Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Most Japanese medical workers still not fully vaccinated Less than 30% of Japan’s medics have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in major cities with just 65 days to go before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Wednesday, amid growing calls for the Games to be cancelled.
Cabinet figures released this week showed that three months into Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination push, less than 40% of all its medical workers were fully inoculated, with the problem especially pronounced in Games host-city Tokyo and other large population centres, the Nikkei reported.
AstraZeneca vaccine followed by Pfizer dose safe and effective, Spanish study finds
A Spanish study on mixing COVID-19 vaccines has found that giving a dose of Pfizer’s drug to people who already received a first shot of AstraZeneca vaccine is highly safe and effective, preliminary results showed on Tuesday.
The Combivacs study, run by Spain’s state-backed Carlos III Health Institute, found the presence of IgG antibodies in the bloodstream was between 30 and 40 times higher in people who got the follow-up Pfizer shot than in a control group who only received one AstraZeneca dose. Meanwhile, the presence of neutralising antibodies rose sevenfold after a Pfizer dose, significantly more than the doubling effect observed after a second AstraZeneca shot.
Industrial parks housing Foxconn plants shut in Vietnam Vietnam’s northern province of Bac Giang ordered on Tuesday four industrial parks, including three that house production facilities of Taiwan’s Foxconn, to temporarily shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The industrial parks will be closed until further notice, the province’s People’s Committee said in a statement.
Bac Giang, which is 60 km (37 miles) northeast of Hanoi, has been an epicentre of a new outbreak that began late last month, with factory workers among those infected. The province has recorded 476 infections since April 27, accounting for a third of the overall cases in the country over the period, according to the Ministry of Health.
Texas bars mask mandates for schools, defying CDC guidance Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered all public school districts in his state to lift mask-wearing requirements next month, contradicting the latest student-safety COVID-19 guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Beginning Friday, local governments or officials attempting to impose a mask mandate or other restriction in defiance of Abbott’s latest executive order would be subject to fines of up to $1,000. Abbott said Texas was making strides against the pandemic through vaccinations, antibody therapeutics and voluntary health-safety practices, leaving government mask requirements no longer necessary.
GAVI hopes India vaccine export can resume in Q3 The GAVI Vaccine Alliance hopes India can resume COVID-19 vaccine exports in the third quarter of this year, it said on Tuesday, after the pandemic-battered country halted exports to focus on its own surge in infections.
The move has left countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and many in Africa scrambling for alternate supplies. — Reuters