Covid-19 pandemic has infected more than 172 million people and claimed at least 3.5 million lives across the world. Here are the updates for June 2.

Workers load boxes of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, part of the the Covax programme, which aims to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccinations, into a truck after they arrived by plane at the Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on May 8, 2021.
Workers load boxes of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, part of the the Covax programme, which aims to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccinations, into a truck after they arrived by plane at the Ivato International Airport in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on May 8, 2021. (AFP)

Wednesday, June 2

GAVI summit secures $2.4B for vaccine shots

Dozens of countries have pledged nearly $2.4 billion to the COVAX vaccine-sharing plan to widen availability of shots to people in poorer nations who have so far come up short.

The announcements, ranging from $2,500 from island nation Mauritius to millions of dollars and doses from larger, wealthier countries, came during a video summit hosted by Japan and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, which leads the COVAX facility alongside the World Health Organization.

Turkey reports over 7,000 new cases

Turkey has confirmed 7,181 new cases, including 586 symptomatic patients, across the country in the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.

Turkey's overall case tally is now over 5.26 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 47,768 with 112 new fatalities.

Italy reports over 2,800 new cases

Italy has reported 62 deaths against 93 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 2,897 from 2,483.

Italy has registered 126,283 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eight-highest in the world. 

The country has reported 4.22 million cases to date.

UK reports over 4,300 more infections

Britain has reported a further 4,330 cases and 12 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.

The total number of people to have received the first dose of a vaccine stood at 39,585,665, the figures showed. 

Japan gives $800M to UN-backed vaccine program

Japan's prime minister has announced an additional $800 million contribution to the UN-backed initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries, a four-fold increase of Japanese funding for the COVAX program.

The pledge by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga comes as his government attempts to accelerate vaccinations in Japan, one of the world’s least inoculated countries, only about 50 days before it hosts the Olympics amid a continuing surge in infections.

UN: Pandemic plunges 100M more workers into poverty

The pandemic has pushed over 100 million more workers into poverty, the UN has said, after working hours plummeted and access to good quality jobs evaporated.

In a report, the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO) cautioned that the labour market crisis created by the pandemic was far from over, with employment not expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest.

Burkina Faso launches vaccination programme

Burkina Faso has launched its vaccination drive, first offering the jab to the vulnerable, health workers and others in the frontline of the battle against the pandemic.

Around 200 doctors, nurses and other medical staff received the first jabs at a medical site in the south of the capital Ouagadougou.

Health Minister Charlemagne Ouedraogo, Sports Minister Andre Nana and Armand Roland Pierre Beouinde, mayor of the capital Ouagadougou, also received the AstraZeneca vaccine, encouraging others to be "vaccinated without any danger."

AstraZeneca commits to 1.8M Thai doses amid supply anxiety

Drugmaker AstraZeneca has said it would soon provide Thailand with 1.8 million doses of locally manufactured vaccine, the first of multiple batches this month, just days away from the launch of the country's vaccination drive.

The joint announcement by AstraZeneca and Siam Bioscience, a firm owned by Thailand's king, comes amid public anxiety about vaccine supplies, as the country suffers its most severe outbreak so far.

Singapore grants Sinovac vaccine special access

Singapore will allow usage of the vaccine of China's Sinovac Biotech under its special access route, the city-state has said on Wednesday, following its approval by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Singapore had this week said it would allow private healthcare providers to access vaccines not approved by Singapore but on the WHO's emergency use listing. 

Vietnam to buy 20M doses of Sputnik V vaccine this year

Vietnam's health minister has said that Russia had agreed to provide it with 20 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V this year, as the Southeast Asian country races to secure supplies to expedite mass inoculations.

Vietnam approved the Russian vaccine in March but has stepped up its procurement push after being hit by its biggest outbreak so far, although its overall cases and fatality numbers remain relatively low.

Malaysia reports record 126 deaths

Malaysia has reported 126 deaths, the highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic.

The Southeast Asian nation is seeing a surge in cases, partly due to more infectious variants, and has imposed stricter lockdown measures that have shut down non-essential businesses.

India reports 132,788 new Covid-19 infections

India has reported a daily rise in new coronavirus infections of 132,788 cases over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,207.

The South Asian nation's tally of infections now stands at 28.3 million, while the death toll has reached 335,102, health ministry data showed.

Russia's CoviVac more than 80% effective 

Russia's third vaccine against Covid-19, CoviVac, is more than 80% effective according to preliminary data, the Interfax news agency has cited the vaccine's developer.

The Chumakov Centre could produce six times more than the previously planned 10 million doses of the vaccine a year, Interfax added.

Meanwhile, Russia reported 8,832 new cases, including 2,842 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 5,090,249.

The government coronavirus task force said 394 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 122,267.

