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

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Chile approves emergency use of Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine

Chile's Institute of Public Health approved emergency use of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine against COVID-19, joining the country's already massive inoculation program, the institute said in a statement. One of the institute's experts voted against the approval, and two abstained, asking for more information about the efficacy of the formula developed by Russia's Gamaleya Institute. Five members of the committee convened by the institute voted for approval.
22nd Jul 2021 - Reuters

EU has shipped tiny percentage of planned COVID-19 shot donations - document

* EU has donated less than 4 mln COVID-19 vaccines so far - document * 160 mln shots to be shared in total. * EU nations sharing almost exclusively AstraZeneca doses. * Doses shared so far were sent mostly to former colonies. * EU says on track to donate 200 mln this year
22nd Jul 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

U.S. donates 3 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam

The U.S. government will send 3 million more doses of the Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam on Thursday, bringing total donations to the Southeast Asian country to 5 million, a White House official said. The next batch of shots is due to arrive in Vietnam this weekend as the country battles its worst coronavirus outbreak of the pandemic.
22nd Jul 2021 - Reuters

China rejects WHO plan for study of COVID-19 origin

China rejected on Thursday a World Health Organization (WHO) plan for a second phase of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, which includes the hypothesis it could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, a top health official said. The WHO this month proposed a second phase of studies into the origins of the coronavirus in China, including audits of laboratories and markets in the city of Wuhan, calling for transparency from authorities
22nd Jul 2021 - Reuters

Ireland to wait a few weeks before reopening economy further

Ireland will wait a few weeks before considering easing COVID-19 restrictions beyond Monday's planned resumption of indoor dining and drinking in restaurants and bars, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday. Ireland has been gradually unwinding its third and longest lockdown and earlier this month delayed plans to allow indoor service in pubs and restaurants for the first time this year due to concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant.
22nd Jul 2021 - Reuters

As Indonesia mulls easing lockdown, WHO urges tougher restrictions

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday urged Indonesia to implement a stricter and wider lockdown to combat surging COVID-19 infections and deaths, just days after the country's president flagged the easing of restrictions. Indonesia has become one of the epicentres of the global pandemic in recent weeks, with positive COVID-19 cases leaping fivefold in the past five weeks. This week, daily deaths hit record highs over 1,400, among the highest tolls in the world.
22nd Jul 2021 - Reuters

The government relies on Boris Johnson’s infectious optimism – but good cheer alone cannot sustain it

Boris Johnson’s approach to tackling Covid-19 has been remarkably consistent: his objective is to keep society as open as the National Health Service will allow. When pressure on the health service eases, so too must restrictions. When healthcare capacity starts to collapse, down come the shutters again. But having a single aim isn’t the same as having a consistent strategy. Like Johnson’s own instincts, the government has veered in many different directions. Matt Hancock, the Prime Minister’s first health secretary, wanted to keep the country as locked down as possible until science beat back the disease. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, argued for looser restrictions and a less generous support scheme for businesses and individuals, creating the ideal conditions for the virus to spread.
22nd Jul 2021 - New Statesman

Israelis to receive Moderna COVID vaccine beginning August

Health funds will be able to place orders for the Moderna vaccine, which will then be made available to Israelis over the age of 18. Starting July 28, health funds will be able to place orders for the Moderna vaccine, which will then be made available to eligible Israelis beginning August 1, according to a letter sent by the Health Ministry to the health funds. At that point, the Pfizer vaccine will only be administered to those under the age of 18, for whom the Moderna vaccine is not yet approved, and for people who are waiting on their second dose.
21st Jul 2021 - The Jerusalem Post


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

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Pfizer to offer COVID-19 vaccines to African Union through South African partnership

Pfizer and BioNTech will partner with The Biovac Institute, a South African biopharmaceutical company, to manufacture COVID vaccines for distribution within the African Union, the companies announced Tuesday.
21st Jul 2021 - Yahoo

US extends coronavirus closures of borders with Mexico, Canada

The United States’ land borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed to non-essential travel for another month, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced, just days after Canada signalled plans to ease restrictions on travel from the US. The restrictions into the US by land or ferry will remain in place until at least August 21, the DHS said on Wednesday.
21st Jul 2021 - AlJazeera

WHO leader says virus risk inevitable at Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because eliminating risk is impossible, the head of the World Health Organization told sports officials Wednesday as events began in Japan. How infections are handled is what matters most, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech to an International Olympic Committee meeting. “The mark of success is making sure that any cases are identified, isolated, traced and cared for as quickly as possible and onward transmission is interrupted,” he said. The number of Games-linked COVID-19 cases in Japan this month was 79 on Wednesday, with more international athletes testing positive at home and unable to travel.
21st Jul 2021 - The Associated Press


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

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Zimbabwe orders COVID-19 vaccination for all civil servants

Zimbabwe's government on Tuesday ordered that all its workers should receive a COVID-19 vaccine and only 10% of civil servants report for duty, with the rest working from home in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic. The head of the public commission, Jonathan Wutawunashe, said in a circular to government departments that all civil servants - about 250,000 - were considered frontline workers who should get COVID-19 shots.
20th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam agrees to tech transfers on Russian, U.S. COVID-19 vaccines

Vietnam said on Tuesday it has reached agreements on technology transfers for Russian and U.S. coronavirus vaccines. The Southeast Asian nation is keen to boost its vaccine capacity. The World Health Organization said in May it was reviewing a proposal by an unidentified manufacturer in Vietnam to become an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine technology hub.
20th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Israel to launch digital tracking for people in COVID quarantine

Under new measure, people in isolation must reply to a text message sent by police who will then use it to track their immediate location; PM calls for criminal charges for confirmed coronavirus patients who violate their isolation, streamlining enforcement process on the ground
18th Jul 2021 - Ynetnews


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Jul 2021

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Cabinet ignored expert advice in reopening nightclubs: report

The Dutch government ignored advice from experts in the Outbreak Management Team and Fieldlab when it authorized the reopening of nightclubs on June 26, NRC reported based on parliamentary documents and conversations with people involved. The number of coronavirus cases in the Netherlands spiked in the two weeks after clubs reopened and events were made possible. This resulted in the cabinet tightening some restrictions again, and apologizing for relaxing measures too soon.
19th Jul 2021 - NL Times

A Pacific nation's Covid-19 crisis has become a political power play between China and Australia

China and Australia have found another battleground for their deepening diplomatic standoff: the Pacific Islands' pandemic response. Canberra has hit back at Beijing's claims it is derailing the rollout of Chinese vaccines in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the most-populous Pacific nation. "We support Papua New Guinea making sovereign decisions," Australia's minister for the Pacific, Zed Seselja, said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.
19th Jul 2021 - CNN

Taiwan approves Medigen's COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Taiwan's government on Monday approved the emergency use and production of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp's. COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a major step in the island's plans to develop its own vaccines to protect against the coronavirus.
19th Jul 2021 - Reuters

19 July: England Covid restrictions ease as PM urges caution

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged caution as most legal restrictions on social contact are lifted in England. There are now no limits on how many people can meet or attend events; nightclubs reopened at midnight; and table service will not be necessary in pubs and restaurants. Face coverings will be recommended in some spaces, but not required by law. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said government experts had recommended that only some under-18s be vaccinated.
19th Jul 2021 - BBC News

Judge upholds COVID-19 vaccine mandate in victory for Indiana University

Indiana University students must comply with the school's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the fall semester after a federal judge refused on Monday to block the school's inoculation requirement, one of the first rulings of its kind during the pandemic. U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty in South Bend, Indiana, rejected the argument by eight students that the school violated their bodily autonomy and constitutional right to due process. "This university policy isn’t forced vaccination," wrote the judge. "The students have options -- taking the vaccine, applying for a religious exemption, applying for a medical exemption, applying for a medical deferral, taking a semester off, or attending another university."
19th Jul 2021 - Reuters


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

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Nigeria puts six states on COVID-19 red alert, curbs gatherings

Nigeria has put six states on red alert after seeing a "worrisome" rise in COVID-19 infections, a government official said, urging people to curb gatherings and hold prayers outside mosques during this week's Muslim festival Eid-el-Kabir. Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is like most parts of the continent now facing a COVID-19 third wave after detecting the more transmissible Delta variant.
18th Jul 2021 - Reuters

S.Korea to expand curbs on private gatherings beyond Seoul

South Korea will expand tougher COVID-19 restrictions on private gatherings to outside the Seoul metropolitan area, as the country struggles to contain its worst outbreak, its prime minister said on Sunday. "It's been a week since the toughest level of distancing curbs have been imposed in the metropolitan area but the number of confirmed (virus) cases is rarely decreasing ... Pre-emptive measures are needed for now," Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a meeting with health officials. From Monday until Aug. 1, current rules in Seoul limiting private gatherings to four people will apply to the rest of the country.
18th Jul 2021 - Reuters

All adults in Britain offered a COVID-19 shot ahead of Monday reopening

Every adult in the United Kingdom has been offered a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the health ministry said on Sunday, ahead of the end of legal restrictions in England on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's target was for every adult who wanted to a shot to be able to get one by July 19.
18th Jul 2021 - Reuters UK

British ministers decide against mass vaccination for teens - The Telegraph

Britain has opted against mass COVID-19 vaccinations for all children and teenagers, with ministers instead preparing to offer doses to vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds and those about to turn 18, the Telegraph newspaper reported late on Saturday.
18th Jul 2021 - Reuters UK

UK has nine times more Covid cases than France as country moves to 'amber plus' list

The UK has extended quarantine rules for France, despite Britain having almost nine times as many Covid cases. British holidaymakers coming home from France after Monday will still have to continue to quarantine for 10 days, officials have announced. The requirement will be dropped for all other 'amber list' countries as long as returning Brits have been double-jabbed. Many travellers have questioned why the rules are continuing for France when it has a comparatively low number of new Covid infections. The UK recorded a further 244,691 cases in the 7 days to July 14, while France only had 27,713 infections over the same period, according to Our World in Data.
17th Jul 2021 - The Mirror

U.S. COVID-19 vaccine doses going to Ukraine, Bangladesh

The United States sent 2 million doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to Ukraine via the COVAX international vaccine-sharing program on Friday, a White House official said, and plans to send 3.5 million Moderna doses to Bangladesh over the weekend. The doses for Bangladesh will arrive on Monday, the official said. The doses are part of President Joe Biden's promise to share doses of U.S. vaccine with other countries around the world, via COVAX or directly.
17th Jul 2021 - Reuters

World leaders pledge to focus on global vaccination efforts

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific trade group APEC, including US President Joe Biden, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and China’s Xi Jinping, pledged on Friday to work to expand sharing and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines to fight the global pandemic. The leaders, struggling to tame outbreaks exacerbated by the Delta variant, said they would encourage the voluntary transfer of vaccine production technologies “on mutually agreed terms” as the region prepared for future health shocks.
16th Jul 2021 - Al Jazeera English

India orders 660 mln vaccine doses amidst warnings over shortages - media

The Indian government has ordered 660 million vaccine doses for August-December, its largest procurement, local news reports said on Friday, as state authorities and health experts warned that shortages could leave millions vulnerable if coronavirus infections surge again. The federal government aims to inoculate all of the country's estimated 944 million adults by December, a target health experts have said is ambitious, as only 8% of that number is currently vaccinated with the mandatory two doses.
16th Jul 2021 - Reuters India


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Jul 2021

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Risk of COVID spread is 'zero', IOC chief says, amid rising cases

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Thursday there was "zero" risk of Games participants infecting Japanese residents with COVID-19, as cases hit a six-month high in the host city. Bach said Olympics athletes and delegations had undergone more than 8,000 coronavirus tests, resulting in three positive results. "Risk for the other residents of Olympic village and risk for the Japanese people is zero," he added.
15th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Alabama military base is first in the U.S. to require vaccination proof amid rising covid-19 rates

An Alabama military base is taking increased actions to combat the ongoing prevalence of coronavirus infections, authorizing leaders to ask for proof of vaccination of service members not wearing a mask while on duty. It is the first military base in the continental United States to allow leaders to check the vaccination status of those in uniform. The new guidance at Fort Rucker comes as the new delta variant of the virus continues to drive infection rates and now accounts for a majority of cases in the United States. The base is among facilities, including Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, Fort Sill in Oklahoma and Fort Jackson in South Carolina, where less than half of the surrounding populations have been vaccinated.
15th Jul 2021 - The Washington Post

CDC advisers to consider coronavirus booster shots for immunocompromised patients

A federal advisory panel is expected next week to consider whether health-care workers should be allowed to give additional coronavirus shots to patients with fragile immune systems, even as top U.S. health officials have said an additional dose of vaccine is not widely needed. The prospect of booster shots emerged last week as the maker of a two-dose coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech, announced it would seek regulatory approval for a third inoculation amid rising global concern about the highly transmissible delta variant.
15th Jul 2021 - The Washington Post

Analysis | Under Trump, Republicans touted the coronavirus vaccines. Now, under Biden, they're questioning them.

Days after initial data from two coronavirus vaccines showed broad effectiveness at preventing illness, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) went on Fox Business Network to laud them. “I’ve been a big proponent of releasing it early,” Paul said Nov. 19. “I think that we’ve had enough safety and effectiveness data.” About two weeks later, Paul told Fox: “All I would say to government officials is let’s get the vaccine out as soon as we can.” Since then, Paul has become one of several congressional Republicans employing conjecture and misinformation to question the efficacy of the vaccines and the Biden administration’s efforts to vaccinate more Americans. You can watch examples of these juxtapositions in the video above.
15th Jul 2021 - The Washington Post

WHO's Tedros to set out follow-up study into COVID-19 origins - director Ryan

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus will share proposals for a phase 2 study into the origins of the coronavirus with member states on Friday, its emergency director Mike Ryan said. "We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts on that process and the director-general will outline measures to member states" on Friday, Ryan told a news conference in Geneva on Thursday. Earlier, Tedros told reporters that investigations into the origins of COVID-19 in China were being hampered by the lack of raw data on the first days of its spread there
15th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam approves Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine as daily cases hit record

Vietnam on Thursday approved Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday for emergency use, as the country tries to boost supplies at a time of record numbers of new infections. The approval of the vaccine, the sixth brand to be endorsed in the Southeast Asian country, is part of Vietnam's efforts to expedite its inoculations programme amid its worst outbreak so far. Vietnam reported a record 3,416 new cases on Thursday, its biggest daily increase and above Wednesday's record high of 2,934. Most of those are in Ho Chi Minh City, the epicentre, which has been under stricter movement curbs since last week.
15th Jul 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19 deaths in Africa surge 43% week-on-week, WHO says

Africa recorded a 43% jump in COVID-19 deaths last week as infections and hospital admissions have risen and countries face shortages of oxygen and intensive-care beds, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. The continent's case fatality rate - the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases - stands at 2.6% against the global average of 2.2%, WHO Africa said in its weekly briefing. "Africa's third wave continues its destructive pathway, pushing past yet another grim milestone as the continent's case count tops six million," Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, told the briefing.
15th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Fosun-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine completes China regulator review - media

Chinese regulators have completed an expert review of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine developed by Germany's BioNTech and Fosun Pharma and the shot is in the administration review stage, Caixin reported, citing the Chinese company. China hasn't approved any COVID-19 vaccine developed overseas but greenlighted several domestic brands, administering 1.4 billion doses so far, or two-fifths of the global total of 3.47 billion doses
15th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Grappling with 'worst-case scenario', Indonesia faces more COVID-19 pain

Indonesia prepared if daily cases top 60,000 - minister. Government assessing duration of mobility curbs. Union says over 10% of manufacturing workers infected Indonesia approves Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
15th Jul 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand's Ardern to host emergency APEC virus summit

New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern will host an emergency meeting of APEC leaders. Friday aimed at bolstering vaccine rollouts to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus variants now fuelling the pandemic. The virtual meeting, called with less than five days' notice, would also examine the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group's response to its biggest economic crisis since World War II, the prime minister said.
15th Jul 2021 - International Business Times


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 15th Jul 2021

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EU regulator weighing mixing COVID-19 vaccines, booster doses

Says 'not in position' to advise on use of different doses. Says countries may adapt strategies based on available evidence. Finds no 'clear' link between Moderna shot, new blood condition. EC says it follows science, but needs to be prepared
14th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Spain's top court rules pandemic lockdown unconstitutional

Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that a strict stay-at-home lockdown order the Spanish government issued under a state of emergency during the first wave of COVID-19 last year was unconstitutional. While upholding most terms of the state of emergency, the court said provisions ordering the population off the streets except for shorts shopping trips, unavoidable work commutes and other essential business violated Spain’s Constitution. The court issued a brief statement that described the ruling as a split decision. State broadcaster TVE said six magistrates were in favor and five against. The full decision is expected to be released in the coming days.
14th Jul 2021 - Associated Press

Coup, COVID fuelling 'perfect storm' in Myanmar, UN expert warns

Surging COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads, a collapsed health system, and “deep mistrust” of the military junta, are a “perfect storm” of factors that could lead to further major loss of life in Myanmar, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in the country warned on Wednesday. In a statement, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said “emergency” assistance for Myanmar was desperately needed to save lives. “The highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being and that right is being denied to most within Myanmar. The international community must act.”
14th Jul 2021 - UN News

Vietnam says Pfizer to provide additional 20 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses

Vietnam on Wednesday said U.S. vaccine maker Pfizer would provide an additional 20 million doses of its COVID-19 mRNA shot, as the country tries to shore up supplies at a time of record number of new infections. The additional Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines would be used for 12-18 year olds, its health ministry said in a statement. It comes a day after Vietnam said it would offer the vaccine as a second dose option for people inoculated with one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine
14th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 Vaccines Are Becoming Mandatory in Parts of China

Several local governments in China are planning to bar residents who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 from accessing public venues, stirring controversy as the country makes a push for herd immunity. In recent days, a dozen counties and cities in the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi set late-August deadlines for people 18 years or older to complete a two-shot vaccine regimen, according to similarly worded online statements. Many of them also set dates in late July by which unvaccinated people would be barred from entering schools, libraries, prisons, nursing homes and inpatient facilities at hospitals without a valid medical exemption. Some of the localities attributed their new policies to “national, provincial and municipal arrangements,” without explaining whether they received a decree from the central government.
14th Jul 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Thailand plans to mix Sinovac and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines. Critics say that's risky

A virologist and adviser to Thailand's government endorsed a plan to mix doses of the coronavirus vaccines of AstraZeneca and Sinovac, amid some public unease about use of the largely untested strategy. There has been no research released specifically about mixing the two types, but a growing number of countries are looking at mix-and-match approaches to better protect from highly transmissible variants -- with Vietnam the latest. At a health ministry news conference, Yong Poovorawan, a virology expert at Chulalongkorn University, said 1,200 people in Thailand had already received the Sinovac-AstraZeneca combination -- in different orders -- mainly due to allergic reactions to their first doses, requiring them to change vaccine
14th Jul 2021 - CNN

Vietnam to mix doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines - govt

Vietnam will offer the coronavirus mRNA vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech as a second dose option for people first inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, its government said on Tuesday.
14th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sues Florida over prohibition on vaccine requirements.

The fight over requiring vaccinations for travel is heating up. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sued Florida’s surgeon general on Tuesday, accusing the state of preventing it from “safely and soundly” resuming trips by barring it from requiring customers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The filing represents the latest twist in a monthslong fight over the resumption of cruises from Florida, a hub for the industry. Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state has fought vaccine requirements by cruises and other businesses, claiming that such policies are discriminatory. Supporters of vaccine requirements have argued that requiring vaccines is necessary to protect public health.
13th Jul 2021 - The New York Times


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Jul 2021

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UAE sends 500,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to Tunisia

A plane carrying 500,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses, donated by the UAE to help curb the spread of the virus, has arrived in Tunisia. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, ordered the donation of half a million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Tunisia. The country is battling to contain a second wave of infections, with several countries in the region pledging aid.
13th Jul 2021 - The National

Moldova gets 500,000 doses of J&J's COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. - State Dept

The United States has sent 500,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine to Moldova as part of Washington's coronavirus diplomacy to send surplus shots overseas to help fight the global pandemic, the U.S. Department of State said on Tuesday. "I’m pleased to announce the donation of 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Moldova. This delivery furthers the U.S. commitment to defeating the global COVID-19 pandemic and helping Moldova," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a post on Twitter alongside pictures of the shipments. The COVID-19 pandemic has battered the economy of tiny ex-Soviet republic, which has 3.5 million people and is one of Europe's poorest nations.
13th Jul 2021 - Yahoo

COVAX signs deal for 550 million Chinese Covid-19 vaccines amid questions over efficacy

COVAX has signed agreements with two Chinese pharmaceutical companies to buy more than half a billion of their Covid-19 vaccines by the first half of next year, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi) announced Monday. Under the agreements, Chinese vaccine makers Sinopharm and Sinovac will begin to make 110 million doses immediately available, according to a news release from Gavi, a public-private global health partnership that is co-leading COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at distributing vaccines to countries regardless of wealth. The agreements came at a time when "the Delta variant is posing a rising risk to health systems," Gavi said in the statement.
13th Jul 2021 - CNN

Thailand approves $1.3 bln measures to ease impact of COVID-19 lockdown

Thailand’s cabinet on Tuesday approved 42 billion baht ($1.29 billion) of relief measures to help businesses and workers affected by the latest coronavirus restrictions as the country deals with its biggest outbreak so far. The measures included compensation for businesses and utility subsidies, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said in a statement. The lockdown began on Monday in the capital Bangkok and nine provinces.
13th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Living with COVID-19: Israel changes strategy as Delta variant hits

Masks back on indoors in Israel. Delta variant has driven up infections Israel following "soft suppression" strategy. Aims for minimum disruption to daily life
13th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia seeks to beef up health system as Delta variant rages

Malaysia on Tuesday announced new measures to support its ailing public health system as the country saw another record daily rise in COVID-19 cases, fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant. The Southeast Asian country reported 11,079 new infections on Tuesday, the third daily record seen in the past week, and 125 new deaths. The surge comes even as Malaysia ramped up its vaccination programme and imposed stricter lockdown measures over the past month.
13th Jul 2021 - Reuters

French rush to get vaccinated after president’s warning

More than 1 million people in France made vaccine appointments in less than a day, according to figures released Tuesday, after the president cranked up pressure on everyone to get vaccinated to save the summer vacation season and the French economy. Some bristled at President Emmanuel Macron’s admonition to “get vaccinated!” immediately, but many people signed up for shots, accepting that getting injected was the only way to return to some semblance of pre-pandemic life.
13th Jul 2021 - Associated Press

WHO director-general slams notion of Covid-19 vaccine booster doses given global health needs

The director-general of the World Health Organization issued a stinging rebuke to Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers focused on developing — and selling — Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to high-income countries, saying they should focus instead on providing vaccine to nations that have had little access to first doses. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ statement came four days after Pfizer said it has data to support its repeated claim that a third dose of its vaccine will be needed to keep protection levels high. He also singled out Moderna, which, like Pfizer, is developing updated vaccines targeted at variants. “We’re making conscious choices right now not to protect those in most need,” Tedros said in Geneva.
13th Jul 2021 - STAT News

The world will not exit Covid-19 pandemic without booster shots, vaccine developer says

The world will not get the Covid-19 pandemic under control without using booster shots for messenger RNA vaccines, one of the key figures involved in the development of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine said Tuesday. Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, insisted booster shots are going to be necessary, despite caution from some experts. “At the end of the day it really matters that we get this pandemic under control. And we will not get it under control without boosting. That’s my strong opinion,” Sahin said.
13th Jul 2021 - STAT News

State of emergency begins in host city Tokyo as Games near

Olympic host city Tokyo entered a new state of emergency on Monday, less than two weeks before the Games begin amid worries about whether the measures can stem a rise in COVID-19 cases. Organisers last week announced that spectators would be banned from nearly all venues. Spectators from abroad were already banned months ago, and officials are now asking residents to watch the Games on TV to keep the movement of people, which could spread contagion, to a minimum.
13th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Politics, health collided in Taiwan's tortured BioNTech vaccine talks

As talks for Taiwan to access BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine via two major Taiwanese companies reached a head last week, the German firm's Chinese sales agent put forward a template contract seeking access to Taiwanese medical records. The clause sparked alarm, as such a requirement would be anathema for Taiwan's government, long wary of Beijing's attempts at influence over the democratic island, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Global COVID Cases Up for 4th Consecutive Week, WHO Says

The World Health Organization reported Monday that COVID-19 cases rose globally for the fourth consecutive week and that the number of deaths rose after 10 weeks of declines — driven by the highly contagious delta variant, which was first detected in India. The delta variant has now been reported in more than 104 countries. At the agency's Monday briefing from its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said all but one of the organization's six global regions had seen an increase in COVID-19 cases.
12th Jul 2021 - Voice of America


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 13th Jul 2021

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'Be cautious': Johnson goes ahead with lifting England's COVID curbs

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people on Monday to show caution when nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in England next week, saying an increase in cases underlined that the pandemic was by no means over. England will from July 19 be the first nation in Britain to lift the legal requirement to wear masks and for people to socially distance. The government says Britain's vaccination drive - one of the world's fastest - has largely broken the link between infections and serious illness or death. But what was once billed as "freedom day" is now being treated with wariness by ministers after a new surge in cases and fears that there could be as many as 100,000 new infections a day over the summer.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters UK

Brazil's federal police open probe into Bolsonaro over vaccine deal - source

At the request of the Supreme Court, Brazil's federal police has formally opened a probe into President Jair Bolsonaro related to alleged irregularities in the purchase of an Indian vaccine and could now question him, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Monday. The president has been caught up in allegations of irregularities surrounding the 1.6 billion reais ($316 million) contract signed in February for 20 million doses with a Brazilian intermediary for the vaccine’s maker, Bharat Biotech.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Moderna to supply 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Argentina

Moderna Inc said on Monday it had signed a supply agreement with the government of Argentina for 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine or its updated variant booster vaccine candidate. The company said delivery was expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022. Last week, the Latin American country said it was looking to sign a supply deal with the U.S. vaccine maker, in an attempt to speed up the inoculation of its population and sidestep a possible third wave of the coronavirus.
12th Jul 2021 - Yahoo

Latin America urgently needs vaccines from west, top official warns

​Wealthy nations have three times the coronavirus vaccine stocks they need for their own populations and should donate the surplus now to Latin America, the region worst hit by the pandemic and where the death toll is “catastrophic”, a top official has said. In an interview with the Financial Times, Rebeca Grynspan, who heads the Ibero-American General Secretariat that groups Spain, Portugal and Latin America, said other countries should follow the example of Spain. The country’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez has pledged to donate surplus vaccines to Latin America via the WHO-led Covax facility once half of the ​Spanish ​population has been vaccinated. As of July 8, some 57.5 per cent had received a first dose, according to Madrid. “It’s very important to follow the ​Spanish example because that would start to give us the vaccines from the second half of this year,” Grynspan said. If Spain’s example was not followed, “the suffering will be prolonged and it will keep costing many lives”.
12th Jul 2021 - Financial Times

China's Sinovac, Sinopharm ink COVAX supply deal for up to 550M coronavirus vaccine doses

COVAX, the global COVID-19 vaccine sharing program, has fallen behind in its pursuit to provide poorer nations with billions of doses by year’s end. But now, the program is getting a much-needed boost from Chinese vaccine developers Sinovac and Sinopharm. In a boon to poorer countries with lagging vaccine rollouts, Gavi, the vaccine alliance, inked supply agreements with the two drugmakers worth up to 550 million doses. Since the shots have already scored the WHO’s emergency use backing, they’ll be able to ship out immediately, Gavi said.
12th Jul 2021 - FiercePharma

Germany seeks to know more than just COVID-19 case numbers

With coronavirus cases edging up again, German officials said Monday that a broader focus is needed to fully understand the impact the pandemic is having on the country's health care system. For much of the past year the incidence rate — how many COVID-19 cases are confirmed per 100,000 people each week — has been key to the government's decisions over what restrictive measures to impose.
12th Jul 2021 - The Independent

Saudi Arabia to send one million doses of vaccine to Tunisia

Saudi Arabia will send a medical aid package to Tunisia that includes one million doses of vaccine to help the North Africa country control the rapid spread of the COVID pandemic. Saudi Arabia joins other Arab countries in helping Tunisia, which is facing the collapse of its health care system, including Egypt, Algeria, UAE, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar. The Saudi Press Agency said on Monday the aid also includes 190 respirators and other equipment.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters

World hunger, malnutrition soared last year mostly due to COVID-19 - U.N. agencies

World hunger and malnutrition levels worsened dramatically last year, with most of the increase likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a multi-agency United Nations (U.N.) report published on Monday. After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, the number of undernourished people rose to around 768 million last year - equivalent to 10% of the world's population and an increase of around 118 million versus 2019, the report said.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Sweden to ease pandemic curbs despite worries over mounting Delta cases

Sweden's government said on Monday it will move ahead with a planned easing of pandemic restrictions this week but warned that new variants of the virus demanded vigilance as it urged people to adhere to social distancing recommendations. Sweden has relied mainly on voluntary measures to stem the spread of infections, though curbs on opening hours for restaurants and limits on crowds at venues such as shopping malls have also been implemented.
12th Jul 2021 - Reuters


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Saudi Arabia approves Moderna's COVID vaccine -state news agency

Saudi Arabia's Food and Drug Authority on Friday approved Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for use in the kingdom, the state news agency (SPA) said. The authority added that after this approval, authorities will start procedures to import the two-dose vaccine, the news agency said. Saudi Arabia had earlier approved the use of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
10th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Arab countries pledge aid as Tunisia struggles with COVID pandemic

Several countries promised to help Tunisia fight the coronavirus on Friday as the north African country recorded its highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, putting its health care system under severe stress and depleting oxygen supplies. President Kais Saied said in a statement that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had pledged to send vaccinations and whatever medical equipment Tunisia needed.
10th Jul 2021 - Reuters


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U.S. to send 500,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to Uruguay

The United States will ship 500,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to Uruguay on Thursday, the White House said, amid a wider distribution to Latin American nations this week. The shipments are part of President Joe Biden's commitment to share 80 million vaccines from the U.S. domestic supply with countries around the world. "Today we ship 500,000 doses of Pfizer to Uruguay," White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a Twitter post.
8th Jul 2021 - Reuters

EU could discuss joint recognition of COVID-19 vaccine certificates with Russia -TASS

The European Union has proposed to Russia that they discuss the potential joint recognition of their COVID-19 vaccination certificates, TASS news agency cited the bloc's ambassador to Moscow as saying. Russia has approved four vaccines, none of which have been approved by the European Union. Moscow has not authorized any foreign vaccines for use. TASS quoted EU Ambassador Markus Ederer as saying the 27-nation bloc has digital certificates allowing its citizens to travel freely within the EU, as well as a law that envisages the possibility of recognising other similar certificates.
8th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus vaccine to be made mandatory for disability support workers in Australia

In Australia, disability support workers may soon be forced to get vaccinated against coronavirus if they want to keep their jobs. The compulsory jab policy has been recommended by a panel of health experts and will be debated at a national cabinet meeting on Friday. The proposed mandate follows a similar order imposed on aged care workers, who must receive at least one dose by mid-September to remain employed in the industry.
8th Jul 2021 - SBS News

Amid fresh virus surge, Africa sets out to save itself on vaccines procurement

Let down by wealthy countries, Africa is pinning its hopes on its own coronavirus vaccine deals. And for once, the man who is usually delivering dire predictions about Africa's fight against the pandemic actually seems optimistic. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered some good news this week: Africa is expecting the first vaccine doses from the sizable deal secured through the AU's African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) to start arriving in the next two to three weeks. But he’s still cautious, almost as if his optimism may jinx things. The delivery follows the June announcement by the AU and the World Bank of a partnership that would allow AVATT to deliver up to 400 million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
8th Jul 2021 - POLITICO.eu

How Delta variant forced Israel to rethink its Covid strategy

For much of this year Israel has been hailed as a resounding Covid-19 success story. It rolled out one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives, reopened its economy and jettisoned all remaining lockdown restrictions last month. Now rising infection rates, driven by the more infectious Delta variant, have forced the Israeli government to reintroduce restrictions for the first time since January. While hospitalisation rates remain low, Israel has chosen a cautious approach. Israelis again have to wear masks inside and on public transport. Testing sites have been reopened. Multiple other curbs, including stricter quarantine for travellers and greater testing of children, are expected to be introduced. Israel may even bring back the “green pass”, which allowed greater freedom for vaccinated people.
8th Jul 2021 - Financial Times


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New Zealand approves use of J&J coronavirus vaccine

New Zealand medical regulators have approved use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, after earlier in the year approving the Pfizer vaccine. But New Zealand’s government intends to stick with its plan of primarily using the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate the population of 5 million. The provisional approval for the J&J vaccine by regulator Medsafe applies to adults aged 18 and over and will need to be signed-off on by the Cabinet, which will likely happen next month. New Zealand has an agreement to buy 2 million doses of the J&J vaccine.
7th Jul 2021 - MarketWatch

Japan set to declare another COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo

The Japanese government is slated to declare another state of emergency over COVID-19 in Tokyo as infections rebounded in the capital, where the Olympic Games are scheduled to open about two weeks later. The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 920 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, logging the highest number since mid-May at the peak of Japan's fourth wave of infections. The Japanese capital reported 1,010 new COVID-19 cases on May 13. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he will make a final decision Thursday regarding the 10 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka after a quasi-state of emergency expires Sunday.
7th Jul 2021 - Xinhua

UK to track COVID-19 variants with genomic sequencing across the world

Britain said on Wednesday it would provide genomic sequencing support to Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan to help identify, assess and track new variants of the novel coronavirus. The novel coronavirus, which has killed 4 million people globally since it emerged in China in late 2019, mutates around once every few weeks, slower than influenza or HIV, but enough to require tweaks to vaccines. Public Health England will extend support to Britain's partners through the New Variant Assessment Platform Programme which tracks changes in the virus.
7th Jul 2021 - Reuters

World reacts cautiously to Boris Johnson’s ‘reckless’ Covid plans

Boris Johnson’s plan to scrap most of England’s Covid-19 restrictions has prompted alarm, wariness and perhaps even a hint of envy around the world. Politicians in the north and south of Ireland, which stands to be most affected by its neighbour’s experiment, expressed concern about its consequences being exported across the Irish Sea. Authorities in other parts of Europe and in New Zealand gave a more mixed response but none said they planned to follow England’s lead.
7th Jul 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Department of Health and Social Care investigated over ministers' use of private emails

The Department of Health and Social Care is being formally investigated over the use of private email addresses by ministers during the coronavirus crisis. The Information Commissioner's Office has launched a probe into "the use of private correspondence channels" by the department and is seeking the handover of evidence. It follows a Sunday Times report last month that both former health secretary Matt Hancock - who quit the role after being caught breaching COVID rules by kissing an aide - and under-pressure health minister Lord Bethell routinely used private inboxes.
7th Jul 2021 - Sky News

When will lockdown end? How Covid restrictions are easing in England on 19 July – and what happens next

England is set to lift the final remaining lockdown restrictions which were put in place to combat an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases at the beginning of this year. The rules were announced by Boris Johnson on Monday 4 January and have been gradually lifting since early in March under a four-stage roadmap. The final easing of restrictions is now set for Monday 19 July, with the Prime Minister indicating “freedom day” would go ahead despite cases continuing to rise – here’s how England’s lockdown will end, and what could come next.
7th Jul 2021 - iNews.co.uk

Panic-buying as Vietnam announces broad COVID-19 curbs in biggest city

Vietnam will impose tight movement restrictions in its commercial hub Ho Chi Minh city from the end of the week to tackle a coronavirus outbreak, its health ministry said on Wednesday, in some of its strictest curbs yet. The measures effective for 15 days from Friday include a stay-home order, a ban on more than two people gathering and a closure of public transport services, the ministry said. "Fighting the pandemic is fighting the enemy," the city chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said in a health ministry statement.
7th Jul 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand not willing to risk UK-style ‘live with Covid’ policy, says Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand has dismissed suggestions it should follow in Britain’s footsteps to “live with” Covid-19, saying the level of death proposed by Boris Johnson would be “unacceptable”. If cases in Britain explode as a result of the lifted regulations, New Zealand may also consider putting the country on a no-fly list. On Monday, Johnson announced plans to scrap regulations including on face masks and social distancing by 19 July, saying that Britain must “learn to live with” the virus. He said Covid cases would likely reach 50,000 a day within a fortnight, and “we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid”.
7th Jul 2021 - The Guardian


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The Latest: Zimbabwe back to strict lockdown, virus surges

Zimbabwe has returned to strict lockdown measures to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 amid vaccine shortages. Infections have dramatically increased in recent weeks despite a night curfew, reduced business hours, localized lockdowns in hotspot areas, and bans on inter-city travel. The country’s information minister announced the virus has spread to rural areas which have sparse health facilities. Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced after a Cabinet meeting that most people must stay at home, similar to restrictions on movement adopted in March last year when towns and cities became almost deserted.
6th Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

Australia denies using ‘plants’ to undermine China’s Covid vaccine rollout in Pacific

