Health News Roundup: Japan expands COVID-19 curbs as surges strain hospitals; China posts first decline in local new COVID-19 cases this week and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Japan expands COVID-19 curbs as surges strain hospitals

Japan decided on Thursday to expand its COVID-19 emergency curbs to cover more than 70% of the population, as a record surge in cases strained hospitals in the Olympics host city Tokyo and other parts of the country. Japan had avoided the explosive outbreaks seen elsewhere. But infections are rising fast as new cases hit record highs in Tokyo, overshadowing the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics and fuelling doubts over Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s pandemic response.

China posts first decline in local new COVID-19 cases this week

China reported on Thursday a decline in locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for the first time this week, and a health official said he expected China’s latest outbreak, caused mainly by the Delta variant, to be largely under control within weeks. A total of 85 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were detected for Aug. 4, down from 96 a day earlier, data from the National Health Commission (NHC) showed on Thursday. Of the new cases, 62 were locally transmitted, versus 71 a day earlier.

U.S. COVID-19 cases hit six-month high at over 100,000 – Reuters tally

The United States hit a six-month high for new COVID cases with over 100,000 infections reported on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the Delta variant ravages areas where people did not get vaccinated. The country is reporting over 94,819 cases on a seven-day average, a five-fold increase in less than a month, Reuters data through Wednesday showed. The seven-day average provides the most accurate picture of how fast cases are rising since some states only report infections once or twice a week. (Graphic on U.S. cases and deaths)

Analysis-Sanofi’s COVID-19 vaccine setback, drug pipeline cast long shadow

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi remains under pressure to launch new drugs and overcome setbacks in the COVID-19 vaccine race, despite a $3.2 billion deal to tighten its grip on promising mRNA technology. On Tuesday, Sanofi agreed to buy U.S. partner Translate Bio as it bets on next-generation vaccines and particularly as the French drugmaker, one of the world’s top flu vaccine makers, seeks to see off competition in one of its major markets.

WHO says COVID-19 related deaths in Africa reach record peak

Coronavirus-related deaths in Africa reached a record peak in the week that ended on Aug. 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. Over 6,400 deaths were recorded, a 2% rise compared with the previous week, with South Africa and Tunisia accounting for over 55% of the fatalities, the WHO said in a statement, adding that death trends are on the rise in 15 countries.

New COVID-19 cases peak in Sydney as Australia battles Delta variant

Sydney reported a record daily number of new coronavirus cases on Thursday and the state of Victoria announced a one-week lockdown as Australia tried to contain the highly infectious Delta variant. With around 35,200 COVID-19 cases and 932 deaths, Australia has avoided the high caseloads of other developed countries but its vaccination figures are among the lowest, with only 20% of people aged over 16 fully vaccinated.

Xi says China aims to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to world in 2021 -CCTV

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday said China will strive to provide 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries in 2021, state broadcaster CCTV reported. In his written message to an international COVID-19 vaccine cooperation forum, Xi also said China would donate $100 million to the COVAX global vaccine distribution scheme, according to the CCTV report.

Moderna says its COVID-19 shot 93% effective six months after second dose

Moderna Inc said on Thursday its COVID-19 shot was about 93% effective through six months after the second dose, showing hardly any change from the 94% efficacy reported in its original clinical trial. That compares favorably to data from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE last week in which they said their vaccine’s efficacy waned around 6% every two months, declining to around 84% six months after the second shot.

Factbox-Countries weigh need for booster COVID-19 shots

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have asked the U.S. and European regulators to approve a booster dose following a two-shot regimen of their COVID-19 vaccine, based on evidence of greater risk of infection six months after inoculation. Moderna has also filed for full approval for their vaccines in the United States.

Chaos at Manila vaccine sites as thousands rush to get shots before lockdown

Chaos and confusion marred several COVID-19 vaccination sites in Manila on Thursday as thousands showed up, hoping to receive a shot before the Philippines capital heads back into lockdown for two weeks. Movement restrictions will be reimposed across greater Manila, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to 13 million people, from midnight on Thursday to try slow the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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