The variant, known as B.1.617, is believed to be one of the many factors behind the massive outbreak of infections in India. Outside of India, the UK has reported the highest number of COVID cases caused by the Indian variant.
Earlier this week, the WHO declared B.1.617 a ‘variant of concern’ (VOC), adding it to a list that includes variants from Brazil, South Africa and the UK.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said there were no data on the impact of the variant on diagnosis, therapy or vaccine effectiveness. However, he said it was “more communicable”.
Here’s a look at other coronavirus news from around the world
Inde has seen a record number of people killed by the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, pushing its death toll to over 250,000. Deaths from COVID-19 have increased by 4,205, while daily cases of coronavirus have increased of 348,421, with the total number of cases in India exceeding 23 million, according to the Indian Ministry of Health. About a third of new coronavirus infections reported are in India.
Taiwan plans to increase its alert level for COVID-19 in the coming days, the country’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on Wednesday. Raising the alert level would mean Taiwan closes stores selling non-essential items and limits gatherings to just 10 people outside and five people inside. Chen said a decision can be expected in the “next few days.” So far, the island has been spared the worst effects of the pandemic.
The peaceful nation of Nauru said he had set a “world record” by giving his entire adult population the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nauru, which is one of the few places in the world to be COVID-19 free, said 7,392 people received the first dose, which includes foreigners. The country administered the AstraZeneca jab, which it received as part of the global Covax program.
“The National Coronavirus Taskforce is extremely pleased with this world record result and thanks everyone on Nauru for playing their part in keeping Nauru COVID free and safe,” the government said in a statement.
However, Kieren Keke, the chairman of the task force, said Nauru would continue to test everyone arriving in the island country to prevent further spread of the infection.
The German Institute of Public Health Robert Koch reported 14,909 new COVID infections and 268 deaths in the past 24 hours in Germany. A week ago, Germany reported 18,034 new infections daily.
Bolivia signed an agreement to buy 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, stipulating that Biolyse Pharma, a Canadian company, would make the jabs and that the World Trade Organization should waive the vaccine’s patent.
The Bolivian government said it had asked the WTO to derogate from the patent.
Benjamin Blanco, a Bolivian trade official, said the clause would help the country speed up vaccinations. Currently, Bolivia has managed to vaccinate only 10% of its population, that too with one shot.
The drug, if made domestically, could cost between $ 3 and $ 4 per dose. Blanco said if the patent waiver is granted, production could begin in three to six months.
Ministry of Health of Peru said on Tuesday he was investigating a case in which nurses attempted to vaccinate patients against COVID with empty syringes. The ministry said it had noted at least three cases in the country’s capital.
Arturo Granados, the spokesperson for the health ministry, said the results of the investigation would be revealed on Thursday.
The scandal comes at a time when Peru is struggling to vaccinate its population. We know that several wealthy Peruvians traveled to the United States to be vaccinated.
Brazil suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine in pregnant women following the death of a pregnant woman in Rio de Janeiro after taking the vaccine. The pregnant woman suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.
Franciele Francinato, coordinator of the health ministry’s vaccination program, told reporters the suspension was a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, Anvisa, Brazil’s health regulator, has issued a warning regarding the use of the COVID jab in pregnant women. The regulator added that he had not been informed of any other side effects of the vaccine in pregnant women.
“The serious adverse event of a hemorrhagic stroke has been assessed as possibly related to the use of the vaccine given to the pregnant woman,” said Anvisa. AstraZeneca said pregnant and breastfeeding women have been excluded from clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine.
Ontario, the most populous province in Canada, suspended the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as the first dose. The province cited new data showing increased risk of blood clotting.
“This decision was taken with great caution due to an observed increase in the rare blood clotting disease known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine,” said David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Province of Ontario.
Ontario’s decision follows a similar decision by Alberta, another Canadian province, to stop administering the vaccine.
Ontario has administered more than 650,000 injections of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Recipients include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife. At least 12 cases of coagulation have been reported in Canada following the administration of AstraZeneca jab.
am / wmr (AFP, AP, Reuters)