The Australian government has denied undermining China’s plan to roll out Covid vaccines to Pacific countries after Beijing lashed Canberra’s purported “callous” and “irresponsible behaviour”. The allegation, first aired in Chinese state-controlled media and then amplified by the foreign ministry in Beijing, was “absolutely not” true, the Australian government said on Tuesday. The spat is the latest flashpoint in the deteriorating relationship between China and Australia amid intense competition for influence in the Pacific region.
6th Jul 2021 - The Guardian Australia

S. Korea is to get 700,000 COVID-19 vaccines doses from Israel

South Korea said it will receive 700,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine from Israel on loan this week, in an attempt to speed up immunisation following a surge in infections around the capital Seoul. More than 1,000 COVID-19 cases were reported as of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the highest since December and hundreds more than the 746 cases posted on Monday, Yonhap news agency reported, citing South Korean government health officials.
6th Jul 2021 - Reuters


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Local lockdowns could still be imposed after Covid 'freedom day' if new variants emerge

Local lockdowns could still be imposed in England after the so-called Covid “freedom day”, Sajid Javid has revealed. Ministers will retain laws that allow local authorities to shut down businesses, prohibit certain events, or close outdoor public spaces “in case of a local breakout” or in case a new dangerous variant emerges, the Health Secretary told MPs. “We will be keeping in place contingency measures, particularly for local authorities, the so-called No.3 regulations, at least until the end of September, in case those powers are needed in the case of a local breakout,” Mr Javid told the Commons.
5th Jul 2021 - iNews

Iran, facing another virus surge, reimposes restrictions and focuses on homegrown vaccines

Iran on Sunday reimposed coronavirus restrictions amid fears that a fifth wave of the virus driven by the delta variant could overrun the country’s health-care system, already battered by U.S. sanctions and the region’s worst cycle of outbreaks. The latest surge comes as Iran has struggled to import vaccines, prompting the country’s leaders to double down on researching and developing its homegrown vaccines.
5th Jul 2021 - The Washington Post

Ghana plans to issue Africa’s first social bonds with $2B sale

Ghana would be pioneering social bonds in Africa, seizing on an instrument that’s boomed since the COVID-19 pandemic.
5th Jul 2021 - Aljazeera.com

Ukraine approves Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Ukraine has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, the health ministry said on Monday.
5th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Leaked memo raises Thai concern about Sinovac vaccine's efficacy

A leaked health ministry document has prompted calls in Thailand for medical staff inoculated against COVID-19 to be given a booster of an mRNA vaccine, after it included a comment that such a move could dent public confidence in Sinovac Biotech's vaccine. The internal memo, which included various opinions, was reported by local media and shared widely on social media. It was confirmed by Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul as being authentic.
5th Jul 2021 - Reuters

Australia is paying hundreds of millions to AstraZeneca for COVID-19 vaccines. But the deal is a 'national security' secret

The Australian government's entire vaccine supply agreement with AstraZeneca is being withheld from public release on the grounds it poses a "real and substantial risk" to national security if it were released. Gavin Hayman, the executive director of global advocacy group Open Contracting, said Australia's blanket suppression of the deal was striking and at odds with other nations. "There is no merit in using a national security argument for keeping the vaccine contract hidden from public sight," he said. "In fact, national security is best served by building public trust in the entire vaccination program. We think publishing the contract with a clear explanation of its key terms can contribute to that."
5th Jul 2021 - ABC.Net.au

Norway delays full reopening over Delta COVID-19 variant

Norway announced the easing of some COVID-19 restrictions on Monday but delayed the final phase of reopening the economy until the end of this month at the earliest because of concerns about the Delta coronavirus variant. Measures that will remain include bars and restaurants being limited to table service, limits of 20 people on gatherings in private homes, and restrictions on adult recreational sports.
5th Jul 2021 - Reuters


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Covid-19: Ireland to buy one million vaccine doses

The Irish government has announced it is to purchase one million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Romania. The agreement in principle to purchase the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, followed talks between Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Mr Martin said the development was "very good news for Ireland". People aged 18 to 34 can register to get a specific Covid-19 vaccine in the Republic of Ireland from next week. Earlier, Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said this group can "opt-in" for Janssen or AstraZeneca for earlier vaccination.
3rd Jul 2021 - BBC News

Brazil top court gives nod for probe into Bolsonaro over vaccine deal

Brazil's Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber late on Friday authorized an investigation of President Jair Bolsonaro by the top prosecutor's office, or PGR, for dereliction of duty in the process of procuring an Indian COVID-19 vaccine, according to a copy of the decision seen by Reuters.
3rd Jul 2021 - Reuters

Australia to halve arrivals from overseas, offers COVID-19 exit roadmap

Australia to cut arrivals from overseas to 3,000 a week. NSW reports 31 new cases, biggest daily rise for 2021. Brisbane lockdown extended for another day
3rd Jul 2021 - Reuters

South Africa Approves Sinovac's Covid-19 Vaccine

South African regulators have approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s coronavirus vaccine, the first shot developed for the disease by a Chinese company to be sanctioned locally. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority backed the double-dose CoronaVac candidate made by Sinovac’s Life Sciences unit with conditions, according to a statement on Saturday. Those include satisfactory results of ongoing studies and periodic safety updates, SAHPRA said.
3rd Jul 2021 - Bloomberg

China, U.S. to send COVID-19 vaccine doses to El Salvador

China will send 1.5 million Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines to El Salvador, the Chinese Embassy there announced on Friday, hours after the White House said the U.S. would send 1.5 million Moderna vaccines to the Central American nation. El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, responded to China's plan by retweeting the embassy's announcement and placing the Chinese flag next to that of his country. So far, he has not commented on the White House announcement.
3rd Jul 2021 - Reuters

Argentina opens door to U.S. vaccine donations with legal tweak

Argentina will tweak legislation to help the country receive U.S. donations of COVID-19 vaccinations, senior officials said on Friday, a move that could also help unlock deals that have proved tricky with drugmakers like Pfizer Inc. A government decree will soften legal clauses around negligence, remove a reference to "fraudulent maneuvers" and create a fund to compensate people harmed by a vaccine.
3rd Jul 2021 - Reuters

Slovakia sells most Sputnik V vaccine doses back to Russia

Slovakia has sold most Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines back to the country of origin, the Slovak Health Ministry said on Friday, as public interest is low after months of government hesitation over using the product that lacks European regulatory approval. Slovakia shipped back 160,000 out of 200,000 doses imported in March, at $9.95 per dose, the same price as the original purchase, a ministry spokeswoman said.
3rd Jul 2021 - Reuters

WHO warns new COVID wave inevitable in Europe as cases rise

A third wave of infections is now inevitable unless citizens and legislators are “disciplined”, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns, saying a 10-week decline in new coronavirus infections across Europe has come to an end. The number of new cases across Europe rose by 10 percent last week, the UN health agency’s regional director for Europe Hans Kluge told a news briefing on Thursday in Copenhagen, Denmark.
1st Jul 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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WHO decision challenges West to recognize Chinese vaccines

The World Health Organization said Thursday that any COVID-19 vaccines it has authorized for emergency use should be recognized by countries as they open up their borders to inoculated travelers. The move could challenge Western countries to broaden their acceptance of two apparently less effective Chinese vaccines, which the U.N. health agency has licensed but most European and North American countries have not. In addition to vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna Inc., AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, the WHO has also given the green light to the two Chinese jabs, made by Sinovac and Sinopharm.
1st Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

World Bank says will boost COVID-19 vaccine funding to $20 bln

The World Bank on Wednesday pledged to boost available funding for COVID-19 vaccine purchases and deployment to $20 billion from a previous target of $12 billion, citing a sharp increase in overall financing demand from developing countries. World Bank President David Malpass said the global development bank had already provided more than $4 billion to 51 developing countries for the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and would add billions for 25 more countries soon. "Much more will follow in coming weeks," Malpass told reporters, noting that a total of 41 requests had been received from African countries, where less than half the population has been vaccinated
1st Jul 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Indonesia announces lockdown in Java and Bali as cases surge

Indonesia has announced a lockdown on its main island Java, as well as the tourism destination of Bali. The announcement by President Joko Widodo comes as the country battles multiple outbreaks and an alarming spike in Covid cases. Indonesia recently recorded two million Covid cases, attributed to increased holiday travel and the Delta variant. The lockdown will last two weeks and aims to reduce the number of cases to below 10,000 a day. The country is currently recording more than 20,000 new cases each day.
1st Jul 2021 - BBC News

Malaysia to impose tighter coronavirus restrictions in capital

Malaysia on Thursday announced tighter restrictions on movement and businesses in the capital Kuala Lumpur and neighbouring Selangor state as new coronavirus cases show no sign of abating. Security Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Kuala Lumpur and several districts in Selangor will see stricter measures imposed from Saturday for a period of two weeks. Only essential busineses, including factories producing food and daily necessities are allowed to operate, he said in a statement.
1st Jul 2021 - Reuters

Emergency curbs in Indonesia’s Java and Bali amid COVID surge

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has announced “emergency restrictions” on the archipelago’s most populous island of Java and the tourist island of Bali as a second wave of COVID-19 infections drives rates of hospitalisation and deaths to record highs. In a televised address on Thursday, Widodo said the measures will begin on Saturday and last until July 20.
1st Jul 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Some European nations approve India’s Covishield vaccine: Report

Germany and Spain are among nine countries in Europe to have told India they will accept travellers inoculated with Covishield, the Indian-made version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Indian foreign ministry sources said. Friction emerged between India and Europe in recent days over the exclusion of Covishield as an accepted vaccine by the European Union vaccine passport programme.
1st Jul 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Africa's COVID-19 envoy blasts EU, COVAX over vaccine crisis

The African Union special envoy tasked with leading efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the continent is blasting Europe as Africa struggles amid a crushing third surge of infections, saying Thursday that “not one dose, not one vial, has left a European factory for Africa.” Strive Masiyiwa also took aim at the global effort meant to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, accusing COVAX of withholding crucial information including that key donors hadn’t met funding pledges. He didn’t name which donors. “The situation could be very different had we known back in December that ‘Listen, this help is not coming, do for yourselves,’” Masiyiwa told reporters, adding that “many countries were just sitting back saying, ‘the vaccines are coming.’ ... We as Africans are disappointed.”
1st Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

Biden behind on global vaccine sharing, cites local hurdles

President Joe Biden came up well short on his goal of delivering 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to the rest of the world by the end of June as a host of logistical and regulatory hurdles slowed the pace of U.S. vaccine diplomacy. Although the Biden administration has announced that about 50 countries and entities will receive a share of the excess COVID-19 vaccine doses, the U.S. has shipped fewer than 24 million doses to 10 recipient countries, according to an Associated Press tally. The White House says more will be sent in the coming days and stresses that Biden has done everything in his power to meet the commitment.
1st Jul 2021 - The Associated Press

Africa’s COVID threat hits ‘new level’ as Delta variant spreads

Warnings are mounting about a fast-growing new wave of COVID-19 infections across the continent amid insufficient vaccines. At a press briefing on Thursday, the World Health Organization’s Africa director Dr Matshidiso Moeti warned that “the speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we’ve seen before.” “COVID-19 cases are doubling every three weeks, compared to every four weeks at the start of the second wave. Almost 202,000 cases were reported in the past week and the continent is on the verge of exceeding its worst week ever in this pandemic,” she added. Moeti said that, among the 14 African countries now in resurgence, 12 have detected coronavirus variants of concern, including nine with the highly contagious Delta variant.
1st Jul 2021 - AlJazeera


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Zimbabwe imposes dusk to dawn curfew in new COVID-19 restrictions

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday imposed a dusk to dawn curfew, banned inter-city travel and cut business hours with immediate effect in response to increasing coronavirus infections. The southern Africa nation, which has recorded more than 47,000 cases since the outbreak last year, has seen its 7-day average infection rate increasing five times to 727 compared to two weeks ago.
30th Jun 2021 - Reuters

As Covid Rages, Putin Pushes Russians to Get a (Russian) Vaccine

President Vladimir V. Putin urged Russians to get vaccinated against the coronavirus on Wednesday — his most extensive comments on the matter yet — as his country scrambles to contain a vicious new wave of the illness. Speaking at his annual televised call-in show, Mr. Putin spent the opening half-hour trying to convince Russians to get one of the country’s four domestically produced shots. It was the latest instance of a marked change in tone about the pandemic from Russian officials, who for months did little to push a vaccine-wary public to get immunized but are now starting to make vaccination mandatory for some groups. “It’s dangerous, dangerous to your life,” Mr. Putin said of Covid-19. “The vaccine is not dangerous.”
30th Jun 2021 - The New York Times

World Bank says will boost financing for COVID-19 vaccines to $20 billion

The World Bank on Wednesday pledged to boost available funding for COVID-19 vaccine purchases and deployment to $20 billion from a previous target of $12 billion, citing a sharp increase in overall financing demand from developing countries. World Bank President David Malpass said the global development bank had already provided more than $4 billion to 51 developing countries for the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and would add billions for 25 more countries soon.
30th Jun 2021 - Reuters

France delays some regional unwinding of COVID restrictions over fourth wave concerns

Warnings of 4th COVID wave in France by September or October. Unwinding of restrictions delayed in Les Landes. Presence of Delta variant growing in France Average number of new cases up for third consecutive day. France has world's 9th highest COVID death toll
30th Jun 2021 - Reuters

U.S. to ship 2.5 million doses of J&J vaccine to Colombia

The U.S. plans to ship 2.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine to Colombia, the White House said Wednesday. The Colombian president's office said Monday that U.S. President Joe Biden told President Ivan Duque of the donation in a call during which they also discussed reactivating the economy, jobs, climate change and shared democratic values and human rights.
30th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Thailand buys 5 mln doses of Moderna coronavirus vaccine

Thailand said on Wednesday it would import nearly four million doses of Moderna’s mRNA coronavirus vaccine towards the end of this year and a further one million in early 2022, for use by private hospitals. Thailand’s vaccinations strategy so far has relied heavily on the viral vector vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. The Government Pharmaceutical Organization in a statement said 3.9 million doses of the Moderna vaccine would be delivered in the fourth quarter and 1.1 million doses in the first quarter of 2022.
30th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Brazil suspends Covid-19 vaccine deal with Indian firm amid allegations of contract irregularities

Despite a desperate need for Covid-19 vaccines, Brazil is suspending a deal to purchase 20 million doses of the Indian-made Covaxin vaccines, the Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday, after questions were raised about a pricing increase.
30th Jun 2021 - CNN

S.Korean capital delays relaxation of social distancing as COVID-19 cases surge

South Korea's capital Seoul and its neighbouring regions will delay by a week the relaxation of social distancing rules due to a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases, authorities said. The government had said it would relax social distancing and allow private gatherings of up to six people in the greater Seoul area, from the current four, starting July 1 as the country's inoculation drive has been picking up speed
30th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Bangladesh to deploy army in lockdown to curb COVID-19 surge

Bangladesh is deploying army troops from Thursday to enforce a strict lockdown amid a record spike in coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant first detected in India, the government said on Wednesday. Most restrictions imposed as part of a strict lockdown introduced in April have since been lifted, but a record spike in cases this week of the highly contagious Delta variant has prompted the government to order a week of tight controls.
30th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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Brazil's Bolsonaro under fire after vaccine deal allegations

Accusations that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro turned a blind eye to possible corruption in a deal to purchase coronavirus vaccines have heightened threats to his presidency, including a move to recommend slapping him with a criminal charge. The claims have added impetus to the opposition’s impeachment drive and left the Brazilian leader’s allies in Congress evaluating the costs of their support.
29th Jun 2021 - Associated Press

India's Cipla gets regulator nod to import Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Indian drugmaker Cipla has received regulatory approval to distribute partner Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in the country, a senior government official said on Tuesday, clearing the way for the shot to be imported. Moderna's vaccine will be the fourth shot authorized for use in India, after AstraZeneca and partner Serum Institute of India's Covishield, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Sputnik V developed by Russia's Gamaleya Institute. "Our vaccine basket is now richer by this addition," government official Vinod Kumar Paul said at a news briefing on Tuesday, adding the government remained in talks with Pfizer over the drugmaker's vaccine.
29th Jun 2021 - Reuters

US to send 2.5m doses of Moderna coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan

The Biden administration is shipping 2 million doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine to Peru and 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Pakistan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday. "Thanks to the President’s commitment to playing a leading role in ending the pandemic everywhere, 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will begin to ship to Peru from the United States, and 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine will ship to Pakistan," Psaki said. The White House earlier this month laid out a plan for the United States to donate 80 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world by the end of June.
29th Jun 2021 - Geo News

Indonesia's COVID-19 situation nears 'catastrophe' - Red Cross

Oxygen prices in Indonesia’s capital had more than doubled and some suppliers reported shortages on Tuesday after a surge in COVID-19 cases that prompted the Red Cross to warn of a coronavirus “catastrophe” in Southeast Asia’s biggest country. Indonesia has announced record daily COVID-19 infections of more than 20,000 in recent days, in a new wave fueled by the emergence of highly transmissible virus variants and increased mobility after the Muslim fasting month. With hospitals filling up in the capital, Jakarta, and patients being turned away, some people sought to secure oxygen for infected family members at home. The price for a tank of oxygen had jumped to $140 from the usual $50, suppliers said.
29th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia PM announces $36 bn aid package amid extended lockdown

Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced a 150 billion ringgit ($36.22 billion) aid package, including cash aid and wage subsidies, a day after extending a nationwide lockdown indefinitely to tackle a stubborn COVID-19 outbreak. Lockdown measures originally set to end on Monday would not be eased until daily reported cases fell below 4,000, the state news agency reported on Sunday, citing Muhyiddin. On Monday, Malaysia reported 5,218 new infections, bringing total cases to 739,266, including 5,001 deaths.
29th Jun 2021 - Taiwan News

Japan to donate 1 mln AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines

The Philippines will receive one million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines next month provided by Japan, its ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation said on Tuesday. "We are working double time so this donation reaches Philippine shores without delay," the ambassador posted on his official Twitter account posted. The vaccines will be delivered on July 8.
29th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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

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IMF says Africa urgently needs vaccines to halt repeated COVID waves

COVID-19 infections in Africa will likely exceed previous peaks within days, underscoring an urgent need to accelerate vaccine supplies and financing to the region, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday.
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Spain, Malta and Portugal restrict non-vaccinated travellers

Portugal and Malta have introduced measures to restrict UK travellers who are not fully vaccinated. The Portuguese government says travellers will have to quarantine for 14 days unless they can prove they received their second vaccine dose a fortnight before arrival. Malta is also only allowing double-vaccinated people in from Wednesday. In Spain, UK travellers need to prove they are fully vaccinated, or provide a negative PCR test on arrival.
28th Jun 2021 - BBC News

Colombia says to get 2.5 mln Janssen COVID shot donation from U.S.

Colombia said on Monday it will receive a U.S. donation of 2.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Janssen, the pharmaceutical unit of Johnson & Johnson
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters

U.S. to donate 1 mln doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to Paraguay

The United States said on Monday it will donate one million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech, coronavirus vaccine to Paraguay, offering relief to the South American country whose immunization program is moving slowly amid a new wave of COVID-19 cases.
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Cambodia receives another batch of China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

A new batch of COVID-19 vaccine Cambodia purchased from China's pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech arrived in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Monday, the state-run National Television of Cambodia (TVK) reported. In its live broadcast on the vaccine's arrival at the Phnom Penh International Airport, TVK said Cambodia's acquisition of Sinovac vaccine was a testament to the close relations and cooperation between Cambodia and China. The Chinese Embassy in Cambodia confirmed the new arrival of the vaccine in a Facebook post, saying that the China-Cambodia joint COVID-19 fight has set a model for international cooperation.
28th Jun 2021 - China Daily

Greater Darwin lockdown extended by 72 hours as NT records one new case of COVID-19

Darwin and its surrounds will remain in lockdown for an extra 72 hours as a result of the growing COVID-19 outbreak linked to a gold mine in the Northern Territory. The cluster has now grown to seven, after one new case was recorded since yesterday. The lockdown will remain in place for Darwin, Palmerston and the rural area until 1:00pm on Friday, NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.
28th Jun 2021 - ABC News

Government failures still hamper our Covid-19 response

Sarah Boseley’s article on the Oxford vaccine story (The Oxford vaccine: the trials and tribulations of a world-saving jab, 26 June) was a huge missed opportunity to get to the real root cause of some of the vaccine’s challenges. Namely, the failure of the UK to invest in pandemic preparedness, specifically vaccine manufacturing, over many years. Prior to the pandemic, I had sought significant funding to prepare for a disease “X” (like Covid-19) and to develop the manufacturing capacity to produce trial vaccines – neither of which happened. If we had been properly prepared, and not had to make do with what we had in place while in the midst of a lockdown, we would have been much better able to respond. As it is, I am incredibly proud of what has been achieved with more than 500m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine distributed around the world on a not-for-profit basis.
28th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Two-week lockdown imposed in Sydney as Australia battles 'new phase' of pandemic

Australians have been warned they face the most "serious crisis" in the COVID pandemic since last February/March as health officials battle to contain new outbreaks of the virus. Australia's COVID-19 committee is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday over rising case numbers plus outbreaks of the Delta variant across the country. Authorities in New South Wales are warning coronavirus infections will increase "considerably" after the state recorded 18 new locally transmitted virus cases.
28th Jun 2021 - Sky News

Delta COVID-19 variant sends even vaccinated nations back into lockdown

The delta variant of the coronavirus is sending Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh into some form of lockdown, along with parts of Portugal. Even Israel, where more than half of the population is vaccinated, is reimposing a mask mandate in enclosed public places. The variant, first discovered in India, has been identified in at least 85 countries and “is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far … and is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday. Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, on Saturday began a two-week lockdown because of the growing number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
28th Jun 2021 - The Observer Uganda

Malaysia's COVID-19 lockdown to be extended - PM

Malaysia will extend a national lockdown beyond Monday to curb the spread of COVID-19, state news agency Bernama reported on Sunday, citing Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Lockdown measures were set to end on Monday. But Muhyiddin said they will not be eased until daily cases fell below 4,000, Bernama said. Malaysia reported 5,803 cases on Saturday.
28th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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

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Israel's new leader urges youth to get vaccine

Israel’s new prime minister is urging the country’s youth to get vaccinated as coronavirus case numbers have crept up in recent days due to a localized outbreak of the Delta variant. Naftali Bennett’s comments came at a meeting of the government Sunday in Jerusalem. “We don’t want to impose any restrictions: not on parties, on trips or anything like that. But specifically because of this, if you don’t want restrictions, go get vaccinated today. Talk to your parents and get vaccinated,” he said. Israel reinstated a mask mandate indoors amid a rise in new infections in the past week. Israel’s Health Ministry recorded 113 new coronavirus cases Saturday.
27th Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

Bangkok, 9 provinces restrict movements to curb rising cases

Faced with a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, the Thai capital on Sunday announced a ban on indoor dining and gatherings of more than 20 people, in addition to the closure of construction sites and the sealing off of workers’ quarters in Bangkok and nine other provinces. The measures will remain for 30 days. Thailand reported 3,995 confirmed cases and 42 dead in the last 24 hours. The numbers have doubled recently, and health officials blame a lack of cooperation from migrant workers employed in construction and in factories.
27th Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

COVID: New restrictions amid struggle to contain Delta variant

Authorities in several countries – from Bangladesh and Indonesia to Australia and Israel – are racing to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, while Russia’s Saint Petersburg announced a record death toll, laying bare the challenges faced by nations worldwide in their efforts to return to pre-pandemic life. While vaccination campaigns have brought down infections in mostly wealthy nations, the rise of the Delta variant has stoked fears of new waves of a virus that has already killed nearly four million people.
27th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Sydney and Darwin in lockdown as COVID-19 cases pop up across Australia

Australia reported on Sunday one of the highest numbers for locally acquired coronavirus cases this year, triggering lockdowns in the cities of Sydney and Darwin and forcing tighter restrictions in four states. Sydney began a two-week lockdown on Sunday as the Bondi neighbourhood cluster of the highly infectious coronavirus Delta variant rose to 110 in Australia's largest city, while an outbreak in the northern city of Darwin prompted a hard two-day stay-at-home order.
27th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Japan to donate millions more AstraZeneca vaccine doses across Asia

Japan will donate one million Covid-19 vaccine doses each to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand starting from next Thursday, said foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Friday. Kyodo News reported that the foreign minister said that the country will also offer one million doses each to Taiwan and Vietnam, in addition to the batches of 1.24 million and one million shots provided to them, respectively, earlier in the month. The decision to provide coronavirus vaccine developed AstraZeneca came after requests were made from the said countries and Taiwan.
26th Jun 2021 - ETHealthworld.com

San Francisco becomes biggest US city to demand all 35000 of its municipal workers get Covid vaccine

The City of San Francisco is requiring all 35,000 of its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or risk losing their jobs. Workers who don’t comply could be fired; About 70% of city’s residents are already fully vaccinated, one of the highest vaccination rates of any U.S. city. City officials say the requirements will promote safety in municipal workplaces. It includes police officers, firefighters, building inspectors and other city workers who come into regular contact with members of the community. The requirement will take effect once a Covid vaccine receives full authorization from the Food and Drug Administration
26th Jun 2021 - Daily Mail

UN chief urges European Parliament to support COVID vaccines for all

The Secretary-General reiterated his recent call for an Emergency Task Force that would mobilize pharmaceutical companies and key industry players in implementing a plan to ensure the entire global population is vaccinated by “as early as possible in 2022.” Members would include vaccine-producing countries, as well as nations that could manufacture these treatments provided they have assistance, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO); the vaccine alliance, GAVI, and international financial institutions. The Task Force would explore all options to scale-up vaccine production, such as technology transfers, patent pooling, sharing intellectual property, and addressing supply chain bottlenecks.
26th Jun 2021 - UN News

Honduras to receive 1.5 mln doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. on Sunday

Honduras will receive 1.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the United States on Sunday as part of an initial delivery of doses through the COVAX international vaccine-sharing program, White House officials told Reuters. The shipment is part of 80 million U.S. doses that President Joe Biden has pledged to share with other countries around the world either directly or through the COVAX program. "We are sharing vaccines with Honduras because it’s the right thing to do from a global public health perspective, and right for our collective security and well-being in the region," said Juan Gonzalez, senior director for the Western Hemisphere on the White House National Security Council, in a statement shared with Reuters.
26th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Iceland becomes first country in Europe to lift ALL coronavirus restrictions

Icelanders will no longer need to wear masks or keep a safe distance from others All Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted from Saturday, health minister confirmed Government said 87 per cent of Icelanders received first dose of a Covid vaccine It has infection incidence of 1.6 per 100,000 inhabitants on two-week average
25th Jun 2021 - Daily Mail

Russia mandates vaccinations for some as virus cases surge

They tried grocery giveaways and lotteries for new cars and apartments. But an ambitious plan of vaccinating 30 million Russians by mid-June still has fallen short by a third. So now, many regional governments across the vast country are obligating some workers to get vaccinated and requiring the shots to enter certain businesses, like restaurants. As many Western countries lift coronavirus restrictions and plan a return to normal life after mass vaccinations, Russia is battling a surge of infections — even though it was the first in the world to authorize a vaccine and among the first to start administering it in December.
25th Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

U.S. Offers Afghanistan 3 Million J&J Covid-19 Vaccine Doses

The Biden administration plans to deliver three million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine next week to Afghanistan, which is battling its deadliest wave of the pandemic amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation. The White House is offering the single-dose vaccines ahead of President Biden’s Friday meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghanistan’s chief peace negotiator, Abdullah Abdullah. They plan to discuss how Washington can continue supporting the embattled Afghan government, which lost large territories to the Taliban this month, once the U.S. military completes its withdrawal. Mr. Biden aims to press Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah—who ran against the Afghan president in elections in 2014 and 2019—to align more closely and create a broader front against the Taliban, if Washington is to continue supporting Kabul, according to a senior administration official.
24th Jun 2021 - The Wall Street Journal


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Jun 2021

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The Struggles of India’s Vaccine Giant

When the coronavirus hit, the Serum Institute of India seemed uniquely positioned to help. It is world’s largest vaccine maker, producing 1.5 billion doses a year for diseases from polio to tetanus. Striking a deal with AstraZeneca, its leaders promised to make and deliver a billion doses of vaccine to low- and middle-income nations. Earlier this year, however, a second wave of the coronavirus hit India hard and Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to ban all exports of vaccines. What has this ban meant for the nations that were promised millions of doses, and for the Serum Institute itself?
24th Jun 2021 - The New York Times

UN urges Belgium to double coronavirus vaccine production

Belgium should double its production of coronavirus vaccines to ensure an equitable distribution of doses in the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said during a visit to Brussels on Thursday. Guterres, who met with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and several other ministers before speaking at the European Parliament, emphasised the disparity between the number of administered vaccines in Europe compared to in Africa.
24th Jun 2021 - The Brussels Times

Federal government projects little need for AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after October

AstraZeneca is likely to be phased out of Australia's coronavirus vaccine rollout later in the year as more Pfizer and Moderna doses join the immunisation program. The federal government has released the vaccine distribution projections it supplied to state and territory health authorities. COVID-19 task force commander Lieutenant General John Frewen says the information would allow states to better plan their immunisation programs
24th Jun 2021 - SBS News

States race to vaccine Gen Z against Covid-19

With more than 84% of all eligible people in Vermont having had at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, no one would blame health officials if they wanted to take it easy, but the easy path is not a part of Dr. Michael Levine's pandemic plans. The Vermont health commissioner says he's proud of the Green Mountain state ranks first in the US for Covid-19 vaccinations, but with the variant threat, Levine wants even more people protected. To do that, he's going to have to figure out how to reach the one demographic that's holding out, not just on him, but on public health leaders throughout the country -- Gen Z. "They're a tough nut to crack," Levine said.
24th Jun 2021 - CNN on MSN.com

White House Plan for COVID-19 Antiviral Pills

The Biden administration has committed $3 billion toward the development of antiviral medications. The hope is the pills will effectively treat COVID-19 symptoms as well as be ready for use in future pandemics. Experts say the goal of the program is a good one, but they’re uncertain if it can be accomplished.
24th Jun 2021 - Healthline

‘Real and present danger’: Sydney imposes new COVID curbs

People in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, have been ordered not to leave the metropolitan area, as authorities scramble to contain a number of new coronavirus cases of the Delta variant – a development that has prompted neighbouring New Zealand to raise its alert level following possible exposure from a tourist from Australia. New South Wales (NSW) State Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the stricter curbs – affecting about five million people who live and work in the city – on Wednesday. The new rules took effect at 4pm Sydney time (06:00 GMT) and will remain in force for a week.
24th Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Africa battles new COVID-19 wave hitting faster and harder

Africa is facing a devastating resurgence of COVID-19 infections whose peak will surpass that of earlier waves as the continent’s countries struggle to vaccinate even a small percentage of the population, top health officials said Thursday. “The third wave is picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said Thursday “With rapidly rising case numbers and increasing reports of serious illness, the latest surge threatens to be Africa’s worst yet,” she said
24th Jun 2021 - Associated Press


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

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Nearly every new Covid-19 death is now entirely preventable, CDC director says

The dangerous Delta variant poses a risk as the United States works to ease out of the Covid-19 pandemic, but experts say the nation has the tools needed to overcome the threat -- if the public takes advantage of them. "Covid-19 vaccines are available for everyone ages 12 and up," US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday at a White House briefing. "They are nearly 100% effective against severe disease and death -- meaning nearly every death due to Covid-19 is particularly tragic, because nearly every death, especially among adults, due to Covid-19 is at this point entirely preventable." Those still dying from Covid-19 in the US are "overwhelmingly" unvaccinated, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.
23rd Jun 2021 - CNN

Moscow restricts visits to bars, restaurants to curb COVID-19 wave

Moscow's mayor ordered bars and restaurants to serve people only if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or had had an infection indicating immunity - one of the Russian capital's toughest steps to fight the pandemic since last year's lockdown. The Kremlin has blamed a renewed wave of infections over the last two weeks on the Delta variant and the slow pace of its vaccination programme even though four domestically-produced vaccines have been approved for use.
23rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Delta Plus: India issues alert over new Covid 'variant of concern'

India has issued an alert over a new variant of concern called Delta Plus that is believed to be more transmissible than the original Delta Covid strain. The country's health ministry said 16 cases of the variant - a mutation of B.1.617.2, which was first detected in India - were found in the state of Maharashtra on Tuesday. Federal health secretary Rajesh Bhushan told a news conference that Delta Plus is more transmissible than the original Delta Covid-19 strain. The health ministry also warned it could be less susceptible to vaccines and that it may be better at binding to receptors on people's lungs.
23rd Jun 2021 - LBC

New Zealand brings back curbs in Wellington after COVID scare from Sydney visitor

Australia's largest city of Sydney re-introduced "soft touch" COVID-19 curbs on Wednesday to contain a widening outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant, mandating masks in offices while neighbouring states closed their borders. New Zealand raised the alert level in its capital of Wellington over exposure concerns after an Australian tourist tested positive for the virus upon returning to Sydney from a weekend visit to the neighbouring nation.
23rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Morgan Stanley says unvaccinated staff and clients not welcome

Morgan Stanley says staff and clients will not be allowed to enter the bank’s New York offices if they are not fully vaccinated, making it the latest in a line of Wall Street firms to delay the return of unvaccinated employees. Employees, clients, and visitors will be required to attest to being fully vaccinated in order to access the bank’s offices in New York City and Westchester in the US state of New York, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters late Tuesday. Those who are not fully vaccinated will need to work remotely, the source added. The policy, outlined in an internal memo, is one of the most restrictive issued by a major US bank so far. The firm said the goal is to help create a normal office environment, without a need for face masks and physical distancing.
23rd Jun 2021 - AlJazeera


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

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WHO setting up hub to make COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa

The WHO is setting up a hub in South Africa to give companies from poor and middle-income countries the know-how and licenses to produce COVID-19 vaccines, in what President Cyril Ramaphosa called an historic step to spread lifesaving technology. The "tech transfer hub" could make it possible for African companies to begin manufacturing mRNA vaccines - the advanced technology now used in shots from Pfizer and Moderna - in as little as 9-12 months, the World Health Organization said.
22nd Jun 2021 - Reuters

EU takes up option to buy 150 million more Moderna COVID-19 shots

The European Union has decided to take up an option under a supply contract with drugmaker Moderna that allows the bloc to order 150 million additional COVID-19 vaccines produced by the U.S. biotech firm, the EU Commission said on Tuesday. The announcement comes a week after CureVac, a German biotech firm, said its COVID-19 vaccine was only 47% effective in a late-stage trial, missing the study's main goal and casting doubt on the potential delivery of hundreds of millions of doses to the EU
22nd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Turkey's Erdogan says easing COVID-19 restrictions further as of July

Turkey will further relax restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 from next month, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday after the number of daily coronavirus cases in the country fell to around 5,000. Lockdowns that had been imposed on Sundays and curfews from 1900 GMT on weekdays would be lifted from July 1, Erdogan said after a government cabinet meeting. "Public transportation restrictions will also be lifted and public institutions will return to normal working hours," Erdogan said.
22nd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Moscow imposes new virus restrictions as cases remain high

The mayor of Moscow announced new pandemic restrictions on Tuesday, saying the situation in the capital where the delta variant of the virus is spreading remains “very difficult.” The country’s state coronavirus task force reported 6,555 new COVID-19 cases in Moscow on Tuesday and a total 16,715 new infections across Russia, both tallies twice as high as a month ago. “The decisions that we’re making are difficult, unpopular, but necessary for saving people’s lives,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in an online statement, adding that more than 14,000 people severely ill with COVID-19 remain in the city’s hospitals. He has attributed the infection spike to the delta variant that first appeared in India. Sobyanin banned all entertainment and sports events at which more than 500 people are present starting Tuesday.
22nd Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

White House’s global COVID jab distribution plan hits a snag

The Biden administration on Monday revealed allocation plans for 55 million coronavirus vaccination doses, amid what officials say are logistical challenges that have delayed a commitment to share 80 million with other countries by the end of June. In a fact sheet released Monday, the White House said the majority of the 55 million shots will be shared through the COVAX global sharing mechanism. Some 14 million doses will go to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, while 16 million will go to countries in Asia, including India. About 10 million doses will go to Africa, with countries selected in coordination with the African Union. The remaining doses, some 25 percent, will be shared directly with countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and in Europe.
21st Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Health minister invites Chinese vaccine maker to invest in Turkey

Sinovac, the Chinese developer of the first COVID-19 vaccine used in Turkey, was urged by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to invest in the country for mass production of vaccines. Koca, who held a videoconference call with Sinovac executives, said he believed a good cooperation model can be developed between the company and his country. According to media outlets, Sinovac has reportedly started production in Turkey. Sinovac's CoronaVac, an inactive vaccine, was Turkey’s first choice for vaccination against the coronavirus. It was the first jab applied in the country to health care workers during the campaign that later included a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
20th Jun 2021 - Daily Sabah


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

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WHO says delta is the fastest and fittest Covid variant and will 'pick off' most vulnerable

The highly contagious delta variant is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain that will “pick off” the most vulnerable people, the World Health Organization said. Delta has the potential “to be more lethal because it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans,” the WHO’s Dr. Mike Ryan said.
21st Jun 2021 - CNBC

