What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

COVISHIELD, a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, is displayed to the media, in Kathmandu, Nepal January 21, 2021.

REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

A roundup of the latest developments of how the world is grappling with COVID-19

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

India to begin commercial vaccine exports

India has cleared commercial exports of COVID-19 vaccines, with the first consignments to be shipped to Brazil and Morocco on Friday, January 22, the foreign secretary told Reuters.

The shots developed by British-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University are being manufactured at the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, which has received orders from countries around the world.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said South Africa and Saudi Arabia would be next to get supplies. The Indian government had held off exporting doses until it began its own domestic immunization program last weekend.

Tokyo Olympics to go ahead, Japan says

Japan doubled down on its commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied reports on Friday of a cancellation but that is unlikely to ease public concern about holding the event during a global pandemic.

A Japanese government spokesman said there was “no truth” to a report in the Times that the government had privately concluded the Tokyo Olympics would have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Times, citing an unidentified senior member of the ruling coalition, said the government’s focus was on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032.

Japan has been hit less severely by the pandemic than many other advanced economies but a recent surge in cases has forced it to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and other major cities. Tokyo has reported new daily coronavirus cases of more than 1,000 for 9 straight days through Thursday, January 21, and set a single-day record of more than 2,400 infections earlier in the month.

Fauci says US infections may be about to plateau

Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said on Thursday, that based on recent seven-day averages, coronavirus infections may be about to hit a plateau in the United States.

If 70% to 80% of Americans are vaccinated by the end of summer, he added, the country could experience “a degree of normality” by the fall.

Fauci praised US President Joe Biden’s willingness to “let the science speak” in contrast to the Trump administration, standing by his side on Thursday as Biden unveiled sweeping measures to battle COVID-19 on his first full day in office.

EU to tighten travel curbs for virus hot spots

The European Commission proposed to EU leaders on Thursday identifying “dark red” coronavirus hot spots from which all but essential travel would be discouraged after a meeting to discuss the mounting challenge from more infectious virus variants.

EU leaders also agreed during a video conference that it should be possible to agree on common standards for vaccine certificates for medical purposes.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference after the meeting that countries should not close their borders, to ensure the functioning of the single market, including the flow of goods and travel for cross-border workers, but that the Commission would add a new “dark red” category to its traffic light indications of risk, for regions where the virus was circulating at a very high rate. Today, almost all of Europe is red. –

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