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Published: 23:06, July 27, 2021 | Updated: 23:15, July 27, 2021
India expects about 150m COVID-19 vaccine doses in Aug
By Agencies
Published:23:06, July 27, 2021 Updated:23:15, July 27, 2021 By Agencies

Health workers attend to COVID-19 patients at a facility at the Commonwealth Games village temporarily converted into a COVID care facility in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP

JERUSALEM / SYDNEY / BAGHDAD / SINGAPORE / KUWAIT CITY / ANKARA / SEOUL / BENGALURU / ALMATY / TOKYO / PHNOM PENH / ULAN BATOR / ISLAMABAD / WELLINGTON / MANILA / NEW DELHI / HANOI - The Indian government expects to have around 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in August, Vinod Kumar Paul, who heads a federal government panel on vaccines, told a news conference on Tuesday.

India will meet its target of supplying more than half a billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to states by the end of this month, the health ministry said on Tuesday, but added not all doses may be administered by then.

India reported 29,689 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday, for the lowest daily rise since March 17, according to a Reuters tally.

India's total of 31.44 million infections now ranks second only to the United States.

Indonesia

Indonesia, which uses the Sinovac vaccine as its main COVID-19 inoculation, is considering providing a booster shot, as a study showed antibodies provided by the two-dose shot fade over time, a senior health ministry official said on Tuesday.

Indonesia, which has become Asia's COVID-19 epicentre with record infections and deaths this month, relies heavily on the Sinovac vaccine that accounts for more than fourth-fifths of 173 million doses of vaccine supplies it has received so far.

Indonesian maternal deaths due to COVID-19 are accelerating and could worsen as infections keep spreading across the country, said Project Hope, a global health and humanitarian group. 

Mortality during pregnancy in the Central Java districts of Grobogan and Banyumas has more than doubled this year, it said in a statement. 

Nearly 70 percent of Indonesian maternal deaths this year have been the direct result of COVID-19 infection, Project Hope said. 

Pakistan 

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday discussed how to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions, which have stranded around 400,000 Pakistani workers back home, foreign ministers of the two countries told reporters.

Islamabad took up the issue with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, who is on a one-day visit to Pakistan.

Al Saud is the first high profile Saudi official to arrive in Pakistan after cracks in their historically friendly relations earlier this year.

His Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a joint news conference in Islamabad that around 400,000 of over two million Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia had been stranded at home due to travel restrictions.

Pakistan confirmed 3,262 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said on Tuesday.

Japan

Daily coronavirus infections in Tokyo surged to a record 2,848 cases, about double the number found a week earlier, just as the Japanese capital hosts tens of thousands for the Olympics.

Tuesday’s figure eclipses a previous peak of 2,520 set in January. Serious cases rose to 82 from 78 a day earlier, and the seven-day average of new infections rose to about 1,763, figures released by the city showed. Experts had earlier expressed fears that Tokyo infections could reach their worst-ever levels during the games, due to the spread of the delta variant.

A four-day weekend to celebrate the opening of the sports spectacle is also likely to have led to a backlog of testing, which may be reflected in the record case count. Only about a quarter of Japan’s population is fully vaccinated. Within the Olympics itself, new cases associated directly with the games fell to seven, including two athletes, one of them a tennis player from the Netherlands, organizers said.

The report brings to 155 the total number of Olympics-related cases confirmed through an extensive testing program being implemented to try to maintain safety during the unprecedented pandemic-era games.

Many Japanese had opposed the staging of the delayed Olympics, out of concern the gathering of athletes and others from around the world could make for a superspreader event. Japan has so far suffered far fewer deaths from the virus than other major industrialized nations and its borders remain largely closed to non-Olympics visitors.

Four of those connected with the games who tested positive were staying in the athletes’ village, and five of the total were non-residents of Japan, including the two athletes. No details were given of the nationality or sport of the second athlete. The two Japan residents were a Tokyo 2020 contractor and an employee of the organizers, the report said.

The Olympics, which opened on July 23, run through Aug 8. Tokyo, which is under a state of emergency, recorded 1,387 cases on Tuesday last week.

Australia

Australia's Victoria state will begin easing its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as planned from Tuesday night, Premier Daniel Andrews said, after the state reported fewer new cases.

People can leave their homes for any reason but several restrictions would remain, including a ban on guests in homes and masks mandatory both indoors and outdoors, Andrews said.

Victoria detected 10 new local cases, down from 11 a day earlier, with all infections linked to the latest outbreak and in quarantine throughout their infectious period. 

