Vaccines not linked to menstrual changes; COVID, flu shots can go together

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

No link seen between vaccines and menstrual changes

Many women have reported noticing changes in their menstrual cycle after being vaccinated against COVID-19 but a new study of 1,273 women in the UK found no correlation, according to a report posted on Monday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. The women in the study kept careful records of their cycles and their vaccination dates. “We were unable to detect strong signals to support the idea” that COVID-19 vaccines are linked to changes in timing or flow of women’s periods, said Victoria Male from Imperial College London. It is possible that larger studies, or studies in other countries, might find links, she said. “It is important to note that most people who report such a change following vaccination find that their period returns to normal the following cycle.” Other studies have found no evidence that the vaccines affect female fertility, Male added.

Safe to get COVID-19 vaccine, flu shot together

It is safe to administer COVID-19 vaccines and flu vaccines to patients at the same time, and doing so might increase vaccination rates, according to a report published on Thursday in The Lancet. Researchers randomly assigned 697 adult volunteers to receive their second dose of either the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or the viral-vector vaccine from AstraZeneca/Oxford, along with one of three influenza vaccines for the 2020-2021 season (FluAd or Flucelvax from Seqirus UK or Flublok from Sanofi) or a placebo. Most reactions to the shots were mild or moderate, and antibody responses to the vaccines were not adversely affected by getting two shots at once, the study found. Giving both vaccines at a single appointment “should reduce the burden on health-care services for vaccine delivery, allowing for timely vaccine administration and protection from COVID-19 and influenza for those in need,” the research team concluded.

Lung cancer patients respond well to COVID-19 vaccines

Lung cancer patients may get good protection from mRNA COVID-19 vaccines even while undergoing treatments that suppress the immune system, a small study suggests. From January through July this year, researchers in France administered the vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech to 306 lung cancer patients, 70% of whom had recently received immunosuppressive therapies that impair the body’s ability to respond to vaccines. Patients with COVID-19 antibodies from a previous infection received only one dose; most patients, however, received both doses, according to a paper released on Monday and scheduled for publication in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. About 10% of the patients failed to develop antibodies in response to the first two doses and received a third dose, which successfully induced antibodies in all but three individuals who also had blood disorders known to impair the effect of the vaccines. The researchers noted that before vaccines, the death rate among lung cancer patients who developed COVID-19 was 30%. In this seven-month study, only eight patients, or 2.6% of the total, developed mild cases of COVID-19. Because the study was small and not randomized, the investigators called for more research to confirm their findings.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

U.S.-Mexico border reopens after 20 months of COVID disruption

By Lizbeth Diaz and Jose Luis Gonzalez

TIJUANA/CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) -There were fewer crossings at the Mexico-United States border than expected on Monday as it reopened to non-essential travel following a 20-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many residents staying home to avoid potential chaos.

Officials in the Mexican border city of Tijuana said people did not make the most of restrictions being lifted along the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border lest they get caught in traffic.

“In the morning, there was no line,” Tijuana resident Claudia Hernandez said as she prepared to enter the United States to go shopping ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday next week.

“Next week we’ll see the massive lines that always form.”

Javier Delgado, a Tijuana transport official, said there were was about 35% less traffic than expected on the city’s border with San Diego, one of the busiest in the world.

On Sunday, hundreds of cars had formed lines stretching back kilometers from Tijuana, fueling fears the reopening could become a problem. But traffic advanced steadily.

In the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez opposite El Paso, Texas, about 20 people lined up early on Monday before crossing and embracing family on the other side of the border.

“We thought they were going to tell us again they had decided not to open it,” said Lorena Hernandez, stroking her grown-up daughter’s hair and smiling broadly after they were reunited in El Paso for the first time since March 2020. “I said: If they don’t reopen, I’m going to take a plane.”

Still, differing rules over coronavirus vaccines threaten to hold up other family reunions, while the prospect of some curbs easing has also encouraged migrants to try their luck seeking U.S. asylum, posing a new test for the Biden administration.

Some inoculated Mexicans will not be able to enter the United States immediately if they received vaccines in Mexico that have not been approved by the World Health Organization, such as China’s CanSino and Russia’s Sputnik V.

“I never imagined that because I got the CanSino vaccine I wouldn’t be able to cross,” lamented Donato Suarez, a driver at a private university in Tijuana who had hoped to visit relatives in the United States he has not seen for nearly two years.

“We even had plans to do something when the border reopened,” he added, noting around 300 people where he works are in the same predicament. “We’ll have to wait.”

