China considering mixing different Covid-19 vaccines
China is considering the mixing of different Covid-19 vaccines to improve the relatively low efficacy of its existing options, a top health expert has told a conference.
Authorities have to “consider ways to solve the issue that efficacy rates of existing vaccines are not high”, Chinese media outlet The Paper reported, citing Gao Fu, the head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
His comments mark the first time a top Chinese expert has publicly alluded to the relatively low efficacy of the country’s vaccines, as China forges ahead in its mass vaccination campaign and exports its jabs around the world.
China has administered around 161 million doses since vaccinations began last year – most people will require two shots – and aims to fully inoculate 40 percent of its 1.4 billion population by June.
Outdoor attractions and self-catering accommodation providers in England and Wales are preparing for a rush of visitors when they reopen on Monday.
Chester Zoo chief executive Jamie Christon said it has enjoyed a “great deal of demand”, with the majority of tickets sold out for the coming days.
He said it has been “pretty difficult” for the business during the pandemic, as it costs around 1.6 million every month to maintain the zoo, including looking after its 19,000 animals.
“Even though the gates have been closed to the public, life in the zoo still goes on”, he said
Steve Jarvis, co-founder of website Independent Cottages, which promotes around 1,800 self-catering properties, said around 80% of its sites are booked over the next fortnight.
The “huge appetite for UK holidays” began at the start of the year, he explained.
Another holiday home firm, Cottages.com, said two-thirds of its properties in coastal destinations or with hot tubs are booked for the first week of reopening.
As vaccine efforts in the European Union finally appear to be picking up pace, France is struggling to contain a third Covid-19 wave, but announced it had hit its 10 million inoculations target a week earlier than expected, while Germany doubled the number of vaccinations, administering a record 720,000 doses on Thursday after the rollout was extended to family doctors.
Across the border, Germanhealth minister Jens Spahn said the country was heading towards giving 3.5 million vaccinations a week by the start of May, aiming to cover the population by the end of summer.
French health minister Olivier Véran said the country had delivered a record 510,000 vaccinations on Friday after opening the first of 40 mass vaccine centres across the country, including at the Stade de France stadium.
The good news has been tempered, however, by AstraZeneca’s announcement of further delays to vaccine deliveries.
The Anglo-Swedish company warned the EU, Iceland and Norway it would be delivering only half the 2.6 million doses promised for the coming week due to production problems.
The EU has said it is looking to acquire a further 1.8 billion doses of what it called “second generation” vaccines to inoculate the continent’s children and adolescents and combat emerging coronavirus variants. The contract will be for 900 million doses with an option on a further 900 million to be used in 2022 and 2023.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has approved placing the capital region and four adjacent provinces under a less restrictive community quarantine status from April 12, his spokesman has said.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite, which have been in a strict lockdown due to COVID-19 infections, will be under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine status until April 30, spokesman Harry Roque said.
Voting to get underway in Peru, Ecuador and Benin
Masks are accompanying pens and polling cards as voting gets underway in different parts of the world today.
Ecuador and Peru are choosing new presidents under strict public health measures prompted by the pandemic, which has recently strengthened in the neighbouring South American nations.
In Ecuador, voters have been ordered to wear a mask, bring their own hand sanitiser and pencil, keep a 5-foot (1.5-meter) distance from others and avoid all personal contact in the polling place. The only time voters will be allowed to lower their mask will be during the identification process.
Polls in Peru were scheduled to open at 7 a.m. local time with twice as many sites available to voters than in previous elections as authorities try to avoid fuelling a second coronavirus wave that has gripped the Andean nation.
Voting has begun in Benin’s presidential election following a week of violent protests against incumbent Patrice Talon, who is heavily favoured to win a second term.
Good morning and welcome to liveblog coverage of the pandemic, taking in global and also UK developments on a day when India announced that it it has become the “fastest country in the world” to administer more than 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines.
But that vaccine milestone comes as the country remains in the grip of a brutal second wave, recording 145,384 Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 794 deaths, the highest number of deaths in more than five months.
But British scientists have warned that the government is risking a third wave of Covid-19 by easing the lockdown at a time when official data still shows virus hotspots across many parts of the country.
With the UK poised to lift many Covid restrictions on Monday, the scientists accuse ministers of abandoning their promises to “follow the data, not dates” in a rush to reopen society and the economy.
We’ll be bringing you coverage of those developments and more. You can flag up any Covid-19 news stories which you think we have missed today by emailing me or finding me on twitter at @BenQuinn75