(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
England’s COVID-19 prevalence rises again
The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England increased to around 1 in 70 people in the week ending Oct 2, Britain’s Office for National Statistics said on Friday, reaching its highest level since the end of August.
The ONS said that prevalence of infections had risen for its second straight week, having been at 1 in 85 people in the previous week.
Britain will offer additional COVID-19 shots to participants in clinical trials for vaccines that have not yet been approved in order to let them travel, the health ministry said on Friday.
People enrolled in trials for shots made by the likes of Novavax and Valneva have been in limbo, as the shots have not been approved, ruling them out of agreements to allow people to travel.
Two Indian drugmakers seek to end trials of Merck’s drug for moderate COVID-19
Two Indian drugmakers have requested permission to end their late-stage trials on Merck & Co’s experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir in moderate COVID-19 patients.
Aurobindo Pharma and MSN Laboratories plan to continue late-stage trials of the drug for those with mild COVID-19, the Indian drug regulator’s expert committee said on Friday.
The two companies separately sought permission to end trials in the case of moderate COVID-19 patients after having submitted interim clinical trial data around the effectiveness of the drug in treating this category of patients, the committee disclosed, throwing into question the efficacy of the experimental drug in improving outcomes for patients with moderate cases of COVID-19.
Biden calls on more U.S. businesses to require vaccinations
President Joe Biden on Thursday said more U.S. businesses should obligate workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, calling the move vital to ending the pandemic and sustaining the economy.
“Today I’m calling on more employers to act,” Biden said.
“My message is: Require your employees to get vaccinated. With vaccinations, we’re going to beat this pandemic finally. Without them, we face endless months of chaos in our hospitals, damage to our economy and anxiety in our schools.”
Doctors worry Sydney re-opening is moving too fast
Australian doctors warned a too-rapid easing of COVID-19 curbs in Sydney could put pressure on health systems and risk lives, as the city prepares for key restrictions to be relaxed next week after more than 100 days in lockdown.
While an easing of restrictions on travel for Sydneysiders outside of their local government areas had previously been flagged, authorities on Thursday also decided to bump up permitted limits for home gatherings, weddings and funerals – earning the ire of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
“New South Wales must not be reckless at this critical time,” AMA President Omar Khorshid said in a statement, adding that “too fast or too early” could result in avoidable deaths and the reintroduction of lockdowns.
Denmark says Moderna vaccine remains available to under-18s
The Danish Health Agency said on Friday it was continuing to offer Moderna’s vaccine to under-18s, and that a statement on Wednesday suggesting a suspension had been a miscommunication.
“The Danish recommendations have not been changed,” the agency said.
“The Danish Health Agency continues to assess that both COVID-19 vaccines, both the one from Pfizer/BioNTech and the one from Moderna, are highly effective vaccines that have an important place in the general vaccination programme in Denmark.”
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Andrew Heavens)