testing dropped by 22%, holding back new treatment in most countries.

Nevertheless, the number of people who received life-saving antiretroviral therapy for HIV in 2020, rose by 8.8% to 21.9 million “despite Covid-19”.

Idaho rationing healthcare

Idaho public health leaders announced Tuesday that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle, the Associated Press reports.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare quietly enacted the move Monday and publicly announced it in a statement Tuesday morning — warning residents that they may not get the care they would normally expect if they need to be hospitalised.

The move came as the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases skyrocketed in recent weeks. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US.

The state health agency cited “a severe shortage of staffing and available beds in the northern area of the state caused by a massive increase in patients with Covid who require hospitalisation.”

The designation includes 10 hospitals and healthcare systems in the Idaho panhandle and in north-central Idaho. The agency said its goal is to extend care to as many patients as possible and to save as many lives as possible.

The move allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive and make other dramatic changes to the way they treat patients. Other patients will still receive care, but they may be placed in hospital classrooms or conference rooms rather than traditional hospital rooms or go without some life-saving medical equipment.

Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Idaho public health leaders announced Tuesday that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle.

And the pandemic had a “devastating” impact on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in 2020, according to a report released by the Global Fund on Wednesday.

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

  • Four in five over-16s in Britain have been fully vaccinated according to the latest data, with 43,535,098 second doses delivered since vaccinations began. Meanwhile, Britain recorded 209 Covid deaths on Tuesday, the highest number since March.
  • Italy’s health minister, Roberto Speranza, has announced that third doses of Covid-19 will be made available to groups of “clinically vulnerable” people this month. “We have the third dose in Italy,” Speranza said. “We’ll start in September with fragile patients like oncology and transplant patients.”
  • A coalition of environmental groups have called for this year’s Cop26 climate summit to be postponed, arguing that too little has been done to ensure the safety of participants amid the continuing threat from Covid-19.
  • Indonesia’s daily coronavirus positivity rate dropped below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) benchmark standard of 5%, an indicator the country’s second wave could be easing.
  • The Philippines backtracked on easing lockdown in the capital Manila, deciding to delay a move to localised lockdowns for another week. The change was due to start on Wednesday.
  • Sweden will remove virtually all coronavirus restrictions on 29 September with the pandemic under control and the vaccination rollout well-advanced, the government said.
  • UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said he is not aware of any planning for an “October firebreak” if case numbers in England begin to rise following the return of schools but the government has refused to rule it out.
  • Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said the NHS in the UK needs £10bn next year to make inroads into the backlog of care and keep up with the costs associated with Covid-19.
  • Singapore recorded its highest number of cases in a year, with 328 reported on Tuesday. Worryingly for authorities, the number of cases they could not track back to a source has tripled compared with a week ago.
  • Experts in India are calling for schools to reopen, warning that the benefits would outweigh the risk of infection spreading. According a recent survey, only 8% of children in rural areas regularly studied online.
  • Health authorities in Chile have approved the use of the Sinovac vaccine for children six and older. Heriberto García, director of Chile’s Public Health Institute, said the institution approved the new measure by five votes in favour and one against.
  • A study from China looking at mixing Covid-19 vaccines showed that receiving a booster shot of CanSino Biologics’ vaccine after one or two doses of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine yielded a much stronger antibody response than using the Sinovac shot as a booster.

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