South Africa Moves to Restart J&J: Virus Update
Covid-19 deaths worldwide exceeded 3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The burden is being increasingly borne by developing nations, including Brazil, Mexico and Peru.
South Africa’s health regulator asked the government to lift the pause on administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines provided certain conditions are met. New Delhi reached a record number of new cases amid increasing strain on the health-care system.
The U.S. recorded the highest number of new infections in a week as cases continue to surge, particularly in the Midwest. Canada reported its second case of clotting after an AstraZeneca dose.
- Global Tracker: Cases pass 140.2 million; deaths exceed 3 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 884 million shots given worldwide
- Covid survivors may require just one shot of a two-dose vaccine
- Relapse concerns stunt air travel reopening
- J&J’s limbo status crimps U.S. vaccine drive at a pivotal moment
- Covid is much deadlier in Brazil than India and no one knows why
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Variant Hit Brazil City in November (4:44 p.m. NY)
The so-called P.1 coronavirus variant has been present in the Brazilian city of Manaus as early as November, a month before cases surged, Folha de Sao Paulo reported, citing research from the Brazil-U.K. Centre for Arbovirus Discovery, Diagnosis, Genomics and Epidemiology.
The variant is 1.7 to 2.4 times more contagious than the earlier version of Covid-19, and quickly spread across a city where population already had sizable presence of antibodies, the study said. But the Covid-19 antibodies did not protect population from the variant.
South Africa Moves to Restart J&J (4:41 p.m. NY)
South Africa’s health regulator asked the government to lift the pause on administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines provided certain conditions are met.
“These conditions include, but are not limited to, strengthened screening and monitoring of participants who are at high risk of a blood clotting disorder,” the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said in a statement.
South Africa halted J&J vaccines after health agencies on Tuesday called for their suspension in the U.S. The J&J shot is a key element to South Africa’s vaccination plan and has already been used to inoculate health workers, with no reported adverse effects.
Ontario Police Balk at Anti-Covid Rules (3:38 p.m. NY)
Canadian police forces say they will not randomly stop motorists to enforce the province of Ontario’s stay-at-home campaign. On Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he had no choice but to impose tough restrictions to curb a sharp rise in infections, including extraordinary powers to stop vehicles and individuals to ask why they aren’t at home.
But police in Toronto, Waterloo and other cities quickly issued statements saying they won’t do random checks.
Ottawa police said they would be involved with setting up checkpoints on bridges between Ontario and neighboring Quebec to enforce new constraints on travelers from other provinces. People will still be allowed to cross the provincial boundary for work.
California Hospitalizations Dip (2:08 p.m. NY)
The number of people hospitalized in California due to confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases dropped by 41 yesterday to 2,145, according to the health department’s website. There were 453 ICU patients, 23 fewer than the previous day. The state’s seven-day positive test rate was 1.6%, a down from 1.7% a week ago.
Still, deaths climbed by 103 to 59,690, and 2,763 new cases were reported yesterday. California, with a population of around 40 million people, has administered more than 25.1 million Covid vaccines to date.
France Adds Over 36,000 Cases (2 p.m. NY)
France recorded 35,861 new coronavirus cases and 189 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll since the start of the pandemic to 100,593. The country, currently in its third national lockdown, earlier this week surpassed the threshold of 100,000 deaths, a humbling moment for President Emmanuel Macron, who had refused to lock down the country for a third time in January.
France also said Saturday it administered 298,247 vaccine shots in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of shots to almost 17 million, 12.5 million of which are first doses.
Macron, who is up for re-election next year, is walking a thin line after he pledged to start reopening some cultural venues, open-air restaurants and bars in mid May. Gabriel Attal, the French government spokesman, said Friday the country will stick to a target of reopening schools progressively at the end of April.
Bowdoin Joins Colleges Requiring Vaccination (1:18 p.m. NY)
Bowdoin College in Maine has become the latest U.S. institute of higher education to require a vaccination to return to campus in the fall. “These vaccinations are essential for returning to normal, allowing us to protect ourselves and one another,” college president Clayton Rose wrote in a statement Friday, saying both students and staff would be required to be vaccinated.
Earlier this week Georgetown and American universities, both in Washington, D.C., also announced mandatory vaccinations. They are among more than 30 U.S. colleges and universities to do so, according to a list compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Canada Reports Second Clot After Astra Shot (12:21 p.m. NY)
The Canadian province of Alberta reported a case of blood clotting after an AstraZeneca vaccine. It is the second clot case in Canada out of total of 700,000 AstraZeneca doses administered, Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer, said in a statement Saturday.
The patient, a male in his 60s, is recovering from treatment, she said.
“I continue to recommend AstraZeneca for anyone who is 55 and older, and to recommend that all Albertans get vaccinated as soon as they are able,” she said. “It is the best way to protect your health and the health of those around you.”