Moderna plans mix of Covid-19 vaccine doses with new Lonza deal

Moderna is gearing up to halve the dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, the US drugmaker has said, so that it can also be used to combat variants and inoculate children.

It has agreed a deal with Swiss-based drugmaker Lonza which said a new drug substance production line in Geleen, Netherlands, will have capacity to make ingredients for up to 300 million doses annually at 50 micrograms per dose.

"We're assuming that as of 2022, we are going to have a mix of dose levels on the market," a spokeswoman for Moderna said, following the announcement of Lonza's new production.

Taiwan unveils mass vaccination plan

Taiwan has reported a rise in domestic coronavirus infections after six days of falls, and unveiled details of a mass vaccination plan that aims to eventually cover 1.7 million people a week.

After months of relative safety, Taiwan is battling a spike in community infections, placing curbs on gatherings and ordering entertainment venues closed, while urging people to stay at home as much as possible.

Announcing 549 new infections, including 177 added to recent days' tallies in reflection of delays in reporting positive tests, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said the trend was stable, although it was not falling.

Cases rose rapidly in the past 24 hours in the capital, Taipei, and a neighbouring city, where infections are heavily concentrated, he added.

"It looks like it's not falling, and is sometimes still going up," Chen said. "As much as possible don't go out and wear a mask."

Wednesday's infections were up from Tuesday's figure of 327 domestic cases.

Malaysia reports 7,703 new coronavirus cases

Malaysia has reported 7,703 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total number of infections to 587,165.

Malaysia is seeing a surge in Covid-19 infections, though cases have dipped since hitting a record on Saturday.

GAVI in talks with China's Sinovax to expand COVAX supply

The GAVI vaccine alliance is in talks with Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotch to expand the COVAX dose-sharing portfolio available to poor countries following the World Health Organization's approval of its Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, a GAVI spokesperson said.

"Gavi, on behalf of the COVAX Facility, is in dialogue with several manufacturers, including Sinovac, to expand and diversify the portfolio further and secure access to additional doses for Facility participants," she said.

Poland to raise limit for guests at weddings as cases fall

Poland will raise the limit for the number of guests at large gatherings such as weddings to 150 from 50 starting June 6, the health minister said, as the country eases Covid-19 restrictions further due to a falling number of cases.

People who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus will not be counted as part of this limit, Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.

Mexico boosts confirmed death toll by 4,272 to 227,840

Mexico announced Tuesday that a clinical review of past deaths has led officials to raise the country’s confirmed Covid-19 death toll by 4,272, to a total of 227,840. 

The adjustment was carried out by teams of doctors and is largely one of record keeping, because even government officials acknowledge Mexico's true pandemic death toll is far, far higher. 

Because the country of 126 million people does so little testing, many Mexicans have died at home or never got a test. 

So the government performs two kinds of adjustments, one by teams of doctors reviewing case files and another computerised search of death certificates for mentions of symptoms related to Covid-19. 

With a Covid-19 death toll of 350,088, Mexico now has of the highest per capita rates in the world.

Recession and violence among Covid-19 side effects in Africa, report finds

Much of Africa may have been spared the death toll that Covid-19 brought to other regions, but it now faces recession, growing violence and higher unempoyment because of the pandemic, a report said.

Africa was the only continent where incidents of violence rose over the course of the pandemic. Mob violence rose by 78%, while more than 90 people were killed by security forces implementing lockdown restrictions, the report said.

Vietnam to resume incoming international flights to its capital 

Vietnam will resume incoming international flights to its capital Hanoi and business hub Ho Chi Minh City effective immediately, after a few days of suspension due to Covid-19, its aviation authority said.

The country initially banned incoming international flights to Hanoi's Noi Bai airport for a week starting Monday and to Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat airport until June 14.

The aviation authority did not say why it was resuming flights earlier than planned.

US to detail plan for global distribution of 80 mln vaccine doses

The United States will announce in the next two weeks how it will sell and distribute 80 million Covid-19 vaccine doses it has pledged globally, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The Biden administration has been under pressure to share vaccines to help curb worsening outbreaks from India to Brazil, where health experts fear new, more contagious coronavirus variants could undermine the effectiveness of available shots. 

In addition to aiding struggling nations combat the worst of the pandemic, the pledge is also an attempt to counter Russian and Chinese vaccine diplomacy. 

Israel sees probable link between Pfizer vaccine and myocarditis cases

Israel's Health Ministry has said it found the small number of heart inflammation cases observed mainly in young men who received Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine in Israel were likely linked to their vaccination.

Pfizer has said it has not observed a higher rate of the condition, known as myocarditis, than would normally be expected in the general population.

In Israel, 275 cases of myocarditis were reported between December 2020 and May 2021 among more than 5 million vaccinated people, the ministry said in disclosing the findings of a study it commissioned to examine the matter.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies