South Africa registered 14,728 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,638,981. A further 384 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 78,377. A total of 9,962,111 people have been vaccinated.
The Biden administration will start offering booster shots in late September, and will require nursing homes to vaccinate their staff against the coronavirus in order to receive federal funding.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will launch a new outbreak analysis and forecast centre, picking a group of outsiders from academia and the private sector to lead the new initiative.
One of Israel’s top healthcare providers said initial results of a study show that a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine given to Israelis over 60 has been 86% effective. Pope Francis issued a public service announcement promoting vaccination.
Biden requires nursing home staff shots
President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that his administration will require nursing homes to vaccinate their staff against the coronavirus in order to receive federal funding.
The new requirement will apply to more than 15,000 facilities that currently participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programmes.
Delta accounts for 95% of new New York infections
Nearly all positive coronavirus cases in New York state are linked to the high transmissible Delta variant, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The state is seeing a dramatic increase in cases, with 4,737 new positives reported on Wednesday, up from 823 cases one month ago, according to state data. There were 20 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,888 hospitalisations.
Samples collected between August 1 and 14 showed 95% of the recent positives in the state are linked to the variant, Cuomo said in a news release. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65.5% of New Yorkers have at least one vaccine dose.
WHO concerned over Roche drug shortage
The World Health Organization and Unitaid expressed concern over yesterday’s statement from Roche Holding that warned of a global shortage in the drug Actemra.
In a joint statement, WHO and Unitaid welcomed Roche’s measures to address the shortage but called on the company to ensure “equitable allocation” of Actemra to all countries.
Additionally, the two public health organisations encouraged Roche to “facilitate technology transfer and knowledge and data sharing” to broaden access to the drug.
In June, the WHO recommended Actemra as treatment for severe cases of Covid-19. The drug, whose generic name is tocilizumab, was initially produced for arthritis but has been found to decrease the risk of death in Covid in patients.
In an email Wednesday, Roche said it “is in the midst of discussions with WHO and we are committed to support access” in low- and middle-income countries.
Cigna requires vaccinations
Cigna will require US workers to be vaccinated before returning to in-person work, the healthcare giant said. People who work remotely will need to be fully immunised against Covid-19 before entering worksites starting on September 7. Employees who must work on-site, including medical providers and pharmacists, will have to be fully vaccinated or provide two negative Covid tests each week starting on October 18, the company said.
Cigna had about 73,700 employees at the end of 2020, according to company filings, with 89% based in the U.S.
De Blasio doesn’t expect student shot mandate
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he doesn’t anticipate imposing a vaccine mandate on schoolchildren ahead of the September 13 public school start. He said that 56% of 12- to 17-year-olds, or about 300,000 kids, have received their first shot. De Blasio declined to say whether or not he would impose a vaccine mandate on teachers, who are required to submit to weekly testing if they aren’t vaccinated.
The city said it has been stockpiling shots in anticipation of the ability to give booster shots. The city has 750,000 doses in stock and has the ability to order more.
South Africa infection rate as high as 80%
As many as four out of five South Africans may have contracted the coronavirus, indicating that the country may be one of the world’s hardest-hit nations, the chief actuary at Africa’s biggest health insurer said. Emile Stipp, the actuary at Discovery Health, based his calculations on the country’s case-fatality rate and excess deaths, a measure of the number of fatalities compared with an historical average. They are thought to provide a more accurate picture of the impact of the pandemic than the official toll.
CDC creates centre to forecast outbreaks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a new centre designed to provide early warnings and real-time data on disease threats and outbreaks. The CDC said the move was addressing a critical need to improve the US government’s ability to forecast and model emerging health threats.
Funded by the American Rescue Plan stimulus package, the new department will use data to help public health decision-makers mitigate the effects of disease threats.
Israel Pfizer booster shows 86% efficacy
Initial results show vaccine effectiveness of 86% for people aged 60 and above who received a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, according to a study by Israel’s Maccabi health care services.
Kids sue Texas over ban on school masks
More than a dozen disabled Texas children sued Governor Greg Abbott in federal court to overturn his ban on universal masking in schools, calling the rule a threat to their safety and a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and President Joe Biden’s Covid-recovery economic stimulus act.
The children’s challenge against Abbott, who has used a wheelchair since becoming a paraplegic in a running accident decades ago, was filed the same day the governor revealed he’d contracted a breakthrough case of Covid-19.
Greece approves booster for vulnerable
Greece’s national vaccination committee approved booster shots for immune-suppressed individuals and other vulnerable groups. The country will start to administer the third doses in early September, senior Health Ministry official Marios Themistocleous said.
The number of new cases is expected to peak at the end of September or in early October, he said.
Earlier, Greece prolonged a curfew and other restrictions in the Heraklion and Chania areas of Crete, the country’s largest island, until August 25. The measures were also introduced in the Rethymno district. Greece on Tuesday had its third-biggest daily jump in Covid cases.
Pope urges vaccinations in video
Pope Francis issued a public service announcement dedicated to the people of Latin America that promotes the benefits of vaccination.
“Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love,” as is helping others to do so, he said.
Vaccination is a simple way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable.
Singapore extends shot eligibility
Singapore will offer vaccinations to short-term visa pass holders, according to the Ministry of Health.
The eligibility expansion includes special pass holders such as those on training work permits. Vaccinations will also be made available to eligible short-term visit pass holders who have been in Singapore for at least 60 days continuously.
Moderna founder says annual shots possible
Moderna co-founder Noubar Afeyan envisions a time when Covid-19 shots could become routine.
“Public health officials are going to have to decide if everybody should get a booster shot,” he said in an interview on The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations that aired on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday.
“My guess is that given enough time, we may well end up in a situation where we have, let’s say at a minimum, yearly vaccinations, just like the flu,” said Afeyan, who also serves as chairman. DM
– With assistance from Joe Carroll, Alexander Ebert, Ian Lopez, Shruti Date Singh, Vincent Del Giudice, Raeedah Wahid, John Lauerman, Joel Leon and Keshia Clukey.