World Bank, African Union join forces to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines

The World Bank and the African Union said on Monday they would work together to accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations for up to 400 million people across Africa, bolstering efforts to vaccinate 60% of the continent's population by 2022. In a joint statement, the World Bank and the African Union said their agreement would provide needed resources to the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative, allowing countries to purchase and deploy more vaccines.
21st Jun 2021 - Reuters


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

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Uganda imposes new anti-coronavirus measures to stem raging pandemic

Uganda's president Yowreri Museveni on Friday introduced sweeping new anti-coronavirus measures including a ban on all vehicular movement except for essential workers to help curb a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation. The east African country, like most other African peers had been left relatively unscathed by the first wave. It suddenly started experiencing a steep surge in COVID-19 infections last month after authorities confirmed they had detected presence of the Indian coronavirus variant
18th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Philippines seals biggest COVID-19 vaccine order yet, for 40 mln Pfizer doses

The Philippine government has signed a supply agreement for 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, in its biggest coronavirus vaccine deal to date. Deliveries of the vaccine will begin in late September, Carlito Galvez, head of the government's COVID-19 vaccine procurement, said on Sunday. It "will significantly boost our national immunisation programme and will enable us to realise our goal of achieving herd immunity by year-end," he said.
21st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam receives 500000 Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine doses donation from China

Vietnam has received a shipment of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by China, the health ministry said on Sunday, as the country is ramping up inoculations to battle against a more widespread outbreak. The Southeast Asian nation approved China's Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19 in early June. The vaccines will be used for three groups: Chinese citizens in Vietnam, Vietnamese who have plan to work or study in China and people who live near the borders with China, the health ministry said in a statement. Vietnam's domestic inoculation programme, which started in March, has so far relied heavily on around 4 million shots of AstraZeneca's vaccine.
20th Jun 2021 - Reuters

US sending Taiwan 2.5 million vaccine doses, tripling pledge

The U.S. is sending 2.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan, tripling an earlier pledge in a donation with both public health and geopolitical meaning. The shipment was due to arrive by plane later Sunday, the de facto U.S. embassy said. “The donation reflects our commitment to Taiwan as a trusted friend, and a member of the international family of democracies,” the American Institute in Taiwan wrote on its Facebook page. Taiwan, which had been relatively unscathed by the virus, has been caught off-guard by a surge in new cases since May and is now scrambling to get COVID-19 vaccines. It has ordered 5.05 million doses directly from Moderna but so far received only 390,000, including a second shipment that arrived Friday.
20th Jun 2021 - The Associated Press

Oman to reimpose nightly curfew following spike in COVID-19 cases

Oman will reimpose a curfew and suspend all commercial activities from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m. following a spike in COVID-19 cases, the country's Supreme Committee for Combating Coronavirus said on Saturday. The curfew, which will start on Sunday, will restrict the movement of people and vehicles, with an exception for home delivery services, the committee statement said. Cases in Oman have trended upwards since January, with a pronounced surge since a dip in early May. The Gulf state has had the region's slowest vaccine rollout due to procurement difficulties.
19th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Mexico to donate 154100 doses of AstraZeneza vaccine to Honduras

The Mexican government announced on Friday it is donating to Honduras 154,100 doses of the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine. The donation is the first from the Mexican government to the small Central American nation, which has confirmed 251,149 cases of coronavirus and 6,719 deaths. About 400,000 Hondurans have received at least one vaccine shot, out of a population of 9.5 million.
18th Jun 2021 - Reuters

AstraZeneca and EU both claim victory in vaccine battle

A Belgian court ruled on Friday that coronavirus vaccine maker AstraZeneca had committed a “serious breach” of its contract with the European Union amid a major legal battle over delivery obligations that has tarnished the company’s image. The court ordered AstraZeneca to deliver a total of 80.2 million doses to the EU from the time the contract was agreed up until September 27. The ruling said the company did not appear to have made a “best reasonable effort” to meet the delivery schedule because it had not used its United Kingdom production sites.
18th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Jun 2021

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Japan plans to lift COVID restrictions ahead of Olympic Games

Japan’s government on Thursday approved lifting Tokyo’s virus emergency measures a month before the Olympics, but set new restrictions that could sharply limit fans at the sporting events. The state of emergency in place in Tokyo began in late April and largely limits bar and restaurant opening hours and bans them from selling alcohol. That measure will now end in the capital and eight other regions on June 20, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced. It will stay in place in Okinawa. “The number of infections nationwide has been declining since mid-May and the situation in terms of hospital beds is steadily improving,” he said. “On the other hand, in some regions there are signs that the fall in the number of infections is slowing,” Suga added.
18th Jun 2021 - Aljazeera.com

AstraZeneca vaccine price pledge omits some poor countries, contract shows

AstraZeneca can charge a higher price for its Covid-19 vaccine in dozens of poor countries once the pharmaceutical company decides the pandemic has ended, according to a copy of its contract with Oxford University seen by the Guardian. The British-Swedish drug firm has promised to provide the vaccine at a not-for-profit price to the developing world in perpetuity, but a review of a redacted version of its contract with Oxford University, obtained by the student advocacy group Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), found that the promise excludes many low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Among those left off the list are 34 countries classified by Unicef and the WHO as being in need of vaccine support, including Sri Lanka, Angola, Timor-Leste, Honduras, Zimbabwe and the Philippines, which could all be charged a higher price once AstraZeneca declares the Covid-19 pandemic has ended.
17th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

U.S. donating additional 1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Canada

The United States is donating one million additional doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Canada. The doses, which were produced in the U.S., will arrive in Toronto later today, according to a White House official speaking on the condition they not be named, as they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. This delivery is part of a broad donation strategy previously announced by the Biden administration.
17th Jun 2021 - CBC.ca on MSN.com

After a Year of Denying Covid-19, Tanzania Orders Vaccines

Tanzania has lodged an order for coronavirus vaccines, the country’s presidency said Thursday, after the East African nation’s government spent a year denying the existence of the virus within its borders and becoming a magnet for Covid-19 skeptics from around the globe. Tanzania’s request for vaccines from the World Health Organization-backed Covax program, which distributes free Covid-19 shots to the world’s poorest countries, follows the death of President John Magufuli in March, when local doctors and church leaders were warning about a surge in infections. His successor and former deputy, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has tentatively instituted more transparency in the handling of the pandemic, opening several Covid-19 testing centers and wearing masks during public appearances
17th Jun 2021 - Wall Street Journal

New Zealand lays out vaccine plan after grumbling over delay

New Zealand will take up to the end of the year to inoculate all those eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday, as she announced details of a vaccine campaign. The Pacific island nation shut its borders and used tough lockdown measures to become one of the few countries to have virtually eliminated COVID-19, but the government is facing criticism for a slow rollout of vaccines. About 560,000 people in the country of 5 million have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine while about 325,000 have been given a second dose.
17th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Fauci: US to spend $3.2B for antiviral pills for COVID-19

The United States is devoting $3.2 billion to advance development of antiviral pills for COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses that could turn into pandemics. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, announced the investment Thursday at a White House briefing as part of a new “antiviral program for pandemics” to develop drugs to address symptoms caused by potentially dangerous viruses like the coronavirus. The pills for COVID-19, which would be used to minimize symptoms after infection, are in development and could begin arriving by year’s end, pending the completion of clinical trials. The funding will speed those clinical trials and provide additional support to private sector research, development and manufacturing.
17th Jun 2021 - The Associated Press


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Jun 2021

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Top-up Pfizer would be used to fully vaccinate Victorians, state government told Commonwealth

In Australia, the Andrews government assured the Commonwealth it would use the one-off additional doses of Pfizer it received to fully vaccinate Victorians, and declared it was incumbent upon the state to ensure that supply was available for second doses. Acting Premier James Merlino on Wednesday took a swipe at the federal government for the lack of certainty on the supply of the Pfizer vaccine, with Health Minister Martin Foley on Monday declaring the vaccine rollout was being hampered by limited doses arriving from the Commonwealth. The Morrison government has disputed there are supply constraints, while the Andrews government has maintained it cannot keep up with the rate of demand at the current level of supply.
16th Jun 2021 - The Age

EU Delays Russia's Sputnik V Covid Vaccine Approval – Reuters

The European Union will delay approval of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine until later in 2021 because of a missed deadline to submit required data, Reuters reported Wednesday. The delay shrinks Sputnik V's prospects as part of the EU’s pandemic response. Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, which markets the jab worldwide, said earlier in the day it was confident that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) would approve Sputnik V within two months. The EMA launched a rolling review of Sputnik V, which Russia touts as the world’s first government-approved vaccine, this spring.
16th Jun 2021 - The Moscow Times

U.S. buys 200 mln more Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses

The U.S. government has bought another 200 million doses of Moderna’s (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine, the drugmaker said on Wednesday, including an option to buy experimental shots that may be in development. The additional Moderna doses, which brings total U.S. orders to 500 million, could be used for primary inoculation, including of children, or as a possible booster shot, the company said. Moderna is currently conducting clinical trials testing a third booster shot of its authorized vaccine as well as an experimental one to protect against coronavirus variants.
16th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Brazil to buy single-shot Chinese COVID-19 vaccine

Brazil plans to buy 60 million doses of the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's CanSino Biologics for delivery in the third and fourth quarters of this year, according to a negotiation document reviewed by Reuters. A ministry official signed a letter of intent on June 4 to purchase the doses with a Brazilian pharmaceutical company that represents CanSino in Brazil, Belcher Farmaceutica do Brasil, the document said. The vaccine, trade-named Convidecia and developed by CanSino together with a research institute linked to the Chinese military, will cost $17 per dose, it said.
16th Jun 2021 - Reuters

New York governor lifts remaining COVID-19 restrictions, calls it a 'momentous day'

New York is lifting all state-mandated coronavirus restrictions after reporting that 70% of the state's adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday. "It is an important milestone, and we're going to keep pushing to do more," Cuomo told a news conference, adding that the state would continue to encourage more New Yorkers to get vaccinated. Restrictions across commercial and social settings will be lifted immediately. Cuomo said some limitations based on guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would remain in place, with mitigation measures still required in public transit and healthcare settings
16th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Ukraine government extends lockdown measures until Aug 31, softens curbs

Ukraine's government on Wednesday extended COVID-19 lockdown measures until Aug. 31, but eased some of the restrictions, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said. Shmygal said all Ukrainian regions are now in the "green zone" but the country "must be ready for any development". Shmygal did not specify which measures will be eased. On Monday, Ukraine registered 420 COVID cases - the lowest daily number of new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours for nearly a year
16th Jun 2021 - Reuters UK

South Africa returns to tighter COVID restrictions as cases surge

South Africa has returned to tighter restrictions on public gatherings and liquor sales as the country sees a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations. President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that the new infections threaten the health systems in several parts of the country and COVID-related hospital admissions have increased 59 percent over the past two weeks.
16th Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine to be made in India soon - govt official

The Serum Institute of India is preparing to produce Novavax's (NVAX.O) COVID-19 vaccine in the country, government official Vinod Kumar Paul said at a press briefing on Tuesday. The vaccine maker on Monday had said its COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective in a large, late-stage U.S.-based clinical trial.
15th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus outpacing vaccine effort, says WHO, after G7 doses pledge

The World Health Organization has warned that Covid-19 is moving faster than the vaccines, and said the vow by G7 countries to share a billion doses with poorer nations was simply not enough. “This is a big help, but we need more, and we need them faster. Right now, the virus is moving faster than the global distribution of vaccines,” World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists. “More than 10,000 people are dying every day ... these communities need vaccines, and they need them now, not next year.” Global health leaders also warned the pledge was too little, too late, with more than 11bn shots needed.
15th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

Japan to ship 1 mln COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam on Wednesday

Japan will send a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday, as the southeast Asian nation steps up vaccine procurement to fight a more stubborn wave of infections. With a population of about 98 million, Vietnam's tally of infections stands at 10,241, and only 58 deaths, since the pandemic began. The shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines produced in Japan is due to arrive in Vietnam on Wednesday, Motegi told reporters.
15th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia grants conditional approval for CanSino, J&J COVID-19 vaccines

Malaysia has granted conditional approval for emergency use to the single dose COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by China's CanSino Biologics and U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, the government said on Tuesday. The Southeast Asian country has been ramping up its vaccination programme, amid a fresh round of lockdowns imposed this month to curb a surge in coronavirus infections. Malaysia would obtain Johnson & Johnson's vaccines via the global COVAX facility backed by the World Health Organization, the health ministry said in a statement. It did not say how many doses it would procure via COVAX.
15th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Congo caps public gatherings as third COVID-19 wave builds

The Democratic Republic of Congo will limit public gatherings to 20 people and close nightclubs as the country grapples with a third wave of COVID-19, President Felix Tshisekedi said on Tuesday. Congo has officially registered relatively few cases, but low vaccination rates have left the country vulnerable to more contagious strains, including the highly-infectious Delta variant. "For several weeks we have seen a persistent rise in the number of people infected," Tshisekedi said in a televised address. "We need to react with speed, and above all, methodically."
15th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Taiwan reports 132 new domestic COVID-19 cases

Taiwan reported 132 new domestic COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, down from the previous day's figure of 185.
15th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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Brazil extends validity of J&J COVID vaccine to 4.5 months

Brazil's health regulator Anvisa has extended the validity of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N)COVID-19 vaccine, prolonging its shelf life from 3 months to 4.5 months, giving the country more time to use a first batch due to arrive this week. The batch of 3 million doses was due to expire on June 27, but now Brazil has followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in extending the expiration dates by a month a half
14th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Chile faces setback to reopening as coronavirus cases soar

Chilean health authorities said on Monday they would extend a COVID-19 emergency through September to allow the government to impose restrictions, a setback in a country that has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. The announcement comes as cases have soared in Chile to some of their highest levels since the pandemic began, despite 61% of citizens receiving at least one vaccine dose and 48% being fully vaccinated
14th Jun 2021 - Reuters

PM announces four-week delay to Covid lockdown easing in England

Boris Johnson has halted the final easing of lockdown restrictions in England and ordered a four-week delay to speed up the vaccination programme, but signalled afterwards he would not tolerate any further suspension. The prime minister said 19 July was a “terminus date” and that all restrictions on social contact could be lifted, barring the emergence of a gamechanging new variant. The chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, suggested that within four weeks the additional jabs would offer sufficient protection to halt a surge in hospitalisations and said there would come a point where the country would be able to live with the virus in relative normality. But Whitty and Johnson said a speeding up of second vaccine doses for the over-40s combined with a four-week delay could prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths. Although the data will be reviewed after two weeks, No 10 said it was unlikely restrictions would change.
14th Jun 2021 - The Guardian

S.Korea eases COVID-19 restrictions on concerts, sports games

South Korea began easing restrictions on large concerts and sports events on Monday after announcing last week it would loosen a series of coronavirus curbs as the country pushes ahead with its vaccination drive. Up to 4,000 people will be allowed to attend K-Pop concerts and other cultural shows from Monday, up massively from a capacity limit of below 100 people since late last year, according to measures announced by health officials on Friday. Sports stadiums will be able to operate at a 30% to 50% capacity, depending on the districts, up from 10% previously.
14th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: US regulator raises “significant concerns” over safety of rapid lateral flow tests

The US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has raised concerns about the safety and the marketing of rapid lateral flow covid-19 tests, which are the cornerstone of the UK’s mass testing programme. On 10 June,1 the agency warned the public to stop using the Innova SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid qualitative test for detecting infection and suggested the tests should be destroyed and binned or returned to the manufacturer. The FDA published a class 1 recall of the test after an investigation carried out between March and April uncovered “significant concerns that the performance of the test has not been adequately established, presenting a risk to health.” Class 1 is the most serious kind of recall and indicates that use of the tests may cause serious injury or death. In addition, the FDA said that “labelling distributed with certain configurations of the test includes performance claims that did not accurately reflect the performance estimates observed during clinical studies,” and that the test “has not been authorised, cleared, or approved by the FDA for commercial distribution or use in the US, as required by law.”
14th Jun 2021 - The BMJ

Rishi Sunak will not extend furlough despite delay to end of lockdown

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has rejected calls for an extension of the furlough scheme, despite an expected delay to the lifting of lockdown. The support fund for people who’ve been unable to work during the pandemic is set to be wound down from July 1. It means the Treasury will no longer cover 80% of workers’ wages, reducing the offer to 70% with employers contributing 10%. The scheme will be reduced step-by-step until it completely finishes at the end of September.
14th Jun 2021 - Metro.co.uk

India eases COVID rules as new cases dip to two-month low

Many Indian states have eased coronavirus restrictions, including the capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed all shops and shopping centres to open, as the number of new infections dropped to the lowest in more than two months. Experts have cautioned against a full reopening as India has vaccinated only about 5 percent of its estimated 950 million adults with the necessary two doses, leaving millions vulnerable.
14th Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

South Africa rejects 2m J&J vaccines due to FDA decision

South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been hit by further delays as it will have to discard at least 2 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines produced in the country. The vaccines were found by the U.S Food and Drug Administration to be unsuitable for use due to possible contamination of their ingredients at a Baltimore plant. South Africa was expecting to use them to inoculate its health care workers and people aged 60 years and older. This is the latest setback to South Africa’s vaccine rollout which has so far given shots to just over 1% of its 60 million people.
14th Jun 2021 - The Associated Press


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G-7 Commits to 1 Billion Extra Covid Shots in Final Communique

Group of Seven leaders promised to deliver at least 1 billion extra doses of vaccines over the next year in the most dramatic element of the bloc’s effort to help bring an end to the global Covid-19 pandemic. In the final communique, obtained first by Bloomberg News, the G-7 worked to revitalize cooperation between some of the world’s most powerful economies, after a period during Donald Trump’s administration in the U.S. when such documents were often done away with.
14th Jun 2021 - Bloomberg

Moscow orders 'non-working week' to stop the spread of Covid-19

Moscow's mayor Sergei Sobyanin has ordered a week-long Covid-19 lock down. He has urged the old and vulnerable people to remain at home for a week. Figures have shown only 12 per cent people in Russia have been vaccinated
13th Jun 2021 - Daily Mail

Vietnam approves Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Vietnam has approved the COVID-19 vaccine jointly made by Pfizer and BioNTech for domestic emergency use, the government said on Saturday. It is the fourth vaccine to be endorsed in the Southeast Asian country that is tackling a new outbreak. Vietnam, which has previously approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, Russia's Sputnik V and China's Sinopharm vaccine, said it is seeking to procure 31 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech version for delivery in the next quarter.
12th Jun 2021 - Reuters

India cuts taxes on medicines and equipment to treat COVID-19

India on Saturday cut taxes on medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators and drugs used to treat COVID-19 infections, after widespread criticism over healthcare costs during a devastating second wave of the virus in April and May. The government cut taxes on medical grade oxygen, ventilators, the remdesivir antiviral drug, diagnostic kits, pulse oximeters and hand sanitizers to 5% from 12-18% with immediate effect. The new levies will be in place until the end of September, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, adding it would include taxes on electric furnaces in crematoriums and ambulances.
12th Jun 2021 - Reuters India

Saudi Arabia bars foreign travellers from Haj over COVID-19

Saudi Arabia has restricted the annual Haj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA)reported on Saturday. Only people aged between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated or immunised against the virus, and are free of chronic diseases, will be able to take part, the ministry that manages the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca said in a statement carried by SPA.
12th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia extends COVID-19 lockdown for 2 more weeks

Malaysia on Friday extended a national lockdown imposed to curb a surge in coronavirus infections for two more weeks, with the latest restrictions to end on June 28, security minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said. The lockdown, originally set to end on June 14, was announced as the Southeast Asian nation began reporting record levels of COVID-19 infections and deaths last month.
12th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Chile shuts capital Santiago once more as vaccines fail to quell rampant cases

Chilean health authorities announced a blanket lockdown across the capital Santiago on Thursday following some of the worst COVID-19 case numbers since the pandemic began, despite having fully vaccinated more than half its population. The development, which will alarm authorities elsewhere who are debating how fast to reopen as vaccination campaigns gather steam, comes as Chile's confirmed daily caseload surged 17% in the past two weeks nationwide and 25% in the Metropolitan region that includes Santiago and is home to half the country's population.
12th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Top CDC official warns US not ready for next pandemic | TheHill

The No. 2 official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that without consistent, long-term funding for public health, the U.S. won't be any better prepared for the next pandemic. In an interview with The Hill on Wednesday, Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, said the U.S. was not prepared for COVID-19 due to years of inadequate investment in public health infrastructure. Emergency funding has helped public health agencies fight back against the coronavirus, Schuchat said, but unless that level of spending can be sustained, the country is in danger of repeating the same mistakes.
11th Jun 2021 - The Hill

US FDA Denies Emergency Use Approval to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin

A vaccine that has been administered in India to the tune of 29 million doses has been denied emergency-use approval in the US. Covaxin is the name of a whole-virus inactivated vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad. It received accelerated approval in India on January 3, 2021, after which it became one of the two major vaccines in India’s COVID-19 inoculation drive. However, because India’s drug regulator okayed Covaxin without any data from its phase 3 clinical trial, it was met with considerably vaccine hesitancy that the government itself was forced to acknowledge. Virologist and former INSACOG executive committee chief Shahid Jameel had told The Wire Science in Janaury 3 that Covaxin is in all likelihood safe and meaningfully efficacious, but that the opacity surrounding its approval in India would undermine public confidence. Bharat Biotech had also applied for approvals with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the WHO.
11th Jun 2021 - The Wire

Trouble for some US COVID-19 vaccines

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today said 60 million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine cannot be used because of possible contamination, according to the New York Times. The vaccines are part of the 170 million vaccines produced at the troubled Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore. Ten million Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the plant will still be useable, the FDA said. While losing 60 million doses does not impact America's vaccination campaign, the decision could have global repercussions as the Biden administration looks to share more doses of COVID-19 vaccines to countries currently in need of supply.
11th Jun 2021 - CIDRAP


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Biden says biggest vaccine donation 'supercharges' battle against coronavirus

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday that a donation of 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the world's poorest countries would supercharge the battle with the virus and comes with "no strings attached." Biden, speaking alongside Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla in the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay ahead of a G7 summit, thanked other leaders for recognising their responsibility to vaccinate the world.
11th Jun 2021 - Reuters

UK to donate more than 100m surplus vaccine doses, says PM

Boris Johnson says the UK will start donating coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries in the next few weeks. More than 100m surplus doses will be delivered in the next year, he announced ahead of the G7 summit. US President Joe Biden has promised half a billion doses of Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries and the African Union. The first 5m doses from the UK will be given by the end of September, with another 25m by the end of the year. The prime minister said: "As a result of the success of the UK's vaccine programme we are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them.
11th Jun 2021 - BBC

U.S. to raise COVID-19 vaccine intellectual property issues with WTO, may take time -Tai

The Biden administration is committed to efforts to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and will raise the issue with the World Trade Organization (WTO), but it may take time, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday. "We will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the WTO that will be needed to make this happen. And this may take time given the complexity of the issues involved, but our goal remains to get vaccines to as many people as fast as possible," Tai said in remarks to an AFL-CIO union event. U.S. President Joe Biden last month backed a proposed patent waiver for vaccines targeting the novel coronavirus that advocates say could help boost availability amid the pandemic.
10th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Vaccine changes as shorter interval between doses announced

The introduction of a shorter interval between Covid-19 vaccine doses in Northern Ireland has been announced. The time between both doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines is to be reduced to a maximum of eight weeks. This will accelerate the vaccination programme as it moves into its final phase and will ensure that people in NI have "the strongest possible protection from variants of the Covid-19 virus". This includes the Delta variant which has been identified here recently
10th Jun 2021 - Belfast Live

Portugal halts easing of COVID-19 rules in Lisbon as cases rise

Most of Portugal will move to the next stage of lockdown easing next Monday but stricter rules will remain in place in the capital Lisbon due to a worrying rise in COVID-19 infections, the government said on Wednesday. Portugal imposed a nationwide lockdown in January to tackle what then was the world's worst coronavirus surge, but restrictions have been gradually lifted since mid-March and most businesses have already reopened. Across most of the country, restaurants, cafes and pastry shops, which now must close at 10.30 p.m., will be able to keep doors open until 1 a.m. from June 14, and there are no more restrictions on stores' opening hours.
10th Jun 2021 - Reuters

EU foregoes 100 million J&J vaccines, considers donating other doses - sources

The European Union decided not to take up an option to buy 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine and is considering donating another 100 million optional shots, if ordered, European officials said. The discussions show a drop in confidence in the one-dose shot, which was initially touted as crucial for a successful vaccination drive in Europe, but has been largely relegated to a back-up choice after safety and supply problems. The EU at the end of March let the term to order 100 million extra doses lapse, three European officials with direct knowledge of contracts with vaccine makers told Reuters, revealing a confidential clause of the contract with J&J which had not been previously disclosed.
10th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Government ran secret coronavirus outbreak exercise five years ago

The UK government ran a secret exercise mimicking the outbreak of a Covid-like virus outbreak in 2016. Exercise Alice, as the project was called, involved the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and was carried out nearly five years ago. The exercise envisioned an outbreak of MERS, the so-called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which is a coronavirus, according to newspaper The Guardian.
10th Jun 2021 - City A.M.

FDA Extends Shelf Life of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has extended the shelf life of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from three months to four-and-a-half months. The health regulator's decision was based on data from ongoing studies, which demonstrated that the vaccine is stable at 4.5 months when refrigerated at temperatures of 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 8 degrees Celsius), the drugmaker said.
10th Jun 2021 - U.S. News & World Report


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Biden administration to buy 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to donate to the world

The Biden administration is buying 500 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to donate to the world, as the United States dramatically increases its efforts to help vaccinate the global population, according to three people familiar with the plans. The first 200 million doses will be distributed this year, with the subsequent 300 million shared in the first half of next year. The doses will be distributed by Covax, the World Health Organization-backed initiative to share doses around the globe, and they will be targeted at low- and middle-income countries. Pfizer is selling the doses to the U.S. at a “not-for-profit” price, according to the people familiar with the deal.
9th Jun 2021 - The Washington Post

EU, U.S. to agree reduction of vaccine export barriers, summit draft says

The European Union and the United States are set to agree at a summit on Tuesday to reduce export restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, a draft joint text says, arguing that voluntary sharing of technology is the key to boosting output. The document, seen by Reuters and still subject to changes, makes no mention of mandatory waivers on vaccine patents, which U.S. President Joe Biden has endorsed as a temporary solution to the global shortage of COVID-19 shots. The EU has repeatedly opposed the idea, which is backed by dozens of poorer nations.
9th Jun 2021 - Reuters

U.S. signs $1.2 bln deal for 1.7 mln courses of Merck's experimental COVID-19 drug

Merck & Co Inc said on Wednesday the U.S. government has agreed to pay about $1.2 billion for 1.7 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 treatment, if it is proven to work in an ongoing large trial and authorized by U.S. regulators. The oral antiviral treatment, molnupiravir, aims to stop COVID-19 from progressing and can be given early in the course of the disease, similar to Tamiflu to treat influenza. The treatment course being tested in the trial is an oral dose given every 12 hours for five days.
9th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Melbourne to exit lockdown with COVID cases controlled

Authorities in Melbourne will relax a COVID-19 lockdown as planned on Thursday night, saying people’s adherence to the strict rules had “changed the course” of a coronavirus outbreak in Australia’s second-largest city. Melbourne’s five million residents have had to remain at home for all but the most essential reasons over the past two weeks after a cluster of cases emerged that were linked to the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is thought to be more transmissible. The relaxation will take effect from 11.59pm local time (13:59 GMT) on Thursday, although some restrictions on travel and gatherings will remain in place for a further week.
9th Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

High Court finds UK gov’t acted unlawfully over COVID contract

The United Kingdom’s High Court has ruled that the government acted unlawfully when it handed a contract to a company run by associates of Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former aide. The court said on Wednesday the government had shown “apparent bias” in awarding more than 560,000 pounds ($794,000) to Public First to test public opinion on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The public relations company, which undertook research for the government on its public health messaging around the coronavirus pandemic, is headed by James Frayne and his wife Rachel Wolf. The pair previously worked with Cummings and the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove. The Good Law Project (GLP), a campaign group, had brought a judicial review against the government, saying the contract was awarded without any competitive tenders in the early stages of the pandemic.
9th Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

Brazil OK's clinical tests for homegrown COVID vaccine Butanvac

Brazil's health regulator Anvisa on Wednesday authorized Phase 1 and 2 clinical tests to be carried out on volunteers for the Butanvac vaccine developed by Sao Paulo's Butantan Institute biomedical center. The tests for the two-shot vaccine were initially authorized for 400 volunteers, but will later involve an expected total of 6,000 volunteers aged 18 and over, Anvisa said. The vaccine developed by Butantan, one of Brazil's two top biomedical research centers, will not need imported active ingredients like the main vaccines produced in Brazil, the AstraZeneca shot and Sinovac Biotech CoronaVac.
9th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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WHO's Tedros says COVID-19 vaccine inequity creates 'two-track pandemic'

Glaring COVID-19 vaccine inequality has created a "two-track pandemic" with Western countries protected and poorer nations still exposed, World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, renewing pleas for shot donations. "Increasingly, we see a two-track pandemic," Tedros told reporters during a press conference from Geneva. "Six months since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered, high-income countries have administered almost 44% of the world's doses. Low-income countries have administered just 0.4%. The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn't changed in months."
8th Jun 2021 - Reuters

WTO panel considers easing protections on COVID-19 vaccines

Envoys from World Trade Organization member nations are taking up a proposal to ease patents and other intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to help developing countries fight the pandemic, an idea backed by the Biden administration but opposed in other wealthy countries with strong pharmaceutical industries. On the table for a two-day meeting of a WTO panel opening Tuesday is a revised proposal presented by India and South Africa for a temporary IP waiver on coronavirus vaccines. The idea has drawn support from more than 60 countries, which now include the United States and China. Some European Union member states oppose the idea, and the EU on Friday offered an alternative proposal that relies on existing World Trade Organization rules.
8th Jun 2021 - The Independent

New Zealand PM Ardern to take first dose of COVID-19 vaccine next week

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would get her first COVID-19 shot at the end of next week, as the country prepared to receive another 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. "For me, it's been important that I allow those in the most at risk group... to be prioritised," Ardern said in a news conference. "I'm choosing to be vaccinated at this point in order to play my role in demonstrating that I consider it to be absolutely safe and also really critical to keep others safe," she said.
8th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Ontario to loosen COVID-19 restrictions starting June 11, ahead of schedule

Ontario will loosen COVID-19 restrictions starting June 11, three days ahead of schedule, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday, as infection rates continue to drift lower after a punishing third wave while vaccinations pick up pace. The province will enter step one of its reopening plan, allowing non-essential retail to operate at 15% capacity, outdoor dining with a maximum of four people per table, and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people to take place. Canada's most populous province entered a lockdown in April as a variant-driven third wave of COVID-19 threatened to overwhelm hospitals
8th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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MHRA authorises Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has extended the authorisation of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15 years old. On Friday, the MHRA announced that it had concluded that the jab is safe and effectiveness in the younger age group,
7th Jun 2021 - PharmaTimes

PH approves Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The Philippines has approved for emergency use the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China state-owned Sinopharm, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Monday. In a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said they have already authorized the Department of Health (DOH) to accept Sinopharm COVID-19 shots. “So ito po ay tinignan na rin ng ating mga experts at ang ating pong evaluation sa FDA, today, we already granted an emergency use authorization [EUA] to the DOH to accept the donations of Sinopharm,” Domingo said.
7th Jun 2021 - Philippine Daily Inquirer

Uganda re-imposes lockdown to beat back COVID-19 case surge

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday re-imposed a strict lockdown that included the closure of schools and the suspension of inter-district travel to help beat back a surge in COVID-19 cases in the East African country. The new measures, which will be effective from Monday morning, include the closure of all educational institutions, some bans on travel, the shutdown of weekly open markets, and the suspension of church services. Most of the new restrictions, Museveni said, would be implemented for 42 days. An assessment of their impact will then help the government decide whether to ease or prolong them, he added.
7th Jun 2021 - Reuters

India reopens major cities as new COVID cases hit two-month low

Key Indian cities have reopened for business, with long queues for buses in the financial hub of Mumbai while traffic returned to the roads of New Delhi after a devastating second wave of coronavirus that killed hundreds of thousands. The 100,636 new infections of the past 24 hours were the lowest in the world’s second-most populous nation since April 6, and well off last month’s peaks of more than 400,000, allowing authorities to reopen parts of the economy.
7th Jun 2021 - AlJazeera

US to donate 750,000 COVID jabs to Taiwan amid China row

The United States will give Taiwan 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, as part of the country’s plan to share millions of jabs globally, a delegation of US senators have announced, after Taipei complained that China was hindering its efforts to access the injections. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who landed in Taiwan with two of her colleagues on Sunday, said their trip underscores the bipartisan support for the democratic island that Beijing claims as its own territory.
7th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

U.S. report concluded COVID-19 may have leaked from Wuhan lab

A report on the origins of COVID-19 by a U.S. government national laboratory concluded the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the classified document. The study was prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and was referred by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic's origins during the final months of the Trump administration, the report added.
7th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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Vaccinating children ‘not a high priority’ amid shortage: WHO

The World Health Organization’s top vaccines expert has said that immunising children against COVID-19 is not a high priority from a WHO perspective, given the extremely limited global supply of doses. During a social media session on Thursday, Dr Kate O’Brien said children should not be a focus of COVID-19 immunisation programmes, even as increasing numbers of rich countries authorise their coronavirus shots for teenagers and children.
5th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Yemen Covid Surge Threatens to Worsen Country's Humanitarian Crisis

Masks and social distancing are scarce in the port city of Aden, where many see Covid-19 as less of a threat than cholera or typhoid. Yemen has struggled with mass outbreaks of cholera, dengue fever, and typhoid, and poverty has surged to affect as much as 78% of the population since 2015, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and their allies began an offensive to restore the government ousted by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Now, as the world tries to emerge from a public health disaster, Yemen looks poised to hurtle more deeply into another one. After a first coronavirus wave in mid-2020, Covid-19 has “come roaring back” to Yemen, Mark Lowcock, the United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, warned in April.
5th Jun 2021 - Bloomberg

Euro 2020: UK Government will NOT ease Covid-19 restrictions for foreign fans travelling

The UK Government will not be easing Covid-19 restrictions around Euro 2020. With Wembley hosting key games, many fans are expected to be flying in. Those from amber-listed countries will face a 10-day quarantine period. The UK has the toughest entry requirements of any of the host countries
5th Jun 2021 - Daily Mail

Exit from lockdown ‘to be delayed by two weeks’ as Covid cases surge

A two-week delay to the planned easing of restrictions in England on June 21 is reportedly being considered after the number of people in the country with Covid-19 rose by 75 per cent. Multiple reports have also suggested plans to lift restrictions could be scaled down, with social distancing and the wearing of face coverings set to continue amid concerns the Indian variant is fuelling a surge in cases. The UK on Friday recorded its highest number of new confirmed coronavirus cases – 6,238 – since late March, according to official figures
5th Jun 2021 - Evening Standard

UK approves Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12-15

The UK has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in children aged 12-15. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the use of the jab in the younger age group on Friday following a review of its safety,
4th Jun 2021 - The Irish Times

The U.S. Is Sending 1 Million Vaccines To Mexico Border Cities And Resort Spots

One million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are heading to Mexico from the U.S. with most of the shots set to service resort areas and spots along the border. The batch of vaccines is part of the 25 million excess doses the White House announced on Thursday would be shipped to other countries around the world. Much of the vaccine distribution will be through COVAX, an international system aimed at helping to vaccinate people in the world's poorest countries.
4th Jun 2021 - NPR

EU pushes rival plan to Covid-19 vaccine IP waiver, but some deride it as ‘meaningless’

Amid intense debate over equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, the European Union is offering a rival plan to a controversial proposal that would temporarily waive intellectual property protections in a World Trade Organization Agreement. But critics say the alternative is inadequate. The proposed plan is designed to safeguard patent rights, a hot-button issue for the pharmaceutical industry and some EU countries where drug makers are based. Instead, the EU suggested several ideas to increase equitable vaccine distribution, such as limiting export restrictions, voluntary licensing, sharing expertise, tiered pricing, making it easier for countries to use existing rules to override patents in some cases, and new investments in manufacturing plants in developing countries
4th Jun 2021 - STAT News

Chile approves 2nd doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, with new age limit

Chile said on Friday that people inoculated with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine should get their second dose, but health officials put a new limit on the age of recipients until an investigation into possible complications is completed. On Thursday, the health ministry said a 31-year-old man had developed thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) - a rare but serious condition involving blood clots with a low platelet count - seven days after his first AstraZeneca vaccine injection
4th Jun 2021 - Reuters

Brazil's Anvisa approves Russian Sputnik V vaccine, with conditions

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Friday gave the green light for states to import the Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V, but with conditions attached. Anvisa's board voted 4-1 to grant the conditional approval after more than seven hours of deliberation, following the recommendation of its technical staff earlier in the day. Anvisa also voted to approve, again with conditions, the Covaxin shot made by Bharat Biotech, a private company based in the Indian city of Hyderabad.
4th Jun 2021 - Reuters


