China launches Covid travel pass
China has launched a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate for its citizens planning cross-border travels, joining other countries issuing similar documents as they seek ways to reopen their economies.
As vaccines are globally being rolled out, a few countries including Bahrain have already introduced certificates identifying vaccinated people, and the EU agreed to develop vaccine passports under pressure from tourism-dependent southern countries.
The certificate issued by China will have details about the holder’s Covid-19 vaccination information and coronavirus test results, the department of consular affairs under China’s foreign ministry said.
Pfizer shot neutralises Brazilian strain in lab
The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech showed a high ability to neutralise coronavirus strains first detected in Brazil, the UK and South Africa, according to a new study.
In lab experiments, the shot demonstrated “roughly equivalent” levels of neutralising activity against the Brazil and UK strains compared with a version of the virus from early last year. It also showed “robust but lower” activity against the South Africa variant, according to a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.
The research was supported by Pfizer and BioNTech and performed by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.
More than 700,000 lives have been lost to Covid-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean since the pandemic began, according to an AFP tally on Monday evening from official sources. The region, which encompasses 34 countries and territories in South and Central America and the Caribbean plus Mexico, recorded 700,022 deaths - the second-highest number of virus fatalities after Europe. Brazil and Mexico account for two-thirds of the region’s coronavirus deaths.
For the first time in nearly three and a half months, the United States recorded fewer than 1,000 deaths in a day from Covid-19 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. In 24 hours, 749 people died from the coronavirus, far below the peak of 4,473 deaths recorded on January 12.
Disinfectant spray for journalists
Politicians are often accused of sanitising the news. On Tuesday, Thailand’s prime minister sanitised members of the press.
After fielding a slew of questions from journalists at his weekly news conference in Bangkok, the mercurial Prayuth Chan-ocha sprayed back - with disinfectant.
Riled by a final question about a possible cabinet reshuffle, he told reporters to mind their own business, then grabbed a container of alcohol mist and doused the front row before sauntering off.