Coronavirus: A timeline of how the deadly outbreak is evolving
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Covid-19 Coronavirus
  • Global confirmed cases
    179,054,651
  • Global deaths
    3,879,279
  • Global death rate
    2.17%
  • Global recoveries
    129,466,325
  • Global recovery rate
    72.31%
  • Global confirmed cases
    179,054,651
  • Global deaths
    3,879,279
  • Global death rate
    2.17%
  • Global recoveries
    129,466,325
  • Global recovery rate
    72.31%
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Coronavirus: A timeline of how the deadly COVID-19 outbreak is evolving

1:49 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Experts predict higher prevalence of Delta variant

22 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 178,827,000 with more than 3,874,000 deaths and over 129,343,000 recoveries reported.

The US, India, and Brazil occupy the first, second, and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Of these leading countries, Brazil has the highest number of deaths per million at 2,401.1, followed by the US at 1,841.1 and India at 287.1.

In Europe, Italy, the UK, and France all continue to be badly affected, each reporting deaths of above 1,600 deaths per million people.

For most countries in South America, cases continue to climb.

Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina report seven-day case averages greater than 18,000, with a further five South American countries reporting a seven-day average greater than 2,000.

On Monday, Colombia reported a record 648 deaths and total deaths have surpassed 100,000, making it the tenth country to reach this figure.

Increased cases and a lack of vaccines have led to widespread protests.

Cases continue to decline in Japan, following a peak of over 6,000 reported daily in mid-May.

The current seven-day average reported was 1,416, down 22% since last week.

Despite this, concerns around the safety of the Tokyo Olympics persist.

Experts recommend that the daily average must fall below 100 cases in Tokyo for the games to be held safely.

Further to this, vaccination rates remain low at only 250 dose counts per 1,000 people.

The Covid Delta variant is now dominant in the UK, thwarting plans of lockdown relaxation.

Experts predict that other countries will see similar increases in the prevalence of this variant.

It is also probable that less genetic sequencing is masking the actual prevalence of this variant elsewhere.

Zoë Nicolaou, Intern in Epidemiology at GlobalData

10:01 am

International update: Covid transmission rising again in poorly vaccinated US states

22 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,873,388 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 178.7 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 602,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US reached the milestone of dipping below 300 weekly deaths linked to Covid-19 for the first time since March last year. However, Covid-19 transmission is accelerating in several poorly vaccinated states, primarily in the South, and more young people are turning up at hospitals. The data present the clearest sign of a rebound in the US in months. In Missouri, Arkansas and Utah, the seven-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed Covid-19 has increased more than 30% in the past two weeks, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. In Mississippi, the hospitalization rate is up 5% in the period.

Russia: Russian president Vladimir Putin warned that the coronavirus situation in some Russian regions is getting worse, as authorities began promoting the idea of revaccination in an effort to stem new cases

India: India added fewer than 50,000 new cases in the past 24 hours for the first time since March 24. The dip is a heartening sign for the nation that is still recovering from a devastating second wave. However, less than 5% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated. Some experts are already warning of a third wave as the economy re-opens from lockdowns.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh on Monday reported 4,636 new cases, the most in a day since mid-April, raising its total to 851,668. The reported death toll is 13,626.

Singapore: Singaporean authorities found 13 new coronavirus cases locally, as the government widened mandatory testing in a large neighborhood outside the city center where a cluster has been expanding since mid-June. Singapore has been pursuing a strategy of ringfencing clusters with aggressive testing as the authorities remain cautious over the loosening of restrictions.

Germany: German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned of the possibility of a fourth wave of the pandemic as the delta variant spreads, saying it’s important to remain cautious as the country plans for a potentially challenging autumn and winter.

Vaccine news

Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to jail anyone refusing to get the vaccine in a televised address when he expressed how “exasperated” he was by his own citizens.

Venezuela: Venezuelan doctors said they are having to turn people away from appointments for second doses because they are running so low on vaccines.

Africa: The World Bank will work with the African Union to quickly deliver vaccines by helping to finance purchases under a new initiative. They hope the scheme will help reach 400 million people.

South Africa: South Africa is planning to make vaccines locally using messenger RNA, the breakthrough technology of the global inoculation effort against Covid-19. The manufacturing will be conducted by the state-owned Biovac Institute, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, told reporters Monday. That will be part of a broader vaccine technology-transfer hub in the country, he said.

US: The Biden administration is expected to fall short of the president’s commitment to shipping 80 million Covid-19 vaccine doses abroad by the end of June, as demand in the US plummets.

The US said 150 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to a statement on Twitter by Cyrus Shahpar, White House Covid data director.

India: India gave out a record 8.3 million vaccine doses today under a federal campaign to inoculate all adults for free after weeks of criticism that a chaotic rollout had worsened a second wave that killed hundreds of thousands.

UAE: The UAE has quietly launched vaccine tourism, with the emirate of Abu Dhabi offering visitors free jabs after approving the inoculation of all those with visas issued by its authorities.

Kenya: Kenya will receive 358,000 AstraZeneca doses donated by Denmark on Monday to shore up depleting stocks for the second round of vaccinations, according to Willis Akhwale, chairman of the Covid-19 vaccine advisory task force. A total of 1.18 million vaccines have so far been administered across Kenya, but fewer than 200,000 people had received a second dose as at June 20, according to the Health Ministry.

Lockdown updates

Bangladesh: Seven districts surrounding Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka have been locked down following a spike in cases, according to a government notice. The curbs will remain in place until 30 June.

Canada: The Canadian government announced a loosening of Covid-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people amid warnings that a return to a completely open border will take awhile longer.

UK: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said England is on course to be able to lift coronavirus restrictions as planned on July 19, despite the spread of the delta variant. But Johnson also warned that foreign travel is likely to continue to be disrupted this year, with delays and complications for travelers.

9:20 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Tonix Pharmaceuticals developing drug for long Covid symptoms – Vaxxinity and Ubi-Asia sign vaccine purchase agreement with Paraguay

Tonix Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is planning on developing TNX-102 SL (cyclobenzaprine HCl sublingual tablets) to treat long Covid or post-acute sequelae of Covid-19 (PASC1). Tonix is expected to meet with the US Food and Drug Administration in the third quarter of 2021 to agree on a potential Phase II pivotal study and the clinical development of TNX-102 SL for long Covid treatment. TNX-102 SL is currently being evaluated to improve sleep quality in a Phase III study of fibromyalgia, for which interim analysis results of the second potential pivotal study are expected in the third quarter of 2021. Top-line results are expected in the first quarter of 2022.

Biotech Vaxxinity, along with UBI-Asia, have announced a purchase order with the government of Paraguay for its Covid-19 vaccine, UB-612. The agreement is expected to materialise on the basis of Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration’s issuance of an emergency use authorisation for the jab. The order to deliver one million doses of UB-612 was signed on 16 June 2021. The vaccine is the first multitope protein/synthetic peptide vaccine to fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Global WholeHealth Partners, a biotechnology company offering diagnostic testing services, has acquired the rights to sell and distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from Nunzia Pharmaceutical. The company will function as a broker for Nunzia and follow the same sales order processing as used by Nunzia. The news comes shortly after Global WholeHealth Partner’s purchase of the rights to distribute Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine.

2:03 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 178.5 million

21 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 178,516,000, with more than 3,866,000 deaths and over 128,960,000 recoveries reported.

The US, India and Brazil occupy the first, second, and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Brazil reports over 500,000 total deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The estimated case fatality rate in Brazil has plateaued at approximately 2.8 cases per million population since mid-May 2021.

New daily cases in the US are on a downward trend overall.

However, several states are reporting an increase in cases these include Missouri, Utah, Nevada, and Arkansas among others.

Italy’s seven-day average of new daily cases was reported at 1,158 cases per day in the week leading up to 20 June.

Spain has also reported a decrease in new daily cases, the seven-day average of new daily cases was reported at 3,406 cases per day in the week leading up to 20 June.

This is a 19% decrease from the average two weeks ago.

France reports similar trends, the seven-day average in the week leading up to 20 June was approximately 2,390 cases per day.

The UK continues to see an increase in new daily cases, with approximately 9,170 daily cases reported in the week leading up to 20 June.

In the Southern Hemisphere, almost all countries are reporting a dramatic increase in new daily cases.

Argentina and Colombia are among the worst-hit in the region.

Argentina report over 4,268,000 total confirmed cases and Colombia is approaching the 4 million mark for total confirmed cases.

In the week leading up to 20 June Argentina reported over 20,000 new daily cases, on average.

Colombia’s average for the same week was over 27,000 new daily cases.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:34 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Evergreen Therapeutics partners with ICON to trial Covid-19 drug – AstraZeneca welcomes Court ruling to supply jabs to EU

Biotech Evergreen Therapeutics has entered into a clinical service agreement with ICON, a clinical research company, to carry out a global, multi-centre Phase II clinical study of its Covid-19 drug candidate EG-009A. Under the agreement, the randomised, double-blinded controlled trial will be held in Argentina, Brazil and the US, and ICON will manage and oversee the trial and its medical testing responsibilities. The first patients are expected to be enrolled in August 2021, while the trial will be completed by mid-2022.

AstraZeneca has welcomed the ruling by the Court of First Instance in Brussels to supply its Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, to Europe. The European Commission had requested 120 million doses of the vaccine by the end of June 2021, and a total of 300 million doses by the end of September 2021. The Court ruling ordered the supply of 80.2 million doses of the jab by 27 September 2021. The company has supplied more than 70 million doses of its vaccine to the European Union to date and is expected to exceed 80.2 million doses delivered by the end of June 2021.

The Republic of Korea has pledged to contribute $200m in funding to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment, an initiative to procure Covid-19 vaccines for 92 low- and middle-income countries globally. Some $100m is expected to be provided in 2021, with an additional $100m to be offered in 2022. The pledge comes along with Korea’s support for COVAX through SKBio, a key supplier of AstraZeneca’s manufacturing network, which has so far delivered 49 million vaccine doses to 85 countries.

9:10 am

International update: Global Covid death toll heads towards 4 million

21 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising towards 4 million with a figure of 3,866,201 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 178 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 601,824 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

China: China will risk international isolation if it fails to allow a “real” investigation on its territory into the origins of the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said. Sullivan’s comments follow last week’s call by Group of Seven leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden for another probe into how the virus originated. Biden last month ordered the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to determine where the coronavirus came from and to report back in 90 days. China has rejected the theory that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were reported.

Portugal: More than half of the new Covid-19 cases being reported in the Lisbon region are of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, preliminary data showed on Sunday. Ricardo Jorge, from the national health institute, said the Delta variant represented more than 60% of cases in the Lisbon area though still less than 15% in the northern half of Portugal.

Japan: A member of Uganda’s Olympic team has tested positive for coronavirus and was barred entry into Japan, in the first detected infection among athletes arriving for the Tokyo Games, due to open in five weeks. The athletes, who arrived on Saturday night at Tokyo’s Narita airport, were all fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca and had negative PCR tests before boarding, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Brazil: Thousands of Brazilians returned to the streets on Saturday in protest against the response of Jair Bolsonaro’s administration to a pandemic that has killed close on half a million people in the country – the most after the US. On the second day of demonstrations in less than a month, the anti-Bolsonaro mobilisation is gaining momentum amid an ascendant curve of Covid-19 infections, while only 11% of 212 million Brazilians have been fully vaccinated, according to local media.

Vaccine news

US: With Covid vaccination penetration in the US likely to fall short of Joe Biden’s 70% by Fourth of July target, pandemic analysts are warning that vaccine incentives are losing traction and that “two Americas” may emerge as the aggressive Delta variant becomes the dominant US strain.

