Coronavirus latest news: South Africa variant can 'break through' Pfizer's vaccine

A 16-year-old teenager receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Clalit Health Services in the Israeli Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv (AFP)
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Half of the people in England live in areas that are Covid free
Why Europe's approach to AstraZeneca Jab is different from ours
Two thirds of the pubs have no outdoor space to open on Mondays
Private Covid tests must be subjected to quality checks
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The variant of coronavirus discovered in South Africa can "break through" Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine to a certain extent. This was found in a real-world data study in Israel, although the prevalence in the country is low and the research has not been peer-reviewed.
The study, published on Saturday, compared nearly 400 people who tested positive for Covid-19 14 days or more after receiving a dose or two of the vaccine, with the same number of unvaccinated patients with the disease. It matched age and gender, among other things.
According to the study by the University of Tel Aviv and the largest Israeli health service provider Clalit, the South African variant B.1.351 accounts for around 1 percent of all Covid-19 cases in all people examined.
The vaccine appeared to be less effective against the South African variant, the researchers found. What is crucial, however, is that the variant does not spread effectively, they say.
It is believed that this decreased effectiveness can occur over a short period of time. The results of the study showed that no cases of B.1.351 were reported in fully vaccinated people who received their second dose more than 14 days earlier.
Follow the latest updates below
2:25 pm
The risk of two vaccinated people catching Covid while meeting indoors is "tiny".
The risk that two vaccinated people catch Covid if they meet indoors is "tiny", according to scientists. Only one in 400,000 chances of getting an infection is slim.
Last week, Boris Johnson warned people shouldn't let others into their homes even if they both had the vaccine.
"The vaccines do not offer 100% protection, so we have to be careful," said the Prime Minister.
However, Professor Tim Spector of King's College London has calculated that the risk of getting a symptomatic infection in two people vaccinated is around one in 400,000 - which is far less than the risk of developing a blood clot from the AstraZeneca sting.
Prof. Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Symptom Study App and Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's, said there is currently only one risk in 1,400 of encountering someone with symptomatic Covid and people should feel "more relaxed". if they had been vaccinated.
Sarah Knapton reports.
2:01 pm
Thai is imposing new restrictions on Bangkok ahead of the holidays
Nearly 40 Thai provinces have introduced entry restrictions and quarantine requirements for people arriving from Bangkok and other coronavirus hotspots before a vacation trip as the capital struggles with rising infections.
On Sunday, the government announced 967 new infections, bringing the total to more than 32,000.
Regardless, health officials in the northern city of Chiang Mai have reported an additional 281 cases, which were likely included in Monday's national numbers.
Bangkok appears to be the epicenter of Thailand's third wave. More than 1,000 cases have been reported this month.
Over 4,000 people across the country are hospitalized with coronavirus.
According to Suksan Kittisupakorn, director general of the medical service department, Bangkok has set up 10 field hospitals to accommodate up to 3,000 patients for Thailand's "worst outbreak".
The Thai authorities have discovered a highly infectious variant of the virus originally found in the UK.
1:17 pm
Covid third wave is no longer expected in the summer, government advisors admit
A third wave is unlikely this summer, government scientists have admitted, although modeling suggests the UK would see an increase in infections.
Senior experts close to the government have said that a new wave is more likely to come in the fall, following the pattern of other seasonal respiratory infections.
Last week, a modeling summary by the Government's Pandemic Influenza Scientific Group (SPI-M) warned that cases would increase significantly soon after restrictions were fully lifted in June, unless some measures like wearing masks are not taken would be retained.
Some models even suggested that the third summer wave could be as big as the January summit.
However, it has been criticized that the models fail to take into account that most respiratory viruses decrease in the summer months or adequately reflect the success of the vaccination program.
A senior government scientist said the modeling had "some major reservations".
Sarah Knapton reports.
12:40 p.m.
The April 12 ban rules: what you can and can't do
A number of coronavirus restrictions will ease from Monday as England enters phase two of the lockdown lift. But what is changing?
Restaurants and pubs are allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers who are seated outdoors
Gyms and spas can reopen, as can zoos, theme parks, libraries, and community centers
All shops are allowed to open
As well as hairdressers, beauty salons and other services
Members of the same household can vacation in self-contained accommodation in England
Non-essential travel between England and Wales is permitted
Weddings - with up to 15 people - are allowed as well as funerals - with up to 30 people at the ceremony and 15 people when waking up
Children can participate in all indoor children's activities
The number of nursing home visitors increases to two per resident
Driving lessons can be resumed. The driving tests will resume on April 22nd
As of Monday April 12th, you cannot and cannot do any of the following
12:01 p.m.
