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It started out well enough, writes Rob LeDonne.

In the heart of New York City, on Central Park’s Great Lawn, the weather was overcast leading up to We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, a genre-spanning spectacle produced by the city itself.

Two minutes before the 5pm kick-off the clouds parted, and, hallelujah, the warm sun shone through, sitting there in the sky as bright as co-host Gayle King’s flowing yellow dress. The only way the sight of sun would have been more welcome was if the baby from the Teletubbies were inside it.

Perhaps, though, it was a metaphor. After all, the show was designed to herald the return of city life in the face of the coronavirus, a gut-punch to the Big Apple in particular. This was the city’s way of saying: we made it through. It’s over. We’re done. Happy days are here again.

But as the mood remained celebratory on stage, ominous clouds were forming. In the distance, a brewing mass of darkness.

Read the full story here:

Updated

Brazil recorded 14,404 new Covid cases over the latest 24-hour period, along with 318 deaths, the country’s health ministry said on Sunday.

Brazil has registered more than 20 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 574,527, Reuters reports.

Updated

Vaccine makers are concerned flu jabs could fail to protect people this winter because global Covid surveillance prevented laboratories from gathering sufficient data on dominant variants, the Telegraph reports.

Experts had already raised questions about the impact of coronavirus restrictions on people’s immunity to influenza but vaccine makers say global genetic sequencing of flu had dropped by up to 94% in the months preceding February.

The mass cancellation of flights has also led to a 62% drop in shipments of influenza surveillance samples, the paper adds.

Australian states are continuing to push back against the terms of a nationally agreed plan to open up the country once vaccination rates hit 70% and 80%, warning the worsening Covid crisis in New South Wales could yet be a dealbreaker.

Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has insisted that growing case numbers are not a reason to abandon the national plan agreed to by all states and territories.

On Sunday, however, the Queensland deputy premier, Steven Miles, said the states had agreed to the national plan before the NSW outbreak, and Queensland could still close the border to NSW even when vaccination rates reached 80%.

The Western Australia premier, Mark McGowan, also cast doubt on whether the state would be prepared to abandon its elimination strategy, saying it wanted to continue to try to “crush and kill” the virus.

Read Sarah’s Martin’s full report here:

The United States has administered 362,657,771 doses of Covid vaccines as of Sunday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Of those, 201,425,785 people have received at least one dose while 170,821,621 people are fully vaccinated.

Updated

A third dose of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine offers significantly improved protection from infection and serious illness among people aged 60 and older in Israel, compared with those who received just two shots, Reuters reports.

The findings published by the country’s health ministry show that among people of that age group, protection against infection provided from 10 days after a third dose was four times higher than after two doses.

With regard to serious illness and hospitalisation, a third jab offered five to six times greater protection after 10 days than after two doses.

In recent weeks, healthy officials have said immunity in people who received two doses of a vaccine has diminished over time and those who have fallen severely ill were over 60 and with underlying health conditions.

The country began administering third jabs to over-60s at the end of July.

Updated

Full federal approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine will empower businesses and universities to require vaccinations and tip hesitant Americans toward getting the jab, said the US surgeon general, Vivek Murthy.

Until now, the Pfizer shot has been administered under an emergency use authorisation, though experts emphasise that it is safe and effective.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to finish its licensing process for the lifesaving drug as soon as Monday, the New York Times has reported.

“We already know that there are many businesses and universities that have moved toward vaccine requirements,” Murthy told CNN’s State of the Union.

“And I think it’s a very reasonable thing to do to create a safe environment.

“We’ve given it to hundreds of millions of people. We’ve seen that it’s doing its job. And that’s why we’re continuing to recommend that people get vaccinated starting today and … as soon as they can.”

Updated

Peter Walker

Labour has written to the health secretary, Sajid Javid, urging him to ensure a new £5bn contract for NHS protective equipment including gowns and masks is not awarded to companies implicated in forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region.

Given the tenders for the contracts for gowns, masks, eye protectors and other items, and the £6bn glove contract will close at the end of August, “you have little over a week to decide how you will tackle the issue of forced labour”, the shadow international trade secretary, Emily Thornberry, warned Javid.

In the letter, seen by the Guardian, Thornberry wrote: “Just as that is no excuse for the lucrative contracts awarded to government cronies with no experience of producing or providing PPE, nor is it an excuse for ignoring the risks that forced labour is being used overseas to manufacture the supplies required by the NHS.

“As you will be aware, evidence has emerged in recent years of the widespread and systematic use of forced labour against China’s Uyghur population in the factories, farms and prison camps of Xinjiang region, and of the forced transport of Uyghurs to carry out similar work in other regions under the Chinese state’s so-called labour transfer programme.”

Read the full exclusive story here:

Donald Trump was greeted with the unusual sound of booing and jeering at a rally in Alabama, after he told supporters: “I recommend taking the vaccines.”