The highly transmissible delta variant first found in India is driving infections in parts of the US with low vaccination rates while having little effect in vaccinated areas, said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Connecticut, for example, where I am, shows no upsurge of infection, but Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri show very substantial upsurges of infections,” Gottlieb, who’s on the board of Pfizer Inc., said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “That’s based entirely on how much population wide immunity you have based on vaccination.”

President Joe Biden is traveling to North Carolina on Thursday to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated. The president’s trip to Raleigh comes ten days before 4 July, Biden’s stated target date to see at least 70% of adult Americans at least partially vaccinated — a goal that risks slipping out of reach. So far, slightly more than 65% of adults in the US have had at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite a vaccine supply that has become plentiful across the nation. North Carolina is lagging many other states and the U.S. average. In North Carolina, 44.6% of the whole population has been inoculated, compared with 53.2% in the US as a whole, according to CDC data. So far, 23 states and other jurisdictions have vaccinated at least 50% of their populations, the data show.

Japan: Some of Japan’s biggest private employers will offer on-site vaccinations for employees starting Monday. The move is designed as a boost for the country’s slow vaccine rollout and to leverage strong workplace culture in companies where some may spend their entire working lives. Workers’ families are also eligible, as are contractors. Using Moderna Inc.’s messenger RNA shot, the effort is currently expected to cover about one-tenth of the country’s 126 million residents and hopefully accelerate what is still among the slowest inoculation programs in developed countries, though its pace has picked up markedly since May. Universities will also be able to administer on-site vaccinations for students, faculty and staff. As of Friday, the government had received 3,479 applications for the program, with doses set to cover 13.7 million people.

Qatar: Qatar will require full vaccination for fans at the 2022 World Cup, the Associated Press reported, quoting state media. “Due to the possibility that some countries will not be able to vaccinate all their citizens, Qatar will not allow fans to enter stadiums without receiving a full vaccination against the virus,” Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani was quoted as saying.

Lockdown updates

France: Mandatory mask-wearing outdoors is being lifted and an eight-month nightly coronavirus curfew is ending in France today. The unpopular curfew has been scrapped just in time to coincide with elections in France in which the government faces pressure from a resurgent far right.

Thailand: With new cases under control and vaccination rates rising, Bangkok relaxed some Covid restrictions on restaurants, convenience stores and sports venues. Air-conditioned restaurants in Bangkok can operate at 50% capacity and remain open until 11 p.m., authorities said, and convenience stores can remain open 24 hours. Swimming pools and some sports venues are also allowed to reopen under some restrictions, according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

China: China’s southern technology hub is adding restrictions for travelers and tightening enforcement of existing virus controls, after 38 passengers aboard an inbound Air China flight from Johannesburg tested positive for Covid-19. Local authorities said this weekend that they will target 100% compliance with existing protocols on public transit, including monitoring of temperatures and health codes, as well as ensuring that all passengers wear masks. Also, passengers departing Shenzhen by air now need to show proof of a negative test result done within 48 hours. As of now, roughly 62% of the city’s residents have been fully vaccinated, and officials said they would redouble efforts to reach people 60 and older. The flareup and response suggest that China could continue to follow a rigid virus-containment strategy and keep borders shut, despite the mass domestic vaccination drive that has given over 1 billion doses.

UK: The UK is moving towards a situation where people who have been double-vaccinated could be exempt from quarantine, Public Health England’s chief Covid-19 adviser has said. Dr Susan Hopkins, one of the key government advisers on the response to the pandemic, said a decision would be made after the results of a study that uses daily lateral flow tests as an alternative to isolation for ten days after coming into contact with a positive case.

Meanwhile, German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned against traveling to London for the final game of the UEFA European Football Championship, citing the prevalence there of the delta variant of the coronavirus. “Soccer is lovely, but one doesn’t absolutely have to be there in London,” Spahn told German broadcaster ARD. Germany requires a two-week quarantine for travelers from the UK.

US: The US border is unlikely to be completely reopened until 75% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, Canada’s border chief said on Sunday in comments likely to fuel mounting impatience in both countries at the restrictions. “We haven’t reached the finish line, and the finish line is when a significant majority of Canadians, approximately 75%, are fully vaccinated,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told national broadcaster CBC on Sunday. At present, less than a fifth of Canadians have received two shots, according to data compiled by CTV News.

Guests lined up to board Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Freedom of the Seas on Sunday, marking the first cruise from a US port since the pandemic suspended operations 15 months ago. Passengers filed into PortMiami with suitcases in tow, a sight last seen in the world’s largest cruise port in March 2020. Freedom of the Seas can carry around 4,500 guests, and it’s expected to take about 650 on this first two-night loop, all of them Royal Caribbean employees who volunteered and were allowed to bring an 18-and-over guest. The trip is being dubbed a “simulated voyage,” a concept designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to essentially prove the ships are safe to sail with Covid-19 still circulating around the globe.

Economy updates

UAE: Dubai Airport, the world’s largest by international passenger numbers, expects to recover as much as 90% of its pre-pandemic capacity by autumn and will reopen a terminal as demand picks up. Air travel will get a boost as countries start to remove restrictions, while an upcoming holiday in the Middle East and Expo 2020 Dubai, which begins in October, will also help shore up demand, Dubai Airports Chief Executive Officer Paul Griffiths said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Sunday. The airport plans to reopen a terminal and concourse that were shut in March 2020, and will add 3,500 jobs to meet growing demand.

2:29 pm

International update: UK Covid cases pass 11,000 per day again

18 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,842,439 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 177.5 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed the grim milestone of 600,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Nepal: Nepal significantly reduced coronavirus infections after its worst outbreak, which overwhelmed the country’s medical system, but is in desperate need of vaccines, according to its health minister.

India: India’s life insurers are seeing a surge in claims due to the pandemic as the virus continues to ravage lives and livelihoods. Private insurer Kotak Mahindra Life expects to incur a loss in the June quarter due to a significantly higher-than-expected surge in claims during the second wave. Life Insurance Corp., the country’s largest insurer, saw such claims rising by more than a third in the nine months through December 2020 from the first wave of the pandemic.

Colombia: May soon surpass 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 as the government tries to balance protecting its citizens from the pandemic with reopening large swathes of the economy so that they can work and earn money for food.

Africa: Covid cases rose by more than a fifth week-on-week, pushing infections to more than 5 million, WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said on Thursday. The spike in infections should push countries and governments into “urgent action” to expand vaccinations and inoculate priority groups, she said.

UK: The UK recorded the most coronavirus cases in a day since mid-February, amid warnings the current wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible delta variant may still be weeks from peaking. More than 11,000 new cases of the disease were reported on Thursday, along with 19 deaths, according to the Department Health. A study by Public Health England showed infection rates increasing across all age groups, but are highest among people aged 20 to 29.

Vaccine news

Global: 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.

Denmark: Will administer Covid-19 vaccines for those aged 12 to 15, broadcaster TV 2 reported, citing sources. Danish health authorities are due to hold a news briefing to about using the vaccines on that age group later today, amid concerns there is limited information about possible side-effects to children who have nothing to gain from such a move.

Thailand: AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing partner in Thailand has missed a delivery target in the country and shipments to other Southeast Asian nations have been delayed, the latest setback for a shot that was meant to be the backbone of the global inoculation effort. Thailand was slated to receive and administer 6 million AstraZeneca doses in June, but health authorities this week said they would be distributing only about 3.5 million this month.

Taiwan: Will receive a second batch of 240,000 Moderna vaccines on Friday and another 410,000 doses will arrive in coming days, Taipei-based Apple Daily reported, without saying where it got the information. Taiwan has a contract with Moderna for 5.05 million doses and received 150,000 of them in late May.

US: The US recorded 2.05 million vaccinations on Thursday, the highest since 22 May according to data collected by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The seven-day average, now at 1.33 million doses, has been rising since a trough the first week in June but remains far below a peak of more than 3 million in mid-April. Meanwhile, The US eased trade restrictions on Iran, Venezuela and Syria, temporarily allowing expanded exports of equipment and services to help stem the Covid-19 pandemic as part of the Biden administration’s review of sanctions that could be hindering the global response.

The US will invest $3.2 billion into developing antiviral medicines to combat Covid-19 and other viruses with pandemic potential, the Health and Human Services Department said Thursday.

Gambia, which started its vaccination campaign against the coronavirus in March, has already run out of AstraZeneca shots.

Lockdown updates

Wales: Is delaying further easing of coronavirus restrictions for four weeks after seeing a spike in cases of the Delta variant of the disease first identified in India.

Germany: Will reopen its borders later this month to non-EU nationals who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the government announced Thursday.

Portugal: Travel in and out of the Lisbon metropolitan area is to be banned over coming weekends as Portuguese authorities respond to a spike in new Covid-19 cases in the region around the capital, officials announced.

Austria: Announced that revellers will be allowed to hit the dance floor legally again from next month as nightclubs reopen, in line with a broader easing of measures.

France: The tourism sector is taking a further step toward normality with the reopening of Disneyland Paris, two weeks after the country reopened its borders to vaccinated visitors from across the world.

Philippines: The Philippines allowed more doctors and nurses to leave for overseas jobs, a week after halting deployments when it hit a government-imposed limit. The government’s Covid-19 task force raised the annual cap for overseas deployment of newly-hired health workers to 6,500 from 5,000, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Japan: The Japanese government and Olympic organizers are making final arrangements to set a cap of 10,000 spectators for the Tokyo games, the Yomiuri newspaper reports, citing several unidentified officials.

US: BlackRock Inc. is adjusting its plans for US employees to return to the office, allowing only fully-vaccinated workers to come back to work starting next month. The world’s biggest asset manager said that US-based employees who’ve been inoculated can resume in-person work in July and August if they’d like to, according to a memo from the New York-based company. Unvaccinated staffers are not allowed in the office as of then, the memo said. Meanwhile, Bank of America Corp. expects all of its vaccinated employees to return to the office after Labor Day in early September, and will then focus on developing plans for returning unvaccinated workers to its sites.

UK: British officials are considering plans to open up international travel for passengers who have been fully vaccinated. Under the policy, which is still being discussed inside government, people who have received both doses of Covid vaccines would not need to quarantine on returning from medium-risk countries on the so-called amber list.

1:17 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections exceed 177.5 million

18 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 177,500,000, with more than 3,843,000 deaths and over 128,031,000 recoveries reported.

The US, India and Brazil occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Of the leading three countries, Brazil has the highest number of deaths per 1 million population at 2,370, while the US and India follow with 1,830 and 280 reported deaths per million population, respectively.

Italy, the UK, Spain and France remain badly affected, all reporting numbers of deaths over 1,500 per million population.

From Sunday, social restrictions in Japan will begin to be eased ahead of the Olympic Games, which are due to take place next month.

Measures were taken in May to curb the spread of Japan’s fourth wave of cases, with new daily cases reaching over 7,000.

Numbers of new daily confirmed cases have since decreased, leading to the relaxation of rules, with restrictions remaining on the opening times of bars and restaurants.

Olympic Games spectators will be capped at 10,000 or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:54 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Appili Therapeutics expands Covid-19 drug trial – EMA reports 415 blood clot cases in the European Economic Area

Biopharmaceutical company Appili Therapeutics has added several clinical research sites in Mexico and Brazil for its Phase III trial to assess Avigan/Reeqonus (favipiravir), its oral therapy for treating mild-to-moderate Covid-19. The expansion is expected to ensure the timely completion of the trial to reaffirm favipiravir as a potential oral Covid-19 antiviral treatment, with top-line results expected in the third quarter of 2021.

The European Medicines Agency has stated that 415 possible cases of rare blood clotting with low platelet count have been reported in the European Economic Area. This is among the 50 million people and more who have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines. Known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, the rare blood clotting occurred among 10 individuals who received the J&J shot, and in 405 individuals who were inoculated with the AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria vaccine.

