International update: Global Covid infections pass 72.25 million – Brazil population pushes back on vaccines

14th December 2020 (Last Updated December 14th, 2020 10:00)

14 December

 Global: Global coronavirus infections pass 72.25 million. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has passed 1,612,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 16.25 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 299,168 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

 A slowing of new Covid-19 cases in the US Midwest and West offers “hopeful signs,” even as infections on the east and west coasts are accelerate, former Food and Drug Administration head Scott Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

New Jersey’s coronavirus cases passed 400,000 on Sunday with another 4,170 positive tests reported. An additional 24 people in the state died of illness related to Covid-19, bringing the toll to 15,883, which is the nation’s fifth-highest. The first vaccines in New Jersey will be administered on Tuesday, according to Governor Phil Murphy.

Ireland: Ireland’s pace of Covid-19 infections is increasing and a cause for concern, two weeks after the government rolled back a nationwide lockdown, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said. The rolling five-day average of cases is back to more than 300 after declining for weeks, he said. Ireland reported 429 new cases Sunday, “a large number by the standard of recent weeks,” Holohan said.

France: Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units in France increased for the first time in almost four weeks, rising by 10 to 2,871, according to the Health Ministry. Hospitalizations for illness related to the virus, which include ICUs, climbed by 259, the most in three weeks.

ESwatini: ESwatini (formerly Swaziland) Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, who tested positive for Covid-19 four weeks ago, has died at age 52 after being hospitalised in neighbouring South Africa, the tiny absolute monarchy’s government said late on Sunday.

Greece: Greece has reported 693 new coronavirus cases, the lowest daily figure since mid-October. There have been a further 85 deaths.

South Korea: South Korea reported a drop in new cases to 718 after posting a record of more than 1,000 infections on Sunday. Health authorities announced it was setting up nearly 60 temporary testing centers at subway stations in Seoul to stem the latest spread.

Vaccine news

US: President Donald Trump said those working in the White House “should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” following news that he and other top US officials will be offered the vaccine within days. Trump said he’s “not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.” The vaccinations will be offered to critical personnel in all three branches of government deemed essential and could start as soon as Monday.

CDC Director Robert Redfield said he signed an advisory panel’s recommendation to use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in people 16 and older, a formality required to kick off the US vaccine drive. Vaccinations are “set to start as early as Monday,” Redfield said in a statement Sunday.

As many as eight in 10 people in the US could be vaccinated by next summer, according to Moncef Slaoui, who heads the government’s push to approve and distribute vaccines. After the FDA authorized emergency use of the the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, a Moderna Inc. vaccine “likely will be approved by Friday,” Slaoui said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may soon allow participants in its Covid-19 vaccine trial to learn whether they received a placebo, rather than the real thing, and get the actual shot if they wish. “Pending required approvals, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to provide an option for clinical trial participants who received the placebo to get the vaccine at scheduled time points in the study,” Pfizer said in an emailed statement. “This option will be voluntary and implemented in alignment with the regulatory authorities where the trial is being conducted.”

Brazil: Half of Brazilians wouldn’t take the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. with Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, a Datafolha poll shows. The Chinese vaccine, known as CoronaVac, has the highest rejection rate among those polled, at 50%, according to data published Saturday by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. More than a third wouldn’t take a vaccine developed by Russia and a quarter would reject one produced by the UK The lowest rejection rate, of 23%, is for a US-developed vaccine.

EU: European Council President Charles Michel said he expects the first Covid vaccines to be approved in the EU “in the coming weeks, maybe even before the end of the year.”

Bahrain: Bahrain has approved a Covid-19 vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and launched online registration for the vaccine for citizens and residents. Citizens and residents above 18 years of age could register online to receive the vaccine for free. Meanwhile, nearby Kuwait authorized the use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine.

Lockdown updates

Netherlands: The Dutch government will decide on stricter measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands on Monday, as the country reported the biggest rise in infections in more than six weeks.

UK: Schools in Greenwich, south-east London, have been asked to close from Monday evening after “exponential growth” of coronavirus demanded “immediate action”, the council said, amid reports that the capital is likely to enter tier 3 soon.

Mauritania: Mauritania has reimposed a night-time curfew in the face of a “worrying surge” in Covid-19 cases and deaths, the president’s office said.

Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to ask stores to keep their reduced opening hours in place until 11 January, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified person.

New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a travel bubble with Australia could begin in the first quarter once final details have been worked out. Addressing reporters after a Cabinet meeting, Ardern said the quarantine-free arrangements depend on levels of Covid-19 in both countries not getting worse. Australia and New Zealand already have a limited travel corridor, but anyone returning from a trip from Australia must quarantine for 14 days on their return.