Monday, June 21, 2021 | Kaiser Health News

Japan Allows Olympic Spectators, With Limits, But Bars Public Viewing

Spectators at official Olympic venues are limited to 10,000 or 50% of capacity — whichever is smaller. But as the covid situation evolves, all spectators could be banned. Meanwhile Qatar says only vaccinated spectators will be able to attend the 2022 soccer World Cup.

Olympic Public Viewing Sites In Tokyo Canceled 

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Saturday said that all public viewing during this summer’s Olympics will be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japan Times reports. After meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Koike told reporters that the locations where viewings were scheduled will instead be used as vaccination sites. (Gonzalez, 6/19)

The Washington Post:
Japan To Allow Up To 10,000 Domestic Spectators At Olympic Venues Despite Covid Concerns

Olympic organizers will allow spectators at this summer’s Tokyo Games but cap attendance at 10,000 people or 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller, they announced on Monday. But they have also warned they could still ban spectators entirely if the situation with covid infections deteriorates dramatically before the Games begin on July 23. Earlier Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would prefer to see fans in the stands but said if the pandemic situation worsens, banning any from attending is “definitely a possibility.” (Denyer, 6/21)

Uganda Olympic Team Member Tests Positive For COVID In Tokyo 

A Uganda Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan late Saturday, officials said. Japan’s government has faced criticism for vowing to host the Tokyo Games next month as coronavirus cases rise. The Ugandan team is the second to arrive in Japan after the Australian women’s softball players, and this is the first COVID-19 infection detected among the Olympic athletes, Al Jazeera notes. (Falconer, 6/20)

Qatar Says Only Vaccinated Fans Allowed At World Cup 2022

Qatar will only allow people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend next year’s World Cup and is in talks to secure one million doses in case global immunisation efforts lag, the prime minister said. The Gulf Arab state hosts the four-week tournament in November 2022 and the president of global soccer body FIFA has said the matches would be held in full stadiums. Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani told newspapers that while most countries were expected to have vaccinated their citizens by then, Qatar was still taking measures to ensure a successful event. (6/21)

Other covid news —

The Hill:
Oxygen In Short Supply In Afghanistan As Country Battles Third Wave Of COVID-19

Oxygen is in short supply in Afghanistan as the country is battling a third wave of COVID-19 cases and its hospitals are being overrun. Health ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigir Nazari told The Associated Press that the government is working to install more oxygen supply plants in 10 provinces where up to 65 percent of people tested in some areas are positive for COVID-19. According to the AP, Afghans are banging on the doors of suppliers, begging for their oxygen cylinders to be filled for suffering loved ones; however, the country is running out of cylinders as well, with Iran sending 900 on Saturday and Uzbekistan sending 1,000 last week. (Lonas, 6/19)

The New York Times:
India’s ‘Black Fungus’ Epidemic Spreads In The Wake Of Covid Crisis

The number of so-called black fungus cases in India shot up to more than 30,000 from negligible levels in just three weeks. The deadly disease has sickened former coronavirus patients across the country, and doctors believe that hospitals desperate to keep Covid-19 patients alive made choices that left them vulnerable.bIndian states have recorded more than 2,100 deaths, according to news reports. The federal health ministry in New Delhi, which is tracking nationwide cases to allot scarce and expensive antifungal medicine, has not released the number of fatalities. (Schmall, 6/21)

On global vaccination campaigns —

Companies Give Vaccines To Workers, Boosting Japan’s Rollout

Thousands of Japanese companies began distributing COVID-19 vaccines to workers and their families Monday in an employer-led drive reaching more than 13 million people that aims to rev up the nation’s slow vaccine rollout. Yuka Daimaru, among the Suntory workers getting the shot on a sprawling office floor, was visibly relieved after spending more than a year worrying about the coronavirus. “I was nervous, but it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would,” she said. “Now I don’t have to worry as much on commuter trains or at meetings.” The Tokyo-based beverage maker plans to inoculate 51,500 people, including part-time workers and employees’ families, with the Moderna vaccine. (Kageyama, 6/21)

The Wall Street Journal:
China, Other Asian Countries Vaccinate Against Covid-19 Faster Than Ever

