Mu variant vaccine concern, Africa halts J&J jabs shipment: COVID-19 Daily Bulletin
Patrick Rhys Atack
France's schools and colleges return to class (with masks) today. /Fred Tanneau/AFP

France's schools and colleges return to class (with masks) today. /Fred Tanneau/AFP


What do we know about Mu? The new COVID-19 variant was first identified in Colombia in January, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO is monitoring Mu, and warned it possess "a constellation of mutations" that could help it evade vaccines. 

Research published in The Lancet: Infectious Diseases said just 0.2 percent of fully vaccinated adults catch COVID-19, and only 5 percent of those who do get ill will suffer so-called Long COVID, which is classed as symptoms lasting more than 28 days. The King's College London paper said 11 percent of unvaccinated patients who contract the virus will experience Long COVID.

A shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines due to be sent to Europe from South Africa has been stopped, according to the African Union's COVID-19 envoy. Strive Masiyiwa said the doses would be returned to South Africa. 

The UK's Prince Harry gave a speech urging governments to share vaccines, and counter "mass-scale misinformation" on the risks jabs carry. He was speaking (virtually) in at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, where the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine team was celebrated for its work. 

UK health authorities have been told they can offer third doses of vaccine, but they insisted these are not "booster jabs" but targeted extra jabs for patients with severe immune system problems. The government said it was part of the "primary" vaccination efforts, not a new round as the fall approaches. 

Children in France are going back to school today and all age groups will be told to wear face coverings in the classroom. It is a vital part of France's plan to reopen all institutions, from primary schools to universities and postgraduate education. All teaching will be in-person.



Andrew Wilson in the UK 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is under increasing pressure to clarify its position on booster jabs. Health authorities have been cleared to offer a third COVID-19 jab to vulnerable adults with certain health conditions, but the JCVI is still deliberating over first jabs for young teenagers or boosters for older adults.

New research suggests the risks of an infected patient developing Long Covid are reduced by about 50 percent after vaccination.

Prince Harry used a surprise virtual appearance at the GQ Men of the Year awards to urge governments to tackle the "huge disparity" in access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. The Duke of Sussex said until everyone could access the jab "we are all at risk."


Penelope Liersch in Budapest 

Hungary has dropped again in the COVID-19 European Centre for Disease Control vaccination rankings. The country has slipped from the top spots earlier in the year down to 20th position, with vaccine uptake stalling around the beginning of the summer. An average of 76 percent of adults in European countries have had a first dose of vaccine, in Hungary it's 67.5 percent – a number that has barely risen in recent weeks. As of this week, 162,000 people who were due to have a second dose of a two-shot vaccine have not taken the second jab. 

Hungary's COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise, with 262 reported on Thursday. Hospitalizations are also increasing, with 138 people currently in hospital, 16 of whom are on ventilators. One more person has died. It comes as an expert warned the country's hospitals will be inundated with patients by the end of October or November if vaccination rates don't rise, including third doses. 


Ross Cullen in Paris

Some 12m children return to school today after summer holidays. Major new protocols have been put in place by the education ministry to try to reduce the possibility of a fifth wave of cases. 

All children must wear face masks inside, including primary pupils. All classes at all levels of education, from elementary to university, will be in-person. Primary school classes will close for a week when a positive case is identified. 

Secondary school children who are not vaccinated will have to go back to distance learning if they are identified as contact cases. Saliva tests are going to be carried out on children who are too young to get vaccinated. CO2 detectors will be installed in schools to test air quality to ensure regular ventilation.


Ryan Thompson in Frankfurt 

The fourth wave of the pandemic has officially taken off in Germany, according to officials at the Robert Koch Institute.

The RKI reported 13,531 new positive tests Thursday morning, up 1970 from Wednesday a week ago when 11,561 new infections were reported. 

Some 23 people have died from causes related to the virus in 24 hours. 

Though Germany has vowed to use hospitalization and death rate data to justify enacting new restrictions, some scientists are keeping their eyes on a slowly rising seven-day incidence rate, which now stands at 75.



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CGTN Europe has been providing in-depth coverage of the novel coronavirus story as it has unfolded. 

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