On Monday, Sydney was released from lockdown. Only the 73.5% of those aged 16 or older who had been fully vaccinated were allowed to go to restaurants, hairdressers, and other non-essential shops.
Because of the high vaccination rate, Canberra's new freedoms will apply to everyone. Friday saw 76% of all 12 year-olds fully vaccinated.
New South Wales, which includes Sydney has announced that it will eliminate hotel quarantine requirements from Nov. 1, in a significant relaxation of pandemic restrictions.
Here's WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING.
OLYMPIA (Wash.) --- To attend large events, people living in Washington state will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccine or a negative test.
Governor. Jay Inslee's order applies indoor events with more than 1,000 attendees and outdoor events with more than 10,000 participants. All attendees aged 12 and older must be vaccinated or have a negative test taken within 72 hours.
According to the governor's office, this requirement applies to registered or ticketed events such as concerts, sporting events, and fairs. The order does not apply to religious services or events held on school grounds for K-12 students.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Health Advisors advised Thursday that Americans who have received Moderna's COVID-19 vaccination should receive a half-dose booster in order to increase their protection against the virus.
A panel of advisors to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously recommended a booster shot for seniors and adults with other health issues, jobs, or living conditions that increase their risk of COVID-19.
The dose of Moderna vaccine is two 100-microgram shots. Moderna suggests that a booster should consist of one 50-microgram shot.
In making final decisions about boosters from both companies, the FDA will consider the recommendations of its advisors. Even if the FDA makes a positive decision next week, there is still one hurdle. A panel that will be convened by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention next week will provide more details on who should receive one.
WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration is asking its outside experts to meet in November to examine Merck's COVID-19 pill.
U.S. regulators won't likely make a decision about the drug before December. This signaled that the agency would conduct an in-depth review of the safety and effectiveness of the experimental treatment. Although the FDA is not required by law to follow their recommendations, it is likely that the panelists will vote on Merck's drug approval.
Since last year, three IV antibody drugs were approved. However, they are costly and difficult to produce. They also require special equipment and the expertise of health professionals to deliver. Merck's drug molnupiravir would be the first medicine patients can take at home to alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery if it is approved.
Merck's drug, if approved, is most likely to be the first (but not the only) pill that treats COVID-19. Similar drugs are being studied by Appili Therapeutics, Roche, and Pfizer.
WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden condemned misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccination mandates and encouraged the roughly 66 million Americans who are not vaccinated to get one.
Biden stated that "school board members, religious leaders, and doctors all across the country are fighting misinformation" and educating the public about vaccines.
Biden stated that employers should require their employees to be vaccinated when he spoke at the White House. Biden stated, "Vaccination requirements shouldn't be another issue that divides."
Biden issued a federal mandate for businesses with 100 employees or more to get vaccinated. This mandate will be implemented over the next few weeks. Biden stated that the federal government must continue to fight misinformation, and so should businesses and community groups.
He said that both Southwest Airlines' pilots' union and the company dismissed claims that workers had caused disruption by striking over a vaccine mandate.
LONDON -- On Thursday, Britain saw more than 45,000 coronavirus infections per day. Children are particularly susceptible.
According to government figures, 45,066 people were tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, which is the highest number since July 20.
Many of the cases have increased in the U.K. since children returned to school. It is generally believed that vaccines are not being distributed to older children as quickly as it was planned.
The hospital treatment of COVID-19 has also increased, although it is still lower than in previous waves of the pandemic.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 is not causing more deaths, the number of COVID-19-related deaths has remained steady over recent weeks. However, there are increasing concerns about how this will affect future cases. On Thursday, another 157 deaths from the virus were reported in Britain, bringing its total to 138 237. This is Europe's second highest number of confirmed cases, after Russia.
NEW DELHI (India) -- India has resumed exports for coronavirus vaccines, after stopping them in April due to a catastrophic surge in domestic infection.
Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for External Affairs Ministry, said that the renewed exports are aimed at neighboring countries. They will increase in the next months after most of India's eligible adults have been vaccinated.
Bagchi reports that the vaccines have been exported to Myanmar, Bangladesh, Iran, and Nepal. India had donated or sold nearly 100 million vaccine doses before halting exports.
India, a country with 1.4 billion inhabitants, has administered over 960 million vaccine doses. Nearly 70% of eligible adults have received at least one vaccine dose.
Wednesday saw Niinisto host a breakfast meeting at a Holocaust conference in Malmo, Sweden, with Latvian President Egils Levits. He later tested positive for coronavirus.
