The top U.S. infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, warned that the nation is moving in the “wrong direction” in combating a new wave of the pandemic as vaccinations slow, and said a booster shot may be needed especially for the most vulnerable.
Countries including Thailand, Vietnam and Algeria are imposing curfews in cities to battle a surge in cases, while protests against Covid measures took place in a number of nations from Australia to France to Tunisia, where the president fired the prime minister Sunday after violent demonstrations.
In Germany, senior politicians have floated the possibility of tough restrictions for the unvaccinated, or even compulsory inoculation, amid similar sentiment throughout Europe as the delta variant spreads in the region. In the U.K., taxpayers will be paying an “eye-watering” price for the coronavirus for decades after the pandemic ends, according to a pair of reports released Sunday.
- Global Tracker: Cases top 193.9 million; deaths exceed 4.1 million
- Vaccine Tracker: More than 3.85 billion doses administered
- Snowmobiles, Rifles and Gold on Offer in World’s Covid Lotteries
- BioNTech Sees Enough Immunity to Avoid Third Shot, DJ Says
- New cases at the Tokyo Olympics confirmed, including athletes
- Australia secures 85 million more Pfizer-BioNTech doses
- The U.S. is moving in the “wrong direction,” Fauci says
Ghana Imposes Curbs Amid Delta Wave (5:55 a.m. HK)
Ghana is restricting the length of events such as weddings and funerals to two hours and has banned post-event receptions due to the risk of people abandoning safety protocols including mask-wearing and social distancing.
“It appears that our nation like many others is experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 infections,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a state broadcast late Sunday. “These increased infections have largely been driven by the delta variant of the virus.”
Ghana has reported more than 102,000 Covid-19 cases, including 823 deaths, since the first case was reported. Active cases more than tripled to 4,521 as of July 23 from 1,200 in June, according to Akufo-Addo, who described the trend as alarming.
Brazil Adds 18,129 Cases (5:45 a.m. HK)
Brazil reported 18,129 new infections over the past 24 hours, pushing its total to almost 19.7 million, according to data from the Health Ministry. Deaths rose by 476 to 549,924, the world’s highest number of fatalities after the U.S.
U.S. Vaccinations Edge Higher (3:40 p.m. NY)
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said about 790,000 doses were administered in the past 24 hours, the most since earlier this month.
U.S. Covid vaccinations have been trending upward for almost a week, after hitting their lowest level since the start of the year. The daily average has risen six days in a row from a low of 498,000 on July 19, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. That compares with a daily average peak of more than 3.3 million in mid-April.
South Africa Eases Virus Lockdown (3 p.m. NY)
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa eased virus curbs after new infections slowed and the nation’s vaccination program gathered pace.
Alcohol sales, which have been banned for the past four weeks, will now be permitted at restaurants and at retail outlets from Monday to Thursday, the president said in a televised address. Restrictions on leisure travel and gatherings will also be relaxed.
An average of about 12,000 new Covid cases were detected daily in South Africa last week, a 20% decline from the week before, although the situation varied widely from area to area. The country has issued more than 6.3 million vaccines so far, and everyone over the age of 18 will be able to get them from Sept. 1.
Protests Emerge Globally to Protest Covid Rules (1:45 p.m. NY)
More than 100 people gathered outside the Iowa state Capitol Saturday to protest against vaccination rules including those issued by some hospitals in the state, the Associated Press said.
In France, more than 160,000 demonstrators gathered Saturday to oppose the government’s Covid-19 health pass policy, the New York Times reported. Tear gas was used after clashes with police in Paris, it added.
Protests also emerged in cities across Italy where thousands rallied against the government’s requirement for a so-called green pass next month for a number of venues.
Tear gas was also deployed in Tunisia, where violent rallies broke out Sunday as protesters defied Covid curbs to demonstrate in a number of cities over the economy and the outbreak, the AP said.
Hundreds of Children Die in Indonesia (1:30 p.m. NY)
Hundreds of children — many under age five — have died in Indonesia from Covid in recent weeks, a mortality rate that’s higher any other country, the New York Times reported, citing doctors.
The children’s deaths challenges the notion that they face a far lower risk than adults, the paper said. The surge in child deaths corresponds with the spread of the delta variant, the paper said, and the outbreak now makes Indonesia the new epicenter of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Indonesia will be extending its tightest mobility curbs for another week until Aug. 2 as cases remain high following near month-long restrictions. Traditional markets selling staple foods will open as normal, while shops selling non-food items and small businesses are allowed to operate at half capacity for shorter trading hours.
Algeria Declares Curfew in Major Cities (1:15 p.m. NY)
Algeria declared an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in major cities as the North African nation battles a surge in cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
The curfew will be imposed in places with large numbers of infections, state TV reported Sunday, citing a cabinet meeting and without identifying the cities. Algeria has had over 158,000 Covid-19 cases and about 4,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization.
Ho Chi Minh City Orders 12-Hour Curfew (1 p.m. NY)
Ho Chi Minh City officials are imposing a 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew beginning Monday to contain a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, news website VnExpress reported, citing Chairman of the City People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong.
All activities in Vietnam’s business hub will be suspended during the curfew, except for emergency and epidemic coordination activities, according to the report.
The government said it’s working to lock up deals for as many as 170 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by year-end. Vietnam has secured 130 million doses and is trying to negotiate for an additional 40 million shots, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said in a speech to the National Assembly on Sunday.
