‘Sputnik V shot around 90% effective against Delta variant’

This photo shows vials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 at Saint Margit Hospital in Budapest, Hungary, April 14, 2021. (ZOLTAN BALOGH / MTI VIA AP)

LONDON / WASHINGTON / RIO DE JANEIRO / WARSAW / MEXICO CITY / ABUJA / SANTIAGO / ASUNCION / DAR ES SALAAM / CARACAS / BOGOTA / BUENOS AIRES / KIGALI / HARARE / HAVANA / TUNIS / BRUSSELS / QUITO / WINDHOEK / LUSAKA / STOCKHOLM / HARARE / MOSCOW / PARIS – Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 is around 90 percent effective against the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus, its developers said on Tuesday.

The shot, which Russia has actively marketed abroad, was previously found by researchers to be almost 92 percent effective against the original strain of coronavirus.

Denis Logunov, deputy director of Moscow's Gamaleya Institute which developed Sputnik V, said the Delta variant efficacy figure was calculated based on digital medical and vaccine records, the RIA news agency reported.

Russian authorities have blamed a recent surge in COVID-19 cases on the infectious Delta variant, which they say accounts for around 90 percent of all new cases, and on the reluctance of many Russians to get vaccinated.

Russia will fail to vaccinate 60 percent of its population against COVID-19 by the autumn as previously planned given the low uptake of vaccines, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia's vaccination targets would therefore need to be pushed back.

Russia reported 20,616 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the official national tally to 5,493,557.

The government coronavirus task force said 652 people had died in the past 24 hours, a record daily high, pushing the national death toll to 134,545.

France

The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus first found in India now represents some 20 percent of COVID-19 cases in France, French Health Minister Olivier Veran told France Info radio, up from last week's estimate of it representing 9-10 percent of cases.

"The Delta variant now accounts for about 20 percent of new cases (…) its share keeps on increasing in percentage not in absolute terms as the total number of cases is decreasing," Veran said.

Only 509 newly confirmed cases were reported on Monday and the seven-day moving average of daily additional infections fell to 1,819, an almost 10-month low, versus an 14 April peak of 42,225.

"(The Delta variant) is gradually becoming dominant, as it does in all countries in the world, as it is more contagious," Veran said.

Global tally

Coronavirus cases worldwide exceeded 181.46 million while the global death toll topped 3.93 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

Africa

The African Union has criticized an EU decision not to include Covishield, a version of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine used by the global COVAX facility, on a list of approved vaccines for a digital certificate meant to ease travel in the bloc.

Covishield is produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and has been distributed to African nations as part of the COVAX initiative to give poor and developing countries access to COVID-19 vaccines.

But Covishield is not one of four vaccines approved by the European Union for its planned digital vaccination certificate, which is intended to allow people to travel freely within the EU.

The 54-nation African Union said in a statement late on Monday that Covishield's exclusion could lead to discrimination against African travelers.

COVID-19 infections in Africa will likely exceed previous peaks within days, underscoring an urgent need to accelerate vaccine supplies and financing to the region, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday.

Georgieva said in a blog posting with IMF Africa Department director Abebe Selassie that sub-Saharan Africa, already with the lowest vaccination rates in the world at less than 1 percent of the population, again risks having its healthcare systems overwhelmed without immediate action.

"Without significant, upfront, international assistance – and without an effective region-wide vaccination effort – the near-term future of sub-Saharan Africa will be one of repeated waves of infection, which will exact an ever-increasing toll on the lives and livelihoods of the region’s most vulnerable, while also paralyzing investment, productivity, and growth," Georgieva and Selassie wrote.

The IMF officials urged wealthy nations to more quickly share their vaccine stockpiles with Africa through the COVAX initiative, saying that a goal should be to deliver a quarter of a billion doses to the region by September.

Vaccine manufacturers should shift supplies to Africa, while the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team should be financed at an estimated US$2 billion, which would allow an option for the group to execute an optional contract for 180 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, Georgieva and Selassie said.

