What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
U.S. pushes leaders to embrace 70% global vaccination target
The United States is pushing global leaders to endorse what it calls ambitious targets for ending the Covid-19 pandemic, including ensuring 70% of the world's population is vaccinated against the virus by the 2022, according to a draft U.S. document viewed by Reuters on Tuesday.
The three-page outline is addressed to countries, international organisations, and private sector groups invited to a virtual Covid-19 summit planned by the United States on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly beginning this week. Other key targets include ensuring at least one in 1,000 people are tested weekly before the end of 2021, and building surge capacity to ensure that all healthcare workers have access to personal protective equipment such as masks in 2021.
Cyber crime and consumer sentiment rise in Australia
A measure of Australian consumer sentiment bounced in early September amid hopes harsh coronavirus restrictions would soon be eased as the pace of vaccinations stepped up markedly across the states. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment released on Wednesday rose 2.0% in September, recouping some of August's 4.4% drop.
Unrelatedly, Australia reported on Wednesday a 13% jump in cyber crime in the past year, with about one incident in four targeting critical infrastructure and services as working from home during the pandemic made more people vulnerable to online attacks. Ransomware incidents increased nearly 15%, with the health sector reporting the second-highest number of attacks.
U.S. says federal employees must be vaccinated by Nov. 22
The Biden administration said most federal employees must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no later than Nov. 22 as it drafts rules to require large employers to have their workers inoculated or tested weekly.
In New York, however, a judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a requirement that healthcare workers receive Covid-19 vaccines against the wishes of employees with religious objections.
WHO-backed vaccine hub for Africa to copy Moderna shot
Efforts to develop an African base for Covid-19 vaccine production will focus on trying to replicate Moderna's shot, but a lack of progress in talks with the U.S. company mean the project will take time, a senior WHO official told Reuters. Moderna said last October it would not enforce patents related to its shot during the pandemic, raising hopes that other companies might be able to copy it and help boost COVID-19 vaccine production.
More than three-quarters of the 5.5 billion Covid-19 shots administered worldwide have gone to high and upper-middle income countries, which make up just over a third of the world's population. Only 3% of Africa is vaccinated, the African Union's top health official said last week, compared with more than half of the United States and three-quarters of Spain.
Indonesia aims to reopen to foreigners in November
Indonesia plans to start opening its borders to foreigners in November once 70% of its target population have received at least one vaccine shot, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Tuesday.
Southeast Asia’s largest economy, struck by one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia, has vaccinated about 25% of its target population but Budi said vaccine rates would need to be almost doubled to 2 million shots per day by deploying the police and army to help dispense shots.