Coronavirus has claimed lives of more than 3.8M people and infected over 177M globally. Here are the latest Covid-related developments for June 15:

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on May 5, 2021.
European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on May 5, 2021. (Reuters)

Tuesday, June 15:

EU raises first $24 billion on markets for Covid recovery

The EU has said it had raised its first $24 billion (20 billion euros) on the markets for its mammoth recovery fund to help the bloc bounce back from the pandemic.

"Today we have successfully conducted the first issuance operation for Next Generation EU. The commission has just raised 20 billion euros on the capital markets by issuing a 10-year bond," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

New York lifts curbs as 70 percent of adults get at least one vaccine dose

More than 70 percent of adults in New York have received at least one dose of the vaccine, meaning the last of the state's restrictions can now be lifted, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.

"We have hit 70 percent vaccination. It is the national goal, and we hit it ahead of schedule. What does 70 percent mean? It means that we can now return to life as we know," Cuomo said of his state, which was the early epicenter of the US outbreak.

Turkey administers single day record of more than one million vaccines

Turkey has administered over 35 million doses of vaccines, including more than one million jabs in a day, since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in mid-January, the health minister announced.

"As of now, we have reached 35 million doses of vaccine (administered)," Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

More than 21.69 million people have received their first doses, while 13.91 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry data.

Meanwhile, the country reported 5,955 new cases, bringing the total cases to 5.34 million, and 84 more fatalities, bringing the death toll to 48,879.

899 people got expired vaccine doses at Times Square site

Nearly 900 people have received expired vaccine doses at a vaccination site in Times Square this month, health officials said.

The 899 people who received doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the former NFL Experience building in Times Square between June 5 and June 10 should schedule another Pfizer shot as soon as possible, the New York City Health Department said.

ATC Vaccination Services, the company that administered the shots under contract to the city, said in a statement, “We apologise for the inconvenience to those receiving the vaccine batch in question and want people first and foremost to know that we have been advised that there is no danger from the vaccine they received."

Nigeria to reopen vaccination for first shots

Nigeria is expecting a second shipment of nearly 4 million doses of vaccines by early August, and has plans to resume giving out first doses, which had been halted to save its supply for second doses.

Africa's most population has so far given a first dose to only around 2 million of its 200 million people. Fewer than 700,000 having received a second dose.

Uganda cracks down on revellers defying rules

Police officers in Kampala have detained several people who had gathered at a bar in violation of a nightly curfew.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the suspects were found drinking at the establishment at 10 pm local, three hours after the beginning of the curfew.

The ongoing crackdown comes as Uganda battles a new uptick in cases.

Italy reports over 1,200 new cases

Italy has reported 63 deaths against 36 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 1,255 from 907.

Italy has registered 127,101 deaths 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 4.25 million cases to date.

UK records over 7,600 cases

Britain has reported 10 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test and a further 7,673 cases of the virus, official government data showed.

That compared to 3 deaths and 7,742 cases reported a day earlier.

Unitaid signs deals for Covid-19 oxygen

Unitaid has announced it had struck deals with two of the world's main medical oxygen producers to boost access to badly needed supplies in poor countries fighting the pandemic.

The international organisation, which works on innovations to prevent, diagnose and treat major diseases in poorer countries, said it had signed agreements with Air Liquide and Linde.

Oxygen is vital in saving the lives of hospitalised patients, but the crisis has seen drastic shortages around the world.

Slovenia declares end of state of emergency

Slovenia has allowed a state of emergency declared over the pandemic to expire after eight months, lifting most remaining restrictions, the Health Ministry said.

Cultural and sports events will be able to reopen at 75 percent capacity for people who can demonstrate they have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from a previous infection.

Some protection measures will remain in force, such as the requirement to wear face masks indoors in public and maintain a safe distance from others, said the state secretary in the Health Ministry, Franc Vindisar.

First international cruise ship docks in Spain after ban lifted

An international cruise ship carrying German tourists has docked in Malaga, southern Spain, the first such arrival in more than a year, officials said.

On June 7, Spain's Transport Ministry lifted a ban on international cruise ships that had been imposed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

The ban was lifted after the virus began to ease in Europe, where most cruise passengers come from, and also owing to rising vaccination numbers.

France opens jabs to over-12s in herd immunity drive

France has expanded its inoculation drive to children aged 12 and over in a bid to achieve herd immunity and slow the spread of variants, including the Delta strain behind a surge of cases in the United Kingdom.

The jabs are not compulsory for children and have no bearing on whether they can attend school or go on holiday in France.

Study: Virus in US by December 2019

A new analysis of blood samples from 24,000 Americans taken in early 2020 is the latest and largest study to suggest the coronavirus arrived in the US in December 2019.

That’s weeks before cases were first recognised by health officials. The analysis is not definitive, and some experts remain skeptical. 

But federal health officials are increasingly accepting a timeline in which small numbers of infections may have occurred in the US before the world became aware of a dangerous new virus erupting in China.

The study was published online by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Russia reports 379 deaths

Russia has reported 14,185 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, including 6,805 in Moscow, close to the highest nationwide tally for months.

