(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
U.S. to lift land border restrictions for vaccinated visitors
The United States will lift restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November, ending historic curbs on non-essential travelers in place since March 2020 to address the pandemic.
The new rules are similar but not identical to planned requirements announced last month for international air travelers, U.S. officials said.
Lawmakers from U.S border states praised the move to lift the unprecedented restrictions, which harmed the economies of local communities and prevented visits to friends and families for 19 months.
U.S. FDA staff says Moderna did not meet all criteria for boosters
Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that Moderna had not met all of the agency’s criteria to support use of booster doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, possibly because the efficacy of the shot’s first two doses has remained strong.
FDA staff said in documents that data for Moderna’s vaccine showed that a booster does increase protective antibodies, but the difference in antibody levels before and after the shot was not wide enough, particularly in those whose levels had remained high.
New York must allow religious exemptions to vaccine mandate
A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that New York state cannot impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on healthcare workers without allowing their employers to consider religious exemption requests.
U.S. District Judge David Hurd in Albany, New York, ruled that the state’s workplace vaccination requirement conflicted with healthcare workers’ federally protected right to seek religious accommodations from their employers.
The ruling provides a test case as vaccine mandate opponents gear up to fight plans by President Joe Biden’s administration to extend inoculation requirements to tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans.
Curbs in Sydney could ease early
New South Wales could ease more restrictions in Sydney a week earlier than planned on Oct. 18 as Australia’s most populous state races towards its 80% double-dose vaccination target, the government said on Wednesday.
The southeastern state is expected to hit the mark over the weekend, beating forecasts, and officials previously promised to relax further restrictions on vaccinated residents on the first Monday after reaching that milestone.
“If we hit 80%, we’ve always said it will be the Monday following,” state Premier Dominic Perrottet told ABC Radio.
South Korea launches panel to debate ‘living with COVID-19’
South Korea established a panel on Wednesday to debate a strategy on how to “live with COVID-19” in the long-term, as the country seeks to phase out restrictions and reopen the economy amid rising vaccination levels.
Under the strategy, the government aims to relax restrictions for citizens who can prove they have been fully vaccinated, while encouraging asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 patients aged below 70 to recover at home.
The government will also focus on the number of hospitalisations and deaths rather than new daily infections, Yonhap news agency has reported.
Russia to test vaccine in form of nasal spray
Russia will test a nasal spray form of its Sputnik V vaccine among adult volunteers, according to a state document published on Tuesday, as the country struggles to rein in rising numbers of infections and deaths.
Russia was quick to develop and launch its Sputnik vaccine when the pandemic struck last year, but take-up has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities and fear of new medical products.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)