Mixing Pfizer vaccine with AstraZeneca shot

A mixed schedule of vaccines where a shot of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is given four weeks after an AstraZeneca shot will produce better immune responses than giving another dose of AstraZeneca, according to an Oxford study on Monday.

The study, called Com-COV, compared mixed two-dose schedules of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, and found that in any combination, they produced high concentrations of antibodies against the coronavirus spike protein.

The highest antibody response was seen in people receiving two doses of Pfizer vaccine, with both mixed schedules producing better responses than two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.

An AstraZeneca shot followed by Pfizer produced the best T-cell responses, and also a higher antibody response than Pfizer followed by AstraZeneca.

Matthew Snape, the Oxford professor behind the trial, said that the findings could be used to give flexibility to vaccine rollouts, but was not large enough to recommend a broader shift away from clinically approved schedules on its own.

Com-COV is also looking at mixed schedules over a 12-week interval, and Snape noted that AstraZeneca's shot was known to produce a better immune response with a longer interval between doses.

ALSO READ: Russia says 23m have received at least one COVID-19 shot

Oxford-AstraZeneca shot

A third shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine produces a strong immune response, researchers said on Monday, adding there was not yet evidence that such shots were needed, especially given shortages in some countries.

The Oxford University study found that a third dose of the vaccine increases antibody and T-cell immune responses, while the second dose can be delayed up to 45 weeks and also leads to an enhanced immune response.

Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said that evidence that the vaccine protects against current variants for a sustained period of time meant that such a booster may not be needed.

Poland

Poland is considering making vaccination obligatory for those most at risk from COVID-19, such as health service workers, the health minister said on Tuesday, as the country seeks to counter resistance among those not yet inoculated.

"We are talking about such scenarios as making vaccination obligatory for those most exposed to the serious consequence of COVID – we are talking here about senior citizens, but first of all doctors," Adam Niedzielski told Catholic radio station Radio Plus.

Niedzielski also said there was a possibility of a fourth wave of the pandemic in the second half of August, mirroring the increase in daily cases that has been seen in Britain.

The health ministry reported on Monday no deaths due to COVID-19 were recorded over the past 24-hour period for the first time in 15 months.

The number of new infections is also trending down with 52 cases reported on Monday, according to Niedzielski.

The reported COVID-19 death toll in Poland lies close to 75,000. The country of around 38 million people has fully vaccinated 12.7 million people.

South Africa

South Africa’s official death toll from COVID-19 has passed 60,000, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said. 

Over the last 24 hours, 138 deaths from the disease were reported, bringing the toll to 60,038, the NICD said in a statement on Monday.

South Africa’s actual number of deaths from the virus could exceed 170,000, according to excess death studies by the South African Medical Research Council, which tracks the number of deaths above the historical norm in weekly reports.

The severity of the third wave of virus infections in Johannesburg and the rest of South Africa’s commercial hub of Gauteng may be due to a comparatively low rate of previous infections, according to a blood survey.

A study of samples collected from blood donations in South Africa’s nine provinces in January and May showed that Gauteng had the second lowest prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies, according to the South African National Blood Service.

“We saw comparatively very low antibody levels among donors who presented in Gauteng as compared to other provinces, especially when you consider population density,” Karin van den Berg, medical director of the SANBS, said in the statement. “This could indicate that Gauteng was more insulated from the initial waves of the virus and may in part explain the devastating spread of the virus through Gauteng.”

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk along a street in Madrid, Spain, June 24, 2021. (MANU FERNANDEZ / AP)

WHO-ECDC

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO)'s European regional office have developed a tool to evaluate the public health effectiveness of contact tracing solutions, according to a statement on Monday.

The tool, described as an indicator framework, will provide countries with a standardized approach for evaluating their use of digital proximity tracing solutions. It will also assess the extent to which these solutions have aided national contact tracing strategies for COVID-19, according to an ECDC statement.

Digital proximity tracing, by using smartphones or other devices to capture anonymized interactions between individuals and then issue alerts, emerged as a new means of support for contact tracing programs.