The government coronavirus task force also confirmed 379 coronavirus-related deaths, pushing the death toll to 127,180. The federal statistics agency has kept a separate tally and has said that Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths related to Covid-19 from the beginning of the pandemic to the end of April.

Several Russian regions tightened coronavirus restrictions and said they were increasing hospital capacity for an influx of patients.

The local government in the far eastern region of Primorye said two hospitals would open in coming  days in the cities of Ussuriysk and Vladivostok, and that they had created hundreds of new beds since April to treat patients.

The Kremlin said it was not satisfied by the slow rate of vaccinations in Russia and that it saw inoculations as the only way to beat the coronavirus pandemic.

Turkey administers over 35M vaccine shots to date

Turkey has administered over 35 million doses of coronavirus vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in mid-January, the health minister announced.

"As of now, we have reached 35 million doses of vaccine (administered)," Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

More than 21.16 million people have received their first doses, while 13.85 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry data.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 652

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 652 to 3,716,170, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 93 to 89,937, the tally showed. 

Israel no longer requires masks indoors

Israel is no longer requiring masks indoors, lifting one of its last coronavirus restrictions following a highly successful vaccination campaign.

The restriction was lifted, though people will still be required to wear masks on airplanes and on their way to quarantine. Unvaccinated individuals must wear masks in nursing homes and other long-term health facilities.

Israel has vaccinated around 85 percent of its adult population, allowing schools and businesses to fully reopen. There are only a few dozen active patients in the country of more than 9 million.

Authorities have been cautious about welcoming visitors, however, because of concerns over new variants.

Malaysia grants conditional approval for CanSino, J&J Covid-19 vaccines

Malaysia has granted conditional approval for emergency use of the single-dose Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by China's CanSino Biologics and US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, the government said.

The Southeast Asian country has been ramping up its vaccination programme, amid a fresh round of lockdowns imposed this month to curb a surge in coronavirus infections.

Malaysia would obtain Johnson & Johnson's vaccines via the global Covax facility backed by the World Health Organization, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

It did not say how many doses it would procure via Covax.

The government has said previously it had secured 3.5 million doses of CanSino's shot, though it has yet to receive any shipments of the vaccine.

EU carries out 300M vaccinations

The European Union has passed the 300 million vaccinations threshold, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

"We have passed 300 million vaccinations in the EU. Every day, we get closer to our goal: to have enough doses delivered to vaccinate 70% of adults in the EU next month," von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter account.

Brazil reports 39,846 cases, 827 deaths in 24 hours

Brazil has had 39,846 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 827 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said, reflecting lower weekend reporting.

The South American country has now registered 17,452,612 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 488,228, according to ministry data, in the world's third worst outbreak outside the United States and India and its second-deadliest.

US, Canada set to discuss lifting of border restrictions

US and Canadian officials are set to meet to discuss how to eventually lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries, but no immediate action is expected, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters news agency.

US and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel at land borders because of Covid-19 that was imposed in March 2020 and has been renewed on a monthly basis since. 

The measures, which also apply to the US-Mexico border, do not affect trade or other essential travel.

The current restrictions are set to expire June 21, but US and industry officials expect they will be extended again.

Reuters reported on June 8 the Biden administration was forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions.

Outgoing UN aid chief slams G7 for failing on vaccine plan

Outgoing UN aid chief Mark Lowcock has slammed the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Monday for failing to come up with a plan to vaccinate the world against Covid-19, describing the G7 pledge to provide 1 billion doses over the next year as a "small step."

"These sporadic, small-scale, charitable handouts from rich countries to poor countries is not a serious plan and it will not bring the pandemic to an end," Lowcock, who steps down on Friday, told Reuters. 

"The G7, essentially, completely failed to show the necessary urgency."

The leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada met in Cornwall, England over the weekend and also agreed to work with the private sector, the Group of 20 industrialised nations and other countries to increase the vaccine contribution over months to come.

Chile faces setback to reopening as coronavirus cases soar

Chilean health authorities have said they would extend a coronavirus emergency through September to allow the government to impose restrictions, a setback in a country that has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

The announcement comes as cases have soared in Chile to some of their highest levels since the pandemic began, despite 61% of citizens receiving at least one vaccine dose and 48% being fully vaccinated.

Authorities last week locked down the capital Santiago - the country's economic engine - to ease the burden on hospitals, most of which are at or near capacity.

"The health alert that lasts until June 30 will be extended for three months until September 30," health undersecretary Paula Daza told reporters, noting that many of the country's youth and young adults - the last groups to be vaccinated - are driving the spike in contagions.

Delta variant doubles risk of virus hospitalisation – study

The Delta coronavirus variant doubles the risk of hospitalisation compared with the previously dominant variant in Britain, but two doses of vaccine still provide strong protection, a Scottish study found on Monday.

The study said early evidence suggested the protection from vaccines against the Delta variant, first identified in India, might be lower than the effectiveness against the Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, southeast England.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to delay the ending of virus restrictions in England on Monday, following a rapid rise in cases of the Delta variant, which is also more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

The study, published in a research letter in the Lancet, looked at 19,543 community cases and 377 hospitalisations among 5.4 million people in Scotland, 7,723 cases and 134 hospitalisations of which were found to have the Delta variant.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies