Indonesia's COVID-19 deaths reach new heights

COVID-19 deaths in Indonesia, the hardest-hit country in Southeast Asia's latest surge, passed 2,000 for the first time today, with the country signaling that it may add a booster dose of Sinovac vaccine, due to concerns about protection gaps.

Elsewhere, cases are climbing steeply in Tokyo in the midst of the Summer Olympic Games, and in Australia, a lockdown expired in Victoria state, as another was extended in New South Wales as the Sydney area continues to grapple with ongoing COVID-19 activity.

Indonesia weighs Sinovac booster dose

Indonesia's daily record of 2,069 deaths today reflects 600 more fatalities than the nation reported yesterday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), which cited health ministry figures. New infections have declined some but are still at very high levels, with about 45,000 new cases reported today.

Though offices are still under shutdown orders, the government has allowed small shops and some restaurants and malls to reopen. So far, only 7% of the country is vaccinated, and officials are falling behind on their plans to give 1 million shots a day this month.

The country's health ministry said it is considering a booster dose of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine because of new findings that vaccine-induced antibodies fade over time, according to Reuters. Sinovac is the country's main vaccine, but worries about protection have been mounting in the wake of reports that hundreds of vaccinated health workers have died from COVID-19 since June.

A preprint study published a few days ago suggested that antibodies dipped below a key threshold about 6 months after the second Sinovac dose and that a third shot produced a strong booster effect.

More global headlines

  • Elsewhere in Asia, officials in the Olympic host city of Tokyo today reported a sharp rise in cases, reaching a new daily high of 2,848 cases, according to the Japan Times. Japan's prime minister asked residents to stay home and avoid all unnecessary travel, and officials said the Delta (B1617.2) variant currently makes up 70% of sequenced samples.

  • Australia's Victoria state said today that its COVID-19 measures will expire, as its flare-up winds down, but New South Wales state reported 172 more infections, up from 145 the day before, according to Reuters. The lockdown for the Sydney area, the state's hot spot, has been extended for 4 more weeks.

  • Iran today recorded a new single-day high for cases, nearly 35,000, according to the Associated Press. As the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, Iran has only 3% of its population vaccinated, and hospitals in Tehran are reportedly overwhelmed by the country's Delta variant surge.

  • COVID-related factory shutdowns in countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Bangladesh are adding to supply chain woes in the United States, which could lead to back-to-school shortages of supplies, including clothing and shoes, according to the Washington Post. Chronic shipping delays are fueling inflation and could persist into 2022.

  • The global COVID-19 total today rose to 194,697,770 cases, with at least 4,167,414 deaths, according to the New York Times

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