Covid-19 has killed more than 3.2M people and infected over 154M others globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for May 5:

A medical worker holds a dose of the Sinovac vaccine at a district health facility in Jakarta on January 14, 2021.
A medical worker holds a dose of the Sinovac vaccine at a district health facility in Jakarta on January 14, 2021. (Reuters)

Wednesday, May 5:

WHO: Sinovac vaccine effective but some data lacking

The vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech is efficacious in preventing Covid-19 in adults under 60, but some quality data on the risk of serious adverse effects is lacking, World Health Organization experts have found.

The independent experts on the WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) reviewed Sinovac's CoronaVac jab from phase 3 clinical trials in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and Chile.

The assessment came shortly after WHO SAGE experts had voiced "very low confidence" in data provided by Chine se state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm on its vaccine regarding the risk of serious side-effects in some patients, but overall confidence in its ability to prevent the disease, a document seen by Reuters showed.

Turkey sees 356 more deaths

Turkey has reported over 26,000 new coronavirus cases, according to Health Ministry data. 

A total of 26,476 cases, including 2,414 symptomatic patients, were confirmed across the country, the data showed. 

Turkey's overall case tally is over 4.95 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 41,883, with 356 fatalities over the past day. 

Italy reports over 10,500 new cases

Italy has reported 267 additional deaths against 305 the day before, the Health Ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 10,585 from 9,116.

Italy has registered 122,005 deaths since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. 

The country has reported 4.07 million cases to date.

UK reports over 2,000 new cases

Britain has reported a further 2,144 cases and an additional 27 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.

The total number of people to have received a first vaccine dose now stands at 34,795,074.

Egypt to close stores, restaurants early for 2 weeks 

The closing hours of Egyptian stores, malls and restaurants have been brought forward to 1900GMT to help contain the virus for two weeks from Thursday, straddling the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Eid celebrations, the prime minister said.

Large gatherings and concerts will be banned over the same period and beaches and parks will be shut between May 12-16, Mostafa Madbouly said.

Italy travel pass will also be valid for tourists from outside EU

Italy's tourism minister has said the pass that the country will introduce from the middle of May for travellers clear of the virus will be valid also for arrivals from outside the European Union.

"This will be for everybody, especially for tourists from outside the EU," Massimo Garavaglia told SkyTg24.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said an EU travel pass will be introduced in the middle of June, allowing easy travel across the continent for those who have been vaccinated or just tested negative, or could prove they had recently recovered from the virus.

WHO to set up pandemic data hub in Berlin

The World Health Organization has announced it would set up a global data hub in Berlin to analyse information on emerging pandemic threats, filling the gaps exposed by the virus

The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, which will start operating later this year, is set to analyse data quickly and in detail, in order to predict, prevent, detect, prepare for and respond to risks worldwide.

The hub will try to get ahead of the game, looking for pre-signals that go far beyond current systems that monitor publicly available information for signs of emerging outbreaks.

Canada authorises Pfizer vaccine for kids age 12 and up

Canada has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children aged 12 years and up, becoming the first nation to do so.

"This is the first vaccine authorised in Canada for the prevention of Covid-19 in children and marks a significant milestone in Canada's fight against the pandemic," Health Canada chief medical advisor Supriya Sharma told a news conference.

Data from clinical trials show the vaccine is as safe for adolescents as it is for adults, she said.

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorise the use of the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds very soon, US health officials also said.

Vietnam extends quarantine for arrivals after new outbreak

Vietnam has extended the quarantine period for anyone arriving in the country to three weeks, authorities said, following a fresh community outbreak of the coronavirus.

The nation has so far kept case numbers low — recording just over 3,000 cases and 35 deaths — thanks to strict quarantine measures and extensive contact tracing.

But Vietnam reported its first community outbreak in weeks last Thursday, and other clusters have since emerged.

Several cases have been linked to people who tested positive after their two-week stay in hotel quarantine had ended.

Serbia to offer cash to those who get vaccine

Serbia's president has said his country would pay each citizen who gets a jab before the end of May, in what could be the world's first cash-for-jabs scheme.

The Balkans country bought millions of doses — from Western firms as well as China and Russia — and briefly became a regional vaccine hub when it offered foreigners the chance to be inoculated.