The Danish health authority has announced that children aged 12 to 15 years will receive Covid-19 vaccines after the adult population has been fully vaccinated by mid-September. The move is an effort to boost the overall immunity of the population against the virus before the winter, the authorities confirmed. Denmark is expected to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to adolescents initially, as it is the only EMA-approved vaccine for the age group. The EU drug regulator is expected to authorise the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents in July.

 

12:17 pm

GlobalData Epidemiology Report: Global Covid cases pass 177 million – steady rise in UK and South Africa

17 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 177,043,000, with over 3,833,000 deaths and over 127,663,000 recoveries reported.

The US, India and Brazil occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The seven-day average of new daily confirmed cases continues to decline across all three regions.

Within the UK, following a substantial decline to new daily confirmed cases observed at the start of 2021, case numbers are steadily on the rise with a further 9,000 new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

In response, the government has delayed further lifting of social restrictions which were due to take place in late June.

New daily confirmed cases also continue to rise in South Africa amid a recent viral surge.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases almost doubled during the course of a fortnight, rising from 6.6 to 12.7 new cases per 100,000 population.

Tighter restrictions have been imposed on public gatherings and the sale of alcohol.

South Africa has been the hardest hit country in the continent, reporting over 1.7 million cases, totalling approximately 40% of the total confirmed cases in Africa.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:04 am

International update: US Covid death toll passes grim figure of 600,000

17 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,833,089 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 177 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed the grim figure of 600,000 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

President Joe Biden said China was trying to project itself as a responsible nation in regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it remained unclear whether Beijing was really trying to understand the origins of the coronavirus.

Virus hospitalizations in Texas have fallen to levels not seen since April 2020, when the pandemic was only beginning to spread in the second-largest US state. The hospital tally of virus patients has dropped to 1,560 in a state of 29 million people, down 90% from the peak of about 14,200 on 11 January, according to state health department data. Virus patients occupied less than 4% of intensive-care beds almost everywhere in the state and in some regions stood at less than 1%.

South Africa: South Africa’s Covid-19 infections jumped by 13,246 on Wednesday, the highest daily total in five months, its government said.

Italy: Codogno, the town where the first domestic transmission of Covid-19 was detected in Italy, has registered zero infections among its inhabitants for the first time since February 2020.

UK: Coronavirus variants will continue to emerge and “we will not be through this pandemic until the whole world has the ability to get vaccinated,” Susan Hopkins, deputy director of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, said at a House of Commons science committee meeting. “And that realistically is two years away.”

Vaccine news

EU: Johnson & Johnson is expected to miss its Covid vaccine supply target to the EU for the second quarter after millions of doses were banned for use in Europe over safety concerns, according to the European Commission.

CureVac said its vaccine was 47% effective, falling well short of the high bar set by other messenger RNA shots in a preliminary analysis of a large study muddied by the spread of virus variants. The interim analysis of data from about 40,000 volunteers included 134 Covid cases, the German company said in a statement. CureVac declined to say how many who got the shot got sick or how many received a placebo. But the results suggest the vaccine works less well for older people than in a younger population, Chief Technology Officer Mariola Fotin-Mleczek said in an interview.

Germany: Germany will this week pass the threshold of vaccinating 50% of its population with at least one dose, Health Minister Jens Spahn said.

US: More than half of unvaccinated Americans would prefer to get a Covid-19 shot from their local doctor’s office than a pharmacy or large vaccination site, according to a nationwide poll of 12,000 people by the African American Research Collaborative and the Commonwealth Fund. Over 40% of Latino, Black, and Native American people are still hesitant to get vaccinated, according to the survey. More than 70% of those communities say they face barriers when it comes to accessing the vaccines, such as transportation and difficulty getting off work.

China: More than 80% of the adult population in Beijing, or 15.6 million people, were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Wednesday, the Beijing Daily reported. China has administered 924 million vaccine doses in total.

UK: All care home staff in England will need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus under a controversial new law, the government announced.

New Zealand: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a vaccine rollout to the general population will begin next month, starting with people who are 60 or older from 28 July, then 55 or older from 11 August. Separately, New Zealand extended a pause on quarantine-free travel from Australia’s Victoria for another five days to 22 June, but expects to lift it after then.

Australia: Australia narrowed the range of people who will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concern about blood clots, in a move that could further slow the nation’s rollout. The Australian Technical Advisory Group recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be given to those aged 60 and above, up from the previous range of 50 and above. Australia has confirmed at least 35 cases of thrombocytopenia syndrome following administration of the shot, including two deaths. Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine will be the preferred option for those under 60, Health Minister Greg Hunt said at a press conference.

Macau: Macau has lowered the eligible age for recipients of BioNTech vaccines to 12 from 16, according to an order from the Chief Executive. Macau has administered 268,000 vaccines in total, enough to cover about 20% of its population.

Lockdown updates

UK: MPs in England have voted 461 to 60 to approve regulations that delay the easing of coronavirus restrictions in England to 19 July.

Japan: Japanese local governments will issue proof of vaccination documents to people who have received Covid-19 inoculations, probably starting next month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said. The documents will initially be provided to those who need them to travel abroad. Digital versions of the certification will also be considered.

The Japanese government recommended ending a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and other areas on Sunday as planned, because infections have fallen about a month before the country is due to host the Summer Olympics. A formal decision will be made by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who will have a news conference later Thursday on the issue.

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are making final arrangements to hold the Games with domestic spectators and will decide soon on the cap in numbers, broadcaster NHK reported.

Tokyo plans to continue asking eateries to refrain from serving alcohol even after the state of emergency in the capital is lifted on 20 June, public broadcaster NHK reported, without attribution.

Germany: Companies in Germany will from the end of June no longer be forced to allow working from home, chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff was quoted as saying.

India: The Taj Mahal reopened to the public as India pushes to lift restrictions in a bid to revitalise its economy.

Thailand: Thailand plans to fully reopen to foreign visitors in 120 days and give at least one vaccine dose to the majority of residents by early October to revive the tourism-reliant nation’s economy, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said. Some places will open earlier, with Phuket set to lead the way on 1 July.

Economy updates

EU: Ursula von der Leyen signed off on the first plans by EU member states to spend Brussels’ €800bn (£687bn) Covid recovery fund, as she sought to reverse the reputational damage inflicted on the bloc by the pandemic during a visit to Portugal and Spain.

UK: The UK extended its ban on evictions of commercial tenants by nine months to protect Covid 19-hit businesses from losing their premises while pandemic restrictions are still in place. The ban had been due to end on 30 June, but Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay told the House of Commons the government would extend it until 25 March next year. The government also plans to establish a binding arbitration protest for tenants and landlords who are unable to reach agreement on repayment programs.

9:49 am

Coronavirus company news summary – US purchases 200m extra doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine – Canada government funds research into Covid-19 vaccine for people with HIV

The US government has procured an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, including the option to buy other Covid-19 vaccine products from the company’s pipeline. The US government has procured a total of 500 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to date, including the delivery of 110 million doses by the end of 2021, and 90 million doses in the first quarter of 2022.

The Canadian government has allocated approximately $1.75m towards a study that will evaluate the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccination for people with HIV, through the Covid-19 Immunity Task Force and the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group. People living with HIV lack adequate immune response to diseases, and as a result, are vulnerable to Covid-19 illnesses and reduced response to Covid-19 vaccination. The study has received an additional funding of $2.6m from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Stop the Spread Ottawa and the CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network.

The UMass Medical School will begin enrolling 100 participants from the initial Pfizer trial into a Covid-19 vaccine booster study by the end of June, according to the principal investigator of an ongoing trial of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. The booster dose is expected to be administered about six months after participants received the second dose of the original vaccine. The Phase III trial will include 10,000 people from across the world who will be randomised to take a placebo or a third dose of the same vaccine. Researchers are expected to divide the study over two groups, those aged 16 to 55 years and adults aged above 55 years.

10:09 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Organicell Regenerative Medicine announces positive results from Covid-19 drug trial – Moderna and Magenta Investments partner to distribute Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE

Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Organicell Regenerative Medicine has announced positive results from its expanded access, intermediate-size patient population trial of Zofin in patients suffering from mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms. The drug met endpoint safety and efficacy, and was found to be well tolerated among subjects without causing adverse reactions. The company is expected to immediately submit the results to the US Food and Drug Administration to amend their approved Investigational New Drug application to perform a placebo-controlled randomised Phase II clinical trial.

Moderna and Magenta Investments, a pharmaceutical and healthcare company, have entered into a new partnership to distribute Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and its updated variant booster candidates to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) once approved there in 2021 and 2022. Magenta is a part of a UAE investment and industrial conglomerate.

Daiichi Sankyo is halting trials of its nafamostat inhalation formulation (DS-2319) for the treatment of Covid-19. DS-2319 is an inhaled form of nafamostat mesylate, which was being evaluated as a coronavirus treatment from March this year. The company had expected nafamostat to block the membrane fusion between the envelope of the virus that causes Covid-19 and the host plasma cell membrane, but after assessing ongoing non-clinical studies and the Phase I trial, it decided to end the programme. Nafamostat is used to treat pancreatitis and contains antiviral properties.

1:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Sharp case rise in Russia as global Covid infections pass 176 million

15 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 176,273,000, with more than 3,812,000 deaths and over 126,845,000 recoveries reported.

The US, Brazil and India occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

On Tuesday, India reported over 60,000 new cases, the lowest daily increase seen in 75 days.

Estimated daily recoveries continue to outweigh reported new cases for 33 consecutive days.

The daily positivity rate has also declined to 3.45%, remaining below 5% for the eighth consecutive day.

Numbers of daily new cases of Covid-19 have risen by 47% in a week in Russia (9,100 to 13,500 daily reported new cases), more than doubling in Moscow.

Increases are being observed in the rates of hospitalizations of young people, with approximately 78% of the hospital beds designated for coronavirus patients in Moscow already being occupied.

Enforcement of masks and glove wearing on public transport will be bolstered in response.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:37 am

International update: Covid Delta variant detected in 74 countries – spread continues

15 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,812,157 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 176 million world wide.

The Delta variant has been detected in 74 countries and is continuing to spread, prompting fears it will become the most dominant strain globally. There is also concern that while data is being shared, countries with weaker monitoring systems may not have detected the strain’s presence.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 599,945 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Experts have warned that the US risks seeing a sharp rise in cases caused by the Delta variant, especially in southern states where vaccination rates are lower than the national average. Currently 10% of Covid-19 infections in the US can be attributed to the Delta variant, but that proportion is doubling every two weeks.

Indonesia: Indonesia said it fears rising cases will not peak until July, despite hospitals in the capital Jakarta and other parts of Java already coming close to full capacity. The country is trying to increase hospital capacity and turn hotels into isolation centres.

Russia: Russia reported 13,721 new coronavirus cases, including 6,590 in the capital, Moscow.

Afghanistan: The two main hospitals in Afghanistan dealing with Covid-19 have had to turn away patients, saying they have no more beds and are short on oxygen and medical supplies.

India: New infections in India fell to 80,834, the lowest level since the start of April. Daily recoveries from Covid-19 have outnumbered new infections for 31 consecutive days, the health ministry said in an update.

Vaccine news

Global: Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc are highly effective after two doses at preventing hospitalization of those infected with the delta variant, underscoring the urgency in getting people fully vaccinated. The Pfizer and BioNTech SE shot is 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses, while the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford Covid inoculation is 92% effective, according to an analysis announced Monday by Public Health England. Those results are comparable with the protection offered against the alpha variant, which first emerged in Britain, the data show.

Novavax Inc. said its Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid and 100% effective at preventing moderate and severe symptoms. The shot was 93% effective against variants of concern, it said. The company expects to be able to manufacture 100 million doses a month by the end of the third quarter and 150 million daily by the end of the fourth quarter.

