What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

FILE PHOTO: A box of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccines is seen at the Forem vaccination centre in Pamplona
·3 min read

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

J&J says second shot boosts protection for moderate-severe COVID-19 to 94%

Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday a second shot of its COVID-19 vaccine given about two months after the first increased its effectiveness to 94% in the United States against moderate to severe forms of the disease.

That compares to 70% protection with a single dose.

The data will help J&J make its case to U.S. regulators for a booster shot even as the company stresses the durability of its single-shot vaccine.

EU says people vaccinated with AstraZeneca shots should be able to travel to U.S.

The European Commission said on Tuesday it would make sense for the United States to allow travel by people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots that have yet to be approved by U.S. regulators.

On Monday, the White House said it would lift restrictions from November that bar EU citizens, including those fully vaccinated, from travelling to the United States. It was not clear which vaccinations would be considered acceptable by U.S. authorities.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is approved for use in the 27 EU countries where about 70 million shots have been administered cumulatively.

Indian foreign minister urges UK to resolve quarantine dispute

India's foreign minister on Tuesday urged Britain to remove a rule requiring Indians visiting there to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated.

India's Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured in India by Pune-based Serum Institute, is not recognised by Britain under new rules despite being identical to the doses given to millions of Britons.

The rules, that come into effect next month, have caused anger, with many Indians branding the decision as discriminatory. Britons vaccinated in the United Kingdom with the same Indian-made doses are not required to quarantine.

Melbourne police fire pepper balls, pellets to break up protest

Police in Melbourne fired pepper balls and rubber pellets on Tuesday to disperse about 2,000 protesters who defied stay-at-home orders to damage property, block a busy freeway and injure three officers, leading to more than 60 arrests.

It was the second day of demonstrations in the locked-down Australian city after authorities shut construction sites for two weeks, saying workers' frequent movement was spreading the coronavirus.

New Zealand on Friday announced higher fines of up to NZ$12,000 ($8,400) for individuals breaching restrictions amid concerns that the current outbreak may spread beyond Auckland to other regions due to people breaking rules.

Calls grow among experts in Singapore for a vaccine mandate

Some health experts in Singapore are calling for mandatory vaccination with a growing toll of severe COVID-19 among unvaccinated people as infections surge and with vaccine take-up plateauing at 82% of the population.

The government has linked reopening to vaccination targets but it paused the easing of restrictions this month to watch for signs that severe infections could overwhelm the health system.

"I would love to see vaccine mandates in over 60s, they are the group most likely to die," said Dale Fisher, an infectious disease expert at the National University Hospital in Singapore.

(Compiled by Linda Noakes; editing by Barbara Lewis)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting