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Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Jun 2022

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U.S. Agrees to Pay $3.2 Billion for More Pfizer Covid Vaccines

The Biden administration has agreed to pay $3.2 billion for 105 million doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine. The deal would provide supplies for the federal government’s planned fall booster campaign, which administration officials are devising to blunt a potential wave in cases, possibly driven by variants of the Omicron strain now spreading across the U.S. Under the deal, the federal government would have the option to buy 195 million additional doses, the Health and Human Services Department said Wednesday. Pfizer, which developed and makes the vaccine with partner BioNTech SE, would make whatever type of vaccine federal health regulators decide should be featured in the fall campaign.
30th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus vaccines should be updated for fall, FDA advisers say

It’s time to update coronavirus vaccines to better match the variants currently driving the pandemic, outside experts told the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday. The independent scientists and physicians endorsed an updated omicron vaccine by a 19-2 vote. Despite the overwhelming agreement that it is time to change the vaccine, many experts said they felt frustrated and hamstrung by the need to make a decision quickly to prepare for fall with limited data.
29th Jun 2022 - The Washington Post

Delayed public inquiry into UK’s Covid-19 response opens

The delayed public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched after Boris Johnson accepted calls to widen the terms of reference to consider its unequal impact on minority-ethnic people, on children and on mental health. The inquiry chair, Heather Hallett, and her team of 12 QCs have begun work under the terms of the Inquiries Act, which makes it an offence to destroy or tamper with evidence. She will be joined by two panellists to be appointed by Johnson, although she had argued for presiding alone. The launch of what is expected to be one of the largest public inquiries conducted in the UK comes days after campaigners for the bereaved threatened legal action against the government over the delay to the prime minister’s commitment to set the inquiry up in spring 2022.
29th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

China's Xi says COVID strategy is 'correct and effective'

Chinese president Xi Jinping said the ruling Communist Party's strategy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic was "correct and effective" and should be firmly adhered to, the official news agency, Xinhua, said on Wednesday. China, with its large population, would have suffered "unimaginable consequences" had it adopted a strategy of "lying flat", the agency quoted Xi as saying during a visit on Tuesday to the central city of Wuhan where the virus was first reported.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Taiwan to receive first doses of Novavax COVID vaccine this week

Taiwan will take delivery of its first doses of the Novavax Inc COVID-19 vaccine this week, received under the COVAX sharing scheme, the government said on Wednesday. Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said the 504,000 doses would arrive on Thursday at Taipei's main international airport. Taiwan is scheduled to receive 2.268 million doses of the Novavax vaccine in batches this year through the COVAX mechanism, it added.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

S.Korea approves first domestically developed COVID vaccine

South Korea approved its first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by SK bioscience Co Ltd, for general public use following positive clinical data, authorities said on Wednesday. The SKYCovione vaccine was authorised for a two-dose regimen on people aged 18 or older, with shots given four weeks apart, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. In a phase III clinical trial of 4,037 adults, SKYCovione induced neutralizing antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 parental strain, SK bioscience said in a statement.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Norway recommends booster COVID shot to those aged 75 and older

Norway recommends a booster COVID-19 vaccine dose to those who are 75 years and older in response to a rising number of cases, the government said on Wedneday. Local municipalities should also plan to be able to offer a booster jab, which for most people would mean a fourth shot, to citizens from 65 years and up and to people with an underlying disease, from Sept, 1, it added.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Jun 2022

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U.S. appeals court vacates federal vaccine mandate pending additional hearing

A U.S. appeals court panel said on Monday it would convene a full panel to reconsider President Joe Biden's executive order requiring civilian federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and set aside the order pending that hearing. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is based in New Orleans, had reinstated the vaccine order in April by a 2-1 vote after it was blocked by a district court judge in January.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. FDA advisers recommend inclusion of Omicron component for COVID boosters

Advisers to the U.S Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday overwhelmingly recommended the inclusion of an Omicron component for COVID-19 booster vaccines in the fall. The panel of advisers voted 19-2 in favor of the recommendation.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. FDA classifies recall of GE's ventilator batteries as most serious

U.S. health regulators on Tuesday classified the recall of some backup batteries of GE Healthcare's ventilators, which the company had initiated in mid-April, as the most serious type, saying that their use could lead to injuries or death. The CARESCAPE R860 ventilator's backup batteries, including replacement backup batteries, were recalled as they were running out earlier-than-expected, which could cause the device to shut down preventing the patient from receiving breathing support, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters.com

Omicron sub-variants BA.4, BA.5 make up more than 50% of U.S. COVID cases - CDC

The fast-spreading BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are estimated to make up a combined 52% of the coronavirus cases in the United States as of June 25, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday. The two sublineages accounted for more than a third of U.S. cases for the week of June 18. They were added to the World Health Organization's monitoring list in March and designated as variants of concern by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Pharma largely failed to follow human rights principles with its Covid-19 vaccines and drugs

More than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, a new scorecard finds that 19 of 26 pharmaceutical companies that marketed vaccines or therapeutics to contain the virus rank poorly when it came to complying with human rights principles. The rankings were compiled by examining actions taken to provide access to products, including commitments and measurable targets; transparency in disclosing R&D and production costs, and profits; the extent to which international cooperation was pursued and patents were enforced; and a willingness to provide fair pricing, equitable distribution, and technology transfers, among other things.
27th Jun 2022 - STAT News

AstraZeneca launches first Evusheld DTC, but without full approval it comes with a different feel

AstraZeneca launched the first ever COVID drug DTC for its prevention antibody, Evusheld, and it’s one of the most unusual and unique commercials you will see this year. The ad, which is set up more as a public health announcement (though is heavily branded), has a very different feel from most traditional pharma DTCs. There are no bright colors or emotional beats. You won’t find someone roller skating around a park, for instance, or someone running with their dog. What you get instead is just one narrator, standing in a bland, empty, white office space, laying out informatively how Evusheld works, who it’s for and, instead of waiting for the end of the ad, explaining many of the potential side effects in the middle of the video.
24th Jun 2022 - FiercePharma


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Jun 2022

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Legal challenge underway over Covid vaccine rollout for children

A judicial review of the Government's vaccine rollout for children aged 5-11 has begun today at the High Court in Wellington. A group of parents - all of whom have name suppression - are seeking a judicial review on the basis that the provisional consent process for the children's vaccine was flawed and illegal. They claim the Government cut corners in its decision to expand the rollout to children and ignored concerns about the adverse side effects of the vaccine.
27th Jun 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine conditionally registered in South Africa

China's Sinovac Biotech said on Saturday that South Africa's health products regulator has granted conditional registration to its coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac for people aged 18 and above.
27th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Jun 2022

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Advice on fourth COVID shot for many Australians may be delayed

Australia’s vaccine advisory panel is considering delaying a recommendation that more people get a fourth COVID booster shot until a better Omicron-targeting vaccine is available. Omicron sub-variants, including BA.4 and BA.5, are fast becoming the dominant COVID-19 variants in Australia and there is growing concern the sublineages are becoming more effective at reinfecting people.
25th Jun 2022 - Sydney Morning Herald

How Serious is Monkeypox? WHO Says Not Global Emergency

The World Health Organization opted against calling the recent monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The outbreak is “clearly an evolving threat,” the WHO said in a statement Saturday, though it doesn’t constitute an international public health emergency “at this moment.” An emergency committee convened on Thursday to discuss the outbreak. “What makes the current outbreak especially concerning is the rapid, continuing spread into new countries and regions and the risk of further, sustained transmission into vulnerable populations including people that are immunocompromised, pregnant women and children,” according to the statement. “It requires our collective attention and coordinated action now to stop the further spread of monkeypox virus.
25th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

European Commission grants marketing authorisation to Valneva's COVID-19 shot

French drugmaker Valneva's COVID-19 vaccine has received marketing authorisation from the European Commission (EC) for use as a primary vaccination in people from 18 to 50 years of age, the company said on Friday. The marketing authorisation will cover the European Union's member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. "Now that we have received this full marketing authorization, we hope that the EC and its member states will place orders that reflect this demand," Valneva CEO Thomas Lingelback said in a statement.
24th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Jun 2022

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CDC Advisers Endorse Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids 6 to 17 Years

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed use of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine in children ages 6 to 17 years. Children in the age group already have access to Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE. The advisers recommended on Thursday that Moderna’s shot should also be made available to that age range, in a pair of 15-0 votes. The advisers’ endorsement follows the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the shots last week. It is one of the last steps before the Moderna shot would be more broadly available in doctors’ offices, pharmacies and vaccine clinics. Many states and vaccination sites wait for the CDC’s signoff before providing the inoculations. It typically follows the recommendations of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices but doesn’t have to. The panel is made up of pediatricians, epidemiologists and other health experts.
24th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

UK Covid Cost: Government Spends £376 Billion on Pandemic Response

The coronavirus pandemic, marked by an ambitious vaccine rollout, has cost the UK government an estimated £376 billion ($459 billion). The figure released Thursday by the National Audit Office has increased by £6 billion over the last ten months, with much of the expense going to support train traffic even as passenger numbers dwindled. The amount -- more than the annual gross domestic product of a country like Austria -- grew amid measures to administer vaccines, test and trace contact cases, and alleviate pressure on hospitals by improving patient discharge. The cost is estimated to be similar in neighboring France after governments across Europe opted to strain their finances to support the economy through the crisis.
24th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Valneva Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for Marketing Authorization of its Inactivated COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate in Europe

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended marketing authorization in Europe for Valneva’s inactivated whole-virus COVID-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001, for use as primary vaccination in people from 18 to 50 years of age. The European Commission will review the CHMP recommendation, and a decision on the marketing authorization application for VLA2001 is expected shortly. If granted, this will be the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive a standard marketing authorization in Europe.
23rd Jun 2022 - Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Jun 2022

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COVID-19: Britons to have first access to vaccines and treatments when new science super-centre opens

Britons will have access to all the latest vaccines and treatments when a new research and manufacturing centre opens in the UK. American pharmaceutical giant Moderna is opening a new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre that will develop vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, including COVID vaccines that can protect against multiple variants. Construction is expected to start as early as this year, with the first mRNA vaccine due to be produced in the UK in 2025.
22nd Jun 2022 - Sky News

Biological E has place in India's COVID-19 vaccine market following Corbevax' approval

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) recently approved Biological E’s Corbevax vaccine as the first heterogeneous COVID-19 booster vaccine in India for adults above 18 years who have received two shots of Covaxin or Covishield. Corbevax has the added advantage of scalability and thermostability, making it suitable for deployment in low-resource settings, says GlobalData.
22nd Jun 2022 - The Pharma Letter

Moderna calls for approval of two-strain Covid vaccine booster

Although the vaccine did not elicit as many antibodies to the new subvariants as it did to the original Omicron, suggesting its efficacy may already be declining, Moderna still feels there would be more of a benefit than not
22nd Jun 2022 - Financial Times

New Zealand reports 5,499 new Covid-19 community cases, 18 deaths

New Zealand recorded 5,499 new community cases of Covid-19 with 18 more deaths, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday. Among the new community infections, 1,637 were reported in the largest city Auckland, the ministry was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency. In addition, 78 new cases of Covid-19 were detected at the New Zealand border. Currently, 334 Covid-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, including four in intensive care units or high dependency units.
22nd Jun 2022 - Business Standard

Singapore reports 7,109 new Covid-19 cases and one monkeypox infection

Singapore reported 7,109 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Tuesday, comprising 6,393 local infections and 716 imported ones. A monkeypox infection has also been confirmed, according to media reports. There have been 13,78,090 coronavirus cases and 1,405 deaths in Singapore since the start of the pandemic. Singapore has seen a 23 per cent week-on-week increase in COVID-19 community infections, largely driven by increased spread of newer Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). Although the BA.2 subvariant still accounts for the bulk of Singapore's COVID-19 infections, the Health Ministry said the proportion of BA.4 and BA.5 infections is rising.
22nd Jun 2022 - Business Standard

Moderna will make Covid-19 vaccines in UK for the first time as it plans mRNA factory

Covid jabs firm Moderna is opening the first ever factory making mRNA vaccines in the UK, the Government has announced. The company will make the next generation of coronavirus jabs, protecting against multiple variants, as well as new vaccines against illnesses such as flu.
22nd Jun 2022 - iNews

Moderna to build new vaccine facility in Britain

U.S. biotech firm Moderna will build a new research and manufacturing centre in Britain to develop vaccines against new COVID-19 variants, other respiratory illnesses and help improve readiness for any future pandemics. The agreement will see Moderna make a minimum R&D investment of 1.1 billion pounds ($1.35 billion), Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said, adding it would have the capacity for 250 million vaccines a year if needed.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer sued for patent infringement over COVID-19 drug Paxlovid

Pfizer Inc's blockbuster COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid violates an Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc patent for its COVID drug still in development, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Boston federal court. Watertown, Massachusetts-based Enanta told the court it received the patent for its antiviral medication last week based on applications dating from July 2020. The company said it began human testing for its once-daily, oral COVID treatment in February, and that the Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked its review in March. Enanta requested an unspecified amount of money damages from Pfizer, including royalties. It also said in a statement that it was not asking the court to block Pfizer from selling Paxlovid. Paxlovid is an oral antiviral pill for high-risk patients that is intended to stave off serious complications from COVID-19. Pfizer said last month it expects to make $22 billion from Paxlovid sales this year. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Government’s Moderna partnership to bring over £1 billion investment

A new Government partnership with vaccine manufacturer Moderna will bring over a billion pounds in investment in mRNA research to the UK, the Health Secretary has said. The US pharmaceutical giant announced on Wednesday plans to open a new research and manufacturing centre in the UK. The new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre will develop vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, including Covid vaccines that can protect against multiple variants
22nd Jun 2022 - Yahoo Finance

$1 Billion Pledged to Help Countries Cope With Future Pandemics

Donors including the US and the European Union have pledged $1.1 billion in financing to help countries cope with future pandemics. Indonesia, as this year’s host of the Group of 20 meetings, pushed the world’s biggest economies to create a global health fund that would aid nations struggling with the next global health crises, said Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati in a late Tuesday briefing. The Southeast Asian country is also among the donors, along with Germany, Singapore and the Wellcome Trust, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said after the G-20 meeting of health and finance ministers in Yogyakarta. The goal is to reach $10 billion of financing each year, he added. The fund is set to start operating after an expected June 30 approval from the board of the World Bank, which is hosting the financing mechanism.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Jun 2022

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IP is no barrier to COVID vaccine access, says industry -

While proponents argue waiving IP on COVID-19 vaccines would better enable low- and middle-income countries to inoculate their populations, the pharma industry has called the proposals “unnecessary and harmful to innovation”. Proposals to waive COVID-19 product patents have been described as “political posturing” and an “answer to a problem that does not exist”. The Quad compromise, a World Health Organization plan which would, if enacted, release members from granting or enforcing COVID-19 vaccine patents, was discussed at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) last week. But the pharmaceutical industry has said the move could “undermine innovation and industry’s ability to partner, invest at risk, and respond quickly to future pandemics”.
21st Jun 2022 - Pharmaphorum


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jun 2022

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FDA grants Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorisation for infants

Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine has been given emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children aged six months through to four years old. The authorisation was based on data from a phase 2/3 randomised, controlled trial involving 4,526 children aged six months to four years. Participants were given the third 3µg dose at least two months after the second dose, during a time when Omicron was the prevailing variant. After a third dose in this particular age group, the vaccine elicited a strong immune response, alongside a favourable safety profile similar to placebo. In both age groups, the antibody responses were comparable to people aged 16 to 25 years who had received two doses of the vaccine. “Tens of millions of older children across the globe have already been vaccinated with our COVID-19 vaccine, helping to prevent symptomatic, severe disease and hospitalisation.
20th Jun 2022 - PMLiVE

TRIPS waiver deal in WTO to help countries make Covid vaccines: Goyal

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said intellectual property rights (TRIPS) waiver for five years agreed in the recently concluded WTO meet will help developing countries manufacture patented Covid vaccines to deal with the pandemic. Goyal said that India already has a number of Covid vaccines and can help other developing countries to make vaccines. Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) last week agreed to grant a temporary patent waiver for manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines for five years. Under this, a country will be able to issue a compulsory licence to its domestic pharma firms to make that vaccine without taking approval from the original maker. Besides, it was also decided to permit export of those vaccines.
20th Jun 2022 - Business Standard

CDC recommends Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for young children

Pediatricians are preparing to administer the nation’s first coronavirus vaccines for children under 5 in coming days, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday signed off on giving the shots to as many as 19 million children across the United States. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the agency’s advisory panel’s unanimous recommendation to vaccinate all children as young as 6 months old with one of two vaccines — one by Moderna and the other by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech. “Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can.”
20th Jun 2022 - The Washington Post

N. Korea abruptly stops importing COVID containment goods from China

North Korea abruptly stopped importing COVID-19 prevention and control products from China in May, trade data released by Beijing showed, after the country bought face masks and ventilators from its neighbour in previous months. Daily new cases of fever in North Korea, as reported by its state news agency, KCNA, have been declining since the reclusive country first acknowledged in mid-May that it was fighting an COVID-19 outbreak. But it has yet to reveal how many of those cases tested positive for the coronavirus
20th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Jun 2022

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WTO Approves Vaccine-Patent Waiver to Help Combat Covid Pandemic

Article reports that the World Trade Organization approved a politically important deal Friday to water down intellectual property restrictions for the manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines after an almost two-year effort involving scores of high-level meetings and much political arm twisting. During the early morning hours in Geneva, WTO ministers approved a package of agreements that included the vaccine patent waiver, which Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala previously said was necessary to end the “morally unacceptable” inequity of access to Covid-19 vaccines. The WTO’s last-minute deal -- secured after an all-night negotiating session in Geneva -- is an important victory for Okonjo-Iweala, the former head of Gavi - the vaccine alliance, who actively stumped for the accord during her first year as the WTO’s top trade official.
19th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

CDC Recommends Covid-19 Vaccines for Young Children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that children as young as 6 months receive newly authorized Covid-19 shots, the final step to making the vaccines available. The CDC said Saturday that the young children should receive either the two-dose series from Moderna Inc. or the three-dose series made by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE. As soon as Monday, children under 5 years, who haven’t been able to get vaccinated during the pandemic, could start getting inoculated. “Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against Covid-19. We know millions of parents and care givers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
19th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Boris Johnson breaks promise to deliver 100 million Covid vaccines to poor countries

The government has broken its promise to deliver 100 million surplus Covid vaccines to poor countries, after sharply cutting international aid spending. At a G7 meeting in June last year, Boris Johnson pledged to send the vaccines to developing countries within a year to help close the global vaccine gap and “vaccinate the world”. But a year later the government has delivered barely a third of the number of promised jabs, with just 36.5 million deployed as of the end of May – a deficit of 63.5 million doses. Figures published by the government also show that ministers have effectively charged developing countries for the leftover jabs by deducting them from existing aid, and even added a mark-up on the UK’s original purchase price.
18th Jun 2022 - The Independent

WHO panel backs use of Omicron-adapted vaccine as booster dose

A modified coronavirus vaccine that targets the Omicron variant can be administered as a booster dose to broaden immunity, a technical advisory group set up the World Health Organization said on Friday. Such a variant-adapted vaccine may benefit those who have already received the primary series of shots, the agency's panel on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition said, citing available data. The vaccines could be considered for use globally by the agency once they get emergency use authorization or an approval by a stringent national regulatory authority.
18th Jun 2022 - Reuters

EU drugs watchdog begins review of Moderna's variant COVID vaccine

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) started a rolling review on Friday of a variant-adapted COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna (MRNA.O), as coronavirus cases linked to Omicron sub-variants see an uptick in the region. U.S.-based Moderna's so-called bivalent vaccine targets two strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind COVID, the original strain first identified in China, and the Omicron variant. Last week, Moderna said its bivalent vaccine produced a better immune response against Omicron than the original shot.
17th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Swiss COVID-19 vaccine purchase plan fails to pass parliament

The Swiss parliament failed to finance the government's plan to buy COVID-19 vaccines in 2023, forcing the cabinet to try to renegotiate contracts with Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech, for millions of doses. With the two houses of parliament split over the funding request, budget rules required the adoption of the cheaper version of draft legislation, the SDA news agency said in a report posted on parliament's website.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Jun 2022

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COVID-era health funding extended by Anthony Albanese in first meeting of new national cabinet

$760 million more in COVID-era funding will be given to the states. The extended funding deal was given in recognition that the pandemic was continuing. National Cabinet also agreed to health network reforms to ease pressure on emergency departments.
17th Jun 2022 - ABC News

WHO getting monkeypox tests for Africa, urges vaccine readiness

The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the process of procuring thousands of monkeypox tests for Africa but is not recommending mass vaccination at this stage, WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said on Thursday. She added that the continent should be prepared for vaccination should the need arise.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Swiss COVID-19 vaccine purchase plan fails to pass parliament

The Swiss parliament failed to finance the government's plan to buy COVID-19 vaccines in 2023, forcing the cabinet to try to renegotiate contracts with Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech for millions of doses. With the two houses of parliament split over the funding request, budget rules required the adoption of the cheaper version of draft legislation, the SDA news agency said in a report posted on parliament's website.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Florida didn't pre-order any COVID-19 vaccines for younger kids, DOH says

Officials from the Florida Department of Health said the state didn't pre-order any COVID-19 vaccines for kids under the age of 5. They say it's up to individual doctor's offices and pharmacies to make their own orders.
16th Jun 2022 - YAHOO!News

Valneva reaches settlement with Britain on COVID-19 vaccine deal termination

French drugmaker Valneva said on Wednesday it reached a settlement agreement with the British government linked to the termination of the supply agreement for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate VLA2001. Valneva said in September that it had received a termination notice from the British government of its COVID-19 vaccine supply deal, sending its shares plunging 35% that day. The settlement agreement resolves certain matters relating to the obligations of the company and the British government following the termination of the supply agreement, Valneva said.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters

FDA advisers endorse 1st COVID-19 shots for kids under 5

The first COVID-19 shots for U.S. infants, toddlers and preschoolers moved a step closer Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisers gave a thumbs-up to vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer for the littlest kids. The outside experts voted unanimously that the benefits of the shots outweigh any risks for children under 5 — that’s roughly 18 million youngsters. They are the last age group in the U.S. without access to COVID-19 vaccines and many parents have been anxious to protect their little children. If all the regulatory steps are cleared, shots should be available next week.
15th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Jun 2022

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WHO to Convene Emergency Meeting on Monkeypox Amid Spread

The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting to assess whether the current spread of monkeypox constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC. A special committee will meet next week to advise on the spread in non-endemic countries, Hans Kluge, regional director of the WHO for Europe, said at a media briefing Wednesday. A PHEIC is the WHO’s highest alert level, and such a declaration can be used to encourage nations to cooperate on countermeasures, while letting the agency recommend steps such as travel advisories.
15th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

EU governments pressure manufacturers to renegotiate contracts for COVID-19 vaccines

Pressure on COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers is being mounted as European Union (EU) governments are in a push to renegotiate contracts, with a caution issued by EU officials that millions of vaccine doses could be wasted. When vaccines became available earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, countries vied for supply contracts. However, as the need for vaccines begins to slow in Europe, some countries want to amend their contracts to reduce spending and to prevent receiving more vaccines than are needed. During the most acute phase of the pandemic, the European Commission and EU governments agreed to buy huge volumes of vaccines, mostly from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, amid fears of insufficient supplies
15th Jun 2022 - PMLiVE

WTO draft IP deal on COVID vaccines 'very good', UK minister says

Britain, one of the main opponents to waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, praised a draft agreement and expressed hope a deal would be reached at the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week. India, South Africa and other developing countries have sought a waiver of IP rights for vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for over a year, but faced opposition from countries with major pharmaceutical producers, such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
15th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer halts Paxlovid trial in less vulnerable COVID patients after failing to find evidence of benefit

Pfizer’s Paxlovid has proven useful in COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe disease. But the antiviral drug may not help less vulnerable patients. Pfizer has stopped enrollment into the EPIC-SR trial that’s been evaluating Paxlovid in standard-risk patients, the company said Tuesday. These include unvaccinated adults without additional risk and vaccinated people who have at least one risk factor for progressing to severe disease. The clinical trial previously flopped on its primary goal, showing the Pfizer antiviral was no better than placebo at sustaining symptom relief for four consecutive days.
15th Jun 2022 - FiercePharma

FDA panel unanimously backs Moderna’s Covid vaccine for children ages 6 to 17

A panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend the agency authorize the Moderna Covid vaccine for children ages 6 to 17. The authorization would mirror the current emergency use authorization of the Covid vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which is authorized for individuals 6 years and older. “I believe this vote, and I am happy to say it was unanimous, is standing up for vulnerable populations that merit protection against this virus,” said Ofer Levy, a member of the FDA’s expert panel and director of the precision vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “I believe this will provide families with an important option.”
15th Jun 2022 - STAT News


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Jun 2022

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Russians Inoculated With Expired Coronavirus Vaccine

Patients in Moscow are being inoculated with expired Russian coronavirus vaccines, The Moscow Times’ Russian service reported, citing sources and eyewitnesses. Epidemiologists say that the expired vaccines aren’t dangerous, but are ineffective against Covid-19. Russia has about 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines that are currently past their use-by date and worth more than 23 billion rubles ($398 million), sources at the country’s Health Ministry told The Moscow Times’ Russian service. The Health Ministry has not officially commented on the reports, although it has previously issued orders to extend vaccine shelf life and approve the use of these doses.
14th Jun 2022 - The Moscow Times

Saudi Arabia ends COVID protective measures

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the lifting of measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state news agency (SPA) reported, citing an official in the interior ministry. The measures lifted include the requirement to wear face masks in closed places, with the exception of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

EU states step up pressure on Pfizer to cut unneeded COVID vaccine supplies

European Union governments are intensifying pressure on Pfizer and other COVID-19 vaccine makers to renegotiate contracts, warning millions of shots that are no longer needed could go to waste, according to EU officials and a document. During the most acute phase of the pandemic, the European Commission and EU governments agreed to buy huge volumes of vaccines, mostly from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech amid fears of insufficient supplies.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

World Bank approves $474 million loan to South Africa for COVID vaccines

The World Bank has approved a loan of 454.4 million euros ($474.4 million) to help South Africa fund COVID-19 vaccine purchases, the bank and South Africa's National Treasury said in a statement. South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths on the African continent, with over 3.9 million confirmed cases and more than 101,000 deaths. It initially struggled to secure vaccines due to limited supplies and protracted negotiations, but it is now well-supplied with doses.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. FDA advisers back authorization of Moderna COVID vaccine for ages 6-17

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended the authorization of Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens aged 6 to 17 years of age.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Poland changes judiciary law, demands EU release COVID funds

Poland has replaced a controversial body that disciplined judges with a new accountability panel to resolve a long-running dispute with the European Union over the country’s judicial independence. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling party, said on Tuesday that he hoped the bloc would have a “proper” reaction to the move. The EU has frozen billions of euros of pandemic funds for Poland over criticism of its rule of law record. Kaczynski insisted that Poland has met the EU’s demands for changes to the regulations on the judiciary. “I hope the reaction will be proper and in line with the [EU] treaties,” Kaczynski said, reiterating his long-term view that EU bodies have been violating the bloc’s treaties in their approach to Poland.
14th Jun 2022 - Al Jazeera English


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Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Nuvaxovid™ Provisionally Registered in Australia as a Booster in Individuals Aged 18 and Over

Novavax, Inc., a biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, today announced that the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional registration of Nuvaxovid™ (NVX-CoV2373) COVID-19 vaccine as a booster in individuals aged 18 and over. "Today's provisional registration for Nuvaxovid as a booster in Australia is an important step in ensuring broad global access to diversified vaccine options," said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax
13th Jun 2022 - Asia One

Pfizer Vaccine Effective in Children Under 5, the F.D.A. Says

The Food and Drug Administration said on Sunday that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine appeared to be effective in preventing Covid illness in children under 5, judging by the level of virus-blocking antibodies the shots induced. The agency’s evaluation was posted online ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of outside vaccine experts, summoned to recommend how the F.D.A. should rule on applications from both Pfizer and Moderna on vaccinating the nation’s youngest children. Some public health experts are expecting the F.D.A. to authorize both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines, offering parents a choice between the two. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must also weigh in with its recommendations after the F.D.A. acts. Roughly 18 million children younger than 5 are the only Americans who are not yet eligible for shots.
13th Jun 2022 - The New York Times

Saudi Arabia ends COVID-19 protective measures - state news agency

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the lifting of measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state news agency (SPA) reported, citing an official in the interior ministry. The measures lifted include the requirement to wear face masks in closed places, with the exception of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque.
13th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Saudi Arabia eases mask mandate as first Hajj pilgrims arrive

Saudi Arabia has lifted a mask mandate for indoor spaces even as COVID-19 infection numbers steadily climb past 1,000 new cases a day after reaching double-digit lows just two months ago. Monday’s move comes as the kingdom prepares to welcome around 850,000 pilgrims from abroad to participate in the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
13th Jun 2022 - Al Jazeera English


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Waive Pharma's Vaccine Rights? What That Would Mean: QuickTake

The world’s top trade ministers will soon determine the fate of a World Trade Organization proposal to water down intellectual property protections for makers of Covid-19 vaccines. The accord as proposed is supported by the European Union, though its other original backers are not quite on board with it. It has also met fierce opposition from both public interest groups and the pharmaceutical industry who are urging nations to reject it.
12th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

U.S. FDA staff says Moderna COVID vaccine effective and safe for children

U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff reviewers on Friday said Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine appears safe and effective for use in children aged 6 months to 17 years old as a committee of scientists will meet next week to vote on whether to recommend the regulator authorize the vaccine in children. The FDA's reviewers said in briefing documents published on Friday evening that the vaccine had generated a similar immune response in the children than that observed in adults in previous trials.
12th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19: Unusable PPE worth £4bn will be burned, says spending watchdog

The parliamentary watchdog on public spending has accused the Department of Health and Social Care for England of wasting £4bn of taxpayers’ money on unusable personal protective equipment in the first year of the covid-19 pandemic and of planning to burn much of it to “generate power.” The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee made the claim in its report on the Department of Health and Social Care’s accounts for 2020-21, the first year of the pandemic. The report paints a damning picture of the fallout from the government’s rush to compete with the rest of the world to procure PPE, bypassing the usual due diligence in its race to secure supplies. Of £12bn spent on PPE, £4bn was spent on items that failed to meet NHS standards and have remained unused, the report said.
10th Jun 2022 - The BMJ


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Jun 2022

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FDA AdCom strongly backs EUA of Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) yesterday voted 21 to 0, with one abstention, to recommend that the FDA grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (NVX-CoV2373) for individuals aged 18 years and over. The vaccine was developed by US biotech firm Novavax (Nasdaq: NVAX), whose shares leapt 22% to $58.05 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
8th Jun 2022 - The Pharma Letter

COVID vaccine rights waiver within reach, WTO chief says ahead of meeting

Director-General Ngosi Okonjo-Iweala has called COVID-19 vaccine inequity "unconscionable" and given top priority to a deal to facilitate the flow of vaccines more widely. Even though demand for COVID-19 shots has tapered off, India, South Africa and some 100 other backers are seeking a potential waiver of intellectual property rights for vaccines and treatments. However, WTO members remain divided over a draft deal for vaccines negotiated between the four main parties (India, South Africa, the European Union and the United States) that was forged to break an 18-month deadlock. Protest groups are urging members to reject it and China has lodged an objection.
8th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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El-Sisi launches initiative to provide 30 million coronavirus vaccines to African countries

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has announced an Egyptian initiative to provide 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to African countries, in coordination with the African Union. During his participation in the dialogue session of the African health medical conference and exhibition “African Health ExCon,” El-Sisi said that “the capabilities of Egypt are available to the African brothers.” El-Sisi was speaking at the launch of the conference, held at the Egypt International Exhibition Center (Al-Manara Center for International Conferences) in the Fifth Settlement in New Cairo.
7th Jun 2022 - Arab News

Novavax COVID shot, aimed at vaccine skeptics, overwhelmingly backed by FDA panel

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the agency authorize Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for use in adults, which the drugmaker hopes can become the shot of choice among some American vaccine skeptics. The panel of outside vaccine experts voted 21-0 with one abstention in favor of the vaccine for those 18 and older after discussing whether the shot's benefits outweigh risks, including rare occurrences of heart inflammation that may be associated with the vaccine.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

FDA advisers back Novavax COVID shots as 4th US option

American adults who haven’t yet gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 may soon get another choice, as advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday backed a more traditional type of shot. Next, the FDA must decide whether to authorize the protein vaccine made by latecomer Novavax as the nation’s fourth coronavirus shot for adults. It’s made with more conventional technology than today’s dominant Pfizer and Moderna shots and the lesser-used Johnson & Johnson option. N ovavax shots are already available in Australia, Canada, parts of Europe and multiple other countries, either for initial vaccinations or as mix-and-match boosters. But U.S. clearance is a key hurdle for the Maryland-based company. FDA’s vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said another choice in the U.S. may entice at least some vaccine holdouts -- whatever their reason -- to consider rolling up their sleeves.
7th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Novavax coronavirus vaccine would be fourth authorized in United States

