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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Covid cases rise for ninth consecutive day

Covid cases in Egypt rose for the ninth day running yesterday, providing more evidence that the country is experiencing a third wave of the virus as it enters Ramadan season. Egypt saw 823 new infections yesterday, up from 818 the day before, while 39 more people died from the virus, down slightly from 42 on Monday, according to Health Ministry figures released early this morning.

Cases have been slowly creeping up this month, rising from 699 on 31 March. This has prompted government ministers and talk show hosts to warn the public of an oncoming third wave, the timing of which is particularly problematic given Ramadan, Coptic Easter and Sham El Nessim are all taking place over the coming month. There have been suggestions that new restrictions could be introduced in the coming days should large crowds turn out in the streets to celebrate Ramadan; measures that could include closing public spaces, banning public prayer and reducing hours at government buildings.

Egypt has now disclosed a total of 212,130 confirmed cases of covid-19, while the country’s total death toll now stands at 12,526.

COVID ABROAD-

The US, Europe and South Africa have suspended their rollouts of the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine while experts investigate cases of rare blood clots that may be linked to the jab, the BBC reports. US health agencies earlier in the day called on the US government to temporarily halt its use while it studies the cases, six of which were detected in more than 6.8 mn doses of the inoculation. This prompted the company to delay its rollout in the EU which started this week, and South Africa to suspend its use.

How big is the risk? There are six reports of women with clots from among the 7 mn doses given (in total, to men and women) in the United States. Those same women, if on birth control pills, have an even higher risk: The US Food and Drug Administration “estimates that the risk of birth control users developing a serious blood clot is three to nine women out of 10,000, every year.” (The clots are admittedly different.)

Haven’t we heard this story before? AstraZeneca’s jab has faced similar charges, with a rate of 166 reported clots in 37 mn doses administered — meaning you have about a 3x greater chance of getting a clot after taking AstraZeneca than you do of being hit by lightning the next time you’re allow to go to Europe for vacation.

All adults in the UK over the age of 50 have now been offered at least one covid-19 shot, the government announced yesterday, making its vaccine rollouts one of the fastest in the world. The government reached its vaccination target several days ahead of schedule, and has now administered over 40 mn vaccines. The next phase of the program will target those in their 40s, with the aim of giving all UK adults at least one vaccine dose by the end of July.

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