CAIRO -- Egypt is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases daily as it struggles with vaccinating a larger population.
The daily number of new infections remains below 1,000, but the country has not achieved a 10% vaccination rate.
Hala Zayed, Egypt's Health and Population Minister, told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that more than eight million of Egypt's population of over 100 million had been inoculated. Another 15 million people have already received their first dose. She stated that her ministry is working to increase the number of vaccination centres nationwide.
The vaccination campaign has targeted millions of Egyptian state officials, students, faculty, and teachers in recent weeks. It also targets school workers and teachers.
On Wednesday, there were 861 confirmed cases and 41 deaths. Egypt has reported nearly 315,000 cases and more that 17,800 deaths. The actual number is likely to be higher than that reported elsewhere on the planet.
LONDON -- A European Medicines Agency has begun an expedited licensing process to license an antibody combination drug that is intended to prevent the coronavirus. It was made by AstraZeneca.
The EU drug regulator stated that it has begun reviewing preliminary laboratory data and clinical research data regarding Evusheld. This combination of monoclonal antibody tixagevimab (or cilgavimab) was disclosed in a Thursday statement. These drugs attach to different parts the coronavirus spike proteins and are designed to prevent the virus from infecting cells.
AstraZeneca requested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grant the drug an emergency-use list last week. It would be the first drug to prevent COVID-19 if it is approved. It would likely be restricted to those with weaker immune systems, who aren't protected enough by vaccinations alone.
Late-stage research revealed that AstraZeneca’s combination of antibodies reduced the risk for COVID-19 symptoms in patients with suppressed immune systems from cancer, lupus, and other conditions.
BEIJING -- China’s Foreign Ministry warned against "political manipulation" by the World Health Organization in a renewed investigation into the origins and spread of coronavirus.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, stated that China will "continue to support and take part in global scientific traceing and strongly oppose any form of political manipulation."
The WHO released Wednesday a list of 25 experts that it intends to consult on the next steps in its search for the virus' source after earlier attempts were attacked for being too soft on China.
In late 2019, the first cases of coronavirus infection in humans were discovered in central China. During a February WHO visit, Beijing was accused of withholding data about early cases.
The original WHO team's findings were not conclusive. Experts released a report stating that it was "extremely unlikely” that the coronavirus had leaked from a Wuhan laboratory. This led to criticisms from outside scientists, who felt that the theory was not properly validated.
BUDAPEST (Hungary) -- Thursday saw the highest number of COVID-19 new cases in Hungary in five months, due to a spike in hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus.
Officials reported 1,141 cases, which is the highest daily total since May 14th. This week's increase in cases has seen the number jump 37% over last week. Nearly 10 million people are now home to 742 COVID-19 patients. This is the highest number of COVID-19 patients since June.
Since early July, most pandemic containment measures have been repealed in Hungary. Masks are no longer required in public areas.
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences advised Monday that masks should be worn at events, in enclosed areas and on public transport in order to "cure the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic."
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, as of Thursday, 66.6% were fully vaccinated in Hungary. This is lower than the European Union average (74.7%),
LONDON -- Coronavirus vaccines are trickling into the poorest countries of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Data suggests that some women are still missing out.
Experts believe that women in Africa are the least vaccined, due to misinformation and vaccine doubts.
However, gender inequality and vaccine access problems extend far beyond Africa. Women in impoverished countries around the world face obstacles such as cultural prejudices, lack technology and vaccine prioritization list that did not include them.
While global data on vaccine distribution by gender is not available in all places, officials are unanimous in stating that women are being left behind in certain places and that this issue must be addressed if the world is to overcome the pandemic.
Sarah Hawkes, a global tracker for coronavirus information by sexual at University College London, pointed out that Pakistan and other countries gave first vaccine priority to groups like military personnel, likely contributing to gender gaps.
MOSCOW -- Russia recorded Thursday the highest daily coronavirus deaths and infections since the outbreak of the pandemic. This rapidly rising toll has greatly strained Russia's health system.
According to the government's coronavirus taskforce, there were 31,299 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 986 deaths within the last 24 hours.
Over the past few weeks, the country has seen record daily deaths. This is due to an increase in infections and a slow vaccine rate.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin stated Tuesday that approximately 43 million Russians were fully vaccinated, which is just 29% of Russia's almost 146 million population.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of increasing vaccination rates, but cautioned against forcing people into getting vaccine shots.