U.K. Cases Drop for Fifth Day, Sky Says (12:07 p.m. NY)
New Covid infections in the U.K. declined for a fifth day, falling to 29,173, the lowest daily count since July 6, according to Sky News.
The spread of the delta variant, which coincided with the U.K. easing remaining Covid restrictions, pushed the rate of new cases near record levels earlier this month and the government estimated that daily infections could top 100,000 within weeks.
The steady decline in new cases could indicate that the peak won’t reach those levels, though it is too soon to gauge how the lifting on July 19 of final restrictions, including the reopening of night clubs, will affect new case levels.
Ex-FDA Head Says Boosters May Be Needed (11:29 a.m. NY)
Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said scientists are considering whether vulnerable people may need a booster shot in light of the delta variant.
“If you have a vaccine that you got seven or eight months ago and your antibody levels are declining, if you get this new delta variant, it’s easier for this delta variant to overwhelm low antibody levels,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday.
Fauci Says U.S. Moving in ‘Wrong Direction’ (9:47 a.m. NY)
The U.S. is moving in the “wrong direction” in combating a new wave of Covid-19, and a booster vaccine shot may be needed especially for the most vulnerable, said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
It’s a problem that half of the country is still not fully vaccinated, he said. Based on the modeling of data, the U.S. faces a worst-case scenario of daily deaths reaching the winter peak of 4,000.
“I’m not sure if it would be the worst-case scenario but it’s not going to be good,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We’re going in the wrong direction.”
BioNTech Sees Enough Immunity (8:52 a.m. NY)
Immunity provided by the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may drop but most recipients will remain protected against severe Covid-19 illness and may not need a third shot, Dow Jones reported, citing BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.
German Politicians Float Bans for Unvaccinated (7:19 a.m. NY)
Some of Germany’s most senior politicians have floated the possibility of tough restrictions for unvaccinated people, or even compulsory inoculation, echoing similar sentiment throughout Europe as the delta variant spreads in the region.
The unvaccinated would have to curb contact in the event of a high level of infections in Germany and would be banned from “restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums,” Helge Braun, chief of staff in Angela Merkel’s chancellery, told Bild am Sonntag on Sunday. Those restrictions may be imposed regardless of tests, he added.
U.K. Health Minister Apologizes for Tweet (6:50 a.m. NY)
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has apologized and deleted a tweet where he used the word “cower,” adding that it was a “poor choice of word.”
In an earlier tweet, where he said he had made a full recovery from Covid, Javid urged people to get vaccinated, saying “as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.” Opposition politicians seized on the remark. In his latest tweet Javid said that “like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus.”
Japan’s Shionogi Trials Once-a-Day Pill (5:53 p.m. HK)
Osaka-based Shionogi & Co. has started human trials of the first once-a-day pill for Covid-19 patients, Dow Jones reported.
The Japanese company started testing the pill and any potential side effects this month and trials are likely to continue until 2022. Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. are months ahead in their later-stage tests of pills and Pfizer has said its twice-daily pill could enter the market as soon as this year.
U.K. Faces Pandemic Costs for Decades (3:54 p.m. HK)
British taxpayers will be paying for the coronavirus long after the pandemic is over, according to a pair of reports released Sunday by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers. “The Covid-19 response means government will be exposed to significant financial risks for decades to come,” the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts said.
The estimated lifetime costs of the government measures reached 372 billion pounds ($511 billion) in May, with 172 billion pounds reported spent, the committee said. The reports come days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted most remaining coronavirus restrictions for England.
Distancing Extended in South Korea (3:15 pm H.K.)
South Korea will expand social distancing measures outside the capital Seoul from Monday and ban gatherings of more than five people. The country reported 1,487 new Covid-19 cases Sunday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.
“The proportion of confirmed cases in the non-capital areas has reached over 35%,” South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in told a virus response meeting Sunday. “It is clear that the virus is spreading across the country.” Seoul is already subject to strict curbs.
India’s Virus Cases Climb (1:45 p.m. HK)
India recorded 39,742 new daily Covid-19 cases, according to a health ministry statement Sunday. There are currently 408,212 active cases in the country, which has had a total of 31.4 million.
About 433 million vaccine doses have been administered so far, the ministry said.
Australia Warns of Infection Risk From Protests (11:30 a.m. HK)
Weekend protests in Australia’s largest cities, which saw thousands of maskless demonstrators breach stay-at-home orders, risk fueling new infections and causing an extension of restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
More than 50 people were arrested in Sydney and 500 fines issued, with others detained in Melbourne. “It was self-defeating, it will achieve no purpose,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. “It will not end the lockdowns sooner, it will only risk the lockdowns running further.”
New South Wales on Sunday confirmed 141 new Covid 19 cases in 24 hours, and two deaths, including a woman in her late 30s.
Japan to Open Virus Passport System (10:15 a.m. HK)
Japan will begin accepting applications Monday for a Covid-19 passport that’s intended to allow vaccinated travelers to bypass some testing measures and restrictions.
The certificate will ease entry conditions for travelers heading to five countries — Italy, Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria and Poland — though initially won’t entitle people to avoid curbs on their return, the Nikkei newspaper reported Sunday, without citing any source. Japan will likely start using the passport for incoming travelers after the Tokyo Olympics end next month, according to the newspaper.