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

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German lawmakers debate compulsory COVID shots as infections surge

German lawmakers agonised over whether to impose compulsory COVID-19 shots on Wednesday, as new record daily COVID-19 infections and the country's stuttering vaccination campaign forced them into an ethical and constitutional dilemma. Protesters stood in small groups around the Reichstag parliament building, surrounded by police, as politicians within presented cross-party motions. Chancellor Olaf Scholz backs compulsory vaccines for over-18s but his coalition government is divided on the issue and he has told lawmakers to vote according to conscience.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Romania sees huge jump in COVID-19 cases, deaths climb

Romania on Wednesday recorded a huge jump in COVID-19 infections, hitting a pandemic record of nearly 35,000 daily cases, almost doubling its previous record set only a day earlier. Deaths have also begun to climb. Daily coronavirus cases in Romania have dramatically surged over the past month, from about a 1,000 cases a day in mid-December to the pandemic record of 34,255 cases on Wednesday. Its daily death toll was 94, also the highest number of virus deaths in more than a month. Three-quarters of those deaths were unvaccinated people and more than 80% of the 692 COVID-19 patients now in intensive care in Romania have also not been jabbed, official data shows.
26th Jan 2022 - The Independent

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

Russia's daily COVID cases hit record high for sixth day running

Russia reported a record daily number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads, authorities said. New daily cases jumped to 74,692, up from from 67,809 a day earlier. The government coronavirus task force also reported 657 deaths in the last 24 hours.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Eastern Europe reports COVID daily infection records as Omicron spreads

Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania all hit their highest infection rates of the pandemic on Wednesday, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and yet were reluctant to impose sweeping curbs to limit the spread. The region has some of Europe's lowest vaccination rates, particularly in Romania and Bulgaria, and saw some of the highest COVID-related death rates towards the end of 2021.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Hungary reports jump in new COVID cases to record 20174 on Wed

Hungary's daily tally of new COVID-19 infections jumped to a record 20,174 on Wednesday, but the number of patients treated in hospital has remained at a relatively low level. In Hungary, a country of 10 million, 41,087 people have died of COVID-19. There are 3,145 coronavirus patients in hospital now, including 164 on ventilators, the government said.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

UK PM Johnson refuses to resign over lockdown parties

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday rejected opposition calls to resign for attending lockdown parties but accepted that a rule that ministers should lose their jobs if they had knowlingly misled parliament applied to him. Johnson, who in 2019 won the biggest Conservative majority in more than 30 years, is braced for the publication of an official investigation into claims that there were multiple boozy Downing Street parties during lockdowns. He told parliament no rules were broken
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

UK's Sunak vows to go after COVID loan fraudsters

British finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday the government would "do everything we can" to recover COVID-19 emergency business loans stolen by fraudsters that critics have said could run into the billions of pounds. "I'm not ignoring it, and I'm definitely not 'writing it off,'" Sunak said on Twitter. A British junior government minister resigned on Monday in protest at what he said were "woeful" efforts to stop the fraudulent abuse of coronavirus support schemes.
26th Jan 2022 - Reuters

Key senators propose an overhaul of how the U.S. prepares for pandemics

One of the most significant policies in the plan, released in a draft on Tuesday, would create a 9/11-style bipartisan commission to formally investigate the United States’ pandemic response — a proposal that has failed to gain traction until now. Another would require Senate confirmation for the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sweeping measure, which was in the works for nearly a year, is the product of negotiations between Senate health committee chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and ranking member Richard Burr (R-N.C.). The release comes shortly before lawmakers are facing down a deadline to fund the government by Feb. 18, a rare potential bipartisan vehicle for legislation. Murray and Burr said they plan to mark up the bill “in the coming weeks.”
25th Jan 2022 - STAT News

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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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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

WHO chief says the pandemic could be defeated this year if countries work together to contain its spread and vaccines are equally distributed across the globe

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus says 2022 could spell end for Covid The health chief encouraged wealthy nations to share vaccines with other countries He says he is 'confident' the pandemic will end this year if global leaders do so
1st Jan 2022 - Daily Mail

Britain approves Pfizer's antiviral COVID-19 pill

Britain has approved Pfizer's Paxlovid COVID-19 pill for adults who have mild to moderate infection and are at high risk of their illness worsening, its second easily administered antiviral against the coronavirus. Britain is scrambling to build its defences amid a record surge in COVID-19 cases in the winter season as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads quickly.
31st Dec 2021 - Reuters UK

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Biden confirms end of Omicron travel

US President Joe Biden has formally ordered an end to travel restrictions on eight southern African countries imposed last month to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, saying that the curbs are “no longer necessary to protect the public health”. Biden issued a proclamation on Tuesday repealing the restrictions on travel into the United States from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.
28th Dec 2021 - AlJazeera

WHO's Tedros concerned about 'tsunami of cases' from COVID-19 variants

The simultaneous circulation of the Delta and Omicron variants of the coronavirus is creating a "tsunami of cases", World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Wednesday. "Delta and Omicrom are now twin threats driving up cases to record numbers, leading to spikes in hospitalisation and deaths," said Tedros. "I am highly concerned that Omicron, being highly transmissible and spreading at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases."
29th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Israel's Oramed gets Vietnam pre-order for 10 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses

Israel's Oramed Pharmaceuticals said on Wednesday its Oravax Medical unit signed a deal with Vietnam's Tan Thanh Holdings for the pre-order of 10 million doses of its oral COVID-19 vaccine that is in clinical trials. The agreement gives Tan Thanh, a drug distributor, the right to sell Oravax’s oral vaccine in development throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Oramed said.
29th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Germany Buys Pfizer's Covid Pill Amid Surging Omicron Cases

Germany is buying 1 million packs of Pfizer Inc.’s newly approved pill to treat Covid-19, securing supplies as infections from the fast-spreading omicron variant rise rapidly. The Paxlovid drug is “extremely promising” because it can help people who risk falling seriously ill, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told German news agency DPA. The country’s health authorities reported a total of 10,443 omicron cases as of Tuesday, a 43% jump from the previous day.
28th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

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Pope's Message on Christmas: Prays for Vaccines for All

Pope Francis prayed Saturday for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, using his Christmas Day address to urge health care for all, vaccines for the poor and for dialogue to prevail in resolving the world’s conflicts. Amid a record-setting rise in COVID-19 cases in Italy this week, only a few thousand people flocked to a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square for Francis’ annual “Urbi et Orbi” ("To the city and the world") Christmas address. Normally, the square would be packed with tens of thousands of holiday well-wishers.
25th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

CDC cuts quarantine time for healthcare workers amid Omicron surge

Healthcare workers in the United States who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic can return to work after seven days in isolation, provided they test negative, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. The new guidance cuts the quarantine time from a previously recommended 10 days, which the CDC said was in preparation for an anticipated increase in Omicron cases. Omicron now accounts for 73% of coronavirus infections in the United States, the CDC said on Monday. The CDC said the quarantine time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages due to COVID-19, adding that healthcare workers who have been fully vaccinated, including a booster, do not need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures.
24th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Italy bans New Year events as COVID infections surge

Italy has tightened restrictions to curb surging COVID-19 infections, including banning all public New Year's Eve celebrations, as daily infections hit a record high, the government said on Thursday. Health Minister Roberto Speranza said mask wearing would be compulsory outdoors again and ordered people to use the more protective Ffp2 face masks on public transport and in public places, such as theatres, cinemas and at sports events. In addition, concerts and open-air events will be banned until Jan. 31, and discos and dance clubs will have to shut their doors until that date, in an effort to prevent mass socialising during the holiday period.
24th Dec 2021 - Reuters

U.S. pauses allocation of Regeneron, Lilly COVID-19 antibodies

The U.S. government has paused the distribution of COVID-19 antibody treatments from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, saying the therapies were unlikely to be effective against the Omicron coronavirus variant. The variant has become the dominant strain in the United States with lightning speed, resurrecting restrictions and stretching the country's testing infrastructure. The halt on the allocation of the therapies will continue until new data emerges on their efficacy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response said in a joint statement on Thursday
23rd Dec 2021 - Reuters

FDA Authorizes Merck’s Covid-19 Pill for At-Home Treatment

U.S. regulators cleared use of a Covid-19 pill from Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, the latest easy-to-use therapy that infected people can take to keep out of the hospital. The authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits doctors to prescribe the drug, called molnupiravir, to adults at high risk of severe disease shortly after they develop mild to moderate symptoms. The FDA recommended using the Merck drug only if other authorized drugs aren’t available and medically appropriate. Health experts have raised safety concerns about the Merck drug, which also was less effective in testing than an antiviral from Pfizer Inc. On Wednesday, the FDA cleared the Pfizer pill, Paxlovid, also for people to take at home to try to stay out of the hospital. The authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permits doctors to prescribe the drug, called molnupiravir, to adults at high risk of severe disease shortly after they develop mild to moderate symptoms. The FDA recommended using the Merck drug only if other authorized drugs aren’t available and medically appropriate. Health experts have raised safety concerns about the Merck drug, which also was less effective in testing than an antiviral from Pfizer Inc. On Wednesday, the FDA cleared the Pfizer pill, Paxlovid, also for people to take at home to try to stay out of the hospital.
23rd Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

South African health regulator approves J&J COVID-19 boosters

South Africa's health regulator on Thursday approved the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine for a second dose or booster, paving the way for the shot widely used in South Africa to shore up protection against the Omicron variant. The country already announced in December that it was preparing to offer people booster doses of both the Pfizer and J&J shots, but it did not specify when J&J boosters would be available. The South African Health Products Authority (SAPHRA) said in a statement on Thursday that it had approved J&J shots for use as a second dose or booster at least two months after the completion of the person's primary vaccination, with either J&J's single-shot course or another approved mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
23rd Dec 2021 - Reuters

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WHO boss: western countries’ Covid booster drives likely to prolong pandemic

The world will have enough doses of Covid vaccines early next year to inoculate all of the global adult population – if western countries do not hoard those vaccines to use in blanket booster programmes, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday there would be sufficient vaccine supplies in global circulation in the first quarter of 2022. “Blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the Covid-19 pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” Tedros said, adding: “No country can boost its way out of the pandemic.” His remarks follow predictions by officials with the WHO’s Africa region earlier this month that African countries should receive almost a billion doses within the same timeframe.
22nd Dec 2021 - The Guardian

Philippines halves COVID-19 booster wait time to three months

The Philippines has halved to three months the waiting time for a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine in its battle to rein in the more infectious Omicron variant of coronavirus, which has forced a global tightening of curbs. The Southeast Asian nation joins Britain, Germany, South Korea and Thailand among a growing list of countries cutting the interval for boosters as they try to stave off a new surge in infections. From Wednesday, adults can receive a booster dose at least three months after taking the second complement of a two-dose vaccine, versus six months earlier, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said. Single-dose vaccine recipients are eligible for a booster after two months, he told a regular news conference
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Pfizer to provide 2.5 mln additional doses of its COVID-19 pill to UK

Pfizer Inc said on Wednesday it will provide an additional 2.5 million doses of its COVID-19 pill Paxlovid to the United Kingdom. A total of 2.75 million doses of the pill are expected to be delivered to the UK through 2022, the drugmaker said.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Slovakia to ship 200000 COVID-19 shots to Omicron-hit Denmark

Slovakia will supply 200,000 Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccines to fellow EU member Denmark in January to help its booster campaign as infections from the fast-spreading Omicron variant soar, the Slovak Health Ministry said on Wednesday. A ministry document discussed by the government said Denmark had asked for vaccines to be supplied without delay. "With regard to data and the speed of vaccinations in Slovakia as well as the amount in storage, the Slovak Republic is able to provide Denmark 200,000 doses in January," it said.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

France cancels order for Merck's COVID-19 antiviral drug

France has cancelled its order for Merck & Co's COVID-19 antiviral drug following disappointing trial data and hopes instead to receive Pfizer's competing drug before the end of January, the health minister said on Wednesday. France is the first country to publicly say it has cancelled an order for the Merck treatment after the company released data in late November suggesting its drug was markedly less effective than previously thought, reducing hospitalisations and deaths in its clinical trial of high-risk individuals by about 30%. "The latest studies weren't good," Olivier Veran told BFM TV. A spokesperson for Merck said the country's planned purchase did not take place after the French health authority refused to authorise the pill earlier this month.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Turkey's domestic COVID-19 vaccine receives emergency use authorisation -minister

Turkey's domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, Turkovac, has received emergency use authorisation by Turkish authorities and will be open to use from next weekend, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday. Turkey began developing Turkovac this year, but the launch date for the vaccine has been beset by delays. President Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey would make the shot available globally.
22nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

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German committee recommends booster after three months as Omicron spreads

Germany's STIKO vaccine authority on Tuesday shortened the recommended period between a second coronavirus shot and a booster to three months from six, reflecting the increasing presence of the highly infectious Omicron variant. The authority said anyone over age 18 should have a booster using an mRNA vaccine three months after completing a two-shot course of COVID-19 vaccines. STIKO previously recommended anyone fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine should wait six months after their last shot. For the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that period remains four weeks.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

Philippines cuts COVID-19 booster shot interval to three months

The Philippines' health ministry on Tuesday halved the wait time for a COVID-19 vaccine booster to three months to help prevent the spread of the more infectious Omicron variant. A growing list of countries, including South Korea, the United Kingdom, Thailand and Germany, are shortening the interval for boosters to try to stave off a new surge in infections. Adults can receive a booster dose at least three months after the second shot of a two-dose vaccine, cutting the six-month gap. Recipients of a single-dose vaccine can get a booster shot after two months, the health ministry said.
21st Dec 2021 - Reuters

UK offers 1 billion pounds to businesses hurt by omicron

Britain announced 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) in grants and other aid to help the hospitality industry survive the onslaught of the omicron variant of COVID-19, bowing to days of pressure from pubs, restaurants and other businesses that complain public health warnings have torpedoed the vital Christmas season. Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-time grants of up to 6,000 pounds ($7,954) each. An additional 100 million pounds ($133 million) will be given to local governments to support businesses in their areas hit by the sudden spike in COVID-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible new variant. While industry groups welcomed the funding, many said it was too narrowly focused and more assistance would be needed if the surge in infections continues or the government imposes more restrictions.
21st Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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EU Commission authorises Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

The European Commission authorised on Monday the use of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union. "With five approved vaccines, the EU has a varied portfolio, based both on novel technologies, such as mRNA, and classic ones, like Novavax, which is protein-based," the head of the bloc's executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Twitter.
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Global Covid vaccination failure will harm Britain, Gordon Brown warns

The failure to vaccinate the world against coronavirus will come back to haunt even fully vaccinated Britons in 2022, Gordon Brown has warned. The former prime minister said the emergence of Omicron was “not Africa’s fault”, and added that new variants would continue to wreak havoc because richer countries such as the UK had “stockpiled” hundreds of millions of vaccines. He rubbished suggestions wealthier nations faced a choice between offering boosters to their own citizens or sharing doses with people living in poorer countries. “Ours is not a fraught choice between boosters and vaccinating the world. We are manufacturing enough vaccines … to immunise the whole world.” Instead, Brown said it was an “inescapable and unacceptable fact” that of the billions of vaccines administered, only 0.6% ended up in low-income countries.
20th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

Thailand says finds first reported local transmission of Omicron

A Thai woman has tested positive to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country's first reported case of local transmission, a health ministry official said on Monday. The woman contracted the virus from her husband, a Colombian who returned to Thailand from Nigeria in November, the official told a daily health ministry briefing.
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

French health regulator approves Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year olds

France's Haute Autorite de Sante (HAS) health regulator approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for all children aged 5-11 on Monday. The vaccine, which will be administered in a paediatric formulation when it becomes widely available, showed high efficacy among children, said Lise Alter, one of the doctors charged with the risk evaluation of new drugs. "The HAS suggests that all parents who want it can have their children aged 5 to 11 years vaccinated," she added. Last week France started vaccinating 5-11 year olds with medical conditions that require special protection and ramped up logistics to roll out vaccination of all children in the age group once the HAS approves the move.
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Biontech, Pfizer to provide EU with extra 200 mln COVID doses

BioNTech SE and Pfizer said that they would be providing the European Union with more than 200 million additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine they produce. The two vaccine manufacturers said they agreed in May to supply 900 million doses to the European Commission in 2022 and 2023, with an option to request up to an additional 900 million. The doses announced on Monday are in addition to the 450 million already expected to be delivered in 2022, they said.
20th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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CDC recommends Moderna, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over J&J's

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended Americans choose to receive one of two other authorised COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson's shot, due to rare but sometimes fatal cases of blood-clotting. The CDC's move came after its Advisory Committee on Immunization voted unanimously to make the recommendation in favour of the vaccines made by Moderna Inc and Pfizer)/BioNTech over the J&J shot.
19th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Omicron coronavirus cases surge in UK, scientists see bigger wave

Britain reported a surge in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday which government advisors said could be just the tip of the iceberg, and London's mayor declared a "major incident" to help the city's hospitals cope. The number of Omicron cases recorded across the country hit almost 25,000 as of 1800 GMT on Friday, up by more than 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said. Seven people believed to have had the Omicron variant had died as of Thursday, up from one death in the UKHSA's previous data which ran up to Tuesday. Admissions to hospital of people thought to have the variant increased to 85 from 65.
19th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Swiss order more COVID-19 jabs, tighten pandemic measures

Switzerland is ordering more COVID-19 vaccination doses, the government said on Friday, as it tightened pandemic curbs while opting not to embrace -- for now -- an even stricter limited lockdown. It is ordering 7 million doses each from Moderna and from Pfizer and BioNTech for the second half of next year, it said, bringing to 34 million doses its stockpile for 2022 and ensuring anyone who wants a jab will get it. After consulting regional authorities, the federal government said it will expand from Monday the requirement for people to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus to access many indoor venues like restaurants.
19th Dec 2021 - Reuters

France brings forward third COVID-19 vaccine shot

France will from next month reduce the time between second and third COVID-19 vaccination injections to four months and require people to show proof of vaccination to enter some venues, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Friday. The gap between shots is currently five months but the French government is concerned about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Castex said that big public parties and fireworks would be banned on New Year's Eve and recommended that people - even if vaccinated - test themselves before attending year-end parties.
17th Dec 2021 - Reuters

EU to place order with Pfizer for COVID shots adapted to Omicron

European Union governments have agreed to exercise an option to buy more than 180 million doses of a version of the COVID-19 vaccine adapted for the Omicron variant developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, the head of the European Commission said. Pfizer and BioNTech began development of a prototype Omicron-specific vaccine on November 25, and said they could have it ready in March. "The Member States have agreed to trigger a first tranche of over 180 million extra doses of adapted vaccines, in our third contract with BioNTech-Pfizer," Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference on Thursday night at the end of a regular summit with EU leaders.
17th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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CDC Advisers Back Use of Pfizer, Moderna Covid Shots Over J&J’s

Messenger RNA vaccines made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. are preferable for use in adults over Johnson & Johnson’s, U.S. public health advisers said. All 15 members of an outside panel of experts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to make the recommendation on J&J’s vaccine. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Thursday after U.S. regulators announced revisions to the shot’s fact sheet to warn of a rare clotting syndrome linked to the shot. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky still must sign off on the recommendation before any changes to vaccinations can be implemented.
16th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

EU Strikes Deal With Moderna to Speed German Vaccine Supply

The European Union brokered a deal to expedite deliveries of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to countries like Germany that are experiencing temporary shortages as they try to accelerate inoculation and ward off the omicron variant. Moderna Inc. agreed to bring forward delivery of 10 million doses to Germany in December, enough for 20 million boosters, the European Commission said Thursday. The company will also provide 25 million extra shots to Germany in the first quarter of 2022. Germany has started rationing Covid vaccines through the rest of the year as it seeks to maintain momentum in its ramped-up booster campaign going despite an unexpected shortage of BioNTech SE vaccines.
16th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Russian parliament backs draft law for COVID-19 immunity passes

The Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, on Thursday gave the first nod of approval to a draft law that would require people to show QR codes demonstrating proof of immunity to COVID-19 in order to visit certain public places. The bill still needs to be approved by the upper house of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin to come into force. Earlier this week, the Russian parliament said it would shelve a draft bill that would have required people travelling by plane or train to present QR codes, after strong public opposition to the proposal
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Japan approves Moderna COVID vaccine as booster, Novavax files for 1st approval

Japan on Thursday officially approved Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for its booster programme, while Novavax Inc filed for first approval of its shot in the country. Moderna's mRNA-type vaccine, used mostly in Japan to date at workplace inoculation sites, was approved for used as a third booster shot for those aged 18 or older, following a recommendation from health ministry experts on Wednesday.
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator okays COVID-19 treatments from GSK-Vir and Sobi

The European Union's drug regulator on Thursday approved a COVID-19 treatment from British-U.S. duo GSK and Vir Biotechnology and another from Swedish drugmaker Sobi, as the bloc builds its defences against Omicron. The approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) of GSK-Vir's antibody drug Xevudy and Sobi's arthritis drug Kineret come as governments struggle with soaring infections and worry about the swiftly-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus. EMA's human medicines committee recommended using Kineret to treat COVID-19 in adults with pneumonia requiring oxygen support and those at risk of developing severe respiratory failure.
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

As COVID cases rise, Spain approves booster shots for over 40s

Spain will administer a third dose of coronavirus vaccine to people aged 40 and over, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, expanding the booster programme a day after its child vaccination campaign kicked off amid a sharp rise in cases. The ministry, which had already rolled out booster shots for the over 60s, health workers and clinically vulnerable, said the most elderly remained the priority, as well as those yet to receive any shot. "Progressively, the booster dose may be administered to persons aged 49 to 40 years, starting with the oldest age cohorts," the ministry said in a statement.
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Denmark approves Merck's COVID-19 pill for at-risk patients

Denmark on Thursday approved Merck & Co Inc's molnupiravir antiviral pill for COVID-19 patients at risk of serious illness, including the elderly. The treatment is still under review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Faced with rising coronavirus cases, the EU drug regulator issued advice in November on using it for adults ahead of providing any wider recommendation. Announcing its approval for restricted use in Denmark, Health Authority chief medical officer Kirstine Moll Harboe said: "We believe that the benefits of being treated (with it) outweigh the disadvantages for those patients who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19."
16th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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Germany scrambles to buy millions of coronavirus vaccine doses

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and Finance Minister Christian Lindner on Wednesday announced that Germany is prepared to shell out an extra €2.2 billion ($2.48 billion) of its budget to secure 92 million doses of coronavirus vaccines as the omicron variant spreads and Germany's new government sounds the alarm over dangerously depleted vaccine stocks. The order will see Berlin purchase 80 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine through EU programs and another 12 million doses on the open market. Lauterbach said, "We need more vaccines quickly for speedy booster shots and possible omicron vaccinations."
15th Dec 2021 - Deutsche Welle

Covid jabs for younger children in UK could get green light before Christmas

The UK government’s vaccines watchdog is hopeful of approving Covid jabs for younger children before Christmas, with officials saying the wait to do this has been caused in part by a delay in the manufacturer seeking regulatory approval. Before Covid vaccines can be used for five- to 11-year-olds, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) must give a specific vaccine the green light. So far only Pfizer has applied for its vaccine to be used for this age group. After that, the vaccines watchdog, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), would meet to discuss whether the vaccination programme should be expanded to include younger children.
15th Dec 2021 - The Guardian

Japan government panel clears Moderna COVID vaccine for booster shots

Japan's health ministry said on Wednesday its panel of experts had agreed Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccines could be used for booster shots, setting the stage for official government approval. Japan started administering booster shots this month with Pfizer Inc vaccines. The panel agreed Moderna vaccines could be used on those aged 18 or older for booster shots, the ministry said. The same age restriction is being applied to Pfizer vaccines for booster shots.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator backs J&J COVID-19 booster dose for adults

The European Union's drug regulator on Wednesday recommended that a booster dose of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 shot may be given at least two months after a first dose in people aged 18 years and older, as the bloc battles surging infections. The Omicron coronavirus variant is swiftly spreading across the globe, with many new cases linked to the mutant and the World Health Organization warning that Omicron poses a "very high" risk but data on its severity is limited. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said its recommendation to allow J&J booster doses follows data which showed the additional shot led to a rise in antibodies against the COVID-causing SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Pfizer set to oust AstraZeneca as top supplier of COVID-19 shots to poor nations

Pfizer and BioNtech are set to displace AstraZeneca as the main suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines to the global COVAX programme at the start of 2022, a shift that shows the increasing importance of their shot for poorer states. The expected change comes with headaches for receiving countries that lack sufficient cold storage capacity to handle the Pfizer vaccine, and amid risks of a shortage of syringes needed to administer that shot. AstraZeneca is currently the most distributed vaccine by COVAX, according to data from Gavi, the vaccine alliance that co-manages the programme with the World Health Organization (WHO).
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Vaccine alliance chief: Omicron could trigger ‘Inequity 2.0’

The head of vaccine alliance Gavi, which is leading a U.N.-backed push to get COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, said that he’s seen early signs that rich countries are beginning to withhold donations out of fears about the omicron coronavirus variant — warning any new hoarding could lead to “Inequity 2.0.” Gavi chief executive Dr. Seth Berkley took stock of the nearly two-year fight against the pandemic as the alliance released the latest update to its supply forecast for COVID-19 vaccines that it has repeatedly downscaled, largely because of export bans and vaccine hoarding by some producer countries that critics say it should have foreseen. “With the omicron variant, what we’ve seen is panic in many countries that has led acceleration of boosters both to the numbers of people getting them, but also the timeline for getting them,” Berkley told The Associated Press in an interview late Tuesday at his home outside Geneva.
15th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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Conservative revolt over COVID curbs deals stinging blow to UK PM Johnson

Almost 100 Conservative lawmakers voted on Tuesday against new coronavirus restrictions, dealing a major blow to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's authority and raising questions about his leadership. After a day of frenzied failed lobbying, Johnson was handed the biggest rebellion against his government so far by his party over measures he said were necessary to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant. The new rules, which included ordering people to wear masks in public places and use COVID-19 passes for some venues, passed thanks largely to the main opposition Labour Party.
15th Dec 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Children as young as 5-years-old could be offered vaccine with decision 'expected' before Christmas

A decision on whether to vaccinate children as young as five against COVID could be made before Christmas, one of the government's top advisers on vaccines has said. Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's COVID-19 panel, said he would "expect" his team to offer their advice on jabs for those between the ages of five to 11-years-old before Christmas. COVID case rates have been consistently high in school-aged children since September, but vaccines have only been offered to 12 to 15-year-olds since November - later than in many other countries.
14th Dec 2021 - Sky News

Malaysia gives conditional approval for use of Ronapreve COVID-19 treatment

Malaysia's health ministry said on Tuesday it has given conditional approval for the use of the single-dose antibody cocktail Ronapreve, developed by Regeneron (REGN.O) and Roche (ROG.S), to treat COVID-19. It has also approved a request from Merck & Co (MRK.N) for a clinical trial import license for its COVID-19 pill Molnupiravir, to be used as part of studies being conducted in Malaysia, the ministry said in a statement.
14th Dec 2021 - Reuters

WHO Warns Against Underestimating the Omicron Threat

The World Health Organization is concerned that the omicron variant is being dismissed as mild, even as it spreads at a faster rate than any previous strain of Covid-19. The recently detected variant has been reported in some 77 nations, though it’s probably in most countries already, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We’re concerned that people are jumping to a conclusion that this is a mild disease,” Bruce Aylward, senior adviser at the WHO, told journalists at a briefing on Tuesday. “A more transmissible virus can do just as much damage -- or more -- than one which is more severe but less transmissible.”
14th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

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Moderna amends Covid-19 vaccine supply deal with Gavi

Moderna has amended an existing contract with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to expedite the supply of 20 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to COVAX by the end of this year. Under the deal, the company agreed to deliver a total of 54 million vaccine doses to COVAX this year. The supply of the vaccine doses to COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) nations has already been initiated. They were initially agreed to be delivered in the first quarter of next year as part of the company’s prior agreement with Gavi.
13th Dec 2021 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Nicaragua receives China vaccines after cutting ties with Taiwan

Nicaragua has received one million Covid vaccines from China, days after it cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favour of Beijing. Government representatives returned to the Central American state on Sunday with news of the donation. Local media broadcast clips showing an Air China plane landing with the first 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. Officials said they were "extremely grateful" for restored relations with Beijing. "We have come back with this great news that we have brought this donation of one million vaccinates to the Nicaraguan people," said Laureano Ortega Murillo, the son of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and one of his advisers.
13th Dec 2021 - BBC News

Philippines secures $250 mln loan from ADB for COVID-19 vaccines

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $250 million loan for the Philippines to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, it said in a statement on Monday. The ADB said the loan would allow the government to purchase 40 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses for eligible children and booster shots for adults. The Philippines is aiming to fully vaccinate at least 54 million people, or nearly half of its 110 million population, before the year ends.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Thailand to expedite COVID-19 boosters in anticipation of Omicron

