Home Business Coronavirus digest: 2 Pfizer doses ‘effective’ against delta – DW (English)

Coronavirus digest: 2 Pfizer doses ‘effective’ against delta – DW (English)

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Researchers say two shots of either BioNTech-Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective against variants. Elsewhere, China has declined to follow an investigation into the virus’s origins. Follow DW for more.

Two doses of BioNTech-Pfizer or Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine are highly effective against the delta variant, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found.

The BioNTech-Pfizer shots were 88% effective at preventing symptomatic disease, as compared to 93.7% against the alpha variant. The study reiterated the importance of taking both of the shots to achieve immunity.

Two shots of AstraZeneca vaccine were 67% effective against the delta variant, up from 60% originally reported, and 74.5% effective against the alpha variant.

“Only modest differences in vaccine effectiveness were noted with the delta variant as compared with the alpha variant after the receipt of two vaccine doses,” researchers wrote in the study.

Scientists had previously noted that a single dose of either vaccine was 33% against the delta variant.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that delta, which first originated in India, would be the dominant strain in the world in the months to come.

It has been recorded in 124 territories — 13 more than last week — and already account for more than three-quarters of sequenced specimen in several countries.

Here are the latest coronavirus developments from around the world.

Asia-Pacific

Japan‘s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is preparing to negotiate directly with the chief executive of Pfizer, local media reported. Talks on the early delivery of 20 million vaccines are expected to take place in Tokyo. The Japanese capital is currently hosting the Olympic Games and logged 1,832 new cases just two days before the opening ceremony.

China will not follow the plan suggested by the World Health Organization for the second phase of its investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in labs in the country. The vice head of the National Commission said the WHO plan contained language that does not respect science and opposed politicization of the origins study.

Taiwan has ordered 36 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the government said. The government of the self-ruled island has previously accused China of sabotaging its procurement effort. But the island  has already received about 9 million doses of Moderna and AstraZeneca, donated by Japan and the US, enabling it to ramp up its vaccination program.

South Korea reported another daily high on Thursday, with 1,842 registered coronavirus cases. The numbers include 240 sailors who were infected aboard a navy ship off East Africa. Authorities are considering extending restrictions imposed in Seoul and neighboring areas.

The head of Thailand‘s National Vaccine Institute has apologized for the slow vaccination rate in the country and has promised to join the UN-backed COVAX program to receive more vaccines. 

Africa

A South African firm based in Cape Town will produce BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines for distribution across the continent, Pfizer announced. The move should help ramp up vaccination across the continent of 1.3 billion people, of whom less than 2% have received at least one shot. 

Europe

The after-effects of COVID will have a long-term impact on mental health, the World Health Organization’s European office said in a new report. At the same time, it gives countries an opportunity to take mental health care seriously and implement necessary reforms.

The number of coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,890 and deaths rose by 42 as of Thursday. The total number of cases stands at 3,750,503 and deaths at 91,458.

High-end retailers in the UK, reeling from months of coronavirus curbs, could benefit from opening thousands of local stores over the next year, research firm Barclays said. It surveyed 300 retailers who said they were eyeing community openings since people are more likely to enter local stores than visit downtown shopping centres.

Americas

New York City will require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly tests for workers at city-run hospitals, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a news conference. The policy goes into effect from August 2. Currently, about 60% of the more than 42,000 employees at the city’s hospital system are vaccinated.

US President Joe Biden said it was “gigantically important” for people to get vaccinated. At a town hall meeting, he said the pandemic was among those who were unvaccinated. Biden expressed optimism that children under 12 would be eligible for vaccines in the coming months.

Mexico reported its biggest jump in new cases since January, with 15,198 registered cases and 397 deaths as of Wednesday. Authorities said they were in talks with Italian health authorities about the possibility of production of ReiThera’s GRAd-COV2 in the country.

Given that most of their customers have received their two shots, United Airlines CEO said they hadn’t seen any impact on bookings, in spite of fears over the spread of the delta variant. A CEO of another airline said bookings had gotten stronger. This marks a big turnaround from the lockdown of last summer.

YouTube said it pulled several videos of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for spreading misinformation about COVID. The video-streaming giant said it reviewed the content and removed videos, without taking into account either Bolsanora’s job or political ideology.

Catch up on DW content

State governments are scrambling to set up mobile COVID-19 vaccination centers in western Germany as rescue efforts from the devastating floods last week increase the threat of infection. Residents say they have bigger concerns than the pandemic now.

People suffering from depression are hit particularly hard by the fears and restrictions of the pandemic. For many of them, the last reliable structures have collapsed: their jobs, therapy, and regular meetings with family and friends. Watch the full report below.

rm/rt (Reuters, AP)

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