"This new indicator framework offers countries a standardized approach to gather the evidence and assess the contribution that digital proximity tracing technology has made to large-scale contact tracing efforts for COVID-19. We anticipate that it will become an invaluable tool," said Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, director of the Division of Country Health Policies and Systems at WHO Europe.

Vicky Lefevre, head of the ECDC Public Health Functions Unit, added that digital proximity tracing technology is a new tool for a new challenge, the COVID-19. It is vital to evaluate its public health effectiveness in order to understand how best to use this technology right now as well as for future pandemics.  

Brazil

Brazil registered 27,804 new cases of coronavirus and 618 more COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.

In total, Brazil has reported 18,448,402 confirmed cases and 514,092 deaths, the ministry said.

Mexico

Mexico's health ministry on Monday reported 1,661 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 44 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,507,453 infections and 232,608 deaths.

Greece

Greece will allow people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus inside restaurants without masks, the government said on Tuesday, as part of measures to boost inoculation rates.

The country has been easing restrictions as COVID-19 infections fall, but concerns are rising over the more contagious Delta variant. Face masks have been mandatory in all indoor public spaces.

"The first target is to facilitate the vaccination project. To bring as many people as possible (to vaccination centres)," state minister George Gerapetritis told reporters.

From July 15, vaccinated spectators will be allowed at sports venues for the first time but they will have to wear masks. Mask wearing will still be required in theatres and cinemas.

More than 30.2 percent of Greece's eligible population have been fully vaccinated so far and 43.1 percent have had at least one dose. The government aims to get to a 70 percent rate by the autumn.

Greece will offer its young people a 150 euro (US$180) cash card and a free month of phone data to get their first COVID-19 shot, in a government drive to boost vaccination rates in the build-up to the holidays.

Around 940,000 Greeks aged 18-25 who get their first shot by the end of the year will be eligible for the "freedom pass" cash bonus, the government said.

Around a third of the 11 million-strong population is fully inoculated, according to government figures.

Greece could have 80 percent of its people vaccinated by the autumn if they were convinced about the importance of shots, a government official in charge of vaccinations said on Monday.

Greece has reported a total of 421,266 cases and 12,682 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Nigeria

Nigeria is adding South Africa to its "red list" of countries for which there are stringent restrictions for arriving passengers, officials said during a briefing on Monday.

Nigeria is introducing the restrictions due to the spread of the Delta variant in South Africa, Chikwe Ihekweazu, the head of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, said. The country joins India, Brazil and Turkey on the list.

"In Nigeria, we haven't found the Delta variant yet," Ihekweazu said during the briefing.

READ MORE: Concerns rise over Delta Plus variant

Non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents who visited the countries on the list within 14 days are barred entry from Nigeria, while passport holders and residents must undergo a seven-day quarantine in a government-approved facility at cost to the passenger.

They are also required to take COVID-19 tests within 24 hours or arrival and after seven days in quarantine.

At the briefing, Faisal Shuaib, the head of the country's National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said Nigeria is expecting an additional 3.924 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX by August 2021, and 29.85 million doses of the J&J vaccine through the African Union by September.

Chile

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera on Monday announced a US$2 billion boost to health spending to address the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to menace the country despite one of the world's fastest vaccination campaigns.

Pinera said the funds would be used to buy five million more vaccine doses, strengthen primary care facilities and testing, tracing and virus genome sequencing capability.

Chile has vaccinated 82 percent of its 15 million target population with at least one dose and 70 percent are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This week it is inoculating residents under age 18, as young as 12-years-old.

Public health chief Paula Daza said it was "very likely" that Chile would issue a third dose to its citizens, potentially of a different vaccine from their previous shots.

Paraguay

The United States said on Monday it will donate one million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to Paraguay, offering relief to the South American country whose immunization program is moving slowly amid a new wave of COVID-19 cases.

State Department official Victoria Nuland announced during an official visit to Asuncion that the vaccines should arrive in Paraguay "in a few weeks".

Paraguay, with a population of 7 million, confirmed 152 deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, a daily record that brought the country's coronavirus-related fatalities to 12,517 since the start of the pandemic.

