Coronavirus: Latest on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the world - Thursday, April 8

Here's the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic from around the world overnight.

Americas

Brazil

South America is the most worrying region for COVID-19 infections, as cases mount in nearly every country, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

Brazil has seen perhaps the most merciless surge and scientists forecast it will soon surpass the worst of a record January wave in the United States, with daily fatalities climbing above 4000. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported a single-day record of 4195 deaths.

Brazil has also recorded its first confirmed case of the highly contagious coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa. The South African variant in studies appears to lessen protection from current vaccines.

Mexico

Mexico's government reported 5499 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 596 more fatalities, according to data from the health ministry published on Wednesday, bringing the country's total to 2,261,879 infections and 205,598 deaths.

United States

The highly contagious variant of COVID-19 first discovered in the United Kingdom has become the most common strain of the virus in the United States as cases continue to climb, a top US health official said on Wednesday.

Asia-Pacific

China

A joint China-World Health Organization study into COVID-19 has provided no credible answers about how the pandemic began, and more rigorous investigations are required - with or without Beijing's involvement, a group of international scientists and researchers said on Wednesday.

Taiwan accused China of using an offer of vaccines to lure Paraguay to break off diplomatic relations.

Japan

Japan's Osaka will hold the Olympic torch relay in a park without spectators instead of on public roads.

Group of Brazilian citizens in Rio seen holding banners.
Group of Brazilian citizens in Rio seen holding banners. Photo credit: Getty

Europe

World Bank President David Malpass on Wednesday said the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Europe was concerning and disappointing, and could even weigh on the economic growth forecasts of Germany, Europe's largest economy.

France

Another 433 people were reported dead in France. 

Spain

Authorities in several Spanish regions ratcheted up COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday to rein in a rising infection rate and prevent it from evolving into a fourth wave of contagion.

Greece

Greece will open high schools next week despite a record number of daily new cases recently, officials said on Wednesday, as the government began mass distribution of home-testing kits it hopes will help control the pandemic and reopen the economy.

Italy

Italy reported 627 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday against 421 the day before, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections rose to 13,708 from 7767 the day before.

Norway

Norway hopes to gradually unwind many restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of June, but must see a decline in infection rates and hospitalisations before it does so, Prime Minister Erna Solberg told Parliament on Wednesday.

Middle East and Africa

Iran and Iraq

Iran passed its daily record of infections as cases reached 20,954, the health ministry said. Iraq registered its biggest daily increase in infections with 8331 cases.

Vaccines

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to swell global public debt in 2021, but spending more money to accelerate vaccinations is the fastest way to start to normalize government finances, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

AstraZeneca

Several European countries are considering mixing up COVID-19 vaccines for citizens who received a first dose of AstraZeneca's shot, an unprecedented move that highlights challenges for governments struggling to tame fresh rises in infections. Some experts say that, because all of the vaccines target the same outer "spike" protein of the virus, they could work together to train the body to fight off the virus. There is no evidence it will be as effective.

The UK medical regulator has abruptly changed its guidance over use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, warning that people under the age of 30 should not use the jab.

The European Medicines Agency confirmed a "possible link" between the vaccine and blood clotting but says the benefits still "outweigh the risks".

Instances of rare clotting in women aged under 60 who received AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine were 20 times higher than would normally be expected in Germany. 

South Korea said on Wednesday it will temporarily suspend providing AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to people below 60.

mRNA vaccines

The first Moderna jab has been administered in the UK to a 24-year-old.

Scientists in the UK have figured out the exact ingredient in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine behind a few rare cases of anaphylaxis.

They're stressing the risk of the taking the vaccine is far outweighed by the dangers of contracting the virus, which has killed more than 3 million people worldwide in the past 14 months. 

The US National Institutes of Health said on Wednesday it had begun a mid-stage study to determine the risk of allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer.

Several allergic reaction incidents, including serious episodes, known as anaphylaxis, have been reported in the US after vaccinations of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots.

Reuters / Newshub.