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Michael Perry and Jonathan Oatis)

Eager travelers line up for U.S. flights as COVID travel curbs are lifted

By Tara Oakes and Antony Paone

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Travelers excited at the prospect of reuniting with family and friends headed for the United States on Monday as it lifted travel restrictions slapped on much of the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The travel ban, first imposed in early 2020, had barred access to non-U.S. citizens travelling from 33 countries – including China, India and much of Europe – and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

The United States lagged many other countries in lifting the curbs, made possible by the rollout of vaccines despite rising infections in many countries, and critical to reviving tourism around the globe.

Months of pent-up demand triggered a major spike in bookings on Monday, with travelers only required to show official proof of vaccination and a recent, negative viral test.

“Really, really exciting. I mean, I was meant to go just before COVID happened, and obviously it’s been delayed this long, so it’s really exciting to finally be able to go,” Alice Keane, travelling to Miami to see her sister, said at London’s Heathrow airport.

Long-term rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic carried out simultaneous take-offs from Heathrow’s parallel runways just before 0900 GMT, a stunt aimed at highlighting the importance of the transatlantic market to the UK’s aviation market.

The flights were full, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said, while passenger volume was expected to remain high in coming weeks with the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“It’s a major day of celebration,” Weiss said, in what he called a significant tipping point for an industry brought to its knees by the pandemic.

The United States was preparing for long lines and delays on Monday, with United Airlines alone expecting about 50% more total international inbound passengers compared to last Monday when it had about 20,000.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) Chief Executive Ed Bastian warned travelers should be prepared for long waits.

“It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately,” Bastian said, adding that “we’ll get it sorted out”.

‘WE MIGHT START CRYING’

The prospect of long queues did little to dent the enthusiasm of those preparing to be reunited with loved ones.

“I think we might just start crying,” Bindiya Patel, who was going to see her one-year-old nephew in New York for the first time, said at Heathrow, where jugglers dressed in the red, white and blue of the U.S. flag greeted travelers.

Restrictions on non-U.S. citizens were first imposed on air travelers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.

In January, Trump issued an order to lift travel restrictions on people in Europe and Brazil. But the order was reversed by President Joe Biden before it took effect.

U.S. allies had heavily lobbied the Biden administration, which had repeatedly said it did not endorse so-called “vaccine passports”, to lift the rules.

Airline officials stressed that tourism and family trips alone will not be enough for whose profits depend on filling the most expensive seats.

Experts say the real battle of the transatlantic, the world’s most lucrative travel market, takes place at the front of the plane, in first, business, and premium economy class, where those paying the top prices help drive airline profits.

“As for business, we know the recovery is slower and so it’s a question mark but what we know is that there are a certain number of sectors, especially domestic and medium-haul travel, where recovery is already happening and we hope to see this same tendency for the United States,” said Air France-KLM commercial co-director, Henri de Peyrelongue.

LAND BORDER CROSSINGS

U.S. land borders also reopened to non-essential travel on Monday.

In Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, across from the Texan city of El Paso, a line of about 20 people formed early on Monday before crossing and embracing family on the other side of the border, a Reuters witness said. One of the people hadn’t seen their relatives in El Paso since March 2020.

“We thought they were going to tell us again that they had decided not to open it,” said Lorena Hernandez, stroking her grown-up daughter’s hair and smiling broadly after they were reunited in El Paso. “I said, if they don’t reopen, I’m going to take a plane.”

Some inoculated Mexicans will not be able to enter the United States immediately if they received vaccines in Mexico that have not been approved by the World Health Organization, such as China’s CanSino and Russia’s Sputnik V.

Hundreds of migrants have arrived at Mexican border cities such as Tijuana in recent days, hoping the reset will make it easier to cross and seek U.S. asylum, despite warnings from advocates that the re-opening is for people who have papers.

In Canada, long lines formed overnight at U.S. border points for an early rush of travelers but a Canadian requirement that all returning travelers have a negative PCR test is expected to dampen travel.

Canada, which allowed fully vaccinated Americans to cross the land border in August, is under pressure to drop the negative test requirement from businesses and travelers, who say showing proof of vaccination should be enough.

Under-18s are exempt from the new vaccine requirements. Non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% are also eligible for exemption.

(Reporting by Tara Oakes, Stuart McDill, Sarah Young, Antony Paone, David Shepardson; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Gareth Jones and Nick Macfie)

Moscow locks down as Russian COVID-19 deaths surge to new highs

By Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW (Reuters) -The Russian capital brought in its strictest COVID-19 related lockdown measures in more than a year on Thursday as nationwide one-day pandemic deaths and infections hit new highs amid slow vaccination take-up across the world’s biggest country.