More than a year after people began rolling up their sleeves for cutting-edge coronavirus shots, a new vaccine, this one based on a classic decades-old technology, is expected to begin rolling out in the United States this summer. Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration are scheduled to debate Tuesday whether a shot developed by the Maryland biotechnology company Novavax, an underdog in the vaccine race, is safe and effective. If the shot gets the green light, it will become the fourth coronavirus vaccine in the nation. For most people, some already on their third or fourth messenger RNA coronavirus shot from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, it looks like a puzzle: A new vaccine? Why bother? But for a small contingent of holdouts who have closely tracked the progress of the Novavax vaccine, this is a moment of truth.
5th Jun 2022 - The Washington Post


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Egypt pledges 30 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses to African states

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi says that Egypt would supply fellow African states with 30 million doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccines. The president made this announcement on Sunday during the maiden edition of Africa Health ExCon, online news portal, Egypt today reported. This is in fulfilment of the country's selection as one of six African states that would receive the mRNA technology used in the manufacturing of vaccines and other medical drugs necessary to confront many incurable diseases. Egypt was among Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia and Nigeria that were selected for this purpose in early 2022. Africa Health ExCon is held by the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement (UPA) and is attended by participants from around 100 countries.
6th Jun 2022 - Africanews English

East European countries ask EU to reopen vaccine contracts

A group of ten Eastern European countries have petitioned the European Commission to renegotiate coronavirus vaccine contracts, in a letter seen by POLITICO that cites an oversupply of doses and the need to protect state finances. Contracts should be able to be terminated "if they are no longer needed from a health and epidemiological perspective," reads one of the letter's demands. In other cases, it should be possible to reduce the number of doses that are ordered so that they better reflect the demand for shots. The letter was sent Friday night and is addressed to EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. Poland led the initiative, and the letter was also signed by Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. A number of countries in Eastern Europe had previously raised concerns that existing coronavirus vaccine contracts, signed at the height of the pandemic when the EU was under intense public pressure to procure jabs, have locked them into buying too many doses that are now not needed.
6th Jun 2022 - POLITICO Europe


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India approves Biological E. COVID shot as a booster

India has approved Hyderabad-based drugmaker Biological E's COVID-19 vaccine as the first mix-and-match booster dose in the country, the company said on Saturday. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave the nod for the Corbevax vaccine to be administerd as a booster shot to people age 18 years and over who have already received two doses of either AstraZeneca Plc's Covishield or Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
5th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. doctors urged to test for monkeypox, CDC says risk to public low

U.S. health officials on Friday urged doctors to test for monkeypox if they suspect cases, saying there may be community-level spread but that the overall public health risk remained low. So far, there have been 21 cases of the disease in at least 11 states. Affected patients are isolating to help prevent spreading the virus, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials told reporters in a conference call. The CDC said it was aware of 700 cases of monkeypox that have been reported globally outside of parts of Africa, where the disease is endemic. No deaths have been reported so far.
4th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Moderna delays COVID vaccine deliveries to EU by several months

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it has agreed to push back some COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the European Union by several months to later in 2022 or early next year. Shares of Moderna fell nearly 2% before the bell over the delay, even though the company stuck to its vaccine sales forecast of $21 billion for 2022. Delivery of the doses were originally planned in the second quarter, the European Commission said in a statement.
3rd Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Philippine FDA grants approval for Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine for children

The Philippine FDA has granted approval for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax, for use in children who are aged six to 11 years.
31st May 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Japan Panel OKs J&J Coronavirus Vaccine

A panel of Japan's health ministry Monday endorsed a ministry plan to give pharmaceutical approval to U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. The ministry is expected to grant the approval soon to what will be the fifth COVID-19 vaccine that can be used in the country. The ministry does not plan to make inoculations of the vaccine free of charge at public expense because it has already secured necessary amounts of vaccines. Japan has not signed to buy the J&J vaccine. The J&J product is a viral vector vaccine like the one made by British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC. It can be administered only to people aged 18 or above. Only a single shot is necessary for the J&J vaccine unlike the previously approved vaccines, all of which require two shots at an interval of at least three to four weeks.
31st May 2022 - Nippon.com


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st May 2022

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WHO says will begin Covid-19 vaccination drive in Afghanistan from June

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it will begin its Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Afghanistan from June. According to the global health body, the campaign will cover 34 provinces and target more than 5 million people aged 18 years and above, TOLO News reported. WHO figures have revealed that as of May 22, a total of 6,118,557 vaccine doses against the virus have been administered in Afghanistan. Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the war-torn nation has reported a total of 179,835 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 7,699 deaths.
30th May 2022 - Business Standard

Covid inquiry into government's handling of pandemic could start in days

The long-awaited statutory inquiry into how Boris Johnson’s Government handled the Covid pandemic is expected to begin next month, i has learnt. While public hearings of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry are not due to start until next year, its chairman, Baroness Hallett, is ready to formally start work as soon as the Prime Minister approves her request to update the terms of reference. Downing Street sources said this response was likely to come in June – meaning the work could begin as early as this week.
30th May 2022 - iNews

Covid-19: Partygate makes a mockery of the sacrifices made and the losses endured

Almost all of us reading about the tawdry details of “partygate” will have specific memories from the past two years to put the revelry at No. 10 Downing Street into sombre context. Sue Gray’s long awaited report, released last week, detailed the drunken parties and people staggering out in the early hours, the vomit and hangovers, the splashed red wine and empties stacked up outside the door, the karaoke machine, the rudeness to the cleaners, the messages that make it abundantly clear (if proof was needed) that the partygoers knew they were breaking laws they themselves had drawn up. Families separated, funerals missed, partners unable to be present at the birth of their child, children unable to be present at the death of their parent, loneliness, social isolation, depression, anxiety—all the inevitable consequences of following rules laid down for the collective good. I have some of these memories myself, but as the co-founder of John’s Campaign—which was set up to campaign on behalf of the rights of people living with dementia—I have also heard the stories and witnessed the pain and trauma of a particular group of people who suffered greatly during the pandemic, whose health was harmed, whose hearts were broken, and in some cases, whose lives ended because of the rules drawn up under the pandemic.
30th May 2022 - The BMJ

CDC Plans to Stop Reporting Suspected Covid Cases to Ease Burden

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to simplify the Covid-19 hospital data it collects as the demands of the pandemic evolve and some assembled information has become outdated or redundant. The agency is likely to stop collecting data from hospitals on suspected Covid cases that haven’t been confirmed by tests, for example, and may also wind down federal reporting from rehabilitation and mental health facilities that aren’t major intake points for virus cases, according to a draft of the plan that was viewed by Bloomberg News.
30th May 2022 - Bloomberg


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Cyprus gets rid of required COVID-19 tests for visitors

Travelers to Cyprus will no longer be required to show either a valid COVID-19 vaccination or a recovery certificate and won’t need to produce a negative recent COVID-19 test of June 1, the Cypriot government said Friday. The government also decided to abolish a requirement to wear face masks in all indoor areas in Cyprus as of June 1 with the exception of hospitals, nursing homes and other indoor medical facilities. Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said the decision to lift COVID-19 screening requirements at airports signals the tourism-reliant island nation is ready to return to normality.
28th May 2022 - The Associated Press

First steps in reforming global health emergency rules agreed at WHO meeting

Countries have agreed to an initial U.S.-led push to reform of the rules around disease outbreaks, known as the International Health Regulations, after early opposition from Africa and others was overcome this week, sources told Reuters on Friday. The amendments, once confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) assembly, are one of a handful of concrete outcomes from a meeting seen as a once-in-a-generation chance for the U.N. health agency to strengthen its role following some 15 million deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reform sought by Washington and backed by others like Japan and the European Union is a first step in a broader reform of the IHR, which set out countries' legal obligations around disease outbreaks, expected to take up to two years.
28th May 2022 - Reuters

North Korea stockpiled Chinese masks, vaccines before reporting COVID outbreak

In the months before it acknowledged its first official COVID-19 outbreak, North Korea suddenly imported millions of face masks, 1,000 ventilators, and possibly vaccines from China, trade data released by Beijing showed. Two weeks ago state media revealed the outbreak, fuelling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages. Chinese data show that even before that announcement, the North had begun stocking up.
28th May 2022 - Reuters

Swiss to destroy more than 620000 expired Moderna COVID doses

Switzerland will destroy more than 620,000 expired doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said on Friday, as demand for the shots drops dramatically. "It was consciously accepted that under certain circumstances too much vaccine was procured for Switzerland's needs," a spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Heath said, confirming a report by broadcaster RTS. "The aim is to protect the population in Switzerland at all times with sufficient quantities of the most effective vaccines available."
28th May 2022 - Reuters

UK ministerial code updated to set out possible sanctions for breaches

British ministers who breach the government's code of conduct will not be expected to resign, an official document published on Friday said with an updated version of the rule book setting out a range of alternative sanctions. Behaviour at the heart of government is under intense scrutiny after a series of scandals - including several illegal parties in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's offices during the COVID-19 lockdown. The policy paper, published alongside the latest version of the Ministerial Code, said it was "disproportionate to expect that any breach, however minor, should lead automatically to resignation or dismissal"
28th May 2022 - Reuters

U.S. extends tariff exclusions on Chinese COVID-19 medical products

The U.S. Trade Representative's office on Friday said it extended tariff exclusions on Chinese-made medical products needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic for another six months, to Nov. 30. The exclusions from tariffs of up to 25% imposed by former President Donald Trump's administration were granted in 2020 and were subsequently extended, but were due to expire on May 31, USTR said. Products affected by the extension include face masks, surgical gloves, hospital gowns, and other related products and devices.
27th May 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th May 2022

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Japan starts 4th COVID vaccine shots for seniors, at-risk groups

Japan began offering fourth coronavirus vaccine shots Wednesday to older people, and those with underlying medical conditions. People eligible for fourth inoculations are those aged 60 and older as well as individuals between 18 and 59 with chronic health conditions, such as respiratory illnesses or heart conditions, or at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms if infected with the coronavirus, according to the health ministry. The ministry suggests people receive the booster shots at least five months after receiving their third inoculation. The majority of seniors began getting third shots in January, meaning that the fourth round of shots is expected to be in full swing from June onward.
26th May 2022 - Kyodo News Plus

US making COVID antiviral drug more available at test sites

The White House on Thursday announced more steps to make the antiviral treatment Paxlovid more accessible across the U.S. as it projects COVID-19 infections will continue to spread over the summer travel season. The nation’s first federally backed test-to-treat site is opening Thursday in Rhode Island, providing patients with immediate access to the drug once they test positive. More federally supported sites are set to open in the coming weeks in Massachusetts and New York City, both hit by a marked rise in infections. Next week, the U.S. will send authorized federal prescribers to several Minnesota-run testing sites, turning them into test-to-treat locations. Federal regulators have also sent clearer guidance to physicians to help them determine how to manage Paxlovid’s interactions with other drugs, with an eye toward helping prescribers find ways to get the life-saving medication to more patients.
26th May 2022 - The Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th May 2022

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Pfizer to sell all its patented drugs at nonprofit price in low-income countries

Pfizer Inc will make all of its patented medicines including COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid and big-selling breast cancer drug Ibrance available at a not-for-profit price to 45 of the world's poorest countries, the drugmaker said on Wednesday. These countries lack good access to innovative treatments. It can take four to seven years longer for new treatments to become available in low-income countries, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, if they become available at all.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

Nigeria receives 4.4 million doses of J&J COVID vaccine from Spain

Nigeria has received 4.4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from Spain, a government official said on Tuesday. Nigeria has already received 2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from Finland, Greece and Slovenia with more expected from EU countries. Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said Nigeria wanted to vaccinate 70% of its population. It was far off the target but Spain's donation would help, he said.
25th May 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th May 2022

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WHO says monkeypox containable, convening research meeting to support member states

The outbreak of monkeypox cases outside of Africa can be contained, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, as more governments said they would launch limited vaccinations to combat rising infections of the virus. The moves came as authorities investigated 237 suspected and confirmed cases of the virus in 19 countries since early May. That number is expected to increase, WHO officials have said, but most of the infections so far have not been severe.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

Vaxzevria Gains Approval in EU as a Third Dose COVID-19 Booster in Adults

AstraZeneca's recombinant COVID-19 vaccine, originally invented by the University of Oxford, has been approved as a third dose booster vaccine in the EU. AstraZeneca has revealed in a May 23, 2022 press release, that its recombinant COVID-19 vaccine originally invented by the University of Oxford, Vaxzevria (ChAdOx1-S), has been given the nod by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as a third dose booster vaccine for use in the European Union (EU). Through this latest market authorization, healthcare professionals will be able to use the vaccine as a third dose booster in patients who have already been administered a primary vaccine schedule of either Vaxzevria or other EU-approved messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines. The authorization has been based on EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommendation, for which there was a review of data demonstrating an increased immune response with a third dose booster Vaxzevria jab.
24th May 2022 - PharmTech


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th May 2022

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WHO says no evidence monkeypox virus has mutated

The World Health Organization does not have evidence that the monkeypox virus has mutated, a senior executive at the U.N. agency said on Monday, noting the infectious disease that has been endemic in west and central Africa has tended not to change. Rosamund Lewis, head of the smallpox secretariat that is part of the WHO Emergencies Programme, told a briefing that mutations tended to be typically lower with this virus, although genome sequencing of cases will help inform understanding of the current outbreak.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19—How Europe's vaccine donations went tragically wrong

Covid vaccine equity remains out of reach, as wealthy nations drag their feet on donations, and vaccine stocks pass their use-by dates, write Lucien Hordijk and Priti Patnaik On 21 December 2021, a truck piled with brown cardboard boxes drove to the Goja rubbish dump in Abuja, Nigeria. Inside the boxes were a million doses of AstraZeneca’s covid-19 vaccine, which were tipped onto the heap, among dirty plastic bags and papers. Two months earlier, Nigeria had agreed to receive 2.6 million doses of the vaccine from the Covax facility, an initiative set up to distribute covid-19 vaccines equitably worldwide. The vaccines, in large part coming from Europe, had been close to expiry. “Some of these vaccines came in with a shelf life of about four weeks,” said Faisal Shaibu, a Nigerian government official tasked with organising vaccination of the country’s 200 million population against covid-19. Following quality inspections and regional allocations, Nigeria administered 1.53 million doses. But the rest were thrown away. Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, and Indonesia have destroyed vaccines received from Europe and North America because they arrived close to expiry
23rd May 2022 - The BMJ

U.S. Justice Department to appeal judge's ruling on COVID border migrant rules

The U.S. Justice Department will appeal a federal judge's decision blocking the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions that empower agents at the U.S.-Mexico border to turn back migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum. "The Department of Justice intends to appeal," spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

U.S. drug regulator lifts clinical hold on Ocugen's COVID vaccine trial

Ocugen Inc said the U.S. drug regulator has lifted the clinical hold on a mid-to-late stage trial of the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by its Indian partner Bharat Biotech. The Food and Drug Administration paused the trials of the shot, Covaxin, in April after an inspection of a Bharat Biotech facility by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed deficiencies in the manufacturing process.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

Oman ends all COVID protective measures

Oman announced on Sunday the lifting of all measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in all venues and for all activities, state TV reported, citing a statement from the government committee dealing with the pandemic. There have been 389,943 infections and 4,260 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the sultanate since the pandemic began, according to Reuters data.
22nd May 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd May 2022

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Biden, Yoon vow to deter North Korea and offer COVID aid

President Joe Biden and his new South Korean counterpart agreed on Saturday to hold bigger military drills and deploy more U.S. weapons if necessary to deter North Korea, while offering to send COVID-19 vaccines and potentially meet Kim Jong Un. Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol said their countries' decades-old alliance needed to develop not only to face North Korean threats but to keep the Indo-Pacific region "free and open" and protect global supply chains. The two leaders are meeting in Seoul for their first diplomatic engagement since the South Korean president's inauguration 11 days ago.
21st May 2022 - Reuters

Welsh Government announces who will get Covid jabs this autumn

From this autumn, the Welsh Government has announced. The government has confirmed a list of those who will be offered a Covid jab between September and December this year following the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's (JCVI) latest review of the existing vaccine programme in Wales. Following the review, the Welsh Government has confirmed it will offer a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to: Residents in a care home for older adults, and staff working in care homes for older adults, Frontline health and social care workers All those 65 years of age and over, Adults aged 16 to 65 years in a clinical risk group
21st May 2022 - Wales Online

Judge: COVID asylum restrictions must continue on border

Pandemic-related restrictions on migrants seeking asylum on the southern border must continue, a judge ruled Friday in an order blocking the Biden administration’s plan to lift them early next week. The ruling was just the latest instance of a court derailing the president’s proposed immigration policies along the U.S. border with Mexico. The Justice Department said the administration will appeal, but the ruling virtually ensures that restrictions will not end as planned on Monday. A delay would be a blow to advocates who say rights to seek asylum are being trampled, and a relief to some Democrats who fear that a widely anticipated increase in illegal crossings would put them on the defensive in an already difficult midterm election year.
21st May 2022 - The Associated Press

Switzerland buys Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid

Switzerland signed a contract to buy Pfizer's anti-viral drug Paxlovid to treat Covid-19, it said on Friday. The European country said it had signed a contract to buy 12,000 packages and first treatments for certain at-risk patients would start this month.
21st May 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th May 2022

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Why schools have returned to remote learning in Victoria

Several schools in Victoria have been forced to return to remote learning due to Covid-induced staffing shortages. The dreaded backflip comes as tens of thousands of Covid cases are recorded each day across the country just before the arrival of the flu season. Victoria’s Deputy Premier James Merlino confirmed a private school in regional Shepparton was among the first to temporarily revert to remote learning.
19th May 2022 - News.com.au

Germany's top court OKs vaccine mandate for health workers

The coronavirus pandemic is not over yet, Germany’s health minister warned Thursday as the country’s highest court approved rules requiring health workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach noted the sharp rise in cases currently happening in some Asian countries, such as North Korea, but also parts of Europe. “In Germany, too, an average of 130 to 150 people are dying every day due to the pandemic,” Lauterbach told reporters in Berlin. “So the impression that the pandemic has been defeated is wrong.” Lauterbach was holding a two-day meeting with his counterparts from the Group of Seven leading democracies on Thursday and Friday.
20th May 2022 - The Associated Press

UK vaccine advisers eye autumn COVID boosters for over-65s

Britain's vaccine advisers on Thursday said that an anticipated autumn COVID booster campaign would be aimed at people aged over 65, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and all adults in a clinical risk group. Britain is offering a spring booster to the over-75s, care home residents and immunosuppressed people, and ministers have spoken openly of plans for a further booster campaign in the autumn.
20th May 2022 - Reuters

U.S. expert panel backs COVID boosters for children 5 to 11

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday recommended the COVID-19 vaccine booster for children ages 5 to 11 after an advisory panel voted to back them, at least five months after completing their primary vaccination course. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement that she "endorsed" the vote by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices "to expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. Children 5 through 11 should receive a booster dose at least 5 months after their primary series."
20th May 2022 - Reuters

White House warns the US can't buy updated Covid-19 vaccines 'for every American who wants one' without more funding

White House Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha warned Wednesday that without more funding from Congress the US will not be able to buy enough Covid-19 vaccines for every American who wants an updated shot later this year. Scientists are working to develop new vaccines that would offer additional protection from infection and severe illness from new variants, including the possibility of a bivalent vaccine, a vaccine that would combine a currently approved vaccine with an Omicron-specific vaccine, for example. The US Food and Drug Administration could make a decision as soon as next month based on data from manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer for distribution in the fall.
19th May 2022 - CNN

Covid-19: Government failed to protect doctors during pandemic, BMA inquiry finds

The UK government failed in its duty of care to protect doctors and other healthcare staff from avoidable harm and suffering in its management of the covid-19 pandemic, a major review by the BMA has concluded. Two reports published on 19 May document the experiences of thousands of UK doctors throughout the pandemic, drawing on real time surveys carried out over the past two years, formal testimonies, data, and evidence sessions. The reports will form part of a wider review by the BMA into the government’s handling of the pandemic, with three further instalments to come. The evidence lays bare the devastating impact of the pandemic on doctors and the NHS, with repeated mistakes, errors of judgment, and failures of government policy amounting to a failure of a duty of care to the workforce, the BMA said.
19th May 2022 - The BMJ

India has supplied COVID vaccines under Quad umbrella

India has supplied COVID-19 vaccines to Cambodia and Thailand under an initiative of the Quad group of countries, New Delhi said on Thursday, though not the Johnson & Johnson shot as originally planned. The leaders of the Quad countries - India, the United States, Japan and Australia - could discuss the vaccine supply plan when they meet in Japan on Tuesday, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a news conference.
19th May 2022 - Reuters India

WHO clears COVID vaccine by China's CanSino Biologics for emergency use

The World Health Organization on Thursday issued an emergency use listing for the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine from China-based CanSino Biologics. The vaccine, Convidecia, is the eleventh shot against the coronavirus to get clearance from the global health agency, whose advisory group recommended its use in people of age 18 years and above. The vaccine was found to have 64% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 92% against severe COVID-19, the agencysaid.
19th May 2022 - Reuters


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Germany OKs more COVID-19 vaccine spending for this fall

Germany plans to spend another 830 million euros ($872 million) to buy new coronavirus vaccines that will allow the country to deal with a series of possible variants this fall, the health minister said Wednesday. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said that the government, via the European Union, already has ordered enough of the existing vaccines and of one that has been developed by Germany’s BioNTech to counter the omicron variant. He said the new funding is earmarked for a vaccine being developed by Moderna to tackle both omicron and other variants. “We are betting on a broad portfolio of vaccines; we must be prepared for all eventualities,” Lauterbach said. “We don't know what variants will confront us in the fall.” “One lesson from the pandemic is that we never again want to have too little vaccine,” he added, alluding to the sluggish start early last year of the EU's and Germany's COVID-19 vaccination campaign. “We want to be able to offer all those who need or want it a fourth shot.”
18th May 2022 - The Independent


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Pfizer COVID antiviral use up 315%, U.S. health department says

Rising COVID-19 cases are driving up the use of therapeutics, with Pfizer Inc's oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid seeing a 315% jump over the past four weeks, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday. The increase in U.S. cases and hospitalizations is starting to affect recommendations on behavior, with New York City, the nation's most populous city, advising stricter mask usage but stopping short of new mandates. Apple has scrapped return to office plans.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

U.S. FDA authorizes Pfizer's COVID booster shot for young children

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the use of a booster shot of Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, making everyone in the country over the age of 5 eligible for a third shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to sign off on the shots before they can be administered. Children below the age of five are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

African leaders urge global vaccine body to buy locally made Covid jabs

African leaders have called on the organisation in charge of procurement for the Covax vaccine sharing scheme to commit to buying at least 30 per cent of all Covid-19 jabs produced on the continent, as the future of Africa’s biggest manufacturing facility hangs in the balance. Covid-19 vaccine production at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, ground to a halt in late March because of a drop-off in demand, putting its future in doubt and threatening to undermine African Union plans to increase local jab production.
17th May 2022 - Financial Times

Covid-19: Hong Kong leader confirms next phase of Vaccine Pass to go ahead as health experts urge relaxation

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has confirmed that the next phase of Hong Kong’s Covid-19 Vaccine Pass will go ahead as scheduled on May 31, despite experts urging the government to relax the requirement for those under 60. Lam’s confirmation came on Tuesday after two University of Hong Kong (HKU) medics wrote an opinion piece in Ming Pao arguing that the scheme, which will require Hongkongers to have received three doses of a Covid-19 to enter certain types of premises from May 31, was “coercive.”
17th May 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press


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China's economy cools sharply in April as lockdowns bite

China's retail and factory activity fell sharply in April as wide COVID-19 lockdowns confined workers and consumers to their homes and severely disrupted supply chains, casting a long shadow over the outlook for the world's second-largest economy. Full or partial lockdowns were imposed in major centres across the country in March and April, including the most populous city Shanghai, hitting production and consumption and heightening risks for those parts of the global economy heavily dependent on China.
16th May 2022 - Reuters

FDA Authorizes Nonprescription Test for Covid-19, Flu and RSV

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the first nonprescription test that can detect Covid-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The test, developed by Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, can be sold directly to consumers online or at retail. A person can collect a nasal-swab sample themselves before sending the sample to Labcorp for analysis. The test, called the Labcorp Seasonal Respiratory Virus RT-PCR DTC Test, searches for and amplifies the genetic materials of multiple viruses to figure out which one a person might be harboring.
16th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

FDA declines to authorize common antidepressant as COVID treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided not to authorize the antidepressant fluvoxamine to treat COVID-19, saying that the data has not shown the drug to be an effective therapeutic for fighting the virus. "Based on the review of available scientific evidence, the FDA has determined that the data are insufficient to conclude that fluvoxamine may be effective in the treatment of nonhospitalized patients with COVID-19 to prevent progression to severe disease and/or hospitalization," the agency said in a document published on Monday.
16th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 pushed 55 mn Africans into extreme poverty in 2020: UN Report

The disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into extreme poverty in 2020 and reversed more than two decades of poverty reduction in Africa, said a report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The report with the theme "Fight against poverty and vulnerability in Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic", was issued by the ECA during the 54th session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
16th May 2022 - Business Standard

EC to terminate Covid-19 vaccine deal with Valneva

The European Commission (EC) has informed Valneva of its plan to terminate the advance purchase agreement (APA) for the latter’s inactivated whole-virus Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001. The details were communicated by the EC through a notice to the company. An adjuvanted vaccine candidate, VLA2001 is for active immunisation of at-risk people to avert carriage and symptomatic Covid-19 infection. It comprises inactivated whole virus particles of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with increased S-protein density and two adjuvants, alum and Dynavax Technologies’ CpG 1018.
16th May 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Pfizer, BioNTech amend Covid-19 vaccine supply deal with EC

Pfizer and BioNTech have amended the supply agreement with the European Commission (EC) to rephase the delivery schedules of their Covid-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is based on the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology of BioNTech. Under the deal, the initial contractual supply schedules for the vaccine will be updated to rephase the supplies to support the vaccination programmes of EC and its member states.
16th May 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Kim Jong-un calls in the army to respond to North Korea’s Covid-19 crisis

Kim Jong-un has criticised North Korea’s pandemic response and ordered the army to help distribute medicine, state media said Monday, as the country said 50 people had died since first reporting an outbreak of Covid-19. More than one million people have been sickened by what Pyongyang is referring to as “fever”, state media said, despite Kim ordering nationwide lockdowns in a bid to slow the spread of disease through the unvaccinated population. After two years denying North Korea had any cases of Covid-19, last week officials confirmed that there had been a Covid outbreak in the country.
16th May 2022 - The Guardian

Tokyo COVID curbs declared illegal in "Kill Bill" restaurant case

Japan's "Kill Bill" restaurant operator prevailed in a court case on Monday that declared Tokyo's now defunct COVID-19 infection curbs were illegal. The orders, enacted in the capital during various states of emergency, included shortened operating hours and a ban on alcohol sales, though there was a compensating government subsidy. Businesses that didn't comply were subject to fines. Global-Dining Inc, which runs more than 40 restaurants, defied the restrictions, taking the city government to court over the matter.
16th May 2022 - Reuters


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Covid-19 patent lawsuits: Will vaccine producers have to pay the bill?

In a new chapter with emerging legal dimensions for the Covid-19 vaccine success story, last week Moderna submitted a filing to take down a patent infringement lawsuit over its Covid-19 vaccine. In a claim filed on 28 February, Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences stated that Moderna infringed on their patented lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology, and as such, were due damages from Moderna. Later in March, Pfizer’s Canada-based LNP partner Acuitas Therapeutics filed a complaint against Arbutus and Genevant in the US district court for the southern district of New York, asking for a judgement on the non-infringement and invalidity of such patents.
13th May 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

China denies suspending passports, invalidating foreign residency cards

China's immigration authority is still providing services for necessary trips outside the country, it said on Friday, denying rumours that passport issuances were halted and that residency cards for living in foreign countries were being invalidated. Officials have promptly processed certificates for people who need to travel abroad for necessary and urgent matters such as study, scientific research, trade and businesses and medical issues, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) said in a statement. The NIA was responding to what it said were "foreign media reports" that falsely said the agency had suspended passport issuances and had invalidated residency cards issued by foreign countries to Chinese citizens eligible to live overseas by cutting off the corners. The NIA statement did not include examples of the reports. The statement followed the NIA's announcement on Thursday that it would "strictly limit" unnecessary overseas travels by Chinese citizens to minimize the risks of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases caused by infections among international travellers
13th May 2022 - Reuters

S.Korea's Yoon pledges $300 million to global COVID response initiative

South Korea's new President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged on Thursday to provide an additional $300 million won to a global initiative to fund COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines for poorer countries. Yoon made the announcement in his speech to a second global COVID-19 summit, held virtually, aimed at facilitating efforts to end the pandemic and prepare for future health threats. His funding pledge would bring South Korea's total donations to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups, to $510 million.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Meatpackers convinced Trump to keep plants running during COVID crisis - report

Article reports that top U.S. meatpacking companies drafted the executive order issued by President Donald Trump in 2020 to keep meat plants running and convinced his administration to encourage workers to stay on the job at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released on Thursday by a U.S. House panel. The report by the House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis details the meat industry’s influence on Trump's White House as it tried to keep production rolling even as employees fell ill.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Massachusetts to pay $56 mln over deadly COVID outbreak at veterans' home

The state of Massachusetts on Thursday agreed to pay $56 million to resolve a lawsuit by families of veterans who contracted COVID-19 during an outbreak at a veterans' care center that killed 84 people early in the pandemic. The proposed settlement would resolve a pending federal class action lawsuit by families of veterans who died as a result of the 2020 outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers' Home, one of the deadliest to have occurred at a U.S. nursing facility.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Biden may need to 'claw back' funding for COVID, Jha says

The White House is preparing for a scenario in which Congress fails to approve President Joe Biden's request for additional COVID funds by reviewing old contracts to see if there is any money it can "claw back," the president's top COVID adviser said on Thursday. The United States is still in a pandemic and continues to face an evolving coronavirus despite making strides over the past two years, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha told Reuters in an interview.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Switzerland authorizes Moderna's COVID vaccine for 6-11 year olds

Moderna Inc said Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic had authorized the use of its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 to 11 years. The approval is for the vaccine's two-dose series of 50 micro gram per dose, Moderna added.
13th May 2022 - Reuters


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Trump officials and meat industry blocked life-saving Covid controls, investigation finds

Trump officials “collaborated” with the meatpacking industry to downplay the threat of Covid to plant workers and block public health measures which could have saved lives, a damning new investigation has found. Internal documents reviewed by the congressional select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis reveal how industry representatives lobbied government officials to stifle “pesky” health departments from imposing evidence-based safety measures to curtail the virus spreading – and tried to obscure worker deaths from these authorities. At least 59,000 workers at five of the largest meatpacking companies – Tyson Foods, JBS USA Holdings, Smithfield Foods, Cargill and National Beef Packing Company which are the subject of the congressional inquiry – contracted Covid in the first year of the pandemic, of whom at least 269 died.
12th May 2022 - The Guardian

Report criticizes meat industry, USDA response to pandemic

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meat processing industry worked closely with political appointees in the Trump administration to stave off health restrictions and keep slaughterhouses open even as the virus spread rapidly among workers, according to a congressional report released Thursday. The report by the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said meat companies pushed to keep their plants open even though they knew workers were at high risk of catching the coronavirus. The lobbying led to health and labor officials watering down their recommendations for the industry and culminated in an executive order President Donald Trump issued in spring 2020 designating meat plants as critical infrastructure that needed to remain open.
12th May 2022 - Associated Press


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China calls WHO chief 'irresponsible' for saying zero-COVID strategy 'not sustainable'

China hit back on Wednesday against what it called "irresponsible" comments by the head of the World Health Organization, who described the country's uncompromising and increasingly painful "zero COVID" policy as "not sustainable." The policy has placed hundreds of millions of people across dozens of cities under various degrees of movement restrictions, most dramatically in Shanghai, causing significant economic damage in China and beyond and fuelling wide-spread frustration.
11th May 2022 - Reuters.com

WHO calls on Pfizer to make its COVID pill more available

The head of the World Health Organization called on Pfizer to make its COVID-19 treatment more widely available in poorer countries, saying Tuesday that the pharmaceutical company’s deal allowing generic producers to make the drug was insufficient. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing that Pfizer’s treatment was still too expensive. He noted that most countries in Latin America had no access to Pfizer’s drug, Paxlovid, which has been shown to cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death by up to 90%. “We remain concerned that low- and middle-income countries remain unable to access antivirals,” Tedros said, The WHO chief warned that the unequal distribution of COVID-19 drugs could ultimately mirror the grossly disproportionate distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
10th May 2022 - The Associated Press


