COVID cases dropping in North, South America, health agency says
BRASILIA, Oct 13 (Reuters) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases are dropping overall in North America but remain high in the American Midwest, Alaska, and Canada’s Northwest Territories, where infection rates are 10 times the national average.
Infections are also dropping across South America, though cases are up in the greater Caracas area of Venezuela, and in parts of Chile’s southernmost regions.
In the Caribbean, Barbados is reporting the highest number of COVID cases and deaths since the pandemic started, with a five-fold increase in COVID infections over the last month, PAHO said.
The regional branch of the World Health Organization called for concerted action in the Americas to help every country reach the WHO’s vaccination coverage target of 40% of their population by the end of this year.
So far, only nine countries in the region have vaccinated 50% of their people, while six – Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Haiti, Guatemala and Nicaragua – have yet to reach 20% vaccination coverage, according to PAHO.
Without concerted action to increase the vaccination rate and public health measures, it is possible that COVID-19 could become endemic in the region, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne warned in a weekly briefing.
Third dose booster vaccination is recommended, especially for people who have received the Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm vaccines developed in China that studies have shown to provide less protection for young adults, PAHO assistant director Jarbas Barbosa said.
Booster vaccination should begin with those over the age of 80, followed by those over 60 years with prior medical conditions, and then young adults, he said. Using other vaccines is possible when the original doses are not available, he said.
MEXICO CITY, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday said the World Health Organization (WHO) should certify COVID-19 vaccines in public use, amid fears some vaccinated Mexicans will not be able to enter the United States.
“The WHO must act correctly, without political or ideological tendencies, sticking to the science,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference.
Lopez Obrador’s comments come after the United States said it would only allow people inoculated by WHO-approved vaccines to enter its borders.
Millions of people in Mexico have been vaccinated with Russian and Chinese shots that do not fulfill that criteria. The U.S. on Tuesday said it was reopening its land borders to fully vaccinated travelers.
Russia’s Sputnik V as well as China’s CanSino vaccines are yet to receive approval by the WHO.
What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Oct 14 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
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English school return spurred COVID in children
COVID-19 infections in children in England rose in September after schools returned from summer holidays, helping to keep cases high even as there was a fall among adults, a large prevalence study showed on Thursday.
The study found that the epidemic was growing among those under 17, with an estimated reproduction “R” number of 1.18. An R number above 1 implies exponential growth, while a number below 1 implies the epidemic is shrinking. The epidemic was estimated to be shrinking in 18- to 54-year-olds, while it was broadly steady among those over 55. read more
India resumes vaccine exports as domestic stocks build up – officials
India has resumed a small number of COVID-19 vaccine exports and will increase exports significantly in the next few months as domestic stocks build up and most of its large population is inoculated, officials said on Wednesday.
So far about 4 million shots have been exported, the source said, a small amount in proportion to the expansive vaccine diplomacy Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government launched this year before a second wave of infections forced a halt. read more