South Australia, which also registered infections from the Sydney outbreak, is on track to exit its week-long lockdown on Wednesday.

Cambodia

Cambodia's Ministry of Health (MoH) on Tuesday confirmed 39 new cases of highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, bringing the kingdom's total number of Delta variant cases to 114.

A total of 685 new COVID-19 infections including 262 imported cases, raising the national total caseload to 74,386, the ministry said.

A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against COVID-19 during a vaccination drive at an Hindu temple on the outskirts of in Hyderabad on July 15, 2021. (NOAH SEELAM / AFP)

ALSO READ: S.Korean youth fight 'click war' in hunt for COVID-19 vaccines

Iraq

Iraq reported on Monday 12,180 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily count since the outbreak of the pandemic, raising the nationwide caseload to 1,564,828.

A statement by the health ministry also confirmed 60 more deaths, bringing the death toll from the virus to 18,347, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 9,966 to 1,420,995.

Spokesman of the ministry Sayf al-Badr said in a statement that the recent increase in infections can be attributed to the failure to adhere to health-protective measures during the Eid al-Adha celebrations.

A woman receives a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the outpatient clinics of the Cardiovascular Centre at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, Israel, on July 12, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Israel

Israel is considering giving a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to its elderly population even before FDA approval in order to help fend off the Delta coronavirus variant, a health official said on Monday.

US and European Union authorities are considering whether booster shots are needed for specific risk groups.

"This is the big dilemma. The decision is on our shoulders when we don't have the world's backing. It is a very complex decision," Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash told a health conference hosted by news website Ynet.

"On the one hand we want to see that it is safe and effective and to rely on our data examining whether there really is waning immunity, and on the other hand there is an outbreak and we want to stop this outbreak."

Since the Delta variant began spreading in Israel in June, the health ministry has twice reported a drop in the vaccine's effectiveness against infection and a slight decrease in its protection against severe disease.

Some experts have criticized the ministry's analysis because of possible bias that could be skewing the data. Last week, it estimated the vaccine was only 41 percent effective at halting symptomatic infections over the past month. Protection against severe disease remained strong at 91 percent.

"I estimate that this data is true, it could be more or it could be less," Ash said. "But the signs are, at least here, that immunity is waning."

A decision should be made in the coming weeks, Ash said, and it would likely affect people either 60- or 70-years-old and up, the high-risk group first to get the jab when Israel began its vaccination drive in December.

The inistry reported 2,215 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the tally of infections in the country to 862,559.

The death toll from the virus in Israel rose by one to 6,461, according to the ministry.

A man receives a dose of Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus at a vaccination point in the Abylkhan Kasteyev State Museum of Arts of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Almaty on April 17, 2021. (RUSLAN PRYANIKOV / AFP)

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan reported record numbers of fresh COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, standing at 6,797 and 789 respectively, signalling that Central Asia has yet to overcome the latest pandemic wave, driven by new variants.

Uzbekistan has a population of 34 million compared with Kazakhstan’s 19 million but the latter does more tests while daily figures in the former are more indicative of cases requiring hospitalisation.

Kazakhstan has administered the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to 5.2 million people and 3.4 million have been fully inoculated.

In Uzbekistan, 4.2 million people have received the first dose, with about 1.1 million fully vaccinated.

Kuwait

Kuwait decided to ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions and resume commercial activities, the Kuwaiti government announced Monday.

Tareq Al-Mezrem, the government spokesman, said at a press conference that Kuwait will resume commercial activities except for conferences, weddings, and social events, starting from Tuesday, amid a drop in COVID-19 cases.

Unvaccinated people are only allowed to enter pharmacies, food shops, government institutions and hospitals, as of Aug 1, he said.

Mongolia

The COVID-19 cases in Mongolia rose by 1,115 over the past 24 hours to 159,101, the health ministry said Tuesday.

Seven more patients aged 41-80 died from the disease in the past day, taking the total to 816.

New Zealand

New Zealand reported one new case of COVID-19 in a managed isolation facility, and no cases in the community on Tuesday.

The full travel history of the newly imported case is still to be determined, and the case has remained in a managed isolation and quarantine facility in Auckland, according to the Ministry of Health

People queue as they wait to use a check-in service, which aids the process of contact tracing for COVID-19 cases, to enter a shopping centre in Chinatown district in Singapore on July 7, 2021. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)

Singapore

Singapore’s COVID-19 case numbers have remained steady at over a 100 infections daily, but the severity of cases is increasing, according to the Ministry of Health. 