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

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Africa faces ‘rising threat’ of a COVID third wave: WHO

Healthcare systems across Africa are “far from ready” to cope with a fresh surge of coronavirus infections, with vaccine deliveries at a near standstill and cases surging in many countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. “Many African hospitals and clinics are still far from ready to cope with a huge rise in critically ill patients,” WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said on Thursday. “The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising,” she added in a virtual briefing. Africa has officially registered more than 4.8 million cases and 130,000 deaths, according to the WHO, representing 2.9 percent of global cases and 3.7 percent of deaths. According to a survey conducted by the WHO in May, the essential health facilities and personnel required to manage critically ill COVID-19 patients are grossly inadequate in many African countries.
4th Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Greece to offer COVID-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries - spokeswoman

Greece will supply its northern neighbours Albania and North Macedonia with 40,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the country's spokeswoman said on Thursday. "Greece, in coordination with the European Commission, as most European countries do for their neighbours, will offer vaccines...20,000 doses to North Macedonia and 20,000 to Albania," Aristotelia Peloni told a news conference.
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Vietnamese government sends mass texts to citizens asking for cash to fund vaccine programme

Vietnam is asking members of the public to donate money that can be used to buy, import, research and produce COVID-19 vaccines. The country is currently being hit by its biggest coronavirus outbreak so far, with nearly 60% of its infections recorded in the past month. And the government has now sent mass text messages to citizens requesting financial contributions to a £777m special fund for the COVID vaccination programme. It comes as the country announced Russia had agreed to provide it with 20 million doses of its Sputnik V vaccine this year.
3rd Jun 2021 - Sky News

Taiwan health ministry to get $2.9 billion boost to fight COVID-19

Taiwan's health ministry will receive an extra T$79.2 billion ($2.87 billion) in spending to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including buying vaccines, the government said on Thursday, detailing a stimulus package approved this week. Taiwan's parliament approved on Monday an extra T$420 billion in spending to help the economy deal with the virus' impact, as the island curbs business activity to counter a spike in domestic infections
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Hong Kong authorises COVID-19 vaccine for 12-year-olds and above

Hong Kong will open its COVID-19 vaccine scheme to children aged 12 and above for the first time, the government said on Thursday, as it pursues a broader campaign across the city to incentivise its 7.5 million residents to get vaccinated. Children of that age group will be able to get Germany's BioNTech vaccine, but residents still have to be older than 18 to receive China's Sinovac shot. The Chinese special administrative region started its COVID-19 vaccination programme in February but only around 14% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Sweden failed to protect elderly from COVID, parliament panel says

Sweden's centre-left minority government, which neverordered a COVID-19 lockdown and relied instead mostly on voluntary curbs, failed in several aspects of its handling of the pandemic, parliament's constitutional committee said on Thursday. The government was slow to put in place a testing and tracing system, failed to protect of the elderly and there was a lack of clear lines of responsibility between national and local authorities, the committee said. It did not comment on Sweden's controversial no-lockdown strategy.
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Biden outlines plan to quickly share 25 mln COVID-19 vaccines with world

The White House laid out a plan for the United States to share 25 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world, with the first shots shipping as soon as Thursday, and said it would ease other countries’ access to U.S.-made supplies for vaccine production. President Joe Biden said the United States would give the vaccines without expectation of political favors in return. The dose shipments are the first of some 80 million COVID-19 vaccines that Biden has pledged to provide internationally this month as concern grows about the huge disparity in vaccination rates between advanced economies and developing countries.
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

France donates 184000 AstraZeneca doses to Senegal via COVAX

France has donated 184,000 doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to Senegal through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, the programme's sponsors said in a statement on Thursday. This is the second batch of COVID-19 vaccines Senegal has received through the global scheme, after an initial 324,000 AstraZeneca doses arrived in March. The arrival of the latest batch is timely. Senegal's supply of vaccines is running low just as thousands of people are due for their second jabs. Most of the country's 16 million citizens have yet to receive a first dose.
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

India gov't seals deal for 300 mln Biological-E COVID-19 vaccine doses

India's government said on Thursday it has inked a deal with domestic vaccine maker Biological-E for 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for 15 billion rupees ($205.62 million). The vaccine, which is currently undergoing phase-3 clinical trials, will likely to be available in the next few months, the health ministry said in a statement.
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters


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

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U.S. global vaccine distribution plan could be announced Thursday -Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden could announce as early as Thursday details of Washington’s plan for distributing 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccine globally. "I want you to know as well that in a few short days ... possibly as early as tomorrow, the president is going to announce in more detail the plan that he's put together to push out 80 million vaccines around the world," said Blinken at a gathering at the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. Blinken reiterated that the U.S. distribution plan would be coordinated with the COVAX vaccine sharing facility and based on need "without any political strings attached."
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Britain hosts G7 health summit amid pressure to broaden COVID vaccine access

Britain will host health ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) rich countries in Oxford on Thursday for a two-day summit, as pressure intensifies to do more to broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines across the world. British foreign minister Dominic Raab has said that equitable access to coronavirus vaccines will be at the top of the agenda when G7 leaders meet next week. But as health ministers gather at the University of Oxford, where AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine was invented, charities stressed Britain could do more by supporting a temporary waiver on intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical firms.
3rd Jun 2021 - Reuters UK

Vietnam to buy 20m doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine this year

Vietnam's health minister said on Wednesday that Russia had agreed to provide it with 20 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V this year, as the South-east Asian country races to secure supplies to expedite mass inoculations. Vietnam approved the Russian vaccine in March but has stepped up its procurement push after being hit by its biggest outbreak so far, although its overall cases and fatality numbers remain relatively low. "Vietnam is trying to get access to Covid-19 vaccine sources to speed up its vaccination roll-out at the earliest," Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said in a statement announcing the Sputnik V agreement.
2nd Jun 2021 - The Straits Times

Nepal receives 800,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine from China

Nepal on Tuesday received a consignment of 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China on grant basis as per the commitment made during talks between Presidents of the two nations. "As conveyed by Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, during the telephone conversation with President Bidya Devi Bhandari on May 26, 2021, a consignment of 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Kathmandu today," Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a release. China on May 26, announced a grant of 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Nepal.
2nd Jun 2021 - Business Standard

Japan gives $800M to UN-backed COVID-19 vaccine program

Japan's prime minister announced Wednesday an additional $800 million contribution to the U.N.-backed initiative to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries, a four-fold increase of Japanese funding for the COVAX program. The pledge by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga comes as his government attempts to accelerate vaccinations in Japan, one of the world’s least inoculated countries, only about 50 days before it hosts the Olympics amid a continuing surge in infections. He spoke as Japan co-sponsored a fundraising event for COVAX with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which helps run the program. The program managers are seeking about $2 billion more to reach a target of $8.3 billion for its effort to fund free vaccines for low- and middle-income countries around the world.
2nd Jun 2021 - The Independent

China's Guangdong tightens coronavirus measures as cases persist

Cities in China's most populous province of Guangdong have locked down compounds and streets and ordered some travellers to furnish negative COVID-19 test results, as health officials battle to control outbreaks. All 10 of China's locally confirmed mainland cases on June 1 were in southern Guangdong, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday, seven in the provincial capital of Guangzhou and three in the nearby city of Foshan. China's manufacturing and export hub and its biggest province by economic output, Guangzhou has stepped up coronavirus prevention and control efforts since the latest wave of cases struck in late May.
2nd Jun 2021 - Reuters

World Health Organization authorizes China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization (WHO) has authorized a Covid-19 vaccine made by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac for emergency use. The decision will allow CoronaVac to be used in WHO's vaccine-sharing program, COVAX, which seeks to provide equitable global access to immunizations. It is the second Chinese vaccine to be given WHO authorization after Sinopharm was greenlit in early May. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news briefing Tuesday that CoronaVac was "found to be safe, effective, and quality-assured following two doses of the inactivated vaccine." WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) has recommended the vaccine for people over 18. Two doses should be spaced between two and four weeks.
2nd Jun 2021 - CNN

Covid-19: Cummings, Johnson, Hancock, and a maelstrom of avoidable harm

Boris Johnson’s announcement of a public inquiry into his government’s handling of covid-19, followed hard on the heels of the news that his former special adviser Dominic Cummings would give evidence against him to the health and science all party select committees.1 The prime minister, it seemed, was more concerned about how Cummings might damage his reputation than the health of his electorate. Cummings promised a series of revelations damning enough to embarrass any leadership.2 He didn’t disappoint, and he did more than simply hold court at the hearing, where he was an oracle, a one man systematic review on every pandemic question, the all seeing Eye of Sauron. Whether Cummings’s many allegations are correct or not, the inescapable conclusion is that the disastrous manner in which the government is run is a major contributor to excess deaths in the UK, although Johnson persists with his denials. The public inquiry that was needed a year ago—and could be quick and forward looking3—is still promised for next year, but it is a matter of urgency now
2nd Jun 2021 - The BMJ

Australia's Victoria state extends COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne

Australia's Victoria state on Wednesday extended a COVID-19 lockdown in state capital Melbourne for another week in a bid to contain the latest virus outbreak, but eased restrictions in other regions. The lockdown, imposed on May 27 after the state reported its first locally acquired coronavirus cases, had been scheduled to end Thursday night. It will now end on June 10. The state reported six new locally acquired cases on Wednesday, versus nine a day earlier, taking the total infections in the latest outbreak to 60.
2nd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Russia's Sputnik Light vaccine approved for use in Mauritius - RDIF

Russia's single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine against COVID-19 has been approved for use in Mauritius, Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund, which markets the shot internationally, said on Wednesday.
2nd Jun 2021 - Reuters

Donor summit boosts COVAX funds; nations share doses

The global effort to boost doses of COVID-19 vaccine for low- and middle-income countries got a major shot in the arm today at a Gavi donor conference, netting new pledges totaling $2.4 billion from nearly 40 groups, including governments, private companies, and foundations. In other developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its weekly snapshot of the pandemic that although cases have dropped for the fifth week in a row, some countries across all of its regions are experiencing significant rises. And five nations announced plans to share vaccine doses.
2nd Jun 2021 - CIDRAP

Pharma drug naming experts applaud WHO's choice of Greek alphabet for COVID-19 variants

What’s in a COVID-19 variant name? Thanks to the World Health Organization (WHO), Greek letters. The global health organization's new system uses the Greek alphabet in a standardized naming convention pharma drug naming experts agreed makes sense. Beginning with alpha, which is now the name of the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the U.K. in December, notable variants will be named in the order of discovery and matched to the corresponding letter in the Greek alphabet. So far, 10 variants labeled as “of concern” or “of interest” have been listed and given the new alphabet names. The newest is B.1.617.1 now called kappa, which was discovered in India in April. The global health organization instituted the system for simplicity’s sake—the strings of letters, numbers and period punctuations lent itself to mistakes and confusion—but also to avoid stigmatizing the countries where variants are discovered.
2nd Jun 2021 - FiercePharma


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

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Vietnam's 'very dangerous' new hybrid variant may be fueling Asia's worst outbreak so far

Vietnam has suspended international flights from today into its capital, Hanoi, and commercial hub, Ho Chi Minh City, as it tries to control a suspected new hybrid coronavirus variant that it fears is fanning the Southeast Asian nation’s worst outbreak of the pandemic. China has also tightened its border security as its neighbour, once considered a pandemic success story, now plans to test all 13 million residents of Ho Chi Minh City and tighten social distancing measures. Vietnam’s plight follows a now familiar pattern of Covid-19 surges across Asia - most alarmingly in countries like Singapore, Laos, Thailand and Taiwan that were praised for beating the virus in 2020, only to be caught out by a global vaccine shortage as new variants ricocheted back from coronavirus hotspots. On Saturday, the Vietnamese authorities revealed they had discovered a “very dangerous” new coronavirus variant that combined mutations first found in India and the UK, and which spreads quickly by air.
1st Jun 2021 - Telegraph.co.uk

Moderna starts application for full U.S. approval of COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna Inc on Tuesday filed for full U.S. approval of its COVID-19 vaccine for adults, the second drugmaker to do so after Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech sought full clearance for their vaccine last month. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization (EUA) allowed use of the vaccines during the pandemic, based on a minimum number of infections among the trial population and two months of safety data for vaccine recipients. Full approval for the vaccines, based on six months of trial data, could be an important step in allaying vaccine hesitancy in the United States and other nations.
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

UK must vaccinate the world to save lives at home - MPs

Boris Johnson has a "moral duty" to share some of the UK's coronavirus vaccines with developing nations to prevent a "humanitarian disaster" say MPs and peers. In a letter, they urge the PM to show "global leadership" ahead of the G7 summit by pledging to donate one dose abroad for each one given in the UK. There is concern new variants could prolong the UK's lockdown restrictions. Ministers say the UK was one of the earliest vaccination donors. Vaccines are being administered across the world under an international scheme known as Covax, to try and stop the coronavirus pandemic, but the global situation remains vastly uneven.
1st Jun 2021 - BBC News

Ontario step closer to reopening plan as COVID-19 stay-at-home order set to end

Nearly two months after the Ontario government enacted a provincewide stay-at-home order in response to the third wave of COVID-19, it is set to be rescinded on June 2 as health-care indicators continue to show improvement. However, despite the end of the order, the so-called emergency brake (similar to the grey lockdown restrictions under Ontario’s old colour-coded COVID-19 response framework) imposed on a variety of sectors, including businesses, will remain in place until the province moves into the first phase of the reopening plan, which is on track to happen in mid-June.
1st Jun 2021 - Global News

Philippines extends COVID-19 curbs in capital, ban on inbound travel from several countries

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday prolonged partial coronavirus curbs in the capital and nearby provinces until mid-June to contain infections that have been decreasing since hitting a peak in April. Religious gathering remain capped at 30% of venue capacity while dining in restaurants can operate at 20% in the capital region, an urban sprawl of 16 cities that is home to at least 13 million people, and nearby provinces. Non-essential travels will remain prohibited.
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: France tightens restrictions on foreign travellers due to fears of Indian variant

France has tightened restrictions on foreign travellers in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus variant first identified in India. The new rules come into effect today and include: • Entry to France limited to EU nationals, French residents, and those travelling for essential purposes • Permitted travellers must test negative for COVID-19 before leaving their departure country • They must also isolate for seven days after they arrive in France • They must sign a declaration saying they do not have COVID symptoms and that they are not aware of having been in contact with someone who has the virus in the 14 days before their journey
1st Jun 2021 - Sky News

China administered total of 661.47 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of May 31

China administered about 22.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on May 31, bringing the total number of doses administered to 661.47 million, data from the National Health Commission said on Tuesday.
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

South Korea says J&J's COVID-19 shots fully taken up

South Korea closed its first phase of reservations for Johnson and Johnson (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday as military personnel signed up for all 800,000 shots on offer, the government said. South Korea received one million doses of the vaccine this week after the United States almost doubled a pledge made during President Moon Jae-in's first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden last month. Authorities designated the vaccine for military-related personnel, including reserve forces and the civil defence corps, as well as people planning overseas business trips or diplomatic missions. Around 3.7 million people are eligible to receive the single-dose vaccine and a total of 800,000 had signed up in less than 16 hours since reservations began
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Thai COVID-19 vaccine rollout will go ahead on time - minister

Thailand's health minister on Tuesday sought to reassure the public that a mass-immunisation programme would start as planned next week, amid anxiety over vaccine supplies and no relent in its deadliest COVID-19 outbreak yet. Thailand is struggling to contain its current, most severe outbreak and authorities have been scrambling to secure vaccines from more manufacturers, accompanied by mixed messages about how the mass vaccinations will be carried out. "On June 7 there will be vaccine for everyone, those that already have appointments for the vaccine will get it as scheduled," Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Consider global shortages before giving COVID-19 shots to teens, EU body says

European Union countries should take account of global shortages of COVID-19 vaccines before rolling out shots for adolescents, the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Tuesday. Last week, the EU drugs regulator authorised Pfizer and partner BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12. Its previous guidance was for adults aged 16 and above. The ECDC - echoing World Health Organization (WHO) calls to delay inoculations of young adults in rich nations - said in a report that vaccinating adolescents should be a priority only when they are at high risk of developing serious coronavirus symptoms
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Ireland to phase out some COVID-19 fiscal supports, extend others

Ireland will begin to gradually phase out temporary coronavirus-related jobless payments later this year while maintaining other income and business supports as the economy fully reopens, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said on Tuesday. Ireland is emerging from its third and longest lockdown having had one the strictest regimes in Europe for the last 15 months, leaving more than 300,000 people who lost their jobs claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). Local media reported that the PUP, which is paid out at a higher rate than regular jobless benefits, would be reduced from September and withdrawn by February 2022.
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Empty streets and malls as Malaysia locks down

Malaysia began a two-week national lockdown on Tuesday, with police checkpoints on road junctions around the capital Kuala Lumpur as authorities tackle a wave of COVID-19 infections that has hit record levels in recent weeks. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called it a "total lockdown", though essential services are allowed and some factories can operate with a reduced workforce. The latest outbreak has been more severe, partly due to highly transmissible variants. It has also strained the health service, prompting some in the capital to question whether enough has been done.
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Australia's Victoria state calls for patience on end of COVID-19 lockdown

Australia's Victoria state authorities said on Tuesday that it was still unclear whether a snap one-week lockdown to contain a fresh COVID-19 outbreak would end as planned on Thursday night, as the state grapples with a growing virus outbreak. Australia's second-most populous state was plunged into the lockdown on May 27 after the state reported its first locally transmitted cases in nearly three months early last week, forcing its near seven million residents to remain home except for essential business.
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Ecuador launches 100-day vaccine plan, president recognizes challenges

Ecuador this week launched a plan to vaccinate 9 million people against the novel coronavirus in 100 days, part of recently installed President Guillermo Lasso's plan to revive the economy by battling the pandemic. Lasso recognized that the country needed to acquire further doses from overseas in order to reach that goal, and said the government was in talks with Russia over the purchase of some 18 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine. "All of our logistical effort will be successful once we have vaccines," Lasso said while presenting the plan. "It is urgent, and we depend on the provision of vaccines from abroad."
1st Jun 2021 - Reuters

Brazilian court demands Bolsonaro provide info on Copa America

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has given President Jair Bolsonaro five days to submit information regarding the government’s last-minute decision to host the Copa America football tournament despite the nation’s ongoing struggles with COVID-19. The demand by Ricardo Lewandowski came in response to a suit filed by the opposition Workers’ Party, which objected to hosting the tournament given the current public health situation in Brazil and plunged the fate of Latin America’s biggest sporting event into uncertainty once more.
1st Jun 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Government faces legal challenge over ‘unlawful’ suppression of Covid data in schools

Public Health England (PHE) has been accused of acting “unlawfully” by withholding data on the spread of the Indian variant in schools. In a pre-action letter sent to the government body, advocacy group the Citizens and AWO, a data rights firm, claim that PHE “surrendered its independent judgement” to Boris Johnson. The allegation comes following reports that PHE had been preparing to publish the data on 13 May, but faced pressure not to from the prime minister’s office.
1st Jun 2021 - The Independent

WHO approves Sinovac COVID shot in second Chinese milestone

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it has approved a COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech (SVA.O) for emergency use listing, paving the way for a second Chinese shot to be used in poor countries. A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators of a product's safety and efficacy and will allow the Sinovac shot to be included in COVAX, the global programme providing vaccines mainly for poor countries, which faces major supply problems due to curbs on Indian exports. The WHO's independent panel of experts said in a statement it recommended Sinovac's vaccine for adults over 18. There was no upper age limit as data suggested it is likely to have a protective effect in older people.
1st Jun 2021 - Reutes

WHO renames COVID-19 variants with Greek letters to avoid stigma

Coronavirus variants are to be known by letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid misreporting and stigmatising nations where they were first detected, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced. The new system applies to variants of concern – the most troubling of which four are in circulation – and the second-level variants of interest being tracked. “While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting,” the WHO said in a statement. “As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatising and discriminatory.”
31st May 2021 - AlJazeera


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

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Covid-19 variants to be given Greek alphabet names to avoid stigma

Coronavirus variants are to be named after letters of the Greek alphabet instead of their place of first discovery, the World Health Organization has announced, in a move to avoid stigma. The WHO has named four variants of concern, known to the public as the UK/Kent (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1) and India (B.1.617.2) variants. They will now be given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta respectively, to reflect their order of detection, with any new variants following the pattern down the Greek alphabet. The decision to go for this naming system came after months of deliberations with experts considering a range of other possibilities such as Greek Gods, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen who was involved in the talks.
1st Jun 2021 - The Guardian

In rich countries, vaccines are making Covid-19 a manageable health issue

So when will the pandemic be over? Covid-19 won’t end with a bang or a parade. Throughout history, pandemics have ended when the disease ceases to dominate daily life and retreats into the background like other health challenges. Barring a horrific new variant, rich countries such as Britain and the US may be within months, if not weeks, of what their citizens will see as the end of the pandemic. This isn’t the case in poorer countries in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. For countries that can’t afford vaccines, technology or treatments for Covid-19, populations will remain trapped by outbreaks that cause chaos in hospitals and kill health workers and vulnerable and elderly people. It’s now incumbent on richer countries that are emerging from the pandemic to turn their attention to poorer nations and ensure they have the resources they urgently require
31st May 2021 - The Guardian

WHO's Tedros says "time has come" for pandemic treaty

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) called on Monday for speedily launching global negotiations to agree on an international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, also told a closing session of its annual week-long ministerial assembly that the U.N. agency required sustainable and flexible funding. “The one recommendation I believe will do the most to strengthen WHO and global health security is the recommendation of a treaty on pandemic preparedness and response which could also strengthen relations between member states and foster cooperation. This is an idea whose time has come,” Tedros said.
31st May 2021 - Reuters

Vietnam Suspends Some International Flights After Discovering ‘Very Dangerous’ Coronavirus Variant Combining India And U.K. Strains

Vietnam will suspend international flights into its capital city Hanoi this week and tighten restrictions in the city amid a new surge of Covid-19 cases, the government announced Monday, as the country—which has had among the lowest Covid-19 case numbers in the world—faces a new coronavirus variant mixing those first detected in India and the United Kingdom.
31st May 2021 - Forbes

Chinese city locks down an area amid virus surge

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou shut down a neighborhood and ordered its residents to stay home on Saturday for door-to-door coronavirus testing following an upsurge in infections that has rattled authorities. Guangzhou, a business and industrial centre of 15 million people north of Hong Hong, has reported 20 new infections over the past week. The number is small compared with India’s thousands of daily cases but alarmed Chinese authorities who believed they had the disease under control.
30th May 2021 - The Hindu

Ministers knew about the Indian variant on April 1. The public was told on April 15

The discovery of the Indian variant in Britain was not announced to the public by ministers for a fortnight while thousands of potentially infected people were allowed to enter the country. Ministers were given the news of the variant’s arrival on April 1 but no official statement was made until April 15. India was not placed on the red list banning travellers from the country for another eight days. By contrast, last December a travel ban was imposed on South Africa within two days after it was discovered that the strain from that country had entered Britain.
30th May 2021 - The Times

We faced an unprecedented crisis, but tens of thousands of second wave Covid deaths were avoidable – and unforgivable

Behind the allegations and the noise this week are some simple truths. We have the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe. And over two thirds of deaths were in the second wave. That’s not hearsay. It’s not opinion. It’s fact. Behind all the political drama is one more fact. The most important of all. That 128,000 families are grieving, now wondering whether their loved ones died needlessly. The human cost of this pandemic has been appalling. We all know someone who has been touched by it. Yet despite this, the British people have shown the most extraordinary courage and national spirit.
30th May 2021 - The Guardian

Macron says it is in Europe's interest to provide Africa with COVID-19 vaccines

Shipping COVID-19 vaccines to Africa is not just a moral duty but it is also in Europe and the world's interest in order to prevent the resurgence of new virus variants, French President Emmanuel Macron said in Rwanda. Macron said France was on track to deliver 30 million COVID-19 vaccination doses to Africa by year-end, that Germany would also deliver 30 million doses and that collectively the European Union would deliver more than 100 million doses to Africa this year.
29th May 2021 - Reuters

One-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine approved for use in UK - with 20million on order

A single-shot coronavirus vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been approved for use in the UK, with the first delivers expected later this year. Britain has ordered 20 million doses of the Janssen vaccine, which health officials previously said could be used for hard-to-reach groups of people. The Janssen jab has been shown to be 67 per cent effective overall at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19. with studies suggesting the vaccine also offers complete protection from admission to hospital and death. The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the safety of the jab, giving Britain four vaccines that have been approved for use under the biggest vaccination programme in UK history.
29th May 2021 - The Mirror

Australian City Enters Its Fourth Lockdown as Virus Returns

Melbourne, the Australian city that’s already endured one of the world’s longest and most stringent lockdowns, is ordering residents to stay home for the fourth time since the pandemic began as the return of infections tests the country’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus. The city of 5 million people, along with all other areas of Victoria state, will go into lockdown from midnight for seven days, acting Premier James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday. The number of cases within the community had doubled in the past day to 26, he said.
29th May 2021 - Bloomberg

Health Canada extends shelf life of some AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots

Canada’s health regulator said Saturday it has extended the expiry dates of two lots of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine by 30 days to ensure that provinces and territories are able to use up their existing inventory. The approval to extend the shelf life of the vaccines to July 1 from May 31 was supported by scientific evidence, Health Canada said in a statement.
29th May 2021 - Reuters

Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Shot Cleared for Children in Europe

European regulators cleared Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, preparing the way for mass inoculations of younger teenagers across the continent. The green light from the European Medicines Agency gives Europe, whose immunization campaign was initially fraught with difficulties, the first vaccine in its arsenal for younger adolescents. The shot was already cleared for people as young as 16. “It’s an important step in the fight against the pandemic,” Marco Caveleri, the regulator’s head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy, said on Friday.
28th May 2021 - Bloomberg

Japan extends emergency Covid rules less than two months before Olympics

Japan has extended emergency coronavirus measures in Tokyo and several other regions as the country struggles to rein in the latest wave of infections less than two months before the Olympics. The state of emergency – the third in the capital since the start of the pandemic – was called in late April and due to end on 11 May but was extended until the end of this month, as restrictions on businesses failed to make a dent in infections. The latest extension is scheduled to end on 20 June, little over a month before the Olympics are due to begin. The number of infections have fallen in Tokyo in recent days, but the daily caseload is still too high to justify an end to the measures, according to medical experts, while hospitals are contending with a record number of critically ill patients.
28th May 2021 - The Guardian


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Africa needs 20m second AstraZeneca jabs in six weeks: WHO

Africa needs at least 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine within six weeks if those who have had their first shot are to get the second in time, the WHO said Thursday. “Africa needs vaccines now,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said in a statement.
28th May 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Victoria to enter a COVID-19 lockdown as cases from Melbourne outbreak grow

The Victorian government has announced a seven-day lockdown in a bid to curb the state's growing coronavirus outbreak. The state's outbreak has now reached 26 cases, with 11 new cases recorded from Wednesday to Thursday. Around 14,000 Victorians are either required to quarantine for 14 days, or test and isolate until negative. One of the cases was in hospital on a ventilator, but it is understood they were moved out of intensive care on Thursday night.
27th May 2021 - ABC.Net.au

Rich countries cornered COVID-19 vaccine doses. Four strategies to right a 'scandalous inequity'

In January, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, issued a blunt warning. The world was “on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure,” he said. Wealthy countries were buying up available COVID-19 vaccines, leaving tiny amounts for others—a replay of what happened during the 2009 influenza pandemic. “The price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” Tedros said. He was right. Today, some rich countries are vaccinating children as young as 12 years old, who are at extremely low risk of developing severe COVID-19, while poorer countries don’t even have enough shots for health care workers. Nearly 85% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to date have gone to people in high-income and upper middle–income countries. The countries with the lowest gross domestic product per capita only have 0.3%.
27th May 2021 - Science Magazine

Mexico authorizes J&J vaccine against COVID-19 for emergency use

Mexico's health regulator COFEPRIS has granted emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson's vaccine against COVID-19, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said on Thursday. "This authorization for emergency use certifies that the vaccine meets the quality, safety and efficacy requirements necessary to be applied," COFEPRIS said in a separate statement.
27th May 2021 - Reuters

Swedish PM sees "beginning of the end", eases COVID restrictions next week

Sweden will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions from June 1 as new cases have fallen sharply in recent weeks, the government said on Thursday, as it presented a roadmap to open up society. Sweden has been an outlier in the fight against the pandemic and has opted against full lockdowns, instead relying on mostly voluntary measures. It has been hit by a severe third wave of the virus but fresh cases and the number of people being admitted to intensive care are declining quickly. "We are beginning to glimpse the beginning of the end," Prime Minister Lofven told a news conference.
27th May 2021 - Reuters


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France will impose self isolation for people coming from UK

France on Wednesday declared a mandatory quarantine period for people coming from Britain, due to the increasing prevalence there of a highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in India. France follows Austria, which said on Tuesday it was banning direct flights and tourist visits from Britain, and Germany, which said on Friday that anyone entering from the UK would have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
26th May 2021 - Reuters

Belgium restricts use of J&J coronavirus vaccine to over-41s after death

Belgium Wednesday said it would no longer give people aged 41 and younger Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after the death of a woman. The health ministry said the woman died on May 21 after being admitted to hospital with severe thrombosis and platelet deficiency — rare side effects the European Medicines Agency has previously said could be linked to the vaccine following analysis of cases in the U.S. Belgium has asked the EMA to evaluate whether the vaccine was linked to the death of the woman, who received the vaccine through her employer, reported Reuters.
26th May 2021 - POLITICO Europe

Zambian president bans campaign rallies to stem COVID-19 spread

Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Wednesday banned campaign rallies ahead of elections scheduled for Aug. 12, saying large gatherings risked spreading the COVID-19 virus. Lungu, a lawyer, is pitted against economist Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND), whom he narrowly beat in the 2016 elections. Zambia, Africa’s no.2 copper producer, is the grips of an economic crisis after it failed to make payment of a coupon on one of its dollar bonds in November, dragging it into sovereign default.
26th May 2021 - CNBC Africa

Maldives imposes strict curbs as COVID-19 cases spike

The Maldives will restrict movement from Wednesday to curb a surge in coronavirus infections that is putting pressure on the island's healthcare facilities, officials said. People will be allowed out for a few hours each day for essential supplies and a strict curfew will be in place from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. (0300 GMT) the next day, the Health Protection Agency said.
26th May 2021 - Reuters

EU seeks huge fine for AstraZeneca vaccine delays

A lawyer for the European Union asked a Brussels court on Wednesday to impose a large fine on AstraZeneca (AZN.L) for its delays in delivering COVID-19 vaccines to the EU. The lawyer said the EU was seeking 10 euros for each day of delay for each dose as compensation for AstraZeneca's non-compliance with the EU contract. The lawyer said the EU was also seeking 10 million euros as penalties for AstraZeneca for each breach of the contract that the judge may decide.
26th May 2021 - Reuters

WHO asked to review spiked Italy report, whistleblower case

Whistleblower protection groups urged the World Health Organization on Wednesday to launch an independent review into the case of an Italian researcher who reported being pressured to falsify data in a now-spiked WHO report into Italy’s coronavirus response. The groups, including Transparency International, Whistleblowing International Network and some 30 other public health and anti-corruption groups, sent an open letter to the president of the World Health Assembly. The assembly, WHO’s highest decision-making body, is made up of all WHO member states and is meeting this week. In the letter, the signatories called for the U.N. agency to commit to reforming its whistleblowing protection policy. They said the Italian researcher, Dr. Francesco Zambon, had suffered retaliatory treatment for having reported the incident within WHO’s internal ethics system.
26th May 2021 - The Associated Press

In excoriating account, Cummings slams UK PM’s COVID response

Dominic Cummings, former chief adviser to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has said the United Kingdom failed in the COVID-19 crisis and has fallen “disastrously short” of standards during the pandemic. In a blistering attack on the government he once served, Cummings on Wednesday told legislators investigating the UK’s response that some ministers and officials went on vacation in February last year – when the virus was raging across the country – as he called for the health secretary to be fired. Cummings said the government “was not operating on a war footing on this in February in any way, shape or form”, adding that “lots of people were literally skiing”. “The truth is that senior ministers, senior officials, senior advisers like me, fell disastrously short of the standards that the public has a right to expect of its government in a crisis like this,” Cummings said.
26th May 2021 - AlJazeera

France Suspects Russian Role in Campaign to Discredit Pfizer Vaccine

French counterintelligence authorities are investigating whether the Russian government was behind an attempt to pay high-profile health and science bloggers to sow public doubts about the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, a French security official said. Several French bloggers said publicly they received emails in recent days from a person claiming to work for a marketing firm called Fazze. The emails, some of which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, offered to pay the bloggers to make videos on YouTube, Instagram and other platforms criticizing the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, which has been the most widely used vaccine in France. One blogger told French TV he was offered €2,050 (about $2,500) for a video.
26th May 2021 - Wall Street Journal


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Covid-19: Rich countries are putting “relationships with big pharma” ahead of ending pandemic, says Oxfam

Some rich countries are “continuing to put their relationships with big pharma ahead of ending this pandemic,” Oxfam’s health policy adviser has said in response to commitments made by G20 leaders at the Global Health Summit. Anna Marriott described the action agreed at the end of the summit, which was co-hosted by the European Commission and Italy on 21 May, as the equivalent of throwing a bucket of water on a forest fire. World leaders at the summit reaffirmed their support for the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, launched by the World Health Organization just over a year ago to accelerate the development of tests, treatments, and vaccines and to ensure their equitable distribution. However, a year on—and as the global death toll from the virus surpasses three million—there is still a funding gap of $18.5bn (£13.1bn; €15.1bn) for the accelerator. Covax, the initiative that distributes vaccines to low income countries, also has little stock.
25th May 2021 - The BMJ

Vietnam expands lockdown measures as infections hit record

Vietnam widened lockdown measures in its industrialised north on Tuesday to combat its biggest COVID-19 outbreak so far, as authorities reported a daily record in new cases that was more than double the previous high. The health ministry announced 457 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, the biggest jump since the 190 cases seen on May 16, driven by clusters in factory zones in two northern provinces. Bac Ninh, home to production facilities of Samsung Electronics, started a curfew and other travel restrictions from Tuesday, state media reported. That followed the temporary closure of four industrial parks, including three with Foxconn facilities, by authorities in neighbouring Bac Giang province.
25th May 2021 - Reuters

Spain to receive 94 mln Pfizer vaccine doses from December under EU deal

Spain will receive nearly 94 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech between December 2021 and June 2023 as part of a European Union purchase, the government spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Maria Jesus Montero said the total was equivalent to twice the target population in Spain, where around 8.1 million people have already received a full course of vaccines.
25th May 2021 - Reuters

WHA to hold pandemic treaty talks in November

Country delegates at the World Health Assembly (WHA) today came to a consensus on holding a special session in November to consider an international treaty on pandemic preparedness, with the goal of shoring up political commitment in the battle against infectious disease outbreaks. In other global developments, US officials issued new warnings that recommend against travel to Japan as it grapples with a COVID-19 surge ahead of the Olympics, and India's daily case total dropped to its lowest level in 6 weeks.
25th May 2021 - CIDRAP

UK accused of reintroducing virus restrictions on the sly

The British government faced accusations Tuesday that it was reintroducing local lockdowns on the sly after it published new guidelines for eight areas of England that it says are hot spots for the coronavirus variant first identified in India. Lawmakers and local public health officials expressed shock that they hadn’t been made aware of the changes to the guidelines to travel and social interaction that the Conservative government published online last Friday. They also said the guidelines weren’t mandatory and that the mixed messaging could undermine efforts to keep a lid on the virus by creating unnecessary confusion. In last week’s updated guidance, the government recommended that people within eight localities, including Hounslow in west London, the city of Leicester and the northwest towns of Blackburn and Bolton, shouldn’t meet up indoors or travel outside their areas unless it is for an essential matter, such as going to work.
25th May 2021 - Associated Press


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Pfizer says it will supply Covid vaccine only to central govt, not states

After Moderna, another Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer, Pfizer, has refused to send direct vaccination to Punjab, citing its policy to only deal with the Central government, state Nodal Officer (Vaccination) Vikas Garg said on Monday. He said the company, in a communication to the state, said: "Pfizer is working with federal governments across the world to supply its Covid-19 vaccine for use in national immunisation programmes."
24th May 2021 - Business Standard

Thailand to tighten border controls after detecting South African COVID-19 variant

Thai border controls will tighten after the discovery of three local cases of the South African COVID-19 variant stemming from illegal border crossings, authorities said on Sunday, as the country grapples to contain its worst coronavirus outbreak yet. The first local case of the South African variant, known as B.1.351, was detected on May 4 in a 32-year-old Thai man after he was visited by family who entered Thailand from Malaysia through an informal border crossing, the director-general of the disease control department said.
24th May 2021 - Reuters

