What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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

A woman arrives to receive the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the newly-opened mass vaccination centre in Tokyo, Japan, May 24, 2021. Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS

Victoria in lockdown, leaving Australian sports scrambling

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria will enter a one-week COVID-19 lockdown, forcing its near seven million residents to remain home except for essential business as authorities struggle to contain a highly infectious outbreak.

Australia’s major sports leagues and Olympic hopefuls scrambled to make contingency plans on Thursday, exiting the state and shifting Australian Rules football matches out of Melbourne, the country’s sporting capital.

Cold viruses used for vaccines tied to rare blood clot risk

German researchers on Wednesday said that based on laboratory research, they believed they have found the cause of the rare but serious blood clotting events among some people who received COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson.

The researchers, in a study not yet reviewed by experts, said COVID-19 vaccines that employ adenovirus vectors – cold viruses used to deliver vaccine material – send some of their payload into the nucleus of cells, where some of the instructions for making coronavirus proteins can be misread. The resulting proteins could potentially trigger blood clot disorders in a small number of recipients, they suggest.

Biden orders review of COVID origins; China responds

President Joe Biden ordered aides to find answers to the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19, saying on Wednesday that U.S. intelligence agencies are pursuing rival theories, potentially including the possibility of a laboratory accident in China.

Following the order, China’s U.S. embassy said politicising the origins of COVID-19 would hamper further investigations and undermine global efforts to curb the pandemic.

Olympics can be safe, Japan reassures

Japan pledged to keep in close contact with Olympics stakeholders at home and abroad to ensure a safe Games even as it prepared to extend a state of emergency across much of the nation, including host city Tokyo, most likely well into June, just weeks before the Games are set to open on July 23.

“Careful anti-infection measures are a crucial part of being able to deliver a safe and secure event,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference. “We will maintain close and periodic contact with all those concerned, both within the country and without, to explain what we’re doing on this score.” Just over 5% of Japan has received vaccinations, and it has recorded about 719,000 infections and 12,394 deaths.

Poverty, fear, stretched resources propel India’s crisis

Some experts fear the weeks-long Kumbh Mela gathering in Haridwar city in the Indian state of Uttarakhand that saw hundreds of thousands of ash-smeared ascetics and devout Hindus jostling to take a dip in the Ganges, led to a surge in COVID-19 infections both in the crammed city and other parts of India as devotees returned home.

Locals and doctors say many in a district on the eastern edge of Haridwar suffering COVID-like symptoms refuse to get tested or test too late. Only nine of around 200 inhabitants in the village of Tangroli – declared a COVID-19 containment zone with more than a dozen positive patients – showed up for testing the day a medical team camped outside their village.

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