Moscow’s partial lockdown, in which only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets are allowed to remain open and schools and state kindergartens are shut, comes ahead of a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown from Oct. 30.

Like Moscow, some regions decided to kick off their partial lockdowns on Thursday or even earlier in an effort to cut infection numbers ahead of the nationwide initiative.

Moscow’s residents are allowed to leave their homes unlike a sweeping lockdown in summer 2020, but the new measures point to rising concern among officials over record numbers of deaths that the Kremlin has blamed on vaccine hesitancy.

Officials on Thursday reported an all-time high of 1,159 COVID-19 nationwide deaths in the past 24 hours, while the number of daily infections broke through the 40,000 barrier for the first time.

At the State Duma lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker, proposed requiring all lawmakers to get vaccinated and suggested that stragglers should have to work remotely.

“Imagine the consequences for the country if parliament stops working,” Volodin told the lower house. “Every day we’re seeing how our … colleagues are ending up in hospital beds,” he said.

His proposal was met by angry shouts from the parliament’s chamber with someone calling out: “What kind of PR is this?”

Many Russians have said they are reluctant to get vaccinated and have spurned the four vaccines Russia has registered, including the flagship Sputnik V vaccine.

Some people say they are hesitant due to mistrust of the authorities, while others cite concerns about the safety of vaccines.

As of Oct. 22, official data showed that 49.1 million Russians were fully vaccinated. The total population, excluding annexed Crimea, is officially estimated at around 144 million.

AD CAMPAIGN RELAUNCH?

The daily Kommersant newspaper reported on Thursday that the Kremlin planned to revamp the troubled public information campaign about the importance of getting vaccinated.

The new campaign would pay closer attention to Russia’s more than 80 regions and strike a less aggressive and negative tone than previously, the report said.

The existing campaign has often highlighted the risk of death for Russians who decline to get vaccinated rather than linking vaccination to the freedom to be exempt from lockdown-style restrictions, it said.

However, the Kremlin denied it planned to relaunch the ad campaign, but said the strategy was constantly being adjusted and that the campaign would be continued.

Many Russians have decided that now is an ideal time to fly off for a foreign beach holiday instead of hunkering down at home.

There were mixed feelings about the lockdown on the streets of Moscow on Thursday. Some residents like Lyubov Machekhina said they thought it would obviously help slow infections.

But others like Mikhail, a Muscovite who did not give his surname, voiced doubts that there would be any real impact without a larger chunk of the population being vaccinated.

“In my opinion, it will change nothing. Perhaps, it will slow down (the spread of cases) a bit, but in fact, without herd immunity – it’s nonsense. I don’t believe it will work.”

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth, Lev Sergeev, Anton Zverev, Gleb Stolyarov and Andrey Ostroukh; editing by Andrew Osborn)

Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – Drugmakers Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are expected to make billions of dollars from COVID-19 booster shots in a market that could for years rival the $6 billion in annual sales for flu vaccines, analysts and healthcare investors say.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* The German government has designated the Israel, Turkey and the United States as high-risk countries, triggering a minimum five-day quarantine requirement for those who are unvaccinated, the Funke media group reported.

* Russia reported a record 815 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, but Moscow’s mayor said hospitalizations from the disease in the capital had halved over the last six weeks.

* Norway’s government will end some restrictions related to the pandemic, it said, but stopped short of announcing a full reopening of the economy.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Indonesia’s capital reopened its retail malls this week to an exclusive crowd – shoppers vaccinated against coronavirus.

* China reported declining numbers of new locally transmitted cases for the third consecutive day. However, ports and shipping companies are diverting vessels from a container terminal in the country’s busiest marine transportation hub, which was forced to close after a case emerged.

* Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga urged people to refrain from travelling as COVID-19 cases spiked to records in Tokyo and nationwide, heaping pressure on the medical system.

* South Korea signed a deal to buy 30 million doses of Pfizer vaccine for 2022, and the government urged people to cut holiday travel amid a worsening fourth wave of infections and a slow inoculation campaign.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a third dose of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for people with compromised immune systems.

* The United States has started shipping nearly 569,000 Pfizer vaccine doses to member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the U.S. State Department said.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Morocco received a shipment of 600,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as it expands its inoculation campaign to younger people following a surge in cases, said Said Afif, a member of the health ministry’s scientific committee.

* South Africa’s health minister Joe Phaahla said authorities would not would recommend a relaxation of lockdown measures from its current Level 3, despite an overall downward trend in infections as the country grapples with a third wave.

