(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Melbourne set for COVID lockdown exit despite record cases
Melbourne will exit months of COVID-19 lockdown next week, helped by a faster-than-expected vaccine uptake, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday, ahead of schedule even though daily infections hit a record the same day.
On the worst day of a Delta variant outbreak that began in early August, Victoria logged 2,297 new cases, up from 1,571 the day before and the highest for any Australian state or territory since the pandemic began. Eleven people died, bringing the total toll in the latest outbreak to 125.
Indonesia’s Bali reopens to international tourists, but with no flights
Indonesia’s holiday island of Bali reopened to foreign tourists after 18 months of pandemic hiatus on Thursday, but the island is lacking one crucial ingredient: international flights. Though the island’s Ngurah Rai International Airport has carried out simulations preparing for tourists to return, it is not expecting much to happen soon.
Details about the reopening, such as visa requirements and which countries they apply to, have so far been patchy. Indonesia late on Wednesday had confirmed the 19 eligible countries, which include China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, and several countries from Western Europe and the Arabian Gulf.
J&J shot gets better boost from Moderna or Pfizer in NIH study
People who got Johnson & Johnson Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine as a first shot had a stronger immune response when boosted with vaccines from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE or Moderna Inc, a study run by the National Institutes of Health showed on Wednesday. The preliminary study hasn’t been peer-reviewed and is the latest challenge to J&J’s efforts to use its vaccine as a booster in the United States.
More than 450 adults who received initial shots from Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson were part of the study that showed “mixing and matching” booster shots of different types is safe in adults. Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines are based on messenger RNA, while J&J’s uses viral vector technology. Separately, officials on Wednesday said J&J’s regulatory submission for its planned booster raised red flags, including small sample sizes and data based on tests not yet validated.
English school return spurred COVID in children
COVID-19 infections in children in England rose in September after schools returned from summer holidays, helping to keep cases high even as there was a fall among adults, a large prevalence study showed on Thursday.
The study found that the epidemic was growing among those under 17, with an estimated reproduction “R” number of 1.18. An R number above 1 implies exponential growth, while a number below 1 implies the epidemic is shrinking. The epidemic was estimated to be shrinking in 18- to 54-year-olds, while it was broadly steady among those over 55.
India resumes vaccine exports as domestic stocks build up – officials
India has resumed a small number of COVID-19 vaccine exports and will increase exports significantly in the next few months as domestic stocks build up and most of its large population is inoculated, officials said on Wednesday.
So far about 4 million shots have been exported, the source said, a small amount in proportion to the expansive vaccine diplomacy Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government launched this year before a second wave of infections forced a halt.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)