There were 18 serious cases that require oxygen supplementation as of Monday and another two in the intensive care unit. 

That’s up from a total of 14 serious cases the day before. There are also rising numbers of seniors over the age of 60 who are critically ill, the ministry said. 

A total of 135 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total tally in the country to 64,314, according to the ministry.

The new infections included 129 locally transmitted cases, of which 61 were linked to the Jurong Fishery Port cluster and six belonged to the karaoke cluster.

ALSO READ: NZ PM: Accelerating access to COVID-19 vaccines a priority


South Korea

South Korea on Tuesday launched COVID-19 vaccinations for workers at key computer chip and electronic businesses to minimise disruptions in the global supply chain amid struggles to keep up with its inoculation schedule.

Major tech companies including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Samsung Display Co, SK Hynix Inc and LG Display Co Ltd and their suppliers began in-house vaccination for their employees on Tuesday, the companies’ spokesmen told Reuters.

The government approved the companies’ internal vaccination plans last month. The vaccination program will target over 303,000 workers in about 40 companies with in-house clinics, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

The move occurs amid a global chip shortage that has affected manufacturers around the world, particularly automakers. Samsung and SK Hynix are the world’s top two memory chip makers.

Samsung, SK Hynix and LG Display said they are vaccinating their workers with the Pfizer/BioNTech shot.

Samsung and its affiliates had initially planned to offer Moderna vaccines. However, Yonhap reported that the plan is now to offer Pfizer/BioNTech after supply and shipment issues.

Moderna Inc has notified South Korea that an adjustment of its vaccine supply schedule is “inevitable” due to a “production setback issue,” South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said. 

Seoul and Moderna are discussing details on shipments for July and August, he said. Around 14 percent of South Koreans have been fully vaccinated, while 34 percent have had one shot.

South Korea reported 1,365 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Monday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 191,531.

Thailand

A flareup in cases in Phuket, Thailand’s first tourism hotspot to waive quarantine for vaccinated foreign visitors, is threatening to scuttle the experiment seen as a model for other tourism-reliant nations to reopen borders.

The resort island reported 125 new cases during the week ending July 27, higher than the government-set threshold that could trigger a temporary suspension of the program. In response, local authorities closed public schools and shopping malls and banned gatherings of more than 100.

The majority of new cases were among local residents, and all the high-risk contacts on the island have been isolated, officials said. Only 26 vaccinated visitors out of the more than 11,800 have tested positive since the so-called Phuket Sandbox was launched on July 1, they said.

Separately, Thailand has started transferring patients from Bangkok to the country’s northeast to reduce the strain on the capital’s medical facilities that have been overwhelmed by a surge in cases, government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said. 

About 30 percent of Thai infections during the current wave of outbreak that started in early April have been in Bangkok.

The nation reported 14,150 new infections on Tuesday, taking cumulative cases to 526,828. 

There are 171,921 patients who are hospitalized, with 4,284 in critical condition and 954 on ventilators, according to Health Ministry data.

The Philippines

The Philippines recorded 7,186 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest single-day increase in more than six weeks, and an additional 72 deaths, the Southeast Asian country’s health ministry reported.

President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Monday of stricter virus curbs if the current outbreak worsens. According to one research group, daily cases could hit 8-10,000 infections a day without stronger countermeasures to contain the more contagious Delta variant.

Turkey

Turkey on Monday registered 16,809 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 5,618,417, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 63 to 50,997, the ministry said.

Vietnam

Vietnamese firms AIC and Vabiotech have signed a deal with Japan's Shionogi & Co to produce COVID-19 vaccines based on recombinant DNA protein technology, a health ministry official told local media outlet VnExpress on Tuesday.

The deal between the Japanese and Vietnamese firms was subject to a confidentiality agreement, but would be based on the local production of recombinant protein-based vaccines, health ministry official Nguyen Ngo Quang told VnExpress.

A source at Vabiotech confirmed the company was in talks with Japan's Shionogi but refused to give more details, citing the confidentially agreement. Last week, Vabiotech said it had produced its first test batch of Sputnik V vaccines which it said would be shipped to Russia for quality checks.

Last week, Vietnam said it was in talks with the United States on the domestic production of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.

The government expects a homegrown Nanocovax vaccine, developed on the same protein-based recombinant DNA technology, to be available for domestic use by the end of 2021.

Vietnam has reported 109,111 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Around 423,000 people have been fully vaccinate, according to official data.

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