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COVID-19

Two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrive in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 24, 2021)

Two million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the US, Austria, and Italy arrived in Afghanistan this week, the UNICEF said in a tweet.

“We thank our donors for helping us keep health workers, teachers, and vulnerable groups safe,” UNICEF tweeted.

The assistance was provided through COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

US State Secretary Antony Blinken stated: “The first tranche of 1M COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in Afghanistan today, adding to the 3.3M the U.S. previously provided via COVAX.”

“We are committed to supporting the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, which includes providing safe and effective vaccines to save lives,” he added.

Salam, a member of the UNICEF team in Afghanistan, stated that the assistance was very essential as “Afghanistan is going through a very difficult humanitarian crisis.”

“Without these vaccines we could not be able to help our health workers, to make sure children and mothers are safe,” Salam said.

COVID-19

South Korea says leaflets sent by defectors unlikely to be cause of COVID in North Korea

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2022)

South Korea’s unification ministry said on Friday there is “no possibility” of COVID-19 entering North Korea via contaminated balloons sent by activists in the South.

North Korea said earlier in the day the country’s first outbreak began with patients touching “alien things” near the border with South Korea, apparently shifting blame to its neighbour for the wave of infections that hit the isolated country, Reuters reported.

The North’s state media did not directly mention South Korea, but North Korean defectors and activists have for decades flown balloons from the South across the heavily fortified border, carrying leaflets and humanitarian aid.

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COVID-19

India records spike in daily COVID cases and 21 deaths in 24 hours

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

India logged 17,073 new COVID-19 cases early Monday morning, raising its tally to 43,407,046, and 21 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry reported.

The death toll now stands at 525,020.

The national COVID-19 recovery rate was 98.57 percent, the ministry said.

Pakistan’s ministry of health meanwhile reported Monday that it had recorded 382 new cases in the last 24 hours.

This took Pakistan’s COVID-19 total case count to over 1.53 million. Two deaths were also reported in the past 24 hours.

However, experts say Pakistan may potentially witness another COVID-19 wave as the country continues to see an uptick in new cases.

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COVID-19

Pfizer says tweaked COVID-19 shots boost omicron protection

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Pfizer announced Saturday that tweaking its COVID-19 vaccine to better target the omicron variant is safe and works — just days before US regulators debate whether to offer Americans updated booster shots this fall.

The vaccines currently used in the US still offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death — especially if people have gotten a booster dose, AP reported.

But those vaccines target the original coronavirus strain and their effectiveness against any infection dropped markedly when the super-contagious omicron mutant emerged.

Now with omicron’s even more transmissible relatives spreading widely, the US Food and Drug Administration is considering ordering a recipe change for the vaccines made by both Pfizer and rival Moderna in hopes that modified boosters could better protect against another COVID-19 surge expected this fall and winter.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech studied two different ways of updating their shots — targeting just omicron, or a combination booster that adds omicron protection to the original vaccine. They also tested whether to keep today’s standard dosage — 30 micrograms — or to double the shots’ strength.

In a study of more than 1,200 middle-aged and older adults who’d already had three vaccine doses, Pfizer said both booster approaches spurred a substantial jump in omicron-fighting antibodies.

“Based on these data, we believe we have two very strong omicron-adapted candidates,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

Pfizer’s omicron-only booster sparked the strongest immune response against that variant.

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