South Korea encouraged its citizens to take Covid-19 booster shots on Wednesday, as more elderly people fell ill and reported vaccine breakthrough infections, driving serious and critical cases to a record.
Severe coronavirus cases jumped from the mid-300s in October to 460 on Wednesday, official data showed. Of the severely ill patients, more than 82% were aged 60 and older.
Son Young-rae, a senior health ministry official, told a news conference that the increase is not posing a threat to the country’s healthcare system yet, as there are nearly 500 ICU beds available.
He said the speed of the rise in severe cases and the size of total infections, especially among the unvaccinated, are the major points to consider in deciding its future response to the healthcare system.
Sangmi Cha reports from Seoul for Reuters, and says that South Korea’s overall rate of vaccine breakthrough infections remains low at 85.5 people per every 100,000 inoculated.
But it has steadily risen in recent weeks, led by the elderly, as vaccine protection wanes over time and the group’s weaker immune system makes them more vulnerable to infections.
Of the total serious and critical patients with vaccine breakthrough infections in the past eight weeks, 93% were from those aged 60 and above, according to the government data.
Hello, Martin Belam here in London. Health secretary Sajid Javid is doing the morning media round in the UK – I’ll have the key quotes in due course, which will no doubt focus on the vaccine mandate for NHS staff. Here’s the latest UK figures on Covid.
Welcome back to our Covid blog this Wednesday.
I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be reporting from Sydney, Australia, to bring you all the latest headlines.
China has reported a drop in daily Covid cases for the first time since a new outbreak saw the nation implement a strict zero-Covid policy.
A total of 54 new coronavirus cases were recorded for 9 November compared with 62 a day earlier, its health authority said today.
French president Emmanuel Macron has urged for an acceleration of the nation’s Covid booster rollout while also announcing that many citizens will need a third vaccination in order to maintain a valid health pass from next month.
Here’s everything else you might have missed.
- China reports a drop in Covid cases with 54 new confirmed cases for 9 November compared with 62 a day earlier, its health authority said today.
- The Chinese city of Chengdu said it had tested 30,000 Covid-19 tests on visitors at a big entertainment centre, and rounded up those who tried to flee the site, in the second mass screening in days.
- France pushes to accelerate update of Covid-19 booster shots for elderly and vulnerable citizens. President Emmanuel Macron said a third injection would be made available to those aged 50-64 from early December. Anyone over 65 who was vaccinated more than six months ago will need to get a booster shot by mid-December for their “health pass” to remain valid, Macron said.
- Covid cases surge in Greece with a record of 8,613 new cases in the last 24 hours – the highest since the pandemic began. Cases have more than doubled in less than a fortnight.
- Virus deaths in Russia hit daily record of 1,211 Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily death toll in the pandemic, and 39,160 new cases. Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered many Russians last month to stay off work between 30 October and 7 November.
- Latvia, one of the least vaccinated countries in the European Union, is facing its most severe outbreak of Covid-19 yet.
- The World Health Organization has warned there could be shortfall of up to two billion syringes in 2022, which threatens to hamper vaccine efforts globally is production does not improve, AFP reports.
- Loved ones reunite at US-Mexico border as Covid travel restrictions lifted.
- UK health secretary says staff must be fully jabbed by April 2022 or risk dismissal raising concerns 32,000 care home staff and tens of thousands of NHS workers could quit.
- Daily Covid-related deaths in the UK rose above 250 again, with 262 reported on Tuesday.
- Covid-19 patients in Singapore who remain unvaccinated by choice will have to pay for their hospitalisation bills from 8 December, the government has ruled.
- Pfizer asks FDA to approve Covid booster shots for all US adults. Older Americans and other vulnerable groups have had access to a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine since September but the Food and Drug Administration has said it would move quickly to expand boosters to younger ages if warranted.
- Moderna also applied for European authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 6-11 years, weeks after it delayed a similar filing with US regulators.
- The European Union drugs regulator is set to authorise the use of two monoclonal antibodies to treat Covid-19 patients in coming days, two EU sources told Reuters, in its first approvals of such therapies.
- The US will buy another $1 billion worth of the Covid-19 pill made by Merck & Co Inc and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the companies said on Tuesday.
- Canada authorised the use of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine as a booster shot for people 18 years of age and older.