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WHO offers rare criticism for China's steadfast and strict COVID-19 measures

The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday China's zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy is not sustainable given what is known of the disease, in rare public comments by the United Nations agency on a government's handling of the virus. "We don't think that it is sustainable considering the behaviour of the virus," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing. Speaking after Tedros, WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said the impact of a "zero-COVID" policy on human rights also needs to be taken into consideration alongside the effect on a country's economy. He also noted that China has registered 15,000 deaths since the virus first emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019 — a relatively low number compared with 999,475 in the United States and more than 500,000 in India.
11th May 2022 - CBC.ca

U.S. will limit next-generation Covid vaccines to high-risk people this fall if Congress doesn't approve more funding

The U.S. will have to limit the next generation of Covid vaccines this fall to individuals at the highest risk of getting seriously sick from the virus if Congress fails to approve funding to purchase the new shots, according to a senior Biden administration official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned the U.S. faces a substantial surge of Covid infections this fall as immunity from the current vaccines wanes and the omicron variant mutates into more transmissible subvariants. The U.S. needs more money for next-generation vaccines, therapeutics and tests to prevent infections from turning into hospitalizations and deaths, the official said.
10th May 2022 - CNBC

Norway discards COVID-19 vaccines as supplies exceed demand

Norwegian health authorities said Tuesday that the country has a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines and has already discarded more than 137,000 doses because there is declining demand in low-income countries. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it plans a further disposal of doses if global demand does not change. In Norway there is high vaccine coverage while globally a demand for donations has fallen.
10th May 2022 - ABC News

Moderna says U.S. on the hook in COVID-19 vaccine patent case

Facing claims that its COVID-19 vaccine violates the patent rights of two biopharma companies, Moderna told a Delaware federal court on Friday that the companies should have sued the U.S. government instead. Moderna said it is shielded from the lawsuit brought by Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant, thanks to its agreement to supply the vaccine to the federal government. It cited a federal law that was previously used to keep patent claims from interfering with the supply of war materials during World War I.
10th May 2022 - Reuters


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WHO, Gavi not planning COVID vaccine buys from S.Africa's Aspen

The World Health Organization (WHO) and its COVID-19 vaccine partner Gavi have no immediate plans to buy shots made by Aspen Pharmacare, the two bodies said, dealing a blow to Africa's efforts to develop its own vaccine production capacity.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

FDA sets limits on the use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in US

The FDA has limited the authorized use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 18 years of age and older who cannot access other approved COVID-19 shots for various reasons.
9th May 2022 - biopharma-reporter

Taiwan receives 1.85 million Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine doses

Taiwan received all of the 1.85 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses for people 12 years and older it had ordered this year on Monday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. The 1,857,960 vaccine doses will expire on Oct. 4, and adolescents aged 12-17 who need a booster shot will be given priority to receive the vaccine, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said at the CECC press briefing
9th May 2022 - Focus Taiwan News Channel


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China Rejects Its Exclusion From WTO Vaccine Waiver Proposal

China objected to a key provision of a World Trade Organization proposal to waive intellectual-property rights for Covid-19 vaccines that Beijing said would discourage shipments of doses to poorer nations. The development may complicate the WTO’s multi-year effort to reach an agreement to help speed production of vaccines in the developing world by permitting certain countries to authorize the use of Covid-19 jabs without the consent of the holders of the patent rights. China’s opposition is problematic because WTO agreements require support from all 164 members, meaning any one government can block the adoption of a vaccine IP waiver for any reason.
7th May 2022 - Bloomberg

White House Warns of Fall, Winter Surge Without Additional Covid-19 Funding

The Biden administration estimates 100 million Americans may become infected with Covid-19 in the fall and winter without additional funding to help combat the pandemic and buy new vaccines for a fall booster campaign. The infections would result from a virus that is rapidly adapting and waning natural and vaccine immunity, as well as from lack of money for updating vaccines and for stockpiling tests and treatments, a senior administration official said Friday. The cases would amount to a million a day over the course of three to four months, according to a senior administration official, who shared the estimate as part of a White House push to secure $22.5 billion in new funding to combat the pandemic.
6th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Xi Jinping attacks ‘doubters’ as he doubles down on China’s zero-Covid policy

Xi Jinping has confirmed there is no intention to turn away from China’s zero-Covid commitment, in a major speech to the country’s senior officials that also warned against any criticism or doubting of the policy. Addressing the seven-member politburo standing committee, China’s highest decision-making body, specifically about the Shanghai outbreak, the president said China’s response was “scientific and effective”. He told officials to “unswervingly adhere to the general policy of dynamic zero-Covid”. “We have won the battle to defend Wuhan, and we will certainly be able to win the battle to defend Shanghai,” he said, according to a translation by Sinocism’s Bill Bishop.
6th May 2022 - The Guardian


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FDA Limits Authorized Use of J&J's Covid-19 Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration limited the use of the Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson after reviewing the risk of life-threatening blood clots. The agency said Thursday that the J&J shot’s authorization was now only for adults for whom other shots aren’t available or medically appropriate, or who won’t take another vaccine. The FDA said it was making the move after confirming a total of 60 cases, including nine deaths, of the clotting condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS, among the millions of people who got the J&J shot. The change will likely sharply scale back use of a vaccine that health authorities had once hoped would be a convenient option for many people, but has become a third choice for most people because of the emergence of the risk for the rare but life-threatening side effect.
6th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

A Covid vaccine waiver? WTO has a plan for that.

World Trade Organization officials have circulated a draft proposal that would temporarily waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, paving the way for members to start discussing the plan. That will compel members, including the deal’s brokers, to signal whether they’ll support the divisive proposal. The deal, which emerged from talks among U.S., European, South African and Indian representatives, would temporarily ease patent restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines for developing countries that exported less than 10 percent of the world’s coronavirus vaccine doses in 2021.
5th May 2022 - Politico

Recent COVID-19 court cases show New Zealand's Bill of Rights Act is not as strong as some might wish

At the end of April, the High Court found the border quarantine (MIQ) system did work well to protect public health and many of the resulting restrictions on rights were justifiable. However, the court also found the allocation of space in MIQ through a virtual lobby system amounted to an unjustifiable limit on the right of New Zealand citizens to return because it did not prioritise citizens over non-citizens, and it did not prioritise on individual need or delays experienced. What we see in these cases is the New Zealand constitution in action, operating as a system of checks and balances to protect individuals from arbitrary interference by the state. As an aspect of that, the cases show the operation of the rule of law, which means any power exercised by the government has to be based on legal authority and that everyone is subject to the law, whether they are members of the public or politicians.
5th May 2022 - The Conversation

Africa CDC urges COVID-19 vaccine buyers to order from S.Africa's Aspen

Africa's top public health body urged all those purchasing COVID-19 vaccines for the continent to place orders with South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare, saying the market was key to developing vaccine manufacturing on the continent. The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was doing everything it could behind the scenes to prevent a situation where Aspen closes its facility due to a lack of orders.
5th May 2022 - Reuters.com


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Main negotiators reach 'outcome' on COVID vaccine IP waiver, WTO says

The four main parties to negotiations on an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines have prepared an "outcome document" for approval by the broader membership, the WTO said on Tuesday, with its chief hoping for a final deal by June. WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has made vaccine equity her top priority since taking office in 2021, has been working for months to broker a compromise between the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa to break an 18-month-long impasse.
4th May 2022 - Reuters.com


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Taiwan won’t go into lockdown like Shanghai despite Covid surge, premier says

Taiwan will not go into a Shanghai-like lockdown to control a rise in Covid-19 cases as the vast majority of those infected have no symptoms or show only minor symptoms, the premier, Su Tseng-chang, has said. Taiwan has been dealing with a spike in local cases since the start of the year, but the numbers overall remain small – 18,436 since 1 January for a population of some 23 million – and just four people have died. Backed by a high vaccination rate, the government has been promoting the “new Taiwan model”, learning to gradually live with the virus and avoiding shutting down the economy, unlike in Shanghai, which is in its third week of a lockdown to control the pandemic.
4th May 2022 - The Guardian

Main negotiators reach 'outcome' on COVID vaccine IP waiver, WTO says

The four main parties to negotiations on an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines have prepared an "outcome document" for approval by the broader membership, the WTO said on Tuesday, with its chief hoping for a final deal by June. WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has made vaccine equity her top priority since taking office in 2021, has been working for months to broker a compromise between the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa to break an 18-month-long impasse. "What the discussions were aiming at was coming up with something workable," Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters, saying she hoped the WTO's 164 members would finalise and approve the proposal by a major conference in June. "This will advance the discussion and dialogue. For the next pandemic or a flare up of this one, this is hugely important," she said. The document showed that there were still unresolved areas in the draft deal, including on the duration of the waiver's application which could be either three or five years.
4th May 2022 - Reuters

Japan to review official COVID-19 response, with report expected from June

In Japan, a panel of experts set up by the central government will begin discussions shortly to review its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a report expected as early as June. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he plans to use the outcome of the review by the the eight-member panel to make improvements on the government’s strategy in the fight against the deadly virus. High on the panel’s agenda will be how authorities and hospitals should cooperate. Health care systems have been strained across the country at times during the pandemic, though Japan is among countries with large numbers of hospitals and hospital beds.
3rd May 2022 - The Japan Times

Denmark to destroy 1.1 million excess COVID-19 vaccines

Danish health officials say that 1.1 million excess COVID-19 vaccines will be discarded in the coming weeks because their expiration date is near, and efforts to donate them to developing countries have failed. Statens Serum Institut (SSI), a government agency that maps the spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19 in Denmark, said the epidemic in the Scandinavian country “is currently under control, and the vaccine coverage in the Danish population is high”.
3rd May 2022 - Al Jazeera


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U.N. chief calls for debt relief, post-COVID investment on West Africa trip

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday urged debt relief for African countries and more investment to help their economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and weather the impacts of the Ukraine war. The United Nations chief spoke in Senegal on the first leg of a trip that will also include Niger and Nigeria, where he will visit communities affected by conflict and climate change. Supply disruptions due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine have caused simultaneous food, energy and finance crises in Africa and beyond, Guterres said. The coronavirus pandemic pushed many poor countries into debt distress and the Ukraine war has disrupted their economic recovery, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Public debt ratios in sub-Saharan Africa are at their highest in more than two decades, the IMF said last week.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Poland has no 'rationale to invoke force majeure in Pfizer vaccine deal, EU official says

Poland has no "coherent rationale" to invoke force majeure in an existing contract in order to stop paying for more COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, a European Commission official told Reuters. In April Poland's health minister Adam Niedzielski said Warsaw had informed the European Commission and Pfizer that it would no longer take or pay for COVID-19 vaccines under a supply contract co-negotiated by the EU, acknowledging this would trigger a legal conflict.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

How to Make the CDC Matter Again

For many years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was known as the world’s preeminent public-health agency. No longer. During the pandemic, the CDC stumbled repeatedly. Accused of incompetence, overreach and muddled messaging, it is now in need of repair. Director Rochelle Walensky was right to order a review of the agency’s operations in early April. She shouldn’t shrink from significant reforms. To be sure, some of the CDC’s troubles have resulted from political interference. Donald Trump’s White House sought to undermine the agency by second-guessing its guidance and advice. Political operatives pushed to revise some of its publications and revoked its authority to gather hospital Covid data from the states.
1st May 2022 - Bloomberg

Swiss commandos lose court fight over COVID-19 jabs

Four members of Switzerland's special forces who were fired for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 have lost their bid for reinstatement, a court said on Friday. "By refusing to be vaccinated for no valid medical reason, the four servicemen deliberately put themselves in a position where they could no longer perform their professional duties," the Federal Administrative Court said in a summary of its ruling, which can be appealed at the supreme court.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Ukraine seeks urgent WHO meeting on impact of invasion on health

Ukraine, backed by dozens of other countries, has written to the World Health Organization's regional chief calling for an urgent meeting on the impact of Russia's invasion on health and healthcare, a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday showed. The letter, sent this week by Ukraine's diplomatic mission in Geneva, Switzerland, where the WHO is headquartered, is signed by some 38 other members of the agency's European region, including France, Germany and Britain.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Apr 2022

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Beijing orders schools closed in tightening of virus rules

Beijing is closing all city schools in a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions, as China’s capital seeks to prevent a wider outbreak. The city of 21 million has already ordered three rounds of mass testing this week, with the third coming Friday. On Thursday, the city’s Education Bureau ordered all schools to end classes from Friday and said it hadn’t determined when they would resume. It also wasn’t clear whether schools would be able to offer classes online or allow students facing crucial exams to return to class. Beijing announced 50 new cases on Thursday, two of them asymptomatic, bringing its total in the latest wave of infections to around 150. Students make up more than 30% of total cases, with clusters linked to six schools and two kindergartens in Chaoyang.
28th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Govt promises to add halal vaccine to booster program

The Health Ministry in Jakarta has announced that it will add one of the more widely available COVID-19 vaccines with halal certification to the state-led booster jab rollout, in an effort to assuage the concerns of the country’s Muslim majority. A ministry official confirmed on Tuesday that it would add the CoronaVac vaccine, co-manufactured by state-run pharmaceuticals company BioFarma and China’s Sinovac Biotech, to its current roster of booster shot offerings.
28th Apr 2022 - The Jakarta Post

Here’s Who Should Get a Second COVID Booster

Although the consensus remains that getting the initial full-series vaccination offers a clear benefit, scientists today disagree on the value of a fourth mRNA vaccine dose. Some say a second booster is essential for protecting highly vulnerable people—and that it should also be available to their families and other close contacts. Others note that the FDA’s decision about a fourth dose was based on limited evidence—primarily one study in Israel—and that the original two-shot series still provides durable protection against the most severe outcomes in adults with a healthy immune system. For its part, guidance published on April 6 by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency’s COVID-19 Emergency Task Force states that a fourth mRNA COVID vaccine dose can be given to adults age 80 and older but that it is too early to consider that booster for the general population.
28th Apr 2022 - Scientific American

WHO says pandemic justifies leader's pitch at Moderna meeting

A shareholder proposal calling on Moderna Inc to study transferring production of COVID-19 vaccines to less-developed countries won 24% support from investors on Thursday after it received a rare endorsement from the World Health Organization. Proponents say production shifts could help combat the global pandemic. Moderna of Cambridge, Mass. opposed the measure, saying among other things it already maximized its manufacturing capacity with partners, and that poorer countries have declined millions of doses that Moderna was prepared to deliver.
28th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Hungary, EU at odds over billions of euros of COVID funds

Hungary sees no obstacles to the European Union releasing billions in economic stimulus funds to Budapest, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's top aide said on Thursday, but the bloc's executive disagreed, quoting corruption and anti-LGBT policies. The executive European Commission has been withholding its approval to pay out money meant to help lift economies from the COVID-19 malaise to Poland and Hungary, accusing them of undermining the rule of law.
28th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Latin American nations ease restrictions as COVID cases drop

Colombians will soon be going to movie theaters without having to wear face masks. Chile opens its borders next week for the first time in two years. Mexico’s president has declared the pandemic over. And in Rio de Janeiro, tens of thousands attended Carnival parades just two months after the world-famous spectacle was postponed to prevent COVID-19 infections. Even as coronavirus cases rise half a world away in China and authorities there impose new lockdowns, plummeting infection rates in Latin America have countries eliminating restrictions on mass gatherings, lifting some travel requirements and scrapping mask mandates that have been in place for two years.
28th Apr 2022 - Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Apr 2022

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CDC Data Plan Is Too Vague, Lacks Deadlines, U.S. Watchdog Says

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s plan to modernize its data operations is too vague, lacks deadlines and doesn’t assign clear responsibility for completing the project, a government watchdog said in a report. The CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative was launched in 2020 as part of a broader push to overhaul the country’s public health information systems and improve capacity to respond to threats like Covid-19. While the pandemic pushed some of those efforts into high speed, the Government Accountability Office report said that the agency’s overall plan “does not articulate the specific actions, time frames, and allocation of roles and responsibilities needed to achieve its objectives.” And while the CDC has been given $1.1 billion to move ahead with its data plans, the agency had yet to fully lay out plans for spending the money, according to the GAO, the investigational arm of Congress.
28th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid News: Vaccines for Young Children Delayed by Incomplete Data, F.D.A. Official Says

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet cleared a coronavirus vaccine for children under 5 because the vaccine manufacturers have not finished their applications for authorization to distribute doses, a top official at the agency suggested on Tuesday. The official — Dr. Peter Marks, who oversees vaccine regulation for the F.D.A. — said the agency will release a schedule this week for outside expert review of vaccines for the nation’s 18 million children younger than 5. That is the only age group still not eligible for coronavirus vaccination. Despite growing pressure, including from Congress, the F.D.A. might not rule on whether to authorize a pediatric vaccine dose for that group until June, administration officials have said.
27th Apr 2022 - The New York Times

Court says UK's nursing home COVID-19 policy was illegal

A British court ruled Wednesday that the government’s decision to discharge hospital patients into nursing homes without testing them for COVID-19, which led to thousands of deaths early in the pandemic, was illegal. Two High Court judges said the policy from March and April 2020 was unlawful because it failed to take into account the infection risk that non-symptomatic carriers of the virus posed to older or vulnerable people. The judges said officials did not consider other options, including keeping such patients separate from other nursing home residents for a time as much as practically possible. “This was not a binary question – a choice between on the one hand doing nothing at all, and on the other hand requiring all newly admitted residents to be quarantined,” the judges said. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by two women whose fathers died when the virus swept through the homes where they lived. Their lawyers said the decisions that allowed COVID-19 to spread among the elderly and vulnerable was “one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures in the modern era.”
27th Apr 2022 - The Independent

New Zealand High Court finds quarantine allocation system infringed on rights

New Zealand's once lauded COVID-19 response took a hit on Wednesday, when a High Court judge ruled a system used to allocate places in border quarantine facilities infringed on some citizens' right to return home. Citizens looking to return had to either make emergency requests to the government or secure a spot in state quarantine facilities, called MIQ. Due to demand outstripping hotel rooms, a type of lottery system was introduced. It left tens of thousands of expatriate New Zealanders cut off from families back home. Critics called the system unfair, something that the judgement released Wednesday by High Court Justice Jillian Mallon agreed with. Mallon said restrictions preventing a person from being able to enter their country for three months couldn't be justified and evidence indicates at least some New Zealanders experienced unreasonable delays.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Apr 2022

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Covid Pills to Become More Widely Available

The Biden administration on Tuesday is expected to outline plans to make it easier for infected people to get Covid-19 treatments, which some health leaders and patient advocates say are too difficult to obtain despite a federal program to help make them more widely available. The administration has heavily touted vaccines to reduce the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. Officials also have been urging greater use of two pills given they are easy to take at home: Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid and Merck & Co.’s and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP’s molnupiravir, also known as Lagevrio. Both were cleared for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. The authorization of those pills marked a turning point in the treatment of Covid-19 because people can take the therapies at home shortly after they develop symptoms, helping prevent hospitalization.
26th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

South Korea Downgrades Covid-19 From Riskiest-Disease Category

South Korea has downgraded Covid-19 from the country’s riskiest category of infectious disease, a first step toward treating the virus more like the seasonal flu. The country is one of the first to make such a move. The downgrade, approved Monday by health officials, will take effect after a four-week transition period. Once it does, South Koreans who test positive will no longer be required to go into quarantine, which currently lasts seven days by law. Doctors will no longer need to report a positive case immediately, as infection-tracking diminishes in importance. Those showing symptoms will be able to get treatment at local clinics rather than solely at hospitals, due to the reduced fears of virus spread.
26th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China Politburo Under Pressure to Help Economy as Covid Spreads

China’s leaders are under mounting pressure to throw the country’s Covid-stricken economy a lifeline as they gather for a critical meeting in the coming days. Several prominent policy advisers and Chinese economists have called on the government to take more decisive measures to prop up the economy, ranging from the relaxation of property and internet curbs to acting with more flexibility when it comes to Covid restrictions and lockdowns. The People’s Bank of China on Tuesday pledged economic support in a bid to reassure jittery investors, and the Communist Party’s Politburo -- its top decision-making body -- has an opportunity to signal changes this week during its April quarterly meeting to discuss economic issues.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Apr 2022

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Lockdown gatherings report is 'excoriating' for UK's Johnson-The Times

An independent report into lockdown gatherings held at Boris Johnson's Downing Street office and residence is "excoriating" for the British prime minister and will make things "incredibly difficult" for him, the Times said. Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, has been tasked with investigating the events and whether they broke lockdown rules set by Johnson. The publication of her report has been put on hold until the police complete their own inquiry.
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

North Korea: COVAX scraps the reclusive country's vaccine allocations

As mask mandates and social distancing requirements lift around the world, North Korea remains one of two countries that have not administered any coronavirus vaccines, with no sign of how it can ever begin to reopen despite a brewing humanitarian crisis for its people. The vaccines that were allocated for North Korea through a United Nations-backed global vaccination effort are no longer available, officials said this month, after Pyongyang repeatedly rejected the initiative’s offers of millions of doses. North Korea, already one of the most closed societies in the world, remains in a strict pandemic lockdown and has shuttered its borders except to a minimal level of trade with China, with grave implications for the health and food security of its population.
24th Apr 2022 - The Washington Post

WHO backs Paxlovid for high-risk COVID patients

Paxlovid is an oral SARS-CoV-2 protease inhibitor called nirmatrelvir that is given with a low dose of the HIV antiviral drug ritonavir, which can boost the level of protease inhibitors. The drug combo is designed to be given at the first sign of illness and is taken twice a day for 5 days. In December, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the drug for emergency use. In a statement, the WHO said it based the recommendation on new data from two randomized controlled trials that included 3,078 patients, which suggested that Paxlovid can cut the risk of hospitalization by 85% among high-risk groups. The WHO said its recommendation applies to those who are at highest risk for severe disease, such as those who are unvaccinated, older, or immunocompromised. It added that data showed benefits were negligible in lower-risk patients. However, the WHO aired concerns about two obstacles for rollout of the drug to low- and middle-income countries. One is access to early testing and diagnosis, since the drug needs to be given in the earlier stages of infection. The WHO pointed to data that suggest average daily testing rates in lower-income countries are one-eightieth that of higher-income countries.
22nd Apr 2022 - CIDRAP


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Apr 2022

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Biden admin to promote availability of COVID antiviral pill

President Joe Biden and his administration want Americans and their doctors to know that the country has an ample supply of the life-saving COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid and that it no longer needs to be rationed. First approved in December, supply of the Pfizer regimen was initially very limited, but as COVID-19 cases across the country have fallen and manufacturing has increased it is now far more abundant. The White House is now moving to raise awareness of the pill and taking steps to make it easier to access. Paxlovid, when administered within five days of symptoms appearing, has been proven to bring about 90% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths among patients most likely to get severe disease.
24th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

EU regulator backs using Pfizer COVID shot as booster after other vaccines

A European Medicines Agency (EMA) committee on Friday recommended approving the use of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, as a booster for adults who have previously been inoculated with other vaccines. The recommendation from Europe's drug regulator comes days after global COVID-19 cases surpassed 500 million, according to a Reuters tally, as the highly contagious BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron surges in many countries. Some European countries are now seeing a slower uptick in new cases, or even a decline, but the region is still reporting over 1 million cases about every two days, according to the Reuters tally published on Thursday
23rd Apr 2022 - Reuters

Polish health minister upbeat on Moderna vaccine talks

Poland can reach a compromise with Moderna on increasing the flexibility of COVID-19 vaccine contracts, the health minister said on Friday, striking an upbeat tone after after initial talks with the U.S. pharmaceutical company. Poland has said it will not will not take or pay for more doses of COVID-19 vaccine under the European Union's supply contract as it already has sufficient doses, potentially setting the stage for a legal battle with manufacturers. The country has seen lower vaccine uptake than many other European countries and is seeing its public finances stretched by the effects of the war in neighbouring Ukraine, which has resulted in 2.9 million refugees entering Poland.
22nd Apr 2022 - Reuters

‘Best therapeutic choice’: WHO backs Pfizer’s COVID antiviral

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given its backing to Pfizer’s Paxlovid treatment for COVID-19 after studies showed the antiviral pill reduced the risk of high-risk patients being admitted to hospital by 85 percent. The WHO announced on Thursday it was making a “strong recommendation” for the use of Paxlovid – a combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir – for people with mild and moderate COVID-19 but at risk of hospital admission, calling it the “best therapeutic choice for high-risk patients to date”.
22nd Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Apr 2022

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COVID-19: Hotel quarantine scheme cost taxpayers almost £400m despite being estimated to break even - government's own watchdog finds

The government's coronavirus hotel quarantine system, which was originally expected to break even, cost the taxpayers almost £400m - its own spending watchdog has found. A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that despite the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) previously estimating that the cost of running the hotel quarantine service would be met by the price people were charged to stay in the rooms, the taxpayer has subsidised half of the scheme's total £786m cost. The NAO report adds that the overall cost of the scheme to the taxpayer is likely to be even higher as DHSC cannot ensure that everyone who stayed in a quarantine hotel has paid their bill - with the government owed £74m from outstanding hotel costs and COVID test purchases as of 1 March 2022.
21st Apr 2022 - Sky News

UK lawmakers approve probe into PM Boris Johnson’s ‘Partygate’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a blow to his authority when lawmakers ordered a parliamentary investigation into his past denials that he broke coronavirus restrictions by attending illegal gatherings during the pandemic. Johnson on Thursday faced stinging criticism from his own Conservative party and an influential former ally called on him to quit over what has become known as the “Partygate” scandal, which has caused widespread public anger. The investigation will look into whether Johnson knowingly misled the Parliament of the United Kingdom – ordinarily a resigning offence if proven. But a bullish Johnson – on a two-day trip to India – insisted he was not going anywhere. In India, Johnson vowed he would not quit and intended to fight the next general election – still likely at least two years away. “I understand people’s feelings,” he told Sky News. But he said of stepping aside: “I don’t think that is the right thing to do. What I am determined to do is make sure we continue with our agenda.”
22nd Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English

U.S. extends COVID vaccine requirements for non-citizens at land borders

The Biden administration said Thursday it is extending a requirement that non-U.S. citizens crossing land or ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The requirements were first adopted in November as part of reopening the United States to land crossings by foreign tourists after the borders had been closed to most foreign visitors since March 2020.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

Taiwan approves second COVID booster dose, infections yet to peak

Taiwan's government has approved a second COVID-19 booster vaccine dose for those 65 and older, and third boosters for the immunocompromised, as it looks to step up its fight against a spike in domestic infections that has yet to peak. While Taiwan is dealing with a rise in local cases, the numbers overall remain small - 15,544 since Jan. 1 - and just four people have died, with more than 99% of those infected reporting either minor or no symptoms. Taiwan's Centres for Disease Control said late Wednesday it had approved second booster shots for the elderly, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Apr 2022

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Fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot possible for some in Mexico, official says

Certain groups of people in Mexico may be able to receive a fourth COVID-19 vaccine shot, a senior government official said on Tuesday. Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell told reporters at a regular news conference that while the government does not currently have plans to roll out a second booster shot nationally, certain people may be eligible to receive one.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

Norway offers 4th COVID vaccine dose to those aged 80 and over

Norway will offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to those aged 80 and over, the country's Institute of Public Health said on Wednesday.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Israel scraps indoor COVID-19 mask order for second time

Israel told its citizens on Wednesday they could stop wearing COVID-19 masks indoors, its second such revision after the measure was briefly dropped and then restored last year in response to a rise in cases. The scrapping of mandatory masks in closed public venues will go into force on Saturday, subject to approval by a parliament oversight committee, a government statement said.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Apr 2022

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Ocugen gains rights to market Covid-19 vaccine in Mexico

Ocugen and Bharat Biotech have signed an amendment to their co-development, supply and commercialisation agreement for expanding the former’s exclusive territory to include marketing of their Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin (BBV152), in Mexico. With the latest development, Ocugen will have complete commercialisation rights to Covaxin in North America. The expansion of licence between the companies for supply in Mexico has the same profit share structure as in the US.
19th Apr 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Japan’s MHLW grants approval for Takeda’s Covid-19 vaccine

The Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) has granted manufacturing and marketing approval to Takeda’s Covid-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid Intramuscular Injection, for initial and booster vaccination in people of the age 18 years and above. The recombinant protein-based Covid-19 vaccine contains Matrix-M adjuvant. It can be stored at a refrigerated temperature of 2℃ to 8℃ and requires a standard vaccine supply chain for transportation. In August 2020, Takeda and Novavax entered a collaboration to develop, manufacture and supply the latter’s Covid‑19 vaccine candidate in Japan.
19th Apr 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Covid-19: India accused of trying to delay WHO revision of death toll

India has been accused of attempting to delay an effort by the World Health Organization to revise the global death toll from Covid-19 after its calculations suggested that the country had undercounted its dead by an estimated 3.5 million. India’s official number of deaths from Covid is 520,000. But according to in-depth analysis and investigations into the data by WHO, the total is more than 4 million, which would be by far the highest country death toll in the world. The figure tallies with previous estimates made by scientists, data analysts and medical journals that the true number of deaths from Covid in India was up to 10 times higher than that recorded in official statistics.
19th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

Japan health ministry panel approves Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine

A Japanese Health Ministry committee said on Monday it has approved Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine, setting the stage for full approval of the country's fourth shot for the coronavirus. The Japanese government has agreed to purchase 150 million doses of Novavax's recombinant protein type vaccine, which is to be manufactured domestically by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Taiwan says COVID vaccine talks held up on China sales deal

Talks on Taiwan buying the child version of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have stalled as Pfizer does not have the right to sell it and BioNTech and its Chinese partner do not make it, a Taiwanese minister said on Monday. The sales rights for the vaccine in Greater China, including Taiwan, belong to BioNTech and its Chinese sales agent, Shanghai Fosun. A deal for the main version of the vaccine ran aground last year after Taiwan accused China of political interference, which Beijing denied.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Second Global COVID-19 Summit scheduled for May 12

A second Global COVID-19 Summit will be held virtually next month for countries to discuss efforts to end the pandemic and prepare for future health threats, according to a joint statement on Monday. "The emergence and spread of new variants, like Omicron, have reinforced the need for a strategy aimed at controlling COVID-19 worldwide," the White House said in a news release with the Group of Seven and Group of 20 nations.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Poland declines to take or pay for more COVID-19 vaccines for now

Poland will not take or pay for more doses of COVID-19 vaccine under the European Union's supply contract, its health minister said on Tuesday, setting the stage for a legal battle with manufacturers. Poland, along with other EU members, has been receiving COVID-19 vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic under supply contracts agreed between the European Commission and vaccine makers such as BioNTech and Pfizer or Moderna. However, the country has seen lower vaccine uptake than most of the European Union and has surplus vaccine stock, part of which it has sold or donated to other countries.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Analysis: China's Xi sticks with COVID stance despite anger, economic headwinds

For many leaders, mounting public anger and a rapidly worsening economic outlook would be cause for worry and a policy rethink. But Chinese President Xi Jinping, who doubtless would prefer smoother sailing in the run-up to a third leadership term, is doubling down on a signature "dynamic zero" COVID-19 policy that has been increasingly tested by the more infectious Omicron variant. Xi's high-profile reiteration of the policy, made last week during a visit to the southern island of Hainan that capped days of state-media support for it, reflects a political imperative not to reverse course and look weak in a year in which he needs to appear strong, analysts said.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Apr 2022

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UK's Johnson shredded ministerial code with lockdown breaches, constitutional expert says

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has thrust Britain into a constitutional crisis by breaking the law he set for pandemic restrictions, effectively "shredding the ministerial code", the country's leading constitutional expert said on Sunday. Peter Hennessy, a historian and member of the upper house of parliament, said Johnson had become "the great debaser in modern times of decency in public and political life" after he was fined by police for attending a social gathering in Downing Street while lockdown restrictions were in place.
18th Apr 2022 - Reuters

'Last few tweaks' being made to COVID IP waiver deal -WTO chief

The head of the World Trade Organization told Reuters on Thursday that negotiations on an intellectual property deal for COVID-19 vaccines were ongoing between the four parties, saying they were seeking to agree on the proposal's final terms. Since the draft compromise emerged in the media a month ago, pressure from civil society groups has been rising for the parties - the United States, the European Union, India and South Africa - to walk away from the deal. Other public figures have also criticised it such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saying it is too narrowly focused on vaccines
15th Apr 2022 - Reuters

FDA authorizes 1st breath test for COVID-19 infection

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued an emergency use authorization for what it said is the first device that can detect COVID-19 in breath samples. The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, the FDA said, and can be used in doctor’s offices, hospitals and mobile testing sites. The test, which can provide results in less than three minutes, must be carried out under the supervision of a licensed health care provider. Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, called the device “yet another example of the rapid innovation occurring with diagnostic tests for COVID-19.”
15th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

