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UK sets up temporary morgues, first vaccines reach Guantanamo Bay & other global Covid news

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up, ThePrint highlights the most important stories on the crisis from across the globe.

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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count being over 9.2 crore cases and more than 19 lakh deaths.

Amid a devastating wave, overwhelmed UK hospitals have run out of space for the dead, forcing the administration to store bodies in temporary morgues. Brazil researchers have found the vaccine by China’s Sinovac Biotech to be only 50.4 per cent effective while Australian scientists believe AstraZeneca’s vaccine will fail to provide herd immunity.

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

Temporary morgues set up in UK as hospitals run out of space 

UK is now reporting a record number of daily deaths and new Covid infections, especially after a more contagious variant of the virus was found in the country.

Hospital mortuaries, as a result, are running over capacity. In Surrey, to the South of London, mortuaries have reached their 600 capacity, forcing authorities to use temporary morgues to store dead bodies, reports Reuters.

About 170 bodies are currently kept at the temporary morgue Headley Court facility, which is a former Ministry of Defence site. Similar facilities are going to come up in London, Kent and Southeast England.

The UK has reported 31,64,051 cases of Covid-19 and 83,203 deaths so far.

Also read: US Covid deaths likely to rise by another 80,000 in a month

Australian scientists call for pause on AstraZeneca rollout

The Australia and New Zealand Society for Immunology — a premier research society — has called for an immediate pause on the country’s roll-out plan for the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying it may not be effective enough to generate herd immunity, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

In Phase 3 trials of the vaccine, AstraZeneca vaccine proved to be only 62 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 as opposed to Pfizer and Moderna which were found to be nearly 95 per cent effective.

The Australasian Virology Society Tuesday had also supported the pause of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but after some internal debate, the president of the society changed his position.

AstraZeneca is at the centre of Australia’s vaccine strategy and the government has already secured 53.8 million doses of it.

Australia has reported 28,647 cases of Covid-19 and 909 deaths so far.

Brazil researchers report 50.4% efficacy for China’s vaccine

The Covid vaccine, developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, was found to be only 50.4 per cent effective in clinical trials in Brazil.

This is barely above the regulatory approval, and way below the rate of efficacy that was announced last week, reports The Straits Times.

Several scientists and researchers called out the Bhutanan biomedical centre, a Brazilian biologic research centre, for releasing only partial data that raised the country’s expectations of the vaccine and led to premature celebrations.

Last week, the researchers had ‘celebrated’ a 78 per cent efficacy of the Chinese vaccine against mild-to-severe cases of Covid, according to the report.

Brazil has reported 81,95,637 cases of Covid-19 and 2,04,726 deaths so far.  

Also read: Pfizer investigates death of healthcare worker who received first dose of Covid vaccine

Israel’s cannabis, tobacco use rises sharply during Covid-19

Data provided by Israel’s Haifa University Public Health Conference indicated that the use of tobacco and marijuana has increased in the country during the pandemic, reports The Jerusalem Post. The study also found an increase in anxiety during this period

According to the research, 28.6 per cent of the participating cigarette smokers reported an increase in their tobacco intake, while 21.1 per cent of respondents reported difficulty sleeping. About 12.8 per cent had reported a general feeling of anxiety during the second lockdown.

The survey was first conducted near the end of Israel’s first lockdown in May and then in the middle of the second lockdown that was imposed in September.

Israel has reported 5,10,063 cases of Covid-19 and 3,771 deaths so far.

First Covid vaccines reach Guantanamo Bay, Cuba 

The US Military Tuesday disclosed that 100 members of the prison staff in Guantanamo Bay had been vaccinated by the Moderna vaccine, reports The New York Times. 

However, the military did not disclose if any of the 40 wartime prisoners at the facility received or were offered the vaccines.

While 6,000 people are stationed at the base, the detention centre reportedly received a separate supply of vaccines for its personnel.

In the beginning of the pandemic, Guantanamo had revealed that two servicemen had tested positive for the virus and were in isolation, no further information was provided. At present, anyone going to the base has to quarantine for 2-weeks.

The US has reported 2,33,68,225 cases of Covid-19 and 3,89,599 deaths so far.

What else we are reading: 

WHO’s Covid mission to Wuhan: ‘It’s not about finding China guilty’: The Guardian 

My trip through China’s extreme Covid-19 quarantine measures from ‘contaminated’ Europe: South China Morning Post

Also read: Boris Johnson’s cross-London bike ride threatens his own UK lockdown


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