What you need to know about the coronavirus right now – Metro US

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Spanish and Afghan citizens who were evacuated from Kabul arrive
Spanish and Afghan citizens who were evacuated from Kabul arrive at Torrejon airbase in Torrejon de Ardoz

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

Israeli doctors find severe COVID-19 breakthrough cases mostly in older, sicker patients

– In Israel’s COVID-19 wards, doctors are learning which vaccinated patients are most vulnerable to severe illness, amid growing concerns about instances in which the shots provide less protection against the worst forms of the disease.

Around half of the country’s 600 patients presently hospitalized with severe illness have received two doses of the Pfizer Inc shot, a rare occurrence out of 5.4 million fully vaccinated people.

The majority of these patients received two vaccine doses at least five months ago, are over the age of 60 and also have chronic illnesses known to exacerbate a coronavirus infection. They range from diabetes to heart disease and lung ailments, as well as cancers and inflammatory diseases that are treated with immune-system suppressing drugs, according to Reuters interviews with 11 doctors, health specialists and officials.

Asia extends lockdowns, adds curbs to fight surge in Delta infections

– Nations from Australia to Vietnam announced more drastic curbs and longer lockdowns for citizens on Friday as authorities struggle to rein in outbreaks of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

In Australia’s biggest city of Sydney, 2 million residents, or roughly 40% of its population, face curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. next week, along with limits on exercise. A lockdown of the entire city, now in its eighth week, was also extended until the end of September, with residents told to wear masks outdoors, except for exercise.

Japan plans to roughly triple daily COVID-19 tests to 320,000, an acknowledgement that its main containment strategy of breaking up clusters of infections was no longer working in big cities like Tokyo, the capital. The move comes after new daily cases exceeded 25,000 on Thursday for the first time.

South Korea extended for two weeks social distancing curbs that include a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m.

Locked-up and fed-up: Australian voters put PM on notice

– With more than half Australia’s population of 25 million living under some form of lockdown, blame has been growing for what has been seen as the blundering management of a vaccine rollout that is behind almost every other developed nation.

On current polling, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party-led Coalition would likely lose its thin majority in the country’s 151-seat parliament at an election that must be held by the middle of next year.

Just 30% of people aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated after a big push in recent weeks to improve take-up. The delays were partly due to changed health advice over the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was to be the backbone of the country’s immunisation programme, due to rare cases of blood clots among some recipients. Australia has since scrambled to boost its supplies of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine and reversed some advice on AstraZeneca.

New Zealand’s Ardern vows to stamp out Delta as outbreak widens

– Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged New Zealanders on Friday to adhere to her strategy to eliminate the fast-spreading Delta variant as she extended a strict lockdown amid a surge in infections.

Ardern’s critics are questioning if she can repeat last year’s feat of almost stamping out COVID-19, as her government struggles to get the population vaccinated in the face of the more infectious Delta variant.

Ardern extended the lockdown for the population of 5.1 million until midnight on Tuesday as the outbreak widened beyond the largest city, Auckland, to the capital, Wellington. Friday’s 11 new cases, three in Wellington, took New Zealand’s tally of infections to 31.

Vietnam to deploy troops, issues stay-home order as COVID-19 deaths spiral

– Vietnam will deploy troops in Ho Chi Minh City and prohibit residents from leaving their homes, authorities said on Friday, as the country’s biggest city turns to drastic measures to slow a spiralling rate of coronavirus deaths.

Vietnam’s toughest order yet comes amid a spike in fatalities and infections, despite weeks of lockdown measures in the business hub of 9 million people, the epicentre of the Southeast Asian country’s deadliest outbreak.

The government said it was preparing to mobilise police and military to enforce the lockdown and deliver food supplies to citizens.

UK approves Regeneron/Roche antibody cocktail for COVID-19

– Britain’s UK drug regulator has approved an antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron and Roche to prevent and treat COVID-19, it said on Friday, as the nation battles rising hospitalisations due to the more infectious Delta variant.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said clinical trial data shows the drug Ronapreve could help prevent infection, help resolve symptoms of severe COVID-19 infection and reduce the chances of hospitalisation.

The news comes as hospitalisations of COVID-19 patients exceeded 6,100 this week, a five-month high. Two thirds of hospitalised patients were not vaccinated, data showed earlier this month.

Scientists question evidence behind U.S. booster shot drive

– The Biden administration’s plan to provide COVID-19 vaccine boosters is based on concerns that a decline in the vaccines’ ability to protect against milder infections could also mean people will have less protection against severe illness, a premise that has yet to be proven, scientists said on Thursday.

Data on so-called “breakthrough” infections in vaccinated people shows that older Americans have so far been the most vulnerable to severe illness. Based on available data on vaccine protection, it is not clear that younger, healthier people will be at risk. All experts interviewed by Reuters also emphasized the need to inoculate the vast number of people around the world who have yet to access COVID-19 vaccines.

Maskless flyers in the United States face $9,000 fines

– The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday proposed $531,545 in civil penalties against 34 airline passengers over unruly behavior – with some facing $9,000 fines for defying mask requirements – pushing its total for the year past $1 million.

The United States has seen a significant jump in reported cases of passengers causing disturbances on airplanes, including ignoring a federal mandate to wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous videos of confrontations have drawn attention on social media. The Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday said it would extend existing mask requirements for airports, airplanes, trains and transit hubs through Jan. 18.

(Compiled by Mark Heinrich; ; editing by John Stonestreet)