White Home Rushes Boosters; Scotland Hits File: Virus Replace

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Australia set a new daily Covid-19 case record with the Delta variant that raged in the country’s southeast when New Zealand extended its lockdown on Auckland, reporting that authorities reported its first death related to Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine.

China said the US should stop politicizing the prosecution of the origins of Covid-19, while Japan’s health minister expects it will be difficult to lift the state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas when the current order expires on September 12th one month.

U.S. public health advisors will meet on Monday to discuss Covid-19 vaccine booster vaccinations, with the White House aiming to roll out nationwide by September 20. A third dose appeared to curb a delta-induced increase in cases and prevent serious illness in one study in Israel, the first country to offer boosters to seniors.

New Zealand extends lockdown on largest city (12:54 p.m. HK)

New Zealand extended the lockdown of Auckland, its largest city, for another two weeks to ease some restrictions in other parts of the country.

Auckland will remain on level 4 alert while all of the country south of the city will transition to level 3 restrictions at midnight on August 31, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Monday. Level 4 restrictions require people to stay at home, with strict travel restrictions and few exceptions. Level 3 is not that strict, but it still encourages people to stay home if possible.

The country’s health authorities had previously reported what they believed to be the first ever death in the country related to Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine.

A woman died of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle wall, after being vaccinated, New Zealand’s Covid-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board said in a statement it emailed Monday. It is said that myocarditis is a rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine. The case was turned over to the coroner.

Australia hits new virus record as Delta Variant rages (10:15 a.m. HK)

Australia has seen a record number of Covid-19 cases, even though around half of its population is on lockdown.

New South Wales recorded 1,290 new cases overnight, a day after hitting an earlier high of 1,218 new cases, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Monday. Cases in Australia’s most populous state have surpassed 20,000 despite months of home-stay orders in Sydney after the outbreak was triggered by an unvaccinated chauffeur infected while transporting flight crew to the city in June.

The state of Victoria is poised to extend its month-long lockdown beyond this week after registering 73 new cases. Authorities in the Australian capital territory are also discussing whether the lockdown will be extended after the capture of 12 new cases.

Hon Hai founder suggests buying 30 million vaccines next year (9:40 a.m. HK)

Terry Gou, the billionaire and founder of iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., said he plans to buy 30 million more doses of the BioNTech vaccine over the next year and donate them to the Taiwanese government.

In a late night Facebook post on Sunday, Gou said he had asked BioNTech about their delivery schedules for the next year and whether or not they could reserve 30 million cans for Taiwan. The reaction of the German company was “not bad,” said Gou.

Taiwan is struggling to get adequate vaccines for its 23.5 million people, with around 4% of people fully vaccinated. Despite months of negotiations, the government was unable to reach an agreement with BioNTech and its Chinese distributor Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co., which resulted in the corporate and civil sectors acting as mediators.

Gou’s generosity is widely recognized as the first step in re-running for the presidency. Gou declared his intention to run against President Tsai Ing-wen in the 2020 elections, but failed to win the opposition Kuomintang’s nomination. The next presidential elections in Taiwan are planned for early 2024.

Thailand’s New Covid Cases Drop To Lowest In A Month (8:59 a.m. HK)

According to government data released on Monday, Thailand reported 15,972 new Covid-19 infections, the lowest since July 27.

The decline precedes the easing of some business restrictions this week. There have been 256 new deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 11,399.

Virgin Australia plans to require vaccination for team members (7:57 a.m. HK)

Virgin Australia, the country’s second largest airline, speaks to staff and unions about a proposal to require Covid-19 vaccination for all team members.

Under the proposed policy, frontline team members must be vaccinated by November 15th and all staff in the office by March 31st.

China urges US to stop politicizing Covid’s origins (7:36 a.m. HK)

China called on the US to stop politicizing the prosecution of the origins of the coronavirus and stop putting pressure on the World Health Organization, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing Foreign Secretary Wang Yi’s talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

China firmly rejects a US report on the origin of the virus, Wang told Blinken on Sunday by phone, Xinhua said. Wang and Blinken also exchanged views on China-US relations and the situation in Afghanistan, it said.

Japan’s health minister signals unlikely end to Tokyo emergency (7:14 a.m. HK)

Japan’s Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said lifting the state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas after the current order expires on September 12 will be “very difficult” as the number of cases remains high and the medical system is under enormous strain.

