Goldman Sachs mandates vaccines; South Africa registers…

A resident has her vaccine administered at a drive-through Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination site in Pretoria, South Africa, on 18 August 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

South Africa registered 10,346 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 2,708,951. A further 369 Covid-19-related deaths were reported, taking total official deaths to 79,953. A total of 11,076,106 people have been vaccinated.

The effectiveness of vaccines among front-line workers declined to 66% after the Delta variant became dominant, compared with 91% before it arose, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

White House Covid adviser Anthony Fauci said a third vaccine dose from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna could lead to lasting protection. The US will increase payments for healthcare providers to deliver vaccines at home. 

Israel lowered the minimum age for boosters to 30 from 40. The number of UK workers going to the office is increasing. 

Traffic on China’s typically busy city streets has shown signs of a recovery after the country quashed a resurgence in cases. A study said India may face an unprecedented 600,000 new infections a day if the nation fails to boost the pace of shots.

Key developments

Goldman Sachs mandates vaccines

Goldman Sachs Grouptold employees it would require anyone who entered the bank’s US offices, including clients, to be fully vaccinated starting on September 7, The New York Times reported.

The announcement, in a memo obtained by the newspaper, comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a move that many large corporations had been seeking before making mandates.

New York governor orders school masks

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on Monday she would institute a mask mandate for students at schools in the state and require staff to be vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly.

Hochul, in her first address after being sworn in at midnight, said she would make her first priority the safety of New Yorkers, especially children.

The 62-year-old Democrat said she would issue updated guidelines for Covid-19, particularly for schools, expedite aid to New Yorkers in need of rental assistance, and work to reform ethics in Albany.

Vaccine efficacy wanes from Delta, CDC says

The effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines among front-line workers declined to 66% after the Delta variant became dominant, compared with 91% before it arose, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccines are still protective, the CDC said. The finding must be interpreted with caution, as vaccine effectiveness might wane over time and the estimates of efficacy were imprecise.

US boosts pay for in-home shots

The US will increase payments for healthcare providers to deliver Covid-19 vaccines at home. Medicare will pay $75 per dose, up from $40, for at-home vaccinations, the agency said on Tuesday. The policy is intended to boost vaccinations “including second and third doses” for homebound Medicare beneficiaries, including those in group homes, assisted living, and other settings.

Greece posts biggest one-day case jump 

Greece reported 4,608 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day jump since the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier, the country’s health minister announced measures for the upcoming autumn/winter period that target unvaccinated people, including a ban on entering indoor areas of eateries and entertainment venues, as well as all sports fields or stadiums. The Greek authorities fear a further increase in cases as people return to mainland urban areas from summer vacations on islands such as Crete, where the virus has spread throughout the holiday period.

Deloitte to require staff vaccinations

Professional services firm Deloitte will require vaccination against Covid-19 for employees to enter its office, beginning on October 11.

The requirement will go into effect seven weeks after the US Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the company said in a statement. Workers will have to disclose their vaccination status on a secure Deloitte website, Joe Ucuzoglu, chief executive officer of Deloitte US, said in an email to staff.

Occidental extends work-from-home plan

Occidental Petroleum is extending the work-from-home option through at least the end of October amid surging Covid-19 infections across the US South. 

US-based employees who need to go into offices must be vaccinated or take weekly virus tests, the company said in an email. Occidental is headquartered in Houston, and it also has large offices in The Woodlands, a suburb north of the city. 

Israel lowers minimum age for booster jab

Israel expanded its coronavirus booster drive, lowering the minimum age for the shot to 30 from 40 previously, the health ministry said.

Israel started inoculations with a third vaccine dose at the beginning of the month, starting with people over the age of 60, and has now administered the booster to more than 1.5 million people.

Swiss hospitalisations surge, vaccinations lag

The number of hospitalisations has surged 30-fold since the beginning of July, said Patrick Mathys of the Federal Office of Public Health. Nine out of 10 hospitalisations could have been avoided with a vaccine, officials said. The fourth wave is coming two months early and patients are much younger.

Officials urged the public to get vaccinated. Switzerland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with less than 57% having received at least one shot. The country recommends giving young adults from the age of 12 an mRNA jab. The situation has changed with the Delta variant, which is as contagious as chickenpox, one official said.

Mauritius eases travel restrictions

The tourism-dependent Indian Ocean island of Mauritius will ease travel restrictions starting on September 1 as 56% of its population has been vaccinated. Inoculated visitors with a negative PCR test on arrival will have to spend seven days in a special resort bubble hotel, down from the current 14 days, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority said. A full reopening of the borders is envisaged for October 1.

Third virus shot may bring lasting protection

Anthony Fauci said a third vaccine dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine could lead to lasting levels of protection against the virus. Speaking on MSNBC, he said that “it’s entirely conceivable” that a third dose “very well may allow for a rather prolonged period of protection”. He added that this means booster shots may not be needed “indefinitely.”

