Worldwide confirmed cases of the coronavirus-borne disease COVID-19 climbed above 133 million on Thursday and the death toll got closer to 3 million as India and Brazil became focal points amid record mortality rates and concerns about the spread of more contagious variants .
Brazil reported nearly 4,200 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post, the highest number in one day since the start of the pandemic. The country is struggling to contain the P.1 variant, and is now also dealing with the variant first found in South Africa.
President Jair Bolsanaro has been widely criticized for his arrogant approach to the crisis, which left Brazil with the second highest number of cases in the world, after the US, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, and the second highest death toll.
Officials in Brazil's most populous city of São Paulo say they are now adding 600 new graves to municipal cemeteries every day.
India has the third highest number of records and the fourth highest death toll, according to data from Johns Hopkins. India had more than 126,000 new cases on Thursday, a record in one day. The country with 1.36 billion people is said to be vaccine shortages for about 700 million, after exporting doses made by The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine producer.
The government blames the crowds and reluctance to wear masks now that shops and offices have reopened, Reuters reported.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi received his second shot of a two-dose regimen on Thursday.
Vaccination problems in Europe continued on Thursday, with Spain and Italy choosing to limit use of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University to people over 60, MarketWatch's Lina Saigol reported. That is expected to further slow down the European Union's slow immunization program, which is lagging behind countries like the US, UK and Israel. The US and UK have been accused of hogging vaccines as both countries have been slow to export doses.
vaccine and very rare cases of blood clotting problems in adults. The EMA did not recommend age restrictions as it stressed that the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks.
Read: EU and UK regulators say AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, but Brits under 30 are offered an alternative shot
Last month, French and German health officials restricted the use of the AstraZeneca injection to people 55 and 60, respectively, following concerns about unusual blood clotting in some recipients.
The US added 73,200 new cases on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker, and at least 2,564 people died. That death toll is artificially inflated by "many deaths on unspecified days," the tracker shows.
But the seven-day average of 65,556 cases is up 14% from the 14-day average, a trend that worries health professionals as more younger people get sick and contract more contagious variants.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday that the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the UK, is now the most dominant form of the coronavirus circulating in the U.S. Walensky said communities with high degree of community transfer should no longer allow youth sports that take place indoors or do not allow space of six feet. She also said major events in those communities should be postponed.
In other news:
Australia recommends using Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for people under 50 in place of AstraZeneca's shot, the government said Thursday, changing its advice for those most at risk. Reuters reported. The move is a hurdle to Australia's faltering vaccination efforts, which rely heavily on AstraZeneca vaccine. Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Australia would advise healthcare providers to only give a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to adults under the age of 50 if the benefit clearly outweighs the risks. Those who have already had a first dose of AstraZeneca without serious side effects "can safely receive their second dose," he said.
Do not miss it: Expect eye-popping sales from consumer companies as the calendar rolls around COVID closures
Medical regulators in Slovakia said doses of the Russian vaccine called Sputnik V they received "did not have the same characteristics and properties" as the version of Sputnik V, reviewed by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, reported the New York Times. That was a peer-reviewed article in the journal published in February found Sputnik V to be 91% effective against the virus, a statistic that helped persuade Slovakia to become one of only two EU countries to use it. The vaccine maker seemed unimpressed by the claims:
The death toll from COVID-19 has passed 100,000 in Scotland, according to figures from the National Records of Scotland, reported by the Guardian. Figures from the National Records of Scotland show that 38 deaths related to Covid-19 were recorded between March 29 and April 4, bringing the total number of fatalities on Sunday to 9,997. Since then, six deaths have been recorded in Public Health Scotland's daily figures, PA Media reports.
Eli Lilly & Co.
and Incyte Corp.
said Thursday that a phase 3 study of rheumatoid arthritis treatment baricitinib plus standard of care (SoC) versus placebo plus SoC has failed to achieve its main goal. The primary endpoint of the study was defined as a difference in the number of patients requiring non-invasive ventilation, including high flow oxygen, or invasive mechanical ventilation or death on Day 28. Patients treated with baricitinib had 2.7% less more likely than those who received standard care of progress to ventilation or death, a difference that was not statistically significant. The study, involving 1,525 patients, showed a 38% reduction in mortality at Day 28 in patients treated with baricitinib plus standard of care, including corticosteroids and remdesivir.
French church leaders and the government expressed outrage Tuesday after images showed a large church in Paris holding a full Easter service, wearing few masks and with no social aloofness in spite of COVID-19 restrictions, AFP reported. Outrage over the service at Saint-Eugene-Sainte-Cecile Church comes on the heels of an explosive television report about secret high-end restaurants operating in the French capital despite the rules. Paris prosecutors told AFP that an investigation had been launched into allegations of endangering the lives of others because of the religious service.
The global figure for the coronavirus-borne disease soared above 133 million on Thursday, said data collected by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll soared to over 2.88 million.
Nearly 76 million people have recovered from COVID.
The US continues to lead the world by cases, with 30.9 million, or about a quarter of the global number, and fatalities, at 559,168.
Brazil has 13.2 million cases and a death toll of 340,776.
India has 12.9 million cases and 166,862 deaths.
Mexico ranks third in the number of deaths with 205,598 and the 14th highest number of cases at 2.3 million.
The UK has 4.4 million cases and 127,171 deaths, the highest in Europe and the fifth highest in the world.
China, where the virus was first discovered late last year, has had 101,963 confirmed cases and 4,841 deaths, according to official figures, widely believed to be underreported.
What does the economy say?
Initial claims for unemployment benefits filed through the states rose 16,000 to 744,000 in the week ending April 3. the Labor Ministry said Thursday, as Greg Robb of MarketWatch reported.
Weekly claims averaged about 220,000 in the year before the arrival of Covid-19.
Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal predicted new claims would drop to 694,000.
The claims were revised to 728,000 in the previous week from the previous estimate of 719,000.
A further 151,752 claims for benefits were submitted last week through a temporary shelter program.
Also see: This is why the fear of rising inflation is off the base
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down slightly on Thursday, while the S&P 500
set a new intraday record.
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