"Up to 80 percent" in Sicily reject AZ vaccine
Up to 80 percent of people who have offered the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Sicily reject it out of fear for its safety, according to the president of the southern Italian region, Nello Musumeci.
Public confidence in the Anglo-Swedish engraving has been severely shaken by reports linking it to rare but potentially fatal blood clots and conflicting recommendations about its use.
"In Sicily there is an 80 percent rejection rate of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Every 100 people, 80 say no," Musumeci said late Saturday in Catania, according to several media reports.
Musumeci added, "It is natural" for people to be particularly concerned, "but we have a duty to believe scientists when they say it is more dangerous not to get vaccinated than to get vaccinated."
The president actually wanted to say "up to 80 percent", his spokeswoman Michela Giuffrida told AFP on Sunday, adding as an example that the rejection rate in the city of Syracuse was "30 percent".
A large-scale boycott of the AstraZeneca sting would put Italy's vaccination plan - already grappling with supply shortages and botched priorities - under further pressure.
11:45 a.m.
Enjoy the freedoms of Monday, but realize that there is still a risk, warns the chairman of Nervtag
The government's advisory group on new and emerging respiratory virus threats (Nervtag) has urged caution before the lockdown is significantly eased.
Professor Peter Horby told Times Radio: "The buzzword really needs to be caution.
“The modeling, which is pretty good now, shows that we can expect some kind of rebound. It's not clear when or how big it will be, but I think there will inevitably be some recovery in the number of cases in where things are relaxed.
"Hopefully there won't be too much hospitalization and death due to the vaccination program, but there will be some. Now the extent really depends on how well we comply with the ongoing restrictions so we really have to take this one step at a time.
"I think we can be happy and enjoy the freedoms, but we still have to realize that there are still large numbers of people who have not been infected or vaccinated and therefore they are at risk."
11:22 am
The royal household lays flowers at Winsor Castle
A royal household worker began laying flowers in a courtyard at Windsor Castle.
The woman placed several bouquets of flowers in the middle of the lawn in the castle grounds, just beyond the entrance, guarded by four armed police officers, and can be seen from Castle Hill Road.
The public also placed flowers at a separate entrance near the Long Walk for a third day, although this was not recommended due to coronavirus restrictions and bouquets of flowers were cleared away every night.
Staff lay flowers on the ground in front of St. George's Chapel that have been left by well-wishers outside Windsor Castle, Berkshire - Gareth Fuller, PA
10:40 a.m.
The vaccine shortage hit India as the second wave of Covid gained momentum
India could be forced to scale back its Covid-19 immunization program despite calling for expansion amid a virulent "second wave" of the virus after ten states announced they had less than four days of vaccine supplies left.
In the eastern state of Odisha, bottlenecks have already resulted in authorities closing almost half of vaccination sites. Facilities have been closed in the western state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, India's financial capital.
The number of vaccinations distributed daily has already fallen from 4.3 million on Monday to 2.9 million on Wednesday.
"We do not have enough doses of vaccine at various vaccination centers and people have to be sent back for lack of doses," said Rajesh Tope, the minister of health in Maharashtra.
It's unclear why India, one of the world's leading manufacturers of Covid-19 jabs, could suffer from a vaccine shortage, despite one of the two manufacturers, Serum Institute of India (SII), recently raised concerns about its ability to produce enough Doses for India's 1.38 billion citizens.
Joe Wallen has the last one here.
10:27 am
The rhino population in Nepal is growing as part of nature conservation
According to official figures, the number of endangered rhinos in Nepal has grown by more than a hundred in the past six years.
The census, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, was carried out using GPS devices, binoculars and cameras.
According to the latest census, the population in four national parks in the southern plains rose to 752 from 645 in 2015, the Ministry of National Parks and Conservation said on Saturday.
"The increase in the number of rhinos is exciting news for us," the department's information officer, Haribhadra Acharya, told AFP on Sunday.
"However, we are faced with the challenge of expanding this animal's habitats in order to sustain growth."
Thousands of one-horned rhinos once roamed the southern plains, but rampant poaching and human encroachment on their habitat reduced their numbers to around 100 in Nepal by the 1960s.
The Himalayan nation has been conducting a rhinoceros census every five years since 1994 as authorities stepped up efforts to increase population numbers for the species classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
A one-horned rhinoceros walks on the banks of the Rapati River in Sauraha Chitwan, about 150 km southwest of Kathmandu - PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP
09:55 am
Set up in the secret first camp for refugees from Myanmar in India
Hundreds of worried looking people fill the damp room, some playing folk songs on their cellphones while others sit quietly in the dark.
“I crossed the border into India with three other policewomen on a river boat at night. I was so afraid as I crossed that the police would stop me, ”said Aung Kyi, a little policewoman from Myanmar who fled after being ordered to shoot pro-democracy protesters in her home country after the military coup. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
The safe house is part of a camp that was kept completely secret by an Indian NGO that set up the facility after four Myanmar refugees were allegedly deported back to the country in mid-March.
