How many cases of COVID-19 have been reported?
As of Oct. 12, there were more than 238,368,665 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 4,859,634 deaths.
What is the status of COVID-19 vaccines?
On Oct. 14 & 15, the US FDA will begin their review of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s submissions for the administration of booster shots in certain demographics. Similar to Pfizer, both US vaccine-makers are seeking to have their boosters authorized for use in those aged 65+, the immunocompromised, and those who live or work in high-risk settings, due to increasing breakthrough infections spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant. Though the approval of boosters is the purview of the agency’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, FDA scientists published a paper ahead of the meeting declining to take a stance on the need for boosters. The scientists highlighted that the normal regimen of both vaccines remained highly effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization, despite rising cases of symptomatic breakthrough infections.
How have new virus variants changed the threat landscape?
A recent study released on Sept. 24 suggests that prior infection with either Delta or Beta variants could provide some protection against the C.1.2 variant identified in South Africa in May 2021. Since its discovery, C.1.2 has been found in at least seven other countries, including the UK, New Zealand, Switzerland, and China. Scientists determined that the variant is between 44 to 59 mutations away from the original COVID-19 virus, making it the most mutated strain to date. The WHO has classified C.1.2 as a variant under monitoring as its spread has not yet risen to a significant level. The study suggested that slow transmissibility could be due to increased population immunity from prior Beta or Delta infections as shared mutations between Beta/Delta and C.1.2 strains allow for cross-reactivity. The same study confirmed the effectiveness of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines against the variant.
Notable Travel Developments
- Chile Reopens to Fully Vaccinated Foreigners – As of November 1, fully vaccinated foreign travelers can enter Chile without the need to quarantine for 5 days upon arrival. To be eligible, travelers must obtain a negative PCR test result at any point following their arrival in Chile, and a negative result will eliminate the quarantine requirement. However, travelers must still comply with all entry requirements, including the need to present a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure, complete the Health Passport within 48 hours of arrival, and have proof of a valid medical insurance policy covering at least USD 30,000 of COVID-19 related costs. They must also complete the Mobility Pass 2-3 weeks before entering Chile.
Thailand to Reopen to Fully Vaccinated Travelers from Certain Countries – Beginning November 1, fully vaccinated foreign nationals from certain “low risk” countries—including the UK, US, Germany, & China—may enter Thailand without quarantine. However, travelers will likely still need to present a negative pre-arrival PCR test and test again upon arrival.
|Country||Daily New Cases (7-day avg.)||Total Cases||Total Deaths|
Countries Averaging >6,000 New COVID-19 Cases Daily (Source: JHU & European CDC/Our World in Data)
Week-by-Week Change in Confirmed COVID-19 Cases (Source: European CDC/Our World in Data)