These are the global coronavirus stories you need to know about this week.
The global COVID-19 death toll has now passed four million, according to Johns Hopkins University tracking.
In France, the COVID-19 epidemic is continuing with 3585 additional cases on July 6, 2021. The Delta variant was identified in 39.9% of positive PCR tests on July 2. A week earlier, on Friday June 25, this rate was 19.3%. The Institut Pasteur predicts a rebound in the epidemic in the autumn if the vaccination programme does not accelerate. To limit the spread of the variant, the Government is considering mandatory vaccination for all healthcare professionals. As of July 6, 51.8% of the total population had received a first dose and 37.6% were fully vaccinated. To boost vaccination over the summer, new vaccination sites are being set up at festivals, shopping centres, and motorway rest areas.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed his intention to end most of England’s COVID-19 restrictions from July 19. The British Medical Association said the decision was “incredibly concerning” and showed a “disconnect” with the data. The plans are a “dangerous and unethical experiment” according to more than 100 doctors and scientists who’ve signed a letter in The Lancet urging the Government to reconsider. Wearing masks will become an individual choice. From mid-August, fully vaccinated people who come into contact with someone who has tested positive in England will no longer need to self-isolate. As of Wednesday, 64.6% of UK adults were fully vaccinated, and daily reported positive cases were at 32,548.
On Monday, Portugal’s Minister of Health, Marta Temido, said that “in the worst scenario”, the country could reach 4000 COVID-19 cases a day, according to the Público newspaper. In the last week of June, the Delta variant was responsible for 89.1% of cases. Since June 16, Portuguese health authorities issued more than one million digital certificates confirming full vaccination, a negative test, or recovery from the disease. On July 1st, the European Union’s Digital COVID-19 certificates went into effect.
As of Tuesday, 70% of the entire population in Flanders, Belgium, has received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, making the Region the first in Europe to reach that threshold, according to the local authorities. Young people between the ages of 12 and 15 can now also get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Belgium if they have parental consent.
In Spain the incidence has risen 21 points, to 225 cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days. The highest percentage of infections is among young people (717.46 between 20- and 29-year-olds, and 652.59 between 12-19 year olds). However, seven regions have not reported any deaths in the past week. The situation in hospitals remains stable with 2.37% of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Some regions are considering toughening restrictions. The Delta variant is already predominant in Madrid.
So far, 19.5 million people (41.2% of the population) are fully vaccinated and more than 26.7 million (56.3% of the population) have had at least one dose.
In Germany, according to the Robert Koch Institut at least 85% of people between 12 and 59 years of age and 90% of those aged 60 and over need to be fully vaccinated if the country is to avoid a “pronounced fourth wave next autumn/winter”. According to the Federal Ministry of Health around 56.5% of Germans have received at least one dose of vaccine and 38.9% are fully vaccinated. Calls are now being made for children and adolescents to be vaccinated. However, the responsible panel of experts (STIKO) has not issued a recommendation for children over the age of 12. So far it only recommends vaccinations for 12- to 17-year-olds with certain pre-existing conditions, including obesity. The German Society for Immunology believes that herd immunity to coronavirus cannot be achieved without vaccination of children and adolescents.
Since the beginning of the week, 274 new cases have occurred in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Three patients were hospitalised but no deaths were reported.
In Austria, 4,925,865 people, or 62.34% of the vaccine-eligible population, have been vaccinated with at least one dose and 3,448,649 people have full vaccination protection. Seven-day incidence has increased to 6.7. Nationwide, 107 infections have been detected, according to the Department of the Interior and Department of Health Services. That’s up from last week’s average of 85 cases.
The US has officially fallen short of President Biden’s goal of having at least 70% of adults fully vaccinated by July 4, the Independence Day holiday. About two-thirds of adults have had at least one dose of a vaccine, but vaccinations are still lagging among younger adults and Black and Hispanic people. At the same time, the CDC projects the Delta variant is now causing more than half of COVID-19 cases, and there are surges in less vaccinated states like Missouri and Arkansas. As a result, the 7-day average of cases has crept up by 10%. Because of widespread vaccination, experts believe cases will no longer be closely tied to deaths and hospitalisation.
In Mexico, the Under Secretary of Health said the country is facing a third wave of COVID-19 cases, with increases occurring among the young population and in tourist areas. So far 15% of the population is fully vaccinated. Vaccination began this week in Mexico City for people aged 30-39.
The PAHO said this week that “PAHO has urged nations with enough vaccines to share them with countries in the Americas that are still struggling”. In the coming days, Paraguay and Bolivia will each receive a million doses of vaccine from the US government, and Guatemala will receive 1.5 million doses. China will send 1.5 million doses of vaccine to El Salvador. Argentina announced that it will make changes to its regulations to allow entry of vaccines donated by other countries or by COVAX.
On Saturday (July 3), thousands of people took to the streets across Brazil demanding the President’s impeachment and demanding more vaccines. The Government is involved in allegations of corruption in the purchase of Covaxin vaccine. The case is being investigated by a parliamentary inquiry commission on the actions and omissions of the government in confronting COVID-19. There was also a new development: the displacement of the population to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Fifteen percent of the doses administered in Brazil so far were given to people who were outside their place of residence, which suggests that 11.3 million people moved to another city to receive the vaccine. To date, 36.59% of the Brazilian population has received a first vaccine dose, and 12.92% has been fully vaccinated.
Australia plans to reduce commercial passenger arrivals to the country by 50%, from around 6000 passengers a week to 3000 by July 14.
New Zealand’s drug regulator Medsafe has approved use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and the country is likely to purchase two million doses. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved in New Zealand earlier this year.
South Korea reported 1212 new COVID-19 cases on July 7, the highest daily count since December 2020, just days after social distancing restrictions were eased in certain parts of the country. Nearly 85% of the new locally transmitted cases are being reported in the Seoul metropolitan area.
The surge of COVID-19 infections in Indonesia continues, with yet another record of 31,189 daily cases and 728 deaths set on July 6. Strict lockdowns have been imposed on the large islands of Java and Bali.
On July 6, India reported 34,703 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest daily count in nearly 4 months. With travel restrictions easing, flocks of tourists are thronging holiday destinations in the northern states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Bharat Biotech reported that the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin had a 93.4% effectiveness against severe symptomatic COVID-19 in phase 3 trials. Furthermore, the vaccine offered a 65.2% protection against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.
See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.
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