UK clears 6th COVID shot despite canceling deal for doses

British authorities have authorized a coronavirus vaccine for adults made by French drugmaker Valneva, despite the government’s decision last year to cancel an order for at least 100 million doses. The U.K. is the first country to authorize Valneva’s vaccine, which is also under review by the European Medicines Agency. Britain’s medicines regulator said Thursday that the two-dose vaccine is intended for adults ages 18 to 50, with the second dose given about a month after the first. The Valneva vaccine is made with the decades-old technology used to manufacture shots for flu and polio. It is the sixth COVID-19 vaccine the U.K. has cleared and the only one that utilizes a “killed” virus; scientists grow the coronavirus in a lab and then inactivate the virus so it cannot replicate or infect cells.
14th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Apr 2022

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Greece to lift most remaining coronavirus measures

Greece’s health minister announced Wednesday that most remaining coronavirus measures will be lifted over the next couple of months until the end of August, including the use of vaccine certificates for access to certain services and the mandatory use of masks indoors. Health Minister Thanos Plevris said the need for vaccine certificates or negative COVID-19 tests will be lifted from May 1 to Aug. 31, and would be re-evaluated on Sept. 1. The use of masks indoors will no longer be mandatory as of June 1
13th Apr 2022 - Associated Press

US renews COVID-19 public health emergency

The United States on Wednesday renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency, allowing millions of Americans to keep getting free tests, vaccines and treatments for at least three more months. The public health emergency was initially declared in January 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began. It has been renewed each quarter since and was due to expire on April 16. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a statement said it was extending the public health emergency and that it will give states 60 days notice prior to termination or expiration. This could be the last time HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra extends it, policy experts have said.
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine Nuvaxovid gets conditional approval in Switzerland

Novavax said Swissmedic granted conditional marketing authorization to its COVID-19 vaccine Nuvaxovid for individuals 18 years of age and older.The company said
13th Apr 2022 - Seeking Alpha

IMF board approves new trust to help members deal with climate change, pandemics

The International Monetary Fund's executive board on Wednesday approved creation of a new facility to help low-income and most middle-income countries deal with longer-term challenges such as climate change and pandemics. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva announced approval of the new Resilience and Sustainability Trust in a statement after the board meeting, and said it would take effect from May 1, with a goal of raising at least $45 billion. She said the trust would amplify the impact of last year's $650 billion allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights by allowing richer members to channel their emergency reserves to allow vulnerable countries to address longer-term challenges that threatened their economic stability.
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Apr 2022

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CDC eases COVID travel assessment for Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Haiti

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday eased its COVID-19 travel ratings for Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Haiti. The CDC said it had changed its COVID-19 travel recommendation for the three countries to "Level 1: Low" from "Level 4: Very High," which urges Americans to avoid travel to those locations. In recent weeks, the CDC has been easing ratings on a number of countries around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. The CDC also on Monday lowered to "Level 1" ratings for Bangladesh, Philippines, and Saint Kitts and Nevis from "Level 2: Moderate."
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

200,000 Covid-19 vaccines donated to Ivory Coast

The Maltese government has donated 200,000 vaccine doses to Ivory Coast, while it continues to show solidarity with countries in need, in particular to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest ever Covid-19 vaccination donation by the government thus far with national carrier Air Malta facilitating the donation. As part of the humanitarian aid Malta is offering throughout the pandemic, AirMalta conducted its second longest direct flight to the Sub-Saharan country of Ivory Coast. The flight occurred at the beginning of April and took five hours 45 minutes to reach the destination. This was a conjoined effort by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Ministry of Health. So far Malta has donated and delivered more than 710,000 vaccines to countries in need. These countries included Libya, Egypt, Ghana and Rwanda.
12th Apr 2022 - The Malta Independent

Thai FDA grants EUA to Novavax-Serum Institute's Covid-19 vaccine

The Thailand Food and Drug Administration (Thai FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Novavax and Serum Institute of India for a protein-based Covid-19 vaccine, NVX-CoV2373. Created from the genetic sequence of the initial SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, the vaccine is formulated with Novavax’s saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant. The vaccine is authorised for active immunisation for preventing Covid-19 in adults aged 18 years and above. SII will produce and supply the vaccine under the brand name Covovax.
12th Apr 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

U.S. orders some personnel to leave Shanghai consulate amid COVID surge

The U.S. State Department on Monday ordered non-emergency U.S. government workers to leave the consulate in Shanghai due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and China's measures to control the virus. On Friday, the State Department announced that non-emergency personnel could voluntarily leave the consulate. It is not clear why the departure of those workers has become mandatory.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

British PM and finance minister to be fined over lockdown parties

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his finance minister Rishi Sunak will be fined for breaking Britain's strict coronavirus lockdown rules, his office said on Tuesday, provoking anger and calls for them both to resign. Police have been investigating 12 gatherings at Johnson's Downing Street office and the Cabinet Office after a damning internal inquiry found his staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties that were not permitted. Johnson said he had attended some of the events, held when social mixing was all but banned by laws his government brought in to curb the spread of COVID-19, but he has always denied knowingly committing any wrongdoing.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer's COVID pill Paxlovid gets boost in Britain thanks to spot in national trial

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and antiviral show little sign of slowing down in the pandemic’s third year. Now, the company’s oral therapy is getting a boost across the Atlantic. Thousands more people in the U.K. will gain access to Pfizer’s Paxlovid thanks to its inclusion in the national Panoramic study, which is looking at how best to use the pill among Britain’s highly vaccinated population, the country’s Department of Health and Social Care said Tuesday. Paxlovid is the second antiviral to enter the Panoramic fray behind Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics’ molnupiravir, Britain’s health ministry pointed out. The drug has been shown to slash the risk of hospitalization or death by 88% in clinical studies, and it’s already available in the U.K. for patients with
12th Apr 2022 - FiercePharma

Filipinos urged to get booster shots to save 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion has encouraged citizens to get their needed booster shots against COVID-19 so as not to waste vaccines already available for use. Concepcion earlier revealed that 27M doses of COVID vaccines are set to expire by July. These vaccines which are a combination of procured vaccines and donations, are part of a total of around 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in storage.The 80 million doses of various brands of COVID-19 vaccines with an estimated worth of P40 billion are currently stored in the Department of Health’s 3rd party logistics warehouses, regional warehouses and Zuellig’s warehouse. “We call on fellow Filipinos to think about their safety and the safety of their families as well and get their booster shots immediately. As citizens, we also have a responsibility to help our government in its efforts to control the pandemic and ensure our safety while keeping the economy open,” Concepcion said.
10th Apr 2022 - Philstar.com


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Apr 2022

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Boris Johnson Rejects NHS UK New Covid Restrictions Request

Boris Johnson rejected calls from National Health Service officials for new measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, saying hospital data don’t justify shifting from the U.K. plan for “living with Covid.” The NHS Confederation over the weekend demanded a “revamp” of the strategy to ease pressure on hospitals, which the organization said are struggling to deal with “critically high demand for emergency care.” It also accused the government of abandoning “any interest in Covid whatsoever.” More than 20,000 patients are currently in the hospital with Covid-19, the most since February 2021. That’s hampering NHS efforts to reduce waiting times that soared during the pandemic, according to the confederation.
11th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Catalonia's Hipra Covid-19 vaccine could be on the market by June

The Covid-19 vaccine made by Catalan pharmaceutical company Hipra, which was found to generate more antibodies than the Pfizer jab, could be placed on the market by late May or early June, Spain's science minister Diana Morant said on Monday in an interview with public broadcaster TV3. The European Medicines Agency is currently conducting a rolling review of the protein-based vaccine that is intended to be used as a booster for adults who have already been fully vaccinated with other jabs. "Hipra is an example of a successful public-private partnership," Morant said. The Spanish government allocated €18 million towards its development. "We wish Hipra a lot of success with their vaccine that has many advantages over others that we've already been inoculated with," she added.
11th Apr 2022 - Catalan News

Moderna and Rovi Pharma recall Covid-19 vaccine doses

Moderna and Rovi Pharma have recalled a batch of 764,900 doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax. The move comes after a foreign body was detected in one of the vials from the batch produced at Rovi’s contract manufacturing site in Spain. The company noted that the contaminated vial was punctured and was not used for administration to people. Moderna’s marketing authorisation holders Moderna Biotech Spain and Rovi were informed of the issue through a complaint on the product from an inoculation centre in Málaga, Spain.
11th Apr 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Japan cancels a third of contracted Astrazeneca vaccine purchase

Japan has cancelled the purchase of about 40 million Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses it agreed to buy last year, a health ministry official said in parliament on Monday. The contract allowed the government to cancel a portion of the supply if it was unneeded, the official said in response to lawmakers' questioning. Japan had originally agreed to buy 120 million of the shots, with the bulk made domestically by Daiichi Sankyo and other local partners.
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Germany agrees deal with CureVac, GSK for mRNA vaccines until 2029

Germany has signed a contract with CureVac and its British partner GlaxoSmithKline for domestically produced mRNA vaccines to bolster supplies in case of public health emergencies, the German biotech firm said on Monday. The five-year contract allows for production of up to 80 million doses at short notice until 2029, CureVac said, adding that those doses could be for the remainder of the current pandemic or future outbreaks.
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters

China labels U.S. concerns over COVID regulations 'groundless accusations'

China's foreign ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the United States late on Saturday after it raised concerns over China's coronavirus control measures. The U.S. State Department said on Friday that non-emergency staff at its Shanghai consulate and families of U.S. employees could leave due to a surge in COVID cases and coronavirus restrictions in the city. "We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the groundless accusations against China's pandemic prevention policy from the U.S. in its statement, and have lodged solemn representations," foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement.
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Taiwan orders Pfizer's COVID-19 pill as infections rise

Taiwan has ordered 700,000 units of Pfizer's anti-viral COVID-19 pill Paxlovid, its health minister said on Monday, amid a steady increase in the number of infections as the government pledges to gradually reopen its borders. Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to strict and early control measures. But daily infections have been rising in recent weeks, with 439 new cases reported on Monday, the second highest daily increase this year.
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters

WHO says it is analysing two new Omicron COVID sub-variants

The World Health Organization said on Monday it is tracking a few dozen cases of two new sub-variants of the highly transmissible Omicron strain of the coronavirus to assess whether they are more infectious or dangerous. It has added BA.4 and BA.5, sister variants of the original BA.1 Omicron variant, to its list for monitoring. It is already tracking BA.1 and BA.2 - now globally dominant - as well as BA.1.1 and BA.3. The WHO said it had begun tracking them because of their "additional mutations that need to be further studied to understand their impact on immune escape potential".
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Apr 2022

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WHO: Two-thirds of people in Africa may have had COVID

More than two-thirds of people living in Africa may have contracted COVID-19 over the past two years, about 97 times more than the number of reported infections, a World Health Organization (WHO) report has suggested. Laboratory tests have detected 11.5 million COVID-19 cases and 252,000 fatalities across the African continent. But according to the report released on Thursday, some 800 million people could have already been infected by last September. Officials at the WHO’s Africa region said the study – which is still being peer-reviewed – suggests the officially confirmed numbers were “likely only scratching the surface of the real extent of coronavirus infections in Africa”. “A new meta-analysis of standardised sero-prevalence study revealed that the true number of infections could be as much as 97 times higher than the number of confirmed reported cases,” said WHO Africa boss Matshidiso Moeti.
9th Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Vaccine group Gavi secures $4.8 billion in funding pledges for COVAX

The global vaccine alliance Gavi has secured $4.8 billion in funding pledges for the vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX, an official said on Friday, falling just shy of its target. "It is really putting us in a very comfortable position," Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, managing director for resource mobilization at Gavi, told a virtual media briefing. The group had previously said it needed an additional $5.2 billion to continue delivering COVID-19 vaccines at scale as part of its global programme that delivers shots to poorer countries
9th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer Covid-19 booster shots approved for children aged 12-15 by Therapeutic Goods Administration

Australia's medical regulator has given approval for 12 to 15-year-olds to receive a COVID-19 booster. The Therapeutic Goods Administration gave provisional approval for people in the Year 7 to 10 age range to receive the Pfizer booster. A final green light will need to be given by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation before the boosters can be rolled out to them. The medical regulator has recommended the booster be given six months after the primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine.
9th Apr 2022 - Daily Mail

ECDC and EMA Issue Advice on Fourth Doses of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

ECDC and EMA have concluded that it is too early to consider using a fourth dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in the general population. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicine Agency’s (EMA’s) COVID-19 task force (ETC) have concluded that it is too early to consider using a fourth dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in the general population. The vaccines being referred to are Pfizer’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax. ECDC and EMA concluded that there is currently no clear evidence in the European Union that adults with normal immune systems will benefit from a fourth dose. However, in adults aged 80 years and older, the agencies agreed that a fourth dose may be administered for the protection against COVID-19. There may be a reevaluation of recommending a fourth dose for adults aged 60 to 79 years depending on the epidemiological situation changes and new data. As of now, there is no clear evidence that the current three-dose vaccination system is decreasing in effectiveness for this age group.
9th Apr 2022 - BioPharm International

The leaked WTO COVID patent waiver text promises a very bad deal

In October 2020, South Africa and India’s governments tabled a bold proposal (PDF) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive intellectual property (IP) protections for producing COVID-19 vaccines and other coronavirus-related medical tools for the duration of the pandemic. The proposal aimed to address an urgent problem: multinational pharmaceutical companies and their backers using their monopoly power to prevent vaccine and medical product manufacturers across the world from scaling up production to meet global needs. It has been more than a year since the proposal was tabled, and the ongoing disparities in access to timely supplies of vaccines and other key technologies show the need for a waiver agreement is still as urgent as ever.
9th Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Apr 2022

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Japan to lift COVID entry ban for 106 countries including U.S.

Japan plans to ease COVID 19-related border restrictions by lifting its entry ban for foreignnationals from 106 countries including the United States, Britain and France on Friday, the government said. Tokyo has been gradually relaxing pandemic-induced curbs but the loosened border regime does not mean a full reopening to tourists. The foreign ministry said in an update on Wednesday that foreigners from the 106 countries would not be subject to denial of permission to enter Japan from Friday, but foreigners with tourist purposes were still not allowed into the country.
7th Apr 2022 - Reuters

U.S. House passes $55 billion in COVID aid for restaurants, other hard-hit firms

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $55 billion COVID-19 aid bill aimed at helping restaurants, bars and other businesses that are still struggling through the pandemic. By a vote of 223-203, the House approved the measure earmarking $42 billion for restaurants that have applied for aid but not received it because a $28.6 billion fund is depleted. The measure, which has not yet been considered by the Senate, was moving through the House as Congress was about to embark on a nearly three-week spring recess. The legislation was supported by only a handful of Republicans.
7th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Long Covid numbers rise to 1.7m in UK as MPs warn of economic impact

More than three-quarters of a million people in the UK have had long Covid for at least a year, figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates 1.7 million people were likely to be experiencing symptoms of long Covid in the four weeks to March 5, the equivalent of 2.7 per cent of the population. This is up by 13 per cent from 1.5 million people a month earlier, and includes 784,000 people who first had Covid-19, or suspected they had the virus, at least one year ago – the highest number so far.
7th Apr 2022 - iNews

No evidence to support widespread use of fourth COVID shot - EU agencies

EU health agencies said on Wednesday there was no evidence to support the use of a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer (PFE.N) and Moderna (MRNA.O) in the general population, but they recommend a second booster for people aged 80 and above. There is no clear evidence in the European Union that vaccine protection against severe disease is waning substantially in adults with normal immune systems aged 60-79, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a joint statement.
7th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Apr 2022

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FDA suspends use of GSK-Vir's sotrovimab for Covid-19 treatment in US

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the emergency use authorization (EUA) for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology’s sotrovimab and suspended its use to treat Covid-19. Sotrovimab is an investigational monoclonal antibody that binds to the epitope of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to neutralise it. The regulatory authority noted that the antibody is unlikely to be effective against the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant, which is causing a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the region. The proportion of the sub-variant-caused Covid-19 cases is more than 50% in all Health and Human Services (HHS) US regions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nowcast data showed.
6th Apr 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Covid-19: WHO suspends supplies of India's Covaxin through UN agencies

The World Health Organization has suspended the supply of Covaxin through UN procurement agencies because of manufacturing irregularities. Covaxin is India’s indigenous covid-19 vaccine, produced by the Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech. A spokesperson for WHO told The BMJ that the suspension had come after a broader inspection of a few companies in India by the agency. “In the case of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin manufacturing site, problems were detected in some parts of the manufacturing process, and changes were made after the emergency use listing was granted,” said the spokesperson. “But [these] were not submitted to the national drug regulator and WHO for evaluation and validation. However, the company is fully aware and cooperative.” The move came a day after Bharat Biotech announced that it would be scaling down its production of Covaxin domestically, as demand was dropping and infections were reducing alongside wider immunisation coverage in India. Covaxin received emergency use authorisation from India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization in January 2021 and was included in the nationwide immunisation drive.
6th Apr 2022 - The BMJ

Canada panel makes initial recommendations on second COVID booster shot

An official Canadian panel has provided initial recommendations on the use of a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for some Canadians as infections rise in many parts of the country, Health Canada said on Tuesday. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended Canadian jurisdictions to prepare for the deployment of a second vaccine booster dose program over the coming weeks prioritizing people 80 years old and over and residents of long-term care.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Fed bars six former bankers over COVID grant fraud

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday said it had barred six former bank executives from Regions Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch from the industry for fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 pandemic relief grants. Under the CARES Act, some small businesses were eligible to receive funds to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. The six individuals obtained funds based on fraudulent representations and used the money for unauthorized personal expenses, the Fed said.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

COVAX, African Union decline to buy more doses of Moderna's COVID shots

COVAX, the global project to share COVID-19 vaccines, and the African Union have declined options to buy additional doses of Moderna's shot, as developing nations struggle to allocate supplies. The global alliance did not exercise the option for 166 million doses of the shot for the third quarter of 2022, as well for 166 million doses in the fourth quarter, which expired on April 1, a Moderna spokesperson said.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

Biden launches U.S. plan to help Americans struggling with long COVID

President Joe Biden has tasked the U.S. health department with developing a national action plan to tackle the looming health crisis of long COVID, a complex, multi-symptom condition that leaves many of its sufferers unable to work. Long COVID, which arises months after a COVID-19 infection, affects nearly 7% of all U.S. adults and 2.3% of the overall population and has cost an estimated $386 billion in lost wages, savings and medical bills, according to an analysis by the Solve Long Covid Initiative, a non-profit research and advocacy group
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

FDA pulls authorization for GSK-Vir's COVID therapy as BA.2 cases rise

The U.S. health regulator said on Tuesday GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology's antibody therapy was no longer authorized as a COVID-19 treatment, with data suggesting it was unlikely to be effective against the dominant Omicron sub-variant in the country. The move by the agency, which had already pulled its authorization for the sotrovimab therapy in much of the U.S. northeast last month, sent shares in Vir Biotechnology 11.5% lower. The highly contagious BA.2 coronavirus sub-variant is estimated to make up about three of every four COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to the latest government data
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Japan to lift COVID entry ban for 106 countries including U.S.

Japan plans to ease COVID 19-related border restrictions by lifting its entry ban for foreign nationals from 106 countries including the United States, Britain and France on Friday, the government said. Tokyo has been gradually relaxing pandemic-induced curbs but the loosened border regime does not mean a full reopening to tourists.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

China relies on traditional medicine to fight COVID surge in Shanghai

Shanghai is distributing to residents millions of boxes of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), such as herbal products and flu capsules, which it says can treat COVID-19 in the battle to control its largest virus outbreak. China's commercial capital, now under an extended lockdown, reported more than 17,000 new COVID-19 infections on April 5, including 311 symptomatic cases, among a population of more than 26 million. "Facing the extremely transmissible Omicron variant, we should use TCM treatment as soon as possible," said Fang Min, president of the city's Shuguang Hospital.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Apr 2022

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Covid Antibody Therapy From Vir, Glaxo Loses U.S. Authorization

A Covid-19 antibody treatment from Vir Biotechnology Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc lost its U.S. authorization as the therapy is unlikely to work against the dominant omicron BA.2 subvariant, regulators said. The treatment, sotrovimab, is no longer authorized in any U.S. state or territory, since the subvariant accounts for more than half of virus cases in all regions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday in a statement. Last month, the agency limited use of the drug only in parts of the country where the the subvariant dominated. Recent data suggested the treatment was less effective against BA.2 than other variants.
5th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Biden launches U.S. plan to help Americans struggling with long COVID

President Joe Biden on Tuesday tasked the U.S. health department with developing a national action plan to tackle the looming health crisis of long COVID, a complex, multi-symptom condition that leaves many of its sufferers unable to work. Long COVID, which arises months after a COVID-19 infection, affects nearly 7% of all U.S. adults and 2.3% of the overall population and has cost an estimated $386 billion in lost wages, savings and medical bills, according to an analysis by the Solve Long Covid Initiative, a non-profit research and advocacy group.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Canada panel makes initial recommendations on second COVID booster shot

An official Canadian panel has provided initial recommendations on the use of a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for some Canadians as infections rise in many parts of the country, Health Canada said. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended Canadian jurisdictions to prepare for the deployment of a second vaccine booster dose program over the coming weeks prioritizing people 80 years old and over and residents of long-term care.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Using the False Claims Act to combat COVID-19 fraud

The COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant economic crisis precipitated the largest increase in government spending in American history. Major stimulus legislation such as the CARES Act of 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 created and funded programs that added trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy at lightning speed. While these efforts helped millions of Americans, the unprecedented flood of money also provided ample opportunity for unscrupulous actors. The Small Business Administration's Office of Inspector General estimates that the agency handed out more than $80 billion in potentially fraudulent loans during the pandemic.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Is Covid Over? African Union, Covax Turn Down Moderna (MRNA) Vaccine Doses

Two buyers of Covid-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries have declined options to purchase hundreds of millions of additional doses from Moderna Inc., a sign of waning demand as the pandemic eases. The African Union and Covax, the World Health Organization-backed group, decided not to obtain more of the vaccine as developing nations struggle to turn supplies into inoculations. Lower-income countries left behind in the global rollout are now grappling with a lack of funds, hesitancy, supply-chain obstacles and other factors that are hampering distribution.
5th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

US to donate more than 100mn children's Covid doses to poorer countries

The Biden administration will soon start donating children’s doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to poorer countries for the first time, although officials warn some might not reach their intended recipients because of a fight in Congress over pandemic funding. The donation of more than 100mn doses for five to 11-year-olds, which is set to be announced on Tuesday, is part of the administration’s pledge to give a total of 1.2bn doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to low- and middle-income countries. But Biden administration officials say a congressional dispute over billions of dollars’ worth of extra Covid funding could mean the jabs do not get to where they are needed.
5th Apr 2022 - Financial Times

Here's what's in the $10 billion Covid-19 aid bill

The Senate has reached a bipartisan deal to provide an additional $10 billion in Covid-19 assistance, less than half of what the White House originally had requested. It would allow the Biden administration to purchase more vaccines and therapeutics, as well as maintain testing capacity and research. But it does not include $5 billion in funding for global Covid-19 aid, nor would it replenish the program that pays for testing, treating and vaccinating the uninsured. The deal would be paid for using unspent funds from the Democrats' $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which was enacted in March 2021.
5th Apr 2022 - CNN

New Zealand’s Covid strategy was one of the world’s most successful – what can we learn from it?

Two weeks ago marked the two-year anniversary of New Zealand’s adoption of the elimination strategy and a lockdown that successfully stamped out the first wave of Covid-19. By chance, it was also the week that the government announced a major relaxation of Covid-19 control measures in response to the Omicron variant wave sweeping the country. By most metrics, the New Zealand Covid-19 response – the initial elimination strategy which has now transitioned to a mitigation strategy – has been one of the most successful in the world. It got the country through the first 18 months of the pandemic until vaccines became widely available, giving it very low Covid-19 mortality rates. Life expectancy actually increased during this period. Protecting public health has also been good for protecting the economy, resulting in relatively good economic growth and low unemployment
5th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

IMF calls for $15 bln this year to manage long-term risks of COVID

Countries around the world should provide $15 billion in grants this year and $10 billion a year thereafter to manage the long-term risks of COVID-19, the International Monetary Fund said in a new staff paper released on Tuesday. The paper, prepared with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Fund, and charitable group Wellcome, said a new, more comprehensive approach was needed immediately to strengthen global health systems and limit the already staggering $13.8 trillion cost of the pandemic.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Mexico says WTO COVID vaccine deal should go beyond IP waiver

Any World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on COVID-19 vaccines should include more than just a waiver on intellectual property, Mexico's representative to the trade body said, in a sign that consensus is proving tough to forge. The United States, the European Union, India and South Africa reached a provisional consensus on elements of a long-sought IP waiver for the vaccines, according to a document that circulated among governments last month
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters Canada

China Variants and Omicron XE Put Fresh Focus on Covid Mutations

The disclosure of new Covid variants emerging in China and the rise of a potentially more transmissible strain in the U.K. has recast the spotlight on the ongoing risk of the virus, even as health experts say there’s no reason to panic. The World Health Organization said a hybrid of two omicron strains -- BA.1 and BA.2 -- that was first detected in the U.K. and dubbed XE could be the most transmissible variant yet. It is estimated to spread 10% more easily than BA.2, which itself was more transmissible than the original omicron famous for its ease of penetration.
4th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Apr 2022

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Senate Reaches Deal on Covid Funding That Leaves Out Global Aid

Senate Democrats and Republicans have struck a deal to provide $10 billion for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics after Democrats dropped a last-minute attempt to include global vaccination funds in the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who had been leading negotiations on the package, announced the agreement Monday. It meets GOP demands that any new Covid-19 funds be paid for with unspent funds from earlier pandemic relief packages. The bill would provide far less money than the $22.5 billion that President Joe Biden sought early last month, though lawmakers widely expect another infusion will be needed, especially if a new variant of the disease spreads.
4th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Thai PM takes delivery of 3.2 million Pfizer vaccines donated by France; Covid-19 cases still registering above 24,000 in country

The French ambassador to Thailand on Monday handed over 3.2 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha. Ambassador Thierry Mathou met Prayut at Government House on Monday morning to formally hand over the vaccine shipment donated to Thailand by France. After the meeting, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkrongchana said Prayut thanked France for the donation and lauded the envoy for helping coordinate close bilateral ties.
4th Apr 2022 - The Star

Biological E to get mRNA technology from WHO to produce Covid vaccines

In a mkaoCity-based vaccine maker Biological E. Limited on Monday said the company was selected as a recipient of mRNA technology to produce COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organisation. A press release from BE Limited said the WHO's Advisory Committee on Vaccine Product Development (ACPDV) selected the firm after examining a number of proposals from India, as a recipient of mRNA (ribonucleic acid) technology from the global health body's technology transfer hub.
4th Apr 2022 - Business Standard

Low number of Covid cases now as India chose right vaccine: Serum CEO

Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla on Monday said the low number of COVID-19 cases at the moment was because the country chose the right vaccine. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 'Alternate Fuel Conclave', he said the fourth wave, if at all it occurs, will hopefully be mild. Speaking on the booster dose, he said, "About the booster dose, we have appealed to the government, because everyone who needs to travel, needs the booster dose. They (government) are having internal discussions and a policy on booster dose may be announced soon."
4th Apr 2022 - Business Standard


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Apr 2022

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Senators Eye $10 Billion Covid-19 Deal Ahead of Possible Resurgence

Senators are looking to close a deal this coming week to reappropriate roughly $10 billion to pay for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines, with lawmakers saying they need to act quickly ahead of a possible resurgence of the pandemic. A bipartisan group of senators has sought to give the Biden administration some of what it has requested to address future variants of Covid-19 and secure a domestic supply of tests, vaccines and treatments in coming months, as well as send vaccines abroad. Negotiators are looking at pandemic-related funds that Congress has previously passed that remain unspent, after Republicans resisted new outlays and many Democrats rejected a previous deal involving $15.6 billion in repurposed funding.
3rd Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

WHO Suspends Procurement, Supply of Bharat Biotech Covid Vaccine

The World Health Organization suspended procurement and supply of Covaxin, a Covid-19 vaccine made by Bharat Biotech International Ltd., citing issues following an inspection at the company’s facilities. The Indian vaccine maker has committed to address deficiencies in good manufacturing practices and is developing a corrective and preventive action plan, the World Health Organization said, without specifying when the suspension will be lifted. It recommended countries which have received the vaccine to “take actions as appropriate.” The World Health Organization granted emergency use authorization to the vaccine co-developed by India’s medical research agency and the local manufacturer in November. It said the suspension doesn’t change the vaccine’s risk assessment, and data indicates it is effective and no safety concerns exist.
3rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Apr 2022

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FDA grants Pfizer/BioNTech expanded EUA for an additional COVID-19 vaccine booster

Pfizer/BioNTech have been given an expanded emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its COVID-19 vaccine. This allows the vaccine to be given to adults ages 50 years and older as a second booster. Eligible adults can have had any authorised COVID-19 vaccine as their first booster. A second booster dose has also authorised for those aged 12 years and older who are immunocompromised, and have had a first booster dose of any authorised COVID-19 vaccine. The second booster should be given at least four months after the initial booster and could potentially restore antibody levels and improve protection in older people. It is the same formulation and strength as previous Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses. The companies’ vaccine already has EUA authorisation for use as a single booster for those aged 12 and older who have already had two doses of the vaccine. Those aged 18 and older could have received any approved COVID-19 vaccines for their initial two doses.
31st Mar 2022 - PMLiVE

Health Ministry provides coronavirus vaccine to refugees using UNHCR certificate

In Egypt, the Ministry of Health and Population announced that they will provide the coronavirus vaccines to refugees and asylum seekers through medical teams without registering on the ministry’s website, pointing out that the vaccination can be obtained with a passport or a UNHCR certificate. The ministry pointed out, in an official statement, that coronavirus vaccines were available at several metro stations. The Ministry added it targets vaccinating 70 percent of citizens by the end of June to reach herd immunity, so that coronavirus precautionary measures could be eased.
31st Mar 2022 - Egypt Independent

EMA starts review of Sanofi-GSK COVID vaccine application

The European Union's drug regulator has started reviewing Sanofi and its British partner GlaxoSmithKline's application seeking conditional authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine, the agency said on Wednesday. The drugmakers had earlier said that they would seek regulatory approval for their COVID-19 vaccine to be used as a booster as well as a standalone two-dose shot. In support of the companies' application, the final data package comprising a late-stage trial of the vaccine and another trial testing it as a booster was submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on March 29, the drugmakers said in an email to Reuters.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st Mar 2022

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Opinion | Failing to fund the U.S. covid response bodes trouble for the entire world

Atul Gawande, who leads global health and is co-chair of the Covid-19 Task Force at the U.S. Agency for International Development, writes: "The global battle against covid-19 is not done. Instead, the challenge has changed. The lowest-income countries, where vaccinations have reached less than 15 percent of people, are now declining free vaccine supply because they don’t have the capacity to get shots in arms fast enough. We must therefore not just provide an arsenal; to protect our allies against future variants, we must also provide the support they need to ramp up their vaccination campaigns. That effort requires money, and despite generously funding our covid-19 response up to this point, Congress is now failing to provide the resources we need."
30th Mar 2022 - The Washington Post

White House launches COVID.gov amid push for more funds, booster shots

The Biden administration on Wednesday launched a new website to provide a clearinghouse of information on COVID-19 as part of a continuing effort to prepare to live with the coronavirus. The launch of COVID.gov comes a day after U.S. health officials approves a second booster shot for Americans age 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised, two years after the start of the pandemic
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters

France reports over 217000 new COVID-19 infections - health ministry

France on Tuesday reported 217,480 new COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, a level unseen since early February. 1,538 people are currently in intensive care units, France's health ministry said, 5 more than on Monday.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer, Moderna win over FDA for second round of COVID-19 boosters in older adults

Only two weeks after Pfizer and its partner BioNTech asked the agency for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a second round of COVID-19 boosters in people 65 and older, the FDA has granted the nod. The new FDA authorization covers those who have already been boosted with any COVID vaccine and are either 50 and older or 12 and older if they are immunocompromised. At around the same time on Tuesday morning, Moderna said the FDA had granted its application for a second booster. The Moderna nod covers adults over 50 who have been boosted once, plus immunocompromised adults over 18. Moderna applied for a second booster on March 17.
30th Mar 2022 - FiercePharma


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Mar 2022

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UK police to issue first 20 fines over Downing Street lockdown parties

British police said on Tuesday that 20 fines would be issued over gatherings in Boris Johnson's offices and residence that broke coronavirus lockdown rules, sparking fresh calls for the prime minister to resign.
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Biden administration to offer Covid-19 vaccines to migrants

