What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a testing site which is temporarily set up at a public health center in Seoul, South Korea, July 9, 2021. REUTERS/ Heo Ran

Finland joins Sweden and Denmark in limiting Moderna vaccine

Finland on Thursday paused the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for younger males due to reports of a rare cardiovascular side effect, joining Sweden and Denmark in limiting its use.

Mika Salminen, director of the Finnish health institute, said Finland would instead give Pfizer’s vaccine to men born in 1991 and later. Finland offers shots to people aged 12 and over.

“A Nordic study involving Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark found that men under the age of 30 who received Moderna Spikevax had a slightly higher risk than others of developing myocarditis,” he said.

Indonesia approves COVID-19 vaccine of China’s Zhifei unit

Indonesia has approved a COVID-19 vaccine produced by a unit of China’s Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products for emergency use, its food and drug agency (BPOM) said on Thursday, the fourth Chinese vaccine cleared for use in the country.

BPOM chief Penny Lukito said the protein-recombinant vaccine, given three times in a three-month span, has an efficacy rate of about 81%, with 77.47% efficacy against the Delta variant, lower than other variants, she said.

Trials of the vaccine, Zifivax, were conducted in China, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Ecuador and Indonesia, involving 28,000 people, with the efficacy based on any degree of severity.

Sydney to exit lockdown next week

COVID-19 restrictions will be eased further in Sydney from Monday, authorities said, as Australia’s largest city looks set to exit a nearly four-month lockdown after hitting its 70% full vaccination target.

Fully vaccinated people in New South Wales state will be able to leave their homes for any reason including visiting pubs, retail stores, cinemas and gyms, which will reopen under strict social distancing rules.

The number of vaccinated visitors allowed to gather in a home will double to 10, while the limit on vaccinated people at weddings and funerals will be raised to 100.

Biden to tout vaccine mandates for large companies

U.S. President Joe Biden is set to visit Chicago on Thursday to meet with United Airlines’ chief executive and local Democratic leaders as he touts his decision to impose vaccine mandates on employees of large firms, the White House said.

Biden last month ordered all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, with few exceptions, and for private employers with 100 or more workers to require employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

WHO says COVID-19 aid to North Korea held in quarantine

COVID-19 aid supplies have arrived in North Korea but are being held in quarantine in its seaport of Nampho, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, as the isolated nation shows few signs of easing strict border lockdowns.

North Korea sealed its borders when the pandemic began last year, though officials in neighbouring South Korea and the United States have cast doubts on its claim to have never had a case, despite a lack of signs of major outbreaks.

Moderna plans African mRNA vaccine factory

Moderna plans to invest about $500 million to build a factory in Africa to make up to 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines each year, including its COVID-19 shot, as pressure grows on the pharmaceutical industry to manufacture drugs on the continent.

Moderna’s proposed site will also include bottling and packaging capabilities. The company said it would begin the process of deciding the country and location soon.

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