(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: A traveller is tested for the coronavirus disease amid a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, at the Grasmere Toll Plaza, in Lenasia, South Africa, January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South African variant may ‘break through’ Pfizer vaccine protection, Israeli study says

The coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa can break through the protection provided by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel released on the medRxiv pre-print site on April 9, which has not been peer-reviewed found.

Families reunite as Aus-NZ ‘travel bubble’ begins

Hundreds of passengers from Australia began arriving in New Zealand airports on Monday after authorities reopened borders, a pandemic milestone that allows quarantine-free travel between the countries for the first time in over a year.

Television footage showed emotional scenes at the airports with families reuniting and scores of passengers thronging the international departure terminals at Australian airports. Passengers flying to New Zealand capital of Wellington were greeted from the air with a ‘Welcome Whanau’- the Maori term for extended family – painted in huge white letters near the runway.

Hong Kong bans flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for 2 weeks

Hong Kong will suspend flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines from April 20 for two weeks after the N501Y mutant COVID-19 strain was detected in the Asian financial hub for the first time, authorities said in a statement late on Sunday.

The three countries would be classified as “extremely high risk” after there had been multiple imported cases carrying the strain into Hong Kong in the past 14 days, the government said.

New UK challenge trial studies if people can catch coronavirus again

British scientists on Monday launched a trial which will deliberately expose participants who have already had COVID-19 to the coronavirus again to examine immune responses and see if people get reinfected.

The first stage of the trial will seek to establish the lowest dose of the coronavirus needed in order for it to start replicating in about 50% of participants, while producing few to no symptoms. A second phase, starting in the summer, will infect different volunteers with that standard dose.

China trials mixing of COVID-19 vaccines

Chinese researchers are testing mixing two COVID-19 vaccines developed by CanSino Biologics and a unit of Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products respectively, according to clinical trial registration data.

Earlier this month, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the country was “formally considering” giving people COVID-19 vaccines developed with different technologies as a way of further boosting vaccine efficacy.

Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore



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