* Israel lowered to 50 from 60 the minimum age of eligibility for a vaccine booster shot and will also offer it to health workers, hoping to stem a surge in Delta variant infections.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* The World Health Organization said it was setting up a new group to trace the origins of the coronavirus, seeking to end what it called “political point scoring” that had hampered investigations.

* Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech’s nasal vaccine candidate has received regulatory approval for mid- to late-stage trials, the government’s ministry of science and technology said in a statement.

* A two-dose vaccine from China’s Sinopharm was 50.4% effective in preventing infections in health workers in Peru when it saw a surge in cases fueled by virus variants, and booster shots can be considered, a study found.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Global stock markets hit record highs on Friday, capping another bumper week as investors seized on a dip in U.S. inflation and more forecast-beating corporate earnings.

(Compiled by Veronica Snoj and Federico Maccioni; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Barbara Lewis)

U.S. plans to give extra COVID-19 shots to at-risk Americans – Fauci

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Carl O’Donnell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is working to give additional COVID-19 booster shots to Americans with compromised immune systems as quickly as possible, as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise, top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.

The United States is joining Germany, France and Israel in giving booster shots, ignoring a plea by the World Health Organization to hold off until more people around the world can get their first shot.

U.S. regulators need to fully authorize the COVID-19 vaccines or amend their emergency use authorizations before officials can recommend additional shots, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to make third doses available sooner under certain circumstances, officials said at a July meeting.

“It is extremely important for us to move to get those individuals their boosters and we are now working on that,” Fauci said on a press call, adding that immunocompromised people may not be sufficiently protected by their existing COVID-19 vaccinations.

Fauci said rising cases resulting from the spread of the contagious Delta variant in the United States can be turned around with additional vaccinations.

The Biden administration has been eager to thaw opposition by some Americans, including those who distrust the government, to taking the vaccine as the highly infectious Delta variant sweeps the country.

Seven U.S. states with the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates account for half of the country’s new cases and hospitalizations in the last week, the White House said on Thursday.

The states are Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, according to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 coordinator, Jeff Zients, who spoke at the press briefing

Of those, Florida and Texas account for about a third of new coronavirus cases and an even higher share of hospitalizations in the country.

COVID cases are up about 43% over the previous week and daily deaths are up more than 39%, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who also spoke on the call.

The United States hit a six-month high for new COVID cases with over 100,000 infections reported on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally.

Some 864,000 vaccinations have been given in the past 24 hours, the highest since early July, the White House said.

Zients said the Biden administration supports U.S. businesses and other institutions requiring that their employees get vaccinated.

He added that the White House is considering requiring foreign visitors to be vaccinated as it plans to eventually reopen international travel but said it had made no final decision.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Susan Heavey, Carl O’Donnell and Trevor Hunnicutt; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)

Nigeria receives 4 million doses of covid-19 vaccines from U.S. government

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria has received 4 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States government, its health minister said on Monday, as the West African country battles a third wave of infections.

Osagie Ehanire said the vaccines, which arrived on Sunday, are undergoing validation by the country’s drug regulator. He said the doses will be distributed to the local states once they are certified fit for use.

The U.S. government last week shipped nearly 10 million doses to two of the most populous African countries – Nigeria and South Africa.

“Vaccination in Nigeria should soon begin with the arrival … of Moderna vaccines, thanks to the United States government,” Ehanire told a coronavirus briefing in Abuja.

He said Nigeria would receive over 40 million doses by the end of the year, without providing details.

The primary healthcare agency said last month that Nigeria had exhausted an initial supply of nearly 4 million shots and expects to receive nearly 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of August, including the U.S. government donation.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has seen a rise in coronavirus cases since mid July. Some 174,315 cases and 2,149 deaths have been recorded since the pandemic began in early 2020, official data shows.

It recently detected the highly contagious Delta variant, with the health minister warning that the country was going through a third wave of the infection.

Resident doctors in Nigerian public hospitals began an indefinite strike on Monday over grievances that include the delayed payment of salaries and allowances, the doctors’ union said, as coronavirus infections rise.

(Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Britain warns COVID-19 could infect half Myanmar in next two weeks

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Britain’s U.N. ambassador warned on Thursday that half of Myanmar’s 54 million people could be infected with COVID-19 in the next two weeks as Myanmar’s envoy called for U.N. monitors to ensure an effective delivery of vaccines.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military ousted an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, with protests and fighting between the army and newly formed militias. The United States, Britain and others have imposed sanctions on the military rulers over the coup and repression of pro-democracy protests in which hundreds have been killed.

“The coup has resulted in a near total collapse of the healthcare system, and health care workers are being attacked and arrested,” British U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward told an informal Security Council discussion on Myanmar.

