Round-up: What you need to know about COVID-19 right now

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus now:

China’s Mojiang mine and its role in the origins of COVID-19

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has urged China to release information about six labourers who fell ill after working in a mine in Yunnan province in 2012, and are now seen as a key part of efforts to find the origins of COVID-19.

The workers, ages 30 to 63, were scrubbing a copper seam clean of bat faeces in April 2012. Weeks later, they were admitted to a hospital in the provincial capital of Kunming with persistent coughs, fevers, head and chest pains and breathing difficulties. Three eventually died. The mine is in Mojiang in southwest China, about 1,500 kms (932 miles) from Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first identified.

U.S. travel recommendations eased; global restart discussions

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories, including Japan just ahead of the Olympics.

The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Britain to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Biden Asia chief ‘relatively confident’ on billion vaccine timing

U.S. President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific policy chief said on Tuesday he was “relatively confident” a target for the production of a billion vaccine doses for the region by the end of 2022 would be met, despite the COVID-19 crisis in India, where they are due to be made.

Indian government sources told Reuters in May India was unlikely to resume major exports of vaccines until at least October.

Melbourne exits lockdown but some restrictions remain

Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne will exit a COVID-19 hard lockdown as planned on Thursday night, Victoria state authorities said, although some restrictions on travel and gatherings would likely remain for another week.

People must stay within 25 kms (15 miles) of their homes, officials said, in an effort to stop transmission during an upcoming long weekend. There will also be a total ban on house gatherings and masks will be mandatory indoors.

Pfizer to test vaccine in larger group of children below 12

Pfizer Inc said on Tuesday it will begin testing its COVID-19 vaccine in a larger group of children under age 12 after selecting a lower dose of the shot in an earlier stage of the trial. The study will enroll up to 4,500 children at more than 90 clinical sites in the United States, Finland, Poland and Spain, the company said.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company expects data from 5- to 11-year-olds in September and would likely ask regulators for emergency-use authorization later that month. Data for children 2 to 5 years old could arrive soon after that, he said.