Thailand: Thailand’s recently launched coronavirus vaccination campaign was hit by confusion after at least 20 hospitals in Bangkok postponed Covid-19 inoculation appointments set for this week, citing delays in vaccine deliveries. A series of coronavirus outbreaks in Thai factories is also raising concerns that the export sector could be hit hard, threatening to further undermine an economy as it struggles to recover from the pandemic’s crippling blow to the crucial tourism industry.

Africa: A WHO official said Africa will get priority treatment for the 870 million vaccine doses pledged by the G7 because it has emerged as one of “the most vulnerable, under-served (areas)”.

Colombia: President Ivan Duque received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday, as he urged people to continue keeping themselves safe against Covid-19 amid a record number of daily deaths.

Myanmar: The former head of Myanmar’s Covid-19 immunisation programme has been arrested and faces charges of high treason for colluding with opponents of the military authorities, state media reported. The arrest of Htar Htar Lin and other doctors, following February’s coup, was condemned by the US-based Physicians for Human Rights.

Japan: Japan, which has enough vaccine doses to cover its population, will donate about a million shots of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to Vietnam, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday. It may also provide vaccines to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Japan’s defense ministry has decided to expand the age group of those getting vaccinations at large sites from Thursday, public broadcaster NHK reported, without identifying the source of its information. Those aged 18 and above from across the nation will be eligible, though they will require vouchers from local authorities. The ministry’s official decision on the matter will come Thursday.

US: Pfizer Inc. will examine cases of fully vaccinated people who contracted Covid-19 to determine whether and when a booster shot is necessary. More than 10,200 Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough cases have been reported in the US as of 30 April, although it’s rare for fully vaccinated people to get infected.

Lockdown updates

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England. He said the extra delay could prevent thousands of deaths by allowing more vaccinations. No 10 said data indicated two doses of a vaccine were needed for protection against the Delta variant causing a rise in cases.

The main impacts of that delay in England will be pubs and hospitality remain restricted to table service and with social distancing measures in place, people should still work from home where possible, theatres and entertainment venues will have their capacity held at 50% and nightclubs will have to remain closed. The suggestion, however, is that there will be some lifting of the 30-person cap on attendees at weddings in England.

Russia: Authorities in St Petersburg, which is hosting a series of Euro 2020 matches, said on Monday they were tightening anti-coronavirus restrictions in an effort to curb a new spike in infections. Food courts and children’s play areas in shopping malls in Russia’s second city will be closed, and no food will be sold at Euro 2020 fan zones.

India: Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions today. That includes the capital, Delhi, where authorities allowed all shops and malls to open, as the number of new infections dropped to the lowest in more than two months. Tourist sites like the Taj Mahal and Red Fort are also set to begin allowing visitors back in from this week.

Germany: Germany could soon begin easing rules on mask-wearing as the country enjoys a sharp drop in Covid-19 infections, health minister Jens Spahn said this morning.

Singapore: Singapore, one of the first countries to authorize the use of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for children aged 12 and above, plan to resume face-to-face instruction in schools on a staggered bases from28  June.

Indonesia: Indonesia said offices can only have staff equivalent to 25% of capacity, down from 50% previously, and said schools and places of worship must shut in areas deemed most at risk. The curbs will stay in place until June 28, with the police and military ensuring compliance, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said Monday.

Philippines: Manila and Bulacan province will remain under so-called “general community quarantine” with “some restrictions” until 30 June, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a recorded briefing Monday night. The neighboring provinces of Rizal, Laguna and Cavite – which host some export manufacturers – will be put under the same quarantine status, but with “heightened restrictions”. A stricter quarantine classification will be imposed on more than a dozen areas including Davao City, the economic center of Mindanao Island.

Japan: An expert panel in the southern Japanese prefecture of Okinawa prefecture sees the need to extend a state of emergency due to expire on20  June, broadcaster TV Asahi reported, without attribution. Although daily infections are declining, the medical system remains strained and the prefecture’s government will decide whether to ask the central authority for an extension.

Economy updates

US: Honeywell International Inc. is shutting two N95 mask facilities that were hastily run up for production last year. The shutdowns will affect about 470 workers in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and another 700 in Phoenix, and come after many states ended mask mandates and as vaccines gave more people confidence to forgo face coverings, Honeywell said.

10:05 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna applies for Covid-19 vaccine approval for adolescents in Switzerland – Humanigen commences rolling review submission for UK authorisation of Covid-19 drug

Moderna has submitted an application to Swissmedic, the national supervisory authority for drugs and medical products, to authorise the use of its Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents in Switzerland. Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine met its primary immunogenicity endpoint in a Phase II/III TeenCOVE study of its vaccine in adolescents in May 2021, the company confirmed. It also announced it had filed for authorisation with the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada.

Humanigen, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, has started a rolling review submission for marketing authorisation by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency for its Covid-19 drug, lenzilumab. The company said it has already applied for emergency use authorisation in the US. The application follows results from the LIVE-AIR clinical study, which shows the drug to improve patient outcomes.

New Public Health England (PHE) analysis has found that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines offer high levels of protection against hospitalisation from the Delta variant, first identified in India. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in England due to the highly transmissible Delta variant of concern, which is also linked with high risks of hospitalisation among the unvaccinated. PHE confirmed that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs are 96% and 92% effective against hospitalisations after two doses, respectively.

4:15 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 176 million

14 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 176,000,000, with more than 3,805,000 deaths and over 126,497,000 recoveries reported.

The US, Brazil and India occupy the first, second and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The gap between the US and India for first and second position is closing, with the US now reporting only 4,000,000 total confirmed cases more than India.

However, of the top three, Brazil has observed the highest case fatality rate of 2.8%, compared to 1.7% and 1.27% for the US and India, respectively.

The number of active cases worldwide continues to decrease, sitting currently at 45,663,000.

As cases continue to fall across Europe, there has been a corresponding drop in hospitalisations and deaths, meaning 36 out of 53 countries in the region have begun to ease lockdown measures.

The WHO has urged Europeans to travel responsibly, amid recent surges in the number of cases of the Delta variant, first identified in India, which has demonstrated increased transmissibility.

With only approximately 30% of people in the region having received the first dose of the vaccine, this would not be sufficient to prevent a further wave of coronavirus infections.

Ellie Sutcliffe, BSc, Senior Analyst and Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:48 am

International update: US Covid deaths near 600,000 – Global infections pass 175 million

14 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,800,590 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 175 million world wide.

G7 leaders have renewed calls into an investigation of the origin of the pandemic amid questions over whether it leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 599,769 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US is approaching 600,000 deaths from Covid, even as new fatalities, infections and hospitalizations continue to plummet nationwide. The vaccination drive has slowed significantly but the results are clear: Masks are disappearing, the country is largely reopening. Daily deaths have fallen from a peak of more than 5,000 in February to an average of about 300 over the last week.

President Joe Biden said Sunday the US may be able to provide 1 billion more doses of coronavirus vaccine to the world by 2023, and again raised the possibility that the virus may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory. “I haven’t reached a conclusion, because our intelligence community is not certain yet whether or not this was a consequence of, from the marketplace, a bat interfacing with animals in the environment that caused this Covid-19, or whether it was an experiment gone awry,” he said Sunday at a news conference in Cornwall, England, following the completion of the Group of Seven summit. “It’s important to know the answer to that.”

UK: The UK reported eight new deaths and a further 7,490 positive cases, according to official data. Sundays figures are an increase of 2,149 from last weeks figure of 5,341. Becoming the second week in a row, the country has recorded over 2000 new cases from an increase on 30 May – 6 June, which showed an increase of 2,101.

Peru: Peru passed two million positive cases, with 2,001,059 people now contracting the virus and 188,443 deaths.

Germany: Germany reported 20 deaths connected to Covid-19, the lowest number since 31 May. The number of reported daily virus cases was 1,484, showing the third decline in a row. Given the waning coronavirus pandemic, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht called on the federal states to review the continuation of the mandatory mask requirement.

India: New infections in India fell to 80,834, the lowest level since the start of April. Daily recoveries from Covid-19 have outnumbered new infections for 31 consecutive days, the health ministry said in an update.

Vaccine news

Lebanon: Lebanon administered more than 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in a weekend drive to contain the pandemic.

US: The US has administered over 309 million vaccines, with almost 87% of people 65 and older receiving at least one dose and 76% fully vaccinated.

As US public health advisers prepare to meet on Friday to discuss a potential link between Covid-19 shots that use messenger RNA technology and heart inflammation, a former Food and Drug Administration chief cast doubt on the connection. “It’s not clear that it’s the vaccine or a change in behavior,” former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer Inc.’s board of directors, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

California’s vaccinations are approaching 40 million ahead of the state’s reopening on Tuesday. “Everyday life will feel a lot like before Covid-19,” the Department of Developmental Service said in a tweet. “Restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, and most everyday places will be open as normal with no capacity limits or social distancing required.”

A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit brought by employees of a Houston hospital contesting a requirement that staff be vaccinated against Covid-19. US District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston dismissed the suit Saturday in a scathing ruling: He said the claim from 117 employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital that the requirement amounted to Nazi-era human experimentation was both irrelevant and offensive. “Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes wrote.

UK: British prime minister Boris Johnson rejected suggestions by a former prime minister that there may be an ‘unforgivable moral failure’ in the supply of vaccine doses to cover the needs of poorer nations.

South Africa: South Africa will dispose of 2 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines following a US ruling that ingredients for the country’s doses may have been contaminated during production in a plant in Baltimore, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Lockdown updates

Portugal: Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa pledged no return to Covid restrictions despite growing infections over the past month.

UK: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to delay his plan to lift England’s pandemic restrictions amid concerns that a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases could put hospitals under strain. The surge in the delta variant first identified in India has forced Johnson and his team to rethink their blueprint for ending social distancing rules on 21 June. Instead, officials now expect the premier to announce a delay of as long as four weeks to the easing of most rules when he sets out his decision to the nation on Monday evening.

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City’s health department advised the city government to extend social distancing restrictions for two more weeks from 15 June, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing information from a Monday morning meeting. Removing the current anti-virus measures due to expire just before midnight risks accelerating the spread of Covid-19, said the city’s Health Department Director Nguyen Tan Binh, Tuoi Tre reported.

Germany: German Health Minister Jens Spahn suggested ending the mask mandate for outdoor activities as Covid-19 infections recede. Daily deaths in Germany attributed to Covid-19 declined to 18, the Robert Koch Institute health agency said on its website Sunday, the fewest since October.

Japan: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gained the support of US President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders for Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympics next month, in a boost for the premier’s plans to push ahead with the event despite virus concerns.

Malaysia: Malaysia is studying the possibility of easing the standard operating procedures of its current nationwide lockdown if daily Covid-19 infections drop below 4,000, Star reported, citing Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

UAE: The UK has been removed from Abu Dhabi’s “Green List,” meaning travelers from the country will now need to quarantine on arrival in the Middle Eastern city.

9:47 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna and Tabuk Pharmaceutical partner to commercialise Covid-19 vaccine – FDA authorises Emergent Biosolutions’ Covid-19 vaccine drug substance

Moderna and Tabuk Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company have entered into an agreement to commercialise Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and other variant-specific booster doses in Saudi Arabia. Under the agreement, Tabuk Pharmaceuticals holds the exclusive marketing authorisation for the vaccine in the country, with the possibility to distribute other Moderna mRNA products if approved in the future.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorised two batches of Emergent BioSolutions’ Covid-19 vaccine developed at the company’s Baltimore Bayview facility, as part of Johnson & Johnson’s emergency use authorisation. Emergent plans to resume manufacturing of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine drug substance after both the companies and the FDA confirm that relevant steps have been taken to resolve shortcomings.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has identified a new rare blood condition associated with AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, and stated that it is looking into cases of heart inflammation following vaccination from all Covid-19 vaccines. The EMA said capillary leak syndrome (CLS) must be included as a new side effect to the labelling on AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria vaccine. It added that individuals having experienced CLS, where fluids leak from the smallest blood vessels causing inflammation and a blood pressure drop, should not receive the jab.