Australia reinstates COVID-19 curbs in Melbourne after fresh outbreak

Australia's second largest city Melbourne reinstated COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday as authorities scrambled to find the missing link in a fresh outbreak that has grown to five cases. Home gatherings will be limited to five guests, only 30 people allowed at public meetings, and face masks will be mandatory indoors from 6 p.m. local time (0800 GMT) on Tuesday until June 4. "This is a responsible step that we need to take to get on top of this outbreak," James Merlino, Victoria state's acting premier, told reporters in Melbourne.
24th May 2021 - Reuters


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British employers call for economic transformation after COVID-19

British employers called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday to overhaul regulation and tax rules to help them meet the challenges of Brexit, the post-pandemic recovery and preparing for a net-zero carbon economy. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said 2021 should be a turning point for economic policy to break the pattern of weak productivity that has weighed on growth for more than a decade. "This country will never have a greater opportunity to transform our economy and society," CBI Director-General Tony Danker said. "This is the moment where we have a genuine chance to make big bets on how the UK economy will grow and compete."
24th May 2021 - Reuters UK

AstraZeneca chief admits UK got ‘priority’ access to coronavirus vaccine

The U.K. received preferential access to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot revealed, while defending the jab and saying that it "has a future." Soriot told the Financial Times that the British government was guaranteed priority supplies as part of a return-for-investment agreement with the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine. Soriot said that deal had been struck before AstraZeneca teamed up with the university to manufacture and distribute the jab on the international market. “Of course when you do something like this as a government, you don’t do it for free,” he said. “What you want in return, and it’s fair enough, is priority.”
22nd May 2021 - POLITICO Europe

New COVID-19 cases plummet to lowest levels since last June

New coronavirus cases across the United States have tumbled to rates not seen in more than 11 months, sparking optimism that vaccination campaigns are stemming both severe COVID-19 cases and the spread of the virus. As cases, hospitalizations and deaths steadily dropped this week, pre-pandemic life in America has largely resumed. Hugs and unmasked crowds returned to the White House a Mardi Gras-style parade marched through Alabama s port city of Mobile and even states that have stuck to pandemic-related restrictions readied to drop them. However, health experts also cautioned that not enough Americans have been vaccinated to completely extinguish the virus, leaving the potential for new variants that could extend the pandemic.
22nd May 2021 - The Independent

Japan approves more COVID-19 vaccines, expands state of emergency

Japan expanded a state of emergency to cover the southern island of Okinawa on Friday, as authorities approved two more coronavirus vaccines to speed a lagging inoculation campaign. The newly approved vaccines, from Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca PLC, will join the one co-developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE in a vaccination drive that began in mid-February.
22nd May 2021 - Reuters

Norway to ease COVID-19 restrictions further next week

Norway will allow larger groups of people to meet from next week and let most bars and restaurants serve alcohol up to midnight as it takes its next major step in unwinding COVID-19 curbs, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Friday. The capital Oslo and its surrounding region will also relax some of its stricter localised restrictions, allowing gyms, cinemas, theatres and restaurants to reopen and children to resume indoor sports, authorities added. "We're ending the social lockdown of Oslo that has lasted since early November," city council chief Raymond Johansen told a news conference.
22nd May 2021 - Reuters

New pledges at global summit target COVID vaccine gap

At the G20 Global Health Summit in Italy today, world leaders and drug companies announced major commitments to boost the supply of COVID vaccine for low- and middle-income countries, but stopped short of endorsing a full waiver of vaccine patent rights. So far, about 1.59 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide, about 84% of it deployed in higher-income countries, according to the New York Times. The summit today, hosted by the European Commission and Italy, comes as the vaccine gap becomes more acute, with supplies expected from India delayed due to the country's catastrophic surge.
21st May 2021 - CIDRAP

Argentina announces 'circuit-breaker' lockdown as pandemic rages

Argentina will tighten pandemic lockdown measures to combat a severe second COVID-19 wave, President Alberto Fernandez said on Thursday, underscoring concern as daily cases and deaths have broken records over the last week. The strict "circuit-breaker" measures will come into force on Saturday and last until May 31. They include school and non-essential commerce closures and the banning of social, religious and sporting events in the nation of 45 million people.
21st May 2021 - Reuters

Bangladesh orders lockdown in Rohingya camps as COVID-19 cases jump

Bangladesh ordered a strict lockdown in five camps that are home to nearly 100,000 Rohingya refugees following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the world’s largest refugee settlement this week, government officials said on Friday. Nearly a million Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar live in 34 sprawling camps in southeastern Bangladesh, and campaigners have warned that the crowded conditions make it difficult to stem the virus’s spread. Cases in the camps have stayed relatively low since the pandemic began, but test results on Wednesday and Thursday showed a higher rate of transmission, said government official Shamsud Douza. On Thursday, 45 out of 247 tests were positive.
21st May 2021 - Reuters

China Is Winning the Race to Vaccinate the World, for Now

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a devastating public-health catastrophe the world over. For China, it’s also provided an unprecedented geopolitical opportunity. After it got the outbreak under control, and with world leaders distracted by their own countries’ health struggles, it was able to use the chaos of the pandemic to step up political crackdowns in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Other nations cried foul, but China persisted. Perhaps most important, early exports of its rapidly developed vaccines have provided Beijing with a potent diplomatic calling card in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. And as the global death toll mounts, Chinese officials get to brag about their virus-fighting success around the world even as they gain greater access and influence in far-flung capitals.
20th May 2021 - Bloomberg


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Latin America poised to benefit as U.S. raises exports of COVID-19 shots -sources

Latin America is poised to receive millions of U.S.-made COVID-19 shots in the coming weeks as the United States emerges as a top exporter of vaccines against the novel coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter. The United States is considering prioritizing countries within its own hemisphere for the 80 million domestically-made vaccine doses it has pledged to send abroad, one person familiar with the matter said. Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc has begun exporting millions of its U.S.-made shots largely to countries in Central and South America, a second person familiar with the matter said.
21st May 2021 - Reuters

Biden, saying 'silence is complicity,' signs COVID hate crimes bill into law

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that overwhelmingly passed Congress in a rare show of bipartisanship following a spate of high-profile attacks on Asian Americans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. "Silence is complicity and we cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act," Biden told lawmakers. "That's what you've done. And I can't thank you enough. I'm proud today."
21st May 2021 - Reuters

Italy to introduce 20% tax break for R&D of drugs including COVID-19 vaccines - draft

Italy will introduce tax breaks of 20% for companies conducting research and development for innovative drugs, including COVID-19 vaccines, provided they grant non exclusive licenses, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters. These companies will be entitled to a tax credit equal to 20% of the costs they incurred from June 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2030 on condition they commit to grant licenses to third parties in the European Economic Area “on non-discriminatory market terms”, the draft showed.
20th May 2021 - Reuters

Egyptian gov't mulls giving 3rd coronavirus vaccine dose

Egypt is considering administering a third dose of coronavirus vaccination, in anticipation of virus mutations that have appeared in other countries, Advisor to the Egyptian President for Health Affairs Mohamed Awad Tag Eddin. Tag Eddin added, in a telephone interview on MBC Masr on Wednesday evening, that China has announced that those who received two doses of its Sinopharm vaccine must receive a third dose. The United Arab Emirates, one of the first countries to use Sinopharm, announced earlier this week that it will be administering booster shots of the vaccine.
20th May 2021 - Egypt Independent

COVID-19: EU Commission signs third contract with Pfizer-BioNTech

The European Commission today announced that It has reserved an additional 1.8 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, on behalf of all 27 EU countries, from the end of 2021 to 2023.
20th May 2021 - Biopharma-Reporter

COVID-19: Ursula von der Leyen says EU will reach vaccination targets 'without sealing itself off from the world'

The EU will reach its vaccination targets "without sealing itself off from the world", the EU Commission president has said - in what has been interpreted as a snipe at the UK and US. Ursula von der Leyen said critics of the EU vaccination campaign should keep in mind that the EU had exported 220 million jabs, almost as many as it has used for its own citizens. She added: "Others are keeping their entire vaccine production all to themselves, but the EU will reach its vaccination targets without sealing itself off from the world."
20th May 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Panama says will temporarily close border with Colombia over COVID-19 risk

Panama will temporarily close its border with Colombia beginning Thursday to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and tighten security, its government said, after Colombia reopened the land and maritime crossings on the border. Panama's government said Colombia's decision to reopen the borders "puts at risk the significant progress" that Panama made to control the COVID-19 pandemic and border security. "The national government has determined to temporarily suspend the entry into the national territory by land, sea and river routes of any person coming from the border with the Republic of Colombia, as of May 20, 2021," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
20th May 2021 - Reuters

Japan health panel approves Moderna, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

Japanese regulators recommended the approval of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca PLC on Thursday, paving the way for the country to speed up its slow-moving vaccination campaign. The recommendations by a health ministry panel precede official approval by the government as early as Friday, health minister Norihisa Tamura said on Thursday. Tamura likened the approval of the new vaccines to building extra railway tracks, telling reporters: "It means that the vaccination roll-out will be smoother."
20th May 2021 - Reuters

China says providing vaccines to almost 40 African nations

China said Thursday it is providing COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 40 African countries, describing its actions as purely altruistic in an apparent intensification of what has been described as “vaccine diplomacy.” The vaccines were donated or sold at “favorable prices,” Foreign Ministry official Wu Peng told reporters. Wu compared China’s outreach to the actions of “some countries that have said they have to wait for their own people to finish the vaccination before they could supply the vaccines to foreign countries,” in an apparent dig at the United States. “We believe that it is, of course, necessary to ensure that the Chinese people get vaccinated as soon as possible, but for other countries in need, we also try our best to provide vaccine help,” said Wu, who is director of the ministry’s Africa department.
20th May 2021 - The Associated Press

EU presents WTO plan to boost COVID vaccine output

The European Union has put forward a plan it believes will help boost the production and availability of COVID-19 vaccines more effectively than a proposed waiver of patent rights now backed by the United States. Under pressure from developing countries demanding a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for vaccines and treatments, the EU presented on Wednesday an alternative focused on export restrictions, pledges from vaccine developers and the flexibility of existing World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
20th May 2021 - AlJazeera


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th May 2021

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EU presents WTO plan to boost COVID vaccine output

The European Union has put forward a plan it believes will help boost the production and availability of COVID-19 vaccines more effectively than a proposed waiver of patent rights now backed by the United States. Under pressure from developing countries demanding a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for vaccines and treatments, the EU presented on Wednesday an alternative focused on export restrictions, pledges from vaccine developers and the flexibility of existing World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
20th May 2021 - Al Jazeera English

One shot of coronavirus vaccine may be enough to travel within EU

People who have received just one shot of a coronavirus vaccine may be able to use proof of vaccination on the Digital Green Certificate to travel between the European Union member states. This was disclosed to De Standaard by an EU source, who said there is hope that the negotiations on the certificate will be finalised this week. “Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators will resume talks – aimed at hammering out a deal this week- on the proposal for an EU certificate to show a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has a negative test result or has recovered from the virus,” a press release on the European Parliament agenda for Tuesday’s plenary sessions stated.
19th May 2021 - The Brussels Times

Paris summit mobilises finance, vaccines for Africa ‘New Deal’

A Paris summit promised to help Africa overcome the coronavirus pandemic with a “New Deal” using global financial firepower to replenish depleted coffers and ramp up a sluggish vaccine rollout. The summit launched “a New Deal for Africa and by Africa”, host French President Emmanuel Macron told a news conference. According to the latest AFP news agency tally from official sources, there have been a total of nearly 130,000 coronavirus deaths among African populations during the pandemic, compared with almost 3.4 million worldwide, although experts believe the official tolls in African countries could be undercounts. The economic cost of the pandemic has been devastating, with the International Monetary Fund warning in late 2020 that Africa faces a shortfall of $290bn up to 2023, undermining all efforts at development.
19th May 2021 - AlJazeera

Now pharmaceutical firms including AstraZeneca call on governments to share Covid vaccines with low-income countries to stamp out pandemic and threat of variants

Pressure is mounting on global leaders to address the Covid 'vaccine apartheid' IFPMA today called for 'immediate action' to 'step up responsible dose sharing' Warned it was the only way to end the global pandemic and prevent variants
19th May 2021 - Daily Mail

Beyond a symbolic gesture: What’s needed to turn the IP waiver into Covid-19 vaccines

The Biden administration’s announcement to support an intellectual property (IP) waiver for Covid-19 vaccines was a monumental step toward improving the access to them in low- and middle-income countries. But without further action, it will be little more than a symbol. The waiver allows companies to produce Covid-19 vaccines without fear of being sued by the entity that holds the IP for the technology. It had been backed by more than 100 countries and by 110 members of the U.S. Congress. This broad support reflected a growing intolerance of the global inequity that is helping fuel the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
19th May 2021 - STAT News


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

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Singapore approves COVID-19 vaccine for use in 12 to 15-year-olds

Singapore has authorised the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 12 to 15 years old in a bid to extend protection to more groups as the country tackles a recent increase of infections, officials said on Tuesday. "The data showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated high efficacy consistent with that observed in the adult population," the health ministry said in a statement, adding "its safety profile is also consistent with the known safety profile in the adult population". The government will also extend the interval between two-dose COVID-19 vaccines to six to eight weeks, from three to four weeks currently, it said.
18th May 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Biden Dips Into U.S. Vaccine Supply to Send 20 Million Doses Abroad

President Biden, heeding widespread calls to step up his response to the pandemic’s surge abroad, said on Monday that his administration would send 20 million doses of federally authorized coronavirus vaccine overseas in June — the first time he has pledged to give away doses that could be used in the United States. The donation is another step toward what Mr. Biden promised would be an “entirely new effort” to increase vaccine supplies and vastly expand manufacturing capacity, most of it in the United States. He also put Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, in charge of developing a global strategy. “We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that’s raging globally is under control,” Mr. Biden said in a brief appearance at the White House. “No ocean’s wide enough, no wall’s high enough, to keep us safe.”
18th May 2021 - The New York Times

Tanzanian experts say COVID-19 vaccines safe, recommend joining COVAX

Experts appointed by Tanzania's new president have declared COVID-19 vaccines to be effective and recommended joining the COVAX facility that shares the inoculations, in the latest sign suggesting official scepticism about the pandemic is waning. The recommendations by a coronavirus committee formed in April by President Samia Suluhu Hassan were given by the chair of the group at a press conference at State House in Dar es Salaam on Monday.
18th May 2021 - Reuters

Australian PM spurns industry pleas to reopen border before 2022

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday said it was still not safe to allow residents fully-vaccinated for COVID-19 to travel overseas, as industries hit hard by the pandemic press for a faster reopening of international borders. "I understand that everyone is keen to get back to a time that we once knew. But the reality is we are living this year in a pandemic that is worse than last year," Morrison told reporters.
18th May 2021 - Reuters

New French COVID-19 cases tick up again, hospital pressure eases

The pressure on French hospitals from the coronavirus epidemic has eased further but two days before France reopens restaurants' outdoor terraces again, the slowdown in the number of new cases seen in the past two weeks came to a halt. The health ministry reported 3,350 new cases on Monday - when the case count usually drops due to the weekend - an increase of 1.74% compared to last Monday and the same week-on-week as on Sunday, when nearly 14,000 new cases were reported.
18th May 2021 - Reuters

Macron hosts Africa summit on post-COVID-19 economic recovery

French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting leaders of African countries and heads of global financial institutions for a summit that will seek to provide the continent with critical financing swept away by the impact of COVID-19. Some two dozen African heads of state are attending Tuesday’s summit in Paris, one of the biggest in-person top-level meetings held during the pandemic. International financial leaders attending, included International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva as well as World Bank managing director of operations Axel van Trotsenburg.
18th May 2021 - AlJazeera

UAE to offer booster shot to recipients of Sinopharm vaccine

The United Arab Emirates announced Tuesday it will offer a third shot to recipients of the Chinese state-backed Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine six months after their initial two-dose regimen. The move appears to make the UAE the first country worldwide to formally introduce the booster. The brief statement comes after some residents in the UAE reported receiving a third shot amid concerns about an insufficient antibody response. China’s top disease control official acknowledged last month that the country’s locally produced vaccines offer low protection against the virus, adding to growing questions over the shot’s efficacy. The Sinopharm vaccine has become the linchpin of the UAE’s vaccination campaign, among the fastest in the world per capita.
18th May 2021 - Associated Press

Mexico aims to give population at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by October

Mexico aims to ensure its population has had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot by October before the onset of colder weather, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday. Mexico has so far distributed nearly 24 million vaccine doses to its population of 126 million, and Lopez Obrador said he was sure it would receive more shots from the United States. By July, health authorities will begin providing vaccinations to people as young as 40, he said. Over the next month and a half, the pace of vaccinations in the world's largest Spanish-speaking country should accelerate as tens of millions of new doses arrive, the government says.
18th May 2021 - Reuters


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China backs developing countries' call to waive IP rights on COVID-19 vaccines

China supports developing countries' appeal for the waiving of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the foreign ministry, was speaking at a regular news conference.
17th May 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Lockdowns ease in England, Wales and most of Scotland

People must continue to play their part in stopping coronavirus, Boris Johnson has said, as lockdown rules ease in England, Wales and most of Scotland. Millions can now socialise indoors in limited numbers, hug loved ones and visit pubs and restaurants inside. The ban on foreign travel has also been lifted and replaced with new rules. Mr Johnson said: "We have reached another milestone in our road map out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution." The rule changes come as the variant first identified in India continues to spread in the UK, with mass testing rolled out to hotspots including Bolton in Greater Manchester and parts of London and Sefton.
17th May 2021 - BBC News

Netherlands eases lockdown as coronavirus infections fall

The Netherlands will ease its coronavirus lockdown measures slightly this week as the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations has eased pressure on hospitals, health minister Hugo de Jonge said. Amusement parks and zoos will be allowed to reopen as of Wednesday, while outdoor service at bars and restaurants will be extended by two hours until 8 PM. Next steps to ease the lockdown are expected in the coming three weeks, De Jonge said.
17th May 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Singapore warns children susceptible to virus variants, shuts schools

Singapore warned on Sunday that the new coronavirus variants, such as the one first detected in India, were affecting more children, as the city-state prepares to shut most schools from this week and draws up plans to vaccinate youngsters. All primary, secondary and junior colleges will shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday until the end of the school term on May 28. "Some of these (virus) mutations are much more virulent, and they seem to attack the younger children," said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.
17th May 2021 - Reuters

Biden boosting world vaccine sharing commitment to 80M doses

President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. will share an additional 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the world in the coming six weeks as domestic demand for shots drops and global disparities in distribution have grown more evident. The doses will come from existing production of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks, marking the first time that U.S.-controlled doses of vaccines authorized for use in the country will be shared overseas. It will boost the global vaccine sharing commitment from the U.S. to 80 million. “We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic that’s raging globally is under control,” Biden said at the White House.
17th May 2021 - The Associated Press

G7 urged to donate excess COVID vaccines to global sharing scheme

The head of UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, has asked G7 countries to donate excess supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to the global COVAX sharing scheme as an emergency measure to address a severe shortfall following a curb on exports from India. India had pledged supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by its Serum Institute to COVAX but a devastating surge in cases at home has restricted exports. UNICEF, which is in charge of supplying coronavirus vaccines through COVAX, estimates the supply shortfall will reach 140 million doses by the end of May and about 190 million by the end of June. “Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore on Monday
17th May 2021 - AlJazeera


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Trinidad and Tobago declares state of emergency as COVID-19 cases surge

Trinidad and Tobago will impose a state of emergency from midnight to contain an increase of COVID-19 cases and related deaths, Prime Minister Keith Rowley said on Saturday. Rowley also imposed a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, with some exceptions to essential services including the energy sector, supermarkets, and pharmacies. The twin island state was experiencing a third wave of COVID-19, Rowley said.
16th May 2021 - Reuters

India promises more vaccines as daily COVID-19 deaths stay above 4000

Some Indian states said on Sunday they would extend COVID-19 lockdowns to help contain the pandemic, which has killed more than 270,000 people in the country, as the federal government pledged to bolster vaccine supplies. The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours in India has risen more than 4,000 for the fourth time in a week, with Sunday's 311,170 new infections representing the lowest single-day rise in more than three weeks.
16th May 2021 - Reuters India

Turkey to ease daytime lockdown measures from Monday but curfews to stay - ministry

Turkey will start easing its strict coronavirus lockdown on Monday by allowing movement during the day while keeping overnight and weekend curfews in place, the Interior Ministry said in a directive on Sunday. President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey would gradually ease out of a full lockdown imposed 2-1/2 weeks ago, and lift restrictions more significantly in June. Turkish authorities tightened coronavirus measures after the number of daily COVID-19 cases soared above 60,000 in April, one of the highest rates globally, and deaths reached nearly 400 a day.
16th May 2021 - Reuters

Greece extends coronavirus lockdown on Kalymnos island

Greece has extended a lockdown on the island of Kalymnos for a week on Saturday as coronavirus infections there remained high, authorities said. Under the lockdown imposed on May 4, residents are allowed to leave home only for workplaces that remain open, to visit the doctor or pharmacy, to walk their pets or for shopping until 6 p.m. at the supermarket. They can leave the island only for health reasons. The restrictions will remain in place until 6 a.m. on May 24.
16th May 2021 - Reuters

Ecuador approves for use Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine

Ecuador approved for emergency use Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, said on Saturday. “Ecuador joins a number of other nations of South America which have included Sputnik V in their coronavirus vaccine portfolios,” Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said in a statement.
15th May 2021 - Reuters

Share COVID jabs instead of vaccinating kids, WHO urges

The World Health Organization has urged rich countries to reconsider plans to vaccinate children and instead donate COVID-19 shots to the COVAX scheme that shares them with poorer nations. The WHO is hoping more countries will follow France and Sweden in donating shots to COVAX after inoculating their priority populations to help address a gulf in vaccination rates. Canada and the United States are among countries that have authorised vaccines for use in adolescents in recent weeks. However, a WHO official said talks with Washington on sharing doses were under way.
14th May 2021 - AlJazeera


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'Covid Zero' Havens Find Reopening Harder Than Containing Virus

A smattering of places, mainly across the Asia Pacific region, have posted breathtaking victories in the battle against Covid-19 by effectively wiping it out within their borders. Now they face a fresh test: rejoining the rest of the world, which is still awash in the pathogen. In some ways, the success of “Covid Zero” locations is becoming a straitjacket. As cities like New York and London return to in-person dealmaking and business as usual -- tolerating hundreds of daily cases as vaccination gathers pace -- financial hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong risk being left behind as they maintain stringent border curbs and try to stamp out single-digit flareups.
13th May 2021 - Bloomberg

Double world's coronavirus vaccine production, pleads U.N. chief

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Wednesday for the need to double the capacity of COVID-19 vaccine production and for fairer redistribution of the shots in the developing world, which faces new waves of the coronavirus. Many countries are experiencing shortages of the vaccine, especially India, worsening a dire second wave of infections that has left hospitals and morgues overflowing while families scramble for increasingly scarce medicines and oxygen. At the same time, the European Union has reserved a surplus of the vaccines.
13th May 2021 - Reuters

Taiwan proposes $7.5 bln in spending as domestic COVID-19 cases rise

Taiwan's government proposed an extra T$210 billion ($7.5 billion) in spending to help the economy deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, as it reported 13 new domestic cases amid a rare spike in infections that has spooked the stock market. Early and effective prevention steps, including largely closing its borders, succeeded in shielding Taiwan from the worst of the pandemic. The island of 24 million people has reported just 1,256 infections so far, most of them imported. But markets and the government have been on edge since renewed domestic outbreaks began late last month, with 16 new domestic cases announced on Wednesday setting a record daily high
13th May 2021 - Reuters

New Zealand sets out plans to reconnect with post-pandemic world

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said her government will explore more travel “bubbles” and lead trade delegations later this year to reconnect with a post-pandemic world. With a majority of New Zealand’s essential workers vaccinated against COVID-19 and inoculation for the wider population set to start in July, Ardern said on Thursday that her government was now ready to rebuild contact with the rest of the world. Ardern’s plan for a partial and phased reopening comes after more than a year of a tough border closure, which has helped New Zealand – a Pacific nation of five million people – eliminate the coronavirus within its borders. The first step in New Zealand’s re-opening was a “travel bubble” with Australia, which began last month. Ardern said her government will also allow quarantine free travel with South Pacific’s Cook Islands on Monday.
13th May 2021 - AlJazeera

Australia signs deal for 25M Moderna doses through next year

Australia has reached a supply agreement for 25 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in a deal that the government hopes will ensure all Australian adults have access to inoculation this year. The deal included 10 million doses of the vaccine against the ancestral strain to be delivered in 2021 and 15 million doses of an updated variant booster to be delivered in 2022, U.S.-based Moderna said on Thursday. The vaccines have yet to be approved by the Australian regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Pfizer and AstraZeneca are the only coronavirus vaccines approved for use in Australia.
13th May 2021 - Associated Press

Ontario, Canada to keep ban on outdoor recreation for two weeks

Ontario’s premier is keeping outdoor recreational activities like golf courses closed for at least two more weeks despite calls by health officials to resume them for physical and mental health. Premier Doug Ford on Thursday extended what he calls a “stay-at-home” order for Canada’s largest province until at least June 2.
13th May 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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Coronavirus UK: Could spread of Indian variant jeopardise plans to ease lockdown?

Indian strain is now dominant in four local authorities in England, surveillance data show. Hotspots Bolton and neighbouring Blackburn with Darwen are now also seeing infections start to rise. But Public Health England has only launched surge testing in Bolton to root out cases of the strain. SAGE minutes reveal scientists fear it may be even more infectious than the Kent variant. Early reports suggest, however, that the current vaccines will still work against it and prevent disaster
13th May 2021 - Daily Mail

TRIPS waiver: US support is a major step but no guarantee of COVID-19 vaccine equity

In a momentous shift, the US recently agreed to support a waiver of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The waiver would suspend intellectual property rights, such as patents and trademarks, on products required to fight COVID-19 for the duration of the pandemic. Until the announcement, the US, alongside the European Union, Norway, Canada, Australia, the UK, Switzerland, Brazil and Japan, had been steadfast in their position that stringent patent protection is key to vaccine supply and the global effort to tackle COVID-19. But proponents of the waiver argued that the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights was key to achieving vaccine equity and global health security. India and South Africa, with the support of over 100 countries, have been passionately making this case from inside the WTO since October 2020
12th May 2021 - The Conversation

Vaccination progress 'could be reversed unless UK shares surplus vaccines'

The UK could face a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections from mutations of the virus which causes the disease unless more is done to get vaccines shared out across the globe, a charity has warned. Unicef UK estimated that Britain could give away 20% of its projected available stock and still meet its target to give all adults their first dose of vaccine by the end of July. The charity warned that the success of the vaccination programme in the UK could be “reversed” if supply is not shared. Concerns have been raised that while the virus rages in other parts of the world there is more chance for new variants to emerge.
12th May 2021 - ITV News

Scale of Covid-19 catastrophe could have been prevented if WHO had sounded the alarm sooner and world leaders had not 'dithered' with their response, pandemic panel concludes

Covid pandemic could have been prevented, international panel of experts says 'Toxic cocktail' of dithering and poor global coordination meant disease was allowed to span the globe, infecting at least 160million people to date. Finger of blame pointed at WHO for failing to raise the alarm sooner, and 'science denying' world leaders for failing to take threat seriously. To end the pandemic, wealthy countries need to provide 1billion vaccines to poorest nations by September and 2billion more by year's end, experts add
12th May 2021 - Daily Mail

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces Covid-19 public inquiry

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced an inquiry next year into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that is likely to focus on why the United Kingdom suffered Europe's worst death toll and was so slow initially to impose a lockdown. Johnson and his ministers have admitted there are lessons to be learned from the worst public health crisis in decades, but point to the United Kingdom's swift vaccine rollout as evidence that there were also successes.
12th May 2021 - NBC News

Bahrain authorizes emergency use of one-shot Sputnik-Light COVID-19 vaccine

Bahrain authorized on Tuesday the emergency use of Russia's one-shot Sputnik-Light COVID-19 vaccine, state news agency (BNA) said. It is the sixth vaccine Bahrain has authorized. It has previously authorized China's Sinopharm, Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine, AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, the J&J vaccine, and Sputnik.
12th May 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: Speed and statutory powers are crucial for any public inquiry to have a real impact

More than a year after the UK went into its first lockdown – and 18 months since the first suspected Covid-19 cases in the country – the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated a time frame for the start of a “full, proper” public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic. It is something that has been called for consistently by friends and families of those who have died from the virus but only referred to in vague promises made by Boris Johnson. After months of insisting the time was not right to launch a widescale probe into possible mistakes or misjudgements made in Government, the Prime Minister has now committed to setting up the inquiry within the new session of Parliament.
12th May 2021 - iNews

COVID-19: Minister says 'we can't rule anything out' on potential for restrictions in virus hotspots

A cabinet minister has told Sky News the government "can't rule anything out" when it comes to the possibility of local coronavirus restrictions in areas that have seen cases rise sharply. Sky News analysis has found there are 28 local authority areas in England, four in Northern Ireland and two in Scotland that have COVID-19 case rates twice the national average.
12th May 2021 - Sky News

Taiwan tightens restrictions after new domestic COVID cases

Taiwan's government on Tuesday tightened rules on public gatherings after reporting six new domestic COVID-19 cases with no clear source of infection, a rare rise on the island which has kept the pandemic well under control. Taiwan largely closed its borders early on in the pandemic and has a robust contact tracing and quarantine system, meaning its low case numbers - 1,210 infections to date including 12 deaths - have allowed life to carry on more or less as normal.
12th May 2021 - Reuters

Maldives bans travel from South Asia as COVID cases soar

Rich Indians can no longer escape their country’s raging pandemic by holidaying in the Maldives, after the island paradise said it would ban travel from South Asia as it battles a surge in COVID-19 infections. The Indian Ocean holiday destination southwest of India reopened its tourist resorts in July last year after halting international flights for more than three months at the start of the pandemic.
12th May 2021 - AlJazeera


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EU has exported about 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Sefcovic says

The European Union has exported about 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said in a tweet. “While we’re open to discussing new solidarity proposals, our priority is to ramp up the EU vaccine production + to see others unblocking exports of vaccines and their components,”he added in the tweet. In April, Reuters reported that the European Union has exported about 37 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines than it has shared out among its own 27 countries, according to two sources that cited figures from the bloc’s data.
12th May 2021 - KFGO News

British PM Johnson rules out accelerating end of COVID-19 restrictions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday appeared to rule out bringing forward the end of COVID-19 restrictions in England, saying that the success of the roadmap out of England's COVID-19 lockdown depended on leaving space stages. Asked if he might bring forward a June 21 date for the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown, Johnson said: "I think it's very important that we should proceed cautiously." "The secret of the success that we've had so far I think it's been that we have been guided by the data and we've given time to see the effect of each successive stage on the roadmap."
11th May 2021 - Reuters

Brazilian President Allocates More Than $1 Billion To Produce COVID-19 Vaccines

Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the pandemic, is directing more than $1 billion toward the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the country's far-right president announced Monday, Reuters reported. President Jair Bolsonaro, who has criticized lockdown measures and has told Brazilians to "stop whining" about the deadly virus, said about $1.05 billion will be spent on the inoculation effort. The announcement comes amid an investigation into Bolsonaro's role in his government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, which has killed more than 421,000 people to date — the second highest number of fatalities in the world.
11th May 2021 - NPR

Telangana announces 10-day lockdown due to COVID-19 from May 12

Telangana will lock itself down for a period of 10 days starting tomorrow. The state government has decided to put curbs in place from May 12 to curtail further spread of the second wave, an official release said. There was also a decision taken to invite global tenders for procuring Covid vaccines.
11th May 2021 - India Times

New Outbreaks Prompt Return to Restrictions in Taiwan, Singapore

Taiwan announced limits on crowds, following Singapore’s move to restrict foreign workers, in a wave of new restrictions in Asian countries trying to stamp out small outbreaks after months of keeping Covid-19 contained. The new curbs prompted fears that economic growth could stall out, leading to stock sell-offs in both countries this week. Low vaccination rates in both countries are contributing to concerns that their populations could be vulnerable if faster-spreading variants take hold. In Taiwan, indoor gatherings will be limited to fewer than 100 people and outdoor events capped at 500 for the next four weeks, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said in a statement Tuesday. It’s the first time the island has tightened anti-Covid measures since it began easing curbs mid-last year, and comes after the government reported seven new cases in the community and four in travelers from overseas.
11th May 2021 - Bloomberg

FDA paves way for COVID-19 vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late yesterday expanded the emergency authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to include 12- to 15-year-olds, paving the way for vaccinating a proportion of school-age children before the fall. "Today's action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations," said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, in a press release. The Pfizer vaccine had previously been approved for use in people ages 16 and up. The FDA said approximately 1.5 million children ages 11 to 17 have been infected with COVID-19 in the United States from Mar 1, 2020, through Apr 30, 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
11th May 2021 - CIDRAP


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

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Norway advised to drop Oxford/AstraZeneca and J&J from vaccine program

Norway's expert committee on vaccination advised the government on Monday to use neither the Oxford/AstraZeneca nor the Johnson & Johnson jab for its immunization drive. The decision is based on the reports of rare blood clots with low platelets but also takes into consideration the stable and low case count in Norway, which makes the supply situation less urgent, wrote the committee in its report. Separately, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health cited similar evidence Monday in its recommendation that also called for the J&J jab to not be administered. The institute previously recommended against including the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
10th May 2021 - POLITICO Europe

Germany to make J&J's COVID-19 vaccine available to all adults

Germany is to make Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine available to all adults, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday, adding that they will be able to receive the shot on the advice of a doctor. Europe's drug regulator backed J&J's vaccine last month after examining cases of a rare blood clotting issue in U.S. adults who received a dose. But it left it up to the European Union's member states to decide how to use it. Germany's move to offer the J&J single-dose vaccine widely follows the lifting of restrictions last week on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
10th May 2021 - Reuters

WHO names B1617 fourth COVID-19 variant of concern

Top World Health Organization (WHO) officials today said the agency now classifies the B1617 SARS-CoV-2 variant first detected in India as a variant of concern, following a detailed analysis of early findings by its genetics working group, which said the variant is more transmissible. In other key global developments, during a Global Citizen's Vax Live concert over the weekend, countries, corporations, and charities raised more than $60 million for the COVAX program to ensure more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine, while India's massive surge remained at record high levels.
10th May 2021 - CIDRAP

Europe dares to reopen as 200 millionth vaccine dose delivered

As its vaccination drive reaches a third of adults and COVID-19 infections ease, Europe is starting to reopen cities and beaches, raising hopes that this summer’s holiday season can be saved before it is too late. Exhilarated Spaniards chanting “freedom” danced in the streets as a COVID-19 curfew ended in most of the country at the weekend, while Greece reopened public beaches - with deckchairs safely spaced. With 200 million vaccine doses delivered, the European Union is on track to achieve its goal of inoculating 70% of its adult population by summer, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Sunday.
10th May 2021 - Reuters

UK lowers COVID alert level to 3

The United Kingdom's chief medical officers on Monday agreed to lower the COVID alert level to 3, which means the epidemic is in general circulation, from 4, which means transmission is high or rising exponentially. "Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and COVID hospital pressures have fallen consistently," the UK's four chief medical officers said in a joint statement. "However COVID is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant. This remains a major pandemic globally."
10th May 2021 - Reuters

Cautious cuddling? England to OK hugs as lockdown eases

In less than a week, people in England will be able to give friends and family a hug for the first time since restrictions were put in place in March last year at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday that he has given the go-ahead for that much-missed human contact from May 17 as part of the next round of lockdown easing following a sharp fall in new coronavirus infections. Other easing measures included the reopening of pubs and restaurants indoors as well as cinemas and hotels, and allowing two households to meet up inside a home. However, he stressed that people should exercise common sense given that social contact is the main way the virus is transmitted. He also said people should remain vigilant to unexpected changes in the coronavirus data and the spread of new variants that could bypass some of the immunity provided by Britain’s successful vaccination campaign.
10th May 2021 - The Associatd Press

Malaysia declares nationwide lockdown as COVID-19 cases spike

Malaysia on Monday imposed a new nationwide lockdown, as the country grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases and highly infectious variants that the government said are testing its health system. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said all inter-state and inter-district travel will be banned, along with social gatherings. Educational institutions will be shut but economic sectors will be allowed to continue, Muhyiddin said, without elaborating.
10th May 2021 - Reuters

EU: Pandemic measures to total about $5.85 trillion

The European Union’s top economy official said Monday that the recovery measures the EU and its 27 member states have in the works to emerge from the pandemic total around $5.85 trillion. EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told a European Parliament committee said that if comparisons are made with U.S. President Joe Biden’s pandemic stimulus relief package, the EU can confidently stand next to to Washington when all efforts are counted together. “Measures taken until now from member states and the EU reach so far 4.8 trillion” euros, the Italian commissioner told legislators, sweeping aside criticism that authorities weren’t doing enough compared with Washington.
10th May 2021 - Associated Press

What’s behind the disagreement over COVID-19 vaccine waiver?

