COVID-19 update, news

In-depth regional information provided in the WHO May 18 epi update reveals that the largest decline in new COVID-19 cases this week occurred in the European Region, while there was a general downward trend in new cases in the Americas despite substantial increases in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. Over the past two weeks, the WHO notes that the Western Pacific region’s ‘weekly case and death incidences were the highest reported … since the beginning of the pandemic’, and largely driven by increases in new cases in Japan (up 26 percent, with the third state of emergency extended to the end of May) and Malaysia (up 16 percent). In other news, both Singapore and Taiwan have new restrictions on gatherings and working from home in response to surges in community transmission.

Related news:

- In the USA, more than 600,000 Pfizer vaccines have been administered to adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years following the ACIP’s approval for this age group. Read more

- Northern Territory Health is urging residents of Alice Springs aged 16 years and over to come forward for COVID-19 vaccination ahead of ‘an influx of interstate tourists’ expected at upcoming events planned in the remote community. Read more

-  The European Medicines Agency’s CHMP has approved an extension for the storage of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Comirnaty, with an unopened thawed vial permitted to be kept at normal cold chain temperatures (2-8°C) from the previously recommended five days, now up to 31 days. Read more

- The Australian Academy of Science has launched a new guide about the science of immunisation to help counter misinformation and uncertainty surrounding vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases. Information ‘is available online as web content, as a downloadable PDF and in print, and there are short easy-to-understand videos to watch and share’. Read more

- More about the Moderna vaccine after news that 25 million doses will be supplied to Australia later this year and in 2022: 10 million protecting against the original SARS-CoV-2 and 15 million booster doses aimed at emerging variants. The Conversation

- An Italian study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases found that a ‘higher percentage of feline samples tested positive, confirming a higher susceptibility and prevalence in cats than in dogs reported in previous experiments’. The first animals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 ten days after their owners (up to ≥54 days of exposure). Read more

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.