Almost a year into the pandemic, the world is still reeling under the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as it continues to infect thousands of people across countries. Tighter restrictions were imposed in the UK on Monday as cases continue to rise in record numbers. In the US, meanwhile, Pfizer Inc and partners delivered the first vaccines to 141 of the 145 locations targeted by the US government for the first day of nationwide launch on Monday. Singapore became the first Asian country to approve Pfizer vaccine and said it plans to start receiving injections later this year.
In India, the number of daily coronavirus cases has dropped to a low since July 6, recording 22,065 new cases of the deadly virus. In Italy, the government is considering severe restrictions nationwide as the Christmas holidays approach.
Here is the latest update of the Covid-19 pandemic:
1) A new variant of the coronavirus has been identified in London that is said to be responsible for the spike in cases. It was initially detected in south-east England, where cases are now increasing more rapidly. However, there is no scientific evidence that the variant is more dangerous or infectious. “The variant may or may not contribute to this,” Whitty said at a news conference, adding, “We don’t know what cause and effect is,” England chief medical officer Chris Whitty said Monday as he warned of blame him for the spike.
2) The World Health Organization (WHO) has also confirmed the new variant of Covid-19; the world health body said it was aware of a genetic variant of the virus identified in around 1,000 individuals in the UK. At a press conference on Monday, WHO Executive Director Michael Ryan said, “This virus evolves and changes over time and we have seen several variants emerge.” WHO is working with an international network of laboratories to see if the variant is becoming more widespread internationally.
3) In India, doctors at a Delhi hospital have observed an increase in cases of a rare fungal infection in recovering coronavirus patients. According to hospital authorities, the deadly infection which, if not detected early, can kill half of patients and lead to loss of vision or jaw in others, was triggered by Covid-19. In the past 15 days, ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) have seen 13 cases of “mucormycosis triggered by Covid-19 (black fungus)”.
4) A group of researchers in France found that dogs can sniff out Covid-19 and identify patients, including asymptomatic ones. In the preliminary study on PLoS One and conducted in March, dogs who sniffed sweat swab samples in the armpits were able to tell which samples were from patients with Covid-19 and which were from people who tested negative for the new coronavirus. Dogs can identify infected individuals with 85% to 100% accuracy and rule out infection with 92% to 99% accuracy, as reported by the Reuters news agency citing Dominique Grandjean of the Alfort Veterinary School in France.
5) Singapore became the first Asian country to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine and said it plans to start receiving injections later this year. The government also said it expects to have ensured enough vaccines for everyone by the third quarter of next year.
(With agency input)