However, after fully vaccinating some 1.3 million of its seven million people, the drive has started to stall.

"All those... who received the vaccine by May 31 will get $30 (3,000 dinars)," President Aleksandar Vucic told local media, adding that he expected three million to be vaccinated by the end of the month.

Vucic said the country wanted to "reward people who showed responsibility."

Germany sends aid to India

A German military cargo aircraft with a mobile oxygen production unit for India has departed from an airport in northern Germany to help Indian hospitals that are overwhelmed with coronavirus pandemic patients.

The plane will have a layover in Abu Dhabi and is expected to arrive in India on Thursday.

“We’re proud to contribute significantly with our airlift in the global fight against the coronavirus,” German air force Lt.

Sweden registers over 7,000 new cases

Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 7,041 new cases, health agency statistics showed.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 60 new deaths, taking the total to 14,151. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden's death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours' but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns. 

Kenya reports virus variant detected in India

A variant of the virus first diagnosed in India has been detected in Kenya, the Health Ministry said, days after the same variant was detected in neighbouring Uganda.

The health ministry last week said Kenya was suspending flights to and from India.

Malaysia tightens curbs in capital as virus cases climb

Malaysia has tightened curbs in the capital to combat a fresh spike in cases, with only essential businesses allowed to operate and restaurant dining-in banned, authorities said.

The partial lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, initially set to last from May 7 to 20, comes a day after officials announced tougher restrictions in several districts surrounding the city.

The Southeast Asian nation was hit by a fresh outbreak at the start of 2021, prompting authorities to re-introduce curbs not seen since the start of the pandemic and declare a state of emergency.

India's Covid-19 surge spreads to Nepal

Nepal is being overwhelmed by a Covid-19 surge as India's outbreak spreads across South Asia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has said.

“We need to act now and we need to act fast to have any hope of containing this human catastrophe. This virus has no respect for borders and these variants are running rampant across Asia," said Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific director for the Geneva-based agency representing the global humanitarian network.

Nepal is now recording 57 times as many cases as a month ago, with 44 percent of tests now coming back positive, the statement said.

Nepalese towns near the Indian border could not cope with the growing number of people needing treatment, while only 1 percent of the country's population was fully vaccinated.

The statement noted that other neighbours of India were also in the firing line as the outbreak spreads. Hospital intensive care units in Pakistan and Bangladesh were full or close to capacity, it said.

India's foreign minister out of G-7 meeting over Covid risk

India’s foreign minister has pulled out of in-person meetings at a Group of Seven gathering in London because of possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar tweeted that he was “made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases. As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode”.

Britain’s Foreign Office, which organised the meeting, did not immediately confirm whether any delegates had tested positive.

Diplomats from the G-7 group of wealthy nations are meeting in London for their first face-to-face gathering in two years.

US says G7 activities will go ahead as planned

The United States' delegation to the Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting in London will continue activities as planned, a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday after two of India's representatives tested positive for Covid-19.

"The U.S. delegation was advised, including by the UK's public health professionals, that our stringent masking, social distancing, and daily testing protocols would permit us to continue with our G7 activities as planned," US State Department spokesman Ned Price told traveling press.

"We have no reason to believe any of our delegation is at risk."

India accounts for 46 percent of world's new Covid-19 cases, quarter of deaths

India accounted for 46 percent of the new Covid-19 cases recorded worldwide last week and one in four of deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The surge of the coronavirus in India, including of a highly infectious new variant first identified there, has seen hospitals runs out of beds and oxygen, and morgues and crematoriums overflowing. Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen.

Worldwide, 5.7 million new cases were reported last week and more than 93,000 deaths, the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report.

India reported nearly 2.6 million new cases, a 20 percent increase on the previous week, and 23,231 deaths.

The figures are based on official tallies, so India's proportion could be even larger if, as many experts believe, a large number of cases and deaths are not being recorded there as the system becomes overwhelmed. India accounts for almost 18 percent of the world's population.

There are signs that India's outbreak is spreading to its neighbours. Nepal recorded a 137 percent increase in cases to 31,088 last week, while Sri Lanka's Covid-19 outbreak was also growing, the WHO said.