Thailand will halve to three months the time between administering a second COVID-19 vaccine shot and a booster, a health official said on Monday, to try to strengthen immunity in anticipation of a local spread of the Omicron variant. Thailand has so far detected eight imported cases of the Omicron variant but has yet to see community transmission, according to its health ministry. Omicron has been reported in dozens of countries. "Because Omicron is now widespread, the booster third shot would help lessen the severity of symptoms and reduce the death rate," said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesperson for the government's COVID-19 taskforce.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

UK raises COVID alert level as Omicron advances

Britain raised its COVID alert level on Sunday in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the virus, as medical authorities warned that hospitalisations are likely to rise sharply over the coming weeks. The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland recommended an increase to alert level 4 from level 3 on its 5-point scale, which means they judge transmission of the virus to be high. "Early evidence shows that Omicron is spreading much faster than Delta and that vaccine protection against symptomatic disease from Omicron is reduced," the medical officers said in a joint statement.
13th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Moderna Plans Australia Vaccine-Manufacturing Facility

Moderna Inc. reached an agreement in principle with the Australian government to build a messenger RNA vaccine-manufacturing facility in Victoria, Australia. Moderna expects to invest in the facility with the collaboration of the Commonwealth and Victorian governments, aiming to provide Australians with domestically manufactured vaccines, including the Covid-19 and flu vaccines. Moderna expects that up to 100 million vaccine doses could be produced in Australia each year. The company said it is in discussions with other governments about potential collaborations using a similar model.
13th Dec 2021 - Dow Jones Newswire

France: 400 investigations into fake COVID-19 health passes

France has opened 400 investigations into networks providing fake COVID-19 health passes, the interior minister said Sunday, as virus-related hospitalizations rise sharply across the country. The case of a woman with the virus who died in a Paris regional hospital after showing a false vaccine certificate has drawn attention in French media in recent days. The hospital’s intensive care chief said they would have given the woman immediate antibody treatment had they known that she wasn’t vaccinated. Authorities have identified several thousand fake COVID-19 health passes in use around France, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Sunday on RTL radio. He said some 400 investigations have been opened into peddling fake passes, including some “connected to health professionals.”
13th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

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UK's Johnson warns of Omicron 'tidal wave', says two doses not enough

Britain faces a "tidal wave" of the Omicron variant of coronavirus and two vaccine doses will not be enough to contain it, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday, as he accelerated the booster rollout programme. Speaking hours after government scientists lifted the COVID alert level to 4 on a 5-point scale, Johnson said the booster programme must go faster because scientists did not yet know if Omicron was less severe than other variants. "A tidal wave of Omicron is coming," Johnson said in a televised statement on Sunday evening. "And I'm afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need."
12th Dec 2021 - Reuters

England Deaths Estimated at 75,000 This Winter on Omicron: Study

The omicron variant has the potential to cause a wave of Covid infections in England and fuel almost 75,000 deaths this winter, if the government doesn’t impose additional precautionary control measures, according to a research report by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Under the government’s ‘Plan B’ rules imposed last week in response to omicron, the most optimistic scenario for England indicates about 175,000 hospital admissions and 24,700 deaths for the five-month period from December to April. The worst-case projection is for 74,800 deaths. That is more than half the 127,154 fatalities registered in England since the start of the pandemic. England accounts for more than two thirds of almost 172,000 deaths in all of the United Kingdom, which includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The research is not yet peer reviewed, LSHTM said on its website.
11th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

Singapore approves COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11

Singapore will start COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 years before the end of this year, its health ministry said late on Friday. The Southeast Asian city-state has already vaccinated 87% of its 5.5 million population, and authorities were rushing to get children vaccinated amid concerns over rising number of paediatric COVID-19 cases. The dosage used for children will be one-third of that used in adults, similar to the United States.
11th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Ukraine receives more World Bank funds to fight COVID-19

The World Bank has approved an additional $150 million loan to help Ukraine speed up vaccinations against COVID-19, the international lender's Ukrainian office said on Saturday. Ukraine's government will spend $120 million on 16.5 million vaccine doses and the rest will be used for IT, communications and public outreach, capacity building and cold chain and waste management equipment, the World Bank said. "This new additional financing will help Ukraine continue strengthening its COVID-19 response and vaccination activities," Arup Banerji, the World Bank's regional country director for Eastern Europe, said in the statement.
11th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Party furore deepens for Britain's Johnson, spokesman was at lockdown gathering

UPDATE 3-Yahoo FinanceUK PM Johnson loses poll lead after lockdown party revelationsNasdaqUK PM Johnson's party loses poll lead after lockdown party ...Thomson Reuters FoundationUK PM Johnson loses poll lead after lockdown party revelations By Reuters | Editorials 24Editorials 24View Full coverage on Google News
11th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Will rich nations foot the bill for a global ‘pandemic treaty’?

World Health Organization member states have agreed to negotiate agreement on pandemic preparedness. Save the Children estimates that for every $1 invested in the global COVID-19 vaccination drive, rich nations could avoid losing $35 from their budgets. Yet, wealthy nations have failed to provide poorer countries with vaccines. And there has been a lack of coordination to tackle the pandemic. That need to cooperate is now gaining momentum after the Omicron variant was detected by scientists in South Africa. WHO member states have agreed to negotiate a global agreement on pandemic preparedness. And we look at why hypersonic missiles are driving a new arms race.
11th Dec 2021 - AlJazeera

New York State Will Require Masks in All Indoor Public Places

New York Governor Kathy Hochul ordered all businesses to require masks indoors if they don’t have a Covid-19 vaccine requirement. “My two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy,” she said in a Friday statement. “The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season.”
10th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

German Lawmakers Back Vaccine Mandate for Health Workers

German lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a bill Friday that requires staff at hospitals and nursing homes to get immunized against the coronavirus — the first of two vaccine mandates being considered in the country. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach had earlier told parliament it was unconscionable that some who work with particularly vulnerable people were still not vaccinated. “This vaccine mandate is necessary because it's completely unacceptable that, after two years of pandemic, people who have entrusted their care to us are dying unnecessarily in institutions because unvaccinated people work there,” he said. “We cannot accept this."
10th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

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Covid-19 news: England activates Plan B to slow omicron spread

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has announced new measures in England to reduce the spread of covid-19 with cases of the omicron variant growing rapidly. Mandatory mask-wearing will be extended to indoor public venues including cinemas, theatres and places of worship from Friday but will not be required in pubs and restaurants, while the guidance to work from home where possible will return on Monday. The NHS covid pass, which can be obtained by having two vaccines or a negative lateral flow test, will be required for entry into nightclubs and other large venues from 15 December. Johnson warned it is clear that the new variant is “growing much faster” than the delta variant, and cases of omicron could be doubling every two or three days. He said Christmas parties and nativities could go ahead, but urged people to “exercise due caution” and get their booster jabs. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warned omicron is spreading “rapidly” and it is possible hospital admissions from the new variant in England could exceed 1000 per day – and still be increasing – by the end of the year. “The overall scale of any wave of hospitalisations without interventions is highly uncertain, but the peak could reach several times this level,” the minutes from a meeting held on Tuesday said.
9th Dec 2021 - New Scientist

WHO exec: donated COVID-19 vaccines with short shelf life 'major problem'

Wealthy countries donating COVID-19 vaccines with a relatively short shelf life has been a "major problem" for the COVAX dose sharing programme, a senior official at the World Health Organization said on Thursday. Kate O'Brien, the WHO's vaccine director, said in a briefing the proportion of wasted doses is smaller in countries receiving doses through COVAX than in many high-income countries. Her comments come as concerns grow that many African countries are finding they do not have the capacity to get shots in arms before they expire.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

FDA expands Pfizer COVID booster, opens extra dose to age 16

The U.S. is expanding COVID-19 boosters, ruling that 16- and 17-year-olds can get a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine. The U.S. and many other nations already were urging adults to get booster shots to pump up immunity that can wane months after vaccination, calls that intensified with the discovery of the worrisome new omicron variant. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization for 16- and 17-year-olds to get a third dose of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech -- if it’s been six months since their last shot.
9th Dec 2021 - Associated Press on MSN.com

U.S. Senate passes Republican bill to overturn Biden vaccine mandate

The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a Republican measure that would overturn President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses, with two Democrats joining Republicans to back the initiative. The 52-48 vote sends the legislation to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, where it faces strong headwinds, while Biden has threatened to veto it.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

People with health issues or inactivated vaccine should get COVID-19 booster - WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended on Thursday that people who are immunocompromised or received an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine should receive a booster dose to protect against waning immunity. Many countries have been rolling out booster shots, targeting the elderly and people with underlying health issues, but worries about the new, more transmissible Omicron variant have prompted some to expand their use to larger portions of their populations.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

U.S. FDA authorizes use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody cocktail

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized the use of AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail to prevent COVID-19 infections in individuals with weak immune systems or a history of severe side effects from coronavirus vaccines. The antibody cocktail, Evusheld, is only authorized for adults and adolescents who are not currently infected with the novel coronavirus and have not recently been exposed to an infected individual, the regulator said. The authorization for the therapy, made up of two monoclonal antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab, marks a significant step for AstraZeneca, whose widely used COVID-19 vaccine is yet to be approved by U.S. authorities.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Eritrea has not started vaccinating against COVID, says Africa CDC

Eritrea has yet to start vaccinating its population against COVID-19, the head of the African Centres for Disease Control said on Thursday. "Eritrea is the only country now that has not joined the family of 55 member states (of the African Union) that are moving forward with vaccination, but we are not giving up," John Nkengasong told an online media briefing.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

China approves Brii Biosciences antibody COVID treatment

China's medical products regulator said on Wednesday it had approved the use of Brii Biosciences' neutralising antibody cocktail for COVID-19, the first treatment of its type against the virus given the go-ahead in the country. The combination of BRII-196/BRII-198 showed a 80% reduction of hospitalisation and deaths in non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients at high risk of developing severe disease, based on final results from a Phase III clinical trial, Brii said in a statement on Thursday.
9th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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UK's Johnson orders probe of staff party during lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday ordered an inquiry and said he was “furious” after a leaked video showed senior members of his staff joking about holding a lockdown-breaching Christmas party. The video has poured fuel on allegations that officials in the Conservative government flouted coronavirus rules they imposed on everyone else. It release came as Johnson urged people to work from home and introduced vaccine passes for crowded venues to try and slow the spread of the new omicron variant. “I understand and share the anger up and down the country” at officials seeming to make light of lockdown rules, Johnson said. “I was also furious to see that clip,” he told lawmakers in the House of Commons. “I apologize unreservedly for the offense that it has caused up and down the country, and I apologize for the impression it gives.”
8th Dec 2021 - The Associated Press

Johnson imposes COVID-19 'Plan B' in England to contain Omicron

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher COVID-19 restrictions in England on Wednesday, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Undermined by accusations that his staff partied at Downing Street during a Christmas lockdown last year, Johnson said Omicron was spreading rapidly and he had no choice but to move to "Plan B" while a vaccine booster programme rolls out.
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Children aged five to 11 to be offered vaccine in Ireland

Covid-19 vaccinations will be offered to children aged five to 11 in the Republic of Ireland. Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has accepted advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). About 480,000 primary school children in the Irish Republic will be offered a vaccine. According to RTÉ, it is likely to be January before the main vaccination programme begins, but some children may get their vaccine this month. The vaccine for this age group will be a lower dose than that given to older children. The NIAC strongly recommended that a vaccine should be given to children aged five to 11 who have an underlying condition, are living with a younger child with complex medical needs or living with an immunocompromised adult.
8th Dec 2021 - BBC News

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine approved for booster shots in Australia

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in booster shots for adults in Australia. Australia's medicines authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has given the green light to the shot being used as a booster for people aged 18 and over. Until now, only the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been available for booster shots in Australia. As is advised with the Pfizer booster shot, the Moderna booster shot should be given six months after the second dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. The TGA has also said immunocompromised people aged 12 and over can have a third shot as soon as 28 days after their second vaccine. The TGA said its decision to allow the Moderna vaccine to be used for booster shots was guided by expert advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Vaccines.
8th Dec 2021 - 9News

Spain approves COVID vaccine for children in 5-11 age group

Spain’s health ministry gave the go-ahead Tuesday for children between ages 5 and 11 to be vaccinated against COVID-19 amid a rise in coronavirus infections in recent weeks. Italy and Austria have also been inoculating children since the European Union’s drug regulator on Nov. 25 authorized Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for use on that age group. The European Medicines Agency’s decision opened the way for jabs to be administered to millions of elementary school pupils across the continent. The Spanish health ministry tweeted news of the approval, following the decision of an expert committee. The rollout is due to begin Dec. 15, two days after the first of 3.2 million child vaccines arrive in Spain
8th Dec 2021 - The Independent

China approves Brii Biosciences' COVID-19 treatment

China's medical products regulator said on Wednesday it had approved the use of Brii Biosciences' neutralising antibody cocktail for COVID-19, the first treatment of its type against the virus given the go-ahead in the country. The combination of BRII-196/BRII-198 showed a 78% reduction of hospitalization and death in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk of developing severe disease in a Phase III clinical trial, Brii said in October. The medicine from a Brii subsidiary was approved to treat mild COVID-19 and the disease of "normal type" with high risk of progressing to hospitalization or death in adults and minors aged 12-17, the National Medical Products Administration said.
8th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Dec 2021

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Slovak Ruling Parties Agree on $337 Bonus for Vaccinated Seniors

Slovakia’s ruling parties agreed on a lower-than-planned payment worth 300 euros ($337) to people aged 60 and over for getting fully inoculated against Covid-19 to increase one of the European Union’s lowest vaccination rates. The government is expected to give final approval on Wednesday, but that should be a formality given the cabinet’s makeup, daily newspaper Sme reported. The coalition also agreed to relax some coronavirus measures for the vaccinated, such as access to all shops, from Friday. Children attending sixth grade and higher will switch to online learning from Monday. “We have a good agreement,” Prime Minister Eduard Heger said after the coalition meeting on Tuesday.
7th Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

U.S. judge blocks last remaining Biden admin COVID-19 vaccine rule

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the last of the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandates for businesses, saying the government exceeded it authority with a requirement that millions of employees of federal contractors be inoculated. The ruling was the latest setback for President Joe Biden, a Democrat, who announced a series of measures in September aimed at increasing vaccination rates to fight the pandemic that continues to kill more than 1,000 Americans daily. "Abuse of power by the Biden administration has been stopped cold again," Republican South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who joined the lawsuit, said in a statement. U.S. District Judge Stan Baker in Savannah, Georgia, said Congress did not clearly authorize the president to use procurement to impose a vaccine requirement on contractors that will have "vast economic and political significance."
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Mandatory jabs are 'absolute last resort', says WHO Europe chief as several EU countries consider introducing them

The World Health Organisation's top official in Europe has said mandatory coronavirus vaccinations are an "absolute last resort", as several EU countries consider introducing them. "Mandates around vaccination are an absolute last resort and only applicable when all feasible options to improve vaccination uptake have been exhausted," WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said. Several European countries are debating whether to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.
7th Dec 2021 - Sky News

World Bank says its funding helped deliver 100 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses

The World Bank on Monday said its funding had helped deliver 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world and it would reach the 150-million mark by the end of the month, if doses arrive as expected. World Bank President David Malpass said the multilateral development bank had contracted for nearly 300 million doses, with some $7.5 billion in vaccine financing operations for 69 countries to be committed by the end of December.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator backs Roche's arthritis drug for treating severe COVID-19

The European Union's drug regulator on Monday recommended extending the use of Roche's RoActemra arthritis drug for adult COVID-19 patients on systemic treatment with steroids and those who need oxygen support or mechanical ventilation. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said its human medicines committee evaluated data from a main study involving over 4,000 hospitalised adults, and concluded that the medicine's benefits outweigh the risks for these patients. The EMA's endorsement comes after Europe crossed at least 75 million coronavirus cases as the world braces for the new Omicron variant. Formal approval is up to the European Commission, which typically follows EMA recommendations.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

EU agencies endorse mix-and-match of COVID-19 vaccines

EU health agencieshave recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be mixed and matched for both initial courses and booster doses as the region battles rising cases ahead of Christmas. Evidence suggests that the combination of viral vector vaccines and mRNA vaccines produces good levels of antibodies against the coronavirus causing COVID-19, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a joint statementon Tuesday.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

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France can avoid return to lockdown and still save Christmas -PM

France will close nightclubs ahead of Christmas and tighten social distancing measures in response to the emergent Omicron variant of the coronavirus but there is no need for new lockdowns or curfews, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Monday. Castex said a fifth wave of the pandemic was now surging through the country. But he said that with 52 million people now vaccinated - nearly 90% of those eligible - the situation is better than in previous outbreaks and there is no need for drastic measures to save Christmas.
7th Dec 2021 - Reuters

Canada enters deals to procure Merck and Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral pills

The Government of Canada has entered agreements with Merck and Pfizer to procure courses of their Covid-19 oral antiviral pills. According to the agreement with Merck (MSD), Canada will obtain 500,000 courses of the company’s oral antiviral, molnupiravir, on obtaining authorisation from Health Canada. The government also holds options to procure up to 500,000 additional courses of the pill. In June, Merck entered a deal valued at about $1.2bn with the US Government to supply molnupiravir.
6th Dec 2021 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Argentina approves Sputnik Light Covid-19 shot as standalone and booster

The Ministry of Health of Argentina has granted approval for Russia’s single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine as a standalone and a booster vaccine for Covid-19. This vaccine is based on human adenovirus serotype 26, which is also used in Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as the first component, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said. According to data from 28,000 participants in Moscow, Russia, Sputnik Light given as standalone demonstrated an efficacy of 70% against Covid-19 infection from the Delta variant during the initial three months following inoculation. The shot was found to have an effectiveness of 75% in people aged below 60 years.
6th Dec 2021 - Pharmaceutical Technology

COVID-19 vaccines: Antibody levels might help speed up approval

Health authorities only approve the use of COVID-19 vaccines that have gone through rigorous clinical trials. Scientists assess whether a vaccine is effective by checking whether participants in a trial develop the infection after having the vaccine. In the present study, researchers find that a person’s antibody response could serve a correlate of effectiveness, instead of whether people develop the infection. Using this proposed measure could speed up the regulatory approval of future vaccines.
6th Dec 2021 - Medical News Today

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Lilly’s Covid-19 Antibody Treatment Authorized for Use in Children

Eli Lilly & Co.’s monoclonal antibody drug has been cleared for emergency use in children under the age of 12, the Food and Drug Administration said on Friday. The authorization is the first for an antibody drug to treat young children, including newborns, who have tested positive for Covid-19 or been exposed to the virus and who are at high risk of developing severe cases including hospitalization or death. “Now all patients at high risk of severe Covid-19, including children and newborn babies, have an option for treatment and post-exposure prevention,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Children under one year of age who are exposed to the virus that causes Covid-19 may be at particularly high risk of severe disease, said Dr. Cavazzoni. She emphasized, however, that antibody drug treatment isn’t a substitute for vaccination, which is authorized for children five years of age and up.
5th Dec 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Belgium Extends School Holiday in Attempt to Break Virus Wave

Belgium ordered primary schools to extend the Christmas holiday in its third attempt to break a Covid-19 wave that’s among the worst in Europe after experts singled out unvaccinated children as a catalyst of infections in broader society. Virtual schooling will be required at least half of the time for children 12 years and older starting Monday, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said at a briefing in Brussels. Other new measures include a ban on indoor events with more than 200 participants, and a mandate to wear masks from the age of six.
3rd Dec 2021 - Bloomberg

U.S. ships 9 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa, 2 mln worldwide

The United States on Friday sent 9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries in Africa and another 2 million doses to other nations, the White House said. "Today, we are shipping 9 million vaccine doses to Africa and another 2 million worldwide. We need every country to step up with the same urgency and ambition as the US," White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a post on Twitter.
3rd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Slovakia's COVID-19 case record inflated by system glitch

Slovakia reported 15,278 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic broke out, but the Health Ministry said a technical issue inflated the number. "The reason for today's high number of positive test results is additional data, which did not pass from laboratories to the information system on Nov. 30," the ministry said. The ministry did not specify the actual number of cases detected on Thursday. The country of 5.5 million has 3,404 people hospitalised with the illness, including 630 in intensive care.
3rd Dec 2021 - Reuters

WHO says vaccine makers right to adjust COVID jabs

The World Health Organisation said Omicron has been detected in 38 countries but there are no reported deaths so far from the new COVID-19 variant. WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier also said it is “commendable” that makers of COVID-19 vaccines are planning for the “likelihood” of needing to adjust their products to protect against the Omicron variant. WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan urged people not to panic over the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant and said it was too early to say if COVID-19 vaccines would have to be modified to fight it. Swaminathan said during an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Friday that the right response was to be prepared and cautious and not to panic in face of the new variant.
3rd Dec 2021 - AlJazeera

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Dec 2021

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Italy approves Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for children

The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) has approved the use of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, for children aged five to 11 years. The Covid-19 vaccine is approved to be administered in two doses at a gap of three weeks. The dosage for this age group is indicated to be a third of the authorised 30µg dose given to adults and adolescents. AIFA’s Technical Scientific Commission (CTS) noted that the vaccine showed a high efficacy level with no warning signals highlighted in terms of safety, according to the data submitted by the companies. The CTS stated that “although SARS-CoV-2 infection is certainly more benign in children, in some cases it can be associated with serious consequences, such as the risk of developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-c), which may also require hospitalisation in intensive care.”
2nd Dec 2021 - Pharmaceutical Technology

New Covid-19 drug Sotrovimab that could be effective against the Omicron variant approved by regulators

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has authorised the drug for use in people with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms but who are at a higher risk of developing severe disease. Work will now be done to see if the drug will be effective against the new Omicron strain,
2nd Dec 2021 - iNews

COVID-19: WHO deploying surge team to South Africa as reinfections rise amid Omicron outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is set to deploy a surge team to South Africa to help deal with the new Omicron COVID variant outbreak. The team will be sent to Gauteng province to help with surveillance and contact tracing as experts warned the new variant could be causing an increase in COVID reinfections across the country. WHO regional emergency director for Africa, Salam Gueye, also said it was providing technical assistance to boost the production and distribution of medical oxygen in Botswana - another country where Omicron has been detected.
2nd Dec 2021 - Sky News

UK agrees deals for 114 million more Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 doses

Britain said on Wednesday it had agreed deals to buy 114 million more Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shots, saying it had sped up signing the new contracts in light of the emergence of the new Omicron variant. The deal involves an additional 60 million Moderna shots and 54 million Pfizer doses for next year and 2023, and will also include access to any modified vaccinations if they are needed to combat the Omicron strain or any other variant, the British health ministry said.
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Italy approves COVID-19 vaccination for 5-11 year olds

Italy's medicines agency AIFA on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11. AIFA's decision, which was widely expected, came after the European Union's drug regulator (EMA) took the same step on Nov. 25.
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

Britain approves GSK-Vir antibody-based COVID-19 treatment

Britain's drug regulator on Thursday approved GSK and Vir Biotechnology's antibody based COVID-19 treatment, Xevudy, for people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing severe disease. The approval comes as GSK separately announced the treatment has shown to work against the Omicron variant.
2nd Dec 2021 - Reuters

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All adults to be offered COVID-19 booster jabs by end of January 2022

The UK government has aimed to expand their COVID-19 vaccination programme, in accordance with guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). All eligible adults in England aged 18 and over will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine by 31 January 2022. Everyone who is currently eligible – including those aged 40 and over, health and social care workers and those at increased risk from the virus due to preexisting health conditions – will be able to book their jab from three months after their second dose. This means that an additional seven million people over 40 are now eligible.
1st Dec 2021 - PharmaTimes

WHO warns against blanket travel bans over Omicron coronavirus variant

Countries should apply "an evidence-informed and risk-based approach" with any travel measures related to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, including possible screening or quarantine of international passengers, but blanket bans do not prevent its spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. The WHO, in its latest guidance to authorities and travellers, said that people over 60 years of age who are not fully vaccinated or do not have proof of previous SARS-COV-2 infection and those with underlying health conditions should be advised to postpone travel as they are at higher risk of disease and death.
1st Dec 2021 - Reuters

U.S. FDA panel narrowly backs Merck's at-home COVID-19 pill

A panel of expert advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday narrowly voted to recommend the agency authorize Merck & Co's (MRK.N) antiviral pill to treat COVID-19. If the FDA authorizes the drug, it would be the first at-home treatment for the virus nearly two years into the pandemic. The authorization would likely be limited to patients at high risk of developing severe disease, although the exact population would be defined by the agency. Merck published data last week suggesting the drug was significantly less effective than previously thought, reducing hospitalizations and deaths in its clinical trial of high-risk individuals by around 30%.
1st Dec 2021 - Reuters

Germany to act to counter COVID-19 fourth wave

Germany's federal and regional governments agreed on Tuesday to take action to counter a fourth wave of COVID-19, including stepping up the vaccination campaign and restricting contact, especially for unvaccinated people. Facing a surge in cases over the last few weeks and warnings from virologists that exponential growth rates would overload hospitals, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel held video talks with her successor, Olaf Scholz, and regional leaders. "There is agreement that the fourth wave has led to an extremely serious, in some regions dramatic situation in our healthcare system to which federal and state governments will respond jointly and decisively," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
1st Dec 2021 - Reuters

WHO members agree to start drafting global pandemic convention

Member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed to start drafting a global agreement to prevent and tackle the next global pandemic. Countries adopted a resolution on Wednesday at a special meeting in Geneva, launching the process that it is hoped should result in a new agreement on pandemics.
1st Dec 2021 - AlJazeera

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Austria pushes on with plan for mandatory Covid vaccines

Germany’s chancellor-to-be, Olaf Scholz, supports making vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory, German media have reported, as neighbouring Austria is debating how to enforce obligatory jabs from February. Scholz, a Social Democrat, who is expected to be sworn in as Angela Merkel’s successor in the coming week, reportedly told a meeting of regional leaders he was in favour of a cross-party initiative to make vaccines mandatory, as well as requiring customers at non-essential stores to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus. “As a delegate I would certainly vote in favour, to make that very clear,” Der Spiegel reported Scholz as saying. The outgoing finance minister proposed a general vaccine mandate coming into effect from the end of February, by which everyone should have had a theoretical chance to receive two doses of vaccine of their own accord.
30th Nov 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Public inquiry should examine 'mishandling' by NHS 111 service during first wave of pandemic

Families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus believed the public inquiry into pandemic should examine the alleged "mishandling" of the crisis by the NHS 111 service. The COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said the role of the telephone advice service in the early days of the crisis was to "alleviate the burden on the NHS", with "horrific consequences". Despite an extra 700 call handlers being added, the service was "swamped" as the first wave hit and operators were making life and death decisions with just 10 weeks of training, it argued.
30th Nov 2021 - Sky News

UAE approves Sputnik Light as universal booster shot against COVID-19 - RDIF

The United Arab Emirates has approved Russia's Sputnik Light vaccine as a universal booster shot against COVID-19, Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF said on Tuesday. The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which markets the vaccine abroad, said Sputnik Light can be administered six months after the second dose of any other vaccine used in the United Arab Emirates.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Germany's Scholz supports mandatory vaccines - sources

Germany's federal and regional governments agreed on Tuesday to take action to counter a fourth wave of COVID-19, including stepping up the vaccination campaign and restricting contact, especially for unvaccinated people. Facing a surge in cases over the last few weeks and warnings from virologists that exponential growth rates would overload hospitals, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel held video talks with her successor, Olaf Scholz, and regional leaders.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Rich countries must stop blocking the COVID vaccine patent waiver

The COVID-19 crisis and measures taken by states to mitigate, prevent and contain the spread of the virus have had an immeasurable impact on lives and livelihoods of the nearly eight billion people on the planet. The pandemic and many state responses have brought on what the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has described as a parallel “pandemic of human rights abuses” and the exacerbation of poverty and inequality worldwide. The World Health Organization has called on governments to place human rights at the heart of their pandemic responses, including by ensuring universal access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and health technologies. They are globally understood as public health goods and access to them is part of the human right to health.
30th Nov 2021 - Aljazeera.com

India promises more COVID-19 shots to Omicron-hit Africa after Chinese move

India stands ready to "expeditiously" send more COVID-19 vaccine to Africa to help fight the Omicron variant, New Delhi said late on Monday after China pledged 1 billion doses to the continent. India and China have close ties with many African countries but Beijing has pumped much more money into the region, and on Monday promised to invest another $10 billion
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. CDC says all adults should get COVID-19 booster shots

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday everyone aged 18 years and older should get a booster shot, as it looks to tackle a new and highly infectious strain of the coronavirus that is quickly spreading across the globe. The update comes after President Joe Biden on Monday called for wider vaccination to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which was first detected in southern Africa.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Celltrion signs COVID-19 antibody therapy supply deals with Europe

