(Reuters) – An experimental antiviral pill developed by Merck could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, according to data that experts hailed as a potential breakthrough in how the virus is treated.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* The European Union’s drugs regulator said people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of a vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should get a booster.
* Sweden’s Public Health Agency said it recommended the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine for children between 12-15, opting against rival Moderna’s Spikevax.
* The Kremlin implored people to get vaccinated, calling it the only way to stop the virus’ spread, as Russian authorities mulled reintroducing health restrictions.
* Venezuelans are increasingly relying on friends and strangers to help pay for COVID-19 treatment as hyperinflation and soaring health care fees make social media pleas and crowdfunding campaigns the only way to cover costs while infection rates rise.
* Argentina plans to investigate attendance numbers at Sunday’s derby between River Plate and Boca Juniors, a judicial official said, after local media questioned whether numbers exceeded those permitted under COVID-19 rules.
* U.S. Supreme Court justices are set to don their black robes and sit behind a mahogany bench in their grand courtroom as they resume in-person oral arguments for the first time since pandemic disruptions started last year.
* Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, called a parliamentary election for October 31 and vowed to bolster the country’s response to the coronavirus crisis. He also said he will consider offering cash payouts to households hit hardest by the pandemic.
* Thailand’s government, which rolled out vaccines to high school students for the first time, is in talks with Merck to buy 200,000 courses of its antiviral pill.
* Philippine organisations have urged government cooperation in a probe into alleged misuse of pandemic funds, in a challenge to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for ministers not to answer summons for a Senate investigation.
* Indonesia will reopen its tourist island Bali for some international travellers from October 14, senior cabinet minister Luhut Pandjaitan said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Senegal logged only two new daily infections, the lowest number since the pandemic reached the country and two months after the rate of new cases hovered at record highs, the health ministry said.
* Israel on Sunday piled pressure on its vaccinated citizens to get a booster shot by making only those who received their third dose eligible for a “green pass”.
* COVID-19 vaccines are less effective on people with weakened immune systems, three small Italian studies show, whose researchers say highlight the need to deploy booster shots for this group of vulnerable people.
* Brazilian healthcare company Hapvida Participacoes said in a securities filing late on Sunday it has prescribed hydroxychloroquine to COVID patients.
* World stocks were on the back foot and the dollar stayed close to one-year highs on concerns that higher inflation, supply shortages and China’s property sector woes would put global economic recovery at risk. [MKTS/GLOB]
* Demand for coal and natural gas has exceeded pre-COVID-19 highs with oil not far behind, dealing a setback to hopes the pandemic would spur a faster transition to clean energy from fossil fuels.
* Global airlines projected a sharp reduction in industry losses next year as a multi-speed recovery from the coronavirus crisis gets under way, but revised up the financial toll inflicted by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
(Compiled by Juliette Portala and Federico Maccioni; Editing by Alex Richardson and Lisa Shumaker)