The Biden administration will offer Covid-19 vaccines to migrants taken into custody at the US-Mexico border, according to two sources familiar with the planning, and confirmed by the Department of Homeland Security, as officials prepare for an influx of migrants. The plan, which had earlier been a source of tension at the White House, could extend to thousands of migrants encountered at the US southern border. The Department of Homeland Security will be able to initially provide up to 2,700 vaccines per day, it said in a notice to Congress obtained by CNN, increasing to 6,000 daily by the end of May.
29th Mar 2022 - MSN.com

Sputnik V: How the Russian war has affected Russian vaccines

If Sputnik V once looked like a vital tool for the Kremlin’s geopolitical ambition, it now looks like another victim of it. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, both RDIF and Dmitriev are now under Western sanctions. The U.S. Treasury said the sovereign wealth fund is widely considered “a slush fund” for Russian President Vladimir Putin and “emblematic of Russia’s broader kleptocracy,” while the chief executive was dubbed a “close associate” of the Kremlin leader. In a letter received after the initial publication of this article, the RDIF described the Treasury’s accusation as “defamatory.”
29th Mar 2022 - The Washington Post

EU regulator starts reviewing Spanish COVID vaccine booster

The European Union’s drug regulator said Tuesday it has begun an accelerated review process for an experimental coronavirus vaccine booster made by the Spanish company Hipra. The European Medicines Agency said in a statement that its evaluation is based on preliminary data from laboratory studies and research in adults that compared Hipra’s booster shot to the vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech. It said early results suggest the immune response achieved with Hipra “may be effective” against COVID-19, including the hugely infectious omicron variant.
29th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

EC approves AstraZeneca's Evusheld for Covid-19 prevention

The European Commission (EC) has granted marketing authorisation to AstraZeneca’s Evusheld (AZD7442) for Covid-19 pre-exposure prophylaxis, or prevention, in adults and adolescents age 12 years and above. Evusheld is a cocktail of two long-acting antibodies (LAAB), tixagevimab (AZD8895), and cilgavimab (AZD1061). The LAABs are obtained from B-cells of convalescent patients following Covid-19 and attach to particular sites on the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The treatment dose approved for use in the region is 150mg intramuscular doses of tixagevimab and cilgavimab, each, given sequentially.
29th Mar 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Future of Covid memorial wall still uncertain one year after the first heart

Despite the dedication of a team of volunteers who continue to touch up the red hearts and the messages in black pen, the Covid memorial wall is yet to be granted a permanent status and could still be removed. On Tuesday, bereaved families and supporters will be handing a petition with more than 106,000 signatures and counting to 10 Downing Street, calling for the memorial wall to be made permanent. The day will include a silent procession along the length of the wall, as well as a candlelit vigil in the evening. Boris Johnson promised a “commission” on Covid commemoration in May last year, but nothing further has been done, and the prime minister has refused to commit to making the wall permanent.
29th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

EU starts real-time review of Hipra's COVID vaccine

Europe's drug regulator said on Tuesday it had started a real-time review of Spanish pharmaceutical firm Hipra's COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The decision by the human medicines committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to begin the rolling review is based on early results from clinical studies, which compared the immune response to the vaccine with that seen with Pfizer/BioNTech's Comirnaty, the regulator said. The agency did not say when the review is expected to be completed.
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters

U.S. eases COVID-19 travel advisory for India

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department eased government COVID-19 travel ratings for India and some other countries on Monday. The CDC said had changed its COVID-19 travel recommendation for India to "Level 1: Low" from "Level 3: High," which urges unvaccinated Americans to avoid travel to those locations. The CDC also lowered Chad, Guinea and Namibia to "Level 1." The State Department on Monday lowered its travel advisory for India to "Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution," reflecting the lower COVID-19 risk, but also cited the risk of "crime and terrorism."
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters

FDA OKs another Pfizer, Moderna COVID booster for 50 and up

U.S. regulators on Tuesday authorized another COVID-19 booster for people age 50 and older, a step to offer extra protection for the most vulnerable in case the coronavirus rebounds. The Food and Drug Administration’s decision opens a fourth dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to those people at least four months after their previous booster. Until now, the FDA had cleared fourth doses only for people 12 and older who have severely weakened immune systems. The agency said this especially fragile group also can get an additional booster, a fifth shot.
29th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Mar 2022

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U.S. Covid Response Showing Cracks as Congress Delays Funds

Personic Health Care has been providing free Covid testing for uninsured families in Philadelphia and northern Virginia throughout the pandemic, thanks in part to federal support. But earlier this month when the White House said that the U.S. doesn’t have the funds to cover those costs, it put Personic, a mid-sized patient-monitoring and telehealth company, in a precarious spot. The company wants to continue offering the free tests, but that’s not sustainable through another surge of infections, said Azmat Husain, its founder and chief medical officer.
28th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Botswana Approves Corbevax Covid Vaccine, Plans Local Output

Corbevax, a Covid-19 vaccine developed in Texas, has been approved for use in Botswana, according to U.S. biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. Doses of the vaccine currently in production have been reserved for the country, he said at a ceremony on Monday in the southern African nation’s capital, Gaborone. It will ultimately be made at a local factory called Pula Corbevax, Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi said. Soon-Shiong is helping launch production and the facility may later make another inoculation produced by his ImmunityBio Inc. “It has now been given to 10 million young Indians safely,” Soon-Shiong said. “We have now brought it to Botswana.”
28th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

FDA expected to authorize second coronavirus booster for 50 and older

The Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize a second coronavirus vaccine booster for anyone 50 and older, a bid to provide an extra layer of protection amid concerns Europe’s rise in infections from an omicron subvariant could hit the United States, according to several government officials. The authorizations for second Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters could be announced as soon as Tuesday
28th Mar 2022 - The Washington Post

Laos eyes giving 4th coronavirus vaccine doses

The Lao Ministry of Health plans to offer fourth doses of coronavirus vaccines to health care workers and people at risk of serious illness starting in April to shield them and other vulnerable groups from the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Booster shots will be used to ramp up levels of antibodies against the virus, which will reduce the risk of severe illness, local newspaper Vientiane Times reported
28th Mar 2022 - The Manila Times

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 preventative drug secures EU approval

AstraZeneca's Evusheld has been approved in the EU for the prevention of COVID-19 in adults and teens 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kg.
28th Mar 2022 - BioPharma-Reporter

Medicago's tobacco ties jeopardize growth of its COVID shot

Canadian vaccine maker Medicago's COVID-19 vaccine, approved last month in Canada, is facing limited growth in the near-term after the World Health Organization said it would not review the vaccine because the company is partly owned by U.S.-Swiss tobacco company Philip Morris, health experts say. The WHO said at a briefing this month and in a follow-up statement to Reuters that it has not accepted an application for the vaccine because of its 2005 public health treaty requiring no involvement with any company that produces or promotes tobacco-based products.
28th Mar 2022 - Reuters

FDA halts use of GlaxoSmithKline and Vir's COVID-19 drug Xevudy in 8 northeast states

With new strains of the coronavirus showing their elusiveness and pushing more antibody treatments toward irrelevance, is there danger of an over-reliance on COVID-19 oral antivirals, especially Pfizer’s Paxlovid? Friday, the U.S. paused the distribution of GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology’s antibody drug Xevudy in the northeast, where the omicron subvariant BA.2 now accounts for more than half of new infections. The states included in the directive are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. In addition, Xevudy’s use will be halted in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Lab testing shows that a 500-mg dose of Xevudy is not “fully active” against the BA.2 variant, the FDA said.
28th Mar 2022 - FiercePharma


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Mar 2022

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Experts worry about how US will see next COVID surge coming

As coronavirus infections rise in some parts of the world, experts are watching for a potential new COVID-19 surge in the U.S. — and wondering how long it will take to detect. Despite disease monitoring improvements over the last two years, they say, some recent developments don’t bode well: —As more people take rapid COVID-19 tests at home, fewer people are getting the gold-standard tests that the government relies on for case counts. —The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon use fewer labs to look for new variants. —Health officials are increasingly focusing on hospital admissions, which rise only after a surge has arrived.
27th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

U.S. to Clear Additional Booster Shot Against Covid-19

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is poised to clear a fourth dose of the mRNA coronavirus vaccine for adults age 50 and older, looking to shore up protections for more vulnerable groups, a person familiar with the matter said. The authorization could come as early as next week and, for most Americans, it would mean a second booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. Currently, only immunocompromised people are eligible in the U.S. for the additional dose. Unlike with previous authorizations, the FDA is expected to stop short of a full recommendation, meaning the option would be open for people who want the shot. The development was reported earlier by the New York Times.
27th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

How to get a Cuban COVID jab in 1,000 easy steps

On Valentine’s Day 2022 in Havana, Cuba, I received the Soberana Plus booster shot, one of the island nation’s five homegrown COVID-19 vaccines. The jab had been a long time coming. For the past year, I had been fixated on the idea of being injected with a made-in-Cuba coronavirus vaccine. While obviously not offering protection against the imperial machinations of my homeland and Cuba’s chief antagonist, the United States, the Cuban serums were at least being developed in the interest of global public health rather than pharmaceutical profit or “vaccine apartheid”, as World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described it.
26th Mar 2022 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Mar 2022

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South Africa drops Covid test for vaccinated travellers

South Africa is the latest country to ease rules for inbound travellers. With immediate effect, fully vaccinated arrivals no longer need to present a Covid test to enter the country, the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced. Visitors who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated are permitted entry, but must present a negative PCR result from a test taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival. Unlike some European countries, South Africa currently classes anyone with two or more doses of a recognised vaccine as “fully vaccinated”. Children under five are exempt from testing requirements, regardless of vaccination status.
24th Mar 2022 - The Independent

Covid-19: Government left “inadequate” paper trail when awarding testing contracts, says watchdog

The UK government failed to keep proper records when awarding almost £780m (€937m; $1.03bn) worth of covid-19 testing contracts to the diagnostics company Randox, the UK’s public spending watchdog has found. Last year the Conservative MP and former minister Owen Paterson resigned from his parliamentary seat after being heavily criticised for lobbying the government on behalf of Randox while acting as a paid consultant to the company. In a report published on 24 March1 the National Audit Office (NAO) acknowledged that the government had had to act quickly to build testing capacity at the start of the pandemic, but it said that the Department of Health and Social Care “did not document key decisions adequately, disclose ministerial meetings with Randox fully or keep full records of ministerial discussions involving Randox.”
24th Mar 2022 - The BMJ

AstraZeneca's preventative COVID shot set to win EU clearance this week-sources

Europe's drug regulator is expected to give the go-ahead this week for AstraZeneca's antibody-based injection for preventing COVID-19 infections, two people familiar with the review said, following U.S. and UK approvals. The treatment is meant for adults whose immune system is too weak to respond to vaccines and offers a new tool to ease the pandemic burden on healthcare systems. Infections in Europe are on a sharp rise again this month, with the adult vaccination rate stagnating at a little over 83%. The expected recommendation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is set to be confirmed swiftly by the European Commission, which has the final word on market access.
24th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Mar 2022

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S.Korea gives emergency approval for adult use of Merck's COVID pills - Yonhap

South Korea's drug safety agency said on Wednesday that it has decided to give emergency approval for the use of Merck & Co Inc's COVID-19 treatment pill for adults, the Yonhap news agency reported. The molnupiravir tablet, branded as Lagevrio, is the second oral antiviral to be authorised in South Korea after Pfizer Inc's Paxlovid. Lagevrio will only be allowed for patients who are aged 18 or older and not pregnant but cannot not use injection medications and the highly effective Paxlovid, the report said.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Mexico sticking to plan to package Russian COVID-19 vaccine

Mexico is sticking to its plan to package domestically the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V because health matters are separate from political conflicts, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said. In October, state-run vaccine company Birmex signed an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets Sputnik V, to package the product in Mexico. "We're going to continue with our plan, commitments made are kept," said the president, who has ruled out imposing economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Novavax says its COVID vaccine gets India authorisation for teens

Novavax Inc said on Tuesday its COVID-19 vaccine has got emergency-use authorization from the Drugs Controller General of India for children aged 12 to 17 years. The authorization is a global first for the age group for the vaccine, which is manufactured and marketed in India by the Serum Institute of India under the brand name Covovax. Novavax last month said its vaccine was 80% effective against COVID-19 in a late-stage trial testing the shot in 2,247 teens aged 12 to 17 years.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

UK Covid Test Contracts: National Audit Office Finds Inadequate Record-Keeping

When the pandemic hit, ministers were forced to act quickly to scale up testing capacity – working with the private sector to secure the necessary services and supplies, according to the National Audit Office (NAO). As part of these efforts, between January 2020 and December 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) awarded 22 contracts to health company Randox, or its strategic partner, Qnostics Ltd, with a maximum value of £776.9 million, the watchdog said. By value, almost all the contracts were for the provision of Covid testing services, with less than 1% (£6.9 million) for the provision of testing-related goods, it added. The NAO found that 60% of the total value of the contracts (£463.5 million) was awarded directly without competition, under emergency procurement rules.
23rd Mar 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Mar 2022

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Biden Administration to Stop Reimbursing Hospitals for Covid-19 Care for Uninsured

Some people without health insurance will begin getting bills for Covid-19 treatments and testing after the Biden administration on Tuesday starts winding down a federal program that reimburses providers for virus-related care for the uninsured and that officials say is running out of funds. The White House says it will end the reimbursement program, which started under the Trump administration and also pays hospitals and other healthcare providers for things such as administering Covid-19 vaccines to uninsured people, by the end of April because it is running out of money. The administration and hospitals are urging lawmakers to approve more funding for the program.
22nd Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

No funds to buy fourth Covid vaccine dose for all Americans, White House warns

White House officials say that there are no funds to buy a potential fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for all Americans. The Washington Post reports that while the Biden administration has enough doses to provide Americans over the age of 65 with a fourth shot of the vaccine but orders cannot be placed for more to cover other age groups unless Congress passes a stalled $15bn funding package. Doses have also already been secured for children under the age of five should those shots be deemed necessary by regulators.
22nd Mar 2022 - The Independent

Coronavirus: Cabinet discusses fourth dose amid surge in cases

In Cyprus, the Cabinet approved the administration of a Covid booster jab to children aged 12 and over and the rollout of a fourth vaccine dose to those aged 70 and over and the immunocompromised. Following the administration of an mRNA booster jab to severely immunosuppressed children aged 12 and over at the end of February, the council of ministers approved its administration to all teenagers as long as six months have elapsed since the latest dose.
22nd Mar 2022 - Cyprus Mail

Pfizer, Unicef Strike Covid-19 Pill Deal

Pfizer plans to sell to the United Nations Children’s Fund up to four million treatment courses of its Covid-19 pill Paxlovid, which will go to 95 low- and middle-income countries, as part of the company’s effort to expand access to the pill beyond wealthy countries. Pfizer said that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Zimbabwe are among the countries where Unicef will distribute the easy-to-use pill. A Pfizer spokeswoman said the company is charging Unicef a “not-for-profit price,” but declined to disclose it.
22nd Mar 2022 - Wall Street Journal


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Mar 2022

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Beijing developed new Omicron vaccines to defend against China’s worst COVID outbreak in two years—but it still has no mRNA shots

China’s domestic vaccine makers have reportedly developed new COVID shots that can better protect against Omicron, as the country battles its worst coronavirus outbreak since 2020. But despite evidence that mRNA vaccines—like the Comirnaty vaccine produced by BioNTech—offer better protection against Omicron infection, China is still relying on traditional inactive vaccines to guard against COVID. “As we expedite development of an Omicron vaccine, we consistently make safety and efficacy our No. 1 priority,” Zheng Zhongwei, an official who oversees COVID vaccine development at the National Health Commission, said during a media briefing on Saturday.
21st Mar 2022 - Fortune

Kenya aims to inoculate 19 mln adults against COVID-19 by June

Kenya has so far vaccinated 15.9 million adults against COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said on Monday in a report, putting the country on course to achieve its target of wholly vaccinating 70 percent of its adult population by June. According to the ministry, 7.9 million people are fully vaccinated with two doses. Kenya plans to fully vaccinate 19 million adults by mid-year and an entire adult population of 27 million people by the end of the year. The 7.9 million vaccinations mean the east African nation has achieved 42 percent of its target of vaccinating the 19 million adults, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry said the country's total vaccination of both adults and teenagers stood at 17.3 million. Out of the number, 8.96 million are partially vaccinated.
21st Mar 2022 - Xinhua

Moderna to supply additional 7 mln doses of COVID booster vaccine to Switzerland

Moderna has signed a new agreement with Switzerland for the supply of another seven million doses of its COVID-19 booster vaccine for delivery in 2023. The agreement also includes an option of seven million doses for delivery in 2023 and 2024. These doses are in addition to the seven million doses of booster vaccine that Switzerland previously secured.
21st Mar 2022 - Nasdaq

South Korea to buy 10 million doses of SK Bioscience's COVID vaccine

South Korea has reached a deal to buy 10 million doses of the country's first experimental coronavirus vaccine, developed by SK Bioscience Co Ltd, authorities said on Monday. The South Korean company has since August conducted Phase 3 trials of its vaccine candidate, codenamed "GBP510", jointly developed with the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design and aided by global drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). "They aim to secure formal approval in the first half of this year, and public distribution is expected to begin in the latter half," Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a briefing.
21st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Why China Is Sticking With Its 'Covid Zero' Strategy

Two years ago, China was being lauded by the World Health Organization for its success in beating the coronavirus. But its insistence on adhering to a so-called Covid Zero policy is leaving it increasingly isolated as other countries, most of which suffered far worse outbreaks and higher death tolls, wean themselves off harsh countermeasures and return to a semblance of pre-pandemic life. Their populations have built up a large degree of protection through previous infections and more effective vaccines. Chinese officials have said vaccines alone aren’t enough and stringent curbs aimed at wiping out the virus are needed to avoid a health care calamity. But President Xi Jinping has pledged to try to reduce the economic impact of the longstanding strategy, which Hong Kong also follows.
21st Mar 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Mar 2022

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Hong Kong leader says COVID flight ban on 9 countries no longer necessary

Hong Kong plans to relax some anti-COVID-19 measures next month, lifting a ban on flights from nine countries, reducing quarantine time for arrivals from abroad and reopening schools. The moves, announced on Monday by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, could quieten some criticism from residents who have become increasingly frustrated with the city's stringent measures, some of which have been in place for over two years. The flight ban would be lifted from April 1, while hotel quarantine for arrivals could be cut to seven days from 14 if residents tested negative, Lam told a news briefing. She had previously said measures would be in place until April 20.
21st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Moderna seeks FDA authorization for second COVID booster for all adults

Moderna Inc on late Thursday sought emergency use authorization from U.S. health regulators for a second COVID-19 booster shot, as a surge in cases in some parts of the world fuels fears of another wave of the pandemic. The U.S. biotechnology company said its request covered all adults over the age of 18 so that the appropriate use of an additional booster dose of its vaccine, including for those at higher risk of COVID-19 due to age or comorbidities, could be determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health care providers. Moderna's request is significantly broader than Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE's application that was filed earlier this week with U.S. regulators for a second booster shot for people aged 65 and older
20th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Japan offers aid and COVID vaccines to Cambodia

Japan on Sunday pledged to offer Cambodia about $428 million in aid and 1.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing programme. The pledges were part of several agreements signed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen during Kishida's visit to Phnom Penh. Japan will provide a support loan of 45 billion yen ($378 million) and grant aid through contribution to international organisations of 6 billion yen ($50 million). Kishida also expressed support for Cambodia's democratic process "such as holding elections in a way that reflects diverse voices from Cambodian people through projects such as the promotion of dialogue", a joint statement said.
20th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Mar 2022

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Chinese President Vows to Control Covid Outbreak With Smallest Cost

As other countries have moved away from lockdowns and social distancing, Beijing has touted the success of its draconian measures in keeping the number of cases low, despite a mounting toll on its people and economy. However, Chinese officials have scrambled to boost confidence in the Chinese economy as the more contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus has prompted a surge in cases. The costs of fighting outbreaks add to recent headwinds, as Mr. Xi’s campaign of regulatory tightening last year has slowed economic momentum more than expected. The geopolitical crisis over the war in Ukraine, and the potential costs to China of its recent alignment with Russia, have also rattled investors’ nerves. In a Thursday meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party’s top decision-making body, Mr. Xi asked officials to minimize the impact on the Chinese economy and people’s lives from Covid-19 control measures, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
18th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

White House Names Next Covid-19 Response Chief as Jeff Zients Steps Down

Jeff Zients, who has led the White House’s Covid-19 response for more than a year, will be leaving the job in April and be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha as the Biden administration navigates a new strategy for the next phase of the pandemic. The change in leadership underscores that the administration sees its Covid-19 response as less a reaction to the virus and more of a continuing public-health situation. Dr. Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and a well-known public-health leader, has championed many of the measures the administration has used to combat Covid-19. Mr. Zients, an investor and former Obama administration economic adviser, was brought in to lead the White House’s pandemic response in part because of his reputation for fixing or taking on challenging situation
18th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Countries Try to Win Support for Deal to Waive Patent Protections on Covid-19 Vaccines

After 18 months of fierce debate, a group of countries, including the U.S., has reached an agreement to waive patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines. Now they are racing to get other countries to support the deal at the World Trade Organization, officials involved in the discussions said. The U.S. and the European Union have reached a compromise with South Africa and India that would allow developing countries to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines without the permission of the holder of the intellectual-property rights. It also would set a precedent for future pandemics.
17th Mar 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Moderna to deliver 70 million Covid-19 booster vaccine doses to Japan

Moderna has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan for delivering an additional 70 million doses of its Covid-19 booster vaccine or an updated booster vaccine candidate. The modified booster vaccine candidate will be supplied on obtaining authorisation in the region. The company intends to supply the vaccine doses to Japan in the second half of this year.
17th Mar 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

WHO postpones evaluation of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine

The World Health Organization said Wednesday its evaluation of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has been postponed for the time being, due to the "uneven situation." WHO vaccines expert Dr. Mariangela Simao said at a press briefing that the UN health agency's officials had originally been scheduled to visit Russia on March 7 — just weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine — to assess the facilities where Sputnik V is produced. "These inspections were postponed for a later date," Simao said. "The assessment, along with inspections, have been affected because of the situation.
17th Mar 2022 - CBC News

Covid-19: Pfizer asks US regulator to authorise fourth vaccine dose for over 65s

Pfizer and BioNTech have applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorisation for a fourth dose of its mRNA vaccine against covid-19 for adults aged 65 and older. The companies said that the additional dose reduced the rates of infection and severe illness in older adults. In a press release they said that they were seeking the new approval for adults over 65 who had received an initial booster of any of the authorised or approved covid-19 vaccines. Pfizer-BioNTech said that the request was based on “two real-world data sets from Israel analyzed at a time when the Omicron variant was widely circulating. These data showed evidence that an additional mRNA booster increases immunogenicity and lowers rates of confirmed infections and severe illness.” The companies said that an analysis of Israeli Ministry of Health records was conducted on over 1.1 million adults aged 60 and over who had no known history of SARS-CoV-2 infection and were eligible for a fourth vaccine dose. They wrote, “These data showed rates of confirmed infections were two times lower and rates of severe illness were four times lower among individuals who received an additional booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine administered at least four months after an initial booster (third) dose compared to those who received only one booster dose.”
17th Mar 2022 - The BMJ

UK approves AstraZeneca's antibody-based COVID treatment

Britain's medicines regulator has approved AstraZeneca's antibody-based COVID-19 treatment for preventing infections in adults with poor immune response, marking a major step in the fight against the pandemic as infections surge globally. The decision to grant approval for the treatment, Evusheld, was endorsed by the government's independent scientific advisory body, Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Thursday. Figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem, the World Health Organization said this week, warning nations to remain vigilant.
17th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Mar 2022

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U.S., EU, India, South Africa reach compromise on COVID vaccine IP waiver text

The United States, European Union, India and South Africa have reached a consensus on key elements of a long-sought intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, according to a proposed text reviewed by Reuters. Sources familiar with the talks described the text as a tentative agreement among the four World Trade Organization members that still needs formal approvals from the parties before it can be considered official. Any agreement must be accepted by the WTO’s 164 member countries in order to be adopted. Some elements of the consensus deal, including whether the length of any patent waivers would be three years or five years, still need to be finalized, according to the text. It would apply only to patents for COVID-19 vaccines, which would be much more limited in scope than a broad proposed WTO waiver that had won backing from the United States, according to the document.
16th Mar 2022 - CNBC Africa

U.S. will run out of key COVID treatments without more funds, White House says

The U.S. government will run out of supplies of COVID-19 treatments known as monoclonal antibodies as soon as late May and will have to scale back plans to get more unless Congress provides more funding, the White House said on Tuesday. Raising the alarm about depleted funding for the U.S. pandemic response, the White House said the government also would not have enough money to provide additional COVID-19 booster shots or variant-specific vaccines without a new injection of cash. The White House has requested $22.5 billion in immediate emergency funding to fight the pandemic, but, after objections from Republicans and some Democrats, the money was removed from the latest government funding bill passed by lawmakers last week
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Japan to buy 145 mln Pfizer, Moderna COVID vaccines for 4th shots -Kyodo

Japan plans to buy a combined 145 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines with an eye to rolling out a fourth shot, Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a government source. Japan has not made a decision on the fourth vaccine doses as the country currently delivers its first booster shots - or third doses. Local media reports have said another booster roll-out could start this summer
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Germany to secure COVID-19 vaccine production through 2029

Germany plans to spend up to 2.861 billion euros ($3.14 billion) to ensure that COVID-19 vaccine makers have enough production capacity available to supply the country with shots in future outbreaks through 2029, the economy ministry said. Germany's cabinet approved plans on Wednesday to sign contracts with BioNTech, CureVac/GSK, Wacker/CordenPharma, Celonic and IDT, the ministry said in a statement. The contracts will maintain the ratcheted-up production capacities created during the coronavirus pandemic by paying an annual standby fee, ensuring enough vaccine can be produced quickly for the population.
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Europe begins reviewing application for AstraZeneca COVID drug

Europe's drug regulator said on Tuesday it had begun reviewing AstraZeneca Plc's application for antibody-based COVID-19 therapy, a key step towards approval of the treatment in the region, but gave no timeline for a conclusion. Infections from COVID-19 are still rising in parts of the world including Europe. China posted a steep jump in daily COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with new cases more than doubling from a day earlier to hit a two-year high. AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail, Evusheld, has already been authorised in the United States to prevent COVID-19 infections in individuals with weak immune systems or a history of severe side effects from coronavirus vaccines.
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

WHO delays review of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine on Ukraine conflict

The World Health Organization (WHO) has delayed its ongoing assessment of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for emergency use because of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, an official from the health agency said on Wednesday. The Sputnik V shot, widely used in Russia and approved in more than 60 countries, is also being reviewed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). "We were supposed to go do inspections in Russia on March 7, and these inspections were postponed for a later date," Mariângela Simão, WHO assistant-director general for Access to Medicines and Health Products, said during a press briefing.
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

WTO chief welcomes COVID shot patent plan, drugmakers balk

The World Trade Organization (WTO) praised a provisional deal to waive patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines after more than a year of deadlock, though drugmakers said the move risked undermining the industry's ability to respond to future health crises. The United States, the European Union, India and South Africa agreed on Tuesday on key elements for a waiver. It now needs the backing of the 164 members of the WTO, which takes decisions based on consensus, so rejection by just one country could still block an accord.
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Mar 2022

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New Zealand to reopen borders earlier than planned

New Zealand said on Wednesday it would open its border for some visitors earlier than previously forecast, hoping an influx of tourists will boost the economy. Vaccinated Australians can travel to New Zealand from April 12 and then from May 1 tourists from visa-waiver countries such as the United States and Britain will be able to visit, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference. The border was not expected to fully reopen until October under the current plan but Ardern said this could be brought forward.
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer Asks FDA to Authorize Second Covid-19 Booster Dose

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE have asked U.S. health regulators to authorize a second booster dose of their Covid-19 vaccine for people 65 years and older. The companies said Tuesday that they had filed the application. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a decision in time for the Biden administration to begin a potential fall vaccine campaign. The FDA has been reviewing data and looking at potentially authorizing a fourth dose of the shot for use in the fall, The Wall Street Journal reported last month. Health authorities have cleared booster doses for children as young as 12 years of age, at least five months after they finished their first round of vaccination.
16th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

US Says WTO Covid Vaccine Talks Led to IP Compromise

World Trade Organization members have arrived at a compromise on intellectual property rules for Covid-19 vaccines, the Biden administration said. While there is no text for an agreement, there is an understanding that offers “the most promising path toward achieving a concrete and meaningful outcome,” Adam Hodge, a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, said in a statement on Tuesday. The statement came after Politico Pro reported the compromise earlier Tuesday between the European Union, South Afirca, India and the U.S. that covers only vaccines and still requires approval from the EU and WTO members. The USTR statement didn’t provide details of the compromise.
16th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

Prognosis U.S. Sewer Data Warns of a New Bump in Covid Cases After Lull

A wastewater network that monitors for Covid-19 trends is warning that cases are once again rising in many parts of the U.S., according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by Bloomberg. More than a third of the CDC’s wastewater sample sites across the U.S. showed rising Covid-19 trends in the period ending March 1 to March 10, though reported cases have stayed near a recent low. The number of sites with rising signals of Covid-19 cases is nearly twice what it was during the Feb. 1 to Feb. 10 period, when the wave of omicron-variant cases was fading rapidly. It’s not clear how many new infections the signs in the sewage represent and if they will turn into a new wave, or will be just a brief bump on the way down from the last one. In many parts of the country, people are returning back to offices and mask rules have been loosened — factors that can raise transmission.
15th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Mar 2022

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Philippines FDA grants approval to Sinovac's paediatric Covid-19 vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Chinese firm Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine, CoronaVac, for use in paediatric individuals, CNN Philippines reported. According to the approval, the vaccine is intended for immunisation of children aged six years and above against Covid-19. Pharmaceutical consortium IP Biotech Group aided in the initial delivery of the private sector-procured Sinovac vaccines. Philippine News Agency (PNA) quoted IP Biotech Group chairman Enrique Gonzales as saying in a statement: “Making this vaccine available to the younger age segment is a game-changer protecting the country’s youth and preserving recent gains in controlling the pandemic. This will also ensure greater access and vaccine equity for the Philippines.”
14th Mar 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Covid-19: Countries in the Americas are warned not to lower their guard

Covid-19 is on the retreat across the American continents but it is too early for the region to let its guard down, warned the Pan American Health Organisation, the World Health Organization’s regional office for the Americas, on 9 March. Reported cases of covid-19 fell by 26% in the past week and deaths by nearly 19%, as the omicron wave of infections tailed off. But ongoing transmission and future variants could expose the region’s public health priorities once more, said PAHO’s director, Carissa Etienne. A total of 2.6 million people have died from covid-19 in the Americas, the highest number of any region of the world and almost half of the global total, despite being home to only 13% of its population. “This is a tragedy of enormous proportions, and its effects will be felt for years to come,” said Etienne on the second anniversary of the pandemic. Patchy vaccination coverage has left countries vulnerable to current and future variants of SARS-CoV-2. Around 248 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are yet to receive a single dose of a covid vaccine, with vaccination rates particularly low in hard-to-reach rural areas.
14th Mar 2022 - The BMJ


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Mar 2022

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Two years on, complacency still plagues global COVID-19 response

On March 11 2020, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of “alarming levels of inaction” from governments as he declared that the COVID-19 outbreak had become a pandemic. Two years on, with a number of highly effective vaccines, we have the tools needed to end this pandemic. But the complacency of some governments has only become worse. Politicians in rich countries are trying to “move on” from the pandemic; to manipulate the emotional fatigue of the public and tell them what they want to hear: that this pandemic is over. They want to pretend that COVID-19 is a problem of the past – a problem for poorer countries. That notion is as reckless as it is false.
14th Mar 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Australia's vaccine diplomacy in Pacific islands wards off Beijing, prime minister says

Australia has been able to stop an "incursion" by Beijing into the Pacific islands by talking with leaders there weekly and offering vaccine aid, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday. Concern over China's military ambitions for the region, after it provided police and riot equipment to the Solomon Islands, prompted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to last month announce Washington would open a Solomon Islands embassy. Morrison said China had been "very clear" about aspirations to build a military base in the Pacific islands, but this had not occurred.
13th Mar 2022 - Reuters.com

Dismay as funding for UK’s ‘world-beating’ Covid trackers is axed

If anything about the UK’s response to Covid-19 was world-beating, it was our surveillance system. From the World Health Organization to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health teams around the world have praised the UK’s infection-tracking capability, and used our data to plan their own pandemic measures. Despite this health ministers have cancelled future funding for the React-1 study and other research projects. The decision has been met with dismay among leading scientists and researchers worldwide, who have questioned the UK’s ability to respond to future Covid threats.
12th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Philippines approves emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 drug Paxlovid

