China said Friday it is joining a World Health Organization international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to the developing world.
China, Russia and the U.S. had said they were not joining the alliance to help two-thirds of world’s population receive the vaccines by 2022.
China’s reversal makes it the largest country to participate in what is known as the COVAX deal.
“We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support Covax,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
Over 36 million infections
More than 36.5 million people have been infected with the coronavirus as it snakes it way around the world, according to statistics from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The U.S., India and Brazil lead in the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 — the disease caused by the virus. India’s health ministry reported more than 70,000 new cases in the past 24-hour period.
The U.S. has more than 7.6 million infections and upwards of 212,000 deaths. India has nearly 7 million COVID cases, with more than 106,000 deaths, while Brazil has over 5 million cases and a death tally close to 149,000.
Russia reported a new record for coronavirus cases Monday – 12,126, bringing its total of confirmed cases to 1,272,238. The previous daily high was in May. Some officials there say new restrictions may have to be imposed.
Ukraine reported a record 5,804 new cases Friday. Authorities are expected to extend the Eastern European country’s lockdown until the end of October.
Australia said Friday it has experienced two straight days without any COVID-19 deaths, the longest amount of time it has not had any COVID deaths in three months.
White House outbreak
Various health departments in the U.S. capital, Washington, and the states of Maryland and Virginia sent letters Thursday to individuals who worked at the White House in the past two weeks or attended an event Sept. 26 in the Rose Garden for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, urging them “to contact their local health department for further guidance/questions regarding their potential need to quarantine.”
The White House seemingly has become the source for several COVID-19 cases, including the infection of U.S. President Donald Trump, several lawmakers and the president of Notre Dame University.
Photos of the Barrett event showed the mostly maskless crowd not observing social distancing protocols, including sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in chairs placed on the lawn.