Coronavirus: What's happening around the world on Friday
New poll shows most unvaccinated Americans don't want shots; Olympics officially open in Tokyo
- Fauci says prospect of open border for fully vaccinated Canadians part of active U.S. talks.
- Permanent residents face travel restrictions, bureaucratic obstacles as they wait to immigrate to Canada amid COVID-19 pandemic.
- Republican politicians ramp up pro-vaccination messaging as COVID-19 caseloads soar.
- Students stressed and anxious as universities deny residence spots due to COVID-19.
- Ontario's COVID-19 paid sick day program getting little uptake.
- Michael Andrew, unvaccinated U.S. swimmer, sparks debate as Olympics start.
- Two doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots effective against delta variant, study finds.
Most Americans who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do, according to a new poll that underscores the challenges facing public health officials amid soaring infections in some states.
Among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35 per cent say they probably will not, and 45 per cent say they definitely will not, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just three per cent say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16 per cent say they probably will.
What's more, 64 per cent of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants — including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83 per cent of new cases in the U.S. — despite evidence that they offer strong protection.
Nationally, 56.4 per cent of all Americans, including children, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has purchased 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer to prepare for children's shots and possible boosters, a spokesperson for the White House said Friday.
British officials warn of delta reinfection risk
Across the pond, Public Health England on Friday said that there were early signs of increased reinfection risk from the highly transmissible delta coronavirus variant compared to alpha, in an update of its variant risk assessment.
Out of a total of 3,692 people hospitalized with the delta variant, Public Health said 2,152 people, or 58.3 per cent, were unvaccinated, and 843, or 22.8 per cent, were fully vaccinated.
In the workforce, the British government has sought to ease food supply pressures in England by exempting certain workers from quarantine rules.
It was primarily concerns over food supplies that drove the government's change in approach as more and more workers, including crucial delivery drivers, were having to self-isolate, leading to scenes of empty supermarket shelves and fears of panic-buying by anxious consumers.
The government said it has identified priority locations, including the largest supermarket distribution centres, where testing will begin this week. The program will be expanded to as many as 500 sites next week.
"As we manage this virus and do everything we can to break chains of transmission, daily contact testing of workers in this vital sector will help to minimize the disruption caused by rising cases in the coming weeks, while ensuring workers are not put at risk," said Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who is also self-isolating after testing positive for the virus last weekend.
The government's new policy was welcomed by retailers, but many said the government must be prepared to take further action if necessary, potentially bringing forward its previously announced plan to change the self-isolation rules on Aug. 16.
On that date, the government has said it would exempt fully vaccinated individuals from the self-isolation rules. That change comes nearly a month after most legal coronavirus rules in England were lifted. The other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are being more cautious in lifting restrictions.
Alongside the measures to protect food supplies, the government published guidance on Thursday night setting out limited exemptions for 16 other critical workers if their inability to work would have a "major detrimental impact" or risk national security. However, the guidance is already proving difficult to understand.
Under the new guidance, fully vaccinated employees providing what are deemed critical services would be able to keep working and avoid self-isolation if they have been named on a list kept updated by officials.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9 p.m. ET
What's happening in Tokyo
Tokyo reported 1,359 COVID-19 cases on Friday, part of a wave of infection in the capital as the Olympic Games kicked off. Tokyo reported 1,979 cases on Thursday, the highest level since January.
The update came ahead of the opening ceremony of the Games. The ceremony was held mostly without spectators to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media did attend.
Competition has been taking place since earlier in the week, but the Games, delayed for a year by the pandemic, were not considered to have officially started until the opening ceremony.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:29 p.m. ET
What's happening around the world
As of Friday evening, more than 193 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's case-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.1 million.
In Europe, the European Medicines Agency has recommended approving Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 17.
In a decision on Friday, the EU drug regulator said research in more than 3,700 children aged 12 to 17 showed that the Moderna vaccine — already given the OK for adults across Europe — produced a comparable antibody response.
Croatia said Friday that starting next week the number of people at gatherings will be limited, while Montenegro temporarily closed down nightclubs and discotheques.
In the Americas, state governors are rolling back restrictions and soccer fans are returning to stadiums in Brazil amid a renewed sense of optimism as the number of coronavirus deaths in the country starts to recede.
But concerns remain about what will happen as the delta variant spreads through the mostly unvaccinated country, which already has the world's second-highest death toll with more than a half million fatalities.
Brazil registered 108,732 new cases of coronavirus and 1,324 additional COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Friday.
The World Health Organization said Thursday that new COVID-19 cases have slowed in Africa, "driven by a sharp drop in South Africa, which accounts for the bulk of the continent's reported cases."
However, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, cautioned that more needs to be done — and quickly.
"Be under no illusions, Africa's third wave is absolutely not over," Moeti said in a statement. "Many countries are still at peak risk and Africa's third wave surged up faster and higher than ever before."
In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan has passed the grim milestone of one million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year. Pakistan reported another 11 deaths Friday and 1,425 new cases of infection, bringing the country's tally to 1,000,034 people infected. The nation has confirmed 22,939 deaths.
The Philippines will suspend travel from Malaysia and Thailand, as well as tighten restrictions in the Manila area, in a bid to prevent the spread of the contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, the presidential spokesperson said on Friday. The travel restriction will take effect from Sunday and run to the end of July.
Meanwhile, Taiwan will ease its COVID-19 restrictions next week, the government said on Friday, as rapidly falling case numbers give authorities confidence to further lower the coronavirus alert level.
In the Middle East, Israel announced plans this week to allow only people who are deemed immune to COVID-19 or have recently tested negative to enter some public spaces such as restaurants, gyms and synagogues.
-From The Associated Press, CBC News and Reuters, last updated at 9 p.m. ET
With files from Reuters and CBC News