The number of fatalities from the coronavirus-borne disease COVID-19 has risen 5% in Europe in the past week, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, making it the only part of the world where deaths are rising rather than stabilizing or decreases.
In its weekly epidemiological update, the agency said just under 50,000 new deaths were reported worldwide in the week to November 14. But cases rose 6% globally and were higher in the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific, while other regions were stable or lower.
The number of cases and deaths in Europe is mainly caused by Central and Eastern European countries, where vaccination rates remain low amid widespread mistrust of government and misinformation. But Western European countries with high vaccination rates are also seeing their unvaccinated residents succumb to the virus and hospitals in some places are filling up quickly.
In Austria, for example, which took the step this week to lock up unvaccinated people for a 10-day period, new cases exceeded 14,000 for the first time on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Hospitals in Upper Austria and Salzburg are coming under increasing pressure as intensive care beds are filled and the province braces for need for care that exceeds supply, after which it will implement an emergency triage situation.
See: Austria locks down its unvaccinated, and the Netherlands imposes restrictions again as Europe battles a surge in COVID cases
Austria is not alone. Germany had 52,826 new COVID cases on Wednesday, bringing the seven-day average to a record 41,052, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute.
The Czech Republic recorded a record 22,479 cases per day on Tuesday, and the government plans to ban unvaccinated people from public events and services from next Monday, the Guardian reported. According to Reuters, Hungarian doctors are warning of a “very sad Christmas” as it registered 10,265 new cases on Wednesday, the most since late March.
Russia on Wednesday reported a record one-day death toll of 1,247, also from Reuters, just over a week since a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. Russia has fully vaccinated less than 36% of its population.
In the US, there are still more than 1,000 COVID deaths per day, according to a New York Times tracker, and new cases average more than 85,800 per day. Michigan and Minnesota lead the nation based on cases measured per capita.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker shows that 195 million people in the US have been fully vaccinated, which is equivalent to 58.9% of the population. That number has barely increased for weeks and is well below the 70% threshold that experts say is needed to end the spread.
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The administration of President Joe Biden will unveil a plan later Wednesday to significantly expand production of COVID vaccines, both to meet the need for overseas supplies and to prepare the U.S. for another pandemic, the New York City reported. times.
dr. David Kessler, chief of vaccine distribution for the Biden administration, and Jeff Zients, its coronavirus response coordinator, told the paper the goal is to have vaccine capacity ready within six to nine months of identifying pathogens in a future pandemic and sufficient supply for all Americans.
Separately, the US government agreed to buy more doses of an antibody drug for the early treatment of COVID, developed by GlaxoSmithKline GSK,
and Vir Biotechnology VIR,
bringing the total order to nearly $1 billion for a treatment found to reduce the risk of hospitalization, the Wall Street Journal reported.
An influential US advisory panel will discuss Friday whether all adults are eligible for booster shots for COVID-19, a move that could make the shots available nationwide as early as this weekend, the Associated Press reported.
last week asked US regulators to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 years of age or older. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve Pfizer’s application before the advisory panel meets Friday. The final step — the CDC’s official recommendation — could come soon after the meeting.
has applied for authorization in Canada for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 to 11. The vaccine is already allowed in Canada for people 12 years and older. On Nov. 12, Health Canada allowed a booster dose of 50 and 50 µg for individuals 18 years and older to be administered at least six months after the primary doses.
Moderna said earlier this month it will delay its application for authorization in this age group in the US until the Food and Drug Administration’s assessment of myocarditis risk in teens is resolved, likely in January.
and Serum Institute of India said the Philippine Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use approval for Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine with Matrix-M(TM) adjuvant.
The vaccine will be made in the Philippines by the SII under the brand name Covovax. The vaccine has already received an EUA in Indonesia, and the companies have applied for authorization in India and with the World Health Organization. It has the advantage that it only needs to be cooled regularly, making it easier to transport and store.
See: Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics Present Phase 3 Data on Antiviral COVID-19 at ASTMH Meeting
Elsewhere, FedEx FDX,
is closing its crew base in Hong Kong and relocating pilots due to the city’s strict COVID measures, AFP reported, citing local media. “As the global business environment continues to evolve and with the pandemic requirements in Hong Kong, FedEx has made the decision to close the Hong Kong crew base and relocate the pilots,” FedEx said in a statement to Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK. .
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, the global number of coronavirus-borne illnesses soared above 254.6 million on Wednesday, while the death toll rose above 5.11 million.
The US continues to lead the world with a total of 47.3 million cases and 765,919 deaths.
India is second only to the US with 34.5 million and has suffered 464,153 deaths. Brazil has the second highest death toll with 611,478 and 21.9 million cases.
In Europe, Russia has the most fatalities with 254,292 deaths, followed by the UK with 143,598.
China, where the virus was first discovered in late 2019, has had 110,833 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, according to official figures, which are widely regarded as hugely restrained.