“The virus is spreading through the population, very fast indeed. By some estimates, in the next two weeks, half of the population of Myanmar could be infected with COVID,” she said.

Myanmar state media reported on Wednesday that the military ruler is looking for greater cooperation with other countries to contain the coronavirus.

Infections in the Southeast Asian country have surged since June, with 4,980 cases and 365 deaths reported on Wednesday, according to health ministry data cited in media. Medics and funeral services put the toll much higher.

“In order to have smooth and effective COVID vaccination and providing humanitarian assistance, close-monitoring by the international community is essential,” Myanmar’s U.N. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who speaks for the elected civilian government, told the Security Council discussion.

“As such, we would like to request the U.N. in particular the Security Council to urgently establish a U.N.-led monitoring mechanism for effective COVID vaccination and smooth delivery of humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Myanmar recently received two million more Chinese vaccines, but it was believed to have only vaccinated about 3.2% of its population, according to a Reuters tracker.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)

COVID still devastating in the Americas, health agency says

BRASILIA (Reuters) -COVID-19 continues to inflict a devastating toll on the Americas, with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay among the countries with the world’s highest weekly death rates, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

Cases have more than doubled in the United States over the past week, mainly among unvaccinated people, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in a briefing.

The more transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus has been detected in 20 of the 35 countries in the Americas already, she said.

Cuba is seeing higher COVID infection and death rates than at any other point in the pandemic there, she said, adding that more than 7,000 minors and nearly 400 pregnant women have tested positive there in the last week.

Over the last week there were over 1.26 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 29,000 deaths reported in the Americas.

Infection hotspots have been reported in Argentine provinces bordering Bolivia and Chile, and in Colombia’s Amazon region.

“As COVID continues to circulate, too many places have relaxed the public health and social measures that have proven effective against this virus,” Etienne said.

So far, only 16.6% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as countries in the regions have yet to access the vaccines needed to keep their people safe, she said.

“The good news is that vaccines work against the variants, including Delta, in terms of preventing severe disease and death. The bad news is that we do not have yet enough vaccines to stop community transmission,” Etienne said.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

(Reuters) – The EU is on course to hit a target of fully vaccinating at least 70% of its adult population by the end of summer, given that same percentage of over-18s has now already received a first dose, the European Commission said.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

EUROPE

* Ireland became the latest European Union member state to commit to offering COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 12-15 as it opened its strongly subscribed program to 16 and 17-year old’s.

* Greece said children aged 12-15 could be vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Tokyo’s 2,848 COVID-19 infections are the highest tally that the Olympic host city has reported since the pandemic began, officials said, as media reported that authorities had asked hospitals to prepare more beds for patients, with the Delta variant driving the surge.

* India will meet its target of supplying more than half a billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to its states by the end of this month, the health ministry said, but added not all doses may be administered by then.

* Moderna has pushed back its late-July vaccine shipment schedule for South Korea to August due to supply problems that will also affect other countries awaiting its shots, South Korean health officials said.

* Australia’s Victoria state will lift a strict lockdown, while neighboring New South Wales faces an extension of restrictions after daily new cases spiked to a 16-month peak.

AMERICAS

* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is set to announce revised mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases.

* Argentina’s government has signed a deal with U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer to acquire 20 million doses of vaccines to be delivered this year, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti told reporters.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Saudi Arabia will impose a three-year travel ban on citizens travelling to countries on the kingdom’s ‘red list’ under efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus and its new variants, state news agency SPA said.

* Nigeria expects to take delivery of 29 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in August, allowing it to ramp up its vaccination program just as a third wave of infections takes hold, the health minister said.

* Israel is considering giving a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to its elderly population even before FDA approval to help fend off the Delta variant.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Antibodies triggered by Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine decline below a key threshold from around six months after a second dose for most recipients, although a third shot could have a strong booster effect, according to a lab study.

* Russia has given the green light for clinical trials combining a shot from AstraZeneca and Britain’s Oxford University with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to go ahead.

* Moderna is in talks with U.S. regulators to expand the size of an ongoing trial testing its vaccines in children aged between five and 11.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* World stocks fell after investors sold Chinese internet giants for a third straight day, while real U.S. bond yields hit record lows on worries about the economic outlook ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting.

* The International Monetary Fund maintained its 6% global growth forecast for 2021, upgrading its outlook for the United States and other wealthy economies but cutting estimates for a number of developing countries struggling with surging COVID-19 infections.

(Compiled by Veronica Snoj and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Grant McCool, Maju Samuel, Sriraj Kalluvila and Gareth Jones)