Paraguay's health ministry said 665,117 people in the country have gotten at least one vaccine dose so far.

Germany

The delta variant of the coronavirus likely accounts for about 50 percent of cases in Germany and authorities are pushing to rapidly increase the number of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to help check its spread, according to Chancellery Minister Helge Braun.

Germany already has the strictest inbound travel rules in Europe – including a requirement to quarantine for 14 days – for travelers arriving from countries designated virus-variant areas, and the interior ministry is ready to introduce spot checks at the borders if needed, Braun said in an interview with ZDF television.

The share of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant more than doubled in Germany within a week and is likely to gain more traction over other variants, a senior health official was quoted as saying on Monday.

Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) public health agency, told officials during a meeting that a genome sequencing analysis had shown the Delta variant accounting for 36 percent of infections in the week of June 14-20, up from 15 percent in the previous week, according to a senior official at the meeting.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 404 to 3,727,333, RKI data showed on Tuesday. The reported death toll rose by 57 to 90,819.

US

The United States has raised its COVID 19-related travel advisory for the United Arab Emirates to "level 4 – do not travel," the US State Department said on Monday.

The advisories for Liberia, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia were also raised to level 4 – do not travel, the State Department said in a statement.

In another development, thee Los Angeles County Department of Public Health strongly recommended people wear masks indoors in public places – regardless of vaccination status – as a precautionary measure against the Delta variant.

In the week ending June 12, Delta variants comprised of nearly half of all variants sequenced, L.A. County – the nation’s most populous – said in a statement.

US President Joe Biden and his White House are planning a slate of travel and events this weekend – including a barbecue for more than a thousand people — to celebrate his administration’s progress combating the pandemic, though the country fell short of his July 4 vaccination goal.

The US has administered 324,414,371 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Monday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday.

The country is still recording more than 11,000 cases of COVID-19 per day, on average, according to the CDC. There have been 287 deaths per day from the disease, on average, for the last seven days.

People queue to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at an NHS Vaccination Clinic at Tottenham Hotspur's stadium in north London, June 20, 2021. (YUI MOK / PA VIA AP)

UK

British officials are preparing to scrap the 10-day self-isolation requirement for schoolchildren in England who come into contact with a positive case of coronavirus, a policy which is disrupting education and adding to the strain on working parents.

“We are conducting trials of daily contact testing as a possible alternative to self-isolation,” Schools Minister Nick Gibb said on Sky News on Tuesday. An announcement on the change will be made before July 19, he said. Another policy being considered is extending the school-day by half an hour, Gibb said.

Britain will lift most of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions on July 19 in what has been dubbed "Freedom Day", the government said on Monday despite fears that an increase in coronavirus cases could lead to more deaths.

"With every day that goes by it's clearer to me and all our scientific advisers that we're very likely to be in a position on July 19 to say that really is the terminus and we can go back to life as it was before COVID as far as possible," Johnson told reporters.

ALSO READ: Study: Over 2m people in England may have had long virus

The government's assurance came on a day the UK saw its highest daily tally since Jan 30 with 22,868 newly reported cases.

The cumulative now stands at 4,755,078, according to the latest official figures. The death toll rose by three to 128,103. 

The government had hoped to unlock Britain's economy last week, but with coronavirus cases rising, driven largely by the more transmissible Delta variant, reopening was postponed until July 19.

Meanwhile, Scotland reported a record 3,285 new cases during the last 24 hours, the biggest daily increase since the start of the pandemic.

Tanzania

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan confirmed on Monday that the country has joined the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program.

"Experts are now working to establish types of vaccines that will be allowed in and how they will be imported," Hassan said when addressing the media in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, adding that the vaccination will be conducted on a voluntary basis.

Issuing the first data on infections since May 2020, Hassan said there were more than 100 COVID-19 patients in Tanzania as of last Saturday, with 70 of them being provided oxygen.

Tanzania will spend US$470 million buying vaccines and supporting economic sectors hit hard by the coronavirus, Hassan said.

