The number of coronavirus cases in India has crossed 20 million, according to figures released by the country’s Health Ministry.
India’s Health Ministry reported 357,229 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, pushing the country’s total number of diagnoses over the 20 million threshold to 20,282,833 cases.
India also reported 3,449 virus-related deaths on Tuesday. At least 222,408 people in the country have died after contracting Covid-19.
Authorities have administered 158,932,921 vaccine doses since India’s vaccination drive began on January 16. The program was expanded on Saturday to include everyone over the age of 18.
Australian former cricket star Michael Slater said Prime Minister Scott Morrison has “blood on his hands” over the travel ban between India and Australia that came into force on Monday.
Australia has threatened to jail anyone entering the country who has been in India in the previous 14 days, including its own citizens. Travelers could face up to five years in prison and fines of up to 66,600 Australian dollars ($51,500).
In a Twitter post Monday, Slater said: “If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home. It’s a disgrace!! Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this. How about you sort out quarantine system.”
Slater was in India working as a commentator for cricket’s Indian Premier League when the ban came into place, according to CNN affiliate Seven News.
The new measures have been met with widespread outrage from human rights activists, Indian Australians and even politicians in Morrison’s own party.
One prominent conservative columnist said the ban “stinks of racism.”
PM’s reaction: Morrison told Australia’s Nine Network it was “absurd” to say he had blood on his hands.
“We’ve got a temporary pause in place because we’ve seen a rapid escalation in the infection rate in people who have traveled out of India that is putting enormous pressure on our system,” he said.
Facing criticism over his new measures, Morrison said there was “pretty much zero” chance of any Australians actually being charged under the ban.
“We’ll use the measures we have available, we’ll use them compassionately, and fairly, and responsibly, as we’ve demonstrated for more than a year,” he said.
Tough entry measures: There are around 9,000 Australian citizens in India registered as wanting to return to Australia, according to the federal government.
Only Australian citizens, permanent residents and those travelling from New Zealand can enter Australia, with few exceptions. All arrivals must spend 14-days in state managed quarantine on entering the country.
The US Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in children and teens ages 12 to 15 by early next week, a federal government official tells CNN.
Pfizer has applied for emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine for teens and children ages 12 to 15. The FDA will have to amend the emergency use authorization for the vaccine, but the process should be straightforward, said the official, who was not authorized to speak about the process publicly and requested anonymity.
The FDA is currently reviewing data submitted by Pfizer to support the extended use. Pfizer said at the end of March that a clinical trial involving 2,260 12-to-15-year-olds showed its efficacy is 100% and it is well tolerated. The vaccine is currently authorized in the US for emergency use in people 16 and older.
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Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts have said how crucial it is to reach some level of herd immunity. But now some say full herd immunity may not be necessary for life to look more normal.
Herd immunity, or as some experts now call it, “population” or “community” immunity, is when most of the population is immune to a particular disease, whether through natural infection or vaccination. When a population reaches this point, the virus has nowhere to go, and the disease fades away. Then even people who don’t have individual immunity are protected.
As with any disease, how many people need to be immune to provide community protection depends on how infectious it is. For Covid-19, experts think the magic number could be anywhere between 70 to 90% of a population immune to the virus. The world is nowhere near that level.
“Given where we are today, as we look around the United States and when we look around the globe, it just seems like that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, the director of the Covid-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin.
It’s a good goal, Meyers said, but she ticks off a host of factors in this particular pandemic that suggest the odds are not in its favor:
- Vaccinating so many people would be nearly impossible.
- This particular virus spreads too rapidly.
- More contagious variants threaten to make vaccines less effective.
- There are entire countries and pockets of the US that have few fully vaccinated people.
- There are vaccine access and equity issues.
- Children are not yet vaccinated.
- About a quarter of the population is hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated.
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Since this year began, one third of all people who’ve died in Brazil were victims of Covid-19.
According to data from Brazil’s National Civil Registry, 615,329 deaths were reported in the country between January 1 and April 30. Of those, 208,370 were related to Covid-19, according to Brazil’s health ministry — 33.9% of the nation’s total.
The coronavirus has surged with a vengeance in the South American giant in recent months — fueled in part by a disregard for social distancing precautions and the emergence of extra-contagious new variants — and has claimed more lives in the past four months than in all of 2020. More than 78,000 people in Brazil were killed by the virus last month alone.
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