Coronavirus live: more than half of all European adults fully vaccinated; more Olympic athletes test positive in Tokyo

More than 200 million Europeans fully vaccinated but programme still behind summer target; more Olympic athletes confirmed to have Covid

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7.43pm BST

Chile announced on Thursday that its citizens and foreign residents would be allowed to travel outside the country if they were fully inoculated against coronavirus, a fresh perk for Chileans participating in one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns.

In early July, health officials began to relax some restrictions, including those on movement inside the country, as the vaccination programme has begun to pay dividends.

7.18pm BST

Thursday’s figure of 39,906 new cases of Covid reported for the UK is lower than Wednesday’s, when 44,104 cases were reported, and is the fifth day in a row that cases have remained below the 54,674 cases reported on 17 July.

Optimists may hope this is an early sign that the tide is beginning to turn, and that cases are peaking. Prof Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, tweeted along hopeful lines: “This could turn out to be the best Covid news of the day,” he wrote, adding along with the prayer hands emoji that new cases in the UK appear to be starting their descent.

I would caution that this may just be a temporary slowing in reports before we start to see a return to exponential growth towards the end of next week as a result of the ending of restrictions last week.

If such a perturbation as the Euros caused only a temporary acceleration in the increase in case numbers despite games continuing this may bode well for the impact of 19 July. It could suggest we will see only a short-term boost towards the end of next week followed by slowing or even a decline in the days following.

Time will tell.

It is positive news that the sustained rise in cases in recent weeks seems to have dropped off. But it is too early to say whether this trend will continue. It will likely taketwo to three weeks before we can fully assess the impact on transmission of step 4 combined with the start of the school holidays.

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