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Thursday, April 22, 2021

WHO: Covid Won’t Be Over This Year; China to Vaccinate 40% of Population by June

A street art mural entitled ‘Angels On Earth’, depicts nurse Sofia hitting the coronavirus with a baseball bat on 24 February 2021 in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal. Photograph: Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Germany to extend lockdown – report

Cafe and restaurant owners, limited to takeaway service for much of last year, have long urged a reopening of in-house dining after sector revenues dropped 65%. They also want relief from growing debt, and from social security and tax payments.
“We were serving 4,000-5,000 people a week. Now with takeaway services we are serving only 500 people,” Istanbul-based Pideban restaurant owner Yusuf Kaptanoglu said before the easing measures were announced. “I did not benefit from any support including loan support,” he said.
Across Turkey, pre- and primary schools as well as grades eight to 12 resumed partial in-person education. Yet the moves come as new daily coronavirus cases rose to 9,891 on Monday, the highest since 11 January and up from 8,424 a day earlier, according to official data. Cases were around 6,000 in late January.
“The number of mutant virus cases is increasingly rising. We do not see conditions to return to an old ‘normal’,” the Turkish Medics’ Association said on Twitter, calling for higher rates of testing and inoculation.
“Political and economic interests must not take precedence over human life and science,” it added.
Turkey, with a population of 83 million, has administered 8.96 million vaccines in a campaign that began in mid-January. More than 7 million people have received a first shot and 1.89 million have received a second.
A waiter carries chairs and tables at a cafe in Kuzguncuk district of Istanbul, Turkey

France has eased restrictions on giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged over 65 after new trial data proved the shot was effective, health minister Olivier Véran has said.

While the EMA, the bloc’s drug regulator, approved the AstraZeneca jab for use by all adults, health agencies in many EU countries, including France and Germany, advised against its use for the over-65s pending more trial data from older age groups.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, sparked consternation by telling journalists it was “quasi-ineffective” for the over-65s, but last week said more data had since become available and he would take the jab if offered.

Véran told French TV that “anybody aged 50 or over who is affected by co-morbidities can get the AstraZeneca vaccine, including those between 65 and 74.” Those over 75 would continue to be given only the Pfizer and Moderna shots only, he said.

The decision means another 1.5 million people are eligible from today for AstraZeneca vaccines from family doctors, with France’s slow rollout soon also to be extended to pharmacies. Véran said France should deliver a further 6m first jabs this month.

Meanwhile, the French government spokesman, Gabriel Attal, said today all options remained open to rein in rising infection numbers in some areas, including a new national lockdown and regional weekend lockdowns. Le Monde reported that the Paris area could be placed in weekend lockdown from next weekend.

“We will start vaccinations today, Tuesday,” he said.
The health ministry simultaneously announced it had agreed with the Chinese ambassador in Baghdad to purchase a further 2m doses, with no details on payment or timing.
Sinopharm affiliate Wuhan Institute Of Biological Products says its vaccine has an efficacy rate of 72.51%, behind rival jabs by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have 95% and 94.5% rates respectively.
Hours earlier, on Monday afternoon, the health ministry launched an online platform for citizens to register for vaccinations, but the page was not functional on Tuesday.
It has said health workers, security forces and the elderly would be prioritised and that the vaccine would be administered free of charge, but has given few other details.
The first jabs arrived as the Iraqi government faces growing criticism of its handling of the pandemic.
The country has been hit by a second wave of Covid-19 infections, with more than 3,000 new cases reported daily, a few months after they had dropped to around 700 a day, and deaths also tripling to around 25 a day in recent weeks.
To stop the spread, Iraq has imposed overnight curfews during weekdays and full lockdowns on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with obligatory mask-wearing in public.
But there is little commitment by either the public or security forces deployed to enforce the measures, in a country whose health sector has been ravaged by decades of war, corruption and slim investment.
Some Iraqi officials have already been vaccinated. Two current and one former Iraqi official told AFP in January they had already received doses of “the Chinese vaccine”.
They said 1,000 vaccine doses had been gifted to a senior Iraqi politician through contacts in China and had been distributed to top politicians and government officials.
Air freight workers unload the first batch of doses of the Sinopharm vaccine against the coronavirus disease after it arrived at Baghdad international airport, in Baghdad, Iraq, early today


Tokyo governor says fall in cases may not be enough to lift emergency state – report

Fossil fuel emissions in danger of surpassing pre-Covid levels

The world has only a few months to prevent the energy industry’s carbon emissions from surpassing pre-pandemic levels this year as economies begin to rebound from Covid-19 restrictions, according to the International Energy Agency.

New figures from the global energy watchdog found that fossil fuel emissions climbed steadily over the second half of the year as major economies began to recover. By December 2020, carbon emissions were 2% higher than in the same month the year before:

Data on long Covid in UK children is cause for concern, scientists say

Scientists have warned that emerging data on long Covid in children should not be ignored given the lack of a vaccine for this age group, but cautioned that the evidence describing these enduring symptoms in the young is so far uncertain.

Recently published data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has caused worry. The data suggest that 13% of under 11s and about 15% of 12- to 16-year-olds reported at least one symptom five weeks after a confirmed Covid-19 infection. ONS samples households randomly, therefore positive cases do not depend on having had symptoms and being tested:

Mexico’s coronavirus chief home from hospital

Fauci says US must stick with two-dose strategy for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines

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