Coronavirus updates LIVE: Moderna says its vaccine protects against COVID-19 variants; cases worldwide approach 100 million

Close contacts of New Zealand’s first local COVID-19 case in months test negative for the virus

There’s some good news out of New Zealand this morning – more than a dozen close contacts of a 56-year-old woman who contracted the virus during her stay in hotel quarantine have themselves tested negative for COVID-19.

The woman became New Zealand’s first locally acquired coronavirus case in months, and health authorities believe she was infected after coming into contact with a fellow returned traveller also quarantined at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland.

Yesterday, the woman’s two closest contacts – her husband and her hairdresser – tested negative for the virus, and today a further 14 close contacts also produced negative test results.

New Zealand’s COVID Response minister Chris Hipkins tweeted out the encouraging news a short time ago:

New COVID-19 strain shuts New Zealand travel to Australia for 72 hours

Australia has suspended its quarantine-free travel arrangement with New Zealand for 72 hours after a new case of the South African variant of the coronavirus was detected in the community in Auckland.

A woman is thought to have acquired the highly contagious strain of COVID-19 while in hotel quarantine but didn’t test positive until she was released.

Moderna is developing a new form of the vaccine that could be used as a booster shot.Credit:Times-Tribune/AP

The British variant had no effect on the levels of neutralising antibodies – the type that can disable the virus – produced after vaccination. But with the South African form, there was a six-fold reduction in those levels.

Even so, the company said, those antibodies “remain above levels that are expected to be protective”.

Moderna collaborated on the US study with the Vaccine Research Centre at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The results have not been published or peer-reviewed yet.

  • Read more: Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine protects against virus variants

Good morning and welcome to today’s blog

Good morning and welcome to today’s coronavirus live blog. My name is Craig Butt, and I will be in the blogging chair for tmost of today.

I’ll be keeping track of the latest COVID-19 news from Australia and all around the world, but if there’s anything I’ve missed or something you would like to share on the blog, please shoot me an email or post in the comments. I must say, after a two-month break from our coronavirus blog, it was nice to see some posts welcoming me back to the blog in the comments section of the blog yesterday.

Anyway, onto the latest coronavirus news.

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