South Korean biotech company Celltrion's distribution arm has signed supply deals for its monoclonal antibody to treat COVID-19 with nine European countries, Celltrion Healthcare said on Tuesday. The European Commission earlier this month approved the company's antibody therapy Regkirona, granting marketing authorisation for adults with COVID-19 who are at increased risk of progressing to a severe condition. The first batch of 50,000 doses will be shipped to Europe this year and the company is in talks with 47 other nations including in Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East, Celltrion said in a statement.
30th Nov 2021 - Reuters

WHO warns that new virus variant poses 'very high' risk

The World Health Organization warned Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on the early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with “severe consequences.” The assessment from the U.N. health agency, contained in a technical paper issued to member states, amounted to WHO’s strongest, most explicit warning yet about the new version that was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa. It came as a widening circle of countries around the world reported cases of the variant and moved to slam their doors in an act-now-ask-questions-later approach while scientists race to figure out just how dangerous the mutant version might be. Japan announced it is barring entry to all foreign visitors, joining Israel in doing so. Morocco banned all incoming flights. Other countries, including the U.S. and members of the European Union, have moved to prohibit travelers arriving from southern Africa.
30th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

US tracking of virus variants has improved after slow start

After a slow start, the United States has improved its surveillance system for tracking new coronavirus variants such as omicron, boosting its capacity by tens of thousands of samples per week since early this year. Viruses mutate constantly. To find and track new versions of the coronavirus, scientists analyze the genetic makeup of a portion of samples that test positive. They’re looking at the chemical letters of the virus’s genetic code to find new worrisome mutants, such as omicron, and to follow the spread of known variants, such as delta. It’s a global effort, but until recently the U.S. was contributing very little. With uncoordinated and scattershot testing, the U.S. was sequencing fewer than 1% of positive specimens earlier this year. Now, it is running those tests on 5% to 10% of samples. That’s more in line with what other nations have sequenced and shared with global disease trackers over the course of the pandemic.
30th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Final US hurdle for Merck’s COVID-19 pill: FDA panel review

A panel of U.S. health advisers on Tuesday narrowly backed a closely watched COVID-19 pill from Merck, setting the stage for a likely authorization of the first drug that Americans could take at home to treat the coronavirus. The Food and Drug Administration panel voted 13-10 that the antiviral drug’s benefits outweigh its risks, including potential birth defects if used during pregnancy. “I see this as an incredibly difficult decision with many more questions than answers,” said panel chair Dr. Lindsey Baden of Harvard Medical School, who voted in favor of the drug. He said FDA would have to carefully tailor the drug’s use for patients who stand to benefit most.
30th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

US deaths get even redder

The gap in Covid’s death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point. In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.
30th Nov 2021 - The New York Times

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Nov 2021

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Omicron variant puts world in a 'race against time', says EU Commission President

The world is in a "race against time" with the Omicron coronavirus variant, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday, warning during a visit to Latvia that scientists and manufacturers will need weeks to fully understand the new variant. As more cases are identified and governments around the world mobilize to respond to Omicron, an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers will be convened on Monday, the United Kingdom said. It also announced on Sunday new domestic public health rules requiring face coverings in shops and on public transport starting this week. Omicron was first identified by scientists in South Africa, who raised alarm over its unusually high number of mutations on Thursday. Since then, at least a dozen other countries have confirmed cases of the new strain, with several other reporting suspected cases.
29th Nov 2021 - CNN

China’s Xi promises 1bn COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa

President Xi Jinping has said China would offer another one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to African countries and would encourage Chinese companies to invest no less than $10bn in Africa across the next three years. The pledge of additional vaccine doses – on top of the nearly 200 million that China has already supplied to the continent – comes as concerns intensify about the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus, known as Omicron, which was first identified in southern Africa. The Chinese leader said that his country would donate 600 million doses directly. A further 400 million doses would come from other sources, such as investments in production sites
29th Nov 2021 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com

South Africa's Aspen in advanced talks over COVID-19 vaccine deal

Aspen Pharmacare is in advanced discussions over a potential licensing agreement to package the COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa, it said on Monday. The South African company did not mention the name of the company with which it was in talks, but in early September it said it was in talks with U.S. pharma giant Johnson & Johnson over a vaccine packaging licence. Aspen currently packages J&J's COVID-19 vaccine at its South African plant under contract, which means it does not have any pricing or distribution power over the product. The company currently produces 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses annually under its J&J contract, which are then supplied across Africa. It plans to ramp up capacity to 1.3 billion doses by February 2024, Chief Executive Stephen Saad told Reuters in October
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Omicron poses very high global risk, world must prepare -WHO

The heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges that could have "severe consequences" in some places, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. No Omicron-linked deaths had yet been reported, though further research was needed to assess its potential to resist vaccines and immunity induced by previous infections, it added. Anticipating increased case numbers as the variant, first reported last week, spreads, the U.N. agency urged its 194 member states to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups.
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand to ease COVID measures this week despite Omicron threat - PM

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday the country will move into a system of living with the COVID-19 virus later this week despite the new Omicron variant posing a fresh health threat to the world. There were no cases of the Omicron variant in New Zealand at this stage but the developing global situation showed why a cautious approach was needed at the borders, she said.
29th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Omicron brings COVID-19 vaccine inequity ‘home to roost’

The emergence of the new omicron variant and the world’s desperate and likely futile attempts to keep it at bay are reminders of what scientists have warned for months: The coronavirus will thrive as long as vast parts of the world lack vaccines. The hoarding of limited COVID-19 shots by rich countries — creating virtual vaccine deserts in many poorer ones — doesn’t just mean risk for the parts of the world seeing shortages; it threatens the entire globe. That’s because the more the disease spreads among unvaccinated populations, the more possibilities it has to mutate and potentially become more dangerous, prolonging the pandemic for everyone.
29th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Pfizer, Moderna, J&J and AstraZeneca assess omicron's effect on their COVID-19 vaccines

With the new omicron strain fueling fear around the globe that the coronavirus is regaining momentum, makers of the world’s most successful vaccines are investigating whether they need to tweak their shots. Over the last few days, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca revealed plans to address the threat posed by omicron, which emerged in South Africa and recently was detected in Australia, Israel, Hong Kong and parts of Europe. On Friday, the World Health Organization classified omicron as a “variant of concern.” Each of the companies said it's testing an omicron-specific vaccine. Moderna said it could have a tweaked version of its shot ready early next year if necessary. In the case of the delta and beta variants, Moderna needed “60-90 days” to advance new candidates to clinical testing, it said in a release.
29th Nov 2021 - FiercePharma

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WHO reaches draft consensus on future pandemic treaty

Member states of the World Health Organization have reached a tentative consensus to negotiate a future agreement on preventing pandemics, bridging the gap between sides led by the European Union and United States, diplomats said on Sunday. The draft resolution, hammered out in negotiations over the weekend, will be presented for adoption to health ministers at the WHO's three-day special assembly that opens on Monday, they said.
28th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Israel to close borders to all foreigners due to omicron variant

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the country's borders would be closed to all foreigners due to concerns about the omicron variant and that Israeli citizens coming into the country would have to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. The statement, issued on Saturday, said that beginning at midnight between Sunday and Monday, the country’s borders would be closed to international travelers for two weeks pending approval from the government, Reuters reported. One case of the omicron variant has been confirmed in Israel and seven others in the country are suspected to have the variant, according to the news outlet.
27th Nov 2021 - The Hill

WTO postpones major meeting over COVID-19 concerns -sources

The World Trade Organization (WTO) became the first major diplomatic casualty of the new coronavirus variant on Friday when it postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years due to the deteriorating health situation. Ministers from WTO members were due to have gathered next week for a meeting widely seen as a test of the WTO's relevance. The WTO said that its members had agreed late on Friday to postpone the ministerial conference after the new variant outbreak led to travel restrictions that would have prevented many ministers from reaching Geneva.
26th Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. President Biden calls for intellectual property protection waivers on COVID-19 vaccines

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday called on nations expected to meet at the World Trade Organization next week to agree to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines in the wake of the identification of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa. However, the meeting he was referring to was later postponed after the new variant led to travel restrictions that would have prevented many participants from reaching Geneva
26th Nov 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand PM Ardern says prepared for new COVID-19 variants

New Zealand is well prepared for the discovery of new coronavirus variants that may be resistant to vaccines, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday, including the strain currently spreading in South Africa. "All of our planning around COVID, we have built into it the possibility of variants in the future," Ardern said in an interview for the upcoming Reuters Next conference. "That is why we are maintaining levels of public health protections. It's why we've maintained requirements at our border." Britain on Thursday drew attention to a newly identified coronavirus variant in South Africa with a spike protein that was dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are based on.
26th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Israel labels 7 African countries ‘red’ as new variant stokes worry

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday evening ordered that several countries in southern Africa be labeled “red,” heavily restricting entry from them following the emergence of a new, highly mutable coronavirus variant in South Africa, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini were added to the list of countries from which foreigners are barred entry to Israel. The list had been empty for some six weeks, as no country met the Health Ministry’s criteria. Israelis returning to the country, including those fully vaccinated, from any of the countries now considered “red” will be required to isolate at a state-run hotel for a week and will be released after receiving two negative PCR virus tests, Bennett said in a statement.
26th Nov 2021 - The Times of Israel

Fauci says changing definition of fully vaccinated to include boosters is 'on the table' | TheHill

Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said changing the definition of what qualifies a person as fully vaccinated to include a booster shot is “on the table.” "Right now, officially, fully vaccinated equals two shots of the mRNA and one shot of the J&J, but without a doubt that could change," Fauci said in an interview for the upcoming Reuters Next conference, Reuters reported. "That's on the table for discussion,” he added. The consideration comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that booster shots can be given to anyone above the age of 18. "We'd like to get as many people who were originally vaccinated with the first regimen boosted," Fauci said, adding he hopes to see an “overwhelming majority” get the booster shot. Proof of full vaccination has been required by many venues across the country and in some major cities has been required for dining in at restaurants.
25th Nov 2021 - The Hill

Health minister suggests fourth vaccine dose amid rising fears of fifth COVID wave

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said Wednesday that Israelis may need to get a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose at some point if cases climb again, as the country’s top coronavirus official warned that the country may already be seeing the start of a fifth infection wave. “It’s not unreasonable [to think] we’ll need a fourth vaccine,” said Horowitz in an interview with Channel 12, after Health Ministry data indicated that 9 percent of the new cases diagnosed Tuesday had received the third booster dose. Most concerns, however, have revolved not around triply-vaccinated adults, but children who have yet to be vaccinated. Israel began giving shots to kids as young as 5 this week, amid signs pointing to increasing infection rates among kids.
25th Nov 2021 - The Times of Israel

Turkey's domestic COVID-19 vaccine applies for emergency authorisation

Turkey's domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, Turkovac, has applied for emergency authorisation, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday, adding he hoped the shot would be available for use by year-end. Speaking at his ministry's budget debate in parliament, Koca said work on Turkovac was nearing completion, and added the shot would mark the first Phase III clinical research project to be fully carried out by Turkey. "I would like to share a piece of good news for our people: our domestic inactive COVID-19 vaccine Turkovac has applied for emergency authorisation as of today," Koca said.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator gives go-ahead to first COVID shot for 5-11 year olds

The EU's drug regulator approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 on Thursday, paving the way for them to be given a first shot as Europe struggles with a surge in cases. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended that Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine, approved for European Union use in teenagers between 12 and 17 years old since May, be given as an injection in the upper arm in two 10 microgram doses, three weeks apart. Adult doses contain 30 micrograms.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Australia to deploy police, military to Solomon Islands as protests spread

Australia will deploy more than 100 police and military personnel to aid the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday, as protesters in the Pacific Island nation defied a curfew to protest for a second consecutive day. Morrison said Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had requested Australian assistance, which Canberra's national security committee quickly approved. Australia will send 23 police officers immediately to assist with riot control, Morrison said, with a further 50 personnel to enforce security at critical infrastructure.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Louisiana spends $27M and counting on vaccine outreach work

Trying to boost one of the nation’s lowest coronavirus vaccination rates, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration has spent $27 million and counting on incentive programs, community door-knocking and advertising in hopes of persuading people to get the shot. The Louisiana Department of Health’s vaccine outreach costs continue to grow weekly and are entirely federally financed. The work began in November 2020, according to the agency, and has reached a spending pace of about $2 million a month on its paid media campaign alone. The state has sought to chip away at immunization hesitancy with TV, radio and digital advertising, direct mail to homes, telephone town hall meetings, billboards and a hotline to answer vaccine-related questions. Local organizations have been hired to make phone calls, show up at local events and walk neighborhoods promoting the vaccine benefits.
25th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

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Ecuador to administer COVID-19 booster shots to general population in 2022

Ecuador will administer booster shots against COVID-19 to the general population starting January 2022, the government said on Wednesday, acknowledging a rise in cases in the Amazon region due to difficulties in carrying out vaccinations.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

France to announce COVID-19 booster shots for all adults - media

France is expected to announce that COVID-19 booster shots will be made available to all adults as well as stricter rules on wearing face masks and more stringent health pass checks to curb a new wave of infections, French media reported. Health Minister Olivier Veran is due to hold a press conference at midday on Thursday. President Emmanuel Macron's government on Wednesday said it would focus on tougher social distancing rules and a faster booster shot programme and that it wanted to avoid the lockdowns being imposed once more by some other European countries.
25th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Canada gives full approval to J&J's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson said Canada gave full approval to its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 years and older, making it the first full approval for the vaccine globally. The vaccine was previously authorised by the country under an interim order. Canada, which is reporting 2,563 infections on average each day and has administered at least 60,101,058 doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far, gave full approval to Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc's coronavirus vaccines in September. The country authorised the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 and a booster dose for people aged 18 years and older this month
24th Nov 2021 - Reuters

In major shift, EU says vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults

The head of the European Union's public health agency Andrea Ammon said on Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults, with priority for those above 40 years, in a major change to the agency's guidance. Recommendations issued by the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) are not binding on EU governments but are used to make health policy decisions.
24th Nov 2021 - Reuters

US to require vaccines for all border crossers in January

President Joe Biden will require essential, nonresident travelers crossing U.S. land borders, such as truck drivers, government and emergency response officials, to be fully vaccinated beginning on Jan. 22, the administration planned to announce. A senior administration official said the requirement, which the White House previewed in October, brings the rules for essential travelers in line with those that took effect earlier this month for leisure travelers, when the U.S. reopened its borders to fully vaccinated individuals. Essential travelers entering by ferry will also be required to be fully vaccinated by the same date, the official said. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.
24th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Sweden says it will extend COVID-19 boosters to all adults

Sweden will begin gradually rolling out COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adult Swedes following the surge in cases elsewhere in Europe, government and health officials said on Wednesday. Booster shots of mRNA vaccine have been offered to people aged 65 or above in Sweden, with an eye to eventually extending the shots to other groups and trying to persuade a still sizable group of uninoculated people to get the vaccine.
24th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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White House says U.S. will not lock down to fight Covid as European nations implement restrictions

“We can curb the spread of the virus without having to in any way shut down our economy,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said. “We have 82% of people now with one shot and more and more people getting vaccinated each week,” Zients said. Austria’s lockdown began Monday and will last for at most 20 days, with a nationwide vaccine mandate taking effect Feb. 1. The Netherlands’ launched a partial lockdown on Saturday as well.
23rd Nov 2021 - CNBC

China Is More Dedicated Than Ever to Covid Zero as It Battles Delta

China is facing its toughest virus battle since the first days of the pandemic. Rather than pivot from the strict Covid Zero route that others have abandoned, the country is doubling down, despite rising costs to its people and economy. The current resurgence already accounts for the most infections and the most days with new cases spurred by the delta variant since May. It’s also the most widespread outbreak since China first vanquished the infection that emerged in Wuhan two years ago. Despite ever more extreme measures aimed at shutting it down -- from testing an infant more than 70 times to locking down Shanghai Disneyland on one case -- the pathogen is proving harder than ever to wipe out.
23rd Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

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U.S. issues 'Do Not Travel' COVID-19 warning for Germany, Denmark

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State Department on Monday advised against travel to Germany and Denmark because of a rising number of COVID-19 cases in those countries. The CDC elevated its travel recommendation to "Level Four: Very High" for the two European countries, telling Americans they should avoid travel there, while the State Department issued parallel "Do Not Travel" advisories for both countries.
23rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

EU considers booster doses of J&J's COVID-19 vaccine

The European Medicines Agency says it is evaluating whether to authorize booster doses of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement Monday, the EU drug regulator said it was considering an application from J&J to recommend booster doses of the J&J vaccine for adults 18 and over, at least two months after they were first immunized. Amid an explosive surge of new coronavirus infections across Europe the EMA said it expected to make a decision on this within weeks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to J&J booster doses in October, both for people who initially received the J&J and vaccine and for people who got immunized with other vaccines.
22nd Nov 2021 - The Independent

Baidu in partnership with Sanofi to use its algorithm in mRNA vaccine, therapy development

Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc said on Monday it has licensed its algorithm for messenger RNA (mRNA) sequence to Sanofi SA for use in designing vaccine and therapeutic products, entering its first such commercial deal with a major global drugmaker. Sanofi had been one of the world's biggest vaccine makers before the pandemic, but the French firm was beaten by rivals BioNTech /Pfizer) and Moderna in developing mRNA shots against COVID-19. read more Sanofi stopped trials of its own mRNA COVID-19 shot in September, and is instead focusing on efforts with GlaxoSmithKline to bring another COVID-19 vaccine candidate to market based on the more conventional protein-based approach.
22nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Activists urge Biden to push for intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

Fifteen medical and human rights groups are urging U.S. President Joe Biden to get personally engaged in a long-running fight to enact an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization, calling his leadership "a moral necessity." Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Public Citizen and 11 other groups told Biden in a letter that an emergency waiver was urgently needed to combat the pandemic, noting that fewer than 7% of people in low-income countries had received a first COVID-19 shot and vaccines remained scarce.
22nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Hong Kong authorises Sinovac vaccine for children aged 3-17

Hong Kong has approved lowering the age limit for the COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech (SVA.O) to three years old, down from 18 years of age, as it pursues a broader campaign to incentivise its 7.5 million residents to get vaccinated. "Adolescents aged 12 to 17 will be accorded priority to receive the CoronaVac vaccine, with a view to extending to children of a younger age group at a later stage," Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health (SFH) Sophia Chan said in a statement published on Saturday.
20th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Merck Covid pill backed for EU emergency use

The EU's drug watchdog on Friday backed Merck's anti-Covid pill for emergency use ahead of its formal authorisation and started reviewing Pfizer's antiviral treatment as cases soar across Europe. The two pills by the US pharma giants represent a potentially groundbreaking step in the fight against coronavirus as studies show they cut the risk of hospitalisation and death in high-risk patients. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that while the Merck pill was not yet approved, it had "issued advice" so that individual countries in the 27-nation EU could decide whether to use it in case of a surge in infections. "The medicine, which is currently not authorised in the EU, can be used to treat adults with Covid-19 who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk of developing severe Covid-19," the EMA said in a statement. "EMA issued this advice to support national authorities who may decide on possible early use of the medicine prior to marketing authorisation, for example in emergency use settings, in light of rising rates of infection and deaths due to Covid-19 across the EU."
20th Nov 2021 - RFI

Canada approves Pfizer-BioNTech jab for kids starting at age five

The vaccine is 90.7 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in kids with no serious side effects, Health Canada said. Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11. It’s the first jab to be approved for kids in that age group, Health Canada said on Friday, calling the move “a major milestone” in the fight against COVID-19. The vaccine was 90.7 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 in children five to 11 years of age, Health Canada said, and no serious side effects were identified. “After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, the Department has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years of age outweigh the risks,” Health Canada said in a statement. Kids in Canada will receive two doses of the vaccine, at 10 micrograms each, to be taken three weeks apart. That is a lower dose than the 30 micrograms two-dose regimen authorised for people 12 years of age and older.
20th Nov 2021 - Aljazeera.com

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Nov 2021

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Prospects of Intellectual-Property Waiver on Covid-19 Vaccines Fade

An agreement to waive the intellectual-property rights underpinning Covid-19 vaccines—a prospect poor countries have hoped would ease supplies to the developing world—is becoming increasingly unlikely, say people familiar with the situation, with the U.S. not acting to bridge disagreements between developing world countries and those opposing such a measure. In May, the Biden administration said it would support temporarily suspending patents and other IP linked to the shots to allow developing countries to produce the Covid-19 vaccines created by big drug companies. The U.S. was under pressure to help get vaccines to poor countries, which have suffered severe shortages. Confirmed deaths from Covid-19 in the developing world have far outstripped those in rich countries this year.
18th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Canada to authorize use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children -source

Canada will announce as expected on Friday it is authorizing the use of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, a government source said on Thursday. The decision will make it the first shot for young children in Canada. Officials had made clear for weeks that the decision would be favorable, noting that incidences of COVID-19 are now highest in those under 12. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that Ottawa had signed a deal with Pfizer to quickly receive 2.9 million doses of the vaccine once it was approved.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

India allows export of 20 mln Novavax vaccine doses to Indonesia -document, source

India has approved the export of 20 million doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to Indonesia, according to a government document seen by Reuters and a government source.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Macron says France will not need to lockdown non-vaccinated people as COVID spreads

France does not need to follow those European countries imposing COVID-19 lockdowns on unvaccinated people, because of the success of its health pass in curbing the virus' spread, President Emmanuel Macron said. Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic, prompting some countries including Germany and Austria to reintroduce restrictions in the run-up to Christmas and causing debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. to buy 10 mln courses of Pfizer's COVID-19 pill for $5.3 bln

Pfizer Inc said the U.S. government would pay $5.29 billion for 10 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug, as the country rushes to secure promising oral treatments for the disease. The deal is for around twice as many treatment courses as Merck & Co Inc has agreed to supply the United States under its contract. The price for the Pfizer pill is nearly 25%lower at roughly $530 per course, compared with about $700 for Merck's.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

EU assesses GSK-Vir COVID-19 antibody therapy for authorisation

European health regulator said on Thursday it was assessing a marketing authorisation application for GSK-Vir Biotechnology's, monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 and could give its opinion within two months. The drug, sotrovimab, branded as Xevudy was already under a speedy review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and GSK's application makes the drug the fourth application currently under EU lenses for the treatment of COVID-19.
18th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Florida GOP limits vaccine mandates, flouting White House

Florida Republicans approved a sweeping bill Wednesday to hobble coronavirus vaccine mandates in businesses, rejecting claims that they were sacrificing public health to hand Gov. Ron DeSantis a win in his fight against White House virus rules. Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled statehouse expedited the measure, along with a package of virus bills, after hours of debate in which Republicans maintained they were protecting workers from onerous mandates by the federal government. “If you want to get a vaccine, you can get a vaccine. If you don’t want to get a vaccine, you can choose not to get a vaccine,” said Sen. Danny Burgess, a Republican. “That’s the entire purpose of this bill, trusting Floridians and allowing us to make that choice for ourselves.”
18th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

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Philippines approves emergency use of Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

The Philippines has approved the emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine by Novavax Inc, its food and drug agency chief said on Wednesday, the ninth vaccine approved in the Southeast Asian country. The nanoparticle vaccine, under the brand name Covovax, will be manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and is approved for use on adults 18 and above, the agency's chief Rolando Enrique Domingo told a public briefing. Covovax, which had efficacy of 89.7% in clinical trials, will be administered in two doses not less than 21 days apart, Domingo added.
17th Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. secures GSK-Vir COVID-19 antibody therapy doses worth $1 bln

The United States has signed contracts worth about $1 billion for doses of the antibody-based COVID-19 treatment from Britain's GSK and U.S.-based Vir Biotechnology, as countries seek to secure promising options beyond vaccines. The drugmakers said on Wednesday the U.S. orders bring the total number of doses to be supplied to more than 750,000 globally, without specifying how many doses of the treatment, sotrovimab, the U.S. government had signed up for.
17th Nov 2021 - Reuters

GOP opposition to vaccine mandates extends far beyond Covid-19

Right-wing politicians’ resistance to vaccine mandates is extending far beyond Covid-19 immunizations, a startling new development that carries vast implications for the future of public health. In Idaho, a lawmaker introduced a bill that would define vaccine mandates — of any kind — as a form of assault. In Florida, a prominent state senator has called for a review of all vaccine requirements, including those for immunizations that have enjoyed wide public acceptance for decades, like polio and the measles, mumps, and rubella shot. And in Montana, the Republican governor recently signed into law a new bill that forbids businesses, including hospitals, from enforcing any vaccination requirements as a condition of employment.
17th Nov 2021 - STAT News

Pfizer agrees to allow generic versions of its COVID pill

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has signed a deal enabling the production and supply of its experimental COVID anti-viral drug in dozens of lower- and middle-income countries. The agreement between the US company and the UN-backed international public health group Medical Patent Pool (MPP) would allow producers to manufacture and supply generic versions of the drug in 95 countries without the threat of patent infringement.
16th Nov 2021 - Aljazeera.com

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Pfizer Will Allow Its Covid Pill to Be Made and Sold Cheaply in Poor Countries

Pfizer announced a deal on Tuesday to allow its promising Covid-19 treatment to be made and sold inexpensively in 95 poorer nations that are home to more than half of the world’s population. The agreement follows a similar arrangement negotiated by Merck last month, and together the deals have the potential to vastly expand global production of two simple antiviral pills that could alter the course of the pandemic by preventing severe illness from the coronavirus.
16th Nov 2021 - The New York Times

Pfizer Covid Pill: US to Buy Enough for 10 Million Patients

The Biden administration plans to buy enough of Pfizer Inc.’s new Covid-19 pill to treat 10 million patients, people familiar with the matter say. Pfizer’s pill to treat the disease caused by the coronavirus showed extraordinary results in a clinical trial, reducing hospitalization and death by 89% among high-risk Covid-19 patients. The company said Tuesday it asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use authorization for the pill, administered twice a day for five days. The administration has also ordered about 3.1 million courses of a pill from Merck & Co., and has an option in its contract to purchase more than 2 million additional courses.
16th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Court lottery gives Biden administration a chance to revive COVID vaccine mandate

A judicial panel on Tuesday consolidated 34 lawsuits challenging the Biden administration's workplace COVID-19 vaccine rule in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a venue favored by opponents of the rule. President Joe Biden announced plans for the vaccine requirement in September, seeking to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases and get more people back to work. The Cincinnati appeals court was chosen randomly and will take up the challenges to the rule, which compels employers with at least 100 workers to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing combined with face masks at work
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

India opens borders to vaccinated foreign tourists

India opened its borders to fully vaccinated foreign tourists entering the country on commercial flights for the first time in nearly two years on Monday. Tourists entering the country must be fully vaccinated, test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their flight and follow all Covid-19 protocols, according to the health ministry. Travelers from countries that have mutual agreements with India on the recognition of vaccination certificates, including the United States, United Kingdom and multiple European nations, can leave the airport without undergoing a Covid-19 test. However, they must monitor their health for 14 days after their arrival.
16th Nov 2021 - CNN

Moderna says EU to donate over 70 mln doses of its COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna Inc said it signed an agreement that enables European Union and European Economic Area countries to donate over 70 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX vaccine sharing scheme for low-and-middle income countries.
16th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Europe Toughens Rules for Unvaccinated as Fourth Covid Wave Swells

As temperatures drop and coronavirus infections spike across Europe, some countries are introducing increasingly targeted restrictions against the unvaccinated who are driving another wave of contagion and putting economic recoveries, public health and an eventual return to prepandemic freedoms at risk. On Monday, Austria set a new bar for such measures in the West. Facing a 134 percent increase in cases in the last two weeks, the Austrian government cracked down on its unvaccinated population over the age of 12, restricting their movement to traveling for work, school, buying groceries and medical care.
16th Nov 2021 - The New York Times

U.K. Expands Covid-19 Booster Program to People in Their 40s

The U.K. is expanding its Covid-19 booster program to younger people as the country seeks to head off another wave of infections this winter. A third vaccine dose will be available to people aged 40 to 49 starting six months after their second shot, the government said Monday. Previously, only those over 50 and other vulnerable groups were eligible. So far, more than 12 million people have received a booster. The government is also recommending a second shot of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine for 16 and 17-year-olds. That inoculation will be given at least 12 weeks after the initial dose or a Covid infection, whichever is later.
15th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Israel delays entry of tourists vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V

The Tourism Ministry announced Monday that it was holding off on allowing in tourists inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Originally, Israel said that it would start allowing visitors who received the Russia-developed shot starting November 15, but that move will now be postponed until December 1. Those inoculated with Sputnik V will be required to take a serological test to show the presence of antibodies, as per the original decision. Israel began readmitting vaccinated tourists on November 1, but only those who had received vaccines approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. They are not required to undergo a serological test.
15th Nov 2021 - The Times of Israel

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Bahrain authorizes AstraZeneca's anti-COVID drug for emergency use