Covid-19 vaccine rollouts have accelerated in many Asia-Pacific countries in recent weeks, overtaking the pace of doses being administered in the U.S. and other Western nations and increasing the chances of a sooner-than-expected easing of some pandemic restrictions. China now accounts for roughly half of the world’s 33 million Covid-19 shots administered every day, with four-fifths of Beijing’s adults having gotten a single dose. In the past month, South Korea increased the number of daily doses administered by 10-fold, to about 700,000. Japan and Australia, adjusted for population, are administering more doses daily right now than the U.S. or Israel, where daily uptake has slowed. (Yoon, 6/20)

China Covid-19 Vaccines: More Than 1 Billion Doses Administered

China has administered more than a billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccines, a key milestone in the world’s largest inoculation drive. As of Saturday, 1,010,489,000 doses had been given to people in China, according to the country’s National Health Commission (NHC). More than 100 million doses had been administered in the six days up to and including Saturday. (Kharpal, 6/21)

Vaccine Hesitancy Puts India’s Gains Against Virus At Risk

In Jamsoti, a village tucked deep inside India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, the common refrain among the villagers is that the coronavirus spreads only in cities. The deadly infection, they believe, does not exist in villages. So when a team of health workers recently approached Manju Kol to get vaccinated, she locked up her house, gathered her children and ran to the nearby forest. The family hid there for hours and returned only when the workers left in the evening. “I would rather die than take the vaccine,” said Kol. (Kumar Singh, 6/21)

Israel Urges Adolescents To Get Vaccinated, Citing Delta Variant

An Israeli health official on Monday urged more 12- to 15-year-olds to be vaccinated against COVID-19, citing new outbreaks that he attributed to the more infectious Delta variant. Israel expanded vaccine eligibility to include adolescents last month. Infections have fallen off sharply in recent weeks. Vaccination turnout has largely flatlined at around 55% of the 9.3 million overall population having received both shots, implying that adults have largely stopped getting vaccinated. (6/21)

Palestinian Authority Cancels COVID Vaccine Agreement With Israel 

The Palestinian Authority called off the COVID vaccine deal with the new Israeli government after determining the does were too close to their expiration date, Reuters reports. Israel had agreed to transfer 1.2 million doses of Pfizer to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for the fresh Pfizer shipment Palestinians were expected to receive in October. But on Friday Palestinian officials said the doses from Israel were set to expire soon and did not meet the necessary standards. (6/18)

EU Loses Bid For Faster Deliveries Of AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine

The European Union failed in its attempt to force AstraZeneca (AZN) to speed deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine or face huge fines, the latest round in a high-profile battle between the 27-member bloc and the drug maker. In its 67-page ruling, a court in Brussels refused to require AstraZeneca to supply 120 million doses by the end of June, which the EU had demanded. However, the court set a schedule for 80 million doses to be delivered by Sept. 27 and will require AstraZeneca to pay $11.80 for every dose not delivered by that deadline. The court also criticized the drug maker for a “serious breach” of its contract with the EU after repeatedly failing to meet delivery terms. (Silverman, 6/18)

The Hill:
AstraZeneca, EU Both Say They Won Out In Court Dispute Over Vaccine Supply

AstraZeneca and the European Union (EU) are both claiming victory in a court dispute over the EU’s accusation that the vaccine manufacturer was not developing doses at an adequate speed. Both parties claimed victory, citing a Belgian Court of First Instance judge’s Friday ruling that mandated the Anglo-Swedish company provide millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses before Sept. 27. The friction between the 27-nation bloc and AstraZeneca heightened after the vaccine supplier agreed to provide 300 million doses to make up the backbone of the EU’s vaccine supply, but AstraZeneca adjusted the expected timing of the delivery following production issues. (Coleman, 6/18)

While Brazil passes a grim mark —

The New York Times:
Brazil Reported One Of The Highest Covid Death Tolls In The World

The Covid-19 death toll in Brazil has now surpassed 500,000, behind only the United States, which marked 600,000 deaths last week, and India, where deaths may range from 600,000 to as high as 4.2 million. Nearly 18 million people have been infected so far, and the country is averaging almost 73,000 new cases and some 2,000 deaths a day, according to official data. But many experts believe the numbers understate the true scope of the country’s epidemic, as they do in India. (Abelson, 6/21)

Photos: Brazil COVID Deaths Top 500,000 As Anti-Bolsonaro Protests Held 

Demonstrators took to the streets in at least 22 of Brazil’s 26 states to protest President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic — as deaths from COVID-19 in the country surged past 500,000 Saturday, per AP. Brazil has the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll and third-highest number of reported cases. Only 12% of the country’s population has been vaccinated against the virus, AP notes. (Falconer, 6/20)