Coronavirus latest: Every US state now on Chicago’s travel advisory due to Delta variant


US economic growth “downshifted slightly” between June and July as the more contagious Delta variant and labour supply shortages hampered business activity, the Federal Reserve reported on Wednesday. The latest Beige Book report suggested the pace of the recovery from the depths of the pandemic has slowed to a more moderate pace.

Scientists are using artificial intelligence to design antiviral pills that could treat Covid-19 and stop potential pandemics in their tracks, a drive that has enabled an Oxford start-up to secure funding for its drug development programme from the Gates Foundation.

Ireland will offer a booster dose of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines for over-80s and people over 65 living in care homes. The health ministry said in a statement the booster third shot of mRNA vaccines, such as those made by BioNtech/Pfizer and Moderna, could be given six months after completion of the initial two-dose course and regardless of which vaccine elderly people were initially given.

Florida schools will be able to keep their mask mandates, at least for the time being, a county judge ruled on Wednesday. Circuit court judge John Cooper decided last week that governor Ron DeSantis and Florida’s education department had exceeded their authority in prohibiting school districts from requiring students to wear masks in schools.

Australia has said it will support a global push to waive intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines. Dan Tehan, Australia’s trade minister, told reporters on Wednesday his government would support a trade related IP waiver in a new round of multilateral discussions at the World Trade Organization due to take place next week.

The World Health Organization extended its moratorium on boosters on Wednesday after the global Covax vaccine procurement scheme slashed its yearly supply forecasts by a quarter as export bans, manufacturing problems and delays in approval hit its targets.

Novavax is set to begin early trials of a “combination vaccine” that could be used to treat coronavirus and seasonal flu. The company has enrolled the first of a planned 640 participants aged between 50 and 70 for a phase 1/2 study to assess the safety and effectiveness of its potential vaccine, the Maryland-based group said on Wednesday. 

Nearly a third of UK workers who were told to self-isolate last month after they came into contact with a positive case of Covid-19 lost income as a “pingdemic” ripped through the country. A national survey found that 31 per cent of 946 respondents came up short on pay between August 9 and 16, up from 28 per cent between June 28 and July 3, once the NHS Covid-19 app texted, or “pinged”, them to alert them to stay at home.

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