Bahrain has approved the emergency use of AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) anti-COVID drug Evusheld, the state news agency reported on Sunday. Bahrain has become the first country to authorize the drug, which will be limited to adults who suffer from immunodeficiency or who are taking immunosuppressants, as well as individuals with occupations that put them at risk of transmission, the news agency said.
15th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Brazil's top court rules that companies can require employee vaccination

Brazil's Supreme Court on Friday suspended a government order that prevented companies from requiring employees to provide proof that they have been vaccinate against COVID-19 and stopped dismissals of those not immunized. Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a vaccine skeptic, has criticized vaccine passports required in other countries. Brazil has suffered the second-deadliest coronavirus pandemic outside of the United States. Justice Luis Roberto Barroso said the pandemic had killed 610,000 Brazilians and it was reasonable to surmise that the presence of unvaccinated employees poses a threat to the health of the others.
13th Nov 2021 - Reuters

As Merkel urges unvaccinated to reconsider, German army prepares to step in

Three German state health ministers urged parties negotiating to form a new government to prolong states' power to implement stricter pandemic measures such as lockdowns or school closures as the country's seven-day COVID incidence rate hit record highs. The number of people per 100,000 infected last week rose to 277.4, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed on Saturday, and has risen to over 500 in some regions of the country. The head of Germany's largest doctors association Marburger Bund told German media group Funke Mediengruppe that overburdened intensive care units may need to move patients between regions to find beds in coming weeks.
13th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Government ordered to release Covid lockdown impact assessments after refusing to make documents public

The government has been ordered to publish its assessments on the impact of national lockdowns and Covid restrictions after resisting making them public, The Independent can reveal. Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) officials drew up documents predicting how changing coronavirus rules would affect different groups but they have so far been kept secret. The Liberty human rights group requested the equality impact assessments under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, but was refused and told releasing them would “not be in the public interest”.
13th Nov 2021 - The Independent

AstraZeneca Plans to Start Selling Covid-19 Vaccines at Profit

AstraZeneca PLC said it would start pricing its Covid-19 vaccine to make it profitable, ending a period in which it had pledged to roll out the shots at cost during the pandemic. The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant said it would shift away from a nonprofit approach to the vaccine starting in 2022, signing new contracts that will allow it to make money off the shot. The company expects some earnings contribution from new orders in the fourth quarter of this year. The company said the shot generated $1.05 billion in revenue in the third quarter.
12th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Ten EU Nations Causing 'Very High Concern' Over Covid

Ten countries in the 27-member European Union face a Covid situation of "very high concern", the bloc's diseases agency said Friday, warning the pandemic was worsening across the continent. "The overall epidemiological situation... was characterised by a high and rapidly increasing overall case notification rate and a low but slowly increasing death rate," the European Centre for Disease Control said. "Case notification rates, death rates, and hospital and ICU admissions are all forecast to increase over the next two weeks." In its latest weekly risk assessment, the agency listed 10 EU countries in its highest category of concern -- Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia.
12th Nov 2021 - Barrons

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UK to add China's Sinovac, India's Covaxin to approved vaccine list

Britain said it would recognise COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization's Emergency Use Listing later this month, adding China's Sinovac, Sinopharm and India's Covaxin to the country's approved list of vaccines for inbound travellers. The changes, which come into force from Nov. 22, will benefit fully vaccinated people from countries including the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and India.
9th Nov 2021 - Economic Times

Judge overrules Texas governor's ban on mask mandates in schools

A federal judge overruled Texas Governor Greg Abbott's ban on mask mandates in schools, clearing the path for districts to issue their own rules. Judge Lee Yeakel of U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled the governor's order violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark 1990 federal law that includes protections for students with special needs. In his ruling, Yeakel said the executive order put children with disabilities at risk. "The spread of COVID-19 poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs," the judge said in the order. "Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital's intensive-care unit."
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator backs COVID-19 drugs from Regeneron-Roche, Celltrion

Europe's drug regulator has recommended two COVID-19 antibody therapies - one from American-Swiss partners Regeneron-Roche and another from South Korea's Celltrion, as the region builds up its defence against surging cases. Approval by the European Commission would mark the first for any COVID-19 treatment on the continent since Gilead's remdesivir last year. Reuters reported earlier this week that the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) endorsement of the two drugs was imminent.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Berlin brings in tough new rules as cases soar

Authorities in Berlin will reimpose tighter coronavirus restrictions, which will deny unvaccinated people access to indoor restaurants, bars, gyms and hairdressers. The city-wide rules, known as ‘2G’ in Germany, will only allow doubled jabbed residents or those who have proof they have immunity from coronavirus, to access indoor facilities and venues. In comes in a bid to curb “the rising number of coronavirus cases and the increasing pressure on intensive care units”, Berlin’s senate said on Wednesday evening.
11th Nov 2021 - Evening Standard

India could approve Covid pill in matter of days

Antiviral drug Molnupiravir, used for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 infections, is set to enter the Indian markets within days, an official confirmed on Wednesday. Manufactured by US drug companies Merck, Sharp and Dohme, Molnupiravir is among the first proven drugs to effectively treat the viral contagion and was originally developed to treat flu. It can be taken as a pill instead of injection or intravenous administration. It could likely enter the Indian pharmaceutical markets “within days” after receiving Emergency Use Authorisation, Dr Ram Vishwakarma,
11th Nov 2021 - The Independent

Ten states sue Biden administration over COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. health workers

Ten Republican state attorneys general sued on Wednesday to stop the Biden administration's requirement that millions of U.S. health workers get vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying it would worsen staff shortages. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, said last Thursday he will enforce the mandate starting Jan. 4. The attorneys general of Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire jointly filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Israel pandemic advisory panel backs COVID vaccine for young children

Israel's pandemic advisory board on Wednesday backed administering Pfizer's and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to children age 5-11, health officials said, as a fourth wave of infections subsides nationwide. The Health Ministry is widely expected to accept the panel's recommendation and begin rolling out the shots this month. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization of the vaccine for the age group at a 10-microgram dose.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine patent dispute headed to court, U.S. NIH head says

U.S. National Institutes of Health scientists played "a major role" in developing Moderna Inc's (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine and the agency intends to defend its claim as co-owner of patents on the shot, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told Reuters on Wednesday. In a story first reported by the New York Times on Tuesday, Moderna excluded three NIH scientists as co-inventors of a central patent for the company's multibillion-dollar COVID-19 vaccine in its application filed in July.
11th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Merck inks yet another $1B-plus supply deal for COVID pill, this time with Japan

Merck & Co.'s positive data for oral COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir continue to pay off in a big way. Wednesday, just a day after unveiling a $1 billion sale order to the U.S., the company disclosed another major supply deal. Japan has agreed to pay Merck and partner Ridgeback Therapeutics $1.2 billion for 1.6 million courses of the drug, or $750 per course. The deal is contingent on the antiviral winning an authorization or approval from Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency. The deal comes a day after Merck said the U.S. government agreed to purchase another 1.4 million courses of the drug for $1 billion. Together with an earlier purchase, the order brings the United States' total supply purchase to 3.1 million courses at a cost of $2.2 billion.
11th Nov 2021 - FiercePharma

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 11th Nov 2021

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Pfizer, BioNTech Ask FDA to Expand Covid-19 Booster Use to All Adults

Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech asked U.S. health regulators to expand the authorization of their Covid-19 booster to people as young as 18 years old, as the government explores expanding access to extra doses. The application opens the door for authorization of the extra dose potentially before the end of the year, which could provide millions of people with another layer of security as winter drives many indoors where the risk of transmission is higher. The Food and Drug Administration in September cleared a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adults who are 65 years and older or are at risk of severe disease and death, including because of their jobs or where they live.
10th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

U.S. Spending $650 Million to Expand Rapid Confirmatory Testing

The U.S. will spend $650 million to increase production and access to rapid diagnostic tests that can confirm the results of at-home screening, part of an effort to quickly identify and treat people with Covid-19. Peope who buy over-the-counter rapid antigen tests at pharmacies may need confirmatory testing to verify the accuracy of the result, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday in a statement. The funds will help ensure such tests are readily available across the country and can provide results quickly, the agency said. The investment follows the Biden administration’s commitment of more than $3 billion for rapid home tests that may need confirmation. The earlier funding aimed to quadruple the amount of rapid home tests available in the U.S. by December, to about 200 million a month.
10th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

S.Korea urges COVID-19 booster shots, as severe cases hit record

South Korea encouraged its citizens to take COVID-19 booster shots on Wednesday, as more of the elderly fell ill and reported vaccine breakthrough infections, driving serious and critical cases to a record. Severe coronavirus cases jumped from the mid-300s in October to 460 on Wednesday, official data showed. Of the severely ill patients, more than 82% were aged 60 and older. Son Young-rae, a senior health ministry official, told a news conference that the increase is not posing a threat to the country's healthcare system yet, as there are nearly 500 ICU beds available.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam approves India's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin

Vietnam has approved India's Covaxin vaccine for emergency use, the ninth to be endorsed in the country, the country's health ministry said on Wednesday. The government said in July it was seeking to secure 15 million doses of the Covaxin vaccine made by Bharat Biotech.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Health workers in England must get COVID vaccine by April 1 -minister

Health workers in England will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by April 1, health minister Sajid Javid said on Tuesday, making it a mandatory condition of employment for those on the frontline of the National Health Service (NHS). Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking to navigate a difficult winter for the health system without further economically damaging lockdowns to help protect against COVID-19 contagion.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

EU to decide on Moderna's COVID-19 shot for younger kids in two months

The European Union's drug regulator expects to decide in about two months on whether to allow the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in children aged six to 11 years, it said on Wednesday, after the U.S. drugmaker sought approval. "The current timeline for evaluation foresees an opinion in approximately 2 months, unless supplementary information or analysis is needed," the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

As many try living with virus, China keeps up zero tolerance

Article reports that Wang Lijie planned to spend three days in the Gobi Desert last month to take in the area’s famous poplar forest as its trees turned a golden yellow. Instead, the Beijing resident has been stuck for more than three weeks, much of it in quarantine, after authorities discovered a cluster of COVID-19 cases in a nearby city. He was among more than 9,000 tourists who became trapped in Ejin Banner, a remote part of China’s Inner Mongolia region that is in the Gobi. As vaccination rates rise in many parts of the world and even countries that previously had strict COVID-containment strategies gingerly ease restrictions, China is doubling down on its zero-tolerance policy.
10th Nov 2021 - The Associated Press

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Nov 2021

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APEC affirms stand against vaccine nationalism, driven to manage climate change

Members of Asia-Pacific trade group APEC have reiterated a "strong stance" against vaccine nationalism to support the region's recovery from the pandemic and are committed to tackle climate change, host New Zealand said on Wednesday. New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta and Minister of Trade Damien O'Connor said all 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries had contributed to the region's pandemic response and work towards progress on trade.
10th Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. government to buy $1 billion worth of Merck's COVID-19 pill

The U.S. government will buy another $1 billion worth of the COVID-19 pill made by Merck & Co Inc and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, the companies said on Tuesday. The government in June agreed to buy 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir for $1.2 billion and is now exercising options to buy 1.4 million more. That brings the total secured courses to 3.1 million and worth $2.2 billion. Merck said the government has the right to buy 2 million more courses as part of the contract.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

French president Macron: rise of Covid incidence rate is worrying

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that those aged 65 and older will need to present proof of a COVID-19 booster shot from mid-December for health passes that give access to restaurants, trains and planes to remain valid. Besides, the third shot, so far available only for people older than 65 and the vulnerable, will from early December also be available for the 50-64 age group, Macron said in a televised address.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Costa Rica announces nationwide mandate requiring coronavirus vaccinations for children

Costa Rica has made coronavirus vaccinations a requirement for all people under the age of 18, in what experts say is one of the world’s broadest mandates to immunize children against the virus. The Health Ministry in the Central American nation said Friday that the vaccinations would be included with other mandatory shots against chickenpox, polio and the human papillomavirus, or HPV. It said that the measure was taken to “safeguard” the best interests of the children and that parents and legal guardians were responsible for ensuring minors are vaccinated in a “timely manner.”
9th Nov 2021 - The Washington Post

Yukon declares state of emergency over COVID-19

The Yukon government has declared a state of emergency, announcing new health regulations aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, including a proof-of-vaccination requirement set to take effect on Saturday. The declaration came after the territory reported 80 new COVID-19 infections diagnosed over a three-day period between Friday and Monday, for a total of 169 active cases. The territory says it is moving rapidly to implement a proof-of-vaccination system for a range of settings, including restaurants, ticketed events, fitness facilities and personal services businesses, as well as faith-based and cultural gatherings. It says the new measures also include mandatory masks in all indoor public settings and outdoor public settings where physical distancing isn't possible, as well as capacity limits on different types of indoor and outdoor gatherings.
9th Nov 2021 - CBC.ca

Amid spike in cases, EU to shortly approve first COVID antibody drugs - sources

EMA to approve Regeneron-Roche cocktail of monoclonal antibodies. EU agency to authorise also Celltrion's antibody therapy. Full marketing authorisations expected this week - source
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. FDA lifts clinical hold on Inovio's COVID-19 vaccine trial

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had lifted a partial clinical hold on late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine within the country. Inovio said it now has the authorization to proceed with the trial after 14 months, sending its shares up 4.6% before the bell. The FDA last year in September put the final-stage trial on hold as it sought more information from the company, including details on a delivery device used to inject genetic material into cells.
9th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 9th Nov 2021

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PM urges people to take booster vaccine with more than 10 million having extra jab

Boris Johnson has urged people to get their booster vaccine as it emerged more than 10 million people have had the top-up jab. Government figures showed a combined total of 10,062,704 booster and third doses have been delivered with a day-on-day rise of 409,663. The Prime Minister tweeted : “An amazing 10 million people across the UK have already come forward for their booster. “We know vaccine immunity wanes over time, so boosters are vital in keeping you and your loved ones protected through the winter.
8th Nov 2021 - Evening Standard

Australia pledges three million COVID-19 vaccines to Cambodia

Australia has pledged more than three million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday, which would help the Southeast nation give booster shots to its people. The assurance came during a visit by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne aimed at expanding bilateral ties. Cambodia has vaccinated 87% of its more than 16 million people, one of Asia's highest inoculation rates. "The Australian government has decided to provide Cambodia with 3,250,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, of which 1 million will be delivered to Cambodia before the end of this year," Hun Sen said on his official Facebook page.
8th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 8th Nov 2021

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UK to roll out COVID-19 antiviral drug trial this month -Health Security Agency

Britain will start to roll out Merck's molnupiravir COVID-19 antiviral pill through a drug trial later this month, Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at the UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday. Last week Britain became the first country in the world to approve the potentially game-changing COVID-19 antiviral pill, jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The government said in October it had secured 480,000 courses of the Merck drug, as well as 250,000 courses of an antiviral pill developed by Pfizer Inc
7th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Costa Rica issues COVID-19 vaccine requirement for children

Costa Rican children aged five and up must get COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a new health ministry mandate, making the Central American country one of the first to adopt such a requirement for kids. The move would add COVID-19 to a list of other infectious diseases in which vaccines for children have for years been required, including for polio and smallpox. "Our basic vaccination scheme has made it possible to subdue many of the viruses that cause suffering and health consequences and even fatalities in the underage population," Health Minister Daniel Salas said in a statement issued on Friday,
6th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Britain allows early booking of booster shots to speed up rollout

Britain's health ministry on Saturday said it would open up bookings for booster shots a month before people were eligible to receive the shots to help speed up the rollout ahead of the challenging winter months. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is relying on booster doses as a major plank of his plan to avoid lockdown this winter through COVID-19 vaccines rather than social distancing rules or mask mandates, but has been criticised for a slow start to the programme. Around 3 in 5 eligible over-50s have had booster shots in England, with more than 9 million people getting booster doses in Britain overall so far.
6th Nov 2021 - Reuters

U.S. to convene foreign ministers on COVID-19 next week, pledges to talk vaccine equity

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday he would convene a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from around the globe to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic next week, pledging to work to address global inequalities in access to vaccines. "Despite progress in worldwide vaccination, we are not where we need to be," Blinken said in a statement announcing the meeting on Nov. 10.
6th Nov 2021 - Reuters

S.Korea to purchase 70000 courses of new Pfizer COVID-19 pill

South Korea has agreed to buy 70,000 courses of Pfizer Inc's experimental antiviral COVID-19 pill, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Saturday. Pfizer on Friday said trial results showed that its Paxlovid pill reduced by 89% the risk of hospitalization or death in patients at high risk of severe illness within three days of the onset of coronavirus symptoms. South Korea has already signed agreements to secure 200,000 courses of Merck & Co Inc's COVID-19 treatment.
6th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Spain donates 326,400 Covid-19 vaccines to Ivory Coast

The first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines that Spain has donated to a sub-Saharan African country arrived on Thursday in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, which is also known as Côte d’Ivoire. The delivery contained 326,400 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19, along with another 98,400 shots of the same medication donated by Finland and 7,200 from Iceland. The donations are part of the public-private initiative Covax, which seeks to ensure that lower-income countries are not left behind in the global vaccination drive to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
5th Nov 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Malta to offer COVID-19 booster shots to all its population

Malta will offer COVID-19 booster shots to all of its population after a recent increase in cases, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Friday. Malta has the highest number of vaccinated people in the European Union, with 94% of the people having been fully vaccinated. However, minister Fearne told a press conference that it was clear that the effectiveness of the vaccines was waning after health authorities said the country recorded 40 new cases of the virus on Friday, the highest in six weeks.
5th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Latvia allows businesses to fire the unvaccinated

The Latvian parliament on Thursday allowed businesses to fire workers who refuse to either get a COVID-19 vaccine or transfer to remote work, as the country battles one of the worst COVID-19 waves in European Union. About 61% of Latvian adults are fully vaccinated, less than the European Union average of 75%. The country was the first in EU to return to a lockdown this autumn as COVID-19 cases spiked, and has asked other EU members for medical help as makeshift COVID-19 facilities are installed in halls and garages of its hospitals
5th Nov 2021 - Reuters

AIIB to continue vaccine funding for developing nations in 2022

China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will continue to finance developing countries acquire COVID-19 vaccines, a senior executive said on Thursday. Last year, AIIB had set up a funding facility to help public and private sectors fight the pandemic. The investment bank has approved 42 projects amounting to over $10.3 billion, as of Nov. 5. Its Crisis Recovery Facility has up to $13 billion allocated to support AIIB members and clients in withstanding economic and health impacts of the health crisis.
5th Nov 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Nov 2021

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Inside the World’s Most Blatant Covid-19 Coverup: Secret Burials, a Dead President

Last year, President John Magufuli declared the virus a “satanic myth” propagated by imperialist powers. While his neighbors sealed borders and locked down, his country of 58 million stayed open. His government barred doctors from registering coronavirus as the cause of death and labeled those who wore masks unpatriotic. Seeking to keep the economy open and rally nationalist sentiment ahead of elections, he blocked foreign journalists from entering the country, rejected vaccines and refused to provide data to the World Health Organization. News organizations reporting on Covid-19 were shut down for “scaremongering,” and reporters threatened with jail. By this spring, the president was dead, along with six other senior politicians and several of the country’s generals. The official cause of Mr. Magufuli’s death was heart failure. The details remain secret. Diplomats, analysts and opposition leaders say he had Covid-19.
4th Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

UK Approves Merck Covid Drug Molnupiravir to Fill In Where Vaccines Can't

The U.K. was the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine; it has now become the first to approve an at-home treatment for Covid. On Thursday, the medicines regulator, MHRA, green-lit the antiviral drug molnupiravir, produced by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck & Co. and shown in trials to halve the risk of hospitalization or death in those with mild to moderate disease. Health Secretary Sajid Javid called it a “historic day for our country.” For once that might not be an overstatement. Beyond Britain, the new drug should be a reminder of the importance of antivirals in the fight against this and future pandemics. The molnupiravir approval couldn’t be timelier. Britain has had a stubbornly high Covid infection rate. Although the most recent wave has not led to a marked increase in deaths from the virus, hospitals face a gargantuan backlog of delayed procedures, Covid wards are fuller than is comfortable and there are worries that a bad flu season could tip an overstretched health service into deeper crisis.
4th Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Indian home-grown Covid-19 shot wins WHO emergency use approval

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that it has granted approval for Indian drugmaker Bharat Biotech's home-grown Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use listing, paving the way for it to be accepted as a valid vaccine in many poor countries. The WHO tweeted that its technical advisory group had ruled that benefits of the shot, known as Covaxin, significantly outweighed the risks and that it met WHO standards for protection against Covid-19. The decision had been delayed as the advisory group sought additional clarifications from Bharat Biotech before conducting a final risk-benefit assessment for the vaccine's global use. WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization also recommended Covaxin's use in two doses, with an interval of four weeks, in age groups 18 and above. These recommendations are in line with the company's guidance.
4th Nov 2021 - CNN

EU regulator reviewing data on AstraZeneca COVID-19 booster shots

The European Union's drug regulator said on Thursday it was in discussions with AstraZeneca (AZN.L) over possible authorisation of booster doses of the drugmaker's COVID-19 vaccine, after it already gave the green light to mRNA booster shots. "AstraZeneca is submitting data to us. Actually today they submitted a new package of data that could support an extension to use the booster," the European Medicines Agency's head of vaccines strategy, Marco Cavaleri, said at a briefing. "We will be discussing with them whether this data could be sufficient for (authorisation) or whether we need more evidence," Cavaleri added.
4th Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Court Rules Against Religious Exemption for New York Healthcare Workers’ Vaccine Mandate

A federal appellate court sided with New York officials Friday and removed a temporary injunction that had allowed healthcare workers to seek religious exemptions to the state’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate. Three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled against plaintiffs in two cases brought by healthcare workers who said New York’s mandate violated their Christian beliefs. The state required all workers in hospitals and nursing homes to receive at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine by Sept. 27 or face termination. Similar cases have been brought challenging vaccination mandates in other states, and legal experts have said the questions they raise could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
3rd Nov 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Saudi approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for age group 5-11

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority said on Wednesday it had given its approval to use Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for those between five and eleven years of age. The authority added in a statement its decision was "based on data provided by the company, which showed the vaccine met the special regulatory requirements".
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Indian home-grown COVID-19 shot wins WHO emergency use approval

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that it has granted approval for Indian drugmaker Bharat Biotech's home-grown COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use listing, paving the way for it to be accepted as a valid vaccine in many poor countries. The WHO tweeted that its technical advisory group had ruled that benefits of the shot, known as Covaxin, significantly outweighed the risks and that it met WHO standards for protection against COVID-19.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters India

Factbox: Countries rush to buy Merck experimental COVID-19 pill

Merck has signed eight deals to sell more than a total of 2 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 pill molnupiravir to governments around the world as countries scramble to tame the virus. It has applied for approval in the United States and said it can make 10 million courses in 2021. Last week the company reached a deal with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool that will allow more companies to manufacture generic versions of the pill with a royalty-free license applying to 105 low- and middle-income countries. So far Merck has agreed to license the drug to several India-based generic drugmakers.
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Hong Kong to launch COVID-19 booster campaign from next week

Hong Kong will roll out booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from next week, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Wednesday, as authorities ramp up efforts to convince Beijing to allow crossborder travel to mainland China. The vaccination campaign in the global financial hub has lagged many other developed economies, with about 65% of the eligible population fully vaccinated with shots from either China's Sinovac, or Germany's BioNTech
3rd Nov 2021 - Reuters

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Greek Covid Restrictions Target Unvaccinated as Daily Cases Hit Record

Greece announced new Covid-19 measures targeting the unvaccinated as daily infections hit their highest level since the pandemic began. From Nov. 6, those who haven’t been jabbed but want to attend their place of work must undergo two rapid tests a week instead of one -- paid for themselves. To enter most stores, banks and restaurants, they’ll need to present a negative rapid or PCR test. Fines for businesses that don’t comply will double, starting at 5,000 euros ($5,791) and a 15-day suspension of operations. Tests won’t be needed for supermarkets and pharmacies. “The restrictions will apply to unvaccinated people because they’re much more at risk than the vaccinated,” Health Minister Athanasios Plevris said Tuesday in a televised statement.
2nd Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Pfizer Covid Vaccine for Kids Ages 5-11 Gets CDC Advisers' Backing

Younger children across the U.S. are now eligible to receive Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine, after the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention granted the final clearance needed for shots to begin. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky recommended the vaccine for children from 5 to 11 years old. The decision ushers in a new phase in the U.S. pandemic response, widening access to vaccines to some 28 million more people at the same time that Americans who received shots earlier in the pandemic are lining up for booster doses.
2nd Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Two new COVID-19 vaccines approved by TGA for Australians trying to return

Two more types of COVID-19 vaccines, which are not registered in Australia, will be recognised as valid vaccines for travellers proving their vaccination status to enter the country. Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has today ruled that the Australian Government will recognise Covaxin and BBIBP-CorV vaccines among arrivals to Australia. The recognition will be for travellers aged 12 and over who have been vaccinated with Covaxin and for travellers aged 18 to 60 who have been vaccinated with BBIBP-CorV.
2nd Nov 2021 - 9News

Indonesia is first country to authorize Novavax Covid-19 vaccine

Biotechnology company Novavax said Monday that Indonesia has given the world's first emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine, which uses a different technology than currently used shots. The vaccine doesn't require the extremely cold storage temperatures that some other vaccines need, which could allow it to play an important role in increasing supplies in poorer countries around the world.
2nd Nov 2021 - NBC News

Dutch health council recommends COVID-19 booster for age 60+

The Netherlands' Health Council recommended that adults aged 60 and older who have been previously been vaccinated against COVID-19 also receive booster shots. The advice comes amid a major surge in new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands. The council's recommendations are routinely adopted by the government.
2nd Nov 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Nov 2021

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US prepares to roll out COVID vaccines for children aged 5 to 11

The United States’s COVID-19 vaccination programme for children between the ages of five and 11 will be “running at full strength” as of next week, the White House has announced, a significant milestone in the country’s fight against the virus. Children in the age group will be able to get Pfizer-BioNTech jabs at paediatricians’ offices, medical clinics, pharmacies and community health centres, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a news briefing on Monday.
1st Nov 2021 - Aljazeera.com

COVID-19 News: Indonesia Grants Emergency Use To Novavax Vaccine

Indonesia granted emergency use authorization to Novavax Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, paving the way for other countries to allow the vaccine for emergency use as well.
1st Nov 2021 - International Business Times

NYC Vaccine Mandate Kicks In With Little Disruption, Mayor Says

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the vast majority of municipal employees are complying with the Covid-19 vaccine mandate, resulting in little disruption to services as the requirement kicked in for police, firefighters and sanitation workers. De Blasio said Monday that about 9,000 employees have been placed on unpaid leave for not receiving the shot while another 12,000 will keep working as requests for exemptions are reviewed. That amounts to a small share of the city’s workforce of nearly 400,000.
1st Nov 2021 - Bloomberg

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Nov 2021

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G20 rome leaders’ declaration

We, the Leaders of the G20, met in Rome on October 30th and 31st, to address today’s most pressing global challenges and to converge upon common efforts to recover better from the COVID-19 crisis and enable sustainable and inclusive growth in our Countries and across the world. As the premier forum for international economic cooperation, we are committed to overcoming the global health and economic crisis stemming from the pandemic, which has affected billions of lives, dramatically hampered progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and disrupted global supply chains and international mobility. With this in mind, we express our profound gratitude to the health and care professionals, frontline workers, international organizations and scientific community for their relentless efforts to cope with COVID-19.
31st Oct 2021 - Canadian Government

G20 wants 70% of world vaccinated by mid-2022, sets up pandemic task force

Finance and health ministers from the world's 20 biggest economies (G20) said on Friday they would take steps to ensure 70% of the world's population is vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-2022 and created a task force to fight future pandemics. They could not reach agreement on a separate financing facility proposed by the United States and Indonesia, but said the task force would explore options for mobilising funds to boost pandemic preparedness, prevention and response.
29th Oct 2021 - Reuters

No crowd surfing, orderly queues: Ireland lays down new COVID-19 rules

Crowd surfing will not be permitted at concerts in Ireland and nightclub goers must form a socially distanced queue to buy drinks, under new guidelines issued by the government for recently reopened venues. Irish nightclubs opened their doors for the first time since March 2020 last weekend, while theatres and concert venues also returned to full capacity as the government lifted most curbs that had made up one of Europe's toughest lockdown regimes.
29th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Brazil senators back criminal charges against Bolsonaro

Brazilian Senate commission approved a damning report on Tuesday that recommends criminal charges be brought against President Jair Bolsonaro, including crimes against humanity, for his Covid policies. Seven of the panel's 11 senators voted to endorse the text – presented last week after a six-month investigation into Brazil's pandemic response – which also calls for the indictment of 77 other people, including several ministers and three of Bolsonaro's children. The nearly 1,200-page report also urges Brazil's Supreme Court to suspend the far-right leader's access to his accounts on social media platforms YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for falsely alleging that Covid-19 vaccines were linked to AIDS.
30th Oct 2021 - Buenos Aires Times

