(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Sydney’s outbreak throws spotlight on vaccine rollout
Australia’s New South Wales state on Friday reported its biggest daily rise in new COVID-19 cases this year, prompting a tighter lockdown in Sydney and a request for additional vaccine doses that was rebuffed by other state leaders.
Australia reported another record day for vaccination with almost 200,000 doses delivered in one day. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who on Thursday apologized for the slow pace of inoculation, said the latest data signaled the country’s vaccination rollout had turned a corner.
New Zealand will pause its quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia for at least eight weeks starting Friday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Philippines to bar travel from Malaysia, Thailand
The Philippines will suspend travel from Malaysia and Thailand, as well as tighten restrictions in the Manila area, in a bid to prevent the spread of the contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, the presidential spokesperson said on Friday.
The travel restriction will take effect from Sunday and run to the end of July.
Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City extends lockdown
Vietnam will extend a strict lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City until Aug. 1, state media reported on Friday.
After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has been facing a complicated outbreak of the virus, with southern business hub Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding provinces accounting for most new infections.
Banking and securities services in the city will be reduced to minimal levels, while unnecessary construction projects will be suspended.
Taiwan to ease restrictions as cases drop
Taiwan will ease its COVID-19 restrictions next week, the government said on Friday, as rapidly falling case numbers give authorities confidence to further lower the alert level.
Taiwan imposed restrictions on gatherings, including closing entertainment venues and limiting restaurants to take-out service, in mid-May following a spike in domestic cases after months of no or few cases apart from imported ones.
While some of those curbs were eased this month, the so-called level 3 alert has been in force and is due to end on July 26.
Pfizer says U.S. govt buying 200 mln more doses
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech said on Friday the U.S. government had purchased 200 million additional doses of their COVID-19 vaccine and had the option to buy an updated version of the vaccine targeting new variants of the virus.
The announcement brings the total number of the doses to be supplied to the United States to 500 million, out of which roughly 208 million doses have already been delivered.
A longer gap between doses of Pfizer’s vaccine leads to higher overall antibody levels than a shorter gap, a British study found on Friday, but there is a sharp drop in antibody levels after the first dose.
Sinopharm’s shot offers weaker protection among elderly
Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine was less effective in offering protection against the disease among the elderly, according to the results of a Hungarian study.
The study of 450 participants who had received two doses of the vaccine showed measurable antibody levels were present in about 90% of people under the age of 50, but the protection reduced as age increased.
(Compiled by Linda Noakes; Editing by Joe Bavier)