Get paid to share your links!

Africa ‘left behind by rest of the world’ on vaccines, says WHO – as it happened

5 days ago 5

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

Togo on Tuesday extended a health state of emergency for 12 months to “take appropriate decisions” after a surge in new cases of coronavirus, AFP reports.

The West African state of 8 million people first declared a state of emergency in April 2020 and has extended it several times, allowing the government broader powers to tackle outbreaks.

The government had asked for a six-month extension, but the National Assembly unanimously approved 12 months.

“The National Assembly has taken on its responsibility by giving the government ample time to fight this battle,” said Yawa Djigbodi Tségan, the assembly president.

Togo has registered 23,778 cases including 207 deaths and 18,746 cured patients, according to official figures released on Monday, though the true figure is likely higher given the low testing rates.

But new infections and deaths have been on the rise in recent weeks.

Togo has received about 1.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

On Thursday, the government introduced new measures including closing places of worship and banning weddings, cultural, sporting and political events for a month.

Funerals are prohibited and bars and nightclubs have also closed for the same period. Land borders have been shut since March 2020.

Updated at 11.04pm BST

Zimbabwe’s parliament on Tuesday banned anyone not vaccinated against Covid-19 from attending church services, in the latest in a series of measures to boost uptake of the jab, AFP reports.

The country had already made the vaccine mandatory for civil servants and teachers earlier this month.

Getting vaccinated is also a prerequisite for trading in markets, working out at gyms, frequenting restaurants and sitting university exams.

“With regards to churches, Cabinet has resolved that only vaccinated congregants can attend,” said a statement issued after the cabinet meeting.

Zimbabwe’s undersupplied vaccine centres have struggled to keep up with growing demand fuelled by the jab-linked restrictions.

The country has so far relied on vaccine doses produced in China, India and Russia, but recently approved the emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Just over 2.8 million of Zimbabwe’s 15 million inhabitants have so far received a first vaccine dose.

The country has recorded more than 126,300 coronavirus infections and at least 4,543 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

Zimbabwe’s High Court earlier on Tuesday dismissed an application by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to challenge the compulsory inoculation of workers.

Updated at 11.05pm BST

The Biden administration is advocating for state and local leaders to enact Covid-19 vaccine mandates, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.

“We’re encouraging everyone ... from the private and public sector to take actions to require vaccination,” she said, when asked if the White House was encouraging states to enact their own vaccine mandates.

The US president Joe Biden last week introduced a federal vaccine mandate aimed at employees of big companies and all federal workers and contractors.

The mandate faces legal, political and enforcement challenges.

Previous vaccine mandates in the US have mostly been introduced by state and local governments, and related to public spaces and schools.

“Last week, as you know, we took big and strong actions as part of the tools that we have ... to boost vaccinations from the federal government,” Jean-Pierre said.

“We certainly advocate for local leaders to do the same,” she said, calling the push to vaccinate Americans against the spread of the coronavirus “a wartime effort.”

Updated at 11.05pm BST

A campaign is to begin next week to give booster shots to millions of people in the UK who received Covid vaccinations in phase one of the rollout.

Details of the campaign were unveiled by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, who said the programme would strengthen a “wall of defence” against Covid-19 during the winter months – after the government published advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

My colleague, Ben Quinn, has put together this explainer outlining how the booster campaign will work:

Helena Smith

Over in Greece infection rates have shot up today with the country’s public health organisation, EODY, announcing 2,919 confirmed coronavirus cases – up from 1,608 on Monday.

The latest data reveal contagions spreading nationwide with the highly transmissible Delta variant turbocharging diagnoses in Thessaloniki, Greece’s northern metropolis, where 409 of the total number of new cases were reported.

By contrast EODY said 606 new cases – roughly a fifth of the total number – had been registered in Athens’ greater Attica region.

Tough measures, including a ban on all eateries and entertainment venues, went into effect across Greece on Monday as health officials attempt to rein in a fourth wave of the pandemic.

The new regulations, which require people to prove they have been vaccinated when they enter bars, cafes, tavernas and clubs, are set to be in place for the next six months eliciting fury among restaurateurs and other merchants who predict a massive drop in business.

Travellers who have not had the vaccine are also required to provide proof in the form of negative rapid or CPR tests before boarding boats, trains and planes.

To date around 55% in a population of roughly 11 million has been fully vaccinated, far below the 70% required to achieve herd immunity.

To date Greece has registered 620,355 confirmed coronavirus cases. There were 31 more deaths overnight bringing the total to 14,268.

Updated at 7.40pm BST

Netherlands to introduce 'corona pass' for entry to venues

The Dutch government on Tuesday announced it is easing Covid restrictions and will introduce a “corona” pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.

The prime minister Mark Rutte said most social distancing requirements will be dropped from 25 September. The move mirrors announcements in other European countries.

Rutte told a news conference he understood the emotional toll social distancing had taken on most people. “That is why I am happy that we today can announce that we can scrap social distancing as an obligation everywhere starting on Saturday, 25 September,” Rutte said, adding that it remains prudent for people to keep their distance.