Almost everyone agrees one way to beat the pandemic is to increase global vaccine production. But world leaders differ on how to give more access to poor nations that lack doses. The United States has supported suspending intellectual property rights on vaccines. That could allow developing nations to acquire the knowledge needed to produce jabs locally.
10th May 2021 - AlJazeera

‘Mumbai model’: Indian city thwarting COVID, slowly but steadily

Till the end of last month, 27-year-old Ashish Avhad had to field non-stop telephone calls from COVID patients seeking beds, ambulances and guidance on home isolation. Avhad works as a telephone operator in one of the 24 COVID response “war rooms” in India’s financial capital Mumbai, home to more than 12.5 million people, in the western state of Maharashtra.
10th May 2021 - AlJazeera

Rise in COVID cases drives Singapore back to stricter measures

Singapore, the Asian city-state that has been among the world’s best at containing the Covid-19 pandemic, is back on the defensive, reimposing local restrictions and tightening its borders amid a pop in cases. With infections in the community sometimes reaching double digits among a population of 5.7 million, the government last week started limiting social gatherings, curbed entry for most foreign workers and ordered mass testing across industries and areas where new cases have arisen.
10th May 2021 - AlJazeera


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Stopping Drug Patents Has Stopped Pandemics Before

Consider what happened in the years after 1996, when a consortium of pharmaceutical companies took the unprecedented step of sharing their HIV/AIDS treatment data and manufacturing, resulting in a collaboration that was the turning point for what had been a catastrophically grim pandemic. By working together, the companies demonstrated that any one anti-HIV/AIDS drug, taken as monotherapy, would fail, possibly even hasten the pace of the disease process. But when taken in combinations of three or four drugs, made by usually rival companies, the antiviral assault was so powerful that people bounced back from the edge of death like the Biblical Lazarus who was resurrected by Jesus.
10th May 2021 - Foreign Policy

Pfizer vaccine: EU agrees new deal for 1.8billion doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

The European Union has agreed to a massive contract extension for a potential 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine through to 2023. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that her office “has just approved a contract for a guaranteed 900 million doses (+900 million options)."
10th May 2021 - Independent.ie

'Approved' or 'authorized'? When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, words matter.

Pfizer and partner BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration for full approval for their COVID-19 vaccine, a regulatory benchmark beyond the current emergency use authorization granted during the pandemic. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are expected to submit similar requests before too long. Many are eager for COVID-19 vaccines to advance to full-approval status as they believe this will reassure those who are vaccine hesitant while also helping employers and universities to enforce vaccine mandates. It also would ensure that COVID-19 vaccines still could still be administered after the pandemic ends, and the declaration of "emergency" is over. "If the FDA provides full approval for these vaccines, we hope it will provide more confidence and ease the concerns of those who have not yet received the vaccine," said Dr. Michelle Medina, associate chief of clinical operations for Cleveland Clinic Community Health.
9th May 2021 - ABC.Net.au

Covid-19: More Vaccines Near Approval, but Global Drive Could Remain Stalled

The World Health Organization on Friday approved China’s Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, easing the way for poorer nations to get access to another much-needed shot to help end the pandemic. The approval allows the Sinopharm vaccine to be included in Covax, the World Health Organization’s global initiative that is designed to promote equitable vaccine distribution around the world. The need is dire
8th May 2021 - The New York Times

Pope backs coronavirus vaccine patent waivers

Pope Francis on Saturday threw his support behind calls to waive intellectual property rights on coronavirus vaccines. In a pre-recorded video message at Vax Live, a fundraising concert, the pope described "closed nationalism," preventing an "internationalism of vaccines," as a variant of the virus. "Another variant is when we put the laws of the market ... or intellectual property over the laws of love and the health of humanity," he added, according to a Reuters report.
8th May 2021 - POLITICO Europe

EU supports COVID vaccine patent waiver talks, but critics say won't solve scarcity

The European Union on Thursday backed a U.S. proposal to discuss waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, but drugmakers and some other governments opposed the idea, saying it would not solve global inoculation shortages. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed willingness to explore a waiver after President Joe Biden on Wednesday promoted the plan, reversing the U.S. position
8th May 2021 - Reuters

Tunisia to impose one-week COVID lockdown from Sunday

Tunisia will impose a full lockdown against COVID-19 for one week from Sunday, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said on Friday.
8th May 2021 - Reuters

Covid: Macron calls on US to drop vaccine export bans

French President Emmanuel Macron has called on the US to drop its restrictions on the export of Covid-19 vaccines and ingredients. His words came as a divide emerged between parts of Europe and the US over how best to increase global vaccine production. Currently, around 1.25bn doses have been administered around the world. However, less than 1% have been given to the world's 29 poorest countries, according to news agency AFP. Rich countries, by contrast, are speeding up their vaccination campaigns. In the UK , 67% of the population has received a first dose and in the US 56% of those eligible have had one jab.
8th May 2021 - BBC News

UK government ‘failed to consider gender’ in its response to Covid pandemic

The government has “consistently failed” to consider gender in its response to Covid-19 despite men and women being affected in distinct ways by the pandemic, claim researchers from the London School of Economics. While more men have died from the virus, women have suffered more due to the impact of policies introduced to prevent disease transmission. Yet the subject of gender was largely absent from crucial meetings that informed the government’s response to the crisis, say academics, who analysed the minutes from 73 meetings held in 2020 by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
8th May 2021 - The Guardian

Sri Lanka approves Pfizer COVID vaccine for emergency use

Sri Lanka on Saturday approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in Sri Lanka, as the island nation battles a third wave of the virus, while suffering a restricted supply of vaccines from neighboring India. Dr. Sudharshani Fernandopulle, the minister overseeing the fight against the epidemic, said in a statement the government would order 5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
8th May 2021 - Reuters

Pakistan imposes Eid lockdown as COVID cases soar

Pakistan on Saturday began a nine-day shutdown affecting travel and tourist hotspots in a bid to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Already battling a third wave of infections and increasingly nervous about the crisis across the border in India, the government has imposed the most severe restrictions since a one-month lockdown in April last year. “From today all businesses across the country will be closed. People will not be allowed to go into the markets to do their shopping for Eid,” Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder reported from the capital, Islamabad. Hyder said the Pakistani government feared that it will not be able to cope due to a possible lack of ventilators and oxygen if the “situation sees the likes of which India is confronting”.
8th May 2021 - Al Jazeera English

How the U.S. locked up vaccine materials other nations urgently need

To fight the pandemic at home, the United States gave its own vaccine manufacturers priority access to American-made materials needed to make the shots. As a result, the U.S. government laid claim not only to vast quantities of finished COVID-19 vaccines but also to vaccine components and equipment all along the supply chain, according to a Reuters review of more than a dozen contracts involving some major suppliers. That has left some countries desperately in need of those supplies to scramble for substitutes, exacerbating international disparities in vaccine access, according to interviews with suppliers, foreign manufacturers and vaccine market experts.
7th May 2021 - Reuters


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U.S. backs giving poorer countries access to COVID-19 vaccine patents, reversing stance

President Joe Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, bowing to mounting pressure from Democratic lawmakers and more than 100 other countries, but angering pharmaceutical companies. Biden voiced his support for a waiver - a sharp reversal of the previous U.S. position - in remarks to reporters, followed swiftly by a statement from his top trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, who backed negotiations at the World Trade Organization. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in a statement, amid growing concern that big outbreaks in India could allow the rise of vaccine-resistant strains of the deadly virus, undermining a global recovery.
6th May 2021 - Reuters

Cambodia ends blanket COVID-19 lockdown despite more infections

Cambodia ended on Thursday a blanket coronavirus lockdown in Phnom Penh after three weeks, as busy traffic returned to some streets of the capital, though authorities retained tighter curbs in some districts where infections have surged. The Southeast Asian nation has recorded one of the world's smallest COVID-19 caseloads, but infections have climbed from about 500 in late February to 17,621 now, with 114 deaths. Authorities recorded 650 new cases and 4 deaths on Thursday. While health experts have warned about lifting curbs too quickly, the lockdown had triggered anger from some residents who called the distribution of food aid inadequate.
6th May 2021 - Reuters

More support easing vaccine patent rules, but hurdles remain

Several world leaders Thursday praised the U.S. call to remove patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help poor countries obtain shots. But the proposal faces a multitude of hurdles, including resistance from the pharmaceutical industry. Nor is it clear what effect such a step might have on the campaign to vanquish the outbreak. Activists and humanitarian institutions cheered after the U.S. reversed course Wednesday and called for a waiver of intellectual property protections on the vaccine. The decision ultimately is up to the 164-member World Trade Organization, and if just one country votes against a waiver, the proposal will fail.
6th May 2021 - Associated Press

Macron backs waiving IP rights for COVID-19 vaccines

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support on Thursday for waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, hours after U.S. President Joe Biden threw his support behind the idea
6th May 2021 - Reuters

Waiver of patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines, in near term, may be more symbolic than substantive

The U.S.’s stunning endorsement of a proposal to waive Covid-19 vaccine patents has won plaudits for President Biden and roiled the global pharmaceutical industry. But, at least in the short term, it’s likely to be more of a symbolic milestone than a turning point in the pandemic. For months, proponents of the proposal have argued that the need to waive intellectual property protections was urgent given the growth of Covid cases in low- and middle-income countries, which have been largely left without the huge shipments of vaccine already purchased by wealthy countries. But patents alone don’t magically produce vaccines. Experts suggested the earliest the world could expect to see additional capacity flowing from the waiver — if it’s approved at the World Trade Organization — would be in 2022.
6th May 2021 - STAT News

COVID-19: Leaked reports show B.C. health authorities withholding data from the public

A pair of internal reports leaked from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control highlights that health authorities in B.C. are only releasing a fraction of their available COVID-19 information to the public. The internal reports — each of which runs over 45 pages — are four times longer than the weekly reports published by the Centre. They delve into the details of COVID-19 case counts and vaccinations at the neighbourhood level, breakdowns about variants of concern, and more.
6th May 2021 - Vancouver Sun

Russia authorises single-dose Sputnik Light COVID vaccine for use -RDIF

Russia has authorised the one-shot Sputnik Light version of its COVID-19 vaccine for use, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Thursday, a move that could help vaccine supplies go further in countries with high infection rates. Developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, the slimmed-down vaccine, which the RDIF said is 79.4% effective against COVID-19 and costs under $10 a dose, has been earmarked for export and could increase the number of people with partial immunity.
6th May 2021 - Reuters

New analysis finds global Covid death toll is double official estimates

A new analysis of the toll of the Covid-19 pandemic suggests 6.9 million people worldwide have died from the disease, more than twice as many people as has been officially reported. In the United States, the analysis estimates, 905,000 people have died of Covid since the start of the pandemic. That is about 38% higher than the current death estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 561,594. The new figure also surpasses the estimated number of U.S. deaths in the 1918 flu pandemic, which was estimated to have killed approximately 675,000 Americans. The analysis was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
6th May 2021 - STAT News

Angela Merkel rejects US move to waive patents on vaccines

Angela Merkel has expressed opposition to the Biden administration’s proposal to suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, saying it would have “serious implications” for vaccine production worldwide. The German chancellor said the limiting factors in vaccine supply were “production capacities and the high quality standards, not the patents”. “The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and it must remain so in the future,” she added. Merkel was responding to President Joe Biden’s top trade adviser, Katherine Tai, who said that while the US “believes strongly” in IP protections, it would support a waiver of those rules for Covid-19 vaccines.
6th May 2021 - Financial Times

Global Fund fast-tracks $75 million for India's COVID battle

Against the backdrop of the world's second most populous country in the grips of a catastrophic COVID-19 surge, the Global Fund today said it approved $75 million to help India buy oxygen concentrators and oxygen plants. In other developments, several groups and leaders praised the United States' statement yesterday supporting a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, but others warned that the step could hamstring vaccine production.
6th May 2021 - CIDRAP


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Egypt to close stores, restaurants early for 2 weeks to curb COVID-19

The closing hours of Egyptian stores, malls and restaurants will be brought forward to 9pm (1900 GMT) to help contain the coronavirus for two weeks from Thursday, straddling the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and Eid celebrations, the prime minister said on Wednesday. Large gatherings and concerts will be banned over the same period and beaches and parks will be shut between May 12-16, Mostafa Madbouly said.
5th May 2021 - National Post

Philippines approves emergency use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

The Philippines' food and drug agency approved on Wednesday the emergency use of U.S. drugmaker Moderna Inc's (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine in the Southeast Asian nation. The known and potential benefits of Moderna outweighed the known and potential risks, Food and Drug Administration chief Rolando Enrique Domingo said during an online forum, adding it would be administered to individuals aged 18 and above.
5th May 2021 - Reuters

Malaysia imposes restrictions in capital as virus cases rise

Malaysia on Wednesday imposed movement restrictions in the capital Kuala Lumpur due to a rising number of COVID-19 infections, adding to lockdowns that have been implemented across the country. The capital will be subjected to some lockdown measures from Friday for two weeks, including a ban on social activities, dining indoors, and inter-district travel, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement. Several parts of the surrounding Selangor state, Malaysia's richest region, will also go into lockdown later this week.
5th May 2021 - Reuters

Canada authorizes Pfizer vaccine for age 12 and older

Canadian health officials said Wednesday they have become the first to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for ages as young as 12. Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, confirmed the decision for ages 12 to 15 and said it will help children return to a normal life. Canada is the first country to authorize Pfizer for that age group. The U.S. and the European Union are also reviewing it. The vaccine was previously authorized for anyone 16 or older. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also expected to authorize Pfizer’s vaccine for young people by next week, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year. The announcement comes barely a month after the company found that its shot, which is already authorized for those age 16 and older, also provided protection for the younger group.
5th May 2021 - The Associated Press

Biden administration commits to waiving vaccine patent protections

The Biden administration supports temporarily lifting intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines and will move forward with international discussions to waive them, its top trade negotiator said on Wednesday. “This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.
5th May 2021 - The Washington Post

Biden move on vaccine IP 'monumental moment' in COVID-19 fight -WHO chief

The head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that U.S. President Joe Biden's plan to back a proposed waiver on intellectual property rights to boost global vaccine production was a "monumental moment in the fight against #COVID-19." Biden earlier on Wednesday threw his support behind a proposed World Trade Organization waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, bowing to mounting pressure from U.S. Democratic lawmakers and more than 100 other countries.
5th May 2021 - Reuters


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EU delivers vaccine jabs to Balkans after China and Russia

The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been making political gains by supplying the much-needed shots. The European Commission last month announced that 651,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses will be delivered to Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Montenegro Albania and Kosovo in weekly instalments from May to August. The vaccines are funded from a 70 million euro package ($85 million) adopted by the Commission in December.
4th May 2021 - The Independent

Should pharmaceutical companies be compelled to waive their coronavirus vaccine patents?

The campaign to compel pharmaceutical companies to temporarily lift their coronavirus vaccine patents is gathering pace – and apparently making some progress. The momentum behind the campaign to remove intellectual property restrictions on Covid vaccines is growing. But would such a move really help defeat the pandemic more quickly?
4th May 2021 - The Independent

EXCLUSIVE Novavax plans to ship COVID-19 vaccines to Europe from late 2021 - EU source

Novavax (NVAX.O) has told the European Union it plans to begin delivering its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc towards the end of this year, new guidance that could lead to a formal contract being signed as early as this week, an EU official told Reuters. A deal would see Novavax supply a total of up to 200 million doses of the vaccine, providing the EU with booster shots to help contain the coronavirus and potentially guard against new variants, according to the official, who has direct knowledge of the discussions.
4th May 2021 - Reuters

Spain to let regions decide COVID-19 restrictions from May 9

Spain's regions must seek judicial authorisation for the most restrictive COVID-19 measures once a national state of emergency ends next week, the government said on Tuesday, setting the stage for a potentially chaotic transition. The six-month emergency decree, which provides a legal framework for a nationwide 11 p.m. curfew and other measures that limit fundamental civil liberties, expires on Sunday. Regional authorities, which already have a high degree of autonomy in setting their pandemic response, will still be able to dictate business opening hours and occupancy rates. But they will only be able to impose curfews, lockdowns and caps on gatherings in the home with approval from local courts, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said.
4th May 2021 - Reuters

Poland tightens quarantine rules after cases of Indian COVID-19 variant

People travelling to Poland from Brazil, India and South Africa will have to quarantine, the Polish health minister said on Tuesday, as he announced cases of a COVID-19 variant first detected in India in the Warsaw and Katowice areas. The outbreaks poses a fresh risk to Poland just as it starts to emerge from a highly damaging third wave of the pandemic. "In the case of Brazil, India and South Africa, people travelling from these locations will automatically have to quarantine without the possibility of getting an exception due to a test," Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.
4th May 2021 - Reuters

Eli Lilly to supply 400000 tablets of its COVID-19 treatment to India

Eli Lilly and Co (LLY.N) said on Tuesday it would supply 400,000 tablets of its COVID-19 treatment, to be used with Gilead's remdesivir, to the Indian government as the country fights a raging pandemic that has morgues and hospitals overflowing. With 3.45 million active cases, India recorded 357,229 new infections over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose 3,449 for a toll of 222,408, health ministry data showed. Experts say actual numbers could be five to 10 times higher, however. The drugmaker said it will work urgently to increase the supply multifold over the coming weeks.
4th May 2021 - Reuters

German cabinet passes decree to ease COVID-19 curbs for vaccinated

Germany's cabinet agreed on Tuesday to ease restrictions on people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said, in the first step towards restoring the rights of citizens. Lambrecht said the curbs, introduced to contain infections and prevent the health system from becoming overburdened, must be relaxed once they can no longer be justified. "If the risk of virus transmission is greatly reduced in fully vaccinated and recovered people, this must be taken into account in the measures. We have now implemented this," she said. Around 8% of Germany's population has received two doses of the vaccine and more than 28% a first.
4th May 2021 - Reuters

Trinidad and Tobago tightens lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Trinidad and Tobago said on Monday it was tightening lockdown restrictions for three weeks starting at midnight as the number of new COVID-19 cases hits record highs and the Caribbean twin-island nation faces a potential shortage of hospital beds. Prime Minister Keith Rowley said that under the new restrictions, only businesses deemed essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and financial services would remain open, for reduced hours, in addition to the key energy and manufacturing sectors.
4th May 2021 - Reuters

White House aims to give 70% of American adults at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose by July 4

The Biden administration on Tuesday set a new goal for the ongoing U.S. Covid-19 vaccination campaign: giving at least one shot to 70% of the adult population by July 4. To reach that goal, Biden’s team said he will expand walk-up vaccinations at pharmacies and vaccination sites, open additional mobile vaccination units, and accelerate a public-relations campaign aimed at boosting vaccine confidence. The announcement comes as the pace of the U.S. vaccination effort has nosedived. As of mid-April, the country was administering just under 3.4 million vaccine doses each day. As of Tuesday, the rate had dropped to just under 2.3 million.
4th May 2021 - STAT News

What are the global implications of India’s second COVID wave?

India is witnessing the worst phase of the pandemic while the WHO says a highly infectious Indian variant of the virus has already spread to 17 countries. India has reported 357,229 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours – the 13th straight day of more than 300,000 infections – taking its overall tally to more than 20 million. Deaths rose 3,449 for a toll of 222,408, health ministry data showed on Tuesday. However, medical experts say the real numbers across the country of 1.35 billion may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally.
4th May 2021 - AlJazeera

Canada's Alberta province toughens COVID-19 restrictions

The Canadian province of Alberta will increase restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 as a third wave of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm the hospital system within weeks, Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday. Stricter measures include confining schools to online learning, ordering workplaces with COVID-19 outbreaks to close for 10 days, closing salons, allowing restaurants to offer takeout service only and reducing the number of people allowed at funerals and religious services.
4th May 2021 - Reuters

Greece imposes coronavirus lockdown on Kalymnos island

A rise in coronavirus infections on the Greek island of Kalymnos prompted authorities to place it under lockdown on Tuesday, a day after restrictions were eased across the country. Restaurants and bars reopened in Greece after six months on Monday, as it took a further step towards easing restrictions ahead of the official opening of the tourism season on May 15.
4th May 2021 - Reuters


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Moderna to provide 500m vaccine doses for Covax programme

Moderna and vaccine promoter Gavi have announced a deal by which the pharmaceutical company will provide up to 500 million doses for the UN-backed Covax programme by the end of 2022.
3rd May 2021 - MSN

Biden Confronts Coronavirus Vaccine Patents

The issue is coming to a head as the World Trade Organization’s General Council, one of its highest decision-making bodies, meets Wednesday and Thursday. India and South Africa are pressing for the body to waive an international intellectual property agreement that protects pharmaceutical trade secrets. The United States, Britain and the European Union so far have blocked the plan. Inside the White House, health advisers to the president admit they are divided. Some say that Mr. Biden has a moral imperative to act, and that it is bad politics for the president to side with pharmaceutical executives. Others say spilling closely guarded but highly complex trade secrets into the open would do nothing to expand the global supply of vaccines.
3rd May 2021 - The New York Times

Britain to send 1000 more ventilators to India

Britain will send another 1,000 ventilators to India, the government said on Sunday, stepping up its support as India's healthcare system struggles to cope with a huge surge in cases of COVID-19. India has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for more than 10 days straight, leaving hospitals, morgues and crematoriums overwhelmed. The British government had previously agreed to send 600 medical devices, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators. "This support will help urgently meet some of India's acute needs, particularly oxygen for patients," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. "We are determined to help our Indian friends in their hour of need."
2nd May 2021 - Reuters

'Unprecedented achievement': who received the first billion COVID vaccinations?

The world has reached the milestone of administering one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, just four months after the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the first vaccine for emergency use, and roll-outs began in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The speed at which they have been administered is remarkable, but unequal distribution of the vaccinations highlights global disparities, say researchers. “It is an unprecedented scientific achievement. Nobody could have imagined that, within 16 months of the identification of a new virus, we would have vaccinated one billion people worldwide with a variety of different vaccines, using different platforms and made in different countries,” says Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, based in Geneva, Switzerland. As of 27 April, 1.06 billion doses had been given to 570 million people, which means that about 7.3% of the world’s population of 7.79 billion have received at least one dose. But scientists say that more than 75% of the world’s population will need to be vaccinated to bring the pandemic under control.
1st May 2021 - Nature.com

Coronavirus vaccinations ‘to begin for secondary school pupils from September’

Secondary school pupils will reportedly be offered Covid-19 vaccinations from September under plans being developed by the NHS. Health service officials are compiling planning documents which include a measure to offer a single dose of the Pfizer jab to children aged 12 and older when the new school year starts, according to The Sunday Times. Pfizer has said trials of its vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 showed 100% efficacy and a strong immune response. The plans, which the Times said it had confirmed with Government and NHS sources, are contingent on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) due this summer. Committee member Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol, told the Times: “We need to be in a position to immunise children, particularly teenagers, promptly and efficiently if we need to.
1st May 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Florida GOP Kills Measure To Protect Vaccinated Workers From Retaliation

In one of the more bizarre developments in the heated political wars over COVID-19, Republicans in the Florida Senate have defeated a measure that would have stopped schools from banning vaccinated teachers. The measure was introduced by Democratic State Sen. Jason Pizzo earlier this week to protect teachers and other workers from being barred or fired by employers because they’ve been inoculated against the deadly pandemic. He was spurred to act after a private Miami school put vaccinated teachers on notice that their jobs were at risk. Pizzo’s proposal was an amendment to a bill just passed by the Florida legislature Thursday that would prohibit businesses, schools and government entities in the state from asking anyone to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
1st May 2021 - Huffington Post

Brazil authorizes production of active ingredient for AstraZeneca vaccine

Brazil's health regulator Anvisa authorized on Friday the government biomedical institute Fiocruz to produce domestically the active ingredient for the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, according to a statement.
1st May 2021 - Reuters

WHO authorizes Moderna coronavirus vaccine for emergency use

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday listed the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, adding another shot to its arsenal in the fight against the coronavirus. The shot from Moderna, which is estimated to have an efficacy rate of 94.1 percent, joins shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India and Janssen on WHO’s list of emergency use vaccines. The addition of Moderna’s shot to the WHO’s emergency use listing is a prerequisite for it to be a part of COVAX, the program to disseminate shots to low-income countries. It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
30th Apr 2021 - The Hill


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India's COVID-19 emergency is wake-up call to Africa -AU health chief

The raging state of the COVID-19 pandemic is India is a wake-up call for Africa that its governments and citizens must not let their guards down, the African Union’s disease control agency warned on Thursday. African nations generally do not have sufficient numbers of health care workers, hospital beds, oxygen supplies, and the continent of 1.3 billion would be even more overwhelmed than India if cases surged in a similar way, said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. "We are watching with total disbelief...What is happening in India cannot be ignored by our continent," he told reporters.
29th Apr 2021 - Reuters

France's Macron charts path out of third COVID lockdown

France will start relaxing a nightly curfew and allow cafes, bars and restaurants to offer outside service from May 19, as President Emmanuel Macron charts a way out of a third COVID-19 lockdown. Macron, who is under pressure from business groups and a COVID-weary public to open up the economy again, announced in an interview with the regional papers a four-phase plan for unwinding France's month-long stay-at-home order. The easing will come despite the numbers of new daily cases and COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care being far higher than when the two previous lockdowns were rolled back. Macron said the vaccine rollout made this possible.
29th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Britain says to host 2022 vaccine summit to prepare for future pandemics

Britain said on Friday it would host a summit in 2022 to raise money for vaccine research and development to support an international coalition seeking to speed up the production of shots for future diseases. Britain is using its presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations to highlight the need to prepare for future pandemics in light of the devastating consequences of the coronavirus crisis. Britain said the summit with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) next year would support the body's goal of cutting the development time for new vaccines to 100 days in future pandemics.
29th Apr 2021 - Reuters UK

With dropping COVID-19 cases, NYC plans July 1 opening

As COVID-19 cases continue to drop in many parts of the US, officials in New York City, which accounted for the brunt of the nation’s cases and deaths during the first wave of the pandemic, have announced that the city plans to be fully open by Jul 1. Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNBC that New Yorkers' vaccine uptake is making this possible. "We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength," de Blasio said. Approximately 36% of the city’s adult population is fully vaccinated. de Blasio shared that Broadway is on track to fully open by September, and by July, bars, restaurants, gyms, and smaller theaters can expect to operate at 100% capacity. Since last March, New York City has tracked almost 1 million cases, 925,347, with 32,513 deaths.
29th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Costa Rica tightens restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge

A record surge in COVID-19 infections in Costa Rica forced the government to announce new restrictions Thursday that will dial back the country’s economic reopening. Health Minister Daniel Salas said that in the prior 24-hour period, Costa Rica had tallied 2,781 new infections, the highest daily total since the country’s first case was confirmed in March 2020. Fifteen people died of COVID-19 during the same period. “Non-essential” businesses in central Costa Rica, including the capital, were told to close and stronger sanctions were announced for businesses violating reduced capacity rules for their venues. The rapid increase in infections has stressed the country’s public health system. The intensive care units of public hospitals had reached 94% of their capacity.
29th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

Germany says new EU COVID vaccine contracts have clear rules on delivery shortfalls

The European Union’s contracts for COVID-19 vaccines to be delivered in 2022/23 contain clear rules what would happen if the vaccine makers do not deliver, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday, signalling the bloc had learned its lesson after troubles with AstraZeneca. The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker for not respecting its contract for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and for not having a "reliable" plan to ensure timely deliveries.
29th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Nepal imposes 15-day lockdown amid surge in coronavirus cases

Offices were closed, markets were shuttered and vehicles were forced off the streets in Nepal’s capital as authorities imposed a 15-day lockdown because of spiking cases of Covid-19. The lockdown was imposed in most of the Himalayan nation’s major cities and towns. In Kathmandu and surrounding districts, police set up checkpoints and were stopping drivers and pedestrians. Several vehicles were impounded for defying the lockdown. Residents rushed to neighbourhood grocery stores for supplies in the morning when authorities allowed them to open for a few hours.
29th Apr 2021 - Irish Examiner

WHO sends COVID-19 aid as India nears 400,000 daily cases

India's COVID-19 surge continues unabated, with 386,829 new cases and 3,501 deaths, according to World O Meter. The daily case number is the highest any country has ever recorded, and it marks the ninth day in a row the country has reported more than 300,000. The crisis has galvanized organizations and government bodies into action: The World Health Organization (WHO) alone is sending 1.2 million reagents used for diagnostic testing, mobile field hospitals with up to 50 beds, 4,000 oxygen concentrators, and technical staff support, according to a news release yesterday. Also yesterday, the White House said in a statement that it will deliver $100 million worth of supplies, including oxygen cylinders and concentrators, large-scale oxygen generation units (with trained personnel) that can support up to 20 patients each, 15 million N95 respirators, rapid diagnostic tests, and up to 20,000 treatment courses of the antiviral drug remdesivir. The US government also confirmed it will send manufacturing supplies for the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. Because of the outbreak, the US State Department issued a level 4 travel advisory and told Americans not to travel to India or to leave as soon as safely possible, according to Bloomberg.
29th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

UK orders 60m more doses of Pfizer Covid vaccine for booster jabs

The UK has ordered a further 60m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine in an effort to ensure that booster jabs can be given from this autumn, the government has announced. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, made the announcement at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday and said the extra doses would be used alongside other approved vaccines in “protecting the progress that we have made”. Hancock said: “We have a clear route out of this crisis but this is no time for complacency, it’s a time for caution – so we can keep the virus under control while we take steps back to normal life.” England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said that cases had dropped to very low levels, on a par with the situation in September.
28th Apr 2021 - The Guardian


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China and Russia 'winning vaccine diplomacy war against West'

The West is losing the COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy battle in key developing regions of the world to Russia and China and will suffer long-term strategic consequences, a new report has warned. China and Russia are stealthily building influence and playing the long game by sending millions and millions of coronavirus vaccines to developing states, a just-released report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) stated. The report found "Russia and China are aiming to take advantage of a 'vaccine vacuum' (and) a perceived failure of Western states to help in the provision of vaccines."
28th Apr 2021 - 9News.com.au

Tunisia tightens control measures amid surging COVID-19 cases

Amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in Tunisia, Tunisian authorities on Wednesday announced a series of stricter prevention and control measures to curb the spread of the virus. "These new measures will be applicable from May 3 to May 16, depending on the evolution of the situation in the country...and all the health protocols announced on April 17 will be maintained," Hasna Ben Slimane, spokesperson of the Tunisian government, said at a press conference held at the government's headquarters. With regard to the arrivals of tourists and Tunisians living abroad, a mandatory seven-day self-quarantine will be imposed after they present a negative result of PCR test, which should be carried out within 72 hours before entry into the country. "Another PCR test should be carried out during the 5th or the 7th day of self-quarantine," Ben Slimane added.
28th Apr 2021 - Xinhua

COVID-19: Unions add to calls for date to be set for start of coronavirus public inquiry

Unions are adding their voices to the call for a start date to be set for an inquiry into COVID-19. The TUC say a public consultation should also contribute to what an inquiry will cover, as workers and the families of those who caught the virus at work will be key to what went wrong. As long ago as last July, Boris Johnson promised to set up an independent inquiry into the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but he has so far failed to set a date, saying now is not the time.
28th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Portugal's COVID-19 state of emergency to end Friday -president

Portugal's state of emergency, the highest level of coronavirus alert, will end on Friday, the president announced, as infections drop sharply and the country prepares to further ease a strict lockdown imposed more than three months ago. Declared in mid-January to tackle what was then the world's worst increase in infections, the state of emergency allowed the government to impose tough measures to suspend people's rights and freedoms.
28th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Gates aids fundraising drive for global vaccine distribution

A new mass fundraising campaign aims to inspire 50 million people around the world to make small donations to Covax, the international effort to push for equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. Called Go Give One, the campaign was launched Wednesday by the WHO Foundation and corporate, religious, and world leaders. Seed money for the effort was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The campaign will contribute to the $3 billion in Covax funding needed to vaccinate almost 30 percent of people in 92 low-income countries sometime next year. That support will come from donors like those who contribute to the Go Give One campaign as well as cost-sharing agreements. Meanwhile, the $6.3 billion that’s so far been committed to Covax has come primarily from global governments, in addition to the World Health Organization, Unicef, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
28th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

US considering intellectual property waiver for COVID vaccines

The United States is considering options for maximising global production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines at the lowest cost, including backing a proposed waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights, but no decision has been made, according to the White House. The announcement comes as the US and other Western countries have begun providing aid and lifting export controls on medical equipment and vaccine raw materials amid pressure from countries where deaths and infections are surging, notably India. On Wednesday, India surpassed 200,000 deaths from the virus, although the actual count is expected to be much higher. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “there are a lot of different ways” to maximise the global production of vaccines. “Right now, that’s one of the ways, but we have to assess what makes the most sense,” Psaki told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the IP rights waivers.
28th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Syngene targets delivering 500000 vials of remdesivir in India as COVID-19 surges

India’s Syngene International Ltd (SYNN.NS) aims to supply half-a-million vials of COVID-19 drug remdesivir through its local distribution partners next month, its top executive said, as the country faces shortages of the medicine amid a second wave. "At the moment we are operating at near maximum capacity (to produce remdesivir)," Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Hunt told Reuters on Wednesday. "I'd expect the volume of drug that we are supplying into the Indian market to step up as we get into May," he added.
28th Apr 2021 - Reuters India

EU lawsuit against AstraZeneca begins in Brussels court

The European Commission’s lawsuit against AstraZeneca over the pharmaceutical giant’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines began at a Brussels court on Wednesday, with the bloc’s lawyers pressing for immediate deliveries of doses from all of the company’s factories, including those within the United Kingdom. The legal case is the latest twist in an ongoing saga between the European Union and the Anglo-Swedish company, which has seen the pair at loggerheads over the latter’s alleged shortfall of deliveries to the bloc. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was envisaged as a central part of Europe’s vaccination campaign, and a linchpin in the global strategy to get coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries because it is cheaper and easier to use than shots produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. But cuts and delays in delivery of doses to the EU have weighed on faltering mass immunisation efforts within the bloc, which trails behind former member state the UK, the United States and Israel, among other countries, on vaccination. Brussels has argued the disruption and supply issues amount to a failure by AstraZeneca to respect its contract with the EU. It has also accused the company of not having a “reliable” plan to ensure timely deliveries.
28th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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

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Coronavirus vaccine offered to 42-year-olds in England

In England, everyone aged over 42 can now book a coronavirus vaccine, with the health secretary urging people to make appointments. Matt Hancock, 42, said that he was “very excited” to be able to get vaccinated himself and was standing by his phone waiting for an invitation. People can also book online at the NHS national vaccination booking service. Ministers have launched a campaign to encourage younger people to get the vaccine, amid concern that take-up is dropping as immunisation moves down the age range. Hancock insisted that take-up was “astonishingly high”, reaching 95 per cent in people over 75. However, that drops to 82 per cent in people aged 50 to 55, the youngest of the groups where everyone has so far been offered an appointment.
27th Apr 2021 - The Times

Egypt approves China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine for emergency use

Egypt's drug authority said it had granted approval to China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. Egypt has so far approved and received shipments of the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines, and has said it is preparing to produce up to 80 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine locally. It has also granted approval to Russia's Sputnik vaccine.
27th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Australia And France Are The Latest Countries To Prioritize Olympic Athletes For Covid-19 Vaccine

Olympic athletes in Australia and France will be part of a higher priority group for getting the Covid-19 vaccine, the countries’ governments said Tuesday, part of a growing collection of nations that are trying to ensure athletes are inoculated by the Tokyo Olympics as the Summer Games are marred by public health concerns. Other countries who have said they will be prioritizing athletes for vaccines include Belgium, Iran, Mexico, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hungary, Serbia, Lithuania, Israel, the Philippines and Denmark, and Great Britain said its athletes are expected to be inoculated before the games.
27th Apr 2021 - Forbes

Republic of Ireland approves rollout of further Covid-19 jabs

The Irish government has accepted new recommendations which will see the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations made available to people over 50. The AstraZeneca jab is currently only available to over 60s in the country. Recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) were accepted by the government on Tuesday. It is hoped doses will be distributed as quickly as possible. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available to people under 50, if there is no option of another vaccine.
27th Apr 2021 - BBC News

China offers S.Asian countries help with accessing COVID-19 shots

China said on Tuesday it had offered help to South Asian countries in accessing COVID-19 vaccines but India did not attend a regional video-conference on the matter, although it is currently suffering the world's worst wave of the pandemic. China's State Councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi hosted the conference attended by Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, to which China's neighbour and regional rival India was also invited, the Chinese foreign ministry said. There was no immediate comment from the Indian government. Wang told his conference counterparts Beijing was willing to set up emergency supply reserves with South Asian countries in the fight against COVID-19, a ministry statement said.
27th Apr 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Number of weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales at lowest level in six months, ONS data shows

The number of COVID-related deaths in England and Wales in a week has fallen to the lowest level in six months, new figures show. A total of 362 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 16 April mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is the lowest number since the week ending 2 October 2020.
27th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Pakistan deploys army in 16 cities to enforce COVID-19 precautions

Pakistani troops have been deployed in 16 major cities to assist civilian authorities in enforcing measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including the wearing of masks in public and the closing of non-essential businesses after 6pm. "Starting at 6am this morning, troops have been sent to aid the civilian administration in each district," military spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar said on Monday. The announcement came as the country recorded its highest daily death toll in recent days since the start of the pandemic, and officials said the health care system was nearing its breaking point.
27th Apr 2021 - Reuters India