The Philippines has approved the emergency use of Paxlovid, Pfizer's COVID-19 drug, the country's food and drug agency said on Friday. It is the third COVID-19 drug approved by the agency for emergency use, after Roche's antibody cocktail and Merck's treatment pill. Paxlovid can be used to treat adult patients who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk for severe infection, the agency said.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Swiss secure COVID-19 vaccines for 2023

Switzerland has secured at least 14 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 2023, the government said on Friday. "For 2023, in addition to the seven million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine already purchased, the Federal Council has decided to also procure seven million doses from Moderna. At the same time, Switzerland has options – to be exercised only if needed – to procure a further seven million vaccine doses from each provider," it said in a statement.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Britain outlines terms of COVID-19 inquiry

Britain on Thursday outlined the terms of reference of its planned inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, looking into the preparedness of the country as well as the public health and economic response to the coronavirus. Britain has recorded 19.3 million COVID-19 infections and 162,000 deaths - the seventh highest fatality total globally - and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for mishandling England's three national lockdowns. He has promised an inquiry into the pandemic, chaired by judge Heather Hallett.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters

China approves five COVID-19 antigen kits for self-testing - CCTV

China has granted approval to five COVID-19 antigen kits made by local companies to be used for self-testing, state broadcaster CCTV said on Saturday, as it tweaks its testing regime that has been pressured by Omicron. China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) published a notice saying Beijing Huaketai Biotechnology had been allowed to make changes to its COVID-19 antigen test kit's device certificate. It published a similar approval for four other companies, Nanjing Vazyme Biotech, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech, Beijing Jinwofu Bioengineering Technology and a BGI Genomics subsidiary, Shenzhen Huada Yinyuan Pharmaceutical Technology, on Saturday.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Mar 2022

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Changes to South African Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Planned

Just under a third of South Africa's remaining Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer are set to expire by July 2022. After that, any unused doses will have to be destroyed. Until then the health department is trying to increase uptake of the doses and donate spare shots. South Africa has received all the 30 million Pfizer Covid jabs it has procured from the drug manufacturer and the last batch that was delivered - a consignment of 4,831,560 shots that arrived between October and December 2021 - expires at the end of July, health department data shows. After that date, Pfizer jabs not used or redistributed to other countries will have to be destroyed and more doses are unlikely to be procured directly from the company.
10th Mar 2022 - AllAfrica.com

J&J inks vaccine licensing deal with Aspen, paving the way for Africa's first local COVID-19 shot

South Africa’s Aspen has clinched its COVID-19 vaccine licensing deal with Johnson & Johnson in a move the company last year said could be a “game-changer” on the path to Africa’s vaccine sovereignty. Under the deal, Aspen will be able to manufacture and distribute J&J’s COVID shot in Africa, with the goal to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates across the continent, J&J said in a release. Specifically, the South African manufacturer will receive drug substances from J&J, which it will use to produce finished, Aspen-branded vaccines for the African public sector. Aspen will make the shots available to all 55 African Union member states, plus multilateral organizations supporting Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, such as the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust and the COVAX Facility.
10th Mar 2022 - FiercePharma

Coronavirus: Hungary to Donate 523,000 Doses of Vaccine to Cambodia

Hungary is sending 523,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Cambodia in an effort to further aid the worldwide fight against the pandemic, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Thursday. Although the war in Ukraine overshadows it, the fight against the pandemic is not over, and many countries lack the vaccines to ease their struggle, Szijjártó said.
10th Mar 2022 - Hungary Today

Canada's Ontario to drop COVID curbs, including mask mandate

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, said on Wednesday it would end masking requirements for most indoor spaces later this month, and scrap virtually all COVID-19-related public health measures by end-April, citing the reduced threat of the pandemic. The province also said it would end strict inoculation rules on hospitals, colleges and universities next week. The broad mask mandate ends on March 21, though masks will still be required in healthcare settings and on public transit until April 27.
10th Mar 2022 - Reuters Canada

Africa CDC has MOU with Pfizer for supplies of COVID-19 pill

Africa's top public health agency has agreed a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer to bring supplies of the pharmaceutical firm's Paxlovid antiviral COVID-19 pills to the continent, its director said on Thursday. Data from a mid-to-late stage study in November showed Paxlovid was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths compared to placebo, in adults at high risk of severe illness. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also said it was still talking to Merck about obtaining supplies of its molnupiravir COVID pill and a call was scheduled for this week about that.
10th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Britain outlines terms of COVID-19 inquiry

Britain on Thursday outlined the terms of reference of its planned inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, looking into the preparedness of the country as well as the public health and economic response to the coronavirus. Britain has recorded 19.3 million COVID-19 infections and 162,000 deaths - the seventh highest fatality total globally - and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for mishandling England's three national lockdowns.
10th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Mar 2022

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WHO lays out plan for COVID vaccines to tackle new variants

The World Health Organization (WHO) technical advisory group on COVID-19 vaccines today weighed in on potential updates to COVID-19 vaccines in light of emerging variants such as Omicron, outlining different options and what data are needed to guide new strategies. In other developments, countries experiencing later Omicron surges—especially in Asia—continue to report cases at or near record daily highs. And, in the United States, weekly pediatric COVID-19 cases dropped below 100,000, part of a 6-week decline from the Omicron peak in children.
9th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP

PH gets more than 1 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

The Philippines received another shipment of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – more than 1 million doses – on Wednesday, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 said. The delivery is composed of 128,700 Pfizer vaccine doses for 12 years old and above, and 1,056,000 doses of reformulated Pfizer vaccine for minors aged 5 to 11. All in all, 1,184,700 doses of Pfizer’s anti-coronavirus vaccine were delivered to the Philippines on Wednesday night.
9th Mar 2022 - Inquirer.net

Altamira Therapeutics Receives Approval to Commence Clinical Trial Evaluating Bentrio in the Treatment of COVID-19

Altamira Therapeutics Ltd. a company dedicated to developing therapeutics that address important unmet medical needs, today announced that its affiliate, Altamira Medica, has received the necessary approvals to initiate a clinical investigation of Bentrio™ in COVID-19 patients (the “COVAMID” study). COVAMID is a randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial to evaluate the ability of Bentrio™ nasal spray to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the nose, alleviate COVID-19 signs and symptoms, and decrease the frequency of COVID-19 related hospital admissions.
9th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

Janssen and Aspen enter deal to manufacture Covid-19 vaccine in Africa

Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has concluded an agreement with South Africa based company Aspen to manufacture and distribute Covid-19 vaccines in Africa. The companies intend to boost Covid-19 inoculation rates in Africa through this alliance. Under the deal, J&J will provide Covid-19 vaccine drug substance to Aspen, which will manufacture and make the finished vaccines available under its own brand name Aspenovax. The vaccines will be provided to all 55 Member States of the African Union (AU), as well as crucial multilateral entities that back the Covid-19 inoculation campaign in Africa, including the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the COVAX Facility.
9th Mar 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Austria says it is putting its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on ice

Austria is suspending its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, its ministers for health and constitutional affairs said on Wednesday, six days before fines for breaches were due to start being imposed. The measure, the most sweeping in the European Union as it applied to all adults with few exceptions, has been in effect since Feb. 5, but enforcement was only due to begin on March 15.
9th Mar 2022 - Reuters

German govt produces new legal framework for pandemic rules

The German government introduced a legal framework for pandemic regulations and rules Wednesday. Most of the country’s current coronavirus restrictions are set to end by March 20. The country’s health and justice ministers said if German lawmakers pass the framework, the country’s 16 state legislatures could adopt the new “hot spot” measures if virus cases rise again in certain regions, if hospitals are at risk of becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, or if new virus variants start spreading. The regulations cover matters such as mask requirements, social distancing, and requiring proof of vaccination, recovery of the illness or negative tests to be able to participate in certain parts of public life.
9th Mar 2022 - Associated Press

WHO Africa’s 1st woman leader helps continent fight COVID

People stand when Dr. Matshidiso Moeti enters a room at the World Health Organization’s Africa headquarters in Republic of Congo. Small in stature, big in presence, Moeti is the first woman to lead WHO’s regional Africa office, the capstone of her trailblazing career in which she has overcome discrimination in apartheid South Africa to become one of the world’s top health administrators. Moeti is facing her toughest challenge: helping Africa respond to the coronavirus pandemic as the continent trails the rest of the world in testing and vaccination efforts. She has become one of the world’s most compelling voices urging better consideration of Africa’s people — especially women, who’ve in many ways been hit hardest by COVID.
9th Mar 2022 - Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Mar 2022

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The U.S. is about to approve a fourth COVID vaccine that could be a silver bullet solution to the anti-vax crisis

It might not be long until a fourth COVID vaccine is available in the U.S., and it’s a big deal. Novavax Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine is on its way towards authorization from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration after formally submitting a request in late January. The company says it has resolved the manufacturing issues that had delayed their application, and now expects approval from the FDA in the coming weeks, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal. In clinical trials first published in January 2021, Novavax’s vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing severe COVID-19 infections, on par with the already-approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. But questions remained about the company’s manufacturing capabilities that have delayed its ability to bring the vaccine to market. The Maryland-based biotech firm has already won approval for its vaccine in Australia, India, the European Commission and several other countries since last November.
8th Mar 2022 - Fortune

As virus cases go from 1 to 24000, New Zealand changes tack

Back in August, New Zealand’s government put the entire nation on lockdown after a single community case of the coronavirus was detected. On Tuesday, when new daily cases hit a record of nearly 24,000, officials told hospital workers they could help out on understaffed COVID-19 wards even if they were mildly sick themselves. It was the latest sign of just how radically New Zealand’s approach to the virus has shifted, moving from elimination to suppression and now to something approaching acceptance as the omicron variant has taken hold. Experts say New Zealand’s sometimes counterintuitive actions have likely saved thousands of lives by allowing the nation to mostly avoid earlier, more deadly variants and buying time to get people vaccinated. The nation of 5 million has reported just 65 virus deaths since the pandemic began.
8th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

China says Hong Kong must stick to "dynamic zero" COVID strategy

A top Chinese health official rallied embattled Hong Kong on Tuesday to stick with a "dynamic zero" coronavirus strategy and warned that the city's "lifeline" health system was at risk and the situation had to be turned around as soon as possible. Hong Kong reported more than 43,100 new cases on Tuesday after the launch of an online platform for people to record infections in a surge that has seen the city suffering the most deaths globally per million people in the week to March 6, according to the Our World in Data publication. China has championed the "dynamic zero" strategy that involves stamping out infections with strict mitigation measures as opposed to the approach adopted in other places of relying on high vaccination rates and moderate mitigation like masks in an effort to "live with COVID".
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Mar 2022

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Florida breaks with CDC, recommends no COVID vaccine for healthy children

Florida's top health official said on Monday the state would recommend against the COVID-19 vaccine for healthy children, breaking with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In announcing the move during press briefing convened by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the state's surgeon general Dr. Joseph Lapado cited studies that showed few COVID fatalities among healthy children and elevated risk among young boys receiving the vaccine of side effects such as myocarditis.
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters

SII receives EUA grant recommendation from SEC for Covid-19 vaccine

Serum Institute of India (SII) has received an emergency use authorisation (EUA) grant recommendation from the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for its Covid-19 vaccine, Covovax, for people aged 12 to 17 years. The recommendation comes after the panel held a meeting for Covid-19 associated proposals, ANI reported. The vaccine is produced by the transfer of technology from Novavax.
7th Mar 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Mar 2022

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U.S. waives COVID test for Americans leaving Russia, Belarus

The United States is waiving a requirement for negative COVID-19 tests from Americans leaving Belarus or Russia to travel home, the State Department said on Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it would exercise its discretion to allow travel by U.S. citizens, permanent residents and holders of valid immigrant visas who were in either country by a Feb. 28 cut-off date.
6th Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Mar 2022

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White House unveils Covid strategy to usher in new normal as pandemic eases

The White House released a 96-page plan on Wednesday to shift the fight against Covid-19 and “help move America forward safely”, past a crisis footing to a new “normal”. Announcement of the plan follows promises made in Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech, which emphasized rapid rollout of a new “test to treat” model with free anti-viral pills after a positive test. This comes just a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened mask guidance nationally, as more and more Democratic leaders have lifted pandemic-era restrictions and with the president urging workers to return to the office in-person.
3rd Mar 2022 - The Guardian

The surgeon general calls on Big Tech to turn over Covid-19 misinformation data.

President Biden’s surgeon general on Thursday formally requested that the major tech platforms submit information about the scale of Covid-19 misinformation on social networks, search engines, crowdsourced platforms, e-commerce platforms and instant messaging systems. A request for information from the surgeon general’s office demanded that tech platforms send data and analysis on the prevalence of Covid-19 misinformation on their sites, starting with common examples of vaccine misinformation documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The notice asks the companies to submit “exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to instances of Covid-19 misinformation,” as well as aggregate data on demographics that may have been disproportionately exposed to or affected by the misinformation.
3rd Mar 2022 - The New York Times

Biden's Covid-19 Promises Aren't All Scientifically Possible Yet

Biden’s most notable comment on the virus was the promise to make testing widely available at pharmacies and allow those who test positive to get free access to antiviral pills. That makes sense because in clinical trials, Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid showed close to 90% efficacy at reducing hospitalizations when given to people who test positive for Covid-19 within five days of reporting symptoms. But giving away Paxlovid isn’t quite that simple, because the drug interferes with the absorption of other drugs. Many people who are vulnerable enough to be good candidates for Paxlovid are going to be on multiple other drugs and would need a doctor’s supervision to take the five-day course of pills safely.
3rd Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

U.S. to share some coronavirus technologies with World Health Organization

The Biden administration will share U.S. government-devised coronavirus technologies with the World Health Organization, a policy shift intended to allow other countries to replicate some American scientific breakthroughs and better fight the pandemic abroad, federal officials said Thursday. Under the plan, some technologies now being developed by the National Institutes of Health will be licensed to the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, senior NIH official Anthony S. Fauci told reporters. The technologies will also be sub-licensed to the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool.
3rd Mar 2022 - Washington Post on MSN.com

Pfizer to supply 10M courses of COVID drug Paxlovid to developing nations in 2022- Reuters

Pfizer (PFE) is expected to provide about 10M courses its COVID-19 therapy Paxlovid to low and middle-income nations in 2022, Reuters reported
3rd Mar 2022 - Seeking Alpha

Too early for China to seek 'coexistence' with COVID - govt expert

It is still too early for China to consider easing its stringent coronavirus restrictions, with the highly infectious Omicron strain still capable of causing large numbers of deaths, said Liang Wannian, head of an expert group on COVID-19 prevention. Describing China's so-called 'dynamic clearance' strategy as a "magic weapon", Liang said in an interview with China's state broadcaster CCTV that "coexisting" with the virus was still not an option. He said Omicron was still significantly more deadly than influenza and capable of putting great strain on the country's medical resources.
3rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

WHO recommends Merck's COVID pill for high-risk patients

A World Health Organization (WHO) panel on Wednesday backed the use of Merck & Co Inc's COVID-19 antiviral pill for high-risk patients. The expert panel conditionally recommended the pill, molnupiravir, for patients with non-severe disease who are at high risk of hospitalisation, such as the immunocompromised, the unvaccinated, older people and those with chronic diseases. The recommendation was based on new data from six clinical trials involving 4,796 patients.
3rd Mar 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Mar 2022

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White House readies roadmap for future COVID outbreaks, seeks funding

Top U.S. health officials on Wednesday laid out a national blueprint to manage COVID-19 going forward, vowing to prepare for any new variant outbreaks without shutting down schools and businesses and calling for additional funding from Congress. The plan will help "move America from crisis to a time when COVID-19 does not disrupt our daily lives," the White House said, one day after President Joe Biden acknowledged the nation's fight against the coronavirus had entered a new phase. "We must be prepared to respond to a new variant quickly and keep our schools and businesses open," the updated National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan said, citing a need to maintain vaccines and booster shots, treatments, tests and masks.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

UK's bilateral donation of 1 million vaccine doses will reinforce Bangladesh’s fight against COVID-19

The UK bilaterally donated 1 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh. The vaccine consignment arrived in Bangladesh on 23 February 2022. This bilateral donation from the UK will reinforce Bangladesh's fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the country's economic recovery.
2nd Mar 2022 - News Medical

Biden’s Address Cites New, Calmer Phase in Fight Against Covid-19

President Joe Biden signaled a shift to a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in his State of the Union address, arguing that it is time for Americans to return to normal life. “Thanks to the progress we have made this past year, Covid-19 need no longer control our lives,” Biden said. The president called for Americans to return to their offices, and said that the government would allow easier access to Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pill, and send more free Covid-19 rapid antigen tests to Americans in their homes. “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,” Biden said. “People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office.
2nd Mar 2022 - Barron's

U.S. appeals court blocks Biden's Navy vaccine policy for COVID

A federal appeals court has delivered a new setback to the Biden administration in a COVID-19 dispute, keeping in place a lower court order that blocked the U.S. Navy from considering the vaccination status of 35 special forces personnel in making deployment decisions. The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday night spurned arguments from the U.S. Justice Department that the Navy's deployment decision-making was outside the scope of cases that the courts are allowed to consider and rule on. The appeals panel said the judiciary had the power to weigh the plaintiffs' religious freedom objections, including a "divine instruction not to receive the vaccine."
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Germany pledges more funds for COVID vaccines in poor countries

Germany will provide a further $1.5 billion to a global initiative for better access to coronavirus vaccines for poorer countries, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Tuesday. "The global COVID-19 pandemic has not been overcome," Lindner told reporters after a virtual meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven leading economies. Germany would also provide an additional 224 million euros for logistics on the ground, or "in-country delivery costs", Lindner said.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer to provide 10 mln courses of COVID pill to developing countries -the Global Fund

Pfizer Inc is expected to provide around 10 million courses of its highly effective COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid to low- and middle-income countries this year, according to an official with the Global Fund, a healthcare NGO working to buy the pills from the drugmaker. The Fund's head of strategy for policy, Harley Feldbaum, said Pfizer had committed to at least that many doses and could increase shipments later if organizations involved show they are able to distribute the pills well, noting most will be available toward the end of the year.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Bahrain approves Valneva's COVID vaccine for emergency use

Bahrain has granted emergency use authorisation to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by France's Valneva, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Valneva expects to deliver the first shipments of its VLA2001 vaccine to the kingdom at the end of March, after it signed an advance purchase deal for one million doses in December last year. "As the only dual-adjuvanted, inactivated COVID-19 vaccine approved in Bahrain, VLA2001 will provide a differentiated vaccine option to the Bahraini population and medical community," said CEO Thomas Lingelbach.
1st Mar 2022 - Reuters


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New Zealand ends isolation rules for vaccinated travellers from Australia as transmission rates soar

New Zealand has ended its self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers arriving from Australia, as the country’s Covid transmission rates soar to among the highest in the world. From Wednesday, vaccinated travellers will no longer need to self-isolate but will still be required to undergo a Covid-19 test on arrival and on day five or six, prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday. If the traveller tests positive for the virus, they will be required to self-isolate, in line with requirements for New Zealanders. Unvaccinated travellers will still have to stay in managed isolation, or MIQ.
28th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Italy to receive first 21 billion euros from EU Covid-19 fund - Von der Leyen

Italy will receive a first payment of 21 billion euros ($23.53 billion) from the "Next Generation EU" fund to help states compensate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.
28th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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EMA advisory panel backs 3 month interval for Moderna booster

The advisory committee to the European Union's drug regulator on Friday said it has recommended reducing the interval between the second dose and booster dose of Moderna Inc's (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine from six months to three months. Several countries including Greece and France have previously shortened the interval between the first two doses and the booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines, in the face of rising cases due to the Omicron variant. Some also authorised a fourth shot for the vulnerable
27th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Names of firms given huge Covid loans will be secret

The names of thousands of companies which benefited from billions of pounds of Covid-19 loans schemes are to be kept confidential under new government rules to only publish state subsidies of £500,000 or more. The higher threshold has been brought in after Brexit despite warnings that it may hamper the fight against fraudsters believed to have plundered billions from the schemes. The loan schemes have been called a “bonanza for fraudsters”. Under the EU rules in force until the end of 2020, all pandemic business loans above €100,000 were required to be publicly disclosed with details of the recipients.
27th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Hong Kong Delays First Retail Green Bond Launch Due to Covid-19

Hong Kong’s government is delaying the launch of its inaugural retail green bond due to the spread of coronavirus cases in the city. The government postponed the subscription period and issuance of the bond in order to “avoid the social contact arising from the application process and reduce the risk of the spread of the disease,” according to a statement posted on Hong Kong’s government website on Saturday. The subscription period was originally scheduled for March 1 to 11. The government plans to sell up to HK$6 billion ($768 million) in green debt directly to investors for the first time, with proceeds used to back nine types of sustainable projects run by the city, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.
26th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg


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EMA backs Pfizer COVID booster for teens, Moderna shot for ages 6-11

The European Union's health regulator on Thursday backed giving a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 and over, as well as the expanded use of Moderna's shot in children ages six to 11. The recommendations by the European Medicine Agency's (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use will be followed by final decisions by the European Commission. The moves come after several EU countries already started to offer booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to teens.
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters

ConserV Bioscience pan-coronavirus project has been awarded UK Aid funding by the UK Vaccine Network, delivered by Innovate UK

ConserV Bioscience Limited (“ConserV”), a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing vaccines that protect against endemic and emergent infectious diseases, has been awarded UK Aid funding to advance development of its pan-coronavirus vaccine candidate, UNICOR-v. The project was selected by the UK Vaccine Network (UKVN) for the award under the competition “Vaccines for epidemic diseases: Readiness for clinical development and regulatory submission.” This is one of twenty-two projects funded by the Department of Health and Social Care as part of the UKVN, a UK Aid programme to develop vaccines for diseases with epidemic potential in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). ConserV specialises in identifying broadly protective antigens for highly mutable viruses. The grant will fund preclinical development of an intra-dermal formulation of UNICOR-v, which consists of twelve antigens from conserved regions of internal viral proteins that include clusters of reactive T-cell epitopes for multiple human leukocyte antigens (HLAs)
24th Feb 2022 - PharmiWeb

Time between Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines can be up to 8 weeks for some people, updated CDC guidance says

The interval between first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines may be as long as eight weeks for certain people, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in vaccine guidance updated Tuesday.
24th Feb 2022 - CNN

AstraZeneca signs deal with Canada for 100000 doses of COVID drug

AstraZeneca plc signed an agreement with Canada for 100,000 doses of its antibody therapy for prevention of COVID-19 in some high-risk patients, the country's government said on Wednesday. AstraZeneca's Evusheld is under review by Health Canada for use as a preventive treatment against the disease in those who are immunocompromised. "While vaccines provide excellent protection, people who are immunocompromised may need additional protection against COVID-19," said Canadian health minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Italy will exit COVID state of emergency on March 31, Draghi says

The Italian government will end the COVID-19 state of emergency on March 31, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday, promising a gradual return to normal after more than two years of the health crisis. Coronavirus cases and deaths have receded in recent weeks and the government has come under pressure from businesses and some political parties to roll back the restrictions that have been progressively introduced since early 2020.
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Japan to accept J&J COVID vaccine for border entry next month

Japan said on Thursday international travellers showing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson shot would be allowed in and be eligible for a shorter time in quarantine when border controls are eased next month. The J&J shot, which has not been approved in Japan, will join a list of three other shots that have been approved by regulators as sufficient for non-residents to enter, after a nearly two-year ban on such travellers.
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong turns to emergency powers for China help in COVID surge

Hong Kong has invoked emergency powers so that doctors and nurses from mainland China can join its efforts to fight what it said was a “dire epidemic situation” as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the densely-populated territory. Authorities on Thursday morning reported 8,674 new cases, nearly all of them locally acquired. “Hong Kong is now facing a very dire epidemic situation, which continues to deteriorate rapidly,” the government said in explaining its need for the emergency powers. The outbreak is expected to “continue to escalate exponentially and go beyond the epidemic control capacity” of the territory’s administration, meaning “Hong Kong’s healthcare system, manpower, anti-epidemic facilities and resources, etc will soon be insufficient to handle the huge number of newly confirmed cases detected every day”. The Chinese territory is one of the world’s most densely-populated places with many families living in tiny high-rise apartments that make it impossible for people to isolate themselves. It has been hit hard by the Omicron wave, which slipped through the defences of its stringent quarantines and contact tracing that had kept the virus at bay since the pandemic began two years ago.
24th Feb 2022 - AlJazeera


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Hong Kong budget proposals offer COVID relief with tax breaks, handouts

Hong Kong will offer tax breaks, handouts and subsidies to small businesses and residents, to mitigate the impact of the most stringent social restrictions imposed in the city to curb the spread of COVID-19, Finance Secretary Paul Chan said. The 2022/23 budget proposals were announced as hundreds of bars, restaurants and small retailers warned they were months away from closure, and shopping malls were deserted while the city endured its worst COVID-19 outbreak so far. "Hong Kong is currently experiencing its hardest time in the fight against the epidemic, and we are facing enormous challenges," Chan told legislators via videoconference on Wednesday.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

U.S. FDA limits use of GlaxoSmithKline-Vir COVID-19 drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotech's COVID-19 antibody treatment should not be used in places with circulation of variants that are not susceptible to the drug. Vir has said the drug, sotrovimab, retains neutralizing activity against the emerging BA.2 form of the Omicron coronavirus variant. However, other recent research suggests that the variant showed resistance to nearly all of the monoclonal antibodies they tested, including sotrovimab. The GSK-Vir drug is one of the few COVID-19 treatments shown to have worked against the original Omicron variant, spurring demand.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Slovakia to lift most COVID restrictions over the coming month

Slovakia will lift most COVID-19 restrictions over the next month, beginning with loosening measures for the unvaccinated before cancelling crowd limits in a later phase, according to plans approved by the government on Wednesday. The first phase of the loosening will begin on Feb. 26, material on the government's website showed. A second phase will follow on March 26 to end limits on crowds and opening hours.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Romania to donate 1.1 million AstraZeneca COVID vaccines

Romania will donate 1.1 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria and Libya, the health ministry said on Wednesday. Romania is the European Union's second-least vaccinated country after Bulgaria, with roughly 42% of the population fully inoculated, reflecting mistrust in state institutions and poor vaccine education. With supplies far outstripping demand for COVID-19 shots, the Bucharest government has sold or donated excess shots before their expiry date.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters


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U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Maine COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away a challenge to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, rebuffing for the second time a group of plaintiffs who sought a religious exemption. The justices rejected a request made on behalf of unnamed plaintiffs identifying themselves as Maine healthcare workers who objected to the vaccinations on religious grounds. The court in November rejected an emergency request by the same plaintiffs seeking to prevent Maine from enforcing the mandate against them. They are represented by a Christian legal advocacy group.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Moscow, Baku working on Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in Azerbaijan

Moscow and Baku are working on the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in Azerbaijan, Trend reports with reference to Russian media. This is stated in the documents prepared for the talks between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. 'In 2021, 220,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine were delivered at the request of the Azerbaijani side. It is scheduled to deliver extra 80,000 doses. No new applications have been received. The organization of vaccine production in the country is being worked out,' said the document.
22nd Feb 2022 - Middle East North Africa Financial Network

COVID vaccine for kids: Approval granted to COVID vaccine Corbevax for children between 12-18 years; here

India's first indigenously developed protein sub-unit COVID-19 Vaccine Corbevax is India’s first indigenously developed protein sub-unit COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been developed by Biological E. Limited in collaboration with Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development (Texas Children’s CVD) and Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) in Houston, Texas. "CORBEVAX is a “recombinant protein sub-unit” vaccine, developed from a component of the spike protein on the virus’s surface, which helps the body build the immune response against the virus. The vaccine has the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) protein as an antigen, and also an optimum adjuvant consisting of Dynavax (DVAX) CpG 1018 and alum," Biological E Limited has said.
22nd Feb 2022 - Times of India

Covid-19: Most restrictions to be ended by Irish government

Almost all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in the Republic of Ireland are set to end from Monday. At a cabinet meeting the three government parties backed a plan to end measures including mandatory mask wearing in most settings. It follows a recommendation from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), which will also be abolished. Physical distancing measures in schools will also end, while testing and tracing will be scaled back. Masks in schools, retail settings and on public transport will be voluntary. However, masks will still be required in health care settings.
22nd Feb 2022 - BBC News

EU, Germany expect Novavax deliveries to begin this week

The European Commission and the German government said on Monday they expect deliveries of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine Nuvaxovid to begin over the course of this week. Novavax's recombinant protein vaccine uses a more established technology than mRNA, the novel method behind the two most commonly used COVID-19 vaccines in Germany made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Canada emergency powers still needed, PM says, citing signs of new blockade

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said his government still needed temporary emergency powers in the wake of a truckers' blockade, citing "real concerns" about threats in the days ahead. Trudeau told a televised news conference there were signs some truckers were regrouping outside the capital Ottawa and might come back to try to restart a three-week occupation that brought downtown Ottawa to a halt. The protesters initially wanted an end to cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, but the occupation turned into a demonstration against Trudeau and the minority Liberal government.
21st Feb 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand will lift Covid restrictions only when ‘well beyond’ peak, Jacinda Ardern says

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said Covid-19 restrictions, including mandates and vaccine passes, will begin to lift once the country gets “well beyond” the Omicron outbreak’s peak. At a post-cabinet press conference on Monday, Ardern said case numbers were likely to peak in mid-to-late March, or three to six weeks away. Case numbers were expected to double every three to four days. “It’s likely then, that very soon, we will all know people who have Covid or we will potentially get it ourselves,” she said. Ardern said at an earlier stage of the pandemic, this prospect would have been “scary”, but now there are three main reasons why it is less so: the highly vaccinated population; Omicron being a mild to moderate illness due to high vaccination rates and boosters making hospitalisation 10 times less likely; and public health measures like masks, gathering limits and vaccine passes slowing down the spread to ensure everyone who needs a hospital bed can get it.
21st Feb 2022 - The Guardian

Italy recommends fourth COVID vaccine dose for immunocompromised

Italy's health ministry has recommended that people with a severely compromised immune system receive a fourth mRNA vaccine shot against COVID-19, provided that at least 120 days have passed from their previous booster, it said on Sunday. The special commissioner appointed by the government for the COVID-19 emergency will set the date for the recommendation to come into force based on the needs of the vaccine campaign, the ministry said. The ministry added that the decision reflects the still high circulation of the virus and the effectiveness that booster shots had shown in preventing COVID-related deaths and, more generally, symptoms that would require hospitalisation.
21st Feb 2022 - Reuters

Biological E. COVID shot gets India emergency approval for 12-18 age group

Indian vaccine maker Biological E. Ltd said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine received an emergency use approval in the country for use in children aged 12 to 18. The company's shot, called Corbevax, is the third vaccine approved for use in children aged 12 and above in India, joining Zydus Cadila's DNA shot ZyCoV-D and homegrown player Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. India has so far only started vaccinating children aged 15 and above. According to government figures, more than 76 million children between 15 and 17 have been inoculated mainly using Covaxin.
21st Feb 2022 - Reuters


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UK must cut spending on COVID testing, Johnson says

Britain wants to retain the capability to spot new coronavirus variants but it must stop spending so heavily on free testing as cases and fatalities fall, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday. Johnson will set out plans this week for the country to "live with COVID" amid suggestions that free coronavirus testing could be stopped, and some health studies halted. Asked by the BBC how the country would spot the arrival of new variants, Johnson said: "I want to make sure that we have capability to spot stuff and to snap back up as fast as we need to," he said.
20th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Polish PM says chances of deal on EU COVID cash have 'slightly improved'

Poland has made progress in talks with the European Commission on unblocking COVID-19 recovery funds, its prime minister said on Friday, adding that he believed a deal could be reached. Brussels has yet to approve Warsaw's National Recovery Plan, which is necessary to unblock the 36 billion euros ($40.89 billion) in funding, due to a dispute over judicial reforms the bloc says undermine the independence of the courts. "The chances after today's talks have slightly improved," Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference in Brussels broadcast by Polish television, while stressing that it remained to be seen if an agreement could be forged in coming weeks
18th Feb 2022 - Reuters

African countries to get mRNA vaccine technology in WHO project

The World Health Organization said on Friday six African countries - Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia - would be the first on the continent to receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines. The technology transfer project, launched last year in Cape Town, aims to help low- and middle-income countries manufacture mRNA vaccines at scale and according to international standards. mRNA is the advanced technology used by companies such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for their COVID-19 shots.
18th Feb 2022 - Reuters