Hospitalizations Drop for Florida Seniors (12:05 p.m. NY)
Florida’s Covid-19 hospitalizations have dropped significantly among its large elderly population, evidence that vaccinations are taking hold, the Sun Sentinel reported. Admissions among those 70 and older have fallen by 46% since mid-February, the paper reported. At same time, the hospitalization rate for younger people is rising, the paper said.
Florida’s trend is reflected nationally. Those 65 and older made up over half of Covid hospitalizations as vaccinations began in the U.S. in mid-December, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They now make up 30% of hospitalizations, data through April 10 show. Admissions for people between 18 and 49 have risen in that period from 22% of the total to almost 35%.
Colombia Reports U.K. Variant (10:11 a.m. NY)
Colombian authorities detected the first cases of the virus variant that emerged in England last year, and warned that it could already be circulating widely in the country. Two samples tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant in the department of Caldas, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said Friday evening. The strain is more transmissible, he said, raising alarms for a country that’s seeing cases again rise.
Pfizer Open to More Japan Doses (9:56 a.m. NY)
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla agreed in a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to discuss supplying the country with additional vaccine doses, Kyodo News said Saturday. Suga called Bourla during a visit to the U.S., after becoming the first foreign leader to meet President Joe Biden.
Delhi Hits Record, Hospitals Strained (9:36 a.m. NY)
India’s capital, New Delhi, already the worst-hit city in the South Asian nation, reported a record-high 24,000 new infections Saturday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said at a daily press briefing. The city is running out of critical health infrastructure, including hospital beds and oxygen as well as supplies of drugs to treat Covid-19 patients, he said.
India is battling a ferocious second wave, with new cases now topping 200,000 for three consecutive days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet top ministers and government officials to discuss the situation later Saturday.
Zimbabwe Clearing Prisons (8:02 a.m. NY)
Zimbabwe has released 320 inmates from its biggest prison to ease overcrowding and combat the spread of Covid-19. Under the presidential amnesty, an estimated 3,000 prisoners across Zimbabwe could be released. To date, Zimbabwe has reported 37,534 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,551 deaths, according to Ministry of Health data.
Survivors May Need Just One Dose (8 a.m. NY)
Coronavirus vaccines were just rolling out in December when more than 1,000 staffers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles volunteered for a sweeping study. The goal: pinpoint how immune reactions to the jab might vary.
By last month, a clear pattern in the data “popped out at us,” said research leader Susan Cheng. Those who had recovered from Covid-19 responded to their first shot so robustly that the results rivaled never-infected colleagues who had received both shots. The implication was clear. If you’ve had Covid, you may only need one of the two doses recommended by Pfizer and Moderna.
U.S. Cases Highest in a Week (8 a.m. NY)
The U.S. added just over 80,000 new cases on Friday, the most in a week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. The seven-day average has risen for five consecutive weeks; it’s at its highest point since mid-February as infections, particularly in the Midwest, continue to surge. Another 932 people died, the data show.
Dubai Expands Eligibility (7:59 a.m. NY)
Dubai is expanding its Covid-19 vaccination eligibility criteria. Women who are breastfeeding and those planning to conceive can get the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, “in line with the latest international studies and guidelines,” according to a statement by Dubai Health Authority on Saturday. The drive now also extends to newly recovered Covid-19 patients who had mild cases or were asymptomatic.
Covid Claims 3 Million Lives (4:45 a.m. NY)
More than 3 million lives have been lost as a result of the novel coronavirus that emerged in 2019, with the latest 1 million recorded deaths coming even faster than the first two. The relentless pace of death from the global Covid-19 pandemic is continuing unabated despite global vaccination efforts, and is now being increasingly borne by the poorest places in the world.
The real death toll from Covid-19 is likely far higher than 3 million, due to under and patchy reporting around the world.
The latest milestone was reached only about three months since crossing the 2 million mark on Jan. 15. The shortening interval, coupled with the increasing number of new cases worldwide, is dealing a blow to hopes that the end of the pandemic is in sight with the widespread deployment of vaccines.
Poland’s Third Wave Waning (4:40 a.m. NY)
The third wave of the pandemic is waning in Poland. The country reported 15,763 new cases on Saturday, a 37% decline from the week earlier. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals fell by more than 2,000 from a week ago to 32,073 and is the lowest since April 4.
Total deaths rose to 61,825, with 8,772 deaths reported so far April; 616 were reported today, compared with 749 last Saturday
Australia Links Death to AstraZeneca (12:15 a.m. NY)
The death of a 48-year-old woman in New South Wales was “likely linked” to the AstraZeneca vaccine, though the case was “complicated” by underlying conditions, Australian health officials said Saturday.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt expressed condolences to family of the woman, whose death is the first fatality, and third case in Australia of blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. She received the inoculation before the government’s April 8 announcement that the Pfizer dose was preferred for people under the age of 50.
“Vaccines are overwhelmingly safe, recommended and effective,” Hunt said in a press conference Saturday, adding that they remain under continuous review by the immunizations task force.
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