Half of the cash will be spent on vaccines, protective gear and other medical equipment, Hassan said, with the rest going to stimulate sectors that are reeling from the crisis.

Venezuela

Venezuelan health authorities on Monday launched a mass vaccination drive against COVID-19 in Caracas, the capital of the country, using the Abdala vaccine developed in Cuba.

Recently Cuba signed a contract with the Venezuelan Ministry of Health for the purchase of 12 million vaccines, which will gradually be delivered to the South American country by October, said Pedro Almendares, the local representative of vaccine-maker BioCubaFarma.

The agreement between the two nations will facilitate the immunization of 4 million Venezuelans, as the Abdala vaccine requires three doses per person.

In the first shipment, "30,000 doses of vaccines arrived that will make it possible to immunize 10,000 people between the ages of 19 and 80," he added.

Colombia

Colombia said on Monday it will receive a US donation of 2.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Janssen, the pharmaceutical unit of Johnson & Johnson.

The South American country has reported more than 4.1 million cases of coronavirus and 104,678 deaths. It hopes to vaccinate 70 percent of its 50 million inhabitants and has so far administered more than 17.2 million vaccine doses.

Argentina

Argentina reported 18,389 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the national tally to 4,423,636, the Ministry of Health said.

Another 576 more deaths were reported, taking the death toll to 93,142.

Currently, there are 284,186 active cases, the ministry said, adding that 4,046,308 patients have recovered from the disease.

A total of 20,156,628 vaccine doses have been administered, with 16,173,340 people having received their first dose and 3,983,288 fully vaccinated.

Rwanda

About 35,000 people have been arrested in different parts of Rwanda over the last four days since the announcement of new measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, police said Monday.

The number is "so huge" compared to previous incidents when about 11,000 people were arrested in one week for violating COVID-19 preventive measures, said police spokesperson John Bosco Kabera during a live talk with Rwanda Television.

The arrestees included motorists who violated curfew time, those who sold alcohol, and people visiting infected friends and relatives in isolation, said Kabera.

Ireland

Ireland's government is to decide on Tuesday whether to permit only those who are fully vaccinated to eat and drink inside bars and restaurants.

Speaking to journalists before a cabinet meeting, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the government was considering a recommendation by the National Public Health Emergency Team that would require people to "show vaccination status".

The restrictions could mean delaying Monday's planned re-opening of indoor hospitality to allow time to develop a system to manage the changes. Ireland would be one of the first places in Europe to introduce the measure.

Sanofi

Sanofi will invest about 400 million euros (US$476.4 million) in research and development of next-generation vaccines using mRNA technologies, which proved their efficiency in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Sanofi added on Tuesday that its "mRNA Center of Excellence" will bring together around 400 employees, and was expected to produce a minimum of six clinical candidates by 2025.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, mRNA technologies demonstrated potential to deliver new vaccines faster than ever before", said Jean-Francois Toussaint, global head of R&D at Sanofi Pasteur.

"However, key areas of innovation such as thermostability and tolerability improvements will be critical to unlock the applications of mRNA in routine vaccination against a broader set of infectious diseases and across all ages," he added.

Sanofi is also working on a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate with US company Translate Bio, for which it has started clinical trials. 

Cuba

Cuban health authorities and scientists began on Monday expanding clinical trials of Soberana-02 and Soberana Plus, two of the five Cuban vaccine candidates against COVID-19, to include children and adolescents.

After demonstrating safety in an initial group of 25 volunteers from 12 to 18 years old, the triala will be expanded to include 25 children between the ages of three and 11, who will receive a first dose of Soberana-02.

All of the 350 children and adolescents involved in the trials will receive two doses of Soberana-02 and a third of Soberana Plus, with an interval of 28 days between each immunization. 

Also on Monday, Cuba reported 2,589 new COVID-19 cases and 12 more deaths, bringing the tally to 184,943 cases and the toll to 1,253 deaths, the Ministry of Public Health said.

Tunisia

Tunisia's health ministry on Monday reported 1,914 new COVID-19 cases, raising the cumulative tally to 408,931.

