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: A woman wearing a protective mask reacts as she receives a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a kindergarten in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 10, 2021. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/File Photo

Indian scientists: We didn’t back doubling of vaccine dose gap

The Indian government doubled the gap between the two doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine without the agreement of the scientific group that it said recommended the increase, three members of the advisory body told Reuters. The ministry of health announced the decision to change the gap from 6-8 weeks to 12-16 weeks on May 13, at a time when supplies of the shot were falling short of demand and infections were surging across the country.

It said the extended gap was recommended by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), based on real-life evidence mainly from Britain. Yet the NTAGI scientists, classified by the government as three of the 14 “core members”, said the body did not have enough data to make such a recommendation.

China ramps up vaccinations, but uneven rollout leaves borders closed

China has tripled its daily COVID-19 vaccine rollout in June, inoculating 44% of its population with at least one dose, but its health experts warn against a quick border reopening, citing an uneven rollout and the low rate of full vaccinations.

China will wait and see how Japan handles its virus outbreak and the Tokyo Olympics next month before deciding how quickly Beijing needs to loosen its border controls, a person familiar with the situation said.

Japan to decide soon on allowing domestic spectators at Olympics

Japan will decide this month on whether to allow domestic spectators at the Tokyo Olympics, the government’s chief spokesman said on Wednesday, following media reports a proposal to allow up to 10,000 people at events was under consideration.

The final call will be made taking into account coronavirus infection conditions and the prevalence of virus variants, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters when asked about the reports.

Australia’s Melbourne to allow residents to leave city

Australia’s second-largest city will allow its five million residents to travel more than 25 km (15 miles) from home and end mandatory masks wearing outdoors from Friday, despite the city fighting a stubborn COVID-19 outbreak.

Melbourne exited a two-week hard lockdown late last week, its fourth since the pandemic began, after an outbreak that has seen about 100 cases since May 24. Public gatherings will increase to 20 people while the ban on home gatherings will be lifted. Gyms can open across Melbourne but must comply to strict distancing rules and salon services can operate without masks during service.

Regeneron COVID-19 therapy cuts deaths among hospitalised patients who lack antibodies

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s COVID-19 antibody cocktail reduces deaths in hospitalised patients who have not mounted their own antibody response, a large British study published on Wednesday found.

The study found that the antibody therapy reduced by a fifth the 28-day mortality of people admitted to hospital with COVID-19 whose immune system had not mounted an antibody response, known as seronegative. The result translates into six fewer deaths for every 100 seronegative patients treated with the therapy, researchers said.

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