Seniors 70 and older, front-line health workers, people who got 2 AZ doses can be offered boosters, NACI says

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending COVID-19 booster shots for all adults 80 years of age and older, and is also opening the door for certain other groups who may be at increased risk of lowered protection over time since their initial vaccinations. "Populations at highest risk of waning protection following their primary series and at highest risk of severe COVID-19 illness should be offered a booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after completing their primary series," NACI's new guidance released Friday said, noting that seniors 80 years and older "should" be offered a booster shot.
30th Oct 2021 - CBC.ca

First COVID-19 shot for young kids could get U.S. FDA authorization on Friday

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years, making it the first COVID-19 shot for young children in the United States. The shot will not be immediately available to the age group. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still needs to advise on how the shot should be administered, which will be decided after a group of outside advisers discuss the plan on Tuesday.
29th Oct 2021 - Reuters

U.S. Supreme Court rejects religious challenge to Maine vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday turned away healthcare workers seeking a religious exemption to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the latest battle over vaccination to reach the justices. The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, rejected a request made by nine unnamed plaintiffs who identified themselves as healthcare workers who object to receiving the shots on religious grounds. The court previously rejected challenges to vaccine mandates in New York and Indiana, though those cases did not involve religious objections. The justices were divided, with three conservative members saying they would have granted the request.
29th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia to buy Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11

Malaysia said on Friday (Oct 29) it would proceed with the procurement of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children, following a United States expert panel's recommendation for the shot to be authorised for those aged five to 11. A panel of advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted on Tuesday to recommend the authorisation, saying the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The agency's decision is still pending. Malaysia's Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Twitter that other options, such as the vaccine made by China's Sinovac BioTech, would also be considered to ensure schools can reopen safely. About 62 per cent of teenagers aged between 12 and 17 in the South-east Asian country are fully vaccinated, government statistics showed on Friday.
29th Oct 2021 - The Straits Times

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New Zealand to start easing COVID-19 border restrictions

New Zealand said on Thursday it would ease coronavirus border restrictions that have been in place since March 2020, and move to a system of home isolation for fully vaccinated overseas arrivals from early next year. The country was the among the first to shut down its borders in response to the pandemic last year, and has retained these tough border restrictions - leaving many expatriate citizens and residents stranded for months.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

UK reports 43941 more COVID-19 cases, 207 further deaths

Britain on Wednesday reported 43,941 more cases of COVID-19 and 207 further deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

WHO, partners seek $23.4 bln for new COVID-19 war chest

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups on Thursday appealed to leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies to fund a $23.4 billion plan to bring COVID-19 vaccines, tests and drugs to poorer countries in the next 12 months. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Group of 20, whose leaders are meeting in Rome at the weekend, had the political and financial power needed to end the pandemic by funding the plan, which he said could save five million lives. The latest update of the so-called Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), until September 2022, is expected to include use of an experimental oral antiviral pill made by Merck & Co (MRK.N) for treating mild and moderate cases
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Pfizer gets U.S. contract for 50 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses for kids

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said on Thursday they expect to deliver 50 million more doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. government by April-end, as the country prepares to vaccinate children. The move comes after a panel of outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted on Tuesday to recommend its authorization for the vaccine in children aged 5 to 11. The agency's decision on the vaccine for the age group is awaited. If authorized and subsequently recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) advisory panel, the companies said they expect to then begin shipping the vaccine immediately, in 10 microgram pediatric doses, as directed by the U.S. government.
28th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Australia to lift outbound travel ban for vaccinated residents from next week

All fully-vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to leave the country without a special exemption from Nov. 1, authorities said on Wednesday, as Australia eases coronavirus restrictions amid a rise in vaccination rates. Australians have been unable to travel abroad for more than 18 months without a government waiver, while thousands of fully-vaccinated residents living abroad have been unable to return due to a cap on arrivals to slow the spread of COVID-19.
27th Oct 2021 - Reuters

German would-be coalition backs ending COVID state of emergency

Germany's pandemic-related state of emergency looks set to expire next month after the three political parties in talks to form the next government said on Wednesday they did not support extending it. The state of emergency that enabled the federal and state government to impose measures like lockdowns and curfews without a parliamentary vote is set to lapse on Nov. 25 unless parliament agrees to extend it.
27th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Romanian senate rejects COVID-19 health pass, lower house votes next

Romanian senators narrowly rejected a bill on Wednesday requiring medical staff, public sector workers and those of large privately-owned firms to hold a COVID-19 health pass, but parliament's lower house has the final say and could revive it. The bill, introduced by centrist lawmakers and designed to boost vaccine uptake, was two votes short of the required majority to pass.
27th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Novavax Covid vaccine submitted to UK regulator for approval

The final data on the Novavax Covid vaccine has been submitted to the UK regulator for approval. The firm behind the vaccine said it anticipates a "positive decision" following the completion of its rolling regulatory submission to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). More than 15,000 people took part in the phase 3 Novavax trial at various hospital sites across the UK. Novavax said its application for conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) marks the first submission for authorisation of a protein-based coronavirus vaccine in the UK.
27th Oct 2021 - Evening Standard

Pfizer to seek Japan approval for children's COVID-19 vaccinations

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. is in talks with Japan to apply for approval to administer its COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 5 to 11, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. The revelation came a day after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel of independent experts voted in favor of issuing emergency use authorization for the vaccine to be administered to children in that age group. If submitted, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to promptly review the application, according to the sources. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, jointly developed with German partner BioNTech SE, is currently available free of charge to people aged 12 and older in Japan, where it has been approved for use.
27th Oct 2021 - The Japan Times

Merck agrees to let other drug makers make its COVID pill

Pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to allow other drug makers to produce its COVID-19 pill, in a move aimed at helping millions of people in poorer countries get access to the potentially life-saving drug, a United Nations-backed public health organization said on Wednesday. The Medicines Patent Pool said in a statement that it had signed a voluntary licensing agreement for molnupiravir with Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The agreement will allow the Medicines Patent Pool to grant further licenses to qualified companies who are approved to make the drug. Neither drug maker will receive royalties under the agreement for as long as the World Health Organization deems COVID-19 to be global emergency. Molnupiravir is the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease.
27th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

WHO advisors say COVID-19 pandemic far from over

After reviewing the latest COVID-19 developments last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee said the pandemic is far from over, though countries are making progress in rolling out vaccines and treatments. The group of outside advisors met on Oct 22 by video conference for the ninth time and unanimously agreed that the situation still warrants a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), which was declared on Jan 30, 2020. The group typically meets every 3 months or more often as needed.
26th Oct 2021 - CIDRAP

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Australia drugs regulator approves booster doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Australia's drugs regulator on Wednesday provisionally approved a booster dose of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for people above 18 years old as first-dose vaccination levels in the country's adult population neared 90%. The booster dose can be administered at least six months after the second shot, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said in a statement. Further advice on the use of booster shots will be provided to the federal government soon by the country's vaccination technical advisory group, TGA said.
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Exclusive: African Union to buy up to 110 million Moderna vaccines -officials

The African Union (AU) intends to buy up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc in an arrangement brokered in part by the White House, which will defer delivery of some doses intended for the United States to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters. The AU's doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of next year and up to 60 million in the second quarter. "This is important as it allows us to increase the number of vaccines available immediately," AU coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa said in an email. "We urge other vaccine producing countries to follow the lead of the (U.S. government) and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines."
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters

U.S. FDA advisers weigh Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children

An expert panel on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recommend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorize the Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, saying the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks. An authorization for that age group would be would be an important regulatory step toward reaching about 28 million children for inoculation, most of them back in school for in-person learning. The vaccine could be available to the younger age group as soon as next week. The FDA is not obligated to follow the advice of its outside experts, but usually does. The vote was 17 in favor with one abstention.
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters

S.Korea's GL Rapha certified to produce Sputnik COVID-19 vaccines

South Korean biotech firm GL Rapha has secured regulatory approval from Russia to produce and market the Sputnik family of coronavirus vaccines, the company and Russian sovereign fund RDIF said on Tuesday. The certification paves the way for the first overseas production of the shot to ease a supply shortage and allows GL Rapha to carry out the full production cycle, as opposed to other foreign manufacturers that rely on Russian-supplied ingredients. "This is the first time a foreign production partner of RDIF obtains a Russian GMP (good manufacturing practice) certificate," the two said in a joint statement.
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters

France says it has ordered 50000 doses of Merck's COVID-19 antiviral pill

France has ordered 50,000 doses of Merck & Co's (MRK.N) experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug for adults, the country's health minister Olivier Veran told a hearing at the French Senate on Tuesday. "France positioned itself very early in pre-ordering. France ordered 50,000 doses of the drug," Veran told lawmakers about molnupiravir, which is Merck & Co's experimental antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 ailments. Governments around the world are preparing to ensure they can cope any pick-up in the COVID virus as the winter season approaches in the northern hemisphere.
26th Oct 2021 - Reuters

BioNTech to work with Senegal, Rwanda to make mRNA vaccines

Senegal and Rwanda have signed an agreement with German company BioNTech for the construction of its first start-to-finish factories to make messenger RNA vaccines in Africa. BioNTech, which developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, said Tuesday that construction will start in mid-2022. It is working with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, and the Rwandan government, a statement said. “State-of-the-art facilities like this will be life-savers and game-changers for Africa and could lead to millions of cutting-edge vaccines being made for Africans, by Africans in Africa,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa.
26th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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China to start vaccinating children to age 3 as cases spread

Children as young as 3 will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines in China, where 76% of the population has been fully vaccinated and authorities are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy toward outbreaks. China becomes one of the very few countries in the world to start vaccinating children that young against the virus. Cuba, for one, has begun a vaccine drive for children as young as 2. The U.S. and many European countries allow COVID-19 shots down to age 12, though the U.S. is moving quickly toward opening vaccinations to 5- to 11-year-olds.
25th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

EU regulator starts real-time review of Merck's COVID-19 pill

U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) said on Monday the European Union's drug regulator has initiated a real-time review of its experimental COVID-19 antiviral drug for adults. Under the procedure, also known as a "rolling review", the European Medicines Agency (EMA) would assess data as soon as it becomes available, instead of waiting for a formal application when all required information has been gathered. While vaccines are the main weapons against COVID-19, Merck's experimental pill molnupiravir could be a game-changer after studies showed it could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe illness.
25th Oct 2021 - Reuters

UK falling behind most G7 countries in sharing Covid vaccines, figures show

The UK is lagging behind other G7 countries in sharing surplus Covid vaccines with poorer countries, according to newly published figures. The advocacy organisation One, which is campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, described it as shaming for the UK government. The figures show that the UK is behind every member of the G7 – of which Britain is currently the chair – except for Japan. Romilly Greenhill, One’s UK director, said the number of vaccines the UK is committed to sharing this year is half that promised by France, less than a a third of Germany’s, and a tenth of that pledged by the US.
25th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Russia approves Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccination with flu shot

Sputnik V has been developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The Health Ministry of Russia has reportedly granted approval for administering Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V and flu shots simultaneously,
25th Oct 2021 - Pharmaceutical Technology

India's Biological E., U.S. body finalise $50 mln COVID-19 shot financing deal

The United States and India's Biological E. Ltd said on Monday they had finalised a financing arrangement for $50 million to expand the vaccine maker's capacity to produce COVID-19 shots. The agreement was struck in March when leaders of the United States, Australia, Japan and India - the so-called "Quad" countries - met during a virtual summit. The United States had said it would work via its International Development Finance Corp to finance Biological E.'s efforts to produce at least 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses for India and developing countries by the end of 2022
25th Oct 2021 - Reuters India

Africa tries to end vaccine inequity by replicating its own

In a pair of Cape Town warehouses converted into a maze of airlocked sterile rooms, young scientists are assembling and calibrating the equipment needed to reverse engineer a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to reach South Africa and most of the world’s poorest people. The energy in the gleaming labs matches the urgency of their mission to narrow vaccine disparities. By working to replicate Moderna’s COVID-19 shot, the scientists are effectively making an end run around an industry that has vastly prioritized rich countries over poor in both sales and manufacturing. And they are doing it with unusual backing from the World Health Organization, which is coordinating a vaccine research, training and production hub in South Africa along with a related supply chain for critical raw materials. It’s a last-resort effort to make doses for people going without, and the intellectual property implications are still murky.
25th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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New variant? No masks? Here's what's driving the U.K.'s Covid surge

What a difference three months can make. On July 19, Britons celebrated as England marked "Freedom Day," seeing a near-full lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths were relatively low, even if cases continued to rise, and the country's vaccination rollout was largely lauded as a success internationally. On Thursday, there were more than 50,000 infections recorded in the U.K. in a single day — the highest daily count since mid-July and a higher number than reported in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal combined. The country also saw 115 deaths, with Tuesday marking a daily death toll of 223 people — the highest since March.
23rd Oct 2021 - NBC News

Singapore PM Lee rules out indefinite Covid-19 lockdown

Singapore cannot go into an indefinite lockdown and stand still, but also cannot “simply let go and let things rip”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said. "We have to travel this road to get to living safely with Covid-19. We want to get there with as few casualties as possible,” Lee said in a Facebook post on Saturday. Singapore’s multi-ministry task force announced on Saturday a slew of measures for the effective opening up of the affluent city-state. These include requiring vaccination for all staff returning to the workplace from Jan 1, 2022, as well as adding China's Sinovac to the national vaccination programme and expanding the home recovery scheme to certain pregnant women, The Straits Times newspaper reported. The task force is co-chaired by Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.
24th Oct 2021 - Hindustan Times

Sinovac added to S'pore national vaccination programme: 5 questions about the vaccine answered

The Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine will be included in the national vaccination programme to cater to individuals aged 18 years and above who are unable or unwilling to take the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines. The Ministry of Health said that three doses of the Sinovac vaccine will be required for a person to be considered fully vaccinated. The second dose should be taken 28 days after the first dose, while the third dose should be taken 90 days after the second dose.
23rd Oct 2021 - The Straits Times

Namibia to suspend use of Russian COVID-19 vaccine - ministry

Namibia will suspend its rollout of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, its health ministry said on Saturday, days after the drugs regulator in neighbouring South Africa flagged concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV. The Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed Sputnik V, said Namibia's decision was not based on any scientific evidence or research. South African regulator SAHPRA decided not to approve an emergency use application for Sputnik V for now because, it said, some studies suggested that administration of vaccines using the Adenovirus Type 5 vector - which Sputnik V does - was associated with higher susceptibility to HIV in men.
23rd Oct 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Oct 2021

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Rise in Cases and Deaths Tests Britain’s Gamble on Few Virus Restrictions

For the last four months, Britain has run a grand epidemiological experiment, lifting virtually all coronavirus restrictions, even in the face of a high daily rate of infections. Its leaders justified the approach on the grounds that the country’s rapid rollout of vaccines had weakened the link between infection and serious illness. Now, with cases, hospital admissions and deaths all rising again; the effect of vaccines beginning to wear off; and winter looming, Britain’s strategy of learning to live with the virus is coming under its stiffest test yet. New cases surpassed 50,000 on Thursday, an 18 percent increase over the last week and the second time cases have broken that psychological barrier since July. The number of people admitted to hospitals rose 15.4 percent over the same period, reaching 959, while 115 people died of Covid-19, an increase of almost 11 percent.
22nd Oct 2021 - The New York Times

India delivers 1 billion Covid vaccines, but millions are yet to receive a single dose

India has administered more than 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses, a remarkable feat just months after a second wave of infection killed thousands of people across the country. But as India celebrated passing the milestone on Thursday, some experts warned the pandemic threat was not over -- in a nation of 1.3 billion, millions of people are yet to receive any dose at all. So far, India has fully vaccinated just 30% of its adult population and given one dose to 74%, according to India's Ministry of Health on October 16. Those statistics don't include children under 18 who make up 41% of India's population and aren't yet eligible for the jab. But even as India races to fully vaccinate its adult population, the country is opening up and exporting millions of vaccine doses. On Friday, the first foreign tourists arrived in the country after an almost 18-month pause, and within the country millions are traveling to celebrate various festivals, with movement expected to increase in November during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights."
21st Oct 2021 - CNN

U.S. coronavirus vaccine donations reach 200 mln doses

The United States, under pressure to share its coronavirus vaccine supply with the rest of the world, has now donated 200 million doses to more than 100 countries, the White House announced on Thursday. President Joe Biden has faced some criticism from other world leaders for offering vaccine booster shots in the United States at a time when many people around the world have not received their first shot. In recent weeks, the United States has stepped up its donations. Biden told Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week that the United States will make a one-time donation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union.
21st Oct 2021 - Reuters

CDC Panel Endorses Moderna and J.&J. Boosters for Millions

In a sweeping victory for the Biden administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots of the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines for tens of millions of Americans. The decision follows an agency endorsement last month of booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and opens the door for many Americans to seek out a booster shot as early as Friday. The coronavirus vaccines “are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the C.D.C. said in a statement on Thursday night.
21st Oct 2021 - The New York Times

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As U.K. Covid Cases Surge, Israel Offers Lesson in Boosters

As Covid-19 cases soar again in the U.K., officials could look to a country that’s moved past a similar crisis for a possible roadmap. The search for answers in Israel may be useful, health experts say, because both countries were among the fastest in the world with their vaccination programs, yet were similarly quick to lift lockdown restrictions. And just as Israel experienced a spike in cases in June, so the U.K. is now, having just reported the biggest single daily jump in infections in three months. Israel’s response to its renewed outbreak was to roll out an aggressive booster program, a decision that appears to have quelled the worst of the outbreak within weeks.
20th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

U.K. Rules Out Another Lockdown Even With Cases on the Rise

The U.K. will not yet be bringing back restrictions to help curb Covid cases, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said, despite a surge in infections and a rise in hospitalizations and deaths. Javid put the onus on the general public to get vaccinated and behave responsibly, such as by wearing masks in crowded spaces, to avoid the need for further restrictive measures in the winter. He made the plea as he warned that new daily virus cases could rise to 100,000.
20th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Poland to make COVID booster shots available to all adults

Poland is planning to make third doses of the coronavirus vaccine available to all adults "over the next few weeks", Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday. "Those over 18 who had their last dose at least six months ago will be able to get another dose," Morawiecki said in a Facebook post. The country reported more than 5,000 daily new infections on Thursday for the first time since May amidst a surging fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

U.S. readies plan to vaccinate kids ages 5-11 against COVID-19

The Biden administration on Wednesday outlined its plan to vaccinate millions of U.S. children ages 5 to 11 as soon as the COVID-19 shot is authorized for them, readying doses and preparing locations ahead of the busy holiday season. Unlike the mass vaccination centers used in the initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the White House said it is working to set up clinics in more than 100 children's hospital systems nationwide as well as doctor's offices, pharmacies and potentially schools.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

South African regulator rejects Russia's COVID-19 vaccine

The South African drug regulator has rejected the Russia -made coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, citing some safety concerns the manufacturer wasn't able to answer. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, or SAHPRA, said in a statement Tuesday that the request for Sputnik V to be authorized could “not be approved at this time,” referring to past failed HIV vaccines that used a similar technology. A late-stage study published in the journal Lancet last year in more than 20,000 participants found that Sputnik V was safe and about 91% effective in preventing people from becoming severely ill with COVID-19.
20th Oct 2021 - The Independent

Senegal logs zero new COVID-19 cases for first time since pandemic began

Senegal recorded zero new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic began, the health ministry said. The West African country had its worst wave of coronavirus in July, when it was recording more than 1,000 new cases a day. The health ministry has registered 73,875 cases and 1,873 deaths since the outbreak began. Sixteen patients are still under treatment, the ministry said. Senegal has been seen as a positive example of a country managing COVID-19 well despite limited resources.
20th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Senate report recommends Bolsonaro face murder charge over handling of Covid-19

A draft report by lawmakers in Brazil has recommended that president Jair Bolsonaro be indicted on criminal charges for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that led to thousand of deaths. More than 600,000 people have died due to the coronavirus or related complications in Brazil since the beginning of the pandemic. The country has had the second-highest death toll in the world, second only to the US. The 1,200-page Senate draft report said that Mr Bolsonaro was “principally responsible for the government’s errors committed during the Covid-19 pandemic” and accused him of acting against the advice of the health ministry.
20th Oct 2021 - The Independent

Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids Ages 5-11 to Be Given at Pediatric Offices, Schools Once Authorized

In a step to extend the reach of its Covid-19 vaccination drive, the Biden administration is preparing to distribute shots to children at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and schools should federal regulators clear the inoculations for kids ages 5-11. The Biden administration said it has procured enough doses to vaccinate the nation’s children and will begin shipping supplies if and when the shots are cleared for use. Officials aim to have a plan in place as soon as young children are eligible in hopes of getting as many as possible vaccinated quickly. Rates of hospitalization among children are higher than earlier in the pandemic due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, and public-health authorities plan to offer shots in settings more familiar for children than the mass sites used for many adults. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration this month seeking emergency authorization of their vaccine.
20th Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

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Bolsonaro's Pandemic Handling Draws Explosive Allegation: Homicide

A Brazilian congressional panel is set to recommend mass homicide charges against President Jair Bolsonaro, asserting that he intentionally let the coronavirus rip through the country and kill hundreds of thousands in a failed bid to achieve herd immunity and revive Latin America’s largest economy. A report from the congressional panel’s investigation, excerpts from which were viewed by The New York Times ahead of its scheduled release this week, also recommends criminal charges against 69 other people, including three of Mr. Bolsonaro’s sons and numerous current and former government officials.
19th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

New York's $2 Billion Fund for Undocumented Workers Runs Dry

Earlier this year, New York created a $2.1 billion fund to help undocumented immigrants and others who weathered the pandemic without access to government relief. The Excluded Workers Fund, by far the biggest of its kind in the country, was intended to provide eligible workers with one-time payments to help cover costs associated with joblessness, such as back rent and medical bills. But just a few months after the state began accepting applications, the fund is about to run out of money, following a blitz in claims and a speedy distribution of aid. State authorities announced they would stop accepting new applications as of Oct. 8, adding that even those who had applied in the two weeks before that deadline might not be approved.
19th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

WHO defends delay in approving India’s Covaxin jab: ‘We are aware that many are waiting’

The World Health Organisation has defended its decision to delay the approval of India’s homemade coronavirus vaccine Covaxin and said that it cannot cut corners in its process. The international health body said that it was looking for “one additional piece of information” from Bharat Biotech, the Hyderabad-based company which created the vaccine. The vaccine, which was India’s first indigenously made Covid jab, is one of three currently being used in the country’s Covid-19 inoculation drive. India’s drugs control body had approved the restricted emergency use of Covaxin in January. It accounts for 11 per cent of the 980 million doses administered in the country so far.
19th Oct 2021 - The Independent

WHO-led program aims to buy antiviral COVID-19 pills for $10

A World Health Organization-led programme to ensure poorer countries get fair access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments aims to secure antiviral drugs for patients with mild symptoms for as little as $10 per course, a draft document seen by Reuters says. Merck & Co's experimental pill molnupiravir is likely to be one of the drugs, and other drugs to treat mild patients are being developed. The document, which outlines the goals of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) until September next year, says that the programme wants to deliver about 1 billion COVID-19 tests to poorer nations, and procure drugs to treat up to 120 million patients globally, out of about 200 million new cases it estimates in the next 12 months.
19th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Germany may miss COVID-19 vaccine donation goal, blames manufacturers

Germany may miss its target to donate 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year due to conditions imposed by manufacturers and delivery shortfalls, a health ministry official said in a letter to Brussels seen by Reuters. The 100 million doses account for half of the total promised by European Union member states to poorer countries this year, according to the European Commission. But on Oct. 19, the foreign office said Germany had only donated just over 17% of that amount
19th Oct 2021 - Reuters

US expected to authorize mix-and-match COVID booster shots

Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster doses this week in an effort to provide flexibility as the campaign for extra shots expands. The upcoming announcement by the Food and Drug Administration is likely to come along with authorization for boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots and follows the OK for a third dose for the Pfizer vaccine for many Americans last month. The move was previewed Tuesday by a U.S. health official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement. The FDA was expected to say that using the same brand for a booster was still preferable, especially for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that have proved most effective against the coronavirus. The agency was still finalizing guidance for the single-shot J&J vaccine.
19th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th Oct 2021

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UK government ordered to reveal firms awarded ‘VIP’ Covid contracts

The UK government has been ordered to reveal which companies were given “VIP” access to multimillion-pound contracts for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early months of the Covid pandemic, in a ruling from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has previously refused to disclose the names of 47 companies that had contracts awarded through the privileged, fast-track process allocated to firms with political connections. A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) last year found that companies referred as possible PPE suppliers by ministers, MPs or senior NHS officials were given high priority by the DHSC procurement process, which resulted in a 10 times greater success rate for securing contracts than companies whose bids were processed via normal channels. The Good Law Project (GLP), which first revealed the existence of a VIP lane, is together with fellow campaign group EveryDoctor challenging the DHSC over the lawfulness of the VIP lane and large contracts awarded to three companies: PestFix, Ayanda Capital and Clandeboye Agencies.
18th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Burundi launches COVID-19 vaccination drive

Burundi on Monday rolled out its first COVID-19 vaccines, months after most African countries, the latest step in the East African nation's shift towards a more active approach to containing the pandemic. The vaccination campaign started in the commercial capital of Bujumbura without fanfare. Dozens of city residents queued quietly at a vaccination site, telling Reuters they heard about the drive through word of mouth. No government officials were present to officially inaugurate the launch.
18th Oct 2021 - Reuters

South Africa regulator not authorising Russian COVID-19 vaccine for now

South Africa's drugs regulator said on Monday that it was not approving an emergency use application for Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 shot for now, citing concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.
18th Oct 2021 - Reuters

EU has exported over 1 bln COVID-19 vaccines, von der Leyen says

More than a billion COVID-19 vaccines produced in the European Union have been exported since December 2020, making the bloc the biggest exporter of the shots, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday. The vaccines had gone to more than 150 countries, and the EU had exported as many doses as it had distributed to its own citizens, von der Leyen added in a statement. The bloc started exporting vaccines at the start of the global roll out at a time when other major producers such as the United States were building up their own supplies and restricting exports.
18th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Gordon Brown calls for airlift of 240 million COVID-19 vaccines

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for an immediate airlift of unused COVID jabs to countries in the global south. Brown, an adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO), is pressing the leaders of Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States to hold an emergency summit to agree on the airlift ahead of the G20 meeting later this month. He said an airlift of 240 million doses this month could save 100,000 lives. It would be the first part of a plan to transfer a billion vaccine doses from rich countries to lower-income countries over several months, a plan he says could prevent “many of the one million COVID-induce deaths projected over the next year.” “While vaccines have been pledged for donation from all donors, we are not getting the vaccines into people’s arms and urgently need a month-to-month timetable to meet our interim targets and prevent further loss of lives,” Brown was quoted as saying by the Observer newspaper.
17th Oct 2021 - Al Jazeera English

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Will New Covid Treatments Be as Elusive for Poor Countries as Vaccines?

