Covid-19 has infected more than 232M people and has killed at least 4.7M. Here are virus-related developments for September 27:

In this file photo the Pfizer logo is seen at the Pfizer Inc headquarters on December 9, 2020 in New York City.
In this file photo the Pfizer logo is seen at the Pfizer Inc headquarters on December 9, 2020 in New York City. (AFP)

Monday, September 27, 2021

Pfizer begins large trial to test its anti-virus pill

Pfizer has said it had begun a middle-to-late stage clinical trial of a pill to stave off Covid in people who are exposed to infection.

Several companies are working on so-called oral antivirals, which would mimic what the drug Tamiflu does for influenza and prevent the disease from progressing to severe.

"We believe that tackling the virus will require effective treatments for people who contract, or have been exposed to, the virus, complementing the impact that vaccines have had," said Mikael Dolsten, the company's chief scientific officer.

Pfizer started developing its drug, called PF-07321332, in March 2020 and is testing it in combination with ritonavir, a repurposed HIV medicine.

Biden to get booster shot on Monday - White House

US President Joe Biden will receive his booster shot later on Monday, the White House has said in a statement.

Biden will also deliver remarks when he gets the shot at 1700 GMT, it added.

EU reviews data on Moderna's booster shot

The European Union's drug regulator has said it was evaluating whether a booster dose of Moderna's vaccine could be given at least six months after the second shot of the two-dose course in people over 12 years of age.

The review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after its statement last week that it aims to decide in early October whether to endorse a booster for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, nearly a month after it started the evaluation process.

While European authorities have ye t to approve any booster shots unlike their US counterpart, surging cases and breakthrough infections may prompt them to take additional precautionary measures.

"Although EMA and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) do not consider the need for Covid-19 vaccine booster doses to be urgent in the general population, EMA is evaluating the present application to ensure evidence is available to support further doses as necessary," the EU regulator said.

Jordan's crown prince tests positive

Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein has tested positive and his parents King Abdullah and Queen Rania, who tested negative, will protectively self-isolate for five days, the palace has said.

"His Highness Prince Hussein, who had received the vaccine against the coronavirus, showed mild symptoms and is in very good health," the Royal Court said in a statement.

The 27-year-old prince has in the last year increased his public appearances and is seen regularly at most of the important meetings King Abdullah that attends with local and foreign dignitaries.

King Abdullah and Queen Rania will be subject to a precautionary home quarantine for a period of five days. The results of their tests came back negative.

UK records 37,960 new cases, 40 more deaths

Britain reported 37,960 new cases and 40 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data has shown.

The figures compared to 32,417 cases recorded on Sunday and 58 deaths.

New Austrian anti-lockdown party seeking more seats after election coup

A new Austrian political party that opposes lockdowns, compulsory mask-wearing and other restrictions has hoped to spread across the country after surprisingly securing seats in one of Austria's nine provincial parliaments.

People Freedom Fundamental Rights (MFG), a newly created party that campaigned online and with a tour of bars and restaurants, stunned many observers by securing 6.2% of the vote in Upper Austria's election on Sunday, above the 4% threshold required to enter the provincial parliament.

Italy reports 45 deaths, 1,772 new cases

Italy reported 45 virus-related deaths against 44 the day before, the health ministry has said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 1,772 from 3,099.

Italy has registered 130,742 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the ninth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.66 million cases to date.

Virus patients in hospital, not including those in intensive care, stood at 3,487 on Monday, up from 3,435 a day earlier.

There were 29 new admissions to intensive care units, up from 22 on Sunday. The total number of intensive care patients increased to 488 from a previous 483.

Some 124,077 tests were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 276,221, the health ministry said.

Japan to lift state of emergency in all regions

Japan plans to lift its state of emergency, which covers 19 prefectures, in all of the regions at the end of September, broadcaster NHK has reported.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he discussed easing measures with relevant ministers on Monday, and would seek the views of a government panel of advisers on Tuesday.

"We will make a final decision on the matter based on the advice and discussions we have with the government expert panel tomorrow," he told reporters on Monday evening.

