Covid-19 has infected more than 236M people and killed over 4.8M globally. Here are the virus-related developments for October 6:
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Sweden, Denmark pause Moderna vaccine
Sweden and Denmark said they are pausing the use of Moderna's vaccine for younger age groups after reports of possible rare side effects.
The Swedish health agency said it would pause using the shot for people born in 1991 and later as data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults that had been vaccinated.
Those conditions involve an inflammation of the heart or its lining.
"The connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna's vaccine Spikevax, especially after the second dose," the health agency said, adding the risk of being affected was very small.
Denmark said that, while it used the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as its main option for people aged 12-17 years, it had decided to pause giving the Moderna vaccine to people below 18 according to a "precautionary principle".
US to jack up at-home rapid tests
US is on pace to have about 200 million at-home COVID-19 rapid tests available per month beginning in December, about four times more than earlier this year.
The White House says the supply boost is the result of a new $1 billion federal investment, on top of the $2 billion committed to increasing the availability of the convenient diagnostic tests in September.
It’s also due to the Food and Drug Administration’s authorisation of a new test from ACON labs this week.
More than 18 months into the pandemic, the US trails other nations in supplies of at-home tests, which are widely used overseas as part of regular testing programs to catch asymptomatic infections.
Turkey registers 30,438 new cases
Turkey logged 30,438 new cases, the highest number of daily infections since April 30, health ministry data showed.
Turkey recorded 236 deaths from the virus in the same period.
Italy on mRNA jab's effectiveness
Seven months after the second dose, there is no reduction in the efficacy of mRNA vaccines in the general population in Italy, while a slight decline is seen for some specific groups, the National Health Institute (ISS) said.
The report led by ISS and the health ministry examined data up to August 29 from more than 29 million people who had received two doses of an mRNA vaccine such as those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
It said that in the general population, effectiveness against infection after seven months remained at 89 percent, while against hospitalisation and death, this time six months after the second dose, it remained at 96 percent and 99 percent respectively.
Canada goes after unvaccinated workers
Canada's federal employees who are not fully vaccinated and are not exempt from getting the shots will be put on administrative leave without pay, officials said, while domestic air, train and cruise ship travelers and workers will soon have to show proof of vaccination.
Federal employees will be required to show proof of vaccination through an online portal by October 29. Workers and travelers on trains, planes and cruise ships operating domestically must show they have been inoculated by October 30.
The introduction of these vaccine mandates was a cornerstone pledge by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his campaign for re-election.
Canada's vaccine policy will be one of the strictest in the world.
In Lithuania, reward for old people to take the shot
The Lithuanian government has proposed to pay 100 euros to people aged 75 or more to take vaccine, to boost the inoculation rate for the group, which lags in the European Union.
"We are unable to convince them to vaccinate otherwise", Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said during a televised government meeting.
Although 73 percent of all Lithuanian adults are vaccinated, in line with the EU average, about a third of over-75s remain unvaccinated, according to government data, one of the worst in EU.
Two-thirds of the 4,965 deaths in the country have been in this age group.
If parliament approves the scheme next week, the government will spend up to 27 million euros to pay over-75s who got their full vaccination between September and November.
The already vaccinated will get the payout if they take a booster shot until end of March next year.
Kazakhstan to buy 4M doses of Pfizer vaccine
Kazakhstan has signed a deal to buy about 4 million doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, healthcare minister Alexei Tsoi said.
The Central Asian nation's government has said it will offer the Pfizer shots, at least initially, only to children aged 12 and older, and to pregnant women.
South Korea secures 20,000 courses of Merck's pill
South Korea has secured 20,000 courses of an experimental antiviral pill developed by Merck & Co for Covid-19 treatment, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, joining other Asian nations rushing to snap up supplies.
Russia reports record daily death toll
Russia has reported 929 coronavirus-related deaths, the largest single-day death toll it has recorded since the pandemic began.
The government coronavirus task force also said it had recorded 25,133 new cases in the last 24 hours, a slight increase from a day earlier.
Czech Republic's daily count of new cases rises above 1,000
The Czech Republic has reported more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases in one day for first the time since May 18, data from the health ministry showed.
On October 5, tests identified 1,108 new cases in the country of 10.7 million, the figures showed.
Czechs go to polls on October 8-9 to choose new deputies in the lower chamber of parliament.
Poland's daily cases up by 70 percent past in week
Poland's daily Covid-19 cases have risen by around 70 percent in the past week to over 2,000, a government official said, warning the country that a fourth wave of the outbreak is gathering pace.