5:39 pm

International update: Miami Bitcoin conference causes Covid spike – Covid outbreak in G7 summit hotel

11 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,773,362 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 174 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 598,748 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Last week’s Bitcoin 2021 conference, which sold at least 12,000 tickets, brought mostly unmasked crowds together in Miami’s Wynwood arts district, was a hotspot for a Covid outbreak, attendees said. There were also countless other gatherings and afterparties. Cryptocurrency podcaster Luke Martin said he caught Covid-19 during the conference, one of the biggest events to take place in the U.S. since the pandemic began. Larry Cermak, research director at the Block, a cryptocurrency news and information website, said he hadn’t gotten it, but “everyone” whom he hung out with during the three days of conferencing and partying did.

The US will purchase half a billion Covid-19 vaccine doses for lower income countries with no strings attached, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday. “Half a billion vaccines will start to be shipped in August, as quickly as they roll off the manufacturing line,” Biden said at a news conference before the G7 summit in Britain.

EU: The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said it was necessary to know the origins of Covid-19 and investigators needed to have full access to sites which could shed lights on the matter.

A rather bleak report from the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency says that the coronavirus pandemic has had an unprecedented and profound effect on human rights, fuelling racism and child abuse. The annual report says: “The pandemic and the reactions it triggered exacerbated existing challenges and inequalities in all areas of life, especially affecting vulnerable groups.”

China: More than 10% of Covid-19 patients in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, have become critically ill – a higher percentage than in previous outbreaks in China, a local health official said at a media briefing, the Global Times reported. Guan Xiangdong, a specialist with the local Covid-19 medical team, said he believed the reason was more virulent Covid strains. Many of the patients are senior citizens whose condition deteriorates quickly after the onset of symptoms, he said.

Russia: Covid numbers have been at a remarkably steady uniform level for months on end, but this week the official case tally is seeing a steady rise, and today was the highest number for three months at 11,699.

South Africa: Has entered its third wave of Covid-19 infections as the continent’s worst-hit country registered 9,149 new cases, Reuters reports. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID) said South Africa had exceeded the national 7-day moving average incidence of 5,959 cases as defined by the ministerial advisory committee (MAC).

UK: Covid-19 case rates have increased across every region in England with a sharp rise in the North West, new figures show. The latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE), published on Thursday, shows that rates in north-west England increased to 149.6 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 6 June, up week-on-week from 89.4, PA news reports. This is the highest for the region since the week ending 21 February and is also the highest of any region in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to delay the final stage of pandemic lockdown easing in England, in a blow to hospitality and entertainment businesses that want to see social-distancing rules dropped. Johnson is due to announce on Monday whether he will lift remaining curbs, imposed in January to contain a wave of infections, on 21 June.

A Covid-19 outbreak in one of the G7 summit hotels set off alarm bells in the German delegation hours before Chancellor Angela Merkel’s arrival in the UK. Members of Merkel’s security detail were already staying in the Pedn Olva hotel, in the host town of St Ives, before local staff tested positive, according to a German official.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK will start donating vaccines to countries in need within weeks, with at least 100 million surplus doses set to be distributed in the next year. Johnson’s announcement comes after US. President Joe Biden promised to donate half a billion Pfizer Inc. vaccines to 92 lower income countries and the African Union. Group of Seven leaders meeting from Friday in the UK are expected to collectively provide a billion extra doses with the aim of inoculating 80% of the world’s adult population and ending the pandemic in 2022.

India: The discovery of several thousand unreported deaths in the state of Bihar, India, has raised suspicion that many more coronavirus victims have not been included in official figures. The health department in Bihar revised its total Covid-19 related death toll to more than 9,429 from about 5,424 on Wednesday. The newly-reported deaths had occurred last month and state officials were investigating the lapse, a district health official said, blaming the oversight on private hospitals.

Taiwan: A cluster of infections across four Taiwan semiconductor factories is still growing, with 43 new cases reported today.

Mexico: Reported a daily rise of 225 deaths, bringing the total to 229,578, the Health Ministry said, adding that the number of cases rose 3,672 to 2,445,538.

Vaccine news

EU: The EU decided not to take up an option to buy 100m doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine in March, European officials have said.

US: Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine can be kept in a refrigerator for four and a half months, extending the shot’s shelf life by 50%. the US Food and Drug Administration decided. As doses languish amid a slowing US immunization campaign, concern has been growing that some shots could spoil before they are used.

Indonesia: Plans to expand its Covid-19 vaccination program to anyone aged 18 years and older as early as this month or early July. The government seeks to begin offering the shots to 141.3 million people in a bid to reach herd immunity against the new coronavirus, said Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the spokeswoman for the government’s Covid-19 task force.

South Korea: Is considering plans to vaccinate workers at key businesses including chip and electronics firms to prevent disruptions to production, an official at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Philippines: A delay in Covid-19 vaccine deliveries to the Philippines has forced some cities in the capital region to close vaccination sites, complicating Manila’s efforts to ramp up its immunisation drive.

Lockdown updates

Ukraine: has reiterated that it will not allow foreigners inoculated with the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik into the country if they do not also provide a negative test for the coronavirus.

Bulgaria: plans to lift the compulsory wearing of face masks in gyms, hairdressing salons, small shops and offices where all workers are vaccinated as coronavirus infections decrease.

Denmark: will ditch the use of masks in most public spaces and allow 25,000 fans to attend European Championship matches in Copenhagen.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s government said this morning that it would review its plan for a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore in early July, after the proposal was derailed for a second time in May due to a surge of cases in Singapore.

Singapore: Singapore will start a phased easing of its Covid-19 restrictions from Monday its health ministry said, after domestic transmission of the virus slowed and the number of new cases declined.

Japan: Foreign leaders, sponsors and even International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach should stay away from the Tokyo Games to minimize risks from the coronavirus, the leader of Japan’s main opposition party said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is planning to cancel all Olympic public viewings in the capital, Jiji reported, citing several unidentified people. The city will consider utilizing the sites for vaccinations. In a separate report citing unidentified people, Jiji said a group of experts advising the Japanese government on Covid-19 is planning to warn that infection risk will increase if the games are held with spectators.

Chile: Announced a full lockdown in the capital city of Santiago and surrounding municipalities as the number of available hospital beds hits dangerously low levels and new cases remain high.

2:07 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 175 million as US trends down

11 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 174,870,000, with more than 3,770,000 deaths and 125,000,000 recoveries reported.

China and US continue to lead the world in the number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered.

The US’ daily confirmed cases continue to trend downwards in recent weeks.

India is also among the top countries for total vaccine doses administered; however, the country is still reporting high daily confirmed cases and deaths.

Despite this, over 27 million individuals recovered from Covid-19 in India.

Chile’s government has announced an immediate lockdown in the capital of Santiago amid the upwards trend of Covid-19 cases.

On Thursday, Chile reported 7,716 new daily cases and has a seven-day average of over 4,700 new daily confirmed cases over the past week.

Criticism of the government focused on the triumphalism over the vaccine rollout and loosening of COVID-19 restrictions too fast.

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

9:48 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna submits EUA request to FDA for use of Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents – US to donate 500 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to low-income countries

Moderna has submitted an emergency use authorisation (EUA) request to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents in the US. The company has already filed EUA requests with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Health Canada and is expected to do the same with other regulatory agencies worldwide to approve its vaccine for this age group.

Pfizer and BioNTech will be providing 500 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to the US government at a not-for-profit price, to be distributed to lower-income countries and related organisations. Around 200 million doses will be offered in 2021, while the remaining 300 million doses will be provided in the first half of 2022. The vaccines will be donated to at least 100 low- and lower middle-income countries including those in the African Union, and the partners will work with the COVAX facility to ensure efficient and equitable distribution.

The US FDA has authorised the shelf life extension of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine from three months to four and a half months. The decision was made based on data received from ongoing stability assessment studies, which found the vaccine to be stable at four and a half months when refrigerated at 2-8°C. J&J’s Phase III ENSEMBLE study has found the single-shot Covid-19 vaccine to be effective against prevalent Covid-19 variants of concern.

2:35 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections approach 175 million

10 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 174,480,200, with more than 3,750,000 deaths and over 125,270,000 recoveries reported.

The US, India, and Brazil occupy the first, second, and third positions, respectively for total confirmed Covid-19 cases.

India is closing in on the US due to its new confirmed cases reaching over 80,000 new infections each day since mid-May.

South America countries continue to be affected by Covid-19 as Peru and Argentina’s seven-day average daily new confirmed cases are trending upwards (rates of 3,498 and 2,498, respectively).

Indonesia reported over 7,700 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, its highest daily number since late February and brings the total number of cases to over 1.8 million.

Health experts are urging Indonesian government to speed up vaccinations.

A health ministry official confirmed that vaccinations would now be open to those over 18 years of age in Jakarta, which is the epicentre of the outbreak.

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:23 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Merck agrees US supply deal for antiviral molnupiravir – Scottish study highlights rarity of blood clot events linked to AZ jab

Merck has entered into a supply agreement with the US government for molnupiravir (MK-4482). Molnupiravir is currently being assessed in a Phase III clinical trial, the MOVe-OUT study, for treating non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients with at least one risk factor linked to poor disease outcomes. Merck has collaborated with biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop the oral antiviral candidate. Merck is expected to receive $1.2bn to supply 1.7 million courses of the therapy if granted emergency use authorisation or approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

A Scottish study focused on examining the side effects of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine found only a link with generally harmless bleeding among almost 5.4 million people who took the jab. The study confirmed no association between the vaccine and brain clots in the study population, highlighting the rarity of serious blood disorders. The University of Edinburgh researchers found only one additional case of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) per 100,000 people following the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while no link was established between the shot and more dangerous cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).

A preclinical study of Selva Therapeutics’ antiviral drug SLV213 has demonstrated efficacy against three major Covid-19 variants of concern. While earlier studies established the drug’s strong antiviral effects against the original strain of Covid-19, the follow-up study revealed it is equally potent against some of the existing variants of concern, including the UK variant (B.1.1.7), the Brazil variant (P.1), and the South Africa variant (B.1.351).

9:25 am

International update: India reports record daily Covid death toll

10 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,758,344 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 174.4 million world wide.

Meanwhile, Experts at the Wuhan Institute of Virology reiterated that no one at the lab has contracted the virus that causes Covid-19, in an interview with state media, the latest pushback from China against the theory that it leaked from there that has gained renewed traction. The experts, who requested anonymity, called on individuals from the West to present their proof and dismissed US intelligence report saying three researchers were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms consistent with that of the flu and Covid, according to the interview with state-backed English-language newspaper China Daily. China has repeatedly denied that the virus leaked from the lab. The Group of Seven leaders are set to call for a fresh, transparent, World Health Organization-convened study into the origins of the coronavirus, according to a draft statement seen by Bloomberg News.

Anthony Fauci, the top Covid-19 adviser for the US government, said he never played down the possibility that the coronavirus could have been leaked from a laboratory in China, amid accusations that he did so for political reasons. “Until you nail it down definitively, you always have to keep an open mind that it might be something else,” he said. “And that’s the way I have always been from the very beginning, I have not changed my mind.” Fauci made the comments during a speech at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Health event.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 598,765 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Americas: There were 1.2 million new Covid cases in the Americas over the past week, according to the Pan American Health Organization. It warned that Covid-19 could remain a problem for the region for years unless the current spread is slowed.

