The United Kingdom on Saturday recorded 5,765 new Covid-19 cases — making the 7-day rolling average of new daily cases the highest since April 1 — as the debate continues around whether the government should delay its plans to remove most coronavirus restrictions by June 21.
On Friday, the country’s authorities reported 6,238 new infections, exceeding 6,000 daily cases for the first time since late March.
The slight increase in cases comes as concerns mount over the spread of the Delta variant – first identified in India – in the UK. Public Health England said on Thursday that the variant was now believed to be the dominant coronavirus variant in the country.
According to government data, 76.2% of the UK’s adult population had receive a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Saturday, with 51,6% vaccinated with both doses.
United Airlines will resume nonstop flights from Washington Dulles Airport to Paris Charles De Gaulle, beginning July 1, following France’s announcement of re-opening the country to international travelers.
“United is adding more flights to Paris this summer, resuming flights from Washington D.C. in July and increasing Chicago flights to daily in August. United flies to more European destinations than any other US carrier, and looks forward to welcoming back customers on more than 30 daily flights to 16 destinations in Europe this summer,” United said in a statement.
France will enter into its next phase of opening on June 9, and allow international travel. Earlier this week France created a color-coded system for international travelers, listing countries as “Green,” “Orange” or “Red,” with rules dependent on vaccination status.
Some context: The US is currently listed as an “Orange” country, meaning vaccinated travelers will be required to show a negative PCR or antigen test. Non-vaccinated travelers from the US will only be allowed to travel to France for essential purposes, and will be required to self-isolate in France for seven days.
Over Memorial Day weekend, the US Transportation Security Administration witnessed its busiest travel weekend since the beginning of the pandemic, screening 8.97 million people.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday that in an effort to reopen the Canadian border, he’s offering the state’s excess Covid-19 vaccine supply to help the process.
“It has to be a two-way street,” Sununu said. “I understand Canada is way behind the United States in terms of vaccine distribution. In fact, you know, if we have extra vaccine, I’m more than willing to give it to Canada.”
“All the states around here, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, we all have a bit of extra vaccine now, because we’ve just been, as New England, as a whole region, we’re doing really well on vaccinations,” the governor added.
Sununu said he has already made the suggestion to the federal government and is waiting to hear from President Biden.
“We have directly asked him, can we give our vaccine to Canada? Will that help open the border? We’re more than happy to do it. They can come here and get it, I’ll ship it there, whatever it takes to open that border is very very important,” the governor said.
The US will distribute 25 million Covid vaccines as part of an initial tranche of the 80 million doses President Biden has pledged to share internationally, the State Department’s coordinator for global Covid-19 response and health security, Gayle Smith, said in a call with reporters Friday. She offered no timeline for the vaccines’ delivery.
The US will distribute 25% of that first tranche bilaterally, Smith said.
“It gives us greater flexibility and as we’ve seen there are a lot of pop-ups and flares in this pandemic and we want to be able to move vaccines on an urgent basis if needed,” Smith said. She added that the “current expectation” is that the vaccines would be produced by AstraZeneca.
The remaining 75% of the first tranche of US vaccines will go to COVAX, the international group focused on the global vaccine distribution, Smith said, and added that the Biden administration has “identified the countries we want these vaccines to go to.”
Roughly 6 million doses will be distributed across Latin America, including the Caribbean, 7 million will go to South and Southeast Asia, and 5 million to Africa, Smith said.
“This is the first round, this is just the beginning,” said Smith. She was not able to say when the 55 million doses that make up the total 80 million vaccines would be delivered.
Going forward, the Biden administration will pursue a three-part strategy to maximize vaccine supply by sharing doses, encouraging US manufacturers to increase vaccine production “by the last quarter, if not earlier, of this year, and well into next year,” Smith said. The administration will also work to improve global vaccine production by increasing production capacity “so there are more places in the world, manufacturing, and able to distribute vaccines,” Smith said.
“Our goal is to end the pandemic and maximize that as quickly as we can,” Smith said. “It’s in our interest to do this, our own health security is at risk… none of us is safe until all of us are safe.”