China allows COVID boosters of different technologies than primary shots

China is giving COVID-19 booster vaccines using technologies different from the initial injections, in an effort to improve immunisation strategies amid concerns that its most-used jabs appeared to be weaker against variants such as Omicron. Boosting population immunity could be crucial to preparing China to eventually reopen its borders and pivot from its "dynamic zero" strategy, which involves travel curbs and mass testing following dozens of local infections. Experts are watching whether combined Chinese doses would lead to higher effectiveness.
18th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine gets authorisation in Australia for children

Moderna has reported that its Covid-19 vaccine, Spikevax (mRNA-1273), obtained provisional registration from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia for active immunisation to prevent Covid-19 in children of the age six to 11 years. The authorised dosage of the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine is a 50µg dose to be administered as a two-dose regimen. Spikevax was analysed in the ongoing, observer-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, expansion Phase II KidCOVE clinical trial.
17th Feb 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

South Africa's health regulator allows use of Merck COVID treatment pill

South Africa's government said it was not planning to buy Merck's COVID-19 treatment pill molnupiravir on Thursday for cost reasons, despite the drug gaining approval from the country's health regulator. Molnupiravir and a rival antiviral pill from Pfizer called Paxlovid have demonstrated efficacy in trials of adults with COVID-19 who are at high risk of serious illness and are now both in use. Countries around the world are negotiating prices with Merck and Pfizer. The U.S. government is paying $700 for each course of molnupiravir, but generic drugmakers will make cheap versions in a deal aimed at giving access to poorer nations
17th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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EU set to bin 25 million more vaccine doses than it has donated to Africa this year

The European Union has been accused of perpetuating “vaccine apartheid”, as new analysis suggested it could soon be forced to throw away some 25 million more coronavirus vaccine doses than it has donated to African nations so far in 2022. Close to 55 million doses held in the EU are set to expire at the end of February, according to data shared with the People’s Vaccine Alliance and published on the eve of a Brussels summit of African and European leaders. This considerably outstrips the roughly 30 million doses donated to African nations between 1 January and 8 February, figures also collated by health analytics firm Airfinity suggest.
16th Feb 2022 - The Independent

UK to revamp biosecurity strategy in wake of Covid-19

The UK is revamping its approach to biosecurity after Covid-19 exposed major shortcomings in its ability to respond to biological threats, including the coronavirus pandemic. The new approach will update Britain’s last biological security strategy, published in 2018, which warned of the need to “co-ordinate” government actions better and for a “truly comprehensive approach” to meet biological risks, including pandemics. It also follows a highly critical assessment by a parliamentary committee which found that Covid-19 “exposed profound shortcomings” in Britain’s approach to biosecurity.
16th Feb 2022 - Financial Times

BioNTech says it won't challenge vaccine copying in Africa

BioNTech's co-founder and top executive said the vaccine maker has no plans to enforce its intellectual property rights should organisations in Africa strike out on their own to produce unauthorised versions of the company's shot. "Our goal is not to keep others from using our technology. Our goal is rather to actively see to it that our technology is available on all continents as safely and as widely as possible," CEO Ugur Sahin told Reuters TV on Wednesday when asked whether he would pursue breaches of patents or patents pending in Africa.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Biden admin seeks $30 bln more from Congress to fight COVID -sources

The Biden administration is seeking $30 billion in additional funds from Congress to fight the COVID-19 pandemic to bolster vaccines, treatments, testing supply, and research, according to sources familiar with the matter. The $30 billion request includes $17.9 billion for vaccines and therapeutics, two sources familiar with it said. Administration officials and congressional staff have been in talks about the issue, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Novavax receives interim authorisation in Singapore for Covid-19 vaccine

Novavax has received interim authorisation from the Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for its recombinant, adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid (NVX-CoV2373). The vaccine is intended for active immunisation to prevent the disease in people aged 18 years and above. A protein-based vaccine, NVX-CoV2373 is made from the genetic sequence of the first SARS-CoV-2 viral strain. The vaccine is formulated with the company’s Matrix-M, a saponin-based adjuvant to boost immune response and elicit greater neutralising antibody levels.
15th Feb 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

WHO urges increased COVID vaccination efforts in Eastern Europe

A new wave of COVID infections from the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus is heading towards Eastern Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. The WHO’s European office on Monday called for authorities to boost vaccination efforts in the region, warning that a “tidal wave” of infections was approaching. WHO Europe director, Hans Kluge, said the number of new daily COVID-19 cases had more than doubled in six countries in the region in the past two weeks. Kluge said the 53-country region has tallied more than 165 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 1.8 million deaths linked to the pandemic – including 25,000 in the last week alone. “Today, our focus is towards the east of the WHO European region,” Kluge said in Russian at a media briefing, pointing to a surge of Omicron cases. “Over the past two weeks, cases of COVID-19 have more than doubled in six countries in this part of the region [Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine],” the director said.
15th Feb 2022 - Al Jazeera English


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U.S. offers $69 million in aviation manufacturing assistance

The U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday it was offering $69 million to 127 aviation manufacturing and repair businesses under a COVID-19 relief program created by Congress in 2021. In total, the department has offered $673 million nationwide in three rounds of awards. Some previously offered awards were not ultimately paid. The $3 billion aviation manufacturing payroll subsidy program covers up to half of eligible companies' compensation costs for up to six months. Grantees may not conduct furloughs without employee consent or lay off workers covered by subsidies during that period.
14th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Vaccine access puts EU and Africa at odds ahead of summit

Europe's refusal to share COVID-19 vaccine technology threatens to overshadow a major gathering of European and African leaders this week. Europe wants to use the meeting — which has been delayed by 16 months due to the pandemic — to advance relations on several fronts, including trade and digital connectivity. But access to vaccines will be high on the agenda. African leaders are furious that the continent received mere "crumbs" from wealthy countries’ overflowing plate of vaccines, leaving their populations much less protected against the virus. They will be looking to the two-day summit between the EU and African Union for evidence that Europe is serious about tackling what South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has blasted as "vaccine apartheid." And Europe shows no sign of moving on what is a central issue for many African leaders — loosening access to intellectual property on vaccines. “They hoarded vaccines, they ordered more vaccines than their populations require. The greed they demonstrated was disappointing, particularly when they say they are our partners,” Ramaphosa said in December. “Because our lives in Africa are just as important as lives in Europe, North America and all over."
14th Feb 2022 - POLITICO Europe

Singapore grants interim approval for Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine

Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Monday it has granted an interim authorisation for Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine. The first batch of the Nuvaxovid vaccine is expected to arrive in Singapore in the next few months, the HSA said.
14th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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China approves use of Pfizer's COVID drug Paxlovid

China's medical products regulator said on Saturday it has given conditional approval for Pfizer's COVID-19 drug Paxlovid, making it the first oral pill specifically developed to treat the disease cleared in the country. The National Medical Products Administration said Paxlovid is approved to treat adults who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and high risk of progressing to a severe condition. Further study on the drug needed to be conducted and submitted to the authority, it said. It is not immediately clear if China is already in talks with Pfizer to procure the pill.
12th Feb 2022 - Reuters

US delays decision on COVID vaccine for children under 5

A United States decision on Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children six months through four years of age has been postponed for at least two months after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it needed more data. The FDA had planned to make a decision on the vaccine based on early trial data because of what it had called a great public health need due to the surge in infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The decision was slated for next week, with a rollout starting as soon as February 21.
12th Feb 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Africa 'on track' to control the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO says

African countries are on course to control the coronavirus and its emerging variants this year, the World Health Organization's regional head for the continent has said. African countries have faced a number of challenges since the first outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in February 2020, including the impact of lockdowns on economies and livelihoods, and inequities in accessing vaccines. However, the continent also saw relatively modest infection and fatality rates, with a higher number of recoveries when compared to cases reported globally, according to data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). "Over the past two years, the African continent has gotten smarter, faster, and better at responding to each new surge in cases of Covid-19," said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
11th Feb 2022 - CNN

Covid-19: Robin Swann 'has authority' to lift restrictions

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann does have the authority to lift Covid-19 restrictions, the economy minister has said. Mr Swann told other ministers he had received legal advice indicating he cannot lift all of the regulations in the absence of the executive. The executive collapsed after the resignation of Paul Givan from the post of first minister. But Gordon Lyons said Mr Swann does not need to take it to the executive. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MLA was responding to a letter from Mr Swann to ministers, which outlined the advice from Stormont lawyers about lifting restrictions. Mr Lyons told BBC News NI ministers were only "obligated to take issues to the executive if they are controversial, significant or cross cutting.
11th Feb 2022 - BBC News

WHO adds Roche's arthritis drug tocilizumab to COVID-19 medicines list

The World Health Organization said on Friday it had added its first monoclonal antibody tocilizumab to its so-called pre-qualification list, an official list of medicines used as a benchmark for procurement by developing countries. The WHO recommended the drug, manufactured by Roche and typically used to treat arthritis, only for patients diagnosed with severe or critical COVID-19.
11th Feb 2022 - Reuters

CDC recommends people with weakened immune systems get booster doses after three months instead of five

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Friday for some people with weakened immune systems, recommending they get a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine three months after completing the initial series of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shots, rather than the current interval of five months. The guidance also said immunocompromised people who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get an additional dose. That means two doses, at least 28 days apart, followed by a booster dose of one of the mRNA vaccines. “Although COVID-19 vaccines continue to work well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, we have seen reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” the agency said in a statement. “With the number of cases of COVID-19 still high across the United States and globally, this guidance helps to ensure that people have optimal protection against” the virus that causes the disease.
11th Feb 2022 - The Washington Post

EXCLUSIVE EU, Gates Foundation to support African medicines agency -source

The European Union and the Gates Foundation are set to announce financial support for nascent efforts to set up an African medicines regulator to boost the continent's drugs and vaccine production, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. The treaty establishing the African Medicines Agency (AMA) came into force in November but the agency currently exists only on paper. So far just over half of the 55 African Union (AU) member states have ratified the treaty setting up the AMA. Financial and technical support to the new agency is seen as crucial to help it to begin operations. This in turn would be a boost for the continent's vaccine and drugs industry, which needs a trusted regulator to flourish.
11th Feb 2022 - Reuters

F.D.A. Clears Monoclonal Antibody Drug From Eli Lilly

With Covid treatments still in short supply in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave emergency authorization to a new monoclonal antibody drug that has been found in the laboratory to be potent against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The Biden administration said it would make the therapy immediately available to states free of charge. The authorization of the treatment, bebtelovimab, means that the United States now has four drugs available for high-risk Covid patients early in the course of their illness that have been found to neutralize the Omicron variant. While there is a greater menu of Covid pills and treatments now than at any other point in the pandemic, the drugs have been so scarce that doctors have been forced to make painful rationing decisions during the Omicron surge.
11th Feb 2022 - The New York Times


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US plans to roll out initial 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for children under 5 after FDA authorization, CDC document says

If the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine receives emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for children 6 months to 5 years old, the tentative plan is to roll out about 10 million vaccine doses initially, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document posted online. The document, an updated pediatric Covid-19 vaccination planning guide, notes that "planning is for a sequenced rollout involving an initial total of approximately 10 million doses" and that providers and facilities that have ordered doses "must be able to receive vaccine shipment on Monday February 21."
10th Feb 2022 - CNN

EU to provide €125mn to help Covid vaccine distribution in Africa

The EU is giving €125mn to support Covid-19 vaccine distribution in Africa after the international Covax programme said a shortage of syringes and medical equipment was slowing efforts to vaccinate the world’s poorest people. Countries across Africa have been plagued by vaccine shortages. Public health experts have warned that the uneven rollout of vaccines could lead to new coronavirus variants emerging in areas where fewer people have been vaccinated.
10th Feb 2022 - Financial Times

Japan Health Ministry committee approves Pfizer oral COVID-19 drug

A Japanese Health Ministry committee has approved the oral COVID-19 drug made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc , the ministry said in a statement on Friday. Jiji news agency later reported that Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto had formally approved the drug, a move that officials had said they expected would take place in mid-February. Pfizer applied for approval in January.
10th Feb 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Feb 2022

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Sweden declare pandemic over, despite warnings from scientists

Sweden scrapped almost all of its few pandemic restrictions on Wednesday and stopped most testing for COVID-19, even as the pressure on the healthcare systems remained high and some scientists begged for more patience in fighting the disease. Sweden's government, which throughout the pandemic has opted against lockdowns in favour of a voluntary approach, announced last week it would scrap the remaining restrictions - effectively declaring the pandemic over - as vaccines and the less severe Omicron variant have cushioned severe cases and deaths.
9th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Exclusive: EU wants pandemic treaty to ban wildlife markets, reward virus detection

The European Union is pushing for a global deal aimed at preventing new pandemics that could include a ban on wildlife markets and incentives for countries to report new viruses or variants, an EU official told Reuters. International negotiators will meet for the first time on Wednesday to prepare talks for a potential treaty, said the official, who is not authorised to speak to media and so declined to be named. The aim is to reach a preliminary agreement by August.
9th Feb 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Feb 2022

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U.S. CDC stands by K-12 school masking guidance as states relax rules –Walensky

With COVID-19 cases still high nationwide, "now is not the moment" to drop mask mandates in schools and other public places, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Reuters on Tuesday. Her comments follow announcements by officials in New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, California and Oregon that they plan to lift indoor mask mandates for K-12 public schools and other indoor spaces in coming weeks, seeking a return to normalcy as infections spurred by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus ebb. "I know people are interested in taking masks off. I too am interested. That would be one marker that we have much of the pandemic behind us," Walenksy said in an interview.
9th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Vietnam receives Vero-Cell COVID-19 vaccine donated by China

The Ministry of National Defence received 300,000 doses of Vero-Cell COVID-19 vaccine presented by the Ministry of National Defence of China at a ceremony held at Noi Bai International Airport on February 8. Addressing the event, Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Xiong Bo said that the vaccine donation aims to help the army and people of Vietnam overcome COVID-19, which demonstrates the sentiments of the Chinese military in particular and Chinese Government in general to the military and people of Vietnam. On behalf of the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence, Deputy Defence Minister Sen. Lieut. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien, thanked the Chinese side for the gift which he said is evidence of the friendly neighbourliness and solidarity between the two countries and two militaries in particular.
8th Feb 2022 - Vietnam Net

Global COVID response program 'running on fumes' amid budget shortfall

A global initiative to get COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines to poorer nations has only received 5% of the donations sought to deliver on its aims this year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator budgeted $23.4 billion for its efforts from October 2021 to September 2022, of which it hoped $16.8 billion would come in the form of grants from richer countries.
8th Feb 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Feb 2022

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India approves Russia’s one-shot Sputnik Light Covid vaccine

India’s government has approved Russia’s single-shot Sputnik Light vaccine, making it the ninth Covid-19 jab available in the country. In a statement shared on Twitter, India’s federal health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said: “DCGI [Drugs Controller General of India] has granted emergency use permission to Single-dose Sputnik Light Covid-19 vaccine in India.” “This is the 9th #Covid19 vaccine in the country. This will further strengthen the nation’s collective fight against the pandemic,” he added.
7th Feb 2022 - The Independent

Approval of COVID vaccine made in South Africa could take 3 years, WHO says

The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine produced at the World Health Organization-backed vaccine hub in South Africa could take up to three years to get approval if companies do not share their technology and data, a WHO official said on Friday. The WHO-backed tech transfer hub in South Africa was set up in June to give poorer nations the know-how to produce COVID-19 vaccines, after market leaders of the mRNA COVID vaccine, Pfizer , BioNTech and Moderna, declined a WHO request to share their technology and expertise. Martin Friede, coordinator of the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research, said if companies with approved COVID vaccines or late stage clinical data shared their technology and data with the consortium, the vaccine produced in South Africa could be approved in 12 to 18 months.
7th Feb 2022 - CNBC Africa

Nigeria receives 2 million doses of J&J COVID vaccine from EU countries

Nigeria has received 2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine from Finland, Greece and Slovenia, with more EU donations set to arrive in the coming weeks, government officials said on Monday. The delivery is part of a donation pledge by the European Union to African countries via the COVAX initiative launched by the World Health Organization in 2020 to distribute vaccines to some of the world's poorest people.
7th Feb 2022 - Reuters

South African regulator approves Sinopharm COVID vaccine

South Africa's health regulator said on Monday it had approved a COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinopharm, although a senior health official said the government was not planning to procure doses for now. South Africa, the country worst-hit by the pandemic in Africa in terms of reported COVID-19 infections and deaths, has used the Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson shots in its vaccination campaig
7th Feb 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Feb 2022

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Ottawa Declares Emergency as Protests Spin 'Out of Control'

Canada’s capital declared a state of emergency Sunday as police struggled to rein in ongoing protests against vaccine mandates. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who declared the emergency, said in a statement that the increasingly rowdy demonstrations posed a “serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents.” Hundreds of trucks continued to occupy the downtown area near Canada’s parliament with no sign that the protesters planned to leave. The protests started in reaction to Canadian and U.S. laws that went into effect in January, requiring truckers crossing the border to be fully vaccinated. They have since morphed into a rally against Covid restrictions more broadly.
6th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Feb 2022

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New Covid vaccine Nuvaxovid approved after almost 50,000 people involved in UK clinical trials

A fifth Covid vaccination has been given regulatory approval in the UK. Nuvaxovid, developed by Novavax, has been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after safety, quality and effectiveness tests. The next step will see it considered for use in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, health secretary Sajid Javid said today (Thursday, February 3). It follows approval given for Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and the Janssen vaccine (although this is not currently available), the NHS says. Almost 50,000 people were involved in clinical trails for the new vaccine. Mr Javid said: "It is great to see our world renowned medicines regulator approve another COVID-19 vaccine.
3rd Feb 2022 - Wales Online

Singapore approves Pfizer's oral COVID-19 medicine Paxlovid

Singapore has approved Pfizer's (PFE.N) oral COVID-19 medicine Paxlovid, its Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Thursday. Paxlovid is the first COVID-19 oral treatment authorised for use in the city-state for the treatment of mild to moderate cases among adults at high risk of severe disease, HSA said in a statement.
3rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Ardern Starts to Reopen New Zealand Border as Frustration Mounts

New Zealand will finally begin reopening to the world at the end of this month as frustration mounts over a border that’s been closed for almost two years to keep out Covid-19. The border will reopen to vaccinated New Zealanders from Australia at midnight on Feb. 27 and from the rest of the world at midnight on March 13, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech Thursday in Auckland. Some groups of critical and skilled workers will also be permitted to enter from those dates. Arrivals will no longer need to spend time in a government managed isolation facility, but will be required to self-isolate and return negative tests.
3rd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

France's COVID vaccine pass to stay until ICUs are 'emptied', says health minister

France's vaccine pass will remain in place until hospitals are able to function normally without cancelling non-emergency procedures to make room for COVID patients in intensive care, Health Minister Olivier Veran said. The government says the vaccine pass helps curb the spread of the coronavirus and has spurred more people to get the COVID shot, alleviating pressure on hospitals. Critics say it impinges on civil liberties and some have taken to the streets in protest.
3rd Feb 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Feb 2022

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Germany to allow large events with up to 10000 spectators

Germany will allow up to 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events such as Bundesliga soccer games, the 16 federal states agreed on Wednesday. The decision, which also allows up to 4,000 participants in indoor spaces, aims to harmonize currently varying rules for stadium attendance at a state-by-state level. The new rules take effect as soon as the federal states update their regulation. Masks must be worn, and proof of vaccination or recovery, as well as a booster shot or negative test status, depending on the state, will also be required, said the resolution seen by Reuters.
2nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

U.S. considers authorization of first COVID vaccine for children under 5

U.S. regulators are considering the first COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 5, the only age group not yet eligible for the shots, after Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE began the regulatory approval process on Tuesday. A decision is expected as soon as this month. The companies said they began submitting data for an emergency use authorization even though they did not meet a key target in their clinical trial of 2- to 4- year olds. They are submitting the data at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in order to address an urgent public health need in the age group, they said.
2nd Feb 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Feb 2022

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US urges Pfizer to apply for under-5 COVID shots

Pfizer on Tuesday asked the U.S. to authorize extra-low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, potentially opening the way for the very youngest Americans to start receiving shots as early as March. In an extraordinary move, the Food and Drug Administration had urged Pfizer and its partner BioNTech to apply earlier than the companies had planned — and before it’s settled if the youngsters will need two shots or three. The nation’s 19 million children under 5 are the only group not yet eligible for vaccination against the coronavirus. Many parents have been pushing for an expansion of shots to toddlers and preschoolers, especially as the omicron variant sent record numbers of youngsters to the hospital.
1st Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

COVID-19: Nearly £9bn spent on PPE during coronavirus pandemic written off, Govt accounts show

Nearly £9bn spent by the government on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic has been written off, annual accounts have shown. Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) figures show huge amounts were wasted on useless equipment, while millions of pounds has been spent getting out of contracts or storing PPE at ports. Some £673m worth of equipment was found to be totally unusable, according the 2020/21 accounts, while £750m was spent on items that expired before being used.
1st Feb 2022 - Sky News

Spanish regulator authorises phase III trials of Hipra's COVID vaccine

The Spanish medicines agency said on Tuesday it had authorised pharmaceutical firm Hipra to carry out phase III trials of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing Phase III is the last round of testing prior to seeking authorisation to market a drug. Hipra began phase II trials in November that involved testing the vaccine on 1,000 volunteers across ten hospitals in Spain. Hipra has said on its website that it anticipates being able to produce 600 million doses in 2022 and double that figure the following year.
1st Feb 2022 - Reuters

US gives full approval to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. health regulators on Monday granted full approval to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, a shot that’s already been given to tens of millions of Americans since its emergency authorization over a year ago. The action by the Food and Drug Administration means the agency has completed the same rigorous, time-consuming review of Moderna’s shot as dozens of other long-established vaccines. The decision was bolstered by real-world evidence from the more than 200 million doses administered in the U.S. since the FDA cleared the shot in December 2020. The FDA granted full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine last August. Public health advocates initially hoped the regulatory distinction would boost public confidence in the shots. But there was no discernable bump in vaccinations after the Pfizer approval, which was heavily promoted by President Joe Biden and other federal officials. Still, regulators said Monday they hoped the extra endorsement would encourage more people to get vaccinated.
1st Feb 2022 - The Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Feb 2022

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U.S. CDC warns against travel to Mexico, Brazil, Singapore over COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday advised against travel to a dozen countries because of high rates of coronavirus infection, including Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Ecuador, Kosovo, Philippines and Paraguay. The CDC now lists nearly 130 countries and territories with COVID-19 cases as "Level Four: Very High." It also added Anguilla, French Guiana, Moldova and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to its highest level on Monday. The U.S. State Department also raised its travel advisory for Mexico and some of the other nations listed by the CDC to "Level 4: Do Not Travel."
31st Jan 2022 - Reuters

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine receives full FDA approval for Americans aged 18 and older

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has received full FDA approval for use in all U.S. adults. It is the second vaccine to receive full approval for use in America, joining Pfizer's shot. Approval only applies to the first two shots and the booster dose remains only available under emergency use orders. Without this approval, the jab would only be available under situations of emergency, but now it can be used even beyond the pandemic
31st Jan 2022 - Daily Mail

Report slams lockdown parties by Boris Johnson and staff

Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized Monday after an inquiry found that Downing Street parties while Britain was in lockdown represented a “serious failure” to observe the standards expected of government or to heed the sacrifices made by millions of people during the pandemic. Johnson brushed off calls to quit over the “partygate” scandal, promising to reform the way his office is run and insisting that he and his government can be trusted. But he faced criticism from some of his own Conservative colleagues, who have the power to oust a leader some fear has become damaged goods. One Conservative lawmaker accused the prime minister of taking him for “a fool.” “I get it, and I will fix it,” Johnson said in Parliament after senior civil servant Sue Gray published interim findings on several gatherings in 2020 and 2021 while the U.K. was under government-imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
31st Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

Taiwan tries hand at COVID diplomacy again with Somaliland vaccine gift

Article reports that Taiwan's gift of 150,000 doses of its domestically developed Medigen COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Somalia's breakaway Somaliland region, the Taiwanese foreign ministry said on Monday, part of the island's renewed pandemic diplomacy push. Taiwan has donated millions of face masks and other goods around the world in what the government has called the "Taiwan can help, Taiwan is helping" programme to show the island is a responsible member of the international community, despite being locked out of most global bodies because of China's objections.
31st Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st Jan 2022

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Britain to offer COVID vaccinations to vulnerable children aged 5-11

Britain will this week begin offering vaccinations to children aged between five and 11 who are most at risk from coronavirus, the state-run National Health Service said on Sunday. Britain has been slower than some other countries in offering the shots to 5-11 year olds, and is not planning to vaccinate the age group more broadly unlike countries such as the United States and Israel. NHS England said children in the cohort who were in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed would be able to get a first COVID-19 shot, in line with advice issued last month by the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI).
30th Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Jan 2022

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EU drug regulator OKs Pfizer COVID pill for high-risk patients

The European Union's drug regulator on Thursday gave the green light to Pfizer Inc's antiviral COVID-19 pill for treating adults at risk of severe illness, as the region scrambles to boost its arsenal to fight the Omicron variant. The endorsement by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for a conditional approval, if followed as usual by the European Commission, allows EU member states to deploy the drug after the regulator gave guidance for its emergency use late last year. Italy, Germany and Belgium are among a handful of EU countries that have bought the drug, branded as Paxlovid.
27th Jan 2022 - Reuters

COVID-19: North Korea set to reopen borders and resume trading with China

North Korea is poised to reopen its borders amid fears its fragile economy is on the brink of collapse following a strict two-year lockdown. Pyongyang has shown signs it will finally ease tough restrictions as it resumed freight train traffic into neighbouring China last week. Trade between the two nations - crucial to North Korea - is said to have slumped by 80% in 2020. And it plunged again by two-thirds between January and September last year after North Korea sealed off its borders, according to South Korean estimates.
27th Jan 2022 - Sky News

Covid-19: Cuba will request WHO approval for homegrown vaccine

Cuban health officials have said that they will apply for World Health Organization approval for one of the country’s homegrown covid-19 vaccines, as they announced that they had secured funding to produce 200 million vaccine doses for low income countries. Cuba’s health regulator (CECMED) has approved the use of three of the country’s homegrown vaccines, which are exported to four countries, but none has been yet been approved by WHO.1 That should change this year, said Rolando Pérez Rodríguez, director of science and innovation at Cuba’s state run pharmaceutical conglomerate, BioCubaFarma. “We have formally requested the prequalification of one vaccine: Abdala,” Rodriguez told a press conference in Havana on 25 January. “We are in the final review of the documents, and it should be sent in the following days to the WHO.” The application for WHO approval of a second Cuban vaccine, Soberana 2, should be sent in the coming weeks and is also expected to gain authorisation for use this year, said Dagmar García Rivera at the Finlay Institute of Vaccines in Havana.
27th Jan 2022 - The BMJ

Sweden decides against recommending COVID vaccines for kids aged 5-12

Sweden has decided against recommending COVID vaccines for kids aged 5-11, the Health Agency said on Thursday, arguing that the benefits did not outweigh the risks. "With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don't see any clear benefit with vaccinating them," Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm told a news conference. She added that the decision could be revisited if the research changed or if a new variant changed the pandemic. Kids in high-risk groups can already get the vaccine.
27th Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Jan 2022

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U.S. Labor Dept withdrawing COVID vaccine rule for large employers

The Department of Labor said on Tuesday it will withdraw its COVID-19 vaccine-and-testing requirement for large U.S. employers after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the rule, ending a controversial bid to increase vaccination rates. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in the federal register that while it was withdrawing the emergency temporary standard, the rule would remain as a proposal for a permanent requirement. "OSHA continues to strongly encourage the vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace," the notice said.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Jan 2022

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Israeli panel recommends fourth Covid vaccine dose for all adults

Israel’s vaccine advisory panel has recommended a fourth dose of a Covid-19 shot for all adults, a world first, as the country battles a surge in infections driven by the Omicron coronavirus variant. The move follows research showing fourth doses doubled protection against symptomatic Covid-19 and increased protection against severe illness by three to five times, compared with three doses. Other countries, including the UK, US and Chile, have signed off on fourth doses for immunocompromised people, such as those living with HIV or certain transplant recipients, but have hesitated on launching a widescale second booster campaign.
25th Jan 2022 - Financial Times

Covid-19: Europe could be headed for pandemic “endgame,” says WHO region chief

The rapid spread of the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 could see an end to the pandemic in Europe, with the variant likely to have infected 60% of people on the continent by March, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe has said. “It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Hans Kluge told Agence France-Presse on 23 January. Once the current wave subsides, he said, “there will be for some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity because of the infection, and also lowering seasonal risk.” “We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before covid-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back,” Kluge said.
25th Jan 2022 - The BMJ

Chile to purchase 2 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses

Chile, which already boasts one of the world's highest COVID-19 vaccination rates, has agreed to purchase 2 million vaccine doses from Moderna Inc, Chilean interim health minister Maria Teresa Valenzuela said on Monday. Chile has been hailed as a model for its response to the pandemic, relying mainly on vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and AstraZeneca for its inoculation program. "The agreement with Moderna is subject to approval by the Institute of Public Health, which will review the information on safety and efficacy in the coming weeks," said Valenzuela.
25th Jan 2022 - Reuters

European Medicines Agency panel approves scaling up AstraZeneca COVID vaccine production

A panel of the European drug regulator on Monday approved scaling up manufacturing of AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine. An existing manufacturing site operated by Universal Farma in Guadalajara, Spain, will add a second filling line for the vaccine, the European Medicines Agency's human medicines committee said in a statement. The scaling up is expected to support the continued supply of the vaccine, including for donations to third countries through COVAX.
25th Jan 2022 - Reuters

South African corruption probe flags COVID contracts worth $137 million

South African investigators have flagged COVID-19 contracts worth around 2.1 billion rand ($137.12 million) for possible corruption and fraud, a report into corruption linked to the pandemic showed on Tuesday. President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the investigation into his government's coronavirus spending in 2020 following a spate of scandals that caused public outrage. Anger over corruption was one reason why the governing African National Congress last year recorded its worst-ever election result, with its share of the vote dropping below 50% in municipal polls
25th Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Jan 2022

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Belgium OKs 4th vaccine shot for immunocompromised people

Belgium's health ministers have approved a recommendation to use a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine to better protect people with a weakened immune system against the virus. Christie Morreale, the minister for public health in the federal government, said Monday that she and her regional counterparts have greenlighted the proposal made by the country's health council. Morreale did not give a date for the start of the program. About 77% of Belgium's nearly 11.5 million people are now fully vaccinated, and some 6.3 million Belgians have received a booster dose
24th Jan 2022 - The Independent

England to drop COVID travel test demand, PM Johnson says

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Britain will no longer have to take a COVID-19 test, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Monday, as the government sets out plans to move beyond restrictions and live with the virus. Currently, vaccinated people arriving in Britain are required to take a lateral flow test within 2 days of arriving. At times, the government has previously also required all passengers to take tests before departing for Britain.
24th Jan 2022 - Reuters

There is an urgent need to make WHO financially fit for purpose

The failure to invest in pandemic preparedness, response and, more generally, in the health of all people has been the most glaring symptom of the world’s ailing approach to investing in global public health, and universal health coverage, for decades. The G20 leaders meeting in Rome last year doubled down but failed to do enough to address the inadequacies in funding the work needed to protect the world from pandemics, and in particular in the financing of the World Health Organization (WHO) to deliver on its broad – and ever-growing – mandate to act as the world’s leading authority on global health.
24th Jan 2022 - MSN.com

U.S. FDA limits use of Regeneron, Lilly COVID-19 antibody treatments

The U.S. health regulator revised on Monday the emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 antibody treatments from Regeneron (REGN.O) and Eli Lilly (LLY.N) to limit their use, as the drugs are unlikely to work against the Omicron coronavirus variant. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the treatments are currently not cleared for use in any U.S. states or territories, but may be authorized in certain regions if they work against potential new variants.
24th Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Jan 2022

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Companies Face Patchwork of Covid-19 Rules After Supreme Court Ruling

Companies will have to fend for themselves—and grapple with varied state and local requirements—following the high court’s decision to overturn the Biden administration’s mandate for large employers
23rd Jan 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

EU health ministers seek common line over fourth COVID vaccine dose

European Union health ministers were told on Friday to prepare to deploy a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as data showed it was needed, as the bloc faces a surge in cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The EU drugs regulator said this week it would be reasonable to give a fourth dose to people with severely weakened immune systems, but more evidence was needed. "If we see data which is conclusive on whether a fourth dose is needed, we need to be ready to act," EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EU ministers in a video conference, her speaking points showed.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

Japan approves Pfizer COVID vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 -

Japan’s health ministry has authorised the use of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children aged between five and 11. The vaccine, Comirnaty, is claimed to be the first in Japan to be approved for use in this age group. Once the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare grants special approval, Japan will join the UK and US in efforts to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in children. Until now, the mRNA vaccine has only been available to individuals over the age of 12 in the country. However, with this approval, approximately seven million children will be eligible to receive a dose of the vaccine. According to ministry officials, inoculations could begin as early as March once specific details of the roll-out are finalised.
21st Jan 2022 - Pharmaphorum

