Health and Healthcare Systems

COVID-19: What you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 26 August

A vaccination centre sign directs the public during a lockdown to curb the spread of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Auckland, New Zealand, August 26, 2021.

Restrictions remain in place in New Zealand amid a COVID-19 outbreak. Image: REUTERS/Fiona Goodall

Joe Myers
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  • This daily round-up brings you a selection of the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, as well as tips and tools to help you stay informed and protected.
  • Top stories: 'There are no shortcuts', warns WHO; New study shows risk of heart inflammation greater from COVID-19 than vaccine; Australia reports highest ever daily confirmed COVID-19 cases.
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1. How COVID-19 is affecting the globe

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed 213.9 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of confirmed deaths stands at more than 4.46 million. More than 5.04 billion vaccination doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data.

New confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 have topped 1,000 in Australia for the first time since the pandemic began. Two major hospitals in Sydney have set up emergency outdoor tents to help deal with a rise in patients.

Viet Nam expects 50,000 COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks in the manufacturing hub of Binh Duong province, the government said.

South Korea has reported 20 COVID-19 deaths - the highest daily total so far in 2021.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country's strict lockdown was working to limit the spread of the Delta variant. "Lockdown is having an impact, but Delta is very tricky," she said.

Pfizer is seeking US regulatory approval for a third "booster" shot of its COVID-19 vaccine. It said yesterday that a third dose spurs a more than threefold increase in antibodies.

It comes as World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the data on the benefits and safety of a COVID-19 vaccine booster is inconclusive.

Moderna has completed the real-time review process needed for full approval of its COVID-19 vaccine in people aged 18 years and older, the company announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has ordered all active-duty service members to be vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after it was granted full US regulatory approval.

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries
Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people in selected countries Image: Our World in Data

2. 'There are no shortcuts': WHO

WHO Director-General Dr Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the global numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths were stable last week, after rising for nearly two months.

"But it is stable at a very high level - more than 4.5 million cases and 68,000 deaths," he added. The situation also varies significantly from region to region, country to country - with cases and deaths rising steeply in some places while declining in others.

"As long as this virus is circulating anywhere, it’s a threat everywhere."

"There are no shortcuts. WHO continues to recommend a comprehensive, risk-based approach of proven public health and social measures, in combination with equitable vaccination," he told a media briefing on Wednesday.


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3. Heart inflammation risk from vaccine is greater from virus

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine marginally increases the risk of heart inflammation, but the risk is higher among those infected with COVID-19, a study published yesterday found.

Among every 100,000 patients who get the vaccine, one to five will likely develop myocarditis, researchers reported based on data from Clalit Health Services, a large Israeli HMO.

That rate is much higher - 11 per 100,000 - among people infected with the coronavirus, they said.

"For me, this is a really terrific paper in part because it actually takes data from the same system, and tries to provide more information, not just about the potential risks of vaccination, but also the potential benefits of vaccination," said Dr. Grace Lee of Stanford University, whose editorial was published with the report.

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