The death toll rose by 83 to 14,737 while the total number of recoveries reached 350,262, the ministry said in a statement.

A total of 1,765,231 people have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 513,328 have been fully vaccinated, according to ministry data.

Earlier in the day, the ministry announced that 18 cases involving the Delta variant had been detected.

Ecuador

Ecuador reported 1,407 new COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative tally to 455,743, the Ministry of Public Health reported on Monday.

The death toll remained at 15,874 as there were no newly reported fatalities.

Meanwhile, the ministry reported another 5,649 deaths considered to be COVID-19 related but not verified.

According to the ministry, 3,991,635 vaccine doses had been administered to priority groups as of June 26.

Namibia

In Namibia, which has Africa’s fastest-growing COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are running out, hospitals and mortuaries are overwhelmed and the blame game has begun.

First-time inoculations have been stopped as there are only enough doses to complete courses, and the government is being criticized by politicians and its own medical experts.

In Namibia, 0.8 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mortuaries across the country are overwhelmed with the increasing number of COVID-19 deaths, putting “even more pressure on the situation,” Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula said in an interview.

The health ministry said on Monday that outpatient services at intermediate hospital Katutura, one of the country's biggest state hospitals in Windhoek, will be suspended from Tuesday until further notice due to an "alarmingly high and increasing cases of COVID-19 in the community and hospital".

As of Monday, Namibia had recorded 86,649 infections and 1,445 deaths.

The surge in cases comes after months of limited infections, prompting criticism that the government opened up the economy to activities, such as tourism, too quickly.

Zambia

Authorities in Zambia on Monday announced the closure of nightclubs, casinos and other drinking places as people continuously flouted COVID-19 preventive guidelines.

The places will be operating on a takeaway basis for the next 14 days subject to review. Earlier, the authorities had permitted the drinking places to be operating from 6 pm to 10 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Mathew Ngulube, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Local Government, said gymnasiums will remain closed except for outdoor activities, while churches will be monitored for compliance and adherence to the health preventive guidelines.

Zambia recorded 1,093 new cases and 69 more deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative cases to 149,661 and the toll to 2,091. 

Sweden

Sweden will ease many of its restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 on July 1, allowing larger crowds at stadiums and restaurants, the health minister said on Monday.

"The spread of infection has decreased sharply," Minister of Health Lena Hallengren said at a news conference. "It has been a long and difficult time, and we have experienced one, two and three waves. But thanks to vaccinations, we see an improved situation."

As of next month, curbs on restaurants and bar opening hours will be lifted, though all guests will still have to be seated. The number of seated spectators at outdoor stadiums will also rise to 3,000 from 500, and more if the stadium is divided into clearly separated sections.

The recommendations to only meet people in your household or immediate circle and to wear masks during certain hours in public transport will also lifted.

More than 57 percent of Sweden's adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, and every third person is fully vaccinated.

Cyprus

The health ministry of Cyprus said on Monday that it will start vaccinating 16- and 17-year-olds, after COVID-19 cases spiked again since the beginning of last week.

The ministry said in a statement that its vaccination portal will open on Wednesday for individuals of that age group, after it was established that a large proportion (almost 30 percent) of new cases involved people aged 15 to 18. The social activity of people in this age group is "intense" and they tend to have an extensive network of contacts, according to the statement.

Adolescents aged 17 and 18 were given the opportunity to get vaccinated, but the response has been modest, according to health officials.

Zimbabwe

A total of 53,226 people in Zimbabwe have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the week ending June 27, a five-fold jump compared to the previous week, state news agency New Ziana reported Monday.

In the week ending June 20, only 9,918 people received their first jab.

Meanwhile, the number of new cases more than doubled to 4,663 during the week ending June 27, from 1,820 cases in the previous week. COVID-19 related deaths jumped from 45 to 64 during the same period.

So far, 756,291 people have received their first dose while 518,968 have gotten both shots.

Zimbabwe has so far has recorded 46,442 cases and 1,736 deaths, according to the latest statistics from the health ministry.