(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
France to announce COVID-19 booster shots for all adults
France is expected to announce that COVID-19 booster shots will be made available to all adults as well as stricter rules on wearing face masks and more stringent health pass checks to curb a new wave of infections, French media reported. Health Minister Olivier Veran is due to hold a press conference at midday on Thursday.
The delay between full vaccination and a booster shot would be reduced to five months from six, and PCR tests for the non-vaccinated will only be valid for one day, BFM and Le Figaro said. Booster shots will progressively become a requirement for a valid health pass, required in France to enter restaurants, cafes, cinemas and museums among other public venues.
Non-profit groups tell WTO to reverse ‘vaccine apartheid’
More than 130 civil society groups largely from developing countries are calling for the World Trade Organization (WTO) to cancel a ministerial conference next week and instead concentrate on approving an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.
The group’s coordinator, Deborah James, acknowledged that a postponement was unlikely, but said some developing countries are demanding that a waiver take precedence over other WTO priorities, including fisheries and agriculture negotiations.
COVID-19 cases surge 23% in Americas
New COVID-19 cases jumped 23% in the Americas last week, mostly in North America where both the United States and Canada are reporting higher infection rates, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said, warning that the region might be facing a relapse as in Europe.
In Central America, by contrast, there has been a 37% reduction in new infections. In South America, nearly every country except Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela is reporting increasing COVID-19 incidence. The biggest jumps were in Ecuador and Paraguay, PAHO said.
Singapore, Malaysia to open land border
Singapore and Malaysia will launch a quarantine-free travel lane next week at their land border crossing, one of the world’s busiest, for people vaccinated against COVID-19, the two countries said. The land travel lane in the first phase will apply to citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders of the country they are entering, to allow people to visit families on the other side of the border, the office of Singapore’s prime minister said in a statement. The lane will be progressively expanded.
Long COVID risk not lower after breakthrough infection
COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in protecting against serious illness, but they do not protect against “long COVID” in people who become infected despite vaccination, new data show. For six months, researchers tracked 9,479 vaccinated individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 and about the same number of infected patients who had not been vaccinated.
Compared with the unvaccinated patients, people with so-called breakthrough infections were “at a much lower risk of severe complications of COVID-19” such as the need to be admitted to an intensive care unit, requiring breathing assistance, or developing a blood clot in their legs or lungs, said Maxime Taquet of the University of Oxford.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)