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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Practice nurse Hannah Currie, 25, prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine as Bradford Central Mosque is opened as a community COVID-19 vaccination centre. Pic by Peter Byrne

Moderna withholds 1.63 mln vaccine doses in Japan due to contamination
Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it has withheld supply of about 1.63 million doses of its Covid19 vaccine in Japan after a report of contamination of vials with particulate matter.

The company said the contamination could be due to a manufacturing issue in one of the production lines at its contract manufacturing site in Spain. The vaccine lot with complaints had 565,400 doses and Moderna said that "out of an abundance of caution" it had put the lot on hold and two adjacent ones.

Sydney hospitals erect emergency tents
Australia's new daily cases of Covid-19 topped 1,000 on Thursday for the first time since the global pandemic began, as two major hospitals in Sydney set up emergency outdoor tents to help deal with a rise in patients. The makeshift unit in the emergency department for Covid-19 patients will help "to offload delays", a Western Sydney Local Health District spokesperson told Reuters.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian said authorities had quadrupled the number of the state's intensive care ventilators to 2,000 early last year. Although the system is "under pressure", it can withstand the current crisis once vaccination rates rise, she said.

U.S. plans Covid-19 booster shots at six months - WSJ
U.S. health regulators could approve a third Covid-19 shot for adults beginning at least six months after full vaccination, instead of the previously announced eight-month gap, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Approval of boosters for three Covid-19 shots being administered in the United States — those manufactured by Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson — is expected in mid-September, the report said, citing a person familiar with the plans.

Delta Air Lines to add $200 monthly health insurance charge for unvaccinated staff
Delta Air Lines on Wednesday said employees will have to pay $200 more every month for their company-sponsored healthcare plan if they choose to not be vaccinated against Covid-19. The move to add a surcharge to health insurance contributions is the latest tactic by corporate America to push employees to get the shots to fight the pandemic.

In a staff memo, Delta Air Chief Executive Ed Bastian said the monthly surcharge would take effect on Nov. 1. He said the surcharge is necessary to address the financial risk the Atlanta-based airline faces from the decision to not vaccinate. Any employee in the United States who is not fully vaccinated will be required to take a Covid-19 test every week. The mandatory testing will start on Sept. 12.

One in four vaccinated LA residents got Covid
From May through July 2021, as the Delta variant spread, 43,127 residents of Los Angeles County in California were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infections. One in four had been fully vaccinated, though these patients had lower rates of hospitalisation, intensive care and need for machines to help with breathing than unvaccinated patients, public health officials reported on Tuesday in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

During the study period, the prevalence of the Delta variant rose from less than 9% to at least 87%, the authors note. As of July 25, hospitalisation rates were 29 times higher for unvaccinated patients, they estimated, "indicating that Covid-19 vaccination protects against severe Covid-19 in areas with increasing prevalence of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant."

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