Russia reports 7,975 new cases, 360 deaths

Russia has reported 7,975 new Covid-19 cases, including 2,432 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 4,847,489.

The government coronavirus task force said 360 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 111,895.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 250,000 deaths related to Covid-19 from April 2020 to March 2021. 

Canada's Alberta confirms first death linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

The Canadian province of Alberta confirms the first death of a woman in her 50s after taking AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, the province's chief medical officer of health said in a statement.

UK still looking at Covid booster shot options

British officials are currently looking at which Covid-19 vaccines would offer the best booster shot for vulnerable people later this year and no decisions have been taken yet, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said.

"The clinicians haven't yet made their decision when they will need to boost, whether to give more immunity to the most vulnerable, to increase the durability of the protection, or to deal with a variant," Zahawi told Sky News.

China gave 284.6M doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of May 4

China has administered 284.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the country as of Tuesday, the National Health Commission said.

That compares with 279.91 million doses given as of Monday, up about 4.69 million doses.

Thai cabinet approves $2.9 billion in new relief measures 

Thailand's cabinet has approved additional economic relief measures worth 93 billion baht ($2.9 billion) to help people affected by Covid-19, a spokeswoman said.

The measures will cover 31 million people, or 3,000 baht per person, from July to December, deputy government spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek told Reuters.

Thailand fights to contain virus surge in Bangkok

Health officials rushed to vaccinate thousands of people in Bangkok's biggest slum as new Covid-19 cases spread through densely populated low-income areas in the capital's central business district.

The government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha is facing mounting criticism for its handling of a surge that began in early April.

Thailand recorded 2,112 new cases and 15 deaths on Wednesday. The country has been reporting about 2,000 cases a day recently, often with double-digit deaths in the third mass outbreak since the pandemic started.

More than half of the 74,900 cases reported by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, or 46,037, have been confirmed since April 1.

A total of 318 people are known to have died from the virus.

The CCSA said about 30,000 people were being treated in hospitals and in field hospitals constructed to make up for the lack of enough hospital beds and intensive care units, especially in Bangkok.

India posts record daily rise in deaths

India's coronavirus deaths rose by a record 3,780 during the last 24 hours, a day after the country became the world's second, after the United States, to cross the grim milestone of 20 million infections.

Daily infections rose by 382,315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed.

Germany's cases rise by 18,034

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 18,034 to 3,451,550, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 285 to 83,876, the tally showed.

G7 talks vaccines after pleas to help poor

The Group of Seven wealthy democracies will discuss coronavirus vaccines as they face growing pressure to share stockpiles and know-how with poor nations trailing far behind on fighting the pandemic.

Foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are wrapping up three days of talks in central London that will set the agenda for a G7 leaders' summit next month in Cornwall, southern England.

After a day focused on showing a common front of democracies towards China, the final sessions will also bring in development chiefs and address global challenges including the pandemic and climate change.

Japan faces longer state of emergency, casting doubt on Olympics

Japan is considering extending a virus spurred state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and other major urban areas, sources said, a move that could cast doubt on the planned Summer Olympics.

Officials were leaning toward an extension of the measure s in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures beyond May 11 as the country battles a surge in virus cases, three sources told Reuters.

Australia's largest state reports first case in more than a month

Australia's most populous state of New South Wales reported its first locally acquired virus case in more than a month, sending authorities rushing to trace the source of the virus.

A man in his 50s who tested positive for the new coronavirus had visited a movie theatre, restaurants, a service station and a meat store in Sydney's eastern suburbs while unknowingly infectious, authorities said.

US aims to vaccinate 70 percent of its adults by July 4

President Joe Biden set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one dose to 70 percent of adult Americans by July Fourth, focusing on easing access to shots as his administration tackles the vexing problem of winning over those reluctant to get inoculated.

The new goal comes as demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their vaccine doses unordered. 

Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and will direct many pharmacies to do the same, and his administration is for the first time moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.

Biden’s goal, which includes delivering at least the first shot to 181 million adults and fully vaccinating 160 million, is a tacit acknowledgment of the declining interest in shots. Already more than 56 percent of adult Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine and nearly 105 million are fully vaccinated.