Nearly a year after the first Covid-19 vaccination campaigns began, the vast majority of the shots have gone to people in wealthy nations, with no clear path toward resolving the disparity. News this month that an antiviral medication had proved effective against the coronavirus in a large clinical trial has brought new hope of a turning point in the pandemic: a not-too-distant future when a simple pill could keep infected people from dying or falling severely ill. The drug, molnupiravir, made by Merck, is easy to distribute and can be taken at home. The trial results showed it halved the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk people early in their infections.
17th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Fourteen U.S. state attorneys general press Facebook on vaccine disinformation

The attorneys general of 14 U.S. states sent a letter to Facebook Inc (FB.O) Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg asking if the top disseminators of vaccine disinformation on the platform received special treatment from the company. The line of inquiry was generated after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen used internal documents to disclose that the social media platform has built a system that exempts high-profile users from some or all of its rules. In the letter, which was sent on Wednesday, the 14 Democratic attorneys general said they are "extremely concerned" with recent reports that Facebook maintained lists of members who have received special treatment, and want to know if the "Disinformation Dozen" were part of those lists.
16th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Second J&J COVID shot gets expert backing; FDA looking at lowering age for Pfizer booster

Outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday unanimously recommended the agency authorize a second shot of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine for all recipients of the one-dose inoculation. The agency is also considering lowering the recommended age for booster shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people as young as 40, FDA official Dr. Peter Marks told the advisory panel. The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee backed the shots for all J&J recipients aged 18 and older at least two months after their first dose.
15th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Biden Administration Renews Support for the WTO

During a speech in Geneva, Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, affirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to supporting the World Trade Organization but said the intergovernmental organization needed reform.
14th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Expert panel recommends approving Covaxin for kids

The central drug regulator’s expert panel has recommended granting marketing authorisation with certain conditions to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for restricted emergency use in children and adolescents in the age group of 2 to 18 years old.
13th Oct 2021 - Times of India

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Moderna Booster Shot Backed by FDA Advisory Panel

Vaccine experts advising the Food and Drug Administration voted 19 to 0 Thursday to recommend authorization of an extra dose of Moderna Inc.’s MRNA 3.23% Covid-19 shot, a key step in making booster doses available to millions more people. A vaccine-advisory panel voted in favor of giving a Moderna booster shot at least six months after the second dose, to adults 65 years and older, as well as adults under 65 who are at high risk of severe Covid-19 or serious complications because of their jobs, living conditions or underlying medical conditions.
14th Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

U.S. donates 17 million J&J doses to African Union

President Joe Biden told visiting Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday that the United States will make a one-time donation of more than 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union, the White House said. The meeting with Kenyatta at the White House marked Biden's first as president with an African leader. Kenya holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council this month. The United States and Kenya have long cooperated on economic and security initiatives including counterterrorism.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters

France donates COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria under COVAX scheme

Nigeria has received 501,600 doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine from the French government through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, a senior health official said on Thursday. Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said the country also received 434,400 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the African Union. Both supplies were received last week, Shuaib said, adding that more were expected through the COVAX facility and the African Union.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters

U.S. to ship 2.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan

The U.S. government will ship 2.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan on Thursday, bringing the total number of doses sent to the South Asian country to about 18.3 million, more than any other country, a White House official said. The latest shipments of the vaccine lots made by Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech are due to arrive on Saturday via the COVAX distribution program, said the official, who asked to remain unidentified.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters

EU starts real-time review of AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody cocktail

Europe's drug regulator said on Thursday it had started a real-time review of AstraZeneca's antibody-based COVID-19 therapy, the first protective shot other than vaccines against coronavirus. The decision by the human medicines committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to begin the rolling review was based on early results from clinical studies, the regulator said. It did not say when a conclusion was expected. The move to start a real-time review, so called because data is evaluated as it is made available, came roughly a week after the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker sought emergency approval from U.S. authorities.
14th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Biden's vaccine mandate for companies nears as proposed rule sent to White House

The U.S. Labor Department on Tuesday submitted to the White House the initial text of President Joe Biden's plan to require private-sector workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested regularly. The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration submitted the proposed rule for review. Some details could change, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The move indicates the proposed standard could be released soon. The mandate will apply to businesses with 100 or more employees and will be implemented under a federal rule-making mechanism known as an emergency temporary standard. It would affect roughly 80 million workers nationwide.
13th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Florida fines key county $3.5 million for mandating vaccines

Florida has issued its first fine to a county it says violated a new state law banning coronavirus vaccine mandates and for firing 14 workers who failed to get the shots. The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday issued the $3.5 million fine for Leon County, home to the state capital, saying the municipality violated Florida’s “vaccine passport” law, which prohibits businesses and governments from requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. “These are people that, presumably, have been serving throughout this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically getting kicked to the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in St. Pete Beach.
13th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

BRIEF—Russia recommends RA drug olokizumab for COVID-19 of any severity

The Russian Ministry of Health has issued the 12th version of the Temporary guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. This time the expert analysis resulted in a significant expansion of olokizumab usage in clinical practice. Olokizumab is the first in Russia novel genetically engineered biological drug developed by R-Pharm, one of the country’s leading biotechs. In the new document, olokizumab is additionally included in treatment regimens for mild and critical COVID-19 patients in hospital setting.
13th Oct 2021 - The Pharma Letter

Panama approves Pfizer COVID-19 booster for high-risk people

Panama has approved a booster dose of Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) COVID-19 vaccine for high-risk people, including healthcare workers, bedridden patients, nursing home residents and people over 55, health officials said on Tuesday. The Central American country has reported 469,440 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic and 7,275 deaths. More than 5.5 million vaccine doses have been administered since January, covering most of the eligible population. "We have decided to begin the process of applying a booster shot to the population with the Pfizer vaccine, starting tomorrow in public and private hospitals," Health Minister Luis Sucre said.
13th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Russia, EU to discuss terms for recognising COVID-19 vaccine certificates -Ifax

Russia and the EU will discuss terms for the mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccine certificates for their respective shots at talks, the Interfax news agency cited Russia's health ministry as saying on Wednesday. The EU's ambassador to Moscow last week said Russia has repeatedly delayed inspections by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) necessary for the certification of its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union
13th Oct 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Minister apologises for 'hurt and distress' suffered by bereaved families in wake of damning report on pandemic handling

A minister has apologised for the "hurt and distress" suffered by families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus, the day after a colleague refused 11 times to say sorry for the government's handling of the pandemic. "The prime minister apologised earlier this year for all the hurt and distress all those families have suffered and I share that and of course I offer that as well," Conservative Party chair Oliver Dowden told Kay Burley.
13th Oct 2021 - Sky News

US to reopen land borders in November for fully vaccinated

Beleaguered business owners and families separated by COVID-19 restrictions rejoiced Wednesday after the U.S. said it will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze. Travel across land borders from Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to workers whose jobs are deemed essential. New rules will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason starting in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions is set for air travel. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated. Shopping malls and big box retailers in U.S. border towns whose parking spaces had been filled by cars with Mexican license plates were hit hard by travel restrictions.
13th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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Covid: UK's early response worst public health failure ever, MPs say

The UK's failure to do more to stop Covid spreading early in the pandemic was one of the country's worst public health failures, a report by MPs says. The government approach - backed by its scientists - was to try to manage the situation and in effect achieve herd immunity by infection, it said. This led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, costing thousands of lives, the MPs found. But their report highlighted successes too, including the vaccination rollout. It described the approach to vaccination - from the research and development through to the rollout of the jabs - as "one of the most effective initiatives in UK history".
12th Oct 2021 - BBC News

Moderna's search for African site set to intensify - chairman

Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa could be potential locations for Moderna's planned vaccine factory in Africa, the U.S. drugmaker's co-founder and chairman said as it steps up its search for a site on the continent. Moderna said last week it would build a plant in Africa to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines a year, including its COVID-19 shot, as pressure grows on pharmaceutical companies to manufacture drugs in lower-income countries.
12th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Moderna, J&J push for COVID-19 vaccine boosters ahead of FDA meeting

Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that Moderna Inc had not met all of the agency's criteria to support use of booster doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, possibly because the efficacy of the shot's first two doses has remained strong. FDA staff said in documents that data for Moderna's vaccine showed that a booster does increase protective antibodies, but the difference in antibody levels before and after the shot was not wide enough, particularly in those whose levels had remained high.
12th Oct 2021 - Reuters

S.Korea to donate 1.1 mln doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam, 470,000 doses to Thailand

South Korea will donate 1.1 mln doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam and 470,000 doses to Thailand, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Tuesday. The donations come as South Korea has administered nearly 80% of its 52 million population with at least one dose of a vaccine, KDCA said
12th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private businesses

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to prohibit any entity, including private business, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers and called on state lawmakers to pass a similar ban into law. The move comes as the Biden administration is set to issue rules requiring employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or test weekly for the coronavirus. Several major companies, including Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have said they would abide by the federal mandate.
12th Oct 2021 - NPR

COVID-19: Minister refuses to apologise for government's pandemic handling as report says errors 'cost thousands of lives'

A minister has refused to apologise 11 times for the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, after a highly-critical report by MPs said thousands of lives were lost due to delays and mistakes by both ministers and their scientific advisers. "We followed, throughout, the scientific advice. We got the vaccine deployed extremely quickly, we protected our NHS from the surge of cases," Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay told Sky News' Kay Burley when she asked if the government would apologise.
12th Oct 2021 - Sky News

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Covid response ‘one of UK’s worst ever public health failures’

Britain’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with ministers and scientists taking a “fatalistic” approach that exacerbated the death toll, a landmark inquiry has found. “Groupthink”, evidence of British exceptionalism and a deliberately “slow and gradualist” approach meant the UK fared “significantly worse” than other countries, according to the 151-page “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” report led by two former Conservative ministers. The crisis exposed “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”, with public bodies unable to share vital information and scientific advice impaired by a lack of transparency, input from international experts and meaningful challenge. Despite being one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid in January 2020, the UK “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis”. The consequences were profound, the report says. “For a country with a world-class expertise in data analysis, to face the biggest health crisis in 100 years with virtually no data to analyse was an almost unimaginable setback.”
12th Oct 2021 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Moderna has no plans to share its Covid-19 vaccine recipe

Moderna has no plans to share the recipe for its Covid-19 vaccine because executives have concluded that scaling up the company’s own production is the best way to increase the global supply, the company’s chairman said Monday. In an interview with Associated Press, Noubar Afeyan also reiterated a pledge Moderna made a year ago not to enforce patent infringement on anyone else making a coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic. “We didn’t have to do that,” Afeyan said. “We think that was the responsible thing to do.” He added: “We want that to be helping the world.” The United Nations health agency has pressed US-based Moderna to share its vaccine formula. Afeyan said the company analysed whether it would be better to share the messenger RNA technology and determined that it could expand production and deliver billions of additional doses in 2022.
11th Oct 2021 - South China Morning Post

Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Mandates Tested in New York Case

Thousands of New York healthcare workers are in limbo as a federal judge considers whether the state’s vaccination mandate must accommodate requests for religious exemptions, in a case that could guide similar policies in other states. As written, New York’s vaccine mandate applies to all people who work in hospitals and nursing homes, and doesn’t allow healthcare employees to opt out with weekly testing. Starting last week, people were forced to choose between getting the shot and keeping their jobs. There were provisions for medical exemptions but not exemptions based on religious beliefs. Thousands of healthcare workers who refused vaccinations lost their jobs around the state when the mandate took effect, prompting hospitals to cancel elective surgeries and close operating rooms and outpatient clinics. Many nursing homes have stopped admitting new patients.
11th Oct 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Merck seeks first U.S. authorization for COVID-19 pill

Merck & Co Inc said on Monday it has applied for U.S. emergency use authorization for its drug to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19, putting it on course to become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease. An authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help change clinical management of COVID-19 as the pill can be taken at home. The treatment, molnupiravir, cut the rate of hospitalization and death by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease, according to data released earlier this month.
11th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Latvia Declares Three-Month Covid State of Emergency

The Latvian government declared a three-month state of emergency after coronavirus infections hit a record and hospitalizations rose, the country’s public broadcaster reported. The state of emergency will start on Oct. 11, and will mandate vaccinations for public sector workers, restrictions on retail and bars and push more people to work from home. Latvia recorded a record 1,752 new Covid cases on Thursday, with more than 700 in the hospital.
9th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Iceland Joins Nordic Peers in Halting Moderna Covid Vaccinations

Iceland is joining its Nordic peers in halting inoculations with Moderna Inc.’s Spikevax shot on concern over side effects. The Moderna jab, which has mostly been used in Iceland for second doses, won’t be used until more information over its safety has been collected, the chief epidemiologist said on Friday. Sweden, Denmark and Finland have this week suspended the jabs for younger people because of the risk of heart inflammation as a potential side effect. Norway said men under 30 should consider choosing the Pfizer Inc.’s and BioNTech SE’s rival vaccine, and the other Nordic nations also recommended that as an alternative. Both vaccinations use messenger RNA technology to prompt an immune reaction.
9th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Brazil has lined up 350 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for 2022, Health Minster says

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Friday the country has already acquired, or is in advanced talks to secure, around 350 million vaccine doses for 2022. Queiroga said that although Sinovac's Coronavac vaccine was not currently part of plans for the national campaign next year, it could be incorporated if it receives full approval from Brazil's health regulator.
9th Oct 2021 - Reuters

India set to reopen for foreign travellers from 15 October

India will reopen to tourism from October 15, the government said, after more than a year of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Foreign nationals will be able to apply for a visa for the first time since March 2020, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposed a strict lockdown in response to the pandemic. “After considering various inputs, the MHA (home ministry) has decided to begin granting fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from 15 October, 2021,” the home ministry said in a statement on 7 October. It added that foreigners traveling to India via commercial flights will be able to enter on fresh tourist visas starting November 15, 2021. The home ministry has said all COVID-19 protocols “should be adhered to
9th Oct 2021 - Travel Daily Media

U.S. will accept WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines for international visitors

The United States will accept the use by international visitors of COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late on Friday. On Sept. 20, the White House announced the United States in November would lift travel restrictions on air travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It did not specify then which vaccines would be accepted. A CDC spokeswoman told Reuters Friday, "Six vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by WHO will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S."
9th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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Italy loosens COVID-19 restrictions on leisure activities

Italy increased the maximum attendance capacity allowed at cultural and sporting venues on Thursday, continuing its progressive easing of COVID-19 curbs for those who can show documents of immunity from the disease.
7th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Pfizer Asks F.D.A. to Authorize Its Covid-19 Vaccine for Children 5 to 11

Pfizer and BioNTech said on Thursday morning that they had asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of their coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a move that could help protect more than 28 million people in the United States. The companies have said they were submitting data supporting the change to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency has promised to move quickly on the request and has tentatively scheduled a meeting on Oct. 26 to consider it. A ruling is expected between Halloween and Thanksgiving. “With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against Covid-19,” Pfizer said on Thursday.
7th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

WHO Wants Less Talk, More Action From Rich Nations on Doses

The World Health Organization called on countries with high vaccination rates to swap their places in line and prioritize the delivery of Covid-19 shots to lower-income nations. The WHO set out a strategy for countries to follow to reach a goal to inoculate 40% of the population in every nation in the world by the end of the year, and 70% by mid-2022. The health body urged countries with high vaccine coverage to change their vaccine delivery schedules for the coming months to make room for Covax, which will ensure countries in need can receive doses and catch up. Manufacturers should be transparent on total monthly production and schedules for supplies to Covax.
7th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Germany recommends booster shots for over 70s

Germany's vaccination authority, STIKO, recommended COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people older than 70 on Thursday. All residents of care homes, as well as workers who come into direct contact with them, should also be offered a third vaccine dose, the body said. The same was also recommended for medical workers in direct contact with patients. STIKO gave its recommendation on the grounds that vaccine protection "declines over time, particularly in terms of preventing asymptomatic and mild infections." Previously booster shots had only be recommended in Germany for people with a weakened immune system.
7th Oct 2021 - DW (English)

Malaysia buys 150000 courses of Merck's COVID-19 pill

Malaysia has struck a deal with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co to buy 150,000 courses of its experimental antiviral pill, the health ministry said on Thursday, joining other Asian countries in a rush to secure supplies. Molnupiravir, which would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19 if it gets regulatory approval, could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, clinical data has shown. The data sparked large demand for the drug in Asia, with South Korea, Singapore and Australia announcing similar deals to buy the Merck pill this week. Taiwan and Thailand are also in talks to buy it.
7th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Finland joins Sweden and Denmark in limiting Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Finland on Thursday paused the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for younger males due to reports of a rare cardiovascular side effect, joining Sweden and Denmark in limiting its use. Mika Salminen, director of the Finnish health institute, said Finland would instead give Pfizer's vaccine to men born in 1991 and later. Finland offers shots to people aged 12 and over. "A Nordic study involving Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark found that men under the age of 30 who received Moderna Spikevax had a slightly higher risk than others of developing myocarditis," he said.
7th Oct 2021 - Reuters

The WHO has started shipping COVID-19 medical supplies to North Korea

The World Health Organization has started shipping COVID-19 medical supplies into North Korea, a possible sign that the North is easing one of the world's strictest pandemic border closures to receive outside help. WHO said in a weekly monitoring report that it has started the shipment of essential COVID-19 medical supplies through the Chinese port of Dalian for "strategic stockpiling and further dispatch" to North Korea. Edwin Salvador, WHO's representative to North Korea, said in an email to the Associated Press Thursday that some items, including emergency health kits and medicine, have reached the North Korean port of Nampo after North Korean authorities allowed the WHO and other U.N. agencies to send supplies that had been stuck in Dalian.
7th Oct 2021 - NPR

Decline in global COVID-19 cases, deaths continues

Continuing a trend that began in August, global COVID-19 cases and deaths declined again last week, with activity decreasing in most regions except Europe, where infection levels stayed the same, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its latest weekly snapshot of the pandemic. Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, said on Twitter that hard work is paying off, and vaccinations are significantly cutting hospitalizations and deaths. She added, however, that vaccine equity is desperately needed, and the world is not out of the woods yet.
6th Oct 2021 - CIDRAP

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Biden to Spend $1 Billion to Boost Supply of Rapid Covid Tests

The White House on Wednesday announced a billion-dollar investment in at-home rapid coronavirus tests that it said would help quadruple their availability by later this year. By December, 200 million rapid tests will be available to Americans each month, with tens of millions more arriving on the market in the coming weeks, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, said at a news conference. Mr. Zients also said the administration would double the number of sites in the federal government’s free pharmacy testing program, to 20,000. The changes reflect the administration’s growing emphasis on at-home testing as a tool for slowing the spread of Covid-19.
6th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

China Is Last Holdout on Covid-Zero Strategy

For much of the pandemic, a group of places in the Asia-Pacific brought infections to zero, becoming virus-free havens in a world ravaged by the pathogen. Now, with the rise of the delta variant and the proliferation of vaccines, only one is still holding fast to that goal of eliminating Covid-19: China. With New Zealand preparing to shift away from the zero-tolerance strategy, China’s isolation is complete, raising the stakes on how long it can stick to a playbook that requires closed borders, abrupt lockdowns, and repeated disruption of social and economic activity. One by one, Covid Zero places like Singapore and Australia have decided that the approach is unsustainable, pivoting instead to vaccination to protect people from serious illness and death while easing off on attempts to control the number of infections.
6th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Sweden pauses use of Moderna COVID vaccine, cites rare side effects

Sweden will pause the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for people born 1991 and later after reports of possible rare side effects, such as myocarditis, the Swedish health agency said on Wednesday. "The Swedish Public Health Agency has decided to suspend the use of Moderna's vaccine Spikevax, for everyone born 1991 and later, for precautionary reasons," it said in a statement. "The cause is signals of an increased risk of side effects such as myocarditis and pericarditis. However, the risk of being affected is very small," it said.
6th Oct 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Hearings resume on Ohio House anti-vaccine mandate bill

The right of individuals to decline the coronavirus vaccine and the right of businesses to require it as a condition of employment are at the center of debate over proposed House Republican legislation limiting employers’ ability to mandate COVID-19 vaccination. Lawmakers on Wednesday began additional hearings on the bill after a failed effort last week to fast-track a full House vote on the legislation. All major business and health care organizations oppose the legislation that would allow public and private sector employees to seek exemptions from employer-mandated coronavirus vaccines. The hearing is meant to explore “the line between personal freedom and company rights to mandate your vaccination in terms of employment,” said House Commerce and Labor Chairman Dick Stein, a Norwalk Republican.
6th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

Merck says deal signed with Singapore on COVID-19 antiviral pill

Merck announced on Wednesday a supply and purchase agreement that will provide Singapore with access to its experimental oral COVID-19 antiviral drug, the latest Asian country to try to snap up supplies. Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus and would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19. Merck is seeking approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the pill.Singapore's health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the Merck agreement.
6th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Kazakhstan to buy 4 mln doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Kazakhstan has signed a deal to buy about 4 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, healthcare minister Alexei Tsoi said. The Central Asian nation's government has said it will offer the Pfizer shots, at least initially, only to children aged 12 and older, and to pregnant women.
6th Oct 2021 - Reuters

UAE authorises Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine -Russia's RDIF

The United Arab Emirates has authorised the Russia-developed one-shot Sputnik Light as both a standalone COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot, Russia's sovereign fund RDIF said on Wednesday.
6th Oct 2021 - Reuters

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AstraZeneca Submits Preventive Covid-19 Treatment for FDA Authorization

The company asked U.S. regulators for emergency-use authorization for an antibody drug that earlier this year showed strong efficacy in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, offering a potential alternative in evading the disease.
5th Oct 2021 - Wall Street Journal

Spain approves COVID booster shot for over 70s

Spain on Tuesday approved administering of third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are based on the same messenger RNA technology, for people aged 70 or over, the health ministry said. Spain has fully vaccinated around 78% of its population, and authorised the booster shot from six months after people receive their second jab, the ministry said in a statement. The campaign to administer the boosters will begin at the end of October. The country had already authorised booster shots for cancer patients, nursing home residents and other vulnerable groups.
5th Oct 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand to phase out zero-covid strategy, Jacinda Ardern says

After months of back-and-forth between virus-free life and lockdowns, New Zealand will phase out its pursuit of zero covid-19 cases and instead rely on vaccines to allow the country to live with the coronavirus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that New Zealand will transition from relying on harsh restrictions, instead using vaccines and “everyday public health measures” to keep residents safe. She added that the change was one “we were always going to make over time.” But the delta variant, Ardern said, had “accelerated” this transition. New Zealand’s admission that it cannot fully eliminate the virus and must instead learn to live with it marks a dramatic shift from the strategy it had employed throughout the pandemic
5th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

Johnson & Johnson seeks emergency authorization from FDA for coronavirus booster shot

Johnson & Johnson asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to grant emergency use authorization for a booster dose of its single-shot coronavirus vaccine. The action is part of an effort by Biden administration officials to provide increased protection against covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 700,000 lives in the United States. Johnson & Johnson “is asking the FDA to look at our data and agree with us that we have enough data to support a boost” for people 18 and older, said Mathai Mammen, global head of research and development for the Janssen Pharmaceuticals division of Johnson & Johnson.
5th Oct 2021 - The Washington Post

Australia to buy experimental Covid-19 drug - Morrison

Australia is to purchase 300,000 courses of Merck & Co's experimental antiviral pill, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. The announcement came as Victoria logged the highest number of daily Covid-19 infections of any state in the country since the pandemic began. Molnupiravir, which would be the first oral antiviral medication for Covid-19 if it gets regulatory approval, could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for people most at risk of contracting severe Covid-19, according to experts.
5th Oct 2021 - RTE.ie

EU regulator OKs Pfizer vaccine booster for 18 and older

The European Union’s drug regulator gave its backing Monday to administering booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people 18 and older. The European Medicines Agency said the booster doses “may be considered at least 6 months after the second dose for people aged 18 years and older.” The agency’s human medicines committee issued the recommendation after studying data for the Pfizer vaccine that showed a rise in antibody levels following boosters given around 6 months after the second dose in people from 18 to 55 years old. The agency also said it supports giving a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine to people with severely weakened immune systems at least 28 days after their second shot.
5th Oct 2021 - The Associated Press

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GSK to supply 10000 doses of COVID-19 drug to Canada

London-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC said on Monday it signed a deal to supply 10,000 doses of its COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy to the Canadian government. "With the emergence of variants of concern across the country, in particular the Delta variant, new therapies like sotrovimab are important to treating the disease in its early stages," said Ranya El Masri, head of government affairs and market access for GSK Canada. The drug, sotrovimab, developed in partnership with Vir Biotechnology Inc was approved by Canada in July to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 patients, above 12 years of age, who are at high risk for progressing to hospitalization or death.
4th Oct 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator backs Pfizer vaccine booster for all adults after 6 months

Europe’s drugs regulator on Monday advised that healthy adults can receive a third, booster dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine six months after the second dose. The European Medicines Agency’s medicines committee said the recommendation was based on data from a study of 18 to 55-year-olds, showing an increase in antibodies after a third shot. Data has shown that immunity wanes with the vaccines currently in use, and appears to wane more quickly with the BioNTech/Pfizer jab. The EMA also said that people with severely weakened immune systems may be given a booster dose of either the BioNTech/Pfizer or Moderna jabs just 28 days after their second dose. While there is no direct evidence linking antibody levels to stronger protection in those with weakened immune systems, “it is expected that the extra dose would increase protection at least in some patients,” the EMA said.
4th Oct 2021 - POLITICO Europe

Global trade is accelerating, but poorer countries need vaccines to keep up, the W.T.O. says.

Global trade recovered from its pandemic lows faster than anticipated in the first half of 2021 and is set to grow more quickly than expected next year, lifting global growth forecasts, the World Trade Organization said Monday. The W.T.O. now forecasts global merchandise trade to grow 10.8 percent in 2021, up from the 8 percent it forecast in March, as the flow of goods recovers from last year’s slump. Global trade is expected to rise 4.7 percent in 2022 as the growth rate approaches its prepandemic trend, the W.T.O. said. That trade growth has not been equal as a result of the pandemic, the group said, with developing regions in particular lagging behind because of lower vaccination rates, and supply chain disruptions continuing to weigh on trade in some areas.
4th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Covid-19 Treatment News: What Drugs, Medicines Are Available for Coronavirus?

In the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccines have emerged as the weapon of choice. Prevention of disease is always preferable to treatment, and in this case, vaccines have proven far more targeted and effective than the few Covid therapies that have emerged so far. Several, including some that received emergency-use authorization from regulators, have lost favor or been discarded as the struggle goes on to understand the coronavirus that causes Covid and how it impacts cells, tissues and ultimately the human body. While the list of disappointments is long, some treatments have been shown to work, although more research is needed to provide effective therapy for severely ill patients.
4th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Pfizer, Moderna Boosters Win EU Approval for Vulnerable

A European Union advisory committee endorsed extra shots of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine for all adults, as well as extra doses of Moderna Inc.’s for those with severely weakened immune systems. Those ages 18 and older can get a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, developed with BioNTech SE, at least six months after their second shot, the European Medicines Agency said in a statement Monday. For the immunocompromised, extra doses of Pfizer or Moderna can be given at least 28 days after the second. The recommendation on the Pfizer shot is slightly broader than in the U.S., where it’s been recommended for those ages 65 or older, those in long-term health-care facilities and those ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. “Studies showed that an extra dose of these vaccines increased the ability to produce antibodies against the virus that causes Covid-19 in organ transplant patients with weakened immune systems,” the EMA said. “It is expected that the extra dose would increase protection at least in some patients.”
4th Oct 2021 - Bloomberg

Thailand joins Asian nations in rush to buy Merck's COVID-19 pill

Thailand's government is in talks with Merck & Co (MRK.N) to buy 200,000 courses of its experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 treatment, the latest Asian nation to scramble for supplies of the drug after lagging behind Western countries for vaccines. Somsak Akksilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services, told Reuters that Thailand is currently working on a purchasing agreement for the antiviral drug, known as molnupiravir. South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia said they are alsoin talks to buy the potential treatment, while the Philippines, which is running a trial on the pill, said it hopes its domestic study would allow access to the treatment.
4th Oct 2021 - Reuters

Johnson & Johnson to Seek F.D.A. Authorization for Booster Shot

Johnson & Johnson is planning to ask federal regulators early this week to authorize a booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine, according to officials familiar with the company’s plans. The firm is the last of the three federally authorized vaccine providers to call for extra injections, amid mounting evidence that at least the elderly and other high-risk groups need more protection. Federal officials have become increasingly worried that the more than 15 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine face too much risk of severe Covid-19. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday scheduled a meeting on Oct. 15 of its expert advisory committee to discuss whether to grant emergency use authorization of a booster shot of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. That is part of a broader effort by the government to shore up the protection provided by all three vaccines. Regulators last month authorized a booster shot for many recipients of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine and are contemplating doing the same this month for recipients of Moderna’s.
4th Oct 2021 - The New York Times

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 4th Oct 2021

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California to require COVID-19 vaccines for schoolchildren

California will become the first U.S. state to mandate statewide COVID-19 vaccinations for schoolchildren, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday as a Reuters tally showed the United States topping 700,000 coronavirus deaths. “The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19," the Democratic governor said at a news conference.
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters

In a first, COVAX to send COVID shots only to least covered nations

A global scheme designed to ensure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines will this month for the first time distribute shots only to countries with the lowest levels of coverage, the World Health Organization said. Co-led by the WHO, COVAX has since January largely allocated doses proportionally among its 140-plus beneficiary states according to population size. This made some richer nations that had already secured vaccines through separate deals with pharmaceutical firms eligible for COVAX doses alongside countries with no supplies at all
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters

Japan's Takeda says 'human error' caused contamination of Moderna vaccines

Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd said on Friday that "human error" caused metal contaminants to get into Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine doses, leading to a recall. Takeda, which imports and distributes the vaccine in Japan, and Moderna said in a new report that a Spanish manufacturer discovered contaminants in some vials in July, but supplies from the same production were allowed to be shipped to Japan. Japanese authorities in August suspended the use of three batches of Moderna shots containing 1.63 million doses after being notified of the contamination.
1st Oct 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Oct 2021

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Vaccine apartheid: The Global South fights back

Could the rich world’s obscene selfishness on vaccine equality ultimately help bring about a fairer economy? If we fight for it. When diplomats start speaking like campaigners, you know geopolitics is starting to shift. This week United Nations chief Antonio Guterres lectured world leaders on the disgraceful state of vaccine inequality, calling it “a moral indictment of the state of our world. It is an obscenity.” A fortnight earlier, World Health Organization head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the press: “I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers.”
30th Sep 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Western Coronavirus Vaccines May Be Coming to Russia

