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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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Moderna's vaccine may be best against Delta
The mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech may be less effective than Moderna's against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, according to two reports posted on medRxiv on Sunday ahead of peer review.

In a study of more than 50,000 patients in the Mayo Clinic Health System, researchers found the effectiveness of Moderna's vaccine against infection had dropped to 76% in July - when the Delta variant was predominant - from 86% in early 2021.

Over the same period, the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had fallen to 42% from 76%, researchers said. While both vaccines remain effective at preventing COVID hospitalisation, a Moderna booster shot may be necessary soon for anyone who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines earlier this year, said Dr. Venky Soundararajan of Massachusetts data analytics company nference, who led the Mayo study.

Sydney police to step up enforcement in Delta-divided city
Australian authorities vowed on Tuesday to crank up policing of anti-COVID lockdown rules in Sydney, but dismissed suggestions that tougher measures, including a curfew, were needed after the city reported its biggest single-day new case number yet.

Amid questions about the effectiveness of Sydney's lockdown, under which residents are supposed to stay at home bar essential movements, NSW authorities said police have been asked to step up checks on how many people were being allowed inside small shops at the same time as they were still seeing "lots of unnecessary movement of people".

As Australia's largest city struggles to contain its worst outbreak of the pandemic, the harsher restrictions and tougher policing in its most-affected neighbourhoods have stoked resentment in its most vulnerable people. Though the whole East Coast city of 5 million is in lockdown, around 1.8 million in its ethnically diverse west are banned from leaving their immediate surroundings and doing any face-to-face work. Authorised workers must be tested every three days, and masks are mandatory outside homes.

EPL to introduce random status checks for ticket holders
Fans attending Premier League games are set to face random spot checks of their COVID-19 status at some stadiums in the opening weeks of the new season. Ticket holders should be prepared to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative lateral flow test result within 48 hours before the game via the NHS COVID Pass, the English Premier League said in a statement.

Supporters must also adhere to a new code of conduct, the league said, which includes wearing masks indoors, avoiding close contact with people they do not know and following one-way signage around stadiums.

Virus-free New Zealand plans border reopening
Under pressure from businesses and public sectors facing a worker shortage that policymakers fear will fuel inflation, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to unveil plans this week to reopen the country's borders. Ardern has indicated she will remain cautious when she outlines on Thursday her government's six-month plan for public health and border control.

Businesses are pressing for the plan to include the resumption of labour imports, sooner rather than later. The country's unemployment rate is at pre-COVID levels, with more jobs than skilled workers.

The underutilisation rate, a measure of how many people are working less than they would like, is at a record low. The labour shortages are pushing up costs as employers pay more to keep staff.

Canada extends ban on arriving passenger flights from India
Canada will extend its ban on arriving passenger flights from India to Sept. 21 because of the risks posed by COVID-19, the federal transport ministry said in a statement on Monday. The ban was first imposed on April 22 and has already been rolled over several times.

Separately, long delays were reported at the border on Monday as Canada finally opened to fully vaccinated American tourists for the first time in 16 months, causing a rush of travelers during the busy summer season - and bottlenecks for a desperate tourism industry.

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