The US is currently administering first doses at a rate of about 965,000 per day, half the rate of three weeks ago, but almost twice as fast as needed to meet Biden's target.

Brazil reports almost 3,000 daily virus deaths 

Brazil registered 2,966 deaths and 77,359 additional cases, according to data released by the nation's health ministry.

The South American country has now registered 411,588 total coronavirus deaths and 14.86 million total confirmed cases.

Mexico's death toll rises to almost 220,000

Mexico's Health Ministry reported 3,064 new confirmed cases and 395 more deaths, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 2,352,964 and fatalities to 217,740.

Separate government data published in March suggested the real death toll may be at least 60 percent above the confirmed figure.

Brazil inquiry told of Bolsonaro's blind faith in chloroquine

Brazil's former health minister told a parliamentary inquiry on that President Jair Bolsonaro's right-wing government knew full well that the treatment they were advocating for virus patients had no scientific basis.

Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was fired last April by Bolsonaro for not agreeing to push the malaria drug chloroquine as a treatment, testified before a parliamentary inquiry into the handling of the pandemic that has killed more than 408,000 Brazilians.

The Senate investigation is expected to hurt the president politically 17 months ahead of elections by showing the country that his opposition to lockdowns and social distancing measures, his failure to secure vaccines and the touting of unproven treatments deepened the crisis Brazil is now in.

"I warned Bolsonaro systematically of the consequences of not adopting the recommendations of science to fight Covid-19," Mandetta told the commission.

The minister said he was called to a cabinet meeting with the president, where there was a plan to change the official indications for u se of the old anti-malaria drug to say it could be prescribed for the virus.

Antonio Barra Torres, president of Brazil's health regulator Anvisa who was also at the meeting, said that could not be done.

"The government was aware that it was prescribing chloroquine without any scientific evidence," Mandetta said.

Brazil has the highest death toll in the world after the United States, and third in total coronavirus infections after the United States and India.

Pfizer posts $4.9B 1Q profit as vaccine strategy pays off

Selling vaccines during a pandemic has boosted Pfizer’s bottom line and proven that a strategy it embarked upon over a decade ago is now paying off handsomely.

The New York-based pharmaceutical giant reported that it earned $4.9 billion in the first three months of the year and it dramatically raised its profit forecast for all of 2021 thanks to strong demand for its vaccine. 

The company, along with its German partner BioNTech, anticipate strong revenue from the vaccine and booster shots for the next three years.

Once viewed as a marketing machine for blockbuster treatments such as Viagra and Lipitor, Pfizer has transformed itself into a powerhouse for delivering drugs that treat cancer, rare diseases, and vaccines.

Pfizer almost doubled its sales projections for the vaccine this year, from $15 billion to roughly $26 billion. 

The partners expect to be able to deliver about 2.5 billion vaccine doses this year, including 300 million doses for the US, and already are prepping for what could become annual booster shots.

Trudeau tells Canadians not to pick and choose vaccines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed an advisory panel of doctors' ranking of vaccines according to safety, saying Canadians should take whichever jab is offered to them first.

"Every single vaccine available in Canada has been approved by Health Canada as safe and effective," Trudeau told a news conference.

Trudeau and his wife last month received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, seeking to reassure Canadians it is safe. 

Later, an AstraZeneca shot was linked to a blood clotting death in Canada.

On Monday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), recommended possibly waiting for a "preferred" mRNA jab such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna if a person's risk of contracting the virus is low, instead of the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The latter two have been linked to blood clotting in a few rare cases, which NACI said posed "a safety risk".

North Macedonia speeds up vaccinations as EU aid arrives

North Macedonia's faltering vaccination programme picked up speed, with authorities starting to use 200,000 Sinopharm jabs bought from China.

The small Balkan country has struggled with vaccine supply shortages. 

The vaccination programme began in mid-February but has continued in fits and starts. About 4 percent of the country's 2.1 million people, mostly health workers and the elderly, have so far received a first shot, mostly from batches donated by Serbia and Russia.

Also Tuesday, the European Union's top official for enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, delivered about 5,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses to North Macedonia.

That's part of a batch of 120,000 the 27-nation bloc will donate to the country by the end of August.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies