What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Japan finds another Moderna vial suspected to contain foreign substance
Japan's Kanagawa prefecture said it has found another vial of Moderna Inc's Covid-19 vaccine suspected of containing a foreign substance and has put the rest of the lot on hold. In a statement on Tuesday, prefectural authorities said a pharmacist found several black particles in one vial upon checking for foreign substances before the vaccine's use.
Japan suspended the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna shots last week after being notified of contamination in some of the supply. Moderna and Spanish pharma company Rovi, which bottles Moderna vaccines, have said the cause could be a manufacturing issue, and European safety regulators have launched an investigation.
Vaccination key to reopening Melbourne
Australian authorities on Wednesday extended the Covid-19 lockdown in Melbourne for another three weeks, as they shift their focus to rapid vaccination drives and move away from a suppression strategy to bring cases down to zero.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flagged a staggered easing of the tough restrictions once 70% of the state's adult residents receive at least one dose, a milestone he hopes to reach at least by Sept. 23, based on current vaccination rates.
Neighbouring New South Wales state, home to Sydney, on Wednesday brought forward its target date to fully vaccinate 70% of people above 16 to the middle of next month from the initial target of the end of October, as outbreaks spurred a surge in inoculations.
Brazilian viper venom may become tool in fight against coronavirus, study shows
Brazilian researchers have found that a molecule in the venom of a type of snake inhibited coronavirus reproduction in monkey cells, a possible first step toward a drug to combat the virus causing Covid-19.
A study published in the scientific journal Molecules this month found that the molecule produced by the jararacussu pit viper inhibited the virus's ability to multiply in monkey cells by 75%. Already known for its antibacterial qualities, the peptide can be synthesized in the laboratory, said Rafael Guido, a University of Sao Paulo professor and an author of the study, in an interview, making the capture or raising of the snakes unnecessary. They hope to test the substance in human cells but gave no timeline.
New Zealanders venture out as curbs eased in most regions
New Zealanders on Wednesday visited beaches and queued for takeaway food as tough lockdown measures enforced to beat an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus were eased for most of the country.
About 1.7 million people in the largest city Auckland still remain in strict level 4 lockdown for another two weeks, but restrictions for the remainder of the country were loosened. The country reported 75 new cases of Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, up from 49 a day earlier. Of those, 74 were in Auckland and one was a household contact in Wellington.
About 14 million in U.S. get first shot in August, up from July
Around 14 million people in the United States received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in August, about 4 million more than in July, officials said on Tuesday as the government pushes inoculations as infections rise.
The United States' vaccination rate still lags other developed countries. Only around 52% of U.S. residents are fully vaccinated, including about 63% of adults, according to federal data.