Poland's health service was stretched to its limits in the spring by a third wave of the pandemic that saw daily cases exceed 35,000, but authorities believe vaccinations will help control the number of infections this autumn.
"Today's data is a very fast flashing red light," Waldemar Kraska, a deputy health minister, told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1, adding that there were 2,085 cases reported.
"This is the last moment when we should get vaccinated, because the fourth wave is definitely accelerating, and in those regions where the number of vaccinated people is the lowest."
Australian firm recalls US tests over false positives
Australian medical tech manufacturer Ellume has said that it had recalled almost 200,000 at-home Covid-19 tests in the United States over an increased chance of false positives.
Ellume's rapid at-home coronavirus test last year became the first to receive emergency use authorisation in the US.
The US Food and Drug Administration issued an alert Tuesday over the "potential for false-positive results with certain lots of the Ellume Covid-19 Home Test, due to a recently identified manufacturing issue".
Merck says deal signed with Singapore on antiviral pill
Merck has announced a supply and purchase agreement that will provide Singapore with access to its experimental oral Covid-19 antiviral drug, the latest Asian country to try to snap up supplies.
Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus and would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19. Merck is seeking approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the pill.
Singapore's health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the Merck agreement.
Australia has also bought the Merck pill, while Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia have been in talks to buy it. The Philippines hopes its trial of the pill would allow it access.
The rush to order the drug comes after data from interim clinical trials released on Friday indicated it could reduce by about 50 percent the likelihood of hospitalisation or death for patients at risk of severe disease from Covid-19.
South Korea to vaccinate pregnant women
South Korea will begin taking reservations for coronavirus vaccines from pregnant women this week as the country accelerates its inoculation drive to reach its goal for immunizing 80 percent of all adults by the end of the month.
Health authorities see pregnant mothers as key to the campaign and sought to drum up participation through public notices and news conferences saying they have a greater possibility of serious illness and death if infected with Covid-19.
Pregnant women are eligible to sign up for a shot starting Friday, for inoculation set to begin on October 18 using Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Nicaragua to get 7 million doses of Cuban vaccine
Nicaragua has said that it will get 7 million doses of Cuban coronavirus vaccines over the next three months.
Vice President Rosario Murillo did not say whether Cuba is donating or selling the vaccines to Nicaragua.
Murillo, the wife of President Daniel Ortega, said the Cuban vaccines will be used to vaccinate children and youths between the ages of 2 and 17.
Murillo told local media the first 1.2 million doses of Cuba’s Abdala, Soberana and Soberana 2 vaccines should arrive in the third week of October, with another 3 million coming in November.
US cathedral bells ring 700 times to mark 700,000 Covid deaths
The bells of Washington DC's National Cathedral rang out 700 times to commemorate the approximately 700,000 Americans who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.
As the bells tolled out the grim milestone in a pandemic that has killed over 4.8 million people worldwide since the start of the outbreak in March 2020, several people stood in silence in the cathedral courtyard to commemorate the dead.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 702,360 Americans had died as a result of Covid-19 as of October 4.
In June, the National Cathedral bells were rung 600 times to mark the previous milestone of 600,000 US deaths.
Mexico reports 7,682 new cases, 790 more deaths
Mexico's health ministry has reported 7,682 new cases of Covid-19 in the country and 790 more deaths, bringing the overall number of infections since the pandemic began to 3,691,924 and the death toll to 279,894.
It has previously said that these numbers are likely significantly higher than those reported.
Brazil registers 677 new deaths
Brazil registered 20,528 new cases of the coronavirus and 677 Covid-19 deaths, according to data released by the Health Ministry.
In total, Brazil has suffered 598,829 deaths due to Covid-19 – the world's second-highest toll after the United States.
New Zealand records 39 new cases; one death
New Zealand said that one person has died of the virus in an Auckland hospital, and 39 new cases were recorded.
The majority of the cases are in the biggest city Auckland but more infections are now being reported in the Waikato region, health authorities said.
The new cases take the total number in the current outbreak to 1,420.
Australia's Victoria reports easing in new Covid-19 infections
New daily virus cases in Australia's Victoria state fell on Wednesday but were not far off record levels as authorities look to start easing tough restrictions when vaccination rates increase.
A total of 1,420 new locally acquired cases were reported in Victoria, most of them in state capital Melbourne, down from a record 1,763 on Tuesday. Eleven new deaths were registered, the state's highest daily number in the current outbreak.
Melbourne has been in lockdown since August 5 as Australia grapples with the third wave of infections fuelled by the fast-moving Delta variant that has also put millions in Sydney, its largest city, and the capital Canberra, under strict stay-home rules.
Most other states have zero or low cases.