EU: Confidence in the EU’s ability to handle crises has taken a hit from Covid-19, a major survey shows, but dissatisfaction with national political systems is even higher and most people still support EU membership and want a stronger, more cooperative bloc.

India: India reported a record daily Covid-19 death toll of 6,148, after a state revised its tally. Bihar’s Health Department on Wednesday said the coronavirus had killed 9,429 people, about 72% higher than its previous reported death toll, confirming suspicions that the devastation in the Asian nation has been far worse than official numbers show.

South Africa: The number of new confirmed cases in South Africa surged to 8,881, with a positivity rate of 16.5% on tests conducted. “The increased number of tests and cases, and increased positivity are all evidence of the predicted third surge in Covid-19 cases,” the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said in a statement on Wednesday. The commercial hub of Gauteng accounted for 58% of the new cases. South Africa is the worst-affected nation on the continent, with over 57,000 deaths and 1.7 million confirmed infections.

France: French prime minister Jean Castex is self-isolating for seven days after his wife Sandra tested positive for Covid-19, the prime minister’s office said. The prime minister, who had received his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 19, tested negative on Wednesday evening. However as a contact of a person who tested positive, he is self-isolating for seven days, his office said.

UK: The UK is facing a “substantial third wave” according to new data presented to the government, Prof Neil Ferguson told reporters. He said that the scale of the problem would depend on how effective vaccines are against the Delta variant, originally found in India. Meanwhile, according to new data, 8 in 10 adults in the UK are likely to have Covid-19 antibodies through either vaccination or previous infection.

The UK reported 7,540 more cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, the most since 26 February, according to the government’s data dashboard. The number of people hospitalized stood at 1,024 as of 7 June, crossing 1,000 for the first time since 12 May.

A judge has ruled that the UK government acted unlawfully when it awarded a contract for polling the public about Covid messaging without a tender last March. The company was owned by friends of Dominic Cummings, then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.

Malaysia: Intensive care beds for Covid patients in Malaysia have reached full capacity, according to the country’s health director general, who said the country’s pandemic remained at a critical level. The country’s king started a series of meetings with leaders of political parties amid public discontent over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Singapore: Singapore authorities detected two new coronavirus cases in the community, marking the lowest daily total since 6 May as restrictions appeared to curb an outbreak of contagious variants.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Trade Organization’s members have agreed to talks on boosting global vaccine supplies, though there is still opposition to the idea of waiving patents, in particular from the EU which will propose its own plan.

The US will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to share through the global COVAX alliance for donation to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the next year, a source told AP.

More than 80% of the athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics next month have been vaccinated, according to the International Olympic Committee. “We are over and above the 80% mark,” Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said during a virtual press conference Wednesday in Lausanne.

China: China approved another inactivated Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use as the world’s most populous country aims to speed up inoculations. The two-shot vaccine developed by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was green-lighted for emergency use on Wednesday, and is now available to population aged 18 and above, local media reported. The vaccine’s annual output capacity is expected to rise to 500 million to 1 billion doses by the end of this year.

US: Seattle has become the first major city in the U.S. with 70% of residents 12 and above fully vaccinated, Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted. San Francisco may be next to cross that mark. Some 69% of San Franciscans 12 and older have completed their vaccine series, according to city data, while 79% have received at least one dose.

In the US, a pharmacist has been jailed for three years after pleading guilty to trying to spoil hundreds of doses of the Moderna vaccine because he was skeptical about them.

Czech Republic: The Czech health ministry has recommended only people over 60 should receive Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson due to a potential risk of blood clots, Reuters reports.

Taiwan: The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration announced review standards for emergency use authorization of locally-made Covid vaccines, including that their neutralizing antibody levels in phase 2 clinical trials must be shown to be on par with those of the AstraZeneca Plc shots. In addition, 3,000 or more people tested need to be tracked for at least one month following their last inoculation to evaluate safety. Taiwan has been struggling to procure its own vaccine supplies and blamed China for impeding shipments of the shots.

Malaysia: Malaysia will begin vaccinating workers involved in key economic sectors, especially those operating during the lockdown, according to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. Targets include manufacturing, exports, utilities, logistics, transportation and energy.

Indonesia: President Joko Widodo ordered the acceleration of vaccine rollouts as Indonesia faces a new surge in Covid-19 infections. The nation’s vaccination rate must increase to 700,000 doses a day this month, and going up to 1 million daily by July, Jokowi, as the president is known, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

Lockdown updates

Spain: Spain’s health ministry has scrapped a nationwide plan to gradually reopen nightlife just a week after introducing it, following widespread complaints from regional authorities who dismissed it as either too strict or too loose.

Hong Kong: A Hong Kong government advisory panel suggested the city could shorten hotel quarantine periods for some fully-vaccinated inbound passengers, in what would mark an easing of some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 restrictions for travelers.

Canada: Canada is prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July, Reuters reports.

UAE: Abu Dhabi will restrict entry to public venues including malls and beaches to people who have a “green pass” as coronavirus cases start to inch higher in the United Arab Emirates. The green pass, which can be accessed via the government’s health app, will use a color-coded system to indicate vaccination status and PCR test validity. The new rules in oil-rich Abu Dhabi will be effective June 15 for venues including malls and large supermarkets, gyms, hotels, public parks and beaches, as well as restaurants and cafes.

Thailand: Public schools will reopen on 14 June as planned, according to Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong. The beginning of the 2021 academic year, previously set for 17 May, has been postponed twice due to concerns over the Southeast Asian nation’s worst wave of coronavirus infections to date. Since Covid’s resurgence in early April, new infections in Thailand have jumped more than sixfold.

Denmark: Danish lawmakers have agreed to phase out the bulk of the European country’s coronavirus restrictions by 1 September, Ritzau reported. People will also be free to stop using face masks from Monday in all situations except public transport, the news outlet said. Danes will use a so-called corona passport to show whether they’re immune or have tested negative for Covid.

2:14 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: New Covid cases continue to exceed 2,000 a day in South Africa

9 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 174,000,000 with more than 3,740,000 deaths and over 124,490,000 recoveries reported.

Peru, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina have recorded the highest rate of deaths per 1 million population with 6,037, 3,321 and 3,153 deaths, respectively.

Among countries that have had over 3,000 deaths per million population, Peru has the highest case fatality rate at 9.41% followed by Boznia and Herzegovina (4.6%) and Hungary (3.7%).

Mortality comparisons between countries are generally limited due to how each country define Covid-related deaths.

South Africa has recorded over 1,700,000 total confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday.

The country has been averaging over 2,000 new confirmed cases a day since early February and has been affected heavily by the pandemic.

More than one million senior citizens aged 60 years and above have been vaccinated under phase two as the country aims to control the spread of the virus.

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:46 am

Coronavirus company news summary – INOVIO to start Phase III trial of DNA vaccine candidate – Revive and Supriya partner to pursue Indian EUA for bucillamine against Covid-19

INOVIO has expanded its partnership with Advaccine Biopharmaceuticals to conduct the global Phase III segment of an ongoing Phase II/III trial called INNOVATE (INOVIO INO-4800 Vaccine Trial for Efficacy). As per the agreement, the companies will be examining the safety and efficacy of administering INO-4800, INOVIO’s DNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, in two doses, a month apart, in a two-to-one randomisation in participants aged 18 years and older across several countries, chiefly in Asia and Latin America.

Revive Therapeutics has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian-based Supriya Lifescience to pursue emergency use authorisation (EUA) of bucillamine as a treatment for Covid-19 in India. The company seeks to clinically register and commercialise the therapeutic by leveraging Supriya’s API manufacturing and commercial network, and by presenting results from its ongoing US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Phase III clinical trial of bucillamine in treating mild-to-moderate Covid-19.

Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine have launched a clinical study to assess the safety and efficacy of a booster dose of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 Covid-19 vaccine. The trial is for individuals who have already been vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the FDA for emergency use. The second phase of the trial will include participants who have never received a Covid-19 vaccine jab or have been previously infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus to evaluate the immune response to a booster dose after receiving the Moderna vaccine.

9:24 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 174 million as concern increases over Delta variant

9 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,747,385 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 174 million world wide.

The Delta variant of coronavirus that first arose in India appears markedly easier to transmit and more virulent than previous mutations, including the alpha strain that emerged last year in the UK, according to the World Health Organization’s weekly update.

People infected with the Delta variant were 2.6 times more likely to land in the hospital. They were also more likely to spread the virus to others, the WHO said. Two studies suggest Covid vaccines may be less effective against the Delta strain, which is now found in 74 countries, up by about a dozen from a week ago.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 598,326 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Singapore: Singapore authorities found four locally transmitted coronavirus infections on Tuesday, extending a streak of low daily virus counts since the start of the week. The decline in cases comes ahead of a possible easing of restrictions after 13 June.

Sequencing in Singapore has revealed the emergence of the delta variant as the country’s major local strain, underscoring the highly infectious nature of the mutation that was first detected in India. Of these cases to date, 449 have been found to be caused by variants of concern, among which 428 were infections of the delta strain, said the country’s health ministry. The next largest group was nine cases linked to the beta mutation that first emerged in South Africa.

Vaccine news

Global: World Bank president David Malpass said the institution does not support waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization, claiming it is out of concern that it would hamper innovation in the pharmaceuticals sector.

US: Pfizer is to begin testing its Covid-19 vaccine on a larger cohort of thousands of children under 12 years old in the US, Finland, Poland and Spain after selecting a lower dose of the shot in an earlier stage of the trial.

A top White House official has urged state governors to work with the US Food and Drug Administration to extend the shelf life of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine as millions of unused doses nationwide near expiration.

Washington state is to give adults a free cannabis spliff after they receive a Covid jab in an attempt to accelerate vaccination uptake through a promotion coined “Joints for Jabs” by the state’s liquor and cannabis board.

US health officials said Tuesday that the more harmful Covid-19 variant known as delta has surged in the UK, a country with high vaccination levels, in a warning to states as inoculation fades across the US.

Africa: Many thousands of vaccine doses have been destroyed in African countries after exceeding their expiry dates amid a reluctance to be inoculated and a lack of medical infrastructure, while some jabs were donated relatively late in their shelf life.

Hong Kong: Getting vaccinated for Covid-19 in Hong Kong could mean winning a Tesla or even a pile of gold as as the city’s tycoons and their companies look to incentivize the shots and help boost a sluggish inoculation rate. Incentives from local businesses appear to be creating a bounce in the vaccine uptake. About 34,600 people reserved slots for shots from BioNTech SE and China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccinations in the 24 hours to 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to a government statement.

Indonesia: Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, will let those aged 18 years and older to start getting vaccinated against Covid-19 as the government seeks to speed up its inoculation program. Indonesia has administered more than 40 million shots so far, with the doses given to priority groups including health workers, civil servants, the elderly and those with disabilities. Southeast Asia’s largest economy seeks to give out 1 million shots a day to reach its goal of inoculating more than 180 million people to reach herd immunity.

India: Coal India Ltd., one of the nation’s biggest employers, has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to help accelerate the vaccination of its work force after the deaths of almost 400 staff from Covid-19.

Lockdown updates

UK: Vaccine passports will be used for the first time at UK sporting events for England’s Euro 2020 group games at Wembley stadium, with those not fully vaccinated able to show proof of a negative lateral flow test taken within the previous 48 hours.

Albania: Music fans flocked to the first unrestricted European festival since the pandemic began over the weekend at an event in Albania that had 10,000 attendees across four days, with everyone showing proof of a recent negative test.

