The US has pledged to send more than $100m (£72m) in aid to India, as the south Asian nation suffered its deadliest week so far in the coronavirus pandemic.

India’s second wave of the virus has overwhelmed many of its large cities and, on Wednesday, a record number of cases (360,960) and deaths (3,293) were reported. New cases have not dropped below 300,000 per day, nor deaths below 2,000, for more than a week, though experts have warned the true figures are likely far higher.

In the UK, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said Covid levels in the UK were “close to the bottom” with “very low” incidence as just over 2,000 people test positive per day.

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1619683683Government ‘exploring’ vaccine passport options, says Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi said the government was considering making so-called vaccine passports mandatory for attending large events.

The vaccines minister, who previously labelled the idea “discriminatory”, told BBC Breakfast: “We are exploring through the different pilots that we are running, certainly for mass events which could prove more challenging for us to open up, say, Wembley Stadium for the semi-final of the FA Cup or the final.

“If you want to go to 100 per cent seat capacity at Wembley, you have to look at all these technologies which are available to you and I think it is only right and responsible for any government to explore that.

“Michael Gove is reviewing how we would do that – there are some very important questions that people will be clearly worried about, including issues around discrimination and we can’t be discriminatory in any way on this.

“Hence why, domestically, it is something that we have to explore, we have to be able to answer those questions.

“Internationally, it is right to make the certification available for our citizens and to shape the protocols around the world because clearly a number of countries are going to do this – we’d much rather do it in a co-ordinated way, which is what Grant Shapps is trying to do at the moment and he is chairing the G7 meeting of ministers on this.”

Liam James29 April 2021 09:08

1619682723US sending $100m in Covid aid to India

The US last night pledged to send more than $100m in aid to Covid-stricken India as it battles a devastating second wave of the pandemic.

The Biden administration will send oxygen supplies, PPE, vaccine doses and Covid tests among other public health assurance.

A White House spokesperson said last night: “Just as India sent assistance to the United States when our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need.”

India is now second only to the US in total cases since the onset of the pandemic but while the spread of the virus has slowed in America since near the start of this year, it has been growing rapidly in the south Asian nation since March.

Liam James29 April 2021 08:52

1619681899Moderna more than doubles production target to 3bn vaccines next year

Moderna said it will boost manufacturing capacity for its coronavirus vaccine and expects to make up to 3 billion doses in 2022, more than twice its previous forecast.

The final number of inoculations will depend on how many are lower-dose formulations for boosters and immunisations for children. Moderna shots currently deploy 100 micrograms of vaccine substance but some future shots may use only 50 micrograms.

For this year, Moderna will raise its lower target to 800 million doses, from 700 million, though the higher target remains 1 billion.

Liam James29 April 2021 08:38

1619681043India suffers worst death toll, highest new cases

The number of people in India dead from Covid surged past 200,000 yesterday before the country reported its highest daily death toll at 3,293, up more than 1,200 on the same time last week.

India also recorded the world’s highest ever daily number of new cases, with 360,960, after a week in which the figure never dropped below 300,000.

Experts believe the official figures greatly underestimate the reality in the country of 1.3 billion.

Liam James29 April 2021 08:24

1619680308Disease levels in the UK ‘close to the bottom’ says Van-Tam

Covid disease levels in the UK are “close to the bottom” with “very low” incidence, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has suggested.

His remarks came as Matt Hancock, the health secretary, insisted that England was “on track” to further ease restrictions on 17 May — a major step in the government’s roadmap.

Assessing the current situation, professor Van-Tam told a No 10 press conference: “We are really in very low levels that are comparable to where we were in September”.

Liam James29 April 2021 08:11

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