Here are the top updates from Tuesday:

  1. India has likely entered “some sort of stage of endemicity” of the coronavirus pandemic, World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan told The Wire in an interview. She said that in this stage while fluctuations in the number of cases would continue, the situation was unlikely to be like the second wave of the coronavirus in April to May. The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines an endemic as the “constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area”.
  2. India registered 25,467 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s infection tally to 3,24,74,773 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. With 354 deaths, the toll climbed to 4,35,110.
  3. The health ministry said those arriving in the country after being evacuated from Afghanistan would have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police’s Chhawla camp near Delhi, ANI reported.
  4. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that Indians can now book slots for their Covid-19 vaccination through WhatsApp. Beneficiaries need to type “Book Slot” and send the message to the MyGov Corona Helpdesk number: 9013151515. They would then receive a one-time password, following which the beneficiaries need to follow instructions from a chatbot. 
  5. India’s first mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate HGCO19, produced by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals, has been granted approval for Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, PTI reported, quoting the Department of Biotechnology.
  6. The Kerala High Court asked the Centre whether the 84-day gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine was decided upon based on availability of the vaccine or its efficacy, PTI reported. On May 13, the health ministry increased the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine, from the recommended interval of six to eight weeks, to 12-16 weeks.
  7. Kerala reported 24,296 new cases of coronavirus and 173 deaths due to the infection in the last 24 hours, the Mathrubhumi reported. The case positivity rate stood at 18.04%. The caseload showed a significant increase from Tuesday’s tally of 13,383 infections.
  8. The United States will test all those evacuated from Afghanistan for Covid-19 and was looking to set up a process to vaccinate them, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified official of the Joe Biden administration.
  9. Australia, which is witnessing an outbreak of the Delta variant of the virus, can proceed with lifting restrictions once 70%-80% of the population is vaccinated, the country’s pandemic modelling adviser has said, according to Reuters.
  10. Globally, Covid-19 has infected more than 21.28 crore people and led to over 44.46 lakh deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.