Grim milestone: Covid-19 count set to touch 100 million
England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has warned that people vaccinated against Covid-19 can still spread the deadly virus. The warning came as the global number of coronavirus infections was on the verge of crossing the 100 million mark.
Also on Sunday, the United States, the nation worst hit by the pandemic, saw its tally of Covid-19 cases cross 25 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The number of Covid-19 deaths in the country has already topped 417,000.
Van-Tam, one of England’s leading medical officers, urged the public to continue to follow the strict lockdown rules because any vaccine-related immunity from Covid-19 takes at least three weeks to kick in.
“Regardless of whether someone has had their vaccination or not, it is vital that everyone follows the national restrictions and public health advice, as protection takes up to three weeks to kick in and we don’t yet know the impact of vaccines on transmission,” said Van-Tam.
Britain is expanding its coronavirus vaccination programme that has seen almost 6 million people get the first of two doses - even as the country’s death toll in the pandemic approaches 100,000. Almost 5.9 million doses of vaccine had been administered by Saturday.
The UK is inoculating people with two vaccines - one made by US pharma firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech, the other by UK-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It has authorised a third one, developed by Moderna.
Britain’s vaccination campaign is so far a rare success in a country with Europe’s worst confirmed coronavirus outbreak. The UK has recorded 97,329 deaths among people who tested positive, including 1,348 new deaths reported on Saturday.
British health secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday the country was still a long way from being able to relax a national lockdown despite evidence that the restrictions were bringing down the rate of Covid-19 infections.
Border controls come into force in France
New border controls came into force in France on Sunday as part of a massive effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 and avoid another nationwide lockdown. After a slow start to vaccinations, French health authorities reported that a million people had received coronavirus inoculations by Saturday.
But high new rates for infections, hospitalisations and Covid deaths fuelled fears France may need another full lockdown, which would be the third, inflicting yet more devastation on businesses and daily lives.
Starting on Sunday, arrivals to France from EU countries by air or sea must be able to produce a negative PCR test result obtained in the previous 72 hours.
The requirement had already applied to non-EU arrivals since mid-January. EU travellers entering France by land, including cross-border workers, will not need a negative test.
Germany will become the first EU country to start using the same experimental antibody treatment credited with helping former US President Donald Trump recover from Covid-19, health minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.
Germany has purchased doses of US firm Regeneron’s Casirivimab-Imdevimab antibody cocktail, as well US company Eli Lilly’s Bamlanivimab antibody drug.
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