Australia's Perth to exit COVID-19 lockdown

The government of Western Australia state said it will lift a three-day COVID-19 lockdown in Perth and neighbouring Peel region as planned from midnight on Monday after no new cases were found in the past two days. Perth and the Peel region were placed into a hard lockdown from Saturday after an infected traveller from overseas, who likely contracted the novel coronavirus during his two-week quarantine in a Perth hotel, visited several venues while unknowingly infectious.
27th Apr 2021 - Reuters Australia

Vienna easing lockdown cautiously, with swipe at government plans

Vienna will cautiously loosen its coronavirus lockdown next week a month after it was introduced, its left-wing mayor said on Tuesday, criticising the conservative-led government's plans for a broad easing of restrictions nationally next month. Austria has had three national lockdowns, the last of which eased in February. Vienna, however, reintroduced a full lockdown on April 1 to help hospitals facing rising cases, particularly of the more dangerous so-called British variant. Infections nationally have eased this month but remain stubbornly high at more than 1,500 a day. Despite that, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week said restaurants, hotels and theatres will reopen nationally on May 19, though provinces can have stricter rules locally if needed.
27th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Turkey announces "full lockdown" from April 29 to curb COVID spread

Turks will be required to stay mostly at home under a nationwide "full lockdown" starting on Thursday and lasting until May 17 to curb a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday. Turkey logged 37,312 new COVID-19 infections and 353 deaths in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, sharply down from mid-April but still the world's fourth highest number of cases and the worst on a per-capita basis among major nations. Announcing the new measures after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said all intercity travel would require official approval, all schools would shut and move lessons online, and a strict capacity limit would be imposed for users of public transport.
27th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Spain to send 7 tonnes of medical aid to India

Spain will send just over seven tonnes of medical supplies to India, the foreign minister said on Tuesday, to help authorities cope with a rampant COVID-19 wave that is killing thousands there every day. "Nobody will be safe until we are all safe," Arancha Gonzalez Laya told a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.
27th Apr 2021 - Reuters India

Mexican president thanks Cuban counterpart for COVID support

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has thanked his Cuban counterpart for sending about 1,000 health workers to help Mexico respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Lopez Obrador spoke by phone on Tuesday with Miguel Diaz-Canel, who ascended to the position of first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party last week.
27th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Indian state ‘cracks down’ on hospitals flagging oxygen shortage

The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state has ordered a crackdown on individuals and hospitals reporting a shortage of medical oxygen or beds, according to Indian media reports. Over the weekend, the northern state’s saffron-clad Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu monk known for his hate speech, threatened to invoke the stringent National Security Act (NSA) and the Gangster Act against anyone trying to spread fear and panic during the pandemic, local reports said.
27th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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

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COVID: South Africa to resume vaccine rollout with J&J jab

South Africa has announced it will resume its vaccination rollout with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a temporary suspension for a possible link between the jab and blood clots. The one-shot vaccine will be administered again starting from Wednesday. It had been put on hold after six people in the United States developed blood clots after inoculation prompting the US government to briefly suspend its use. “It has since been established there is a one in a million chance of getting the clot after the vaccine and that it appears that women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old are particularly at risk,” read a statement from South Africa’s health ministry
26th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Coronavirus: EU sues AstraZeneca over vaccine delivery delays

The European Commission - the EU's executive branch - said it was suing the company for not respecting its vaccine supply contract, and for not having a "reliable" plan to ensure timely deliveries. AstraZeneca said the move was "without merit".
26th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Portugal reports no COVID-related deaths in past day, first time since August 2020

Portugal on Monday reported no coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours for the first time in nearly nine months as the country emerges from a two-month lockdown, the health authority said. The country has reported a total of 16,965 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic and 834,638 infection cases, 196 more than reported the day before. The last time Portugal reported no coronavirus-related deaths was on August 3.
26th Apr 2021 - Reuters

UK says COVID cases down 4.6% in past week

Britain reported 1,712 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, government data showed, meaning there were 17,063 new cases between April 19 and 25, a fall of 4.6% compared with the previous seven days. A further 11 people were reported as having died within 28 days of a positive test for COVID-19, taking the seven-day decrease to 12.6%. A total of 33.67 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine against coronavirus and 12.59 million people had received a second dose.
26th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal extends lockdown by a week

Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday the city state would continue to be under a lockdown till May 3, as coronavirus cases rise steeply. India's number of cases surged by 349,691 in the past 24 hours, the fourth straight day of record peaks, and hospitals in Delhi and across the country are turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen and beds
26th Apr 2021 - Reuters India

Bengaluru, facing India's second-highest COVID-19 surge, to enter lockdown

The city of Bengaluru, home to the technology operations of hundreds of global companies, is to enter a two-week lockdown as India battles a sharp surge in COVID-19 infections, officials said on Monday. Karnataka state, of which Bengaluru is capital, will also lock down from Tuesday evening for 14 days, the state chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Groceries and other essential services will operate for four hours in the mornings, he said. The region is the latest to impose restrictions after similar lockdowns or curfews in many parts of India, which is in the middleof a massive second wave of infections that has swamped its health system
26th Apr 2021 - Reuters India

Germany faces lockdown until June as curbs fail to push down cases

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate rose at the weekend despite stricter restrictions as Finance Minister Olaf Scholz cautioned he did not expect moves to ease curbs before the end of May. Germany is struggling to contain a third wave of infections, with efforts complicated by the more contagious B117 variant, which first emerged in the UK, and a relatively slow start to its national vaccination campaign. "We need a timetable how to get back to normal life, but it must be a plan that won't have to be revoked after just a few days," Scholz told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
26th Apr 2021 - Reuters

India's COVID-19 crisis prompts global response

Several countries over the weekend resoundingly answered India's pleas for help with its massive COVID-19 surge—the worst of the pandemic—including the United States, which announced it will supply a raw material India urgently needs to make its Covishield vaccine. In a related development, with India's production of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine for the COVAX program sidelined to allow the country to take care of its own needs, the United States today announced that it will donate 60 million doses to the global vaccination effort. India today reported a world record for daily cases for the fifth day in a row, with 352,991 new illnesses reported, along with 2,812 deaths, according to CNN.
26th Apr 2021 - CIDRAP

Turkey announces full lockdown in bid to halt COVID surge

Turks will be required to stay mostly at home under a nationwide “full lockdown” starting on Thursday and lasting until May 17 to curb a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced. Turkey logged 37,312 new COVID-19 infections and 353 deaths in the previous 24 hours on Monday, health ministry data showed, sharply down from mid-April but still the world’s fourth highest number of cases.
26th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Thailand starts stricter COVID-19 shutdown, but experts say not enough

Thailand’s government slapped restrictions on travel from India on Monday over concerns of imported coronavirus cases and closed more venues in Bangkok, even as it came under fire for not doing enough to contain a spike in infections. The government has ordered parks, gyms, cinemas and day-care centres in its capital, the epicentre of the latest wave of infections, to shut from April 26 until May 9. It has also introduced a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($635) for not wearing masks in public, with even the prime minister falling foul of mask-wearing rules
26th Apr 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Apr 2021

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Venezuela gets 80000 more Sputnik V vaccine doses as COVID-19 cases surge

Venezuela received a new shipment of some 80,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, officials said on Saturday, as COVID-19 cases surged and opposition lawmakers criticized the government's vaccine rollout. The shipment brings the total number of vaccines that Venezuela has received to 880,000, Health Minister Carlos Alvarado said. He said the government would focus on inoculating healthcare workers and the elderly with the new shipments. Venezuela has also inoculated public officials, firefighters, civil protection personnel and oxygen distribution workers.
24th Apr 2021 - Reuters

S.Korea signs with Pfizer for additional 40 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses

South Korea said on Saturday it signed a contract with Pfizer Inc to purchase an additional 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine amid fears of spiking infections at home. That brings the current amount of Pfizer vaccines to 66 million doses, it said in a statement. It added that it had secured a total 192 million doses of vaccines, including those from Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca PLC, Johnson & Johnson's and Novavax. "The government has acquired COVID-19 vaccines large enough to vaccinate approximately 100 million people...(which) is double the entire population of South Korea," Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol told a briefing. "(The government) will make all out efforts to achieve its promise to vaccinate 12 million people by end of June and achieve herd immunity by November," he said.
24th Apr 2021 - Reuters

From scarcity to abundance: US faces calls to share vaccines

Victor Guevara knows people his age have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in many countries. His own relatives in Houston have been inoculated. But the 72-year-old Honduran lawyer, like so many others in his country, is still waiting. And increasingly, he is wondering why the United States is not doing more to help, particularly as the American vaccine supply begins to outpace demand and doses that have been approved for use elsewhere in the world, but not in the U.S., sit idle. “We live in a state of defenselessness on every level,” Guevara said of the situation in his Central American homeland. Honduras has obtained a paltry 59,000 vaccine doses for its 10 million people. Similar gaps in vaccine access are found across Africa, where just 36 million doses have been acquired for the continent’s 1.3 billion people, as well as in parts of Asia.
24th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

1bn COVID jabs given globally – but over half in just 3 countries

More than one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, according to a tally, with more than half given in just three countries. At least 1,002,938,540 doses had been administered in 207 countries and territories by 17:45 GMT on Saturday, less than five months after the first mass inoculation programmes began to be rolled out, AFP news agency said, citing figures from official sources. The milestone was reached as a daily record of more than 893,000 coronavirus infections cases were registered worldwide on Saturday, primarily due to an alarming surge of the virus in India. Fifty-eight percent of the vaccine doses have been administered in three countries: the United States with 225.6 million doses; China with 216.1 million doses; and India with 138.4 million.
24th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Cambodia closes markets to curb COVID-19, thousands plead for food

Cambodia closed all markets in the capital Phnom Penh on Saturday to contain a surge in coronavirus infections and thousands of families pleaded to the government for food as a two-week lockdown continued. Cambodia also reported a daily record of 10 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, its health ministry said, as infections spike following an outbreak first detected in late February.
24th Apr 2021 - Reuters

WHO, Macron denounce vaccine inequity as COVAX scheme marks first year

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly denounced inequities in vaccine distribution and urged wealthier countries to share excess doses to help inoculate health workers in low-income countries. More than 3 million people have died in the pandemic worldwide. "Nearly 900 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 81% have gone to high- or upper middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.3%," Tedros said about the ACT (Access to COVID-19 Tools) Accelerator set up a year ago. He told a briefing he was concerned about the rising caseload in India.
23rd Apr 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus: WHO urges African nations to keep expired vaccines

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged African countries not to destroy Covid-19 vaccines that may have passed their expiry date. Countries have been told to keep hold of them and wait for further guidance. The appeal comes after Malawi and South Sudan said they would destroy more than 70,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab because they expired in mid-April. But the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) said it had been assured the doses were safe to use. Many vaccines can be used up to 36 months after manufacture, but because Covid-19 jabs are so new there is not enough data to prove their effectiveness over longer periods.
23rd Apr 2021 - BBC News

EU to shortly sign world's largest vaccine deal with Pfizer

The European Commission said it expects to seal the world’s biggest vaccine supply deal within days, securing up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer’s (PFE.N) COVID-19 vaccine for the next few years as a debate rages over unfair access to shots for the world’s poorest people. The vaccines from the U.S. drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech would be delivered over 2021-2023, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Pfizer's vaccine plant in Puurs, Belgium. The agreement, which is to include 900 million optional doses, would be enough to inoculate the 450 million EU population for two years and comes as the bloc seeks to shore up long-term supplies.
23rd Apr 2021 - Reuters

US to resume J&J COVID vaccinations despite rare clot risk

U.S. health officials lifted an 11-day pause on COVID-19 vaccinations using Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot on Friday, after scientific advisers decided its benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clot. The government uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. All were women, most under age 50. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized. But ultimately, federal health officials decided that J&J’s one-and-done vaccine is critical to fight the pandemic — and that the small clot risk could be handled with warnings to help younger women decide if they should use that shot or an alternative.
23rd Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Millions sign petitions urging the U.S. to back a WTO proposal for greater Covid-19 vaccine access

More than two million petitions were sent to the White House in hopes of convincing the Biden administration to support a proposal that would temporarily waive trade agreement provisions in a bid to widen access to Covid-19 vaccines in low and middle-income countries. The effort was promoted by several U.S. lawmakers and dozens of advocacy groups amid ongoing controversy over the proposal, which was introduced last fall at the World Trade Organization. Since then, however, the effort has stalled amid push back by the pharmaceutical industry and some wealthy nations, including the U.S., over concerns that intellectual property rights will be compromised.
23rd Apr 2021 - STAT News

Lawmakers urge Biden to back 'moral' patent waiver to speed vaccine access

U.S. lawmakers and nonprofit groups on Friday heaped pressure on the Biden administration to back a temporary patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines to help poor countries contain the pandemic. The groups delivered a petition signed by two million people, adding to separate letters already sent to U.S. President Joe Biden by a group of senators, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, nearly 100 members of the House and 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners. Senator Bernie Sanders said it was also in the United States' own interest to ensure as many people were vaccinated as quickly as possible, to limit the chance of virus mutations that could prompt further U.S. lockdowns. But he also appealed to Biden's desire to rebuild U.S. credibility in the world.
23rd Apr 2021 - Reuters

France's Macron plans to donate 500000 COVID vaccine shots

"Now the time has come to share," said Macron at a virtual event organised by the World Health Organization. "We will continue to receive more and more vaccines. We have sufficient means to step up our solidarity by donating doses." He called the current global distribution of vaccines "unacceptable", adding that one in six Europeans had been vaccinated versus around 1 in 100 in Africa. The 500,000 doses would be sent between now and mid-June, he said. He did not specify which vaccines these would be but said they would come from a range of suppliers and not only AstraZeneca.
23rd Apr 2021 - Reuters

Opinion | W.H.O.'s Dr. Tedros: Covid Vaccine Promises Must Be Kept

Almost one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered around the world, and yet the weekly number of cases hit a record high last week, and deaths are climbing, on pace to eclipse 2020’s grim tally. How can this be? Weren’t vaccines supposed to douse the flames of the pandemic? Yes, and they are. But here’s the thing about an inferno: If you hose only one part of it, the rest will keep burning. Many countries all over the world are facing a severe crisis, with high transmission and intensive care units overflowing with patients and running short on essential supplies, like oxygen. Why is this happening? For several reasons: The rise of more transmissible variants, the inconsistent application and premature easing of public health measures like mask mandates and physical distancing, populations that are understandably weary of adhering to those measures and the inequitable distribution of vaccines.
22nd Apr 2021 - The New York Times


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

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Germany looks to buy 30 million doses of Russia's Sputnik vaccine

Germany wants to purchase 30 million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, said Michael Kretschmer, governor of the eastern state of Saxony, who discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. "Germany is negotiating 3 x 10 million doses for June, July, August. The prerequisite for this is the swift EMA approval of the vaccine," Kretschmer wrote on Twitter. Kretschmer posted the tweet after meeting Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko as part of a visit to Moscow ostensibly focusing on cultural relations with Russia. As part of the visit, he also discussed joint efforts to fight the virus in a phone call with Putin, the Kremlin said in a statement.
22nd Apr 2021 - Daily Sabah

Why waiving patents might not boost global access to coronavirus vaccines

Global trade negotiators are deadlocked on a proposal that would have been unthinkable before the pandemic — to suspend intellectual property rights on coronavirus medical products so that less-wealthy countries can develop life-saving vaccines and other goods on their own. A months-long debate at the World Trade Organization has led to little, if any, movement. On Thursday, diplomats meet again and will likely rehash their positions, with the EU, U.K, and Switzerland in the wealthy camp opposing the proposal. That effectively leaves the idea stranded in a process that functions on consensus. But the proposal, pitched by South Africa and India at the WTO, is still gaining traction politically as the gap in vaccination rates between rich and poor countries grows by the day. Meanwhile, manufacturers have struggled to keep up with demand.
22nd Apr 2021 - POLITICO Europe

COVID-19: Ireland joins possible legal action against AstraZeneca over vaccine supplies

Ireland has joined European Commission plans for possible legal action against AstraZeneca over its "complete failure" to meet delivery and contractual agreements, its health minister has said. Speaking to the Irish parliament, Stephen Donnelly said on Thursday: "With regard to AstraZeneca, a legal case has been initiated by the Commission and earlier this week I have joined Ireland as one of the parties to that legal case, specifically around AstraZeneca's complete failure to meet its delivery and contractual agreements for April, May and June." But a European Commission spokesperson said: "The decision to take legal action has not been taken at this point in time."
22nd Apr 2021 - Sky News

Coronavirus: Pfizer confirms fake versions of vaccine in Poland and Mexico

US pharmaceutical company Pfizer says it has identified counterfeit versions of its coronavirus vaccine in Mexico and Poland. The doses were seized by authorities in the two countries and confirmed by tests to be fake. In Mexico, they had false labels, while the substance in Poland was believed to be anti-wrinkle treatment, Pfizer said. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that fake vaccines "pose a serious risk to global public health". It has called for them to be identified and removed from circulation.
22nd Apr 2021 - BBC News

Sweden not ready to lift COVID restrictions, but PM says end in sight

Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, will postpone a tentative plan to ease some COVID-19 restrictions, due to the ongoing high levels of new infections, the government said on Thursday. Sweden is experiencing a third wave of the virus and the number of patients being treated in intensive care is at the highest level since the spring of last year. "When the strain on healthcare eases and the spread of infection drops, only then will the government be ready to start lifting restrictions," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a news conference. "But we are not there yet."
22nd Apr 2021 - Reuters

WHO and EMA to inspect Sputnik V manufacturing in May - WHO

Technical experts from the World Health Organization are due to start the next round of their review of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 jointly with the European Medicines Agency on May 10, the WHO said on Thursday.
22nd Apr 2021 - Reuters

EU says Valneva has not met conditions for vaccine supply deal

French vaccine maker Valneva (VLS.PA) has not met the conditions to conclude talks on a deal with the European Union to supply the bloc with its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, a spokesman for the European Commission said on Thursday.
22nd Apr 2021 - Reuters

MSF urges rich countries to back COVID vaccine patent waiver

International medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) has urged rich countries to stop blocking a patent waiver plan that could boost the global production of coronavirus vaccines. Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will meet virtually for informal talks on Thursday to discuss a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for producing COVID-19 vaccines and other coronavirus-related medical tools for the duration of the pandemic. Sponsors of the waiver argue that the temporary suspension would allow more factories worldwide to produce jabs without breaking international rules under the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). But the proposal, originally submitted in October by India and South Africa, has met staunch opposition from several high-income members, many of which are home to major drug-makers – such as the United States and members of the European Union.
21st Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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

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China - How a WHO push for global vaccines needled Europe

Last April, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen added Europe to a global effort to ensure equitable access to a vaccine, which she said would be deployed “to every single corner of the world.” But despite pledging billions of dollars for the scheme set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and publicly endorsing it, European Union officials and member states repeatedly made choices that undermined the campaign, internal documents seen by Reuters and interviews with EU officials and diplomats show. A year after its launch, Europe and the rest of the world have yet to donate a single dose through the vaccine scheme, which is part of an unprecedented effort to distribute vaccines, tests and drugs to fight the pandemic.
22nd Apr 2021 - Reuters

Vaccine patent gives US government 'leverage' over manufacturers

The US government can use its ownership of a crucial vaccine patent to push companies to share their expertise with other manufacturers and boost global access to coronavirus jabs, according to a top scientific official. Barney Graham, one of the US National Institutes of Health scientists who invented a key piece of technology used in the Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer jabs, told the Financial Times the government’s patent gave Washington “leverage” over manufacturers. “Virtually everything that comes out of the government’s research labs is a non-exclusive licensing agreement so that it doesn’t get blocked by any particular company,” said Graham, who plans to retire from the US government this year. “That’s one of the reasons [I joined the NIH]: it’s to be able to use the leverage of the public funding to solve public health issues.”
21st Apr 2021 - Financial Times

COVAX Obstacles and Shortages Threaten Africa's Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout

Africa has lagged behind in the race to acquire coronavirus vaccines since it began. It was clear individual governments would not be able to compete against wealthier nations purchasing limited stocks, so a collective effort quickly got underway. When the first doses arrived in Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Rwanda in late February and early March, it seemed like the continent’s rollout had finally gotten off the ground. However, efforts are stumbling in the face of systemic obstacles to distribution. Now, India’s surging third wave could also directly affect the continent’s access to vaccines. Africa has gotten most of its vaccine doses through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative, backed by the World Health Organization, the European Commission, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which pools donor funding to allow developing countries to acquire shots—primarily AstraZeneca, which doesn’t require below-freezing storage. COVAX now needs an additional $2 billion to continue its work.
21st Apr 2021 - Foreign Policy

Madhya Pradesh announces free COVID-19 vaccine for all adults

The Madhya Pradesh government on Wednesday announced that all people above the age of 18 years will be offered COVID-19 vaccine free of cost in the state from May 1. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made the announcement in Bhopal. The chief minister said if COVID-19 is to be curbed, then the chain of its infection must be broken and for this, people need to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel.
21st Apr 2021 - India Times

Lao capital enters 14-day lockdown amid COVID-19 cases surge

Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh on Wednesday has ordered a 14-day lockdown for the capital of Vientiane in the wake of a surge of COVID-19 cases, while other provinces are urged to consider intensifying prevention measures. The Lao Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 in Vientiane, following an outbreak believed to have begun during the Lao New Year holiday period. According to a notice published by the PM on Wednesday, which will be effective from Thursday to May 5, Lao authorities at every level must continue educating the public about the dangers posed by COVID-19, as well as ways to protect themselves and their families. People working at government offices in Vientiane are to reduce the number of workers to ensure social distancing, except for essential personnel such as soldiers and police officers. The same applies to private sector businesses.
21st Apr 2021 - Xinhua

India PM Modi urges state governments to use lockdown as last resort to contain virus

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged state governments on Tuesday to use lockdowns as the last resort to contain the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 infections, even as cases and deaths surge to record highs. Modi also asked citizens to stay indoors, not spread panic about the virus and form local groups to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols. He said the central government is working with states and private companies to ramp up the supply of oxygen, as well as production and distribution of vaccines.
21st Apr 2021 - Reuters

Latin American leaders seek more vaccines at Andorra summit

With eyes set on expanding access to coronavirus vaccines and economic recovery, representatives of 22 countries from Latin America and Europe’s Iberian Peninsula are meeting — mostly virtually — in the tiny mountainous nation of Andorra for the first time since the pandemic started. Latin America has suffered from the pandemic in a disproportionate way: its 640 million inhabitants are about 8% of the world’s population, but the region accounts for nearly 30% of confirmed global COVID-19 deaths. The Iberoamerican Summit, which normally takes place every two years, wants to address that, with a final summit declaration expected to include a renewed call for universal and equitable access to vaccines.
21st Apr 2021 - Associated Press

German lawmakers approve ‘emergency brake’ virus rules

German lawmakers on Wednesday approved a proposal by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to mandate uniform restrictions in areas where the coronavirus is spreading too quickly, among them closures and a nighttime curfew. As parliament’s lower house debated the plan, thousands of protesters gathered on a nearby street. Police broke up the demonstration with pepper spray and made dozens of arrests after participants ignored coronavirus restrictions and tossed bottles at officers. The legislation to apply an “emergency brake” consistently in areas with high infection rates is intended to end the patchwork of measures that has often characterized the pandemic response across highly decentralized Germany’s 16 states.
21st Apr 2021 - Associated Press

MSF urges rich countries to back COVID vaccine patent waiver

International medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) has urged rich countries to stop blocking a patent waiver plan that could boost the global production of coronavirus vaccines. Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will meet virtually for informal talks on Thursday to discuss a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for producing COVID-19 vaccines and other coronavirus-related medical tools for the duration of the pandemic. Sponsors of the waiver argue that the temporary suspension would allow more factories worldwide to produce jabs without breaking international rules under the WTO agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). But the proposal, originally submitted in October by India and South Africa, has met staunch opposition from several high-income members, many of which are home to major drug-makers – such as the United States and members of the European Union.
21st Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

France to impose entry restrictions on travelers from India

A government official says France is about to impose new entry restrictions on travelers from India, in order to fight a contagious coronavirus variant spreading in that country
21st Apr 2021 - ABC News


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

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Israel to buy Moderna's booster shot against COVID-19 variants

Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) said on Tuesday it had secured a new COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement with Israel for 2022, under which the country has the option to buy doses of one of the company's variant-specific vaccine candidates. The announcement follows two earlier agreements between Israel and Moderna to supply a total of 10 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna's COVID-19 booster vaccine is in early-stage trials. The company in April said it should be able to provide a booster shot for protection against variants of the novel coronavirus by the end of this year.
21st Apr 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: US to advise against travel to 80% of countries

The US state department is to advise Americans to avoid 80% of countries worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic. In a note to the media about its updated travel guidance, it said the pandemic continued to "pose unprecedented risks to travellers". The current US "Do Not Travel" advisory covers 34 out of 200 countries. Covid-19 has now claimed more than three million lives worldwide - more than half a million of them in the US. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned the world was "approaching the highest rate of infection" so far, despite the global rollout of vaccination programmes.
20th Apr 2021 - BBC News

India's Maharashtra to impose stringent lockdown this week- state minister

India's western state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai, plans to impose a stringent lockdown this week to try to halt the rising cases of coronavirus, two senior ministers from the state cabinet told reporters. Maharashtra, one of India's largest states, is the worst-hit state in a new surge of cases in India. Infections have been rising even after restrictions were imposed this month, and that made a stringent lockdown necessary, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope told reporters.
20th Apr 2021 - Reuters India

Hope and caution as Portugal further eases COVID-19 lockdown

Three months after Joao Correia was forced to shut his cafe in one of Lisbon's shopping malls, he welcomed customers back on Monday, feeling both cautious and hopeful about the future. Portugal imposed a second national lockdown in January to stem what was then the world's worst COVID-19 surge. A nation of just over 10 million, it has recorded over 830,000 cases and close to 17,000 deaths from the virus. Strict rules have been gradually relaxed since mid-March when hair salons, bookshops and some schools reopened.
20th Apr 2021 - Reuters

French health minister says would favour regional easing of lockdowns

French health minister Olivier Veran would favour a region-by-region easing of lockdown measures set up to tackle the COVID-19 virus, he told regional paper Le Telegramme in an interview published on Tuesday. Veran added that while there were signs that the latest surge in COVID-19 in France was starting to ease off a little, the virus was still circulating at a high level. The health ministry said on Monday that 5,970 people were in intensive care units with COVID-19, up from 5,893 a day earlier, in a sign that hospitals remain under pressure.
20th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Dutch set to ease lockdown despite high COVID-19 infection rates

Lockdown measures in the Netherlands will be eased from next week as pressure to reopen society mounts despite high coronavirus infection rates, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday. A nationwide night-time curfew that has been in place for three months will be lifted on April 28, while bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve small groups on outdoor terraces between noon and 6 P.M. Universities and colleges will gradually reopen and stores will be allowed to admit more customers. "It won't happen without taking risks, but the risks must be responsible. That is and will remain a balancing act for now," Rutte told a news conference. "We have to be very careful and cautious."
20th Apr 2021 - Reuters

India waives import duty on COVID-19 drug Remdesivir

India has waived import duty on COVID-19 drug Remdesivir until Oct. 31, the finance ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, as infections surge to record highs and lead to a shortage of the anti-viral medicine. The government has also waived import duties on Beta Cyclodextrin (SBEBCD) used in the manufacture of Remdesivir as well as Remdesivir injections. India on Tuesday reported its worst daily death toll of the pandemic and has large parts of the country under lockdown in an effort to counter an accelerating second wave of infections.
20th Apr 2021 - Reuters

EU regulator finds link between J&J shot and blood clots

The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said Tuesday that it found a “possible link” between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and extremely rare blood clots and recommended a warning be added to the label. But experts at the agency reiterated that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks. The European Medicines Agency made its determination after examining a small number of clot cases in people vaccinated in the U.S. It said these problems should be considered “very rare side effects of the vaccine.” J&J immediately announced it will revise its label as requested and resume vaccine shipments to the EU, Norway and Iceland. In a statement, it said: “The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority.” Following the EMA’s decision, EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted that vaccinations save lives and added: “I urge Member States to follow the opinion of our experts.”
20th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

As variants take hold, FDA revokes authorization of Eli Lilly's solo COVID-19 antibody

Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 neutralizing antibody drug was the first of its kind to score FDA authorization against the illness in early November. Emerging coronavirus variants later threatened to mute the treatment’s effectiveness and now, nearly six months later, the FDA has rescinded its endorsement. The federal agency on Friday revoked its emergency authorization for Lilly’s monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab, when administered by itself, to treat adult and certain pediatric COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate disease. Lilly itself supports the move and still distributes the antibody in combination with etesevimab. The decision comes after the FDA ordered Lilly and rival drugmaker Regeneron in late February and early March to monitor their treatments against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
20th Apr 2021 - FiercePharma


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th Apr 2021

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COVID-19: Families reunite as travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand opens

Families and friends have been able to reunite after a long-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand opened. The start of quarantine-free travel was a relief for families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as struggling tourist operators. It marked the first, tentative steps towards what both countries hope will become a gradual reopening to the rest of the world
19th Apr 2021 - Sky News

Belgian Olympians will get priority for coronavirus vaccine, health ministers announce

The Belgian Olympic and Paralympic athletes who have been selected to attend the Olympic Games in Tokyo this August will receive their coronavirus vaccines as soon as possible, the Belgian Ministers of Health decided. A total of 170 Olympians and 55 Paralympians are expected to be administered with either the Pfizer or Moderna doses at the Heysel vaccination centre in Brussels in the coming weeks.
19th Apr 2021 - The Brussels Times

White House expands federal vaccine programs, taking more control of coronavirus vaccination efforts

The Biden administration has ramped up its role in distributing and administering coronavirus vaccines, boosting federal pipelines in recent months with more doses and more vaccination sites in preparation for mounting US supply and the next phase of the US vaccination campaign. As the US officially entered that phase on Monday -- with every person 16 years and older now eligible to be vaccinated -- Biden administration officials said they estimate that 90% of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site as a result of the expanded federal channels. Nearly 40,000 pharmacies are now equipped to put shots in arms through a direct-to-pharmacy federal vaccine program, up from just a few thousand when the program launched two months ago.
19th Apr 2021 - CNN

Delhi announces week-long lockdown as Modi holds emergency meeting on soaring Covid wave

India’s national capital Delhi announced a week-long lockdown on Monday as the government battles a surge in Covid-19 cases amidst a shortage in the supply of oxygen and hospital beds. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said a lockdown would be in place from Monday evening till the morning of 26 April as the capital recorded more than 25,
19th Apr 2021 - The Independent

India to waive import duty on COVID-19 vaccines, says govt source

India will waive its 10% customs duty on imported COVID-19 vaccines, a senior government official told Reuters on Monday, as it tries to boost supplies to counter a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases. Imports of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine are due to arrive soon and the government has also urged Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson to sell their products to India. The official, who declined to be named, also said the government was considering allowing private entities to import approved vaccines for sale on the open market without government intervention. They could also be given the freedom to set pricing, he added.
19th Apr 2021 - Reuters India

Britain to add India to COVID-19 travel red-list - health minister

Britain will add India to its travel "red-list" on Friday after detecting 103 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in the country, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday. "We've made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the Red List. This means anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen cannot enter the UK if they've been in India in the previous 10 days," Hancock told parliament. "UK and Irish residents and British citizens who've been in India in the past 10 days before their arrival will need to complete hotel quarantine for 10 days from the time of arrival."
19th Apr 2021 - Reuters UK

The world needs a patent waiver on Covid vaccines. Why is the UK blocking it?