Like other states home to resistance to vaccinations and other public health measures – often stoked by Republican leaders – Alabama is struggling with a surge in cases driven by the Delta variant.

“I believe totally in your freedoms,” Trump said at the rally in the city of Cullman on Saturday night. “I do, you’re free, you got to do what you have to do.

“But I recommend taking the vaccines. I did it, it’s good, take the vaccines.”

Read Martin Pengelly’s report here:

Updated

France reported 17,300 new Covid cases and 44 further deaths on Sunday, compared with 22,636 cases the previous day.

The number of people in French intensive care units for Covid is 2,128, a slight increase of 22 patients from yesterday.

Thousands demonstrated across France for a sixth consecutive weekend on Saturday against a coronavirus health pass required for daily activities.

Updated

More children are being hospitalised with Covid in the US south and midwest than ever before, as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads among unvaccinated people.

One hospital in New Orleans has reported as many as 20 children hospitalised for Covid at a time in the past three weeks, the Wall Street Journal reports. In 2020, that number never topped seven, the hospital’s physician-in-chief told the paper.

Children’s hospitals in the US are bracing for even more cases as schools reopen after the summer break, with the potential additional pressure of the impending flu season on hospital resources.

Although children are much less likely to develop severe Covid-19 or die from the virus, recent data shows paediatric hospitalisations for coronavirus in the US are at the highest point since the pandemic began.

Updated

Doctors and staff working in GP surgeries across England are reporting a torrent of physical and verbal abuse from patients, the Independent reports.

Some GPs have told the newspaper they fear coming to work and say staff have quit over the threats they are receiving on a near-daily basis.

Others have reported receiving bomb threats, while staff at one London practice received hate mail over their role in the vaccination rollout.

A report published earlier this month by the British Medical Association found that more than a third of doctors have recently experienced verbal abuse, with GPs the most likely to be targeted.

Delays in getting treatment and changes to the way the NHS operates as a result of the pandemic were cited as the trigger for at least some of the abusive behaviour, the BMA said.

Updated

Critically ill Covid patients are less likely to die or to require invasive ventilation if they lay on their stomachs while receiving oxygen, a global research project has found.

The study looked at the impact of the technique, known as awake prone positioning, on more than 1,000 patients with severe coronavirus in hospitals in six countries.

It found that putting patients in this position while they received high-flow nasal cannula oxygen reduced death and the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.

The study’s findings have been published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Updated

Italy reported 5,923 new Covid cases and 23 further deaths on Sunday, according to the latest data from the health ministry.

Today’s numbers are a significant drop compared with yesterday, when 7,470 new cases and 45 deaths were recorded.

The country has registered a total of 128,751 deaths linked to Covid since the start of the pandemic – the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain.

Updated

UK reports 32,253 new cases and 49 further deaths

Britain reported 32,253 new cases of COVID-19, government data showed on Sunday, and a further 49 people were recorded as having died within 28 days of a positive test.

The data compared with 32,058 new cases reported on Saturday and 104 deaths.

Summary of recent developments

  • People in the UK will be able to receive Covid-19 antibody tests for the first time next week as part of a new government programme. Up to 8,000 adults will be able to take part in the scheme.

  • Iran has reported an all-time daily coronavirus death toll, with 684 further fatalities recorded. Sunday’s figure passes the 655 deaths recorded in 24 hours on 16 August.
  • Russia reported 20,564 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the national tally to 6,747,087. Of this total, 1,661 were recorded in Moscow and 1,481 in St. Petersburg.
  • Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City is preparing to enter lockdown as cases in the southeast Asian country’s most populous city surge. Residents will be under stay at home orders from Monday, with the army and police deployed.
  • Israel has launched an antibody testing programme for children aged three and above as it seeks to monitor much protection from the virus unvaccinated children have developed.

  • Prime minister Scott Morrison has said Australia’s stringent lockdown strategy will remain in place until at least 70% of country is fully vaccinated as the country sees record numbers of cases.

  • Vaccinated Filipino workers will be allowed to enter Hong Kong from 30 August, Manila’s labour minister has said.

  • Japan’s top coronavirus adviser has asked the government to call on doctors who have not been treating Covid patients to help tackle the wave of rapidly rising infections.

That’s all from me for today – my colleague Léonie Chao Fong will be here shortly to guide you through the next few hours. Thanks for reading along.

Updated

Malaysia reported another 19,807 new Covid-19 infections on Sunday, bringing the national total to 1,555,093.



A firefighter puts on a face shield as conducting sanitisation in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 22, 2021.

A firefighter puts on a face shield as conducting sanitisation in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 22, 2021. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock


A firefighter conducts sanitisation in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 22, 2021

A firefighter conducts sanitisation in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aug. 22, 2021 Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

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