Considered the first of its kind, it has a worn-out budget that depends on donations from personable local residents belonging to the same ethnic group as those on the Myanmar side of the border known as Mizo in India and Chin in Myanmar.
The location of the camp is a closely guarded secret. However, the NGO expects a Covid outbreak to occur at the facility soon and representatives are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the promised aid from the Indian government.
Joe Wallen and Isaac Zoramsanga report
The camp is home to dozens of people who have been forced to flee Myanmar - Isaac Zoramsanga
09:29 am
Here's how to get a cross flow test and do it at home
Starting Friday, people in England can request two Covid cross-flow tests per week for free.
The lateral flow tests, which can give results in about 30 minutes, are available regardless of whether people have symptoms.
Boris Johnson said the program would help stop new outbreaks and allow authorities to identify and control new variants of the virus.
Tests can be ordered online or picked up at a local center. Check out the video below to find out how to access your free cross flow tests and perform them correctly
8:59 a.m.
China is considering mixing vaccination doses
A top Chinese health expert has found that China is researching whether mixing different Covid-19 vaccines can improve their relatively low rates of effectiveness, reports Louise Watt.
The comments from Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, mark the first time a leading Chinese scientist has publicly discussed the country's relatively poor vaccine effectiveness.
China is considering two ways "to solve the problem that the effectiveness of its existing vaccines is not high," Gao said at a conference in southwestern Chengdu on Saturday. This comes from a report by the South China Morning Post.
The first is to adjust the dosage of a vaccine, adjust the interval between doses, or increase the number of doses, he said. The second is to mix vaccines that use different technologies.
China has approved four vaccines for public use, including Sinovac, which studies in Brazil have shown its vaccine has an infection prevention rate of around 50 percent, and Sinopharm, whose two vaccines are around 73 percent and 79 percent effective, respectively.
China has fired around 160 million shots within its borders since last year. Many Chinese were reluctant to get a sting for security reasons and because the pandemic in the country was largely controlled.
Beijing has also sent cheap or free home-grown vaccines to countries struggling to source others.
8:42 am
New York faces the exodus after the city raises taxes to make up for the Covid-19 deficit
New York prepares for an exodus of its wealthiest residents after officials pass a budget to allow them to pay the highest tax rate in the U.S. as they desperately try to boost their Covid-hit economy.
Under the new tax rate, which is expected to be stamped soon by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the city's top earners could pay up to 14.8 percent in taxes - a combined federal, state, and city tax that could reach 52 percent.
This overtakes the state of California, which currently has the highest combined tax rate for top earners in the United States and in much of Europe.
Business leaders and CEOs warned this week that the surge is likely to backfire by displacing the very people and businesses the city relies on for its revenue.
Josie Ensor reports
According to the Census Bureau - EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS - New York was the number one state for population losses in the United States last year
8:29 am
A large part of the hospitality cannot open on Monday, says the expert
A "large part" of hotel operations will "not be able to open" on Monday despite the fact that lockdown restrictions in England have been relaxed because they do not have access to adequate outdoor space, said Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality general manager.
In England, restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers outside from tomorrow.
Ms. Nicholls told BBC Breakfast that only two out of five venues would reopen.
"The majority of the industry has another five weeks to hold out," said Ms. Nicholls.
She said Monday's easing of the lockdown was a "welcome restart" for those companies able to adhere to current coronavirus measures.
She suggested that each location had invested up to £ 10,000 to make their venues suitable for outdoor hosting. She added, "You still won't break even. The best you will get outdoors is 20% of normal earnings." .
"We really want to make sure this is the last lockdown, so we have to exercise caution with the government," she told the BBC.
"What we need is a clear commitment from the government to stick to the last two dates on the roadmap. Our companies can no longer survive.
"Hospitality will not be viable until June 21st."
8:15 a.m.
Russia reports 8,702 new Covid-19 cases
Russia reported 8,702 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, including 2,090 in Moscow, bringing the national infection rate to 4,641,390 since the pandemic began.
The state coronavirus task force reported 337 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 102,986.
The statistics agency did a separate census and reported a much higher toll of 225,000 from April 2020 to February.
Coronavirus Russia Spotlight Chart - Default Values
07:38 am
Why Europe's approach to the AstraZeneca push is different from ours
Different circumstances and regulatory risk assessments explain more than politics and a clash of nations, writes Paul Nuki:
We humans like nothing better than telling stories - and the more familiar the book, the better. That is why the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet has been told a thousand times. Explaining things through shared narratives is one of our many tricks for understanding the world quickly.

