COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID digest: U.S. lawmakers block vaccine mandate

Published : December 09, 2021 17:59 IST

COVID vaccine mandates are controversial in the U.S. Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire/picture alliance

Senate lawmakers voted to block President Biden's vaccine mandate for employees of private companies.

The U.S. Senate voted on December 8 to block President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandate at private businesses. Biden's mandate requires all private companies with more than 100 workers to have their employees either vaccinated or undergo weekly testing from January 4.

The final vote was 52-48, with all 50 Republicans and two Democrats supporting the resolution to block the mandate. However, the Senate vote does not mean the mandate will be overturned. Lawmakers in the Democratic-led House of Representatives would have to pass the resolution for it to take effect, which is unlikely to happen. Until the House votes, the mandate will be put on hold by federal courts.

Nevertheless, the bipartisan opposition to the mandate has given Republicans a symbolic victory over what they say is government overreach. After the vote, Joe Manchin, who with fellow Democrat Jon Tester of Montana sided with Republicans, said although he supports a vaccine mandate for federal employees and the military, it is "not the place of the federal government" to dictate to private businesses.

Here is a roundup of other coronavirus news from around the world:

Global

The coronavirus pandemic is among the biggest crisis to have impacted children worldwide, according to a report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In less than two years, 100 million more children have fallen into poverty — representing a 10 per cent increase since 2019. In addition to an increase in the number of children who remain hungry and out of school, there's has also been a decline in the number of children with access to health care, vaccines and other essential services, according to the executive director of the U.N. agency for children. It could take seven to eight years in the best-case scenario to return to pre-COVID child poverty levels.

Europe

Germany's new Chancellor Olaf Scholz will hold his first meeting with state leaders to discuss the COVID situation in Germany. German leaders agreed on a range of rules to curb a spike in COVID cases last week.

Asia-Pacific

Australia's New South Wales state, home to Sydney, recorded 420 new infections on December 9, its biggest rise in COVID cases in around two months. Most of the cases are linked to the delta variant. Relatedly, people who attended a pub quiz in Sydney have also tested positive for the virus. They're waiting to see if they've been infected with omicron. Three cases of omicron have also been detected among people who went on a harbor party cruise.

Pakistan detected the first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus on December 9, according to local media reports. The infection was detected in an unvaccinated patient being treated at a private hospital in Karachi, Pakistan's most populous city.

rm/sms (Reuters, AFP, DPA)

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