Coronavirus vaccine fines: Experts urge caution as Austria and other governments plan to fine the unvaccinated

More governments are offering people a stark choice: Get vaccinated or pay up. Austria’s lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a coronavirus vaccine mandate for all adults starting Feb. 1, with violators facing as much as $4,000 in fines. In Greece, starting this week, people older than 60 who decline the vaccine can be fined $113 per month. Italians who are older than 50 must also get vaccinated or face fines and suspensions from work, beginning next month. In Canada, meanwhile, the hard-hit province of Quebec said last week that it was considering a plan to impose a “significant” financial penalty on adults without at least a first dose of coronavirus vaccine.
21st Jan 2022 - The Washington Post

Singapore approves COVID-19 vaccine boosters for age 12-17s

Singapore will extend its COVID-19 booster vaccination programme to adolescents aged 12 to 17 years from next month, its health ministry said on Friday. Singapore is among the first few countries to recommend boosters for that age group, following Germany, the United States, Israel and Hungary.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters

WHO recommends reduced dose Pfizer COVID vaccine for under 12s

The World Health Organization on Friday recommended extending the use of a reduced dosage of Pfizer's (PFE.N) COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11 years old. The recommendation comes after the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on immunisation held a meeting on Wednesday to evaluate the vaccine. It is currently recommended for use in people aged 12 years and above. The recommended dosage for the younger population is 10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms offered to those 12 years and older. "This age group (5-11) is in the lowest priority use group for vaccination except, for children who have co-morbidities," SAGE chairman Alejandro Cravioto said at a briefing.
21st Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Jan 2022

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Novavax becomes Australia’s 5th approved COVID-19 vaccine

Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday became the fifth coronavirus vaccine approved for use in Australia. The country has ordered 51 million doses of the U.S.-manufactured vaccine, supplied under the brand Nuvaxovid, for its population of 26 million. Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are already in use in Australia. Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine is also approved but the government has not bought any. The Novavax vaccine will be available to unvaccinated Australians aged 18 years and older but will not be used as a booster for the 95% of the population aged 16 and older who have already received a vaccine. “There are some individuals, notwithstanding a massive take up of vaccination in this country, who have been waiting for Novavax, and it’s great that it’s finally been approved,” said chief regulator John Skerritt, head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
20th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press

Europe considers new COVID-19 strategy: accepting the virus

With one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates and its most pandemic-battered economies, the Spanish government is laying the groundwork to treat the next infection surge not as an emergency but an illness that is here to stay. Similar steps are under consideration in neighboring Portugal and in Britain. The idea is to move from crisis mode to control mode, approaching the virus in much the same way countries deal with flu or measles. That means accepting that infections will occur and providing extra care for at-risk people and patients with complications.
20th Jan 2022 - Associated Press

Drugmakers Sign Pacts to Widen Access to Merck's Covid Pill

More than two dozen generic-drug manufacturers have agreed to produce low-cost versions of Merck & Co.’s Covid-19 pill, a key step in bringing virus-fighting tools to lower-income countries that have struggled to get vaccines. Companies in Bangladesh, China, India, Kenya, South Africa, Vietnam and other countries signed pacts to supply more than 100 low- and middle-income nations, the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool said Thursday.
20th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Indonesia to Propose New Global Health Agency at G20 Summit

Indonesia will propose the creation of a new global health agency when leaders meet at the Group of 20 Summit. The agency would set up standard operating procedures for international travel and health protocols, as well as procure vaccines and ensure access and investment in medical equipment and medicines for developing countries, President Joko Widodo said in a statement at the World Economic Forum event
20th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

New Zealand Won’t Resort to Lockdowns When Omicron Arrives

New Zealand will tighten Covid-19 restrictions when the omicron variant hits but won’t resort to lockdowns, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. When omicron starts to spread in the community, the country will move to “red” from “orange” in its Covid protection framework, which will see gathering limits of 100 imposed on events, social distancing in hospitality venues and greater use of face masks, Ardern told reporters. However, “we won’t use lockdowns,” she said.
20th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Vaccine group Gavi says additional $5.2 bln needed to ensure supply

The chairman of the Gavi vaccine alliance, Jose Manuel Barroso, said that an additional $5.2 billion is needed to continue to deliver vaccines at scale. Speaking at a news briefing, Barroso said it was critical to continue to keep up the pace of vaccine supply through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing programme, as more than 3 billion people in the world have yet to receive their first dose. Gavi Chief Executive Seth Berkley said there was a need to raise the additional funds in the next three months to establish a pandemic pool of a minimum 600 million additional doses, strengthen countries' delivery systems, and finance ancillary costs for syringes and transport.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Western Australia state to stay shut as Omicron stalks the east

Australia will remain a divided nation with the vast mining state of Western Australia cancelling plans to reopen its borders on Feb. 5 citing health risks from a surge in the Omicron COVID-19 variant in eastern states. Australia's most populous state New South Wales (NSW) on Friday reported its deadliest day of the pandemic. NSW reported 46 deaths of patients with COVID-19 including one infant, while Victoria state saw 20 lives lost. Yet, a drop in hospitalisations in both states did offer hope the latest outbreak might have peaked.
20th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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End of Plan B Covid Restrictions: Boris Johnson Drops Work-From-Home Guidance

Most Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted in England over the coming days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as he set out his ambition for a transition to “living with” the virus -- including the end of mandatory isolation for positive cases -- by the end of March. People are no longer being asked to work from home, and rules forcing people to wear face masks in shops and on public transport will be dropped from Jan. 27, Johnson told the House of Commons on Wednesday. Mandatory Covid passes for businesses will also end next week. The move unwinds rules put in place in December, when the omicron variant was spreading rapidly across the U.K. “Scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally,” Johnson said.
19th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Ireland announces annual bank holiday to honour Covid victims and workers

Ireland is to get a bank holiday as a national commemoration of those who have lost their lives to Covid and to recognise those who worked on the frontline of the pandemic, the government has announced. Frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes are also to receive a €1,000 (£830) tax-free bonus for their contribution to the national pandemic effort as part of a package of measures agreed by the cabinet on Wednesday. The government has estimated the cost of the giveaway at €100m, but questions remain as to who will qualify for the ha
19th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

WHO says no evidence healthy children, adolescents need COVID-19 boosters

There is no evidence at present that healthy children and adolescents need booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the World Health Organization's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Tuesday. Speaking at a news briefing, she said that while there seems to be some waning of vaccine immunity over time against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus, more research needs to be done to ascertain who needs booster doses.
19th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19: All Omicron restrictions in Scotland to be lifted next Monday

Nightclubs will reopen and limits on hospitality come to an end as all of Scotland's Omicron coronavirus restrictions are lifted next Monday. The changes - first introduced to slow the spread of the Omicron variant - will take place from 24 January, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the country is on a "downward slope" of infections. The requirement for table service in hospitality will come to an end and attendance limits on indoor events will also be lifted, as well as restrictions preventing adults from taking part in indoor contact
18th Jan 2022 - Sky News

Sweden scraps demand for negative COVID test to enter country

Travelers to Sweden will no longer be required to show a negative COVID test before entering the country, the government said on Tuesday. Sweden introduced rules for a recent negative COVID test on Dec. 28 last year in a bid to slow the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant. Since then, Sweden has repeatedly set new daily case records with Omicron now the totally dominant variant. "Travelers are no longer considered to pose a particular risk of affecting the spread of Omicron in Sweden," the government said
18th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. would seek global approach to updating Covid-19 vaccines, official says

If the Food and Drug Administration decides to update Covid-19 vaccines to take better aim at Omicron or other variants, it is unlikely to go it alone. Instead, a senior FDA official told STAT, the agency expects to take part in an internationally coordinated program aimed at deciding if, when, and how to update Covid-19 vaccines. The approach would ensure decisions are not left solely to individual vaccine manufacturers. “We can’t have our manufacturers going willy-nilly [saying], ‘Oh well, the EMA decided they wanted this composition, but FDA wanted that composition,’” the official said, referring to the European Medicines Agency. “So we are very much of the mind that we would like to be part of a more global process in helping to come to what vaccine composition there should be now.”
18th Jan 2022 - STAT News


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COVID-19: Self-isolation period in England cut to five days as 16 and 17-year-olds invited for booster jabs

The time people must spend in isolation for contracting COVID has been reduced to five days in England, as 16 and 17-year-olds have been invited to receive their COVID-19 vaccine booster. People in England can now leave quarantine after five full days providing they test negative on days five and six. Ministers reduced the isolation period from seven days to five to help address staff shortages by allowing people to return to work sooner.
17th Jan 2022 - Sky News

Covid-19: Focus should be on new vaccines rather than boosters, says WHO

Giving repeated booster doses of existing covid-19 vaccines in developed countries is not a sustainable global strategy for tackling the pandemic, the World Health Organization has said. Instead, WHO argues that the focus should shift towards producing new vaccines that work better against transmission of emerging variants. In a statement1 published on 11 January, the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Covid-19 Vaccine Composition said, “A vaccination strategy based on repeated booster doses of the original vaccine composition is unlikely to be appropriate or sustainable.” The expert group, which is assessing the performance of covid-19 vaccines, said that to deal with emerging variants such as omicron, new vaccines needed to be developed that not only protect people against serious illness but against infection. “Covid-19 vaccines that have high impact on prevention of infection and transmission, in addition to the prevention of severe disease and death, are needed and should be developed,” the group said.
17th Jan 2022 - The BMJ

French parliament approves vaccine pass

France's parliament gave final approval on Sunday to the government's latest measures to tackle the COVID-19 virus, including a vaccine pass contested by anti-vaccine protestors. Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament voted 215 in favour to 58 against, paving the way for the law to enter force in the coming days. The new law, which had a rough ride through parliament with opposition parties finding some of its provisions too tough, will require people to have a certificate of vaccination to enter public places like restaurants, cafes, cinemas and long-distance trains.
17th Jan 2022 - Reuters

COVID program delivers 1 billion doses to poorer countries

The World Health Organization said that a U.N.-backed program shipping coronavirus vaccines to many poor countries has now delivered 1 billion doses, but that milestone “is only a reminder of the work that remains” after hoarding and stockpiling in rich countries. A shipment of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Rwanda on Saturday included the billionth dose supplied via the COVAX program, the U.N. health agency said. WHO has long criticized unequal distribution of vaccines and called for manufacturers and other countries to prioritize COVAX. It said that, as of Thursday, 36 of its 194 member countries had vaccinated less than 10% of their population and 88 had vaccinated less than 40%.
16th Jan 2022 - Associated Press

WHO recommends two new drugs to treat COVID-19

WHO has recommended two new drugs for COVID-19, providing yet more options for treating the disease. The extent to which these medicines will save lives depends on how widely available and affordable they will be. The first drug, baricitinib, is strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical COVID-19. It is part of a class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors that suppress the overstimulation of the immune system. WHO recommends that it is given with corticosteroids. Baricitinib is an oral drug, used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It provides an alternative to other arthritis drugs called Interleukin-6 receptor blockers, recommended by WHO in July 2021.
16th Jan 2022 - World Health Organization


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Thailand and Indonesia unveil plans to develop molnupiravir COVID-19 pill

Thailand's health minister said on Friday the country planned to develop the anti-viral pill molnupiravir to combat COVID-19 infections amid rising infections driven by the Omicron variant. The molnupiravir COVID-19 treatment pill for adult patients at risk of developing severe illness was jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The Southeast Asian nation intends to join other countries in the region also planning to make versions of the drug including Bangladesh and India.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Mexico approves emergency use of Pfizer's COVID-19 pills

Mexican health regulator COFEPRIS said on Friday it had approved U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer's antiviral oral treatment against COVID-19 for emergency use in adults with light or moderate risk of complications. Paxlovid, which combines nirmatrelvir and ritonavir in a tablet, will require a prescription, it said in a statement. The treatment was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, and data suggested it retains its effectiveness against the Omicron variant, Pfizer has said.
15th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Biden Forms New Group to Plan for Future Coronavirus Variants

The Biden administration has assembled a group that will prepare new countermeasures for the emergence of future Covid-19 variants and other pandemic threats, after the arrival of the omicron strain led to tumult in the U.S. economy and health-care system. The Pandemic Innovation Task Force, formed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, will focus on developing vaccines, treatments, diagnostic tests and other tools, said officials familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity as the details aren’t yet public. That will help prepare the country in case new versions of the virus surface, and for future biological threats beyond Covid-19, they said.
14th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg


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French Senate approves latest COVID measures and vaccine pass

The French Senate approved on Thursday the government's latest measures to tackle the COVID-19 virus, including a vaccine pass, which has encountered some opposition among the public after President Emmanuel Macron's harsh criticism of the unvaccinated. The Senate backed the COVID measures and legislation for a COVID vaccine pass by 249 in favour, versus 63 against. The legislation had already been approved earlier this month by France's lower house of parliament.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine-or-test policy for large businesses

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses - a policy the conservative justices deemed an improper imposition on the lives and health of many Americans - while endorsing a separate federal vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities. Biden voiced disappointment with the conservative-majority court's decision to halt his administration's rule requiring vaccines or weekly COVID-19 tests for employees at businesses with at least 100 employees. Biden said it now is up to states and employers to decide whether to require workers "to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated."
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Swissmedic temporarily approves Regkirona COVID-19 treatment

Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic said on Thursday it had granted temporary approval to Regkirona, antibody medicine that can be used for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults. Swissmedic said the applicant did not submit any information on its efficacy against the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Regkirona, which contains the active substance regdanvimab, can be used to treat adult COVID patients if oxygen therapy or hospitalisation is not required, and there is a high risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Sweden cuts recommended gap between second and third COVID shot

Sweden will cut the recommended time interval between the second and third COVID vaccine shot to five months from six, the health agency said on Wednesday. The decision will affect people between the age of 18 and 64. People above 65 were already eligible to get their booster shot five months after the second. Children aged 12 to 17 will still have to wait six months.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Senegal authorizes COVID-19 booster shots, vaccines for children

Senegal has authorized COVID-19 vaccines for children over 12 and booster shots for adults, the health ministry said on Thursday, as vaccine hesitancy complicates its fight against rising infections from the Omicron variant. The booster dose will initially be aimed at people identified as vulnerable to severe illness, the health ministry said in a Twitter post on Thursday that included a ministry letter dated Jan. 11.
13th Jan 2022 - Reuters

AstraZeneca sells another half-million doses of its COVID-19 antibody combo to the US

Order up. Shortly after topping off supplies of COVID-19 drugs from Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, the U.S. has asked for a second helping of AstraZeneca’s antibody combo. The government has purchased an additional 500,000 doses of AZ’s long-acting antibody cocktail Evusheld, or tixagevimab plus cilgavimab. That comes on top of 700,000 doses the U.S. already ordered, for a total supply of 1.2 million, the British drugmaker said Wednesday. AstraZeneca plans to complete the entire delivery within the first quarter of 2022. Unlike the COVID-19 antibody drugs from Eli Lilly, Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline-Vir Biotechnology, AstraZeneca’s therapeutic is authorized for prevention before exposure to the virus. Specifically, the FDA in December authorized Evusheld in people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems, either from a medical condition or the use of immunosuppressive medications. People with a history of severe reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are also eligible to receive the therapeutic.
12th Jan 2022 - FiercePharma


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Philippines Bars Unvaccinated From Public Transport in Metro Manila

The Philippines has banned unvaccinated individuals from public transport in the capital following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to restrict their movement as Covid-19 infections surge. Commuters are required to show proofs of vaccination before riding buses, jeepneys, trains and other public transport in Metro Manila, the transportation department said Wednesday. The “no vaccination, no ride” policy will be in effect while the capital is under Alert Level 3, the third-highest in a five-step scale.
12th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

UK acted unlawfully with 'VIP' COVID contract lane, court rules

The British government acted unlawfully by setting up a fast-track "VIP lane" to allow ministers and officials to recommend suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic, a London court ruled on Wednesday. Opposition politicians have accused the government of running a "chumocracy", awarding deals to those with family or business links to people in power, including for what turned out to be unusable PPE in some cases. The campaign groups, the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor, brought legal action claiming some suppliers were given an unfair advantage in obtaining contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
12th Jan 2022 - Reuters UK

Novavax coronavirus vaccine authorized in South Korea

South Korea’s drug regulator on Wednesday granted final authorization to Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine for use in adults, health officials said in a news release, making it the fifth coronavirus vaccine available in the country. Although the authorization is conditioned on the Maryland-based company’s submission of the final results of clinical studies regarding its vaccine, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Novavax’s coronavirus vaccine has received “final” approval in South Korea. The vaccine, which will be produced locally, is effective and safe, the regulator said.
12th Jan 2022 - The Washington Post

The US agrees to buy additional doses of GSK-Vir's Covid-19 antibody

The US Government has entered an agreement to procure 600,000 additional doses of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology’s antibody sotrovimab for early Covid-19 treatment, according to an announcement. An investigational monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab attaches to an epitope on SARS-CoV-2, which is shared with SARS-CoV-1. In May last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to single intravenous (IV) dose of sotrovimab for mild to moderate Covid-19 treatment. The SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody is indicated under EUA for use in adult and paediatric Covid-19 patients aged 12 years and above who are at great disease progression risk, including hospital admission or mortality. GSK noted that the additional doses will be supplied throughout the first quarter of this year.
12th Jan 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology


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Wellcome Trust to spend £16bn on research with focus on Covid vaccines

The Wellcome Trust, Britain’s biggest charity, is ramping up spending on science research to £16bn over the next 10 years, with a focus on funding next-generation Covid vaccines, after it reaped the highest investment returns in a quarter of a century. Wellcome said it was making its biggest funding commitment to science and health in its 85-year history. It was created by the will of the pharmaceuticals entrepreneur Sir Henry Wellcome in 1936. The £16bn promise comes after it spent more than £9bn on research grants and other charitable activities over the past decade, including £1.2bn last year alone. The trust made a 34.5% return in the year to 30 September on its investment portfolio, which is now worth £38.2bn, about £10bn more than a year ago. This is its best performance since it was created in its present form as an independent charitable foundation in 1995, when Wellcome plc was sold off to the drugmaker Glaxo, which later became GlaxoSmithKline.
11th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Pfizer CEO says Omicron-targeted vaccine is most likely outcome

Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla on Monday said a redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron coronavirus variant is likely needed and his company could have one ready to launch by March. Bourla said Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE are working on both an Omicron-targeted vaccine version as well as a shot that would include both the previous vaccine as well as one targeted at the fast-spreading variant. "I think it is the most likely scenario," Bourla said, speaking at J.P. Morgan's annual healthcare conference, which is being held virtually this year. "We're working on higher doses. We're working different schedules. We're doing a lot of things right now, as we speak."
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

U.S. secures 600000 more doses of GSK-Vir's COVID-19 therapy

The United States has agreed to buy 600,000 more doses of GSK and Vir Biotechnology's COVID-19 antibody therapy for an undisclosed sum, as the country bolsters its arsenal of treatments against the Omicron coronavirus variant. The additional doses of sotrovimab would be delivered in the first quarter of 2022, the drugmakers said on Tuesday, taking the tally of doses secured by nations worldwide to roughly 1.7 million. Canada and the European Union have signed deals too.
11th Jan 2022 - Reuters

UK’s Johnson faces lockdown-breach claims over garden party

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a wave of public and political outrage on Tuesday over allegations that he and his staff flouted coronavirus lockdown rules by holding a garden party in 2020 while Britons were barred by law from meeting up with more than one person outside their households. Opposition politicians called for a police investigation after broadcaster ITV published a leaked email invitation to “socially distanced drinks” in the garden of the prime minister’s Downing Street office and residence. The email from the prime minister’s private secretary, Martin Reynolds, was sent to dozens of people and urged attendees to “bring your own booze.”
11th Jan 2022 - The Associated Press


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Nepal bans big public gatherings, closes schools as COVID cases spike

Nepal banned large public gatherings and closed schools across the Himalayan nation for nearly three weeks after a spike in coronavirus cases, officials said on Monday. Nepal reported 1,357 new cases on Monday, the biggest single-day jump since September last year, taking its total to 833,946 since the pandemic began. Its death toll from the coronavirus is 11,606. Home Ministry spokesman Pradip Kumar Koirala said public gatherings like political rallies and religious functions involving more than 25 people had been prohibited.
10th Jan 2022 - Reuters

UK government urges all pregnant women to get immediate Covid jab

The UK government is warning that almost all pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid symptoms were unvaccinated in one analysis over several months last year, as it kicks off an advertising campaign encouraging expectant mothers to get boosted. The campaign is calling on pregnant women not to wait to get either their first, second or booster jab. It will highlight the risks of Covid-19 to mothers and babies, with testimonies of pregnant women who have had the vaccine to be broadcast on radio and social media.
10th Jan 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19 news: Ministers plan for UK to ‘live with covid’

UK government ministers are hinting at plans for the nation to “live with covid”. “I hope we will be one of the first major economies to demonstrate to the world how you transition from pandemic to endemic,” Nadhim Zahawi, former minister for covid vaccine deployment, told Sky News on Sunday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce details of such a plan within the coming weeks. “We are moving to a situation where it is possible to say that we can live with covid and that the pressure on the NHS and on vital public services is abating,” senior minister Michael Gove told Sky News. “But it’s absolutely vital to recognise that we are not there yet.” To be considered endemic, a disease outbreak would be consistently present in a region, with predictable spread and infection rates. The spread and rates of the disease would be predictable. This is currently far from the case in the UK, where over 150,000 deaths have been reported so far, and 141,472 new cases were reported on Sunday. Scientists have expressed concern. Devi Sridhar at the University of Edinburgh points out that no country has learned to live with covid without “crashing health services, social life, the economy or having widespread disruption” in one way or another.
10th Jan 2022 - New Scientist

Qatar Approves Pfizer Boosters for Children Aged 12 to 15 Years

Qatar approved the Pfizer-BioNTech booster coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years as nations fight the spread of the omicron variant. Children who received their second dose more than six months ago are eligible for the booster shots, according to a statement. Recently, the Ministry of Public Health had approved booster doses to those aged 16 and 17 years. Qatar reported 3,056 new confirmed cases among the community and 633 among travelers on Sunday. That is one of the highest daily numbers in the recent past.
10th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg


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No need for a fourth Covid jab yet, say UK advisers

A fourth Covid jab is not yet needed, say UK experts, because booster doses continue to provide high protection against severe disease from the Omicron variant among older adults. UK Health Security Agency data shows three months after boosting, protection against hospitalisation remains at about 90% for people aged 65 and over. Protection against mild symptomatic infection is more short-lived. That drops to about 30% by about three months. Figures also show why it is important to get a booster dose if you have only had two doses so far.
8th Jan 2022 - BBC News

Supreme Court Justices Cast Doubt on Biden Workplace Vaccine Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court cast doubt on the linchpin of President Joe Biden’s push to get more people vaccinated amid a Covid-19 surge, questioning whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had authority to require that 80 million workers get shots or regular tests. In a special argument session Friday, the court’s conservative justices voiced skepticism about the rule, which business groups and Republican-led states say exceeds the workplace-safety agency’s authority. The pandemic “sounds like the sort of thing that states will be responding to or should be, and that Congress should be responding to or should be, rather than agency by agency the federal government and the executive branch acting alone,” Chief Justice John Roberts said.
7th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Macron Doubles Down on Plan to ‘Piss Off’ the Unvaccinated

President Emmanuel Macron on Friday stood by the uncompromising stance and combative language he directed earlier this week at France’s unvaccinated citizens amid record numbers of new Covid-19 cases. Macron in a Tuesday interview with Le Parisien used salty language -- saying he wants to “p--- off” people refusing inoculation -- to express zero-tolerance for failing to get fully vaccinated. The government, he said, will keep up the pressure on the holdouts as a way to contain skyrocketing case counts. “You can get upset about ways of talking which may sound colloquial, for which I take full responsibility. But what upsets me is the situation in which we are in,” Macron said at a Friday news conference in Paris. “It was my responsibility to ring the alarm. That’s what I did this week so that things will move faster.”
7th Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

Chile to become first country in Latin America to offer fourth COVID shot

Chile will begin offering a fourth shot of the coronavirus vaccine next week to immunocompromised citizens, the government said on Thursday, the first country in Latin America and one of the first in the world to offer the extra dose. "Starting next Monday, January 10, we are going to start a new mass vaccination process with a fourth dose or a second booster dose," said Pinera in a press conference. Chile has one of the world's highest vaccination rates and has been hailed as a model for its response to the pandemic, having administered two doses to over 85% of the population. About 57% have received a third booster shot, according to Our World in Data.
7th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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Philippines' Duterte threatens unvaccinated people with arrest

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday people who have not taken COVID-19 shots will be arrested if they disobeyed stay-at-home orders as infections hit a three-month high. Duterte in an televised address to the nation said he was asking community leaders to look for unvaccinated people and make sure they were confined to their homes. "If he refuses, if he goes out his house and goes around the community, he can be restrained. If he refuses, the captain is empowered now to arrest recalcitrant persons," Duterte said.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Malaysia approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11

Malaysia has granted conditional approval for the use of Pfizer Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11 years old, the health ministry said on Thursday. The country's drugs regulator has also cleared a vaccine made by Chinese firm CanSino Biologics to be used as a booster shot for adults over the age of 18, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement. Malaysia, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in Southeast Asia, last week cut waiting times to encourage more people to take a booster jab, in a bid to stem the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Brazil to vaccinate children aged 5-11 against COVID-19 - minister

Brazil's Health Ministry said on Wednesday that it will go ahead with the voluntary vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old against COVID-19 and dropped plans to require a doctor's prescription. While vaccination will not be mandatory, state governments have the final word on public health decisions and could require that children be vaccinated to be able to attend school. "Children have unfortunately died of COVID-19, not many, but every child's life is important," Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said in a news conference.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

French parliament approves Macron's vaccine pass

France's parliament on Thursday approved President Emmanuel Macron's plans for a vaccine pass to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant after a tumultuous debate whipped up by Macron's comments that he wanted to "piss off" the unvaccinated. Macron told Le Parisien newspaper earlier this week that he wanted to make the lives of those refusing the COVID-19 vaccine so complicated by squeezing them out of public places that they would end up getting jabbed. read more. Macron's coarse language barely three months before a presidential election was widely seen as a politically calculated, tapping into a intensifying public frustration against the unvaccinated.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Ukraine offers booster COVID-19 shots to all adults

Ukraine is now offering booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all adults as the Omicron variant is spreading and is likely to lead to a spike in coronavirus infections next month, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said on Thursday. Following several periods of strict restrictions, the average daily number of coronavirus cases in Ukraine fell in early January to about 4,000 from above 10,000 in early December. "The medical system is preparing for another increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Ukraine," Lyashko said in a post on Facebook.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

CDC recommends Pfizer's COVID-19 booster for ages 12 to 15

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday it expanded the eligibility of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE's booster doses to those 12 to 15 years old. The move came after a panel of outside experts advising the CDC voted earlier to recommend booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine be made available for ages 12 to 15.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Portugal eases COVID-19 rules as infections soar, hospitalisations still low

Portugal will allow students to return to school from next week and nightclubs to reopen on Jan. 14 despite a record surge in COVID-19 cases, with hospital admissions still well below levels seen earlier in the pandemic, the government said on Thursday. "It is evident that the Omicron variant is less severe ... vaccination has been effective against it," Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference, referring to the fast-spreading variant that emerged in late 2021. "That's why we have a much lower number of hospitalisations, fewer people in ICU and deaths."
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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CDC advisory panel in favor of Pfizer vaccine booster for ages 12 to 15

A panel of outside experts advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday voted to recommend booster shots of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine be made available to 12- to 15-year-olds. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 13 to 1 to recommend that the U.S. health agency support booster shots for those aged 12 to 15 at least five months after their second dose. The panel also said the CDC should strengthen its recommendation for boosters ages 16 and 17. The agency had previously made the shots available to those teenagers, but had stopped short of suggesting that all of them should receive the additional jab.
6th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong bans flights from 8 countries, tightens COVID curbs

Hong Kong has announced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight countries and tightened coronavirus restrictions after detecting cases of the Omicron variant. Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, told reporters on Wednesday that incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States, including interchanges, would be banned from January 8 to January 21.
5th Jan 2022 - AlJazeera

Pfizer to supply U.S. with 10 mln more courses of COVID-19 pills

The Biden administration doubled its order for Pfizer Inc's oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment, the company and the White House said on Tuesday, providing the government a total of 20 million courses as it fights a record surge in COVID-19 cases. The White House now expects some 4 million treatment courses of the pills to be available by the end of January and 10 million by June, three months sooner than previously planned, according to an administration official. "We're getting them as soon as they come off the line," the official said.
5th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Italy extends COVID vaccine mandate to everyone over 50

Italy on Wednesday made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for people from the age of 50, one of very few European countries to take a similar steps, in an attempt to ease pressure on its health service and reduce fatalities. The measure is immediately effective and will run until June 15. Italy has registered more than 138,000 coronavirus deaths since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain.
5th Jan 2022 - Reuters


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FDA clears Pfizer, BioNTech COVID booster for younger teens

The FDA has authorised the first COVID-19 booster vaccine for teenagers in the 12 to 15 age group, giving the okay for wider use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Comirnaty shot as it tries to keep the Omicron variant under control. The US regulator has also reduced the time between completion of the first two doses of Comirnaty and a third dose to five months from six as a wave of new COVID-19 cases caused by Omicron has started washing over the country. That’s still longer than some other countries, including the UK which has pared down the time between the second and third doses to three months. The number of new COVID-19 cases in the US has doubled in the last few days to an average of around 418,000 a day, according to Reuters, while figures suggest there were more than a million new cases in the country yesterday, the highest number recorded since the start of the pandemic.
4th Jan 2022 - Pharmaphorum

Hong Kong to expand 'vaccine bubble' from Feb. 24 to combat COVID-19 spread

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the government will expand a "vaccine bubble" from Feb. 24 to include venues such as gyms, cinemas and libraries as the city steps up its fight against the spread of coronavirus. Only vaccinated people would be allowed into those venues. Lam was speaking at a weekly press conference a day after health authorities confirmed a fifth case of Omicron in the local community.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

WHO sees more evidence that Omicron causes milder symptoms

More evidence is emerging that the Omicron coronavirus variant is affecting the upper respiratory tract, causing milder symptoms than previous variants and resulting in a "decoupling" in some places between soaring case numbers and low death rates, a World Health Organization official said on Tuesday. "We are seeing more and more studies pointing out that Omicron is infecting the upper part of the body. Unlike other ones, the lungs who would be causing severe pneumonia," WHO Incident Manager Abdi Mahamud told Geneva-based journalists.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Dr Reddy's to launch generic COVID-19 Merck drug at about 50 cents a pill

Indian drugmaker Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd will launch its generic version of Merck's antiviral COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, and price it at 35 rupees per capsule, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday. The overall cost for a patient treated with a 5-day course of 40 capsules of the generic drug, to be sold under brand name 'Molflu', will come up to 1,400 rupees ($18.77). In comparison, the treatment with Merck's pill in the United States costs $700. "Molflu is expected to be available from early next week in pharmacies throughout (India) with particular focus on states with high caseload of COVID-19," the company spokesperson said.
4th Jan 2022 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Jan 2022

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France Bolsters Aid for Tourism Firms to Mitigate Omicron Hit

The French government said it will ease access to crisis funds and could delay loan repayments for businesses struggling with a drop in activity as the surge in omicron cases hits tourism and leisure activities. “We are standing by firms and workers in difficulty,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said after meeting with representatives of business groups. “This method has allowed to relaunch economic activity very quickly and very strongly.”
3rd Jan 2022 - Bloomberg

U.S. FDA authorizes Pfizer's COVID-19 booster for 12- to 15-year-olds

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, and narrowed the interval for booster shot eligibility to five months from six. The agency also authorized a third shot for children aged 5 through 11 years who are immunocompromised. The regulatory decisions come with COVID-19 cases surging due to the Omicron variant of the virus and just as many workers and school children return from holiday vacations, raising the prospect of overwhelming health systems. Some businesses and schools closed Monday as staff called in sick.
3rd Jan 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand to Reduce Booster Interval to 4 Months from Jan. 5

New Zealand will reduce the interval between the second Covid-19 vaccine dose and a booster shot to four months from six as part of its response to the omicron variant. People aged 18 or older who have had second shots of the vaccine at least four months ago will be eligible for a booster from Jan. 5, the Ministry of Health said in a statement. The shorter interval means that more than 82% of vaccinated people in the country will be eligible for a booster by the end of February, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, director general of health, said in the statement. Over 70% of people who were eligible for a booster in 2021 have already had the shot, according to the statement.
1st Jan 2022 - Bloomberg