Russian residents may soon be able to receive vaccines not recognized by the government, the Kommersant business daily reported, citing a Health Ministry proposal put up for public discussion. The move to relax import rules could potentially allow Russians to have Western coronavirus jabs like Pfizer and Moderna, as well as Chinese vaccines like Sinopharm and Sinovac. The Health Ministry proposed Tuesday to grant the Moscow International Medical Cluster (MIMC) project the right to import vaccines and drugs not registered in Russia. MIMC operates in Moscow City Hall’s Skolkovo Innovation Center, which works under a special legal regime that gives it preferential access to drugs registered in OECD member-states, even if they are not registered in Russia.
30th Sep 2021 - The Moscow Times

Beijing 2022 presents COVID-19 protocol to IOC

International spectators will be barred from the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics, while all the Games' participants are encouraged to be fully vaccinated, according to Beijing 2022's COVID-19-prevention policies. The Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee on Wednesday presented its key COVID-19 countermeasures for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during an IOC executive board meeting chaired by President Thomas Bach, in the presence of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons, outlining its principles regarding key policies, including vaccination, Games-time closed-loop management, spectators and ticketing. All athletes and Games participants who are fully vaccinated will enter the closed-loop management system, or known as "bio-secure bubbles", upon arrival, according to a press release from Beijing 2022. Games participants who are not fully vaccinated will have to enter a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in Beijing.
30th Sep 2021 - China Daily

EU wants to extend looser state aid rules for virus-hit companies to mid-2022

The European Commission on Thursday proposed extending looser state aid rules for virus-hit companies for six months to June 2022 in a bid to slowly wean them off the billions of euros provided by governments across the European Union. The EU executive, tasked with ensuring a level playing field in the 27-country bloc, also proposed two new measures to encourage investment support and solvency support for a limited time to help Europe rebound from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The so-called Temporary Framework, adopted in March last year and due to expire at the end of this year, has allowed EU countries to pump in more than 3 trillion euros to thousands of companies across the bloc.
30th Sep 2021 - Reuters

PAHO says it is buying more COVID vaccines for Americas

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has said it is pushing to secure additional COVID-19 vaccines for residents of the Americas amid huge discrepancies in vaccination rates between countries in the region. PAHO, the Americas branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced on Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac to buy 8.5 million vaccine doses for 2021 and another 80 million doses next year.
29th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Sep 2021

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PAHO says in advanced talks to buy more COVID vaccines

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday it is in advanced talks with vaccine makers to buy additional COVID-19 shots for its member states to complement bilateral deals, donations, and doses they are receiving via the COVAX mechanism. PAHO has reached an agreement with Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac, and is expecting to sign new accords soon to buy vaccines with emergency use listing approval from other suppliers for 2021 and 2022, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said.
29th Sep 2021 - Reuters

EU to decide on Pfizer booster on Oct. 4 - document

The EU's drugs regulator will decide on Monday whether to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 booster vaccine, but it is unlikely to give precise guidance on who should receive it, according to an internal document and two officials. If the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives its backing for the jab, the 27-member block would join the United States, Britain and Israel which have already received the green light to deploy boosters, even though there is no consensus among scientists that they are necessary.
29th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Swiss buy 150,000 doses of J&J COVID-19 vaccine

Switzerland has agreed to buy 150,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. from Johnson & Johnson that will arrive this week and be distributed to regional authorities next week, the government said on Wednesday. Switzerland has relied so far on vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna using new mRNA technology but also considered standard vector jabs from Johnson & Johnson to help persuade more people to get immunized. “People aged 12 and over are still recommended to be vaccinated primarily with an mRNA vaccine, as this offers a very high level of protection and is very safe,” the Federal Office of Public Health said.
29th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Brazil hospital chain hid Covid-19 deaths, whistleblowers' lawyer tells Senate

A Brazilian hospital chain gave unproven Covid-19 treatments to patients without their knowledge, a lawyer for a group of whistleblowing doctors alleged to the country's parliamentary inquiry on the pandemic on Tuesday. At least nine patients at hospitals operated by Prevent Senior died of Covid-19 while they were unwittingly receiving the experimental treatments, said Bruna Morato, representing 12 anonymous doctors who worked for the health care provider. The company, which also offers private health insurance, has denied all allegations. Morato alleged that Prevent Senior hospitals were used as "laboratories" for studies with so-called "Covid kit," containing drugs that have been proven ineffective for the treatment of Covid-19, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. These studies were allegedly conducted between March and April of 2020. Patients and relatives were not made aware those drugs were being administered, and Prevent Senior doctors were pressured internally to prescribe and distribute such drugs, Morato also claimed. "Very vulnerable elderly patients were told there was a good treatment, but they did not know they were being used as guinea pigs," she said.
29th Sep 2021 - CNN

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 29th Sep 2021

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Yemen uses UN speech to call for more COVID-19 vaccines

The top diplomat of Yemen s internationally recognized government said Monday his conflict-torn country needs millions more coronavirus vaccines to ensure some of the world's poorest are not left behind. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak said the roughly 1 million doses Yemen was given are not enough to vaccinate even the most vulnerable portions of its population. Yemen has a long way to go toward vaccinating the majority of its some 30 million people, most of whom are facing multiple humanitarian crises, including poverty, hunger and poor access to adequately run hospitals. Yemen’s government has received just roughly 500,000 doses so far this year through the COVAX initiative, and the rest through direct donations from other countries. “These amounts are still not enough to cover the targeted groups,” Bin Mubarak said. “We hope that the donating countries will contribute to increasing the number of vaccines so that no one is left behind.”
28th Sep 2021 - The Independent

Pfizer/BioNTech submit initial data on Covid-19 vaccine for people ages 5 to 11 to FDA, but aren't seeking EUA yet

Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday they have submitted Covid-19 vaccine data on children ages 5 to 11 to the US Food and Drug Administration for initial review, but are not yet seeking emergency use authorization. A formal submission to request EUA for the vaccine is expected to follow in the coming weeks, the companies said in a statement. Submissions to the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory authorities are also planned, they said. This is the first submission of data to the FDA for a Covid-19 vaccine for younger children. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older and has an EUA for people ages 12 to 15.
28th Sep 2021 - CNN

Cuba begins commercial exports of its COVID-19 vaccines

Cuba has begun commercial exports of its homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, sending shipments of the three-dose Abdala vaccine to Vietnam and Venezuela. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel announced the arrival of vaccines in Vietnam on his Twitter feed on Sunday. The official Cubadebate news website said the shipment included 900,000 doses bought by Hanoi and 150,000 more donated by Cuba. Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited Cuba last week and toured the laboratory that produces the vaccine, announcing an agreement to buy at least five million doses. As two of the last five Communist countries in the world, Cuba and Vietnam have maintained longstanding ties.
28th Sep 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Ireland to donate 335,500 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Uganda

Ireland is to donate 335,500 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Uganda, it has been announced. This donation is in addition to the one million Covid-19 vaccines that Ireland has already committed to donate via Covax, which aims to guarantee fair and equitable vaccine access for every country in the world. Along with this donation of vaccines to Uganda, Ireland is also donating all of the consumables needed to support the administration of 335,500 doses (plus a consumables contingency).
28th Sep 2021 - The Journal

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Sep 2021

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Party of Covid vaccine sceptics wins seats in Austria’s regional parliament

A newly created party of Covid-19 vaccine sceptics has been elected to one of Austria’s largest regional parliaments after a shock election result in which it swept up protest votes from across the political spectrum. Pollsters had expected Menschen-Freiheit-Grundrechte [People, Freedom, Rights] to fall short of the 4 per cent threshold needed to enter the Upper Austrian state parliament. But on Sunday the party overtook the liberals, scooping up 6.4 per cent of the vote to win three seats in the Landtag.
28th Sep 2021 - Financial Times

How France Overcame Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

The French have long been wary of vaccines, but a mixture of mandates and inducements encouraged millions to get the shot as the Delta variant spread.
27th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

EU Commission proposes extending vaccine export-control scheme

The European Commission has proposed extending the period of its scheme for monitoring and potentially limiting exports of COVID-19 vaccines from the bloc, a European Commission spokesperson told Reuters on Monday. If not prolonged, the scheme would expire this week. It is unclear whether the 27 EU states will support the proposal, which requires a qualified majority to be adopted. "Discussions are ongoing with member states, so we cannot comment further," the spokesperson said. If extended, the scheme would remain in place until the end of the year.
27th Sep 2021 - Reuters

New York may tap National Guard to replace unvaccinated healthcare workers

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is considering employing the National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill hospital staffing shortages with tens of thousands of workers possibly losing their jobs for not meeting a Monday deadline for mandated COVID-19 vaccination. The plan, outlined in a statement from Hochul on Saturday, would allow her to declare a state of emergency to increase the supply of healthcare workers to include licensed professionals from other states and countries as well as retired nurses.
27th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Tanzania to receive 2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from China

The government yesterday said two million doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China is expected to arrive in the country as the number of vaccinated Tanzanians reached 400,000 off from the million doses initially received. The government spokserson, Mr Gerson Msigwa said yesterday that unlike the Johnson & Johnson doses that are injected once a year, Tanzanians will have to be inoculated twice a year with the Sinopharm doses.
27th Sep 2021 - GhanaWeb

Japan approves GSK's Sotrovimab COVID-19 antibody treatment

Japan has approved GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology's Sotrovimab as an antibody treatment for coronavirus, Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said on Monday. The antibody treatment is for mild to moderate COVID-19 cases which do not require oxygen supplementation, GSK said when it applied for fast-track approval this month.
27th Sep 2021 - Reuters

WHO backs Regeneron drug for COVID-19, urges action on price

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has added the Regeneron antibody drug cocktail – casirivimab and imdevimab – to its list of treatments for people with COVID-19, urging the manufacturer to reduce the price and ensure equitable distribution. Clinical studies showed the drug combination was effective in patients who were not severely ill but at high risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19, or those with severe cases of the disease and no existing antibodies, the WHO said in a statement on Friday.
24th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th Sep 2021

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Cuba kicks off COVID-19 vaccine exports with shipment to Vietnam

Cuba said on Saturday it had exported its three-shot Abdala coronavirus vaccine for the first time, sending an initial shipment to Vietnam as part of a contract to supply five million doses to the Southeast Asian country. Scientists in the Communist-run island have developed three home-grown vaccines against COVID-19, all of which are waiting to receive official recognition from the World Health Organization.
26th Sep 2021 - Reuters

This country claims it hasn't had a single Covid-19 case. Activists say that's a lie

Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic home to nearly 6 million people, is one of at least five countries that have not reported any coronavirus cases, according to a review of data collected by Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organization. Three of those are isolated islands in the Pacific and the fourth is North Korea, a tightly-controlled hermit state. Turkmenistan's repressive President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who has ruled since 2006, has dismissed reports of Covid-19 in the country as "fake" and told the United Nations in an address Tuesday that the response to the pandemic shouldn't be "politicized." But independent organizations and journalists and activists outside Turkmenistan say there's evidence the country is battling a third wave which is overwhelming hospitals and killing dozens of people -- and warn the President is playing down the threat of the deadly virus in a bid to maintain his public image.
25th Sep 2021 - CNN

India tells Quad will allow export of 8 mln Indo-Pacific vaccine doses

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told fellow leaders of the Quad partnership on Friday India will allow the export of 8 million COVID-19 vaccines by end of October in line with a deal reached by the grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States in March, India's foreign secretary said on Friday.
24th Sep 2021 - Reuters

C.D.C. Chief Overrules Agency Panel and Endorses Pfizer Boosters for Frontline Workers

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday overruled a recommendation by an agency advisory panel that had refused to endorse booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for frontline workers. It was a highly unusual move for the director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, but aligned C.D.C. policy with the Food and Drug Administration’s endorsements over her own agency’s advisers. The C.D.C.’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Thursday recommended the boosters for a wide range of Americans, including tens of millions of older adults and younger people at high risk for the disease. But they excluded health care workers, teachers and others whose jobs put them at risk. That put their recommendations at odds with the F.D.A.’s authorization of booster shots for all adults with a high occupational risk.
24th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Sep 2021

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Novavax applies to WHO for emergency listing of COVID-19 vaccine

Novavax and its partner Serum Institute of India have applied to the World Health Organization for an emergency use listing of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine, potentially clearing the way for the shot to ship to many poorer countries, the company said on Thursday. Novavax has been prioritizing regulatory submissions to low- and middle-income countries after falling behind in the race for authorization in the United States and Europe, which have already vaccinated most of their residents.
23rd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus Vaccine Inequity a Focus at UN General Assembly

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chad’s President Mahamat Idriss Deby and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni are set to address the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday. Access to COVID-19 vaccines has been one of the major topics of the annual meeting in New York and is likely to be one of the most discussed again Thursday as leaders from African nations make up a large portion of the day’s list of speakers. While some countries such as the United States have had vaccine doses widely available to their populations for months, other countries have struggled to access COVID-19 vaccine supplies.
23rd Sep 2021 - Voice of America

FDA authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine booster for older Americans and those at high risk of illness

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shot for people 65 and older and adults at risk of severe illness, an effort to bolster protection for the most vulnerable Americans against the highly transmissible delta variant of the virus. In addition to older Americans, boosters should be made available to people 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe illness from the coronavirus and those “whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure” to the virus puts them at high risk of serious complications from the disease caused by the virus, the agency said.
23rd Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

New Zealand's Ardern says lockdowns can end with high vaccine uptake

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday the country should aim for a 90%-plus rate of inoculation, and could drop strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.
23rd Sep 2021 - Reuters

U.K. Eases Covid Travel Rules for COP26 Climate Conference

The U.K. has relaxed Covid-related travel restrictions for people attending the international climate conference in Glasgow that’s now less than six weeks away. Minister-level officials from so-called red list countries, along with two staffers, won’t be required to spend time in quarantine when they arrive for the COP26 conference, according to updated travel requirements. That’s a change from an earlier stance that required visitors from the high risk, red-list countries to spend five days in isolation.
23rd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd Sep 2021

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U.K. Faces Backlash Over Selective Vaccine Policy at Border

The U.K. government is facing a rising backlash over its refusal to recognize visitors as vaccinated unless they received their shots in a handful of select countries. Under travel rules unveiled last week, fully dosed arrivals from nations such as the U.S., Israel and Australia will be allowed to enter England without quarantine starting Oct. 4. But vaccinated people from vast swathes of the world still face tougher restrictions, including a 10-day home isolation period. The measure applies even if the visitor has had a vaccine approved and used in the U.K., such as the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE version or the shot produced by AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University. It doesn’t matter whether the country is on the “red list” of those facing additional restrictions on entry or not
22nd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Argentina talks up 'last stage' of pandemic as controls loosened

Argentina unveiled plans to ease coronavirus pandemic restrictions, including loosening strict border controls, allowing more commercial activities and getting rid of the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors. Health Minister Carla Vizzotti said the easing of rules would allow more economic, industrial and commercial activities in closed places, while borders would gradually reopen from this month, with all tourists allowed back in from November. "We are in a very positive moment, we know that the pandemic has not ended, we have to maintain care," Vizzotti said in a news conference in Buenos Aires. "We are moving toward the full recovery of activities."
22nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

U.N. Climate Summit Attendees Push U.K. for Vaccines

Known as COP26, the climate summit will be one of the largest in-person international gatherings since the start of the pandemic. The British government says it’s on track to provide promised shots for attendees,
22nd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Under pressure, U.S. donates half billion more COVID-19 vaccine doses to world

The United States promised to buy 500 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses to donate to other countries as it comes under increasing pressure to share its supply with the rest of the world. President Joe Biden made the announcement during a virtual summit aimed at boosting global vaccination rates against the coronavirus and rallying world leaders to do more. "To beat the pandemic here we need to beat it everywhere," Biden said as he kicked off the summit, which included leaders from Britain, Canada, Indonesia and South Africa as well as World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
22nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Global coronavirus vaccine inequity is 'an obscenity', UN chief says

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reprimanded the world for the inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, describing it as an "obscenity" and giving the globe an "F in ethics". Addressing the annual UN gathering of world leaders in New York, Mr Guterres said images from some parts of the world of expired and unused vaccines in rubbish told "the tale of our times" - with the majority of the wealthier world immunised while more than 90 per cent of Africa has not even received one dose. "This is a moral indictment of the state of our world. It is an obscenity. We passed the science test. But we are getting an F in ethics," Mr Guterres told the UN General Assembly.
22nd Sep 2021 - SBS News

Covishield: UK recognises Covid jab after India outcry

The UK government has amended its foreign travel guidance to clarify that the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine is an approved jab. But it is not clear whether people from India can travel to the UK without having to self-isolate for 10 days. The UK's refusal to recognise Covishield had triggered a firestorm of protests in India. With more than 721 million doses administered so far, Covishield is India's primary vaccine. On Tuesday, India described the rule as "discriminatory" and asked the UK to stop requiring fully-vaccinated Indians to self-isolate on arrival. At present, India is not listed as a country where people are recognised as fully vaccinated even if they've had both doses of an approved jab.
22nd Sep 2021 - BBC News

New Zealand says it may not get to zero COVID-19 cases again

Its biggest city Auckland is still in lockdown with a small number of new cases being reported everyday. "We may not get back to zero but the important thing is we are going to keep finding any infections and basically continue to contact trace, test and isolate people so that we stop the virus circulating in the community... that's the aim," Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health told Radio New Zealand. Bloomfield said the aim now was to try and get on top of the outbreak while also ramping up vaccination rates.
22nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Amnesty blames top COVID jab makers for vaccine inequality

Six top manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine “are fuelling an unprecedented human rights crisis through their refusal to waive intellectual property rights and share vaccine technology”, Amnesty International said in a report. In the report titled “A Double Dose of Inequality”, the rights group denounced AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer for “wheeling and dealing in favour of wealthy states”. “Vaccinating the world is our only pathway out of this crisis,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general. “It should be time to hail these companies, who created vaccines so quickly, as heroes. But instead, to their shame and our collective grief, Big Pharma’s intentional blocking of knowledge transfer and their  wheeling and dealing in favour of wealthy states has brewed an utterly predictable and utterly devastating vaccine scarcity for so many others.”
22nd Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 22nd Sep 2021

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Covid: US opens up to fully vaccinated travellers

The US is easing its coronavirus travel restrictions, reopening to passengers from the UK, EU and other nations. From November, foreign travellers will be allowed to fly into the US if they are fully vaccinated, and undergo testing and contact tracing. The US has had tough restrictions on travel in place since early last year. The move answers a major demand from European allies, and means that families and friends separated by the restrictions can be reunited.
21st Sep 2021 - BBC News

John Nkengasong, of the Africa C.D.C., Will Lead PEPFAR

The Biden administration plans to nominate John Nkengasong, a virologist and director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to lead the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, according to several sources familiar with the matter. President Biden is expected to make the announcement in the coming days. PEPFAR is a $7 billion operation that funds and sets goals for AIDS care in many nations, most of them in Africa. Dr. Nkengasong, who was born in Cameroon, is the first person of African origin to head the program, which is housed in the Department of State.
21st Sep 2021 - The New York Times

India says it will resume Covid-19 vaccine exports next month

India will resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines in the October quarter, prioritizing the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX and neighboring countries first as supplies rise, the country's health minister said on Monday. India, the world's biggest maker of vaccines, stopped exports of Covid shots in April to focus on inoculating its own population as infections exploded. The country's monthly vaccine output has since more than doubled and is set to quadruple to over 300 million doses next month, minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, adding that only excess supplies would be exported. Total production could top 1 billion in the last three months of the year as new vaccines from companies such as Biological E are likely to be approved, he added.
21st Sep 2021 - CNN

Brazil and Argentina tapped to make mRNA vaccines in Latin America

The Pan American Health Organization has selected two biomedical centers in Argentina and Brazil as regional hubs to develop and produce mRNA-based vaccines to fight COVID-19 in Latin America, the regional health agency said on Tuesday. The idea is to tap existing manufacturing capacities to help transfer vaccine technology developed by Moderna in the United States to a region badly hit by the coronavirus and still without access to enough vaccines.
21st Sep 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Sep 2021

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India to Resume Covid-19 Vaccine Exports to Developing Nations

India will resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines starting next month, government officials said Monday, in a move likely to aid developing nations that have struggled to vaccinate their populations after New Delhi restricted shipments amid resurgence of cases at home. The exports would be a mix of donations and commercial deals, and would include shipments to Covax, a World Health Organization-supported facility aimed at getting vaccines to developing countries. India has been a major supplier to Covax. When it resumes exporting, India will accord priority to neighboring countries, Africa, and Latin America, according to an Indian government official familiar with the plan. The official declined to detail how many vaccines India plans to export. India exported 66 million doses to 95 countries before temporarily restricting the shipments in early April to help ease supply shortages as Covid-19 cases rose rapidly in the country last spring.
20th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

U.S. to Require Most Foreign Travelers Be Vaccinated for Entry

The U.S. will soon allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they’re fully vaccinated against Covid-19 -- while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who haven’t gotten shots. The measures announced Monday by the White House are the most sweeping change to U.S. travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people -- who will see restrictions relaxed -- and the unvaccinated. The new rules will replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the U.S. from certain regions, including Europe.
20th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus digest: Germany to offer vaccines to children in 2022

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that a vaccine for children under 12 will likely be available from the first quarter of 2022. Spahn also expects approval for a vaccine for youth to go through by the beginning of next year. "I am assuming that the approval for a vaccine for children under 12 years of age will come in the first quarter of 2022," Spahn told Funke media group. "Then we could protect the younger ones even better." "A recommendation from the Standing Committee on Vaccination [STIKO] will also come a little later in this case," he added. BioNTech, for example, announced a few days ago that it would apply for approval of its coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of five and eleven in the coming weeks.
20th Sep 2021 - DW (English)

US Lifts Ban For Fully Vaccinated Travellers From UK And Europe

The White House is to lift the US travel Covid ban and allow fully vaccinated arrivals from the UK and Europe to enter the country from early November. Other countries including Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland and South Africa will also be included in the new policy. Passengers will not need to quarantine upon arrival but will need to prove they were vaccinated before boarding a flight and provide a negative Covid test which was taken within the last three days.
20th Sep 2021 - Huffington Post

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Vietnam approves Abdala vaccine as president visits Cuba

Vietnam has approved Cuba's Abdala vaccine for use against the new coronavirus, the government said, as the Southeast Asian country is battling its worst outbreak. Abdala becomes the eighth COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Vietnam, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the region, with only 6.3% of its 98 million people having received at least two shots. The announcement came hours after President Nguyen Xuan Phuc left Hanoi for an official visit to Havana.
18th Sep 2021 - Reuters

U.S. to buy hundreds of millions more doses of Pfizer vaccine to donate to the world

The Biden administration is buying hundreds of millions more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to donate to the world, according to two people familiar with the deal, as the United States looks to increase efforts to share vaccine with the global population. The administration is expected to purchase 500 million doses, but the terms are not finalized, said the people with knowledge of the deal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the donation. The announcement of the purchase is slated for early next week and timed to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
18th Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

Robin Swann facing legal action over bid to give Covid-19 vaccine to Northern Ireland children

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister is facing a High Court battle over plans to vaccinate children between the ages of 12 and 15. A pre-action letter has been sent to the Department of Health asking Robin Swann to reconsider his decision to extend Northern Ireland’s Covid vaccination programme to the age cohort. The legal action raises concerns about the decision coming after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) refused to approve the universal vaccination of healthy children. The letter argues that, if the programme is rolled out to children in Northern Ireland, they should only receive the vaccination with parental consent.
18th Sep 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

South Korea approves Celltrion's COVID-19 treatment for use

South Korea approved Celltrion's antibody COVID-19 treatment for infected adults in high-risk groups or those with severe symptoms. Phase III clinical trials showed that the treatment significantly reduced deterioration of COVID-19 symptoms to severe levels and shortened recovery, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a statement. The treatment lowered the rate of high-risk patients developing severe symptoms by 72% and shortened recovery by 4.12 days, the ministry said.
17th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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IMF, World Bank urge more COVID-19 vaccination doses to go to poor countries

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and other multilateral-organization leaders on Thursday urged countries with high COVID-19 vaccination rates to boost efforts to send doses to low- and middle-income countries. Georgieva and the heads of the World Bank Group, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization expressed concern in a joint statement that it would not be possible to vaccinate at least 40% of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 without urgent action.
17th Sep 2021 - Reuters UK

EU launches health crisis body to prepare for future pandemic

The European Commission launched on Thursday a health crisis body that will coordinate EU spending of almost 30 billion euros ($35.3 billion) to prepare for a future pandemic. The new health emergency preparedness and response authority (HERA) will assess potential health threats, promote research, ensure the availability of critical production and help build stockpiles. If a new health crisis struck, it would activate emergency funding and help coordinate monitoring, procurement and purchase of medical equipment or treatments.
16th Sep 2021 - Reuters

WHO Suspends Sputnik V Approval Process Over Manufacturing Breaches

The World Health Organization (WHO) has suspended its approval process for Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, pending a fresh inspection of at least one Russian factory manufacturing the shot. Speaking at a press briefing of the Pan American Health Organization, a regional branch of the WHO, Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa said Russia’s bid for emergency authorization had been put on hold after a number of manufacturing infringements were uncovered during a WHO inspection in Russia in May.
16th Sep 2021 - The Moscow Times

Indonesia aims to become a global vaccine manufacturing hub

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the country is well placed to join South. Africa in being one of the WHO’s vaccine ‘technology transfer hubs.’ He said Indonesian pharmaceutical companies are also in talks with vaccine manufacturers and developers
16th Sep 2021 - South China Morning Post

US to buy additional doses of Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody therapies

The US Government is to purchase additional doses of Eli Lilly’s neutralising antibody therapies authorised for emergency use to treat Covid-19. As per the deal, Lilly will deliver 388,000 doses of etesevimab to complement doses of bamlanivimab already purchased by the US government.
16th Sep 2021 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Asia supercharges vaccination efforts after slow start, U.S. lags

Several Asian nations are quickly ramping up vaccination campaigns from shaky starts to combat growing COVID-19 infections, as supply shipments roll in and people overcome hesitancy in hopes of easing curbs and freeing up travel. Japan and South Korea have passed the United States in terms of those who have received at least one dose and are fast catching up with the second. And Australia, which is targeting high vaccination rates in its drive to escape lockdowns and re-open borders, has given 56% of people at least one shot as infections peak.
16th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Dutch PM Rutte: Netherlands to ease COVID-19 restrictions

The Dutch government on Tuesday announced they are easing COVID-19 restrictions and will introduce a "corona" pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said most social distancing requirements will be dropped from Sept. 25.
15th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Single-Dose Sputnik Light Approved For Phase 3 Bridging Trials In India

The single-dose COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik Light received approval from the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) today to conduct phase 3 bridging trials in India.Last year, Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Laboratories had partnered with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to conduct phase 3 trials of the vaccine. After the company submitted safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data, the SEC granted permission for conducting the trials in India, a statement by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation said.
15th Sep 2021 - NDTV

U.S. buys additional doses of Eli Lilly, Regeneron COVID-19 therapy

Eli Lilly and Company said on Wednesday the U.S. government bought 388,000 additional doses of its COVID-19 antibody therapy, as infections surge due to the fast-spreading Delta variant. The news comes after Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said late on Tuesday the U.S. government was buying 1.4 million additional doses of its COVID-19 antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV.
15th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Government lays out its “plan B” to protect NHS this winter

Ministers will reintroduce a range of precautionary measures against covid-19 this autumn and winter if a further surge in cases threatens to overwhelm the NHS. The government’s plan,1 published on 14 September, sets out what it calls a “plan B for England” that it will initiate if data suggest the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure during the coming months. Measures would include introducing mandatory vaccine certification in specific settings, bringing back the legal requirement to wear face coverings in some settings, and advising people to work from home if they are able to. The government said it was committed to taking “whatever action is necessary” to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed but said stricter economic and social restrictions such as lockdowns would only be considered as “a last resort.”
15th Sep 2021 - The BMJ

EU pledges 200 million vaccine doses to low-income nations

The European Union’s top official said Wednesday that ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations around the world was the bloc’s No. 1 priority right now and committed another 200 million vaccine doses to Africa and low-income nations. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen used her State of the European Union speech on Wednesday to announce the new donation that will be fully delivered by the middle of next year and comes on top of 250 million vaccine doses already pledged.
15th Sep 2021 - The Associated Press

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How Science in India Became a 'Political Weapon' Under Modi

The forecast was mathematically based, government-approved and deeply, tragically wrong. In September 2020, eight months before a deadly Covid-19 second wave struck India, government-appointed scientists downplayed the possibility of a new outbreak. Previous infections and early lockdown efforts had tamed the spread, the scientists wrote in a study that was widely covered by the Indian news media after it was released last year. The results dovetailed neatly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two main goals: restart India’s stricken economy and kick off campaigning for his party in state elections that coming spring.
14th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