If approved, Japan would be free of such emergency restrictions for the first time in nearly six months.

Vietnam epicentre may have 40% more unrecorded cases - report

Authorities in Vietnam's biggest city are urging the government to recognise positive rapid tests to present a clearer picture of its outbreak, state media has reported, a move that could increase the city's case total by 40%.

Ho Chi Minh City, home to about 9 million people, has borne the brunt of Vietnam's virus crisis, accounting for 80% of its more than 18,500 deaths and half of its 756,000 cases.

Positive rapid tests of 150,000 people in the city since August 20 have not been included in the overall tally, Tuoi Tre newspaper said, citing the deputy head of the city's health department, Nguyen Huu Hung.

South Korea to vaccinate 12 to 17-year-olds

South Korea has said it would begin inoculations next month for children aged 12 to 17 and offer vaccine booster shots to those 75 years and above as the country starts to transition to normalcy by the end of October.

Thailand to seek combined 3.35M doses from Spain, Hungary

Thailand's virus task force approved a plan to procure a combined 3.35M vaccine doses. 

Should Cabinet grant final approval, 165,000 AstraZeneca doses and 2.79 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses would be procured from Spain and 400,000 AstraZeneca doses from Hungary, the spokesperson said. No timeframe for delivery was provided.

Study says pandemic cut life expectancy by most since WW2

The pandemic has reduced life expectancy in 2020 by the largest amount since World War Two, according to a study published by Oxford University, with the life expectancy of American men dropping by more than two years.

There were greater drops in life expectancy for men than women in most countries, with reductions in life expectancy in 27 of the 29 countries overall.

Thailand to further ease restrictions

Thailand will further ease its restrictions later this week, the country's task force has said.

From October 1, some more businesses, which include spas and cinemas, will be allowed to reopen in 29 "dark red" provinces listed under maximum control, including the capital Bangkok, the task force said.

New Zealand to begin letting people isolate at home

New Zealand is to begin allowing small numbers of vaccinated travellers to isolate at home instead of in state-run quarantine facilities as part of a phased approach to reopening its borders, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

The pilot project starting next month will be open to 150 people, who must be New Zealand citizens or residents and are fully vaccinated, Ardern said at a news conference.

Russia, Vietnam reach agreement on Sputnik V supplies

The Russian Direct Investment Fund and Vietnamese T&T group have reached an agreement on Sputnik-V vaccine supplies to Hanoi, the RIA news agency has reported, citing Vietnamese ambassador to Moscow Dang Minh Khoi.

The Southeast Asian country has already produced a first test batch of Russia's flagship vaccine. 

Vietnam previously said it would receive 20 million doses from Russia this year.

Sydney set to unveil freedom roadmap as more curbs eased

Australia's New South Wales (NSW) government has planned to unveil its roadmap for reopening the state from shutdowns, detailing the differing levels of freedoms to be afforded to citizens based on their vaccination status.

With 60 percent of people aged 16 and over fully inoculated – above the national average of 52 percent – officials expect to reach their 80 percent target around the end of October, based on current vaccination rates.

"You will be surprised at what will be announced," Deputy Premier John Barilaro told 2GB radio.

China reports 35 more cases

China has reported 35 new confirmed virus cases in the mainland for September 26, compared with 29 a day earlier, according to the National Health Commission.

Of the new infections, 13 were locally transmitted, the health authority said. That compared with nine local cases a day earlier.

Eleven of the new local cases were found in Harbin, the capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province, while two were reported in the city of Xiamen in southeastern Fujian province.

Mexico's death toll rises to 275,446

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 3,988 new confirmed cases of the virus in the country and 147 additional deaths, bringing the total number of official infections since the pandemic began to 3,632,800 and the death toll to 275,446.

Health Ministry officials have previously said the real virus numbers are likely significantly higher.

Brazil logs 8,668 cases

Brazil has registered 8,668 new virus cases and 243 new deaths, the Health Ministry said.

Its pandemic death toll has now reached 594,443.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies