Japan's health ministry said Saturday that two people in their 30s have died days after receiving their second Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shot.
Officials say the shots used came from supplies that were suspended Thursday following the discovery of contaminants. The ministry said the cause of the deaths, which occurred earlier this month, is under investigation.
The Japanese government and Moderna had said earlier that no issues had been identified with the suspended vaccine and the suspension was a precautionary measure.
In India, authorities reported more than 46,700 new coronavirus infections, the highest number of cases in nearly two months, a surge that occurred after a festival in the southern state of Kerala.
Total COVID-19 cases in the country rose to nearly 32.7 million and deaths increased by 500 in the 24-hour period prior to Saturday afternoon to 437,370, according to Indian government data.
India has the world’s second largest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths after the U.S.
More than 10 million vaccine doses were administered in 24 hours prior to Saturday afternoon, a record that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a "momentous feat."
In the United State, officials in charge of handling the COVID-19 pandemic say that half of adolescents ages 12 to 17 have received at least their first dose of a vaccine.
Speaking to reporters at a Friday briefing, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said, “We have now hit a major milestone. This is critical progress as millions of kids head back to school.”
Zients said that teenagers are being vaccinated at a faster pace than other age groups.
Among the larger American population, 61%, or nearly 203 million people, have received at least one shot of coronavirus vaccine. Vaccines are not yet authorized for children under 12.
Speaking Friday at a Senate hearing on the 2022 budget, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said hospitalizations have increased, with a rising toll of COVID-19 among children.
She said that in order to protect children until they meet eligibility criteria to be vaccinated, adults around them should be vaccinated, “to effectively shield them.”
Walensky said surges and outbreaks have occurred in places that are not implementing CDC guidelines for schools to protect children from the transmission of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, a new report published in the medical journal The Lancet says the symptoms that linger after a person has survived the coronavirus are little understood by the medical community.
The report says the syndrome, known as “long haul COVID-19,” must be studied and understood in order to launch an appropriate response for what the journal calls “a modern medical challenge of the first order.”
The Lancet article said recovery can take more than a year. The lingering symptoms include “persistent fatigue, breathlessness, brain fog, and depression.”
The report says finding answers to the mystery of long haul COVID-19 “while providing compassionate and multidisciplinary care, will require the full breadth of scientific and medical ingenuity.”
Elsewhere in the world, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Friday the government will ease its nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, while the nation’s largest city, Auckland, the epicenter of the latest outbreak, will remain closed for two more weeks.
At a news briefing, Ardern said that beginning August 31 most of the country will move to a level-three shut down, which allows businesses to fill online orders and do takeout services. Bars and restaurants remain closed, except for takeaways.
Ardern said Auckland will remain under alert level 4, which requires all schools, offices and all businesses to be closed, with only essential services operational. Before this latest lockdown, the nation’s last stay-at-home orders were lifted in March.
The government took the measures to stop the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. New Zealand’s health service reported 70 new cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infections during this outbreak, which began this month, to 347.
New Zealand has been a global leader in effectively controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.