Scotland may reimpose restrictions

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her government could reimpose coronavirus restrictions amid a record number of new daily cases. The country of 5.5 million people reported 4,323 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic.

Singapore’s infected workers fully vaccinated

Migrant workers who recently tested positive for the coronavirus in a dormitory in Singapore were all fully vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Manpower.

All the 62 individuals were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. They’ve been moved to a health-care facility for further treatment and care.

France recommends extra shot for elderly

A French health body recommended administering an extra vaccine shot to 65-year-olds and above, as well as for those with health conditions. It recommended giving the booster shots from the end of October. The extra jab is likely to become necessary for other parts of the population, it said, but it’s too early to say for whom or when.

Iran virus casualties at record

Iran’s death toll rose by 709 over the last 24 hours, the highest on record and up from the previous peak of 684 fatalities reported on Sunday. The number of new infections rose by 40,623 overnight, up from 38,657 yesterday. The country has suffered 103,357 deaths from Covid-19 and registered a total of 4.76 million cases.

Greece’s measures target unvaccinated

Greece is introducing measures covering September 13 to March 31, 2022, to slow the spread of the coronavirus and target unvaccinated people, Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias said on Tuesday. More than 90% of people currently being treated for Covid-19 in intensive care units aren’t vaccinated, Kikilias said. 

Measures include a ban on unvaccinated people in indoor areas of eateries and entertainment venues, as well as all sports fields or stadiums. They will also need to take rapid tests to go to gyms, theaters, cinemas and museums, and once a week to go to work.

Cases have risen to levels not seen since April given the Delta variant, with hospitalisations and deaths increasing. The worry now is people returning to mainland urban areas from summer vacations on islands such as Crete, where the virus has spread throughout the holiday period. Almost 63% of the adult Greek population is fully vaccinated.

Israel cases top one million, 10% of population 

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel topped one million on Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported. More than 9,800 people tested positive for the virus, close to the highest number recorded for a single day since the beginning of the pandemic, according to local media, meaning it has infected more than 10% of the population. 

Israel, with one of the earliest vaccination drives in the world, is currently inoculating people aged 40 and over with a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

UK vaccine body plans booster campaign

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will probably authorise a Covid-19 vaccination booster campaign in stages, similar to the gradual approval of vaccines for teenagers, The Times reported, citing people close to the committee. Last month, it recommended that boosters be given to all over-50s and people with underlying conditions, a total of 32 million people. The committee is now increasingly of the view that fewer people will need the shots.

India’s plan to resume vaccine exports

India will probably resume vaccine exports next year once it has immunised its own adult population, the head of an influential government expert panel told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The country risks recording 600,000 cases daily if it fails to boost the pace of vaccination to avert possible surges in Covid-19, according to a new study.

It added 25,467 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the total tally to 32.5 million. It has administered 589 million shots so far, but only 9.5% of India’s population is fully inoculated against the virus, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. Covid-related deaths rose 354 in a day to 435,110, based on Indian health ministry data.

Australians urged to exit Covid ‘cave’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urging Australians to abandon Covid-19 precautions when vaccination rates hit thresholds later this year, even as academic modelling released on Tuesday shows such a strategy could expose the nation to a wave of illness and death that it’s so far avoided.

Australia’s Delta-fuelled surge is showing little sign of slowing after 753 cases were reported by New South Wales state on Tuesday, slightly down from its record of 830 infections Sunday. 

The virus is continuing to spread to other parts of Australia despite lockdown restrictions enforced on more than half the nation’s 26 million people. New Zealand is also enforcing stay-at-home orders after the outbreak that started in Sydney reached there.

China reports just one new confirmed local case

China added only one confirmed local case in the central province of Henan, after zero new cases in the country a day earlier, containing one of the nation’s worst outbreaks since the virus first emerged in 2019. 

A month of draconian measures appears to have ended the latest upsurge, but the question remains over how long the world’s second-largest economy can steer clear of the virus given the spread of the infectious Delta variant overseas. The eastern city of Yangzhou, which was most affected by the latest outbreak, as well as Jiangsu province, no longer have any critical cases, according to local government statements.

Hong Kong will allow domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia to return in phases as the city will recognise vaccination records from other countries, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said. In another development, Hong Kong banned passenger flights from Dubai and Bangkok operated by Emirates from August 24 to September 6 after five people on a flight tested positive. DM

With assistance from Malavika Kaur Makol, Alisa Odenheimer, Leonard Kehnscherper, Arsalan Shahla, Paul Tugwell, Kamlesh Bhuckory, Claudia Maedler and John Tozzi.

Gallery

Top Reads This Hour

Comments are closed.