The measures that remain will be a mask requirement for public transportation and schools, and a recommendation that people work from home when possible.

The corona pass will be required for people aged 13 and up to enter venues such as restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums, concerts and festivals both indoors and outdoors.

Rutte explained that scientists on the team managing the Dutch outbreak believed the pass was necessary to avoid high-risk situations.

“It means that in some places that you will be able to show that you either have been vaccinated or that you have had corona and are immune because of that, or that you have been tested negative in the past 24 hours,” he said.

More than 70% of the Dutch population, or 12.6 million people, have received at least one dose, while 65% are fully vaccinated, according to the official data.

The government’s health advisory board on Tuesday said there was no need for a third, booster shot for the general population because vaccinations were still effective.

New infections have fallen to around 2,000 per day in the Netherlands, while roughly 450 patients with Covid are receiving treatment in hospital.

Updated at 7.41pm BST

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_

Prof Chris Whitty has said those spreading myths about Covid-19 vaccines “should be ashamed” as he dismissed a tweet by rapper Nicki Minaj which claimed that her cousin’s friend was rendered impotent after the jab caused swelling in his testicles.

When asked about the musician making the baseless claim to her vast online following, England’s chief medical officer said it was important to stress that the overwhelming majority of people were ignoring unfounded stories about the vaccines.

“There are a number of myths that fly around … some of which are just clearly ridiculous and some of which are clearly designed just to scare. That happens to be one of them. That is untrue,” Whitty said during Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference.

Minaj, who has more than 22 million followers on Twitter, posted that a cousin had been told by a friend about unwanted side-effects of the vaccine. Impotence is not listed as a potential side-effect on the NHS website. Minaj also later said she suspects that she will eventually receive a jab.

Updated at 6.46pm BST

Summary

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 at 6.57pm BST

Paul Karp

Australia has weathered the economic downturn from Covid-19 better than most developed countries but could face a slower recovery when community transmission is higher, the OECD has warned.

That is the conclusion of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2021 economic survey of Australia, the first since the former finance minister Mathias Cormann took the helm in June.

The OECD report also warned that Australia remained vulnerable to shocks including escalation of its trade disputes with China, decline in fossil fuel demand, and carbon tariffs that might be imposed by trading partners.

Updated at 6.39pm BST

With the number of cases high again in the US, the Associated Press has this look at the “dire situation” in hospitals.

Covid-19 deaths and cases in the US. have climbed back to where they were over the winter, wiping out months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for sweeping new vaccination requirements.

The cases – driven by the delta variant combined with resistance among some Americans to getting vaccinated – are concentrated mostly in the south.

While one-time hot spots such as Florida and Louisiana are improving, infection rates are soaring in Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, fuelled by children now back in school, loose mask restrictions and low vaccination levels.

The dire situation in some hospitals is starting to sound like January’s infection peak: surgeries canceled in hospitals in Washington state and Utah, severe staff shortages in Kentucky and Alabama, a lack of beds in Tennessee, intensive care units at or over capacity in Texas.

The deteriorating picture nine months into the nation’s vaccination drive has angered and frustrated medical professionals who see the heartbreak as preventable. The vast majority of the dead and the hospitalised have been unvaccinated.

In Kentucky, 70% of the state’s hospitals – 66 of 96 – are reporting critical staff shortages, the highest level yet during the pandemic, the governor said.

“Our hospitals are at the brink of collapse in many communities,” said Dr Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner.

The US is averaging over 1,800 Covid-19 deaths and 170,000 new cases per day, the highest levels respectively since early March and late January. And both figures have been on the rise over the past two weeks.

Updated at 6.37pm BST

Josh Halliday and Maya Wolfe-Robinson have this from Morpeth, the town in the north-east of England where more than 90% of adults are fully jabbed, with boosters likely to be taken up just as eagerly.

It is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. But now Morpeth, nestled in the southern tip of Northumberland, can also claim to be leading the way on Covid vaccines.

More than 90% of adults in the market town have received maximum protection against the virus – the highest of anywhere its size in England – while Northumberland has the highest proportion of fully vaccinated residents in the country.

It means vulnerable people in Morpeth will be among the first in line when the NHS begins rolling out booster jabs next week, in a move announced by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, on Tuesday.

David Bawn, the Conservative mayor of Morpeth town council, said he was certain the boosters would be taken up as eagerly.

“We’re very sensible here,” he said on a bustling day of trade near the town’s medieval clock tower. “We do weigh things up but we do realise how important it is to get on with normality.”

Updated at 6.40pm BST

Turkey cases highest since May

The 27,802 new cases reported by Turkey are the highest since 4 May, according to health ministry data.

It also recorded near-record daily deaths of 276. Deaths have risen sharply since mid-July, not long after it removed many of its coronavirus measures.

Health minister Fahrettin Koca urged people to get vaccinated. Turkey has given at least one jab to 83% of the population, according to the Anadolu Agency news wire.

Updated at 6.41pm BST

Read Entire Article