Last year the British government made a series of mistakes in its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. As countries from Thailand to the US battle another wave of infections driven by more virulent strains, the UK risks making another historic mistake that could scupper our chance to end this pandemic. Because coronavirus cases continue to rise worldwide, the risk of vaccine-resistant variants is increasing. Public health voices have already warned that if we don’t rapidly vaccinate the world’s population, our current generation of Covid-19 vaccines could be rendered ineffective within a year. The need for a rapid, global vaccination rollout is clear and urgent. Pandemics are, by definition, global health crises. No matter how high our vaccination rate may be, no matter what restrictions we place on travel, we will not be safe from Covid-19 until we have suppressed the virus across the globe. As things stand, many countries in the southern hemisphere may not manage to achieve widespread vaccination until 2024. This long delay puts us all at risk.
18th Apr 2021 - The Guardian


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

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France to impose 10-day quarantine for travellers coming from Brazil

France will order a strict 10-day quarantine for all travellers coming from Brazil starting April 24, the prime minister's office said on Saturday, in a bid to prevent the spread of a coronavirus variant first found in the South American county. France decided this week to suspend all flights to and from Brazil. The measure will be extended until April 23, the prime minister's office said in the same statement. Starting April 24, only people residing in France or holding a French or European Union passport will be allowed to fly to the country.
18th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Canada's Ontario to expand use of AstraZeneca COVID vaccine as epidemic rages

The Canadian province of Ontario will begin offering AstraZeneca's (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday to people turning 40 or older this year, according to a government source. The change will broaden access to vaccines as a third wave of infections threatens to overwhelm hospitals in Canada's most-populous province, and should make it easier to use doses that in some cases have been accumulating at pharmacies. The change will be announced on Monday and go into effect across the province on Tuesday, according to the source. The vaccine has already been distributed to pharmacies but currently can only be given to people turning 55 or older this year.
18th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Brazil warns women to delay pregnancy amid Covid-19 surge

Brazil has warned women to delay getting pregnant until the worst of the pandemic passes, saying the virus variant that is devastating the South American country appears to affect expectant mothers more than earlier versions of the coronavirus. The recommendation comes as Brazil continues to be one of the global epicenters of the pandemic, with more Brazilians dying of the virus each day than anywhere else in the world. Hospitals are buckling under the strain and stocks of drugs needed for intubating severely ill patients are running perilously low, with Brazil turning to international partners for help with emergency supplies.
17th Apr 2021 - The Guardian

Northern Ireland accelerates lockdown exit plans

Northern Ireland will open outdoor dining from the end of April and hotels from late May, the British region's government said, in an acceleration of its lockdown exit plans that will see it reopen its economy far faster than neighbouring Ireland. All retail, outdoor restaurant and bar services and gyms will open on April 30, the Northern Ireland Executive said after earlier indicating they would open later in May. Indoor dining and hotels will follow suit on May 24, subject to COVID-19 infection rates, the executive said in a statement.
17th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Biden administration to invest $1.7bn to fight COVID-19 variants

The United States will invest $1.7bn to help states and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fight COVID-19 variants that are spreading rapidly across the US. The investment is part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” and will improve detection, monitoring and mitigation of these variants by scaling up genomic sequencing efforts, the White House said on Friday. “The original strain of COVID-19 comprises only about half of all cases in America today. New and potentially dangerous strains of the virus make up the other half,” the White House said in a statement. In early February, US laboratories were sequencing about 8,000 COVID-19 strains per week. Since then the administration has invested nearly $200m to increase genomic sequencing to 29,000 samples per week – an effort that will get a boost with the new funding.
16th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Senators urge Biden to back temporary WTO waiver of IP rights to speed vaccine access

Bernie Sanders and nine other Democratic senators urged President Joe Biden on Friday to back a temporary patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines that would allow countries to manufacture treatments locally and accelerate the global vaccination effort. World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonko-Iweala on Wednesday urged WTO member to address inequitable access to vaccines, with low-income countries administering just 0.2% of 700 million global doses. She urged WTO members to advance negotiations on a proposal by India and South Africa and backed by over 80 WTO members that would temporarily waive the intellectual property (IP) rights of pharmaceutical companies. The issue will be discussed by WTO members in early May.
16th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Denmark speeds up reopening of economy as new virus cases ease

Denmark said on Friday it would reopen the economy sooner than expected as COVID-19 infections decrease, allowing indoor service at restaurants and cafes and football fans to cheer from the stands from April 21, weeks earlier than originally planned. Denmark has avoided a third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic after imposing wide lockdown measures in December, which slowed the epidemic considerably to between 500-700 daily infections from several thousands in December. Most of the planned reopening schemes are contingent on the use of a so-called "corona-passport", which shows whether the holder has been vaccinated, has previously been infected or has taken a test within the last 72 hours.
16th Apr 2021 - Reuters

India’s COVID vaccine maker urges Biden to lift exports embargo

The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, has urged President Joe Biden to lift an embargo by the United States on the exports of raw materials that is hurting its production of COVID-19 shots. “Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the US so that vaccine production can ramp up,” SII Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla said in a tweet on Friday.
16th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Uzbekistan imposes new COVID-19 restrictions from April 18

Uzbekistan will introduce new restrictions on public events, catering and transport services starting from April 18 amid surging COVID-19 infections, the state news agency UzA reported on Saturday. According to the country's special commission on combating COVID-19,
16th Apr 2021 - Xinhua

Merkel says lockdowns, curfews vital to break Germany's third wave

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged lawmakers on Friday to approve new powers that would allow her to force coronavirus lockdowns and curfews on areas with high infection rates, saying a majority of Germans were in favour of stricter measures. "The third wave of the pandemic has our country firmly in its grip," said Merkel, whose speech in parliament was interrupted by heckling from lawmakers of the far-right Alternative for Germany party opposed to lockdowns. "Intensive care workers are sending one distress call after the other. Who are we to ignore their pleas?" Merkel said.
16th Apr 2021 - Reuters


Public Policies - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 16th Apr 2021

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Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine research ‘was 97% publicly funded’

At least 97% of the funding for the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been identified as coming from taxpayers or charitable trusts, according to the first attempt to reconstruct who paid for the decades of research that led to the lifesaving formulation. Using two different methods of inquiry, researchers were able to identify the source of hundreds of millions of pounds of research grants from the year 2000 onwards for published work on what would eventually become the novel technology that underpins the jab, as well as funding for the final product. The overwhelming majority of the money, especially in the early stages of the research, came from UK government departments, British and American scientific institutes, the European commission and charities including the Wellcome Trust.
15th Apr 2021 - The Guardian

Make coronavirus vaccines patent-free, former world leaders urge Biden

President Joe Biden is being urged to suspend patents for coronavirus vaccines. The move would allow developing countries to produce the vaccines on their own. The request came in a letter signed by over 100 Nobel laureates and 75 former world leaders.
15th Apr 2021 - Business Insider

Belgium won't administer Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines yet

The first Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines will not yet be used in Belgium in the coming days, said Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke at the end of Wednesday’s Consultative Committee. The pharmaceutical company recommended that countries that have already received deliveries of the coronavirus vaccine not use the doses until the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has made a decision on its safety.
15th Apr 2021 - The Brussels Times

Portugal extends COVID-19 emergency until end of April

Portugal’s parliament extended on Wednesday a state of emergency for 15 days as health experts warned that a gradual relaxation of strict lockdown rules now underway could soon lead to a significant jump in coronavirus cases. The state of emergency grants the government powers to take emergency measures such as imposing a nighttime curfew if deemed necessary, though the general trend is currently to ease a lockdown imposed in January to curb what was then the world’s worst COVID-19 surge. Portugal started lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.
15th Apr 2021 - Reuters

In fight against COVID-19, Portugal continues to cautiously ease lockdown

Most Portuguese regions will enter the third phase of easing the COVID-19 lockdown next week, but stricter rules will stay in place in municipalities where transmission rates remain high, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday. "These set of measures are neither prizes nor punishments," Antonio Costa told a news conference. "They are public health measures for the safety of the population, of people." Portugal, which imposed a lockdown in January to curb what was then the world's worst COVID-19 surge, started lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.
15th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Global officials urge rich countries to donate COVID jabs now

Top officials from the United Nations, the World Bank and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance have urged rich countries to donate excess COVID-19 vaccine doses to an international effort to supply low- and middle-income countries. At Thursday’s virtual event hosted by Gavi to boost support for the COVAX equitable vaccine sharing initiative, the officials also appealed for another $2bn by June for the programme, which is aiming to buy up to 1.8 billion doses in 2021.
15th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Iran to purchase 60 million COVID-19 vaccines from Russia

Iran has finalized a deal with Russia to purchase 60 million doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Thursday. The report quotes Iran’s ambassador to Russia, Kazem Jalali, as saying the contract has been “signed and finalized” for enough vaccinations to inoculate 30 million people. Jalali said Iran will receive the vaccines by the end of the year. On Saturday, Iran began a 10-day lockdown amid a fourth wave of coronavirus infections. Authorities ordered most shops closed and offices restricted to one-third capacity in cities declared as “red zones” with the highest infection rates.
15th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Colombia rules out prompt opening of Venezuela border on COVID concerns

Colombian President Ivan Duque on Thursday ruled out a prompt reopening of his country's border with Venezuela, citing a high-level of COVID-19 infections. The 2,219km (1,380-mile) land and water border between the two neighbors - who do not maintain diplomatic relations - has been closed since last year. A new reopening date of June 1 was set by Bogota earlier this year. "I know all the urgency there is for the issue of opening the border," Duque said during a visit to the border province of Norte de Santander. But Colombia had to be "especially cautious" given the uncertainty over the COVID-19 situation in Venezuela, he said.
15th Apr 2021 - Reuters


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India seeks vaccine boost with Russian jab deal as Covid cases soar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government touted India as “the pharmacy of the world” not long ago as it exported more than 60m locally made doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab globally. But with ailing Covid-19 patients overwhelming hospitals in Mumbai, New Delhi and other big cities, the government is scrambling to secure more vaccines for domestic use. Indian drug regulators on Monday granted emergency approval to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, as daily confirmed Covid-19 infections hit a record high of 185,000. The agreement paved the way both for local production and potential imports of the vaccine.
14th Apr 2021 - Financial Times

Romania suspends use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pending EU probe

The first shipment of 60,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses arrived in Romania on Wednesday. Pending the conclusion of an investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for possible blood clot risk, the vaccines will be stored in a warehouse, the National Coordinating Committee for Vaccination Activities against COVID-19 (CNCAV) said. In the U.S., six blood clot cases have been reported among more than seven million people who received the shot. This batch entered Romania via its land border with Hungary one day after the American pharmaceutical company said on Tuesday it had suspended the rollout of its vaccine in the European Union (EU). Under its contract, Johnson & Johnson had committed to delivering 55 million vaccine doses to the EU by the end of June. The first vaccine shipments reached the EU states on Monday, but the U.S. company has since suspended further deliveries. Under the initial contract, Romania is to receive another 100,000 doses this month, 518,400 doses in May and 1.6 million in June.
14th Apr 2021 - Xinhua

Covid-19 vaccines: Denmark becomes first country to stop using Oxford/AstraZeneca jab entirely

Denmark has become the first country to entirely cease using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine following its possible link to very rare cases of blood clots. The decision, which removes the jab from Denmark’s vaccination scheme, will push back completion of the country’s vaccine rollout from July 25 to early August. Results of investigations into the blood clots “showed real and serious side effects,” according to Soren Brostrom, head of the Danish Health Authority. “Based on an overall consideration, we have therefore chosen to continue the vaccination programme for all target groups without this vaccine.”
14th Apr 2021 - iNews

Colombian capital to hold another weekend lockdown

Colombia's capital Bogota will repeat a three-day lockdown this weekend in a bid to slow coronavirus infections, Mayor Claudia Lopez said on Tuesday. A similar lockdown last weekend has helped slow the transmission of the disease, Lopez said in a press conference. People should stay home on Friday through Sunday, she added, and limits on when people can shop based on their ID number will continue. Intensive care units in Bogota have an occupancy rate of 76%, less than other cities like Medellin, which has also imposed quarantine measures. Officials will evaluate again next week whether to extend the lockdown measures, Lopes said. Colombia has reported more than 2.5 million coronavirus cases, as well as 66,000 deaths. It has administered more than 3.1 million vaccines doses, including more than 600,000 in Bogota.
14th Apr 2021 - Yahoo News UK

Maharashtra imposes 15-day lockdown to slow COVID-19 spread

India’s richest state, Maharashtra, will be under lockdown from Wednesday night for 15 days to slow rising coronavirus infections, its chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday. Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai and the country’s most industrial state, has been the country’s worst hit state, accounting for about a quarter of its 13.5 million cases.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Greece to lift quarantine rule for more travelers from next week: official

Greece plans to lift quarantine restrictions from next week for travelers from the European Union and five other countries who have been vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19, a senior government official said on Wednesday. Last month, the country lifted a one-week quarantine rule for Israeli travellers who have been inoculated and test negative. Greece, which emerged from a decade-long financial crisis before the pandemic last year, has said it will open its tourism sector, a key growth driver for its economy, from the middle of May.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Ukrainian capital Kyiv extends strict lockdown until April 30 - mayor

The Ukrainian capital Kyiv will stay in strict lockdown until April 30 as the daily number of new coronavirus cases and coronavirus-related deaths continues to climb despite tight restrictions imposed in March, the mayor said on Wednesday. “We have no other choice, otherwise the medical system will not cope with such a number of patients, otherwise there will be even more deaths,” mayor Vitali Klitschko told a televised briefing. Earlier, in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Kyiv limited its public transport services, closed schools and kindergartens, theatres and shopping centres, and banned spectators from sporting events. It allowed cafes and restaurants to provide only takeaway food, and recommended that all state employees to work from home. However, Kyiv continues leading other regions with about 1,500 new coronavirus cases and over 40 coronavirus related deaths registered daily.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Dutch PM Rutte extends pandemic lockdown as infections rise

The Dutch government on Tuesday extended most pandemic lockdown restrictions including a nighttime curfew as Prime Minister Mark Rutte cited rising COVID-19 infection rates and hospitals near capacity. “We have to see daily hospitalizations falling, then we’ll be over the peak of the third wave,” Rutte said at a press conference in The Hague. He said hopes that some measures could be eased on April 21 had proved illusory and they must remain in place until April 28 at the earliest. Current measures in the Netherlands, which has seen 1.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 16,700 deaths, include the first nighttime curfew since World War Two and a ban on public gatherings of more than two people.
14th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Europe won't renew AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine contracts next year: report

Amid delivery delays and concerns over rare but serious blood clots for the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shots, European officials are looking elsewhere for next year's supply. The European Commission has opted against renewing its vaccine contracts with AstraZeneca and J&J once they expire at the end of the year, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source from the Italian health ministry. Reuters also picked up the story. Both shots have come under scrutiny over rare but serious cases of blood clots in people who had received the vaccines, prompting several countries to halt use of the AZ shot while the European Medicines Agency completed a follow-up safety review. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has struggled to meet the delivery targets it originally laid out, while J&J just this week said it would delay its vaccine rollout in the bloc over safety concerns.
14th Apr 2021 - FiercePharma

Mumbai imposes strict virus restrictions as infections surge

The teeming metropolis of Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, the Indian state worst hit by the pandemic, face stricter restrictions for 15 days starting Wednesday in an effort to stem the surge of coronavirus infections. Top state officials stressed that the closure of most industries, businesses, public places and limits on the movement of people didn’t constitute a lockdown. Last year, a sudden, harsh, nationwide lockdown left millions jobless overnight. Stranded in cities with no income or food, thousands of migrant workers walked on highways to get home. Since then, state leaders have repeatedly stressed that another lockdown wasn’t on the cards.
14th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

EU throws weight behind Pfizer-BioNTech and new technology

In a stinging rebuke to pharma giant AstraZeneca Wednesday, the European Union announced plans to negotiate a massive contract extension for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine insisting the 27-nation bloc had to go with companies that had shown their value in the pandemic. “We need to focus on technologies that have proven their worth,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. She also announced that America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech would provide the EU with an extra 50 million doses in the 2nd quarter of this year, making up for faltering deliveries of AstraZeneca.
14th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press


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Stalled Pfizer deal clouds Israel's hopes of swift herd immunity

A bid to secure more Pfizer/BioNTech doses for Israel’s world-beating vaccination drive has become mired in political squabbles, just as its leaders saw the coveted prize of “herd immunity” as within reach. Although more than half the population has been inoculated, Israel may not be able to keep up the momentum of the roll out. Paralysed by repeated elections and political infighting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s caretaker government has been unable to push through a deal for additional doses.
13th Apr 2021 - Reuters

France suspends all Brazil flights due to virus variants

France suspended all flights from Brazil on Tuesday amid mounting fears over the particularly contagious coronavirus variant that has been sweeping the South American country. Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the suspension to parliament. “We note that the situation is getting worse and so we have decided to suspend all flights between Brazil and France until further notice,” Castex said, drawing scattered applause from lawmakers. Although France has seen comparatively few known cases of the P.1 variant striking Brazil, the ravages it is causing in Latin America’s largest nation are increasingly raising alarm bells in France
13th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

India gets third coronavirus vaccine as DCGI approves Russias Sputnik V

India's drug regulator, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Tuesday approved Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V for 'restricted use in emergency situations' in India. This was a day after the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) gave its thumbs up to the vaccine. Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Laboratories (DRL) has collaborated with the Russian health ministry to obtain regulatory approval for import of the vaccine in India.
13th Apr 2021 - Business Standard

Covid-19 in Scotland: Travel ban to be lifted from Friday

The Covid-19 restriction on travelling around Scotland are to be relaxed from Friday, while people are to be allowed to meet up in larger groups outdoors. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said measures were being eased earlier than planned to help people's mental health. People will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings. And they will be permitted to travel across Scotland to do so, as long as they do not stay overnight. Other restrictions are expected to be eased from 26 April - with premises including shops, gyms, pubs and restaurants due to reopen on a restricted basis.
13th Apr 2021 - BBC News

AstraZeneca: Irish health body recommends vaccine restriction

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be limited to over-60s, the Republic of Ireland's National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has said. The body oversees the Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme in the Republic. It said that the vaccine's benefits may vary by age and that, as other vaccines are available, it has revised its vaccine recommendations, reports RTÉ. All AstraZeneca vaccination clinics planned for Tuesday should now be cancelled, it has also been advised.
13th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Scotland to ease some COVID-19 restrictions early

Scotland will ease some lockdown restrictions for domestic travel and outdoor meetings earlier than expected, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday. She said people would be permitted to travel anywhere within Scotland to see family and friends for outdoor meetings from April 16, ten days earlier than planned, and those meetings could from then take place with six people from up to six households rather than four from two households.
13th Apr 2021 - Reuters

WHO urges halt to sale of live wild animals in food markets

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a halt to the sale of live wild mammals in food markets to prevent the emergence of new diseases. The WHO said on Tuesday that while traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations, banning the sale of live wild mammals could protect the health of market workers and shoppers alike. It said some of the earliest known cases of COVID-19 were linked to a wholesale traditional food market in Wuhan in China, with many of the initial patients stall owners, market employees or regular visitors to the market. The coronavirus’s origins more than a year ago have been the source of intense speculation, much of it centred around the likelihood that it was carried by bats and passed to humans through an intermediary species sold as food or medicine in traditional Chinese wet markets. The interim guidance was drawn up alongside the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
13th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Amid COVID surge, India fast-tracks approval for foreign vaccines

India will fast-track emergency approvals for COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorised by Western countries and Japan, paving the way for possible imports of Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Moderna shots. The move, which will drop the need for companies to do small, local safety trials for their vaccines before seeking emergency approval, came following the world’s biggest surge in cases in the country this month.
13th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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Africa must expand vaccine production, leaders say

Africa must expand vaccine manufacturing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and future health emergencies, including by forging partnerships to boost expertise and investment, continental leaders and international health officials said on Monday. Africa has struggled to acquire coronavirus vaccines and imports the vast majority of its medicines and medical equipment, leaving it at the mercy of overseas supplies. Its mainly poor nations are falling behind in the global coronavirus vaccination race with under 13 million doses administered so far to the continent’s 1.3 billion people, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said last week. World Trade Organization director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said it was “morally unconscionable and a serious economic hit” that just 1.1 per 100 Africans had received a vaccine while in North America the rate was over 40 per 100.
12th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19: India needs its own version of Operation Warp Speed

A report in The Economic Times says that Bharat Biotech is working on a plan to increase its monthly production capacity of the Covaxin vaccine from the current 5 million doses to 12 million doses. Serum Institute, which manufactures Covishield, is reported to be working on a similar plan. The arrival of vaccines against Covid-19 in less than a year after the first case was officially reported is on account of an extraordinary collaboration between public authorities and private companies. One measure which encapsulates this collaboration is the US government’s Operation Warp Speed, launched in May 2020, to shorten the timelines for vaccine development by providing upfront capital to spread the financial risk. Both the EU and UK have done something similar.
12th Apr 2021 - Times of India

G7 must spend £22bn to vaccinate the world against Covid-19, says Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has called for the G7 group of nations to commit £22 billion a year to a “Herculean” global coronavirus vaccination programme. The former prime minister said that Britain should provide up to £1.3 billion of the total to ensure yearly vaccinations for lower-income countries until the pandemic no longer results in deaths. Writing in The Guardian, Brown called for the mass vaccination of the world to be the primary focus of the G7 summit, which starts on June 11 in Cornwall.
12th Apr 2021 - The Times

Covid-19: Stay home order lifted in NI as restrictions ease

Northern Ireland's stay-at-home order has been lifted after being in place for more than three months, as further Covid lockdown restrictions ease. People have been told to "stay local" and continue to work from home where they can. Ten people from two households can meet up in private gardens and non-essential shops can resume click-and-collect. All pupils in Northern Ireland also returned to school on Monday for the first time since Christmas. Northern Ireland is the last part of the UK to lift its stay-at-home rule, which came into effect in January, in a bid to suppress a large rise in cases of coronavirus.
12th Apr 2021 - BBC News

Australia drops vaccine goal after AstraZeneca advice change

Australia has abandoned its target of vaccinating nearly all the country’s 26 million people against COVID-19 by the end of 2021 after medical authorities changed their advice on vaccine use for the under-50s. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would not set any new target for administering all first doses. “The Government has also not set, nor has any plans to set any new targets for completing first doses,” Morrison wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday. “While we would like to see these doses completed before the end of the year, it is not possible to set such targets given the many uncertainties involved. Australia’s vaccination programme was built about the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but regulators adopted a more cautionary approach after a tiny number of cases of rare blood clots were found mainly among younger people who received the jab.
12th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

UN chief urges wealth tax of those who profited during COVID

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared Monday that the world’s failure to unite on tackling COVID-19 created wide inequalities, and he called for urgent action including a wealth tax to help finance the global recovery from the coronavirus. The U.N. chief said latest reports indicate that “there has been a $5 trillion surge in the wealth of the world’s richest in the past year” of the pandemic. He urged governments “to consider a solidarity or wealth tax on those who have profited during the pandemic, to reduce extreme inequalities.” Guterres’ call followed an appeal in October by U.N. World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley to the more than 2,000 billionaires in the world, with a combined net worth of $8 trillion, to open their bank accounts. He warned in November that 2021 would be worse than 2020, and without billions of dollars “we are going to have famines of biblical proportions in 2021.”
12th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Indian panel gives emergency approval for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine: sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An expert panel of India’s drugs regulator has recommended emergency use approval of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, two sources said on Monday, which could make it the nation’s third to be approved as infections surge ...
12th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Dutch lockdown measures remain until at least April 28, ANP says

The Dutch government on Sunday dashed hopes of an early easing of lockdown, saying a night-time curfew and other restrictions would remain until at least April 28 as daily infections rose to a two-week high. Earlier the government had said they were looking at easing restrictions on April 21 by lifting the curfew and allowing bars and restaurants to welcome guests in outdoor spaces. But a government spokesman told ANP news agency they would move back the easing of measures by at least one week.
11th Apr 2021 - Reuters


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S.Korea to resume wider use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, exclude people under 30

South Korean authorities said on Sunday they will move ahead with a coronavirus vaccination drive this week, after deciding to continue using AstraZeneca PLC's vaccine for all eligible people 30 years old or over. South Korea on Wednesday suspended providing the AstraZeneca shot to people under 60 as Europe reviewed cases of blood clotting in adults. People under 30 will still be excluded from the vaccinations resuming on Monday because the benefits of the shot do not outweigh the risks for that age group, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement. Three vaccinated people in South Korea are reported to have developed blood clots, with one case determined to be correlated to the vaccine, Choi Eun-hwa, chair of the Korea Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices, told a briefing.
11th Apr 2021 - Nikkei Asian Review

Italy eases COVID-19 curbs as infections decline, but deaths still high

Lockdown measures will be eased from Monday in six Italian regions, the health ministry ruled on Friday, even as the nationwide daily death toll remains well above 400.
10th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Iran orders 10-day shutdown amid fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic

Iran imposed a 10-day lockdown across most of the country on Saturday to curb the spread of a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, state media reported. The lockdown affects 23 of the country’s 31 provinces, health ministry spokesman Alireza Raisi said. Businesses, schools, theatres and sports facilities have been forced to shut and gatherings are banned during the holy fasting month of Ramadan that begins on Wednesday. Iran’s coronavirus cases have surpassed 2 million with a new daily average of over 20,000 infections over the past week, according to the health ministry. It has reported more than 64,000 fatalities. “Unfortunately, today we have entered a fourth wave,” President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks. He blamed the surge foremost on the variant that first emerged in the UK which spread to Iran earlier this year from neighbouring Iraq.
10th Apr 2021 - Reuters

France to extend gap between mRNA vaccine shots, minister says

France will lengthen the period between the first and second shots of mRNA anti-COVID vaccines to six weeks from four weeks as of April 14 to accelerate the inoculation campaign, Health Minister Olivier Veran told the JDD newspaper on Sunday.
10th Apr 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Moldova to buy 400,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

Moldova will buy 400,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, the health ministry said in a statement on Friday. Moldova and neighboring Ukraine, two of Europe's poorest countries, have lagged behind the rest of the continent in the scramble for vaccines and welcomed donations from friendly governments. COVID-19 has killed 5,307 people in Moldova, a country of 3.5 million, which declared a state of emergency last week to give the government more powers to fight the pandemic. Moldova launched its vaccination drive after receiving AstraZeneca doses from neighboring Romania as humanitarian aid at the end of February. The country then became the first in Europe to receive doses from the global COVAX scheme for poor nations last month.
9th Apr 2021 - MSN

White House says J&J COVID-19 shot shipments to be low until U.S. vaccine plant cleared by regulators

Johnson & Johnson will ship relatively few COVID-19 shots around the United States until it receives regulatory clearance for a large vaccine plant in Baltimore that has struggled to meet quality control standards, a top White House Health official said on a Friday press conference. J&J is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to resolve the issues holding up authorization, said Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator. Once J&J receives authorization for its Baltimore facility, it expects to start shipping 8 million doses per week towards the end of April, Zients said, adding J&J remains on track to deliver around 100 million shots by the end of May.
9th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Merkel sets out plan to take control of Germany’s Covid response

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, plans to take control over the Covid-19 response from federal states to impose restrictions on regions with high numbers of new infections, as the head of the country’s disease control agency said Germany needed a two- to four-week lockdown to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. “Germany is in the middle of a third wave, so the federal government and the states have agreed to add to the national legislation,” a spokesperson for the German chancellor told reporters on Friday. “The aim here is to create uniform national rules,” she added, explaining that a change to the country’s pandemic law would likely be put before cabinet on Tuesday next week.
9th Apr 2021 - The Guardian


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Grim view of global future offered in intelligence report

U.S. intelligence officials are painting a dark picture of the world’s future, writing in a report released Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic has deepened economic inequality, strained government resources and fanned nationalist sentiments. Those assessments are included in a Global Trends report by the government’s National Intelligence Council. The reports, produced every four years, are designed to help policymakers and citizens anticipate the economic, environmental, technological and demographic forces likely to shape the world through the next 20 years. This year’s report focuses heavily on the impact of the pandemic, calling it the “most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political, and security implications that will ripple for years to come.”
8th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

German health minister says EU will not order Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

Germany’s health minister says the European Union will not order Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and his country will hold bilateral talks with Russia on whether an order makes sense. Jens Spahn told WDR public radio that the EU’s executive Commission said it will not place orders for Sputnik V on member countries’ behalf, as it did with other manufacturers. Mr Spahn said on Thursday he told his fellow EU health ministers that Germany “will talk bilaterally to Russia, first of all about when what quantities could come”. He said “to really make a difference in our current situation, the deliveries would have to come in the next two to four or five months already”.
8th Apr 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

Britain will achieve Covid ‘herd immunity’ on Monday, according to a UCL model

The UK is expected to pass the threshold for herd immunity by Monday, according to experts at University College London. Dynamic modelling suggests that the number of people who are protected against Covid-19, either because they are naturally immune or have received a vaccine, will hit 73.4 per cent on April 12. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics last week - based on antibody testing - show that around 54 per cent had antibodies by March 14. Since then, a further 7.1 million people have received a first jab, while nearly 100,000 more people have tested positive for Covid-19.
8th Apr 2021 - Evening Standard

Argentina curtails leisure, public transport use after hitting new COVID-19 record

Argentina tightened movement restrictions on Wednesday including curtailing the leisure industry and blocking nonessential workers from using public transport after the country hit a record number of COVID-19 infections as it struggles with a second wave of the virus. President Alberto Fernandez announced a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m., the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the suspension of operations for casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs in areas of the country with the highest infection rates. Sports in enclosed spaces with the participation of more than 10 people were also banned and in the Buenos Aires area, where cases have increased 53% in seven days, all but essential workers along with teachers and those with special authorisation are prohibited from using public transport.
8th Apr 2021 - Reuters

COVID: Qatar tightens restrictions as cases continue to rise

Qatar has announced tighter COVID-19-related restrictions amidst a rising number of cases in the last few weeks. The measures, announced in a cabinet statement on Wednesday, will come into effect on Friday as the country battles a surge in new COVID-19 infections. On Wednesday, the country reported 940 new cases, taking the total number of positive cases to more than 186,000 since the start of the pandemic. The circulation of coronavirus variants first identified in the UK and South Africa has contributed to the spread of COVID-19, according to Abdullatif Al Khal, the deputy chief medical officer of Hamad Medical Corporation. In addition to keeping gyms, swimming pools, water parks and spas shut, the new guidelines have now ordered the closure of museums, cinemas, libraries and nurseries.
8th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Governments give varying advice on AstraZeneca vaccine

In Spain, residents now have to be over 60 to get an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. In Belgium, over 55. In the United Kingdom, authorities recommend the shot not be given to adults under 30 where possible, and Australia’s government announced similar limits Thursday to AstraZeneca shots for those under 50. A patchwork of advice was emerging from governments across Europe and farther afield, a day after the European Union’s drug regulator said there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare clotting disorder while reiterating the vaccine is safe and effective.
8th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Canada’s Ontario issues stay-at-home order as COVID surges

Canada’s most populous province is imposing a stay-at-home order, nearly one week after medical and public health experts recommended such a measure as COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations are surging. Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday defended his government’s decision-making process, saying he is “listening to health and science” but could not predict such a steep rise in coronarivus variants and intensive care admissions.
7th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera

Bolsonaro again refuses lockdown as Brazil COVID crisis drags on

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has reiterated that he has no plans to order a national lockdown, a day after the nation saw its highest number of coronavirus deaths in 24 hours. Brazil’s Health Ministry registered 3,829 deaths on Wednesday, slightly lower than 4,195 fatalities from the previous day, a grim national record. “We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down,” said Bolsonaro during a speech in the city of Chapeco, resisting mounting pressure on his government to account for its handling of the surging pandemic. “There will be no national lockdown,” he said. Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 sceptic who has downplayed the threat of the virus, has remained defiant in the face of public health experts who have increasingly voiced the need to implement strict coronavirus curbs to address the crisis.
7th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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The Latest: Puerto Rico to vaccinate anyone 16 and older

Puerto Rico’s governor says officials will start vaccinating all those 16 years and older beginning Monday, prompting celebrations across a U.S. territory facing a spike in coronavirus cases. Currently, only people 50 years and older as well as anyone 35 to 49 with chronic health conditions are authorized to receive a vaccine. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi also announced Wednesday that he is implementing more stringent measures to fight a recent spike in coronavirus infections. A 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will go into effect Friday, and businesses will be forced to close by 9 p.m. That is two hours earlier than has been allowed. Puerto Rico has recorded more than 199,000 coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 deaths related to COVID-19.
8th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Argentina curtails leisure, public transport use after hitting new COVID-19 record

Argentina tightened movement restrictions on Wednesday including curtailing the leisure industry and blocking nonessential workers from using public transport after the country hit a record number of COVID-19 infections as it struggles with a second wave of the virus. President Alberto Fernandez announced a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m., the closure of bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. and the suspension of operations for casinos, bingo halls and nightclubs in areas of the country with the highest infection rates. Sports in enclosed spaces with the participation of more than 10 people were also banned and in the Buenos Aires area, where cases have increased 53% in seven days, all but essential workers along with teachers and those with special authorisation are prohibited from using public transport.
8th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Philippines allows use of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine for senior citizens

Philippine health authorities on Wednesday allowed the use of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine for some senior citizens after initially limiting coverage to people aged 18-59 years, as the country battles one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks. The Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration said they made the decision after receiving the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology's vaccine expert panel. Senior citizens can now receive CoronaVac shots provided there is stringent evaluation of the person's health status and exposure risk, they said in a statement.
7th Apr 2021 - Yahoo

Africa needs £9bn to buy enough vaccines to stop Covid-19 spread, say World Bank and IMF

Africa needs around £9bn ($12bn) to buy and distribute Covid-19 vaccines to reach enough people to stop the coronavirus spreading, according to a new paper by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The world's rich G20 countries should also extend a debt moratorium until the end of the year to help the poorest countries through the pandemic, the paper said. The money needed by Africa roughly is roughly the same as debt repayments already deferred by 45 of the poorest countries, the bodies said. Meanwhile a new Rockefeller Foundation report found that moves to bolster the IMF's emergency reserves could provide billions for poor countries to vaccinate, at no added cost to rich countries.
7th Apr 2021 - The Daily Telegraph

COVID-19: What 'freedom' really looks like come 21 June is a moving target

When Boris Johnson unveiled his four-month roadmap out of lockdown in February, he said the vaccination programme was "creating a shield around the entire population, which means we are now travelling on a one-way road to freedom". On Monday, he said the unlocking of our country and our lives was still on track as he used the Easter Bank Holiday news conference to confirm shops, pubs, gyms, hairdressers and restaurants in England will be able to reopen their doors once more from 12 April. Self-catering holidays will be allowed, and people will again be able to travel around the country.
7th Apr 2021 - Sky News

German govt welcomes calls for tougher COVID lockdown

BERLIN, April 7 (Reuters) - Any demands for a short, tough lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus are correct as infection rates are too high, a German government spokeswoman said on Wednesday, adding the number of patients in intensive care is rising.
7th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Brazil's Bolsonaro ignores calls for lockdown to slow virus

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday there would be “no national lockdown,” ignoring growing calls from health experts a day after the nation saw its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours since the pandemic began. Brazil’s Health Ministry registered 4,195 deaths on Tuesday, becoming the third country to go above that threshold as Bolsonaro’s political opponents demanded stricter measures to slow down the spread of the virus. “We’re not going to accept this politics of stay home and shut everything down,” Bolsonaro said, resisting the pressure in a speech in the city of Chapeco in Santa Catarina state. “There will be no national lockdown.”
7th Apr 2021 - Associated Press

‘Vaccine policy is economic policy,’ IMF chief stresses

Unprecedented policy response and speedy vaccine development helped pull the global economy back from the brink last year, but the outlook is still marked by severe uncertainty and increasingly lopsided access to wealth and opportunity, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) managing director said on Wednesday. “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said at a virtual news conference on the second day of the World Bank and IMF’s week-long spring meetings. “This could have been another Great Depression.”
7th Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English

India sees record 115,736 new COVID cases, night curfew in Delhi

India on Wednesday reported a record 115,736 new coronavirus infections, taking the total to more than 12.8 million cases, data from the health ministry showed. The death toll in the world’s third-worst-hit nation after the United States and Brazil reached 166,177, including 630 new fatalities, the most in four days. On Monday, India reported more than 100,000 cases for the first time since the pandemic began last year. Nearly 97,000 cases were registered on Tuesday. With cases continuing to surge in many parts of the country, authorities have announced strict restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. On Tuesday, the capital New Delhi imposed a night curfew from 10pm to 5am until April 30, with only essential services or people travelling to and from vaccination centres allowed on the streets.
7th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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Zimbabwe to Buy One Million Covid-19 Vaccines Each Month

“Our target is that every month, end of April, end of May, end of June, a million doses will be arriving and these will be fully paid for,” Ncube said in an interview with the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. The southern African nation bought 1.2 million Sinovac vaccines in March for $12 million, according to the Health Ministry. Zimbabwe has given emergency authorization to four vaccines -- SinoPharm, Sinovac, Covaxin and Sputnik-V -- and plans to spend $100 million to inoculate at least two-thirds of its adult population.
6th Apr 2021 - Bloomberg

Tanzania's new president prioritises COVID-19

Tanzania’s new president Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday drew a line under her predecessor’s controversial stances on COVID-19 and the media, indicating an apparent change in course for the nation after the death of John Magufuli last month. Hassan announced she was forming a committee to research whether Tanzania should follow the course taken by the rest of the world against the pandemic. “We cannot segregate ourselves like an island, but also we cannot blindly accept what is being brought forward to us (on COVID-19) without carrying out our own investigations and inputs,” she told officials at State House in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam. “Let us have a stance.”
6th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Colombia's capital Bogota to enter three-day quarantine from Saturday

Colombia’s capital Bogota will introduce new restrictions this week, including a three-day lockdown starting on Saturday, Mayor Claudia Lopez said, in a bid to curb a third wave of coronavirus infections. The decision to place additional restrictions in Bogota this week follows high growth in coronavirus positive test rates and increasing demand for intensive care units (ICUs), the mayor said late on Monday. “We’re all going to stay at home Saturday, Sunday, and Monday,” Lopez said in a video message, adding that essential workers would still be allowed out. The percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive has doubled to around 20%, Lopez said, while total occupancy of ICUs has hit 70%, according to local health authorities.
6th Apr 2021 - Reuters

AP Interview: India could resume vaccine exports by June

The world’s largest vaccine maker, based in India, will be able to restart exports of AstraZeneca doses by June if new coronavirus infections subside in the country, its chief executive said Tuesday. But a continued surge could result in more delays because the Serum Institute of India would have to meet domestic needs, Adar Poonawalla warned in an interview with The Associated Press. The company is a key supplier for the U.N.-backed COVAX program that aims to distribute vaccines equitably in the world. On March 25, COVAX announced a major setback in its vaccine rollout because a surge in infections in India caused the Serum Institute of India to cater to domestic demand, resulting in a delay in global shipments of up to 90 million doses.
6th Apr 2021 - The Associated Press

Iran receives first AstraZeneca doses through COVAX

Some 700,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been delivered to Iran as part of its purchase of millions of doses through the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative. As confirmed by an Iranian official and the United Nations’ UNICEF, which handled delivery, the first shipment landed in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport Monday night and included 700,800 doses of the vaccine.
6th Apr 2021 - AlJazeera


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India's richest state says to impose new COVID-19 restrictions, weekend lockdown

India’s richest state, Maharashtra, announced stringent COVID-19 restrictions from Monday, after a rapid rise in infections now accounting for more than half the country’s daily new cases. An industrialist who attended a meeting with the chief minister before the curbs were announced quoted him as saying that “the situation is grim and there could be shortage of hospital beds, doctors and oxygen cylinders”. He declined to be named, but the comments echo those of government and health officials to Indian media about the situation in the state, which includes the crowded financial capital Mumbai.
4th Apr 2021 - Reuters

Ontario hastily reverses reopening as new variants usher in a third wave of Covid cases

Lisa Salamon-Switzman, an emergency room doctor in Toronto, had already worked through two deadly surges of the coronavirus pandemic when a new batch of patients recently began arriving that left her unsettled because of their low oxygen levels – and their age. “They’re younger than what we saw earlier and they don’t really understand how sick they are,” she said of patients who are in their 40s and 50s. “And now it’s become this huge, huge wave.” Doctors and epidemiologists in Canada’s most populous province have been warning for weeks that the loosening of restrictions, a lack of sick pay for essential workers –and the arrival of infectious new coronavirus variants would usher in a devastating third wave.
4th Apr 2021 - The Guardian

UK ministers plan traffic light system to unlock foreign travel

Ministers will on Thursday hammer out a framework for reopening Britain’s overseas travel sector, as chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the country was “in a good position to recover strongly” from the Covid-19 crisis. Travel industry and Whitehall officials expect Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, will back a “traffic light” approach to restarting foreign travel, depending on infection rates and the prevalence of Covid-19 variants in overseas destinations. May 17 has been named as the “earliest date” for foreign travel; aviation sector executives hope Israel and Iceland will be among early holiday destinations on a “green list”, with the US not far behind.
2nd Apr 2021 - Financial Times

98pc of Pakistanis to get free coronavirus vaccine, says Fawad

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday announced that 98 per cent of the population will get free coronavirus vaccines, ARY News reported. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad today, Fawad Chaudhry said that the people can also get themselves vaccinated from private hospitals. The federal government has fixed the price of CanSino, the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Chian, at Rs4,225 per dose, the minister said, adding that people needed to get only one shot of the vaccine. Responding to a question, Fawad Chaudhry, “The Russian vaccine’s price cannot be determined at the moment, as the matter of setting its rate is currently underway in court.”
2nd Apr 2021 - ARY News Live

Fears of low turnout as Bulgarians prepare to vote in pandemic

With days until Sunday’s parliamentary elections, Bulgaria on Wednesday registered 5,176 daily COVID-19 cases – a record since the start of the pandemic. Despite high infection rates and a strained healthcare system, the Bulgarian government has decided to go forward with the vote. But with a growing number of people in hospital and home quarantine, questions have emerged about how they will be able to vote. The government has tasked the municipalities with organising mobile polling stations to accommodate these voters. Local authorities have said, however, that very few people have sent the required forms to request this option and therefore, few mobile polling stations will be made available. As a result, many of the 120,000 people under quarantine and the nearly 10,000 in hospital may be unable to cast their vote.
2nd Apr 2021 - Al Jazeera English