The oldest story of all is the clash of nations and it is through this prism that the story of the AstraZeneca shock in Europe is often told. How else can one explain why the European Union started restricting the use of the vaccine among the elderly, only to reverse ferrets, prioritize the elderly, and then limit its use among the young?

The truth is of course more complicated. The bumpy ride with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe (and North America) has a lot more to do with regulators' different approaches to evidence and risk assessment than it does with policy. Different circumstances also played an important role.
Continue reading.
6:58 am
In India's second wave, cases continue to increase
India reported a record 152,879 new Covid-19 cases, data from the Ministry of Health showed on Sunday as a second wave of infections continued to surge and overwhelm hospitals in parts of the country.
The number of new deaths was 839, the most deaths in more than five months, and the death toll was 169,275.
India's record of more than 13.35 million cases is the third highest in the world, after only Brazil and the United States.
6:15 am
Customers may be too scared to return to malls
According to a new study, shoppers may be too afraid to return to closed malls when lockdown restrictions ease to allow non-essential retail stores to open.
Researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth and Edinburgh found that over the past year people have been "conditioned" to avoid crowded spaces.
And they say that doing so results in higher levels of stress, less excitement, and greater difficulty for shoppers to focus on a shopping task when around a large crowd of other shoppers.
The research team, who worked with colleagues at Saint Xavier University in the US and Universidad Externado de Colombia in Bogota, says that the "new normal" behavior will make closed shopping centers less attractive, but can be a boost for smaller ones. independent shops.
05:44 am
The effectiveness of Chinese vaccines is poor, says the chief disease control officer
In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country's top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them up to give them a boost.
Chinese vaccines "do not have very high protection rates," said director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control Gao Fu at a conference Saturday in southwestern Chengdu.
Beijing has distributed hundreds of millions of doses in other countries while trying to cast doubt on the effectiveness of Western vaccines.
"We are currently formally considering whether we should use different vaccines from different technical fields for the immunization process," said Gao.
The rate of effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine from Sinovac, a Chinese developer, in preventing symptomatic infections has been found by researchers in Brazil to be just 50.4 percent. By comparison, the vaccine made by Pfizer was found to be 97 percent effective.
Pedestrians walk past a billboard promoting a TV show about China's fight against Covid-19 in Shanghai - Bloomberg
05:25 am
S.Korea will resume wider use of the AstraZeneca vaccine
South Korean authorities announced on Sunday that they will be running a coronavirus vaccination campaign as planned starting Monday in the second quarter after deciding to continue using AstraZeneca's vaccine for all eligible individuals aged 30 and over.
South Korea announced on Wednesday that it would temporarily suspend AstraZeneca's vaccine supply to anyone under the age of 60, while a European review of cases of blood clotting in adults was conducted.
02:37 am
Mexico reports 2,192 new deaths after data review
The Mexican government reported 2,192 new confirmed coronavirus deaths on Saturday, one of the largest single-day deaths during the pandemic, after consolidating last year's data to include deaths that have not yet been confirmed at the time.
The number was well above the daily averages reported by the Ministry of Health in recent weeks.
According to the Mexican Ministry of Health, two-thirds of the 2,192 deaths reported on Saturday occurred in 2020 and were not classified as coronavirus deaths at the time. They were then checked by experts.
A woman places a message dedicated to people who have died with Covid-19 on a wall in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City - Sashenka Gutierrez / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock
1:45 a.m.
The day before the elections, Peru recorded a record Covid death
A day before the presidential and congressional elections, Peru posted a second record daily death rate on Saturday from the pandemic that is re-gripping the country.
The Ministry of Health said it recorded 384 deaths, bringing the death toll to 54,669 as healthcare workers grapple with medical oxygen shortages, saturated hospitals and the government struggling to ensure adequate vaccination supplies.
Millions of Peruvians are expected to vote at polling stations across the country on Sunday to choose their next president and congressman. Voting is mandatory. Under threat of a $ 25 fine, polling station numbers were increased to facilitate social distancing and voters were encouraged to bring their own pens and wear masks.
Workers clean up a polling station the day before the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections - Reuters
1:31 am
Today's top stories
More than half of the people in England today live in an area where new cases of Covid have all but disappeared. Some places have not reported a case in public data for more than a month.
Boris Johnson will not attend the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral to make room for a member of the royal family. Only 30 people can participate due to Covid restrictions.
Two thirds of the pubs cannot open on Monday because they lack the outdoor area to safely serve customers.
All private coronavirus tests are subject to UK quality assurance. This has been found out as the government admits there are too many entering the market that are not functioning properly.
The International Monetary Fund warned last week that "weaker and poor countries will be lagging behind at several speeds in this recovery" as it unveiled a variety of growth forecasts.
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