Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 from around the world - Wednesday, May 5

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

Americas

Canada

Canada is working with international partners to develop a standardised vaccine certification for travel and will position itself as a safe destination once the country has reached COVID-19 herd immunity, the tourism minister said on Tuesday.

Canada currently has a higher infection rate than the United States as it rolls out vaccines during a third wave. The country has fully inoculated only 3 percent of its almost 38 million people, though more than 34 percent have received a first dose and millions of doses are arriving each week.

United States

President Joe Biden will announce a new goal on Tuesday to have 70 percent of US adults vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 shot by July 4, administration officials said.

New cases of COVID-19 in the United States fell for a third week in a row, dropping 15 percent last week to 347,000, the lowest weekly total since October, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data.

Brazil

Brazil registered 983 COVID-19 deaths on Monday and 24,619 additional cases.

Europe

Italy

Italy could be administering shots to one million people per day by the end of this month, the head of the country's medicine agency AIFA told Corriere della Sera.

Sicily will start offering COVID-19 vaccines to people over 50 to speed up its inoculation programme which is being hampered by a reluctant older population who fear potentially severe side effects, the regional governor said on Tuesday.

Italy recorded another 305 deaths on Tuesday.

Sweden

Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has registered 14,950 new coronavirus cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed on Tuesday.

France

The number of daily new COVID-19 infections in France slowed again on Tuesday, continuing a three-week trend, with the week-on-week increase in cases below 3 percent for the third day in a row. The health ministry reported 24,371 new cases, taking the total to 5.68 million, an increase of 2.64 percent from last Tuesday and down from week-on-week increases of more than 6 percent before and during the third lockdown in April.

France also reported 257 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, including 243 in hospitals - down from 311 on the previous day.

Serbia

Get a COVID-19 vaccine and you will be served a plate of spit-roast ox or wild game goulash for free - in the Serbian city of Kragujevac.

Restaurateur Stavro Raskovic offered the popular local dishes on Tuesday as his way of promoting vaccination and campaigning for the full reopening of the country's restaurants, cafes and bars which can only serve patrons outdoors.

Denmark

Denmark announced plans to reopen schools and allow a range of indoor activities this week, but a cap on gatherings led to the cancellation of several summer music festivals, including the Roskilde Festival.

The Nordic country has avoided a third wave with broad lockdown measures introduced in late December, which drove down daily infections from several thousand to between 500 and 800 in recent months.

Poland

Poles rushed to clothes shops and DIY stores on Tuesday as the government eased coronavirus restrictions after the number of new infections fell.

New cases dropped sharply over the month of April and the government began reopening the economy in May, starting with the youngest children returning to school and reopening shopping malls and museums.

Asia-Pacific

Australia

Australia's Prime Minister, under pressure to overturn rules barring travel from India, said it was "highly unlikely" travellers would face maximum penalties of five years jail and a AU$66,000 fine. Australia last week banned all travellers from India, including its own citizens, from entering the country until May 15 due to the surge in COVID-19 cases there, and warned offenders will be prosecuted and penalised.

Nepal

Nepal urgently needs at least 1.6 million of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine doses to administer second shots as the Himalayan country is recording a surge in new coronavirus cases.

"People who have already got the first dose will be in difficulty if they don't receive their second dose within the stipulated time," said Samir Adhikari, a senior official of the Ministry of Health and Population.

On Monday, Nepal's COVID-19 cases increased by 7388 and deaths by 37, the highest spike in 24 hours since the pandemic started. Nepal has recorded a total of 343,418 cases and 3362 deaths, according to official data.

North Korea

North Korea's state media warned on Tuesday of the prospect of a lengthy battle against the coronavirus, saying vaccines developed by global drugmakers were proving to be "no universal panacea".

The country has not officially confirmed any infections, although South Korean officials have said an outbreak there cannot be ruled out, as the North had trade and people-to-people links with China before shutting its border early last year.

India

India halted its hugely popular cricket league on Tuesday as COVID-19 infections surged past 20 million in the world's second-most populous country and the Opposition leader said a nationwide lockdown was now the only way out.

Cricket officials suspended the money-spinning Indian Premier League (IPL) as the pandemic spirals out of control, with the country adding 10 million cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach the first 10 million.

With 3.45 million active cases, India recorded 357,229 new infections over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3449 to 222,408, health ministry data showed. With hospitals running out of beds and oxygen and morgues and crematoria overflowing, experts say the actual numbers could be five to 10 times higher.

"The only way to stop the spread of corona now is a full lockdown ... GOI's inaction is killing many innocent people," opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter, referring to the government.

Eight Asiatic lions at an Indian zoo have contracted the coronavirus, the government said.

China

China reported 17 new COVID-19 cases on May 3, up from 11 cases a day earlier, the national health authority said on Tuesday.

The National Health Commission said in a statement that all of the new cases were imported infections originating from overseas.

Vaccines

Pfizer/BioNTech

BioNTech is working on getting approval for a version of its COVID-19 vaccine which can be stored in fridges of 2C to 8C for up to six months, chief executive Ugur Sahin said on Tuesday.

The US Food and Drug Administration is preparing to authorise Pfizer and German partner BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years by early next week, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing federal officials familiar with the agency's plans.

CureVac

Germany's CureVac, which is gearing up to publish results of a key COVID-19 vaccine trial, said US export restrictions on key materials are making it impossible to predict its short-term supply ramp-up in Europe.

"Due to the Defense Production Act we are not getting certain goods out of the United States," CureVac chief executive Franz-Werner Haas told weekly Der Spiegel.

The Defense Production Act is a decades old US law that gives federal agencies the power to prioritize procurement orders related to national defence, but it has also widely been used in non-military crises such as natural disasters.

Medical research

Some COVID-19 survivors infected early in the pandemic still have detectable antibodies against the virus a year later, according to a new study. 

Antibody levels at the time of follow-up were correlated with age and with COVID-19 severity. Older age was linked with higher neutralizing antibody levels, whereas levels were "lower and more variable" in participants under age 65 who experienced less severe COVID-19 and did not require hospitalisation, the researchers reported.

Reuters / Newshub.