Australia: Melbourne’s two-week lockdown will ease as authorities in Australia’s second-most populous city bring a Covid-19 cluster under control. The city’s stay-at-home order will lift from Friday, Victoria state Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters. Retail stores and schools will re-open and outdoor gatherings will be allowed with a maximum of 10 people. The city’s 5 million people have been forced into lockdown four times since the pandemic began for a total period of more than 140 days.

South Korea: South Korea is seeking travel bubble agreements with Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Guam and Saipan to allow group trips as soon as July for people who are fully vaccinated. Under the government’s proposal, travel would be limited to the use of Incheon airport and designated airport in counterpart location. Returning tourists who test negative at the airport won’t have to quarantine.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will extend social distancing measures until 23 June, according to a government statement. “A number of local cases with the N501Y mutant strain have been recorded in Hong Kong recently, and the source of infection has yet to be identified,” a government spokesman said.

US: The Biden administration is forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the UK to determine how best to safely restart global travel, Reuters reported, citing a White House official. The groups will be led by the White House Covid Response Team and the National Security Council. They will also include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other agencies.

Maldives: Maldives extended a 16-hour curfew and other restrictions to a third week even as active cases fell to the lowest since 29 April.

Germany: Germany’s launch of a digital vaccine certificate could be imminent, with Handelsblatt reporting that IBM will probably activate the technical infrastructure on Wednesday. The German newspaper cited a letter from the head of digital at the Federal Ministry of Health. Digital certificates will be available for citizens at “many” regular pharmacies starting 14 June, according to a separate release by the ABDA Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists on Tuesday.

Germany will approve changes to travel rules this week that mean people accredited for the European soccer championship won’t have to quarantine even if they arrive from areas affected by mutations. “The European football championship is a major sporting event that the whole world is watching and Germany will do its part to make it a success,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in an emailed statement, adding that strict hygiene rules will still apply. The tournament starts on Friday.

Economy updates

South Africa: South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country’s health minister on “special leave” over alleged links to a corruption scandal involving coronavirus communications funding.

2:00 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: UK reaches 40% fully vaccinated as Covid cases pass 4.5 million

8 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 173,640,000, with more than 3,730,000 deaths and over 124,000,000 recoveries.

Western European countries such as France, Italy and the UK are reporting over 4,200,000 total confirmed cases.

The UK is leading in administration of vaccine doses with around 1,000 doses per 1,000 people.

Italy and France follow with 631, and 502 doses per 1,000 people, respectively.

In terms of fully vaccinated population taking into account vaccines that require two doses, the UK has reached around 40% of the population vaccinated, Italy around 22%, and France around 15%.

Czech Republic has announced that it will reopen its borders to EU and Serbian citizens on 21 June.

This comes after the government also decided to increase capacity on audiences at cultural events to 1,000 indoors and 2,000 outdoors.

This is a step in reopening as earlier this year, in January, the country was recording around 1,700 new cases of Covid-19 per million population.

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

12:25 pm

International update: Calls for more research on Covid Delta variant symptoms

8 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,738,175 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 173.6 million world wide.

The coronavirus variant that drove India’s devastating Covid-19 epidemic is the most infectious to emerge so far. Doctors now want to know if it’s also more severe. Hearing impairment, severe gastric upsets and blood clots leading to gangrene, symptoms not typically seen in Covid patients, have been linked by doctors in India to the so-called Delta variant. In England and Scotland, early evidence suggests the now-dominant strain carries a higher risk of hospitalization. “We need more scientific research to analyze if these newer clinical presentations are linked to B.1.617 or not,” said Abdul Ghafur, an infectious disease physician at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, southern India’s largest city. Ghafur said he is seeing more Covid-19 patients with diarrhea now than in the initial wave of the epidemic.

A top World Health Organization official said that the WHO cannot compel China to divulge more data on Covid-19’s origins, while adding it will propose studies needed to take understanding of where the virus emerged to the “next level”, as criticism towards the US and a leading medical journal mounts.

Chinese markets linked to some of the earliest Covid-19 cases were illegally selling a range of wildlife from which the coronavirus may have spread, according to a study published less than two weeks after US President Joe Biden ordered a deeper probe into the pandemic’s genesis. Mink, masked palm civets, raccoon dogs, Siberian weasels, hog badgers and Chinese bamboo rats were among 38 animal species sold live at markets in Wuhan from May 2017 to November 2019, researchers said Monday in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports originally submitted last October. “While we caution against the mis-attribution of Covid-19’s origins, the wild animals on sale in Wuhan suffered poor welfare and hygiene conditions and we detail a range of other zoonotic infections they can potentially vector,” lead author Xiao Xiao, from the Lab Animal Research Center at Hubei University of Chinese Medicine in Wuhan, and colleagues wrote.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 597,952 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

India: India’s new infections dipped to less than 100,000 cases for the first time since 6 April, signalling that the country’s deadly second wave that overwhelmed its hospitals and crematoriums has eased. The country with the second-largest number of cases reported 86,498 new infections on Tuesday, also lower than the peak in September last year during the first wave of Covid-19. The total tally rose to 29 million while Covid-related deaths rose by 2,123 to 351,309, according to latest data from India’s health ministry. The second wave, which saw a record 414,188 new cases on 7 May, has been tapering sharply. Experts, however, have emphasized the need for continuous genome sequencing to watch for any new virus mutations that can thwart this recovery.

Indonesia: Indonesia added 6,993 cases on Monday, the most since 4 March, as the government warned that new infections are set to keep picking up until June or July. The expected resurgence after the Eid holiday in late May could last for about five to seven weeks as people gradually return from their hometowns, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said. About half of the 72,000 beds allocated for Covid-19 patients have been filled, he added.

Vaccine news

Global: World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that glaring Covid-19 vaccine inequality has created a “two-track pandemic”. He called on manufacturers to turn their attention to the Covax facility, which has struggled to get donation-funded doses to poorer countries, and give the global jab equity scheme first refusal on new doses, or commit half of their volumes to it.

EU: Moderna Inc. applied for a conditional marketing authorization in the European Union that would allow its vaccine to be given to adolescents, after the company found the shot was highly effective in the age group. Moderna said Monday it had filed for the clearance in 12- to 17-year-olds with EU regulators and was planning to apply for the equivalent status — an emergency-use authorization — with the US Food and Drug Administration. The company has also asked Canadian regulators to authorize the shot for that age group.

China: China is discussing cooperating to produce Covid-19 vaccines with ten countries while encouraging vaccine manufacturers to transfer technology to developing countries, according to state media Xinhua, citing an interview with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Currently, three Chinese vaccine makers have carried out joint production with eight countries, MIIT’s official Mao Junfeng said.

Philippines: The Philippines has cleared Sinopharm Group Co.’s coronavirus vaccine, adding to the more than 15 million doses expected to arrive in the coming weeks as the nation aims to accelerate inoculation.

Indonesia: Indonesia has asked for more Covid vaccines from China through Covax. The Indonesian government has offered to become the production hub for China’s vaccines in Asean as it seeks to improve collaboration.

Slovakia: Slovakia became the EU’s second country to start inoculating people with the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, after months of rows over the shot that has yet to be approved by European regulators.

India: In a u-turn amid intense criticism over his handling of the pandemic, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said that the Indian federal government would provide Covid-19 vaccines free of charge to all adults from later this month.

Norway: Norway is to shorten the interval between Covid-19 vaccine doses to nine weeks from the current 12 weeks, thus speeding up the inoculation process, the health ministry said. As of today the country had fully or partly vaccinated 41.8% of all adults, according to the Institute of Public Health.

US: Safety concerns about Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine along with overall flagging demand for vaccinations have slowed its US rollout to a crawl, leaving close to half of the 21 million doses produced for the country sitting unused.

Thailand: Thailand started its Covid vaccination campaign amid concerns over the supply of doses, which are mainly being produced locally by a royal-owned company that has no prior experience of making vaccines. The Thai government is expected to sign purchase agreements with manufacturers for 20 million doses of Pfizer Inc. vaccines and 5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson this week.

Lockdown updates

India: India’s capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai began to ease restrictions as infections fell to a two-month low. Delhi Metro services were allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

Spain: Spain opened its borders to vaccinated travellers from all over the world, with tourists from Germany, Ireland and Belgium seen passing through the arrival gates at Malaga airport this morning.

UK: The UK’s plan to ease a lockdown could be delayed by two weeks as cabinet ministers are getting pessimistic following a briefing from the government’s chief medical officer and chief scientific officer, the Times of London reported, citing a cabinet source.

Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is crafting plans to loosen the current 14-day isolation period for border-crossers who’ve had two vaccine doses, according to people familiar with the discussions. Travelers entering Canada would still be tested for the virus and may be required to quarantine for a shorter period.

Economy updates

US/UK: Airlines from Britain and the US issued a joint plea for the resumption of travel between the two countries, saying government curbs on the world’s most lucrative air route are holding back an economic recovery. Leisure and business trips could restart without undermining efforts to combat Covid-19, the heads of Delta Air Lines Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp. said Monday. They were joined by counterparts from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. While carriers have been pitching for a resumption of trans-Atlantic travel since last summer, the latest push comes days before President Joe Biden is set to attend the G-7 summit in England.

10:19 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna applies to EMA for Covid-19 vaccine use among teens – Republic of Congo approves single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine

Moderna has submitted a conditional marketing approval (CMA) request to the European Medicines Agency for the use of its Covid-19 vaccine among adolescents. The submission comes after a Phase II/III study of the mRNA-1273 vaccine in adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years in the US. In May, the company announced that its Phase II/III TeenCOVE study of Moderna’s vaccine in adolescents met its primary immunogenicity endpoint.

The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Congo has approved the Russian-produced single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine to fight Covid-19. Sputnik Light is the first component of the Sputnik V vaccine and has shown 79.4% efficacy according to analysed data from 28 days after the administration of a single jab. The data was drawn from Russians vaccinated with a single jab and having not yet received the second, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said.

1:17 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 173 million – UK braces for another wave

7 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 173,300,000, with more than 3,720,500 deaths and over 123,650,700 recoveries.

New confirmed Covid-19 cases continue to be on the rise globally but not as sharp as during the month of May.

Although the US maintains its lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, the daily new cases reported were still declining since last week.

Like the US, India is also observing a decline in new daily cases in the early days of the month.

Elsewhere, Central European nations such as Hungary and Czech Republic are among the countries with the highest death rate per million population with 3,308 and 3,012, respectively.

In the UK, latest figures sparked debates in delaying the lifting of all restriction on the 21st of June.

Sir David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the government, has said that the current Covid-19 figures are evidence of another wave appearing.

Kamal Duran, MPH, Associate Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

10:53 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer vaccine authorised for children aged 12-15 in UK – FDA halves dosage of Regeneron antibody cocktail in EUA update

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised the administration of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine among 12 to 15-year-olds, following clearances in the EU and US. This follows a review of the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine for the age group by the MHRA and the government’s Commission on Human Medicines (CHM).

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the emergency use authorisation (EUA) for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ antibody cocktail REGEN-COV for treating Covid-19. As a result, the agency has lowered the dose to 1,200 mg (600 mg casirivimab and 600 mg imdevimab), half of what was previously authorised for use. The update notes that REGEN-COV should be administered by intravenous (IV) infusion, with subcutaneous administration authorised as an alternative when IV infusion is not possible or would lead to delays in treatment.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers have suggested that the experimental drug TEMPOL may be a potential oral antiviral treatment for Covid-19. According to a cell culture study conducted by the researchers and published in Science, the drug can limit the infection by changing the activity of a viral enzyme called RNA replicase. Experts from NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) said the drug works in tissues such as the lungs and salivary glands, which are the main targets of the virus.

9:50 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 173 million

7 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,726,458 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 173 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 597,628 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

US hospitalizations continue to fall, with 3.17% of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients on 4 June, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. That percentage dropped from 3.67% on 28 May and is the lowest since 14 March, 2020.

