July 13 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
WHO says countries should not order COVID-19 boosters
Rich countries should not be ordering booster shots for their vaccinated populations while other countries have yet to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said the global health agency had not seen evidence showing that booster shots were necessary for those who have received a full course of vaccines. While boosters may be necessary one day, there was no evidence they were needed yet. “It has to be based on the science and the data, not on individual companies declaring that their vaccines need to be administered as a booster dose,” she said.
Air pollution makes severe COVID worse
Dirty air contributes to COVID-19 severity, according to a study from one of America’s most polluted cities. Researchers who studied 2,038 adults hospitalised with COVID-19 in the Detroit area found those who needed intensive care and machines to help them breathe were more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher levels of air pollution and lead paint. The worse the air contamination, the higher the odds of needing intensive care and mechanical ventilation.
Dr Anita Shallal of Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital said long-term exposure to air pollution may impair the immune system and make it more susceptible to viral infections, while fine particles in air pollution may also act as a carrier for the virus and help it spread. “Communities of color are more likely to be located in areas closer to industrial pollution, and to work in businesses that expose them to air pollution,” Shallal said in a statement from the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, where she presented the findings on Friday.
U.S. officials say fully vaccinated don’t need booster
U.S. health officials, after meeting with vaccine maker Pfizer, reiterated on Monday that Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need to get a booster shot, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department said. Pfizer said last week it planned to ask U.S. regulators to authorize a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, based on evidence of greater risk of infection six months after inoculation and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
HHS officials had a briefing from Pfizer on Monday regarding their latest, preliminary data on vaccinations and will continue to discuss when and if booster shots will be needed in future, the spokesperson said. Pfizer said it planned to publish “more definitive data” in a peer-reviewed journal.
France insists health workers get COVID-19 shots
All health workers in France must get COVID-19 jabs and anyone wanting to get into a cinema or board a train will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test under new rules announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.
Unveiling sweeping measures to combat a surge in infections, Macron said vaccination would not be compulsory for the general public for now but stressed that restrictions would focus on those who are not vaccinated.
Politics, health collided in Taiwan’s tortured BioNTech vaccine talks
As talks for Taiwan to access BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine via two major Taiwanese companies reached a head last week, the German firm’s Chinese sales agent put forward a template contract seeking access to Taiwanese medical records. The clause sparked alarm, as such a requirement would be anathema for Taiwan’s government, long wary of Beijing’s attempts at influence over the democratic island, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Reuters could not determine why Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd sent the template, and the company did not respond to requests for comment. But the incident highlights how politics became entangled with a public health issue, laying bare wider disagreements between the governments of China and Taiwan.