England Unveils Winter Covid Strategy

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced a plan on Tuesday to offer all those age 50 and older a booster vaccine as part of a winter coronavirus strategy — plunging Britain into a growing debate over whether lower-income countries should get shots first. The prime minister is taking the step to try to prevent a new surge in cases from overwhelming the National Health Service, and to avoid another lockdown in a country wearied by the pandemic and earlier measures that included some of the strictest restrictions in the world.
14th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

WHO Says India May Resume Covid-19 Vaccines to Africa This Year

The World Health Organization said talks are underway with India for a resumption of Covid-19 vaccine exports to African countries following a pause during a deadly wave of infections earlier this year. “Be assured the conversation is ongoing, be assured that supply will restart this year,” Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO official, said at a briefing Tuesday. “We are hoping we can get assurance it can start even faster than later this year and in the coming weeks.”
14th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid: Sajid Javid unveils winter plan to tackle coronavirus

The health secretary has unveiled the government's plan for tackling Covid during autumn and winter in England. Sajid Javid said it included offering booster jabs to those most at risk from the virus and maximising uptake among those who have not yet had the vaccine. Ministers have also prepared a "Plan B" if measures are needed to prevent "unsustainable pressure" on the NHS. This could include compulsory face coverings in certain settings and asking people to work from home. But "more harmful economic and social restrictions would only be considered as a last resort", the government's winter plan says.
14th Sep 2021 - BBC News

Biden gathers support for global pandemic summit

Yesterday, President Biden invited world leaders to a virtual summit on ending the pandemic, with a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the world by next September, according to the Washington Post. At a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing today, health officials—including several from African groups—welcomed the partnership, but said there are urgent steps countries can take now to free up more vaccine doses for countries that don't have enough access.
14th Sep 2021 - CIDRAP

U.S. to buy 1.4 mln additional doses of Regeneron's COVID-19 therapy

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday the U.S. government will buy 1.4 million additional doses of its COVID-19 antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV. The cocktail, a combination of antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab, was authorized in November for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
14th Sep 2021 - Reuters

WHO-backed vaccine hub for Africa to copy Moderna COVID-19 shot

Efforts to develop an African base for COVID-19 vaccine production will focus on trying to replicate Moderna’s shot, but a lack of progress in talks with the US company mean the project will take time, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official has said. The drive to produce vaccines in Africa is designed to help more developing countries access COVID-19 shots after rich nations bought up most of this year’s supply.
14th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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UK PM Johnson to set out COVID-19 booster strategy under winter plan

Britain will roll out COVID-19 booster shots for the most vulnerable and elderly as part of his coronavirus strategy for the winter months. Johnson's government has already indicated it will scrap plans for vaccine passports to be required to get into nightclubs, end some of its emergency COVID powers and use lockdowns only as a last resort.
14th Sep 2021 - Reuters UK

UK Canceling $1.7 Billion Vaccine Contract With Valneva Is a Bizarre Rug-Pull

The U.K. had poured millions of pounds into Valneva’s Scottish factory, secured an extra 40 million vaccine doses on top of the 60 million it had already agreed to buy, and boasted about the vaccine’s potential as a booster in the autumn. The fact that Valneva was headquartered in France, whose vaccine rollout was off to a dire start and where zero doses had been procured, was the ultimate punchline. Now the U.K. seems to have shot itself in the foot, rather than in the arm. The government is abruptly canceling its supply contract, having found Valneva in breach of its obligations without specifying how — something Valneva is contesting, though without giving more details.
13th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Republican backlash against Biden’s Covid vaccine mandate grows

The political sparring match over Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandate continued on Sunday with one Republican governor blasting the measure as “counterproductive” and the White House insisting it was necessary to end the coronavirus pandemic.
13th Sep 2021 - The Guardian

Iraq receives over 100,000 coronavirus vaccine doses

Iraq has received a donation of more than 100,000 AstraZeneca doses against Covid-19 from Italy via vaccine-sharing facility Covax. More than four million people in Iraq, or around 10 percent of its 40 million inhabitants, have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab, according to the health ministry. Healthcare workers say they are battling not just the coronavirus but also widespread scepticism over vaccines, as a result of misinformation and public mistrust in the state.
13th Sep 2021 - FRANCE 24

Covid-19: Work-from-home guidance and face masks could be brought back in winter

Guidance to work from home and the mandatory use of face masks are likely to be retained as options in the Covid winter plan due to be set out by Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister will tell the nation on Tuesday how the country can learn to live with the virus, underlining how vaccinations will be a central part of the response to coronavirus in the coming months. Covid laws that are no longer required will be ditched and plans for vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large crowd venues have been shelved. The travel traffic lights system is also expected to be scrapped and PCR tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers.
13th Sep 2021 - Evening Standard

UK scraps Covid-19 vaccine deal with French firm Valneva

French vaccine maker Valneva says the UK government has scrapped a deal for its Covid-19 vaccine. The UK had about 100 million doses on order, after it increased its request by 40 million in February. The firm said that the UK government served notice over allegations of a breach of the agreement, which it "strenuously denies". The government said the decision would have no impact on vaccine supply in the UK. "The comments from the company will not have any impact on our vaccine supply and did not form any part of our vaccine rollout in autumn and winter," a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
13th Sep 2021 - BBC News

Pfizer Supplies Jordan, Lebanon With Covid Vaccines for Refugees

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE are donating hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 vaccine doses to Jordan and Lebanon as a part of a broader push to aid refugees during the pandemic. On Monday, 100,000 doses of the companies’ coronavirus vaccine arrived at the coastal Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport. There, the donated doses are being loaded into UPS trucks and delivered to nearby warehouses at the Rafic Hariri Hospital, the largest Lebanese public hospital located on the outskirts of Beirut.
13th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

UK OKs vaccines for 12 year olds, aims to avoid lockdowns

Britain decided Monday to follow other countries in offering coronavirus vaccines to children 12 and up, as the government gambled that expanded vaccination and mild tweaks to social behavior can avert the need for lockdowns in the winter. Vaccinations for children and booster shots for at-risk adults are expected to be part of a “tool kit” to control COVID-19 infections this fall and winter that Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce Tuesday. On Monday, the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland recommended that children ages 12 to 15 be given a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, despite the government’s vaccine advisors saying this month that the step would have only marginal health benefits.
13th Sep 2021 - Associated Press

Australia buys additional 1 mln doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Australia has purchased an additional 1 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine from the European Union, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as the country accelerates its inoculation programme to fight record high infections. The purchase is a boost for Australia's A$2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) economy, which is at risk of slipping into its second recession in as many years as a result of lockdowns of the country's two most populous cities, Sydney and Melbourne
12th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Israel Is Preparing for Possible Fourth Covid Vaccine Dose

Israel is making preparations to ensure it has sufficient vaccine supply in case a fourth round of Covid-19 shots is needed, the country’s top health official said on Sunday. “We don’t know when it will happen; I hope very much that it won’t be within six months, like this time, and that the third dose will last for longer,” Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash said in an interview with Radio 103FM. Israel, which has mainly used the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine, has so far inoculated about 2.8 million people with a third dose after beginning a drive to administer booster shots in August. Health officials have said the effects of the initial Covid-19 shots weaken five months after inoculation, making boosters necessary.
12th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Oxford Covid jab faces effectively being withdrawn from Britain's vaccine rollout

Research suggests combining two different vaccines provides better protection Medical regulator ruled AstraZeneca cannot be used for third doses in this way Majority of third doses given out this autumn and winter are likely to be Pfizer
11th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Brazil Moves Away from Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine

Brazil, a major buyer of China’s CoronaVac shot and a poster child for Beijing’s efforts at vaccine diplomacy, is making a speedy retreat from the Covid-19 vaccine as concerns grow over its efficacy against the Delta variant and other vaccines become more readily available. Brazil’s federal government has halted negotiations over additional doses of Sinovac’s vaccine, CoronaVac, spokespeople for the government and its local producer, the Butantan Institute, told The Wall Street Journal. The government has also said it won’t recommend use of CoronaVac for a third booster shot.
11th Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Opinion | Biden's Vaccine Mandate, Enforced By OSHA, is a Big Mistake

There’s one person that President Biden desperately needs to consult about his new federal vaccine mandate: President-elect Biden. In December 2020, as the prospect of imminent mass vaccination against Covid-19 was finally becoming a reality, Mr. Biden leveled with the American people: He said he would not force anyone to get the jab. “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory,” he told reporters. “I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory.” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, recently reiterated Mr. Biden’s position. “That’s not the role of the federal government,” she declared on July 23, referring to the idea of a government mandate. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the same thing a week later: “There will be no nationwide mandate.”
11th Sep 2021 - The New York Times

S.Africa's regulator approves Pfizer COVID-19 shot for children 12 and up

South Africa's health regulator has approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for use by children aged 12 and older, paving the way for the government to offer vaccinations to teenagers. The South African Health Products Authority (SAPHRA) said the decision came after a review of updated safety and efficacy information submitted in March this year. After a bumpy start, South Africa's vaccination campaign has ramped up in recent months with a solid supply of shots secured and just over 12% of its more than 60 million people vaccinated. That puts the country well ahead of others on the continent.
11th Sep 2021 - Reuters

3M, Qiagen to comply with Biden's COVID-19 vaccination, test mandate

3M Co, the biggest U.S. producer of N95 masks, and German genetic testing specialist Qiagen said separately on Friday that they will comply with the Biden administration's new COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandate for workplaces. "We strongly support all initiatives aiming to increase vaccination rates especially at the workplace," Qiagen told Reuters in an email.
11th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Pfizer to seek approval for vaccine in children 5 and over

Pfizer and BioNTech announced this week that it will soon seek approval from global regulators for use of its coronavirus vaccine in children ages 5 and over. The vaccine makers said in an interview published on Friday that they are looking to produce smaller doses of the vaccine for younger children. “We will be presenting the results from our study on five- to 11-year-olds to authorities around the world in the coming weeks,” Ozlem Tureci, the co-founder of BioNTech and its chief medical officer, told German news outlet Der Spiegel.
11th Sep 2021 - The Hill

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Covax, a global program to distribute Covid vaccines, cuts its 2021 forecast for available doses by a quarter.

The United Nations-backed program to vaccinate the world against the coronavirus slashed its forecast for doses available in 2021 by roughly a quarter on Wednesday, another setback for an effort that has been hampered by production problems, export bans and vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations. Shortly after the forecast was released, the World Health Organization asked wealthy countries to hold off on administering booster shots for healthy patients until at least the end of the year as a way of enabling every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of their populations. The organization had previously called for a booster shot moratorium until the end of September.
9th Sep 2021 - New York Times

China announces £22m emergency aid to Afghanistan, including 3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses

China has pledged emergency aid worth 200 million yuan (£22m) to Afghanistan, including three million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and food supplies. This was the first official aid announced for Afghanistan by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi at a meeting on Wednesday with his counterparts from Afghanistan’s neighbours,
9th Sep 2021 - The Independent

U.S. FDA declines emergency use approval for Humanigen's COVID-19 drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined Humanigen Inc's request for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its lenzilumab drug to treat newly hospitalized COVID-19 patients, the company said on Thursday. "In its letter, FDA stated that it was unable to conclude that the known and potential benefits of lenzilumab outweigh the known and potential risks of its use as a treatment for COVID-19," the company said in a statement.
9th Sep 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand buys Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from Spain

Around a quarter of a million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine bought from Spain will arrive in New Zealand this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday, boosting the country's inoculation programme. The doses will arrive in Auckland on Friday, Ardern said, adding to some 1.8 million doses being delivered directly from Pfizer throughout September.
9th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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Ireland to give COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to over-80s

Ireland will give COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to elderly people who were fully vaccinated at least six months ago, the health ministry said on Wednesday. People over the age of 80 and those over 65 living in long-term residential care facilities will receive a booster dose of a vaccine such as those made by Pfizer or Moderna, irrespective of what vaccine they received initially, the ministry said in a statement.
8th Sep 2021 - Reuters

WHO seeks COVID-19 vaccines for poor nations, 'not empty promises'

The World Health Organization on Wednesday said low-income countries were ready to run effective COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and it was now down to manufacturers and rich countries to deliver the pledged doses to ease global health inequalities. About 80% of the 5.5 billion vaccines doses that have been administered globally went to high and upper-middle income countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Wednesday
8th Sep 2021 - Reuters

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South America's Least-Vaccinated Country Gets First Covax Shots

Venezuela received the first shipment of vaccines against Covid-19 purchased through the World Health Organization-sponsored Covax program after months of delays and payment issues hindered the country’s inoculation plan. The shipment of 693,600 Sinovac Biotech Ltd. shots arrived early Tuesday, the Pan American Health Organization said in statement on its website. The country is due to receive a total of 12 million doses through Covax, PAHO said. The first shipment was expected to arrive by the end of July but was delayed for reasons not publicly disclosed. In June, some government payments to Covax were temporarily blocked by banks, the government said at the time.
7th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Profitable Australian companies urged to repay government Covid support

Some of Australia’s biggest companies are under pressure to repay billions of dollars of Covid-19 support provided under a scheme after it emerged that they had made money during the pandemic. The A$98bn (US$73bn) JobKeeper programme was introduced to help companies retain staff during the country’s coronavirus-induced lockdowns. But Australia’s Parliamentary Budget Office in July released data showing that in its first three months of operation, about A$12.5bn went to businesses that were largely unaffected by the pandemic.
7th Sep 2021 - Financial Times

Indonesia approves J&J, Cansino COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use

Indonesia has approved the single-dose COVID-19 vaccines produced by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, part of Johnson & Johnson, and China's CanSino Biological Inc for emergency use, the country's food and drug agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
7th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia will start treating Covid as 'endemic' around end-October, trade minister says

Malaysia will start treating Covid-19 as an endemic disease around the end of October, said International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali. More than 75% of Malaysia’s adult population is expected to be fully vaccinated by then, said Azmin. Malaysia’s Southeast Asian neighbors including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines have also experienced a resurgence in Covid cases caused by the more transmissible delta variant.
7th Sep 2021 - CNBC

After Moderna contamination mess, Takeda strikes deal with Japan to supply Novavax COVID-19 vaccines

As Moderna faces questions about contaminants found in its COVID-19 vaccines in Japan, the company’s distribution partner in the country, Takeda, is moving forward on its plans with another COVID vaccine developer. On Monday, Takeda said the Japanese government has agreed to purchase 150 million doses of the Novavax shot that it will produce. Takeda and Novavax previously struck a licensing and production deal covering the country. The Novavax shot remains in development, and the partners aim to start the rollout in Japan early next year. The government's purchasing agreement is subject to regulatory approvals.
7th Sep 2021 - FiercePharma

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Government plans October firebreak lockdown if Covid hospital admissions remain high

The Government has drawn up plans for an October “firebreak” Covid lockdown should hospitalisations continue at their current level and threaten to overload the NHS, a senior Government scientist has told i. The member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the UK is about to enter “an extended peak” of infections and hospitalisations, which are in danger of pushing the NHS beyond breaking point and could force the Government to re-introduce restrictions over the school half term period at the end of next month.
6th Sep 2021 - iNews

Chilean health regulator approves CoronaVac use among children over age 6

The Chilean health regulator on Monday approved the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd for use in children over 6 years of age, allowing more people to be included in the country's rapid inoculation campaign.
6th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Brazil suspends use of millions of doses of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine

Brazil’s health regulator suspended the use of just over 12.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac after learning that vials containing the shots were filled at an unauthorized production base. The suspension is for 90 days as an investigation is carried out, said Anvisa, the regulator, which announced the decision in a statement Saturday. The Butantan Institute, a Sao Paulo biomedical center that has partnered with Sinovac to fill the vaccine for local usage, notified Anvisa about the irregularity the prior day, the agency said.
6th Sep 2021 - The Washington Post

Philippines plans new COVID-19 lockdown strategy to help economy

The Philippines will relax some COVID-19 restrictions in the Manila region from Wednesday and also intends to outline plans to shift to smaller, localised lockdowns to support the economy, the presidential spokesperson said. The moves come despite the Southeast Asian country reporting record infection numbers as it battles the Delta variant. The government believed localised COVID-19 restrictions would be more effective in controlling outbreaks without constraining mobility and business activity too much, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told a briefing.
6th Sep 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Europe Denmark cancels tender for domestic coronavirus vaccine production

Denmark has cancelled its previously announced plans for a public tender to establish a national COVID-19 vaccine production facility as it bets on a vaccine already under development by a Danish firm, the Business Ministry said on Monday. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced in April that Denmark aimed to produce COVID-19 mRNA-vaccines by 2022, and that a tendering process would be initiated within a few weeks.
6th Sep 2021 - Reuters

NHS ‘ready to go’ with Covid jab booster programme, says vaccines minister

The NHS’s vaccine booster programme is “ready to go” and only waiting for scientists to sign off on plans for third jabs, the vaccines minister has said. Speaking in the House of Commons, Nadhim Zahawi, said getting booster vaccines into people’s arms would be a major part of ending the pandemic for good.
6th Sep 2021 - The Independent

Rich countries to have 1.2bn surplus COVID vaccine doses

Wealthy countries could potentially have a surplus of more than one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses available by the end of the year that are not designated as donations to poorer nations, according to a new analysis. Vaccine stock in Western countries has reached 500 million doses this month, with 360 million not earmarked for donations, according to new research. By the end of the year, these countries will have a potential of 1.2 billion surplus vaccine shots, with the overwhelming majority – 1.06 billion – not marked for donations, it said.
5th Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

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Italy to Decide on Compulsory Vaccine This Month, Minister Says

Italy will decide by the end of September whether Covid-19 vaccines will become mandatory for all people aged 12 and over, according to a minister in Mario Draghi’s coalition. “If we will not have reached a vaccination level between 80% and 90% we will pass a law to impose the Covid-19 vaccine to all people against it,” Public Administration Minister Renato Brunetta said Sunday in an interview at the Ambrosetti Forum in Cernobbio, Italy. “We will decide by the end of the month.”
5th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Israel is planning to administer fourth Covid shot which could be adjusted to fight new variants as country battles wave of infections despite hugely successful vaccine roll-out

Israel is set to begin preparations to administer fourth doses of the coronavirus vaccines as the country deals with soaring cases despite its trail-blazing roll-out of jabs. The country's national coronavirus czar Salman Zarka said the country needs to prepare for a fourth injection, which could be modified to better protect against new variants of the virus. 'Given that that the virus is here and will continue to be here, we also need to prepare for a fourth injection,' he told Kan public radio. 'This is our life from now on, in waves.'
5th Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

COVID-19: Ministers face difficult decision on whether to defy JCVI's finding on vaccinating children

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has resisted intense pressure from ministers by refusing to recommend coronavirus vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said parents would find it "deeply reassuring" if children were given jabs, and leaks from Whitehall insiders suggested the JCVI was ready to sign off on vaccines for teenagers as schools return in England. Yet although the vaccination programme has been expanded to cover more children with underlying health conditions, the JCVI has not approved vaccination for the entire age cohort
4th Sep 2021 - Sky News

White House Unveils $65 Billion Plan to Combat New Pandemics

The Biden administration unveiled a $65.3 billion plan to prepare for future pandemics threats, likening the ambitious proposal to the Apollo mission to the moon. The proposal announced Friday by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and National Security Council focuses on protecting the U.S. against potentially catastrophic biological threats, including those that are naturally occurring, accidental or deliberately set in motion by bad actors.
4th Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Australian PM seeks quicker reopening after COVID-19 vaccine swap with Britain

Australia will receive an additional 4 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine this month after agreeing a swap deal with Britain, to help accelerate its vaccination programme amid a record surge in infections. The deal, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will double the availability of Pfizer vaccines this month, with the first shipment of vaccines from Britain expected to arrive over the weekend. Australia on Friday recorded its biggest one-day rise in COVID-19 infections, with 1,657 new cases and 13 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.
4th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Brazil's Bolsonaro signs law that could break COVID-19 vaccine patents

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday signed off on a law allowing for vaccine and medication patents to be broken in a public emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. But the right-wing leader vetoed the provisions that patent holders would need to transfer the knowledge and supply the raw materials needed to duplicate the vaccines and medications.
4th Sep 2021 - Reuters

Amid vaccine hoarding criticism, Biden admin plots $2.7 billion manufacturing push

It didn’t take long for the Biden administration to answer criticism that the United States wasn’t doing enough to ease the world’s COVID-19 vaccination shortfall. On Thursday, White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients revealed that the government has earmarked $2.7 billion to beef up vaccine manufacturing. Zients did not discuss details of the plan—such as which companies would receive the aid—but he did say that the funds will boost production of key supplies to produce the shots. Some of those materials include bioreactor bags, tubing, lipids, vials, needles and syringes, Bloomberg and The New York Times report, citing officials familiar with the plan.
3rd Sep 2021 - FiercePharma

AstraZeneca reaches settlement with EU on COVID-19 vaccine delivery

Settlement brings doses delivered to 300 million as agreed. Agreement will also end pending litigation in Brussels. Capped rebates on vaccine will apply if doses are delayed. Doses will go to EU-laggards in uptake ranking, COVAX facility
3rd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Australia approves highly effective Moderna Covid-19 jab for children aged 12 to 17

Australia's medical regulator approves American Moderna jab for all over 12s Medical regulator boss said the jab was 98% effective against severe disease One million doses will arrive in September and 10million by the end of the year In 2022 Australia will receive 15 million of Moderna's 'updated' variant boosters The move helps nation reach 70 per cent vaccination rate to end lockdowns
3rd Sep 2021 - Daily Mail

Moderna seeks EU authorization for COVID-19 vaccine booster dose

Moderna Inc said on Friday it had asked the EU drugs regulator for conditional approval of a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine at a 50 microgram dose.
3rd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Sep 2021

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EU to Return Millions of Doses of J&J’s Covid-19 Vaccine Imported From Africa

The European Union will return to Africa millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine that it received from a plant in South Africa, following criticism by health activists that the bloc was taking away shots from a continent that has the lowest immunization rate in the world. Strive Masiyiwa, who heads the African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, said the decision to return the shots produced at Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. was made at a meeting between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week. As part of the deal, the EU will also not take doses from the Aspen plant it was expecting in September, Mr. Masiyiwa said.
2nd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

FDA Weighing Dose of Moderna Covid-19 Booster

The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to authorize a lower dose of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine for boosters than the dose given in the first two shots, people familiar with the deliberations said. Moderna said Wednesday it is asking the FDA to authorize a 50 microgram dose, half the dosage of the first two shots. Some in the government are leaning toward authorizing the 100 microgram dose, the people said, because of concerns a lower-dose booster might not offer a durable enough boost to counter fast-changing variants of Covid-19.
2nd Sep 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

EU Authorities Steer Away From Wide Use of Covid Booster Shots

European Union health authorities said there’s no urgent need for widespread use of Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, though people with weakened immune systems should be offered a third dose. The priority now should be to vaccinate the roughly one-third of Europe’s adults who aren’t fully inoculated, the European Medicines Agency said on Thursday, citing a report by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Older and frail people, particularly those in care homes, could also be given an extra dose, the agency said.
2nd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

Kosovo to destroy 133,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

The Kosovo government decided to destroy 133,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines over their expired date of use as the country faces a sharp rise in the coronavirus death rate. The vaccines that will be destroyed were part of a donation from Norway with August 31 seen as an expiration date. The decision to destroy vaccines triggered criticism, with some people calling for the resignation of the health minister on the health ministry's Facebook page.
2nd Sep 2021 - MSN.com

Sputnik Adrift: Lessons From Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Stumble

Russia claimed victory in the Covid-19 vaccine race a year ago, but is still waiting to reap the glory. At home, hesitancy means only about one in four Russians is fully inoculated and the pace of vaccination has slowed even as deaths hover around daily records. Abroad, production hiccups have hampered deliveries to countries such as Argentina. Over the entire enterprise hangs a long list of unanswered questions. There’s still time for Moscow to secure a measure of success and help a vaccine-starved, variant-afflicted world as well. Every shot is needed. But first the Kremlin needs to recognize the benefits of vaccine glasnost.
2nd Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

North Korea rejects offer of nearly 3 million Sinovac COVID-19 shots

North Korea has rejected roughly three million COVID-19 vaccine doses of China's Sinovac, saying they should be sent to severely affected countries, the UNICEF said. The isolated country's public ministry pointed to the limited global supply for vaccines and continuing virus surges elsewhere, according to the UN children's agency that manages the supply for the COVAX scheme for lower-income nations. So far, North Korea has not reported any COVID-19 cases and has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs.
2nd Sep 2021 - Reuters

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Sep 2021

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Covid-19: Irish Cabinet agrees to end most restrictions by 22 October

The Irish Cabinet has agreed on a plan that would effectively end most Covid-19 restrictions by 22 October. The cabinet said the easing of rules is dependent on 90% of adults being vaccinated and Covid-19 cases remaining manageable. From 6 September, large crowds will be allowed to gather for religious ceremonies. Places of worship and outdoor sporting venues will also be allowed to hold 50% capacity from that date.
1st Sep 2021 - BBC News

WHO Chief, Germany's Merkel Open Global Pandemic Hub in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Wednesday officially opened the international Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin — a center designed to pool the world’s resources to fight future global health emergencies. The hub, originally announced in May, will be a collection agency for health data from around the world. Equipped with a supercomputer, it will collect, analyze and disseminate information from international governments, and academic and private sector institutions.
1st Sep 2021 - Voice of America

North Korea turns down Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine doses

North Korea has rejected roughly three million COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by China's Sinovac Biotech , saying the shots should be sent to harder-hit countries, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday,
1st Sep 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

US Sending Millions of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses to Pakistan

As Pakistan deals with a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, the United States will begin moving 4 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to the country on Thursday, a White House spokesperson told VOA. The 4,149,990 doses, sent through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative co-led by Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the WHO (World Health Organization) and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness), are in addition to the more than 9.2 million doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine already donated to Pakistan since June.
1st Sep 2021 - Voice of America

Moderna to recall COVID-19 doses in Japan after stainless steel contaminants found

Moderna Inc and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd on Wednesday said they are working with Japanese authorities to recall three batches of COVID-19 vaccine after an investigation found stainless steel contaminants in some vials. Japanese authorities had suspended use of these batches of Moderna shots containing 1.63 million doses last week after being notified of the contamination issue.
1st Sep 2021 - Reuters

Portugal lifts COVID-19 travel ban on tourists from Brazil

Portugal said on Wednesday it would allow entry for tourists from Brazil, nearly 18 months after it imposed a ban on non-essential travel from the Portuguese-speaking South American nation to stem the spread of coronavirus. Although Brazilians, who make up Portugal's biggest expatriate community, were allowed access for reasons such as work, family or health, the lifting of the tourism ban has been long-awaited.
1st Sep 2021 - Reuters

U.K. Plans to Give Third Vaccine Dose to Vulnerable People

The U.K. is set to offer a third dose of Covid vaccines to people 12 and older with severely weakened immune systems following a recommendation from a committee that advises the government. The extra doses should be given to people with leukemia, advanced HIV, recent organ transplants and others who were significantly immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second shot, according to a statement Wednesday from Public Health England. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is still deliberating on the potential benefits of boosters for the wider population and awaiting further evidence to make a decision, health authorities said.
1st Sep 2021 - Bloomberg

EU health body says no urgent need for vaccine boosters

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday there was no urgent need for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the fully vaccinated, citing data on the effectiveness of shots. The comments follow a similar statement from the European Medicines Agency last month that more data was needed on the duration of protection after full inoculation to recommend using booster shots.
1st Sep 2021 - Reuters

German firms seek details of employees’ vaccine status

The German government is looking into whether it could temporarily ease data privacy rules to allow companies to find out whether their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, ministers said on Wednesday. Many countries are making vaccination mandatory for healthcare staff and public sector workers and some companies – particularly in the United States – have started demanding that employees are inoculated
1st Sep 2021 - AlJazeera

Wealthy nations far short of COVID vaccine donation target

Two people who led an independent review of the world's response to COVID-19 raised deep concerns today about the slow pace of vaccine donations by high-income countries to lower-income countries. In other developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) today released a list of 24 new tools—such solar-powered oxygen concentrators—that can help battle current and future pandemic threats.
31st Aug 2021 - CIDRAP

Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Sep 2021

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Mauritius Reaches 60% Vaccination Goal a Month Ahead of Schedule

Mauritius vaccinated 60% of its population a month ahead of target and now plans to halve the number of days tourists will need to isolate on the island nation after arrival. The “milestone comes ahead of two major steps to reduce restrictions on inbound international travel,” the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority said in an emailed statement Tuesday. Inoculated tourists will have to spend seven days in a a so-called resort bubble hotel from Wednesday, down from 14 days now, before they can travel freely. From Oct. 1, they will be free to explore the Indian Ocean Island nation without restrictions. That’s provided they submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival, the agency said.
31st Aug 2021 - Bloomberg

France aims to give third COVID-19 vaccine shot to 18 million by early 2022