UK: The UK recorded 5,341 cases on Sunday, an increase of 2,101 on last Sunday when 3,111 cases were reported.

Ministers are ‘absolutely open’ to delaying the 21 June reopening date in England if the Delta variant worsens, the health secretary said.

Fiji: Fiji recorded a surge in Covid-19, with 83 new cases reported on Sunday from the day before, according to the Fiji Times. The new tally is a record high for the Pacific Islands nation, where only 0.33% of the population have been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Vaccine news

US: About 1.6 million doses of vaccine were recorded in the US on Sunday, a day after the total rose to more than 300 million, according to data collected by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The number was almost half a million more than the previous day, which contrasts with a decline since vaccinations peaked in mid-April.

President Joe Biden has set a goal for 70% of all adults to get at least one dose by July 4. That number is now 63.5%, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Israel: Sunday is the first day for 12-16-year-olds in Israel to get vaccinated, after 55% of the population have so far received two doses in the country.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s vaccination rate picked up last week, with a record 31,400 people receiving their first doses on Saturday. The increase came after the government announced a campaign to accelerate inoculations by September and as major companies and restaurants started offering incentives including cash payouts and extra time off.

Thailand: Thailand is launching its mass vaccination drive, with a target of inoculating 70% of its residents before the end of this year to prepare for a reopening of tourism in 2022.

China: At least 70% of China’s “target population” is expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by year-end, Xinhua reported, citing Zeng Yixin, vice head of the National Health Commission. Recent local Covid infections suggest that China still faces a severe situation in pandemic control.

China authorized the emergency use of Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s coronavirus vaccine for children, becoming the first major country to grant approval for those as young as three. The move comes amid reports that young people with the disease could be as infectious as adults. Singapore, Hong Kong and some U.S. states have so far authorized the use of Covid-19 vaccines against children 12 years and above.

Meanwhile, a worker at Shenzhen Yantian Port was confirmed to be infected. The outbreak at the key port risks adding delays in shipping goods from one of the busiest ports in the world.

Taiwan: Taiwan was promised 750,000 vaccine doses from the US, as it battles a viral surge and what it says are China’s efforts to block a deal for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The pledge came on a visit Sunday by three US senators, Democrats Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Christopher Coons of Delaware, and Republican Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Lockdown updates

Morocco: Morocco will reopen its airports to international traffic starting from 15 June to help the return of its nationals living abroad.

Brazil: Staff of a senate committee investigating the handling of the pandemic in Brazil have said that the Copa America football tournament should not be held amid the world’s second-deadliest outbreak and must be postponed.

Canada: Canada has granted an exemption to virus border restrictions to National Hockey League teams, allowing them to go back and forth with the US during the remainder of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The announcement means the Canadian team that makes it to the ice hockey league’s semi-finals will be able to play games in its home arena. Players and team staff will have to remain in a bubble and avoid contact with the general public.

Uganda: Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, re-imposed a strict lockdown that included the closure of schools and the suspension of inter-district travel.

Taiwan: Taiwan’s government decided to extend an island-wide soft lockdown by another two weeks, the Cabinet said in a statement on its website. Taiwan has had 11,298 confirmed cases as of Sunday, including 10,100 local cases and 260 deaths, according to a separate statement from Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.

India: The Indian state of Maharashtra, which contains Mumbai, has set a five-level plan to ease restrictions based on the positivity rate and the availability of oxygen beds in various districts.

Japan: Japanese voters are split over whether the Tokyo Olympics should be held as planned from July or canceled, according to a nationwide poll conducted by the Yomiuri from 4 June to 6 June. Half were for having the games while 48% said they should be canceled; the breakdown was 39% vs. 59% in a survey taken last month. Some 63% said they thought coronavirus prevention measures in place for athletes and staff visiting from abroad were insufficient.

Japan intends to issue Covid-19 vaccine passports this summer to inoculated residents traveling abroad to boost travel and other economic activities, Nikkei reported. An inter-agency team is discussing a plan to issue a paper certificate this summer for businesspeople and others, followed by a digital version by the end of the year, the newspaper said, without disclosing where it got the information.

3:02 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 172 million

4 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 172,161,000, with over 3,701,000 deaths and 122,199,000 recoveries.

China has administered the most vaccines globally, with over 704,800,000 vaccines to date.

Following China is the US with over 296 million shots administered and India with over 215,600,000 shots.

Lagging behind these countries are Brazil, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Mexico.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned that the Asia and Pacific region may be at additional risk for Covid-19 infections as the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant of concern that devastated India in early May has been detected in 62 countries since 1 June 2021.

There is a similar worry in the US, as according to a report by Outbreak.info the variant was responsible for 1,400 new cases in the US as of 25 May  and may be even more transmissible than the B.1.1.7 variant originating in the UK.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

1:24 pm

International update: Precise Covid virus origin ‘may never be known’

4 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,701,957 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 172 million world wide.

US Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said it was possible the world would never find out the precise origin of the pandemic, after President Joe Biden last month ordered a new 90-day review from the intelligence community about the possible origins of the virus Fauci said during an appearance on MSNBC that while he feels it is still “more likely” that the virus jumped from animals to humans, “we still don’t know what the origin is. Reports that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick in November 2019 gave more credence to the possibility that Covid-19 may have emerged from a “lab leak,” but those reports still needed to be verified and animal to human transition happens “all the time,” he said.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 593,288 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

UK: The UK has recorded 5,274 new cases – the highest daily figure since March. There were 18 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive test.

The Delta variant of coronavirus that was first identified in India is now the dominant variant in the UK, according to Public Health England. Early evidence suggests there “may be an increased risk of hospitalization” for Delta, although “more data is needed for us to have more confidence in that finding,” PHE said in an emailed statement. UK cases of the Delta variant more than doubled in the last week to 12,431.

France: France’s seven-day moving average of daily Covid-19 deaths fell below 100 for the first time since October 27th, official figures show. The Covid-19 death toll increased by 70 to 109,828, the eighth-highest total globally, Reuters reports. The seven-day moving average stood at 95 versus 105 on Wednesday.

Brazil: Brazil reported a total of 16.8 million cases, with 83,391 confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Health Ministry. The death toll rose by 1,682 to 469,388.

Argentina: Some 32,291 new Covid cases were reported Thursday, bringing the total to almost 3.9 million, according to the country’s evening report. A total of 553 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, for a total of 79,873.

Vaccine news

Global: John Hopkins university confirmed that more than two billion vaccine doses have been distributed worldwide, with Israel remaining the country with the most vaccinated – as nearly six-in-10 people are fully inoculated against Covid.

The heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank also urged the G7 advanced economies to release any excess Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries as soon as possible, and called on manufacturers to ramp up production.

EU: The potential Covid treatment based on a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies developed by US drugmaker Regeneron and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche was purchased by the EU to the tune of about 55,000 doses.

Italy: Italy opened vaccinations for everybody over the age of 12, after the European Medicines Agency approved the Pfizer/BioNTech jab for 12 to 15-year-olds last week.

US: The US is to donate 75% of its unused Covid-19 vaccines to the UN-backed Covax global vaccine sharing program, president Joe Biden announced as more Americans have been vaccinated and global inequities have become more glaring.

The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to enlist colleges to help community members, including faculty and staff, get shots. The administration will host regular training sessions for college and student leaders to organize their colleges, peers, and communities in what’s being billed as a Covid Community Corps. It will also promote partnerships between retail pharmacies and high-enrollment community colleges to provide on-site clinics. Colleges themselves, including Purdue University, and state governments are also offering incentives, such as free tuition in New York and Ohio.

Experimental drug Tempol “may be a promising oral antiviral treatment for Covid-19,” the US National Institutes of Health said, citing findings from a study of cell cultures by its researchers. Tempol can limit Covid-19 infection by impairing the activity of a viral enzyme called RNA replicase, NIH said in a statement.

India: India placed an order for 300m doses of an as-yet unapproved coronavirus vaccine, a day after its Supreme Court criticised the government for bungling the country’s vaccination programme.

Pakistan: The head of a Pakistan province decreed that government employees who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid would not be paid from next month.

Vietnam: Vietnam has secured deals for 170 million Covid-19 vaccine doses so far, the government said on its website, citing Deputy Health Minister Truong Quoc Cuong in a Hanoi briefing Thursday.

Mexico: Mexico administered 1.06 million shots of Covid-19 vaccine on 2 June, surpassing the million mark in a day for the first time, according to data presented by Health Ministry official Jose Luis Alomia on Thursday.

Japan: Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward said it aims to prioritize young people in their 20s and 30s when it begins vaccinating those under the age of 59 in July, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Japan is planning  to send some of its Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan, which has been struggling to procure its own supplies and blamed China for impeding shipments of the shots.

Sanofi said it would start a final phase of clinical trial for its Covid-19 vaccine in Japan, without providing a date, Nikkei reported.

Lockdown updates

US: The US embassy ‘strongly suggested that US citizens make plans to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible’ amid spiking reported Covid cases and US citizens reportedly being denied admittance because of a lack of beds, with other concerns unrelated to the virus in the country also growing.

UK: Portugal was removed from the UK government’s “green list” of destinations from which people can return to England without having to quarantine, and no extra countries have been added, sparking industry fury.

Italy: A cruise ship arrived in Venice, Italy, for the first time in 17 months, signalling the return of tourists after the pandemic but enraging those who decry the impact of the giant floating hotels on the world heritage site.

Hong Kong: HSBC Holdings Plc will allow all Hong Kong employees to work from the bank’s offices starting on Monday, in a further sign that the Asian financial center is getting back to full business after containing a fourth wave of infections.

China: Panyu district in Guangzhou in southern China will suspend dine-in service at restaurants from 4 June to 17 to contain coronavirus risks, according to a statement from the local government. Guangzhou has suffered from new wave of Covid infections recently with 15 local confirmed cases reported in the city on 2 June, according to local health authorities.

Wales: Wales will allow groups of as many as 30 people to meet outdoors from Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford says in e-mailed statement late on Thursday. Large outdoor activities also to be allowed from Monday, with up to 10,000 people seated or 4,000 people non-seated. More households will also be allowed to mix.

10:40 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Lexaria’s DehydraTECH-enabled remdesivir and ebastine effectively inhibit Covid-19 – Moderna enters into Covid-19 vaccine supply agreement with Botswana

Drug delivery platforms innovator Lexaria has announced that remdesivir and ebastine along with DehydraTECH were effective in preventing the SARS-CoV-2 virus, using an in vitro screening assay in infected cells in Lexaria’s VIRAL-C21-3 study. The study was conducted to evaluate whether the company’s DehydraTECH formulation negated the known antiviral efficacy of the compounds before proceeding to in vivo efficacy testing. Lexaria CEO Chris Bunka said: “These preliminary findings evidenced SARS-CoV-2 inhibitory performance commensurate with our expectations warranting ongoing and further investigation in animal testing.”

Moderna has entered into a supply agreement with the Republic of Botswana for the company’s Covid-19 jab in order to support the government in securing access to coronavirus vaccines for the country. As a result, the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority has authorised Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate for emergency use.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) is seeking regulatory approval to manufacture Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, sources have said. If approved, the SII will join a pool of six drugmakers in India that are expected to produce approximately 1 billion doses annually. The world’s largest vaccine producer, SII is already producing the AstraZeneca and Novavax coronavirus vaccines. The government expects 156 million doses of Sputnik V to be manufactured between August and December 2021.

2:47 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases approach 172 million

3 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 171,746,000, with more than 3,693,000 deaths and 121,842,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil, and India continue to lead the world in total Covid-19 deaths.

Immediately behind these countries are Mexico, Peru, the UK, Italy, Russia, France, Colombia, and Germany, as Covid-19 deaths remain concentrated in Europe and the Americas.