Tokyo’s daily cases should ideally be reduced to around 500 per day, Tamura told the NHK’s Sunday Debate program yesterday. On Sunday, the city reported 3,081 new cases and the seven-day average was 3,784.

Third shot effective against Delta, Israeli study shows (7:06 a.m. HK)

A third Covid vaccination appeared to contain a delta-induced surge in cases and prevent serious illness in a study in Israel, the first country to offer refreshments to seniors.

Twelve days or more after a booster shot from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE, the risk of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection decreased by 11.4 times compared to people who were given just two vaccinations, researchers of the Israeli Ministry of Health and Key Medical Institutes found. A third dose was linked to at least a 10-fold reduced risk of serious illness, according to a study published on Friday.

The more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has led to a resurgence of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in many countries, including Israel, leading to plans to give extra doses to those already vaccinated. On July 30, Israel became the first nation to make a third dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine available to all people over the age of 60 who had been vaccinated at least five months previously.

Foreign substances found in Moderna vial in Japan (7:02 a.m. HK)

Gunma Prefecture in Japan announced on Sunday that foreign substances were found in a Moderna vaccine vial at a vaccination center. The vaccinations were temporarily suspended but were soon resumed with other batches. No health issues were found on the website.

The prefecture reported the incident to the country’s health department and Takeda, which has a vaccine supply contract with Moderna. A total of 4,575 shots were fired from the game in question.

LA patients trend younger (6:10 a.m. HK)

Covid-19 hospital patients in Los Angeles County are trending younger, with an average age of 51 among those who are not or partially vaccinated, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing health data from the county.

The average age of vaccinated people who are hospitalized is 66 years, the newspaper said. The data also show that even healthy unvaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people in general.

McConnell Targets Vaccine Doubts (2:57 p.m. NY)

Minority leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the U.S. Senate, urged Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19, saying that people who doubt the vaccination will work are wrong.

“If we could say that over and over, I think that’s the key,” McConnell said on Fox News Sunday. “This is a crisis among unvaccinated Americans who don’t seem to believe that vaccination will work. It does.”

McConnell has repeatedly called on people in the United States to get vaccinated and expressed surprise at the opposition to vaccination from parts of the population. The data shows that some of the lowest vaccination rates are in Republican-dominated areas.

Fauci Open to Booster Faster Schedule (1:21 p.m. NY)

Anthony Fauci said the door is open to giving booster vaccinations in the US sooner than eight months after completing a Covid-19 vaccination, an option that President Joe Biden has addressed.

“We are planning another eight months. That was the calculation we made, “said Fauci, Joe Biden’s senior medical advisor, on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “However, we are completely open to any variation based on the data,” he added.

Fauci also said he advocates compulsory vaccination for school children as “a good idea” for the US, where only people 12 and older are eligible for vaccination.

White House rushes to up the dose while the CDC adviser closes bid time (8:30 p.m. NY)

U.S. public health advisors are slowly considering the statewide booster plan of Covid-19 vaccines to fend off the fast-spreading Delta variant, though the Biden administration is aiming for a September 20 launch.

While the booster schedule established earlier this month targeted people who had their last vaccination at least eight months ago, President Joe Biden said Friday that Americans may get their extra vaccinations even faster – just five months after completing their standard vaccination. The White House was quick to clarify its stance, saying the plan hasn’t changed, but Biden’s interest in getting it rolled out quickly is clear.

State may ban unvaccinated restaurants (4:56 p.m. HK)

The state of Baden-Württemberg is considering a restaurant and concert ban for unvaccinated people, as the pressure on the authorities to act is growing, according to a report by Bild am Sonntag.

Infections have risen steadily over the past few weeks, but authorities have vowed not to reintroduce widespread lockdown restrictions. Instead, they are trying to target unvaccinated people to encourage more Germans to get Covid-19 vaccinations.

The vaccinations have leveled off, around 60% of the population is fully vaccinated. On Sunday, infections rose to 74.1 per 100,000 inhabitants over the past seven days, the highest level since mid-May.

The protests against pandemic restrictions continued in Berlin on Sunday. According to Tagesspiegel, more than 100 people were arrested on Saturday.