In the face of a highly contagious delta variant, a return to normalcy is still pending. The race to vaccinate to protect residents and mitigate the size of the waves is escalating. Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson also said that the booster strengthens the protection afforded by its vaccine, a single dose at the base. On the Japanese side, a slight brake on vaccination just happened: The country halted 1.63 million doses of the Moderna vaccine on Thursday, after reports of impurities in some vials.
The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over and the “zero Covid” strategy – which aims to eradicate the virus and is often touted for its results – is being questioned in some countries such as Australia or New Zealand. Currently, the disease has killed at least 4,451,888 people worldwide since the end of December 2019, according to a report released by AFP on Wednesday from official sources. The United States is the worst affected country, ahead of Brazil, India, Mexico and Peru.
- In Japan, 1.63 million Moderna vaccines have been suspended due to an abnormality
Japanese pharmaceutical group Takeda, which imports and distributes the Moderna vaccine, said in a statement that it had received “reports from several vaccination centers of foreign bodies being found” in sealed vaccine vials.
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“After consulting with the Ministry of Health, we have decided to suspend use” of all vaccines from three batches as of Thursday, or a total of 1.63 million doses, Takeda added. The Japanese group has asked Moderna to conduct an “urgent investigation” into the batches that were produced, according to local media in Spain.
For its part, Moderna “is investigating these reports and pledges to work without delay with its partner Emphasis and the regulators to respond to them,” according to a separate statement.
- The situation is improving (slightly) in France
Key health indicators stalled on Wednesday in the French capital, as the situation appears to be “stabilizing” for a few days according to the government. Critical Care Services received 182 patients in the last 24 hours. There were 214 admissions on Tuesday, after a peak of 299 admissions over a 24-hour period for the fourth wave. But those services remain strained, with a total of 2,239 patients in intensive care (2,221 Tuesday). Hospitals currently have a capacity of 11,171 patients (11,066 Tuesday), with 883 admissions over a 24-hour period (1145 Tuesday).
France recorded 23,706 new infections within 24 hours, compared to more than 24,800 injuries the previous day. The positivity rate was stable at 3%. Covid-19 is responsible for 113,881 deaths since the start of the pandemic, and the disease has claimed 93 lives in the past 24 hours.
Regarding vaccination, 47,947,092 people received at least one injection (ie 71.1% of the total population) and 42,421,921 people had a full vaccination schedule (ie 62.9% of the total population). Regarding the recall campaign, details have been provided. Matignon announced that residents of Ehpad will be able to receive a third dose from September 13th. As of September 1, people over 65 and people with comorbidities will be able to go back to their appointments for the third dose.
- In New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern defends ‘Zero Covid’
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday defended her “zero covid” strategy, while the spread of the delta variant undermines the effectiveness of the successful policy so far. A case of the much more contagious type was detected in Auckland last week, ending six months without any cases of local contamination.
And this infection led to the emergence of the largest outbreak in the country since the beginning of the epidemic, with a total of 277 cases recorded on Thursday. Jacinda Ardern felt the delta variant could be eliminated in her country, explaining that experts were advising her to stick to an exclusion approach. “From their point of view, this is not only feasible, it is the best strategy and I completely agree with it,” she said Thursday, announcing 68 new cases.
- Australia records more than a thousand injuries within 24 hours for the first time
On the Australian side, the “zero Covid” strategy is being questioned by the authorities. Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the strategy this week “just ridiculous”, adding: “New Zealand can’t do that.” At the moment, the situation is getting worse. And the country recorded more than a thousand infections this Thursday, the first since the outbreak of the epidemic due to the spread of the delta variable in Sydney.
The state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, recorded a record 1,039 cases in 24 hours. The wave that began in the country’s largest city in mid-June has caused more than 15,000 infections and spread to smaller cities, causing a resurgence of restrictions and closures in southwest Australia.
Despite these rising numbers and the increasing pressure on hospitals, state Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a slight easing of restrictions on vaccinated people from mid-September.
- J&J Says Booster Boosts Vaccine Protection
Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday that a second dose of its Covid-19 vaccine boosted the immunity it gives from the first – and so far only – injection. In two clinical trials whose results have not yet been presented to the scientific community, the overdose generated antibody levels nine times those seen four weeks after the first dose, J&J said in a statement.
The US administration announced last week that the campaign to boost RNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) will start from the end of September. Health authorities then stressed that the recall would be “likely necessary” for people who received treatment from J&J, a minority in the United States, but that data was expected “in the coming weeks.”
- New record of daily deaths in Russia
Russia on Thursday set a new record for daily deaths due to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, vaccination is still slow and containment measures are absent despite the delta-variable wave.
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According to the daily tally provided by the Russian government’s crisis center, 820 people died from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The previous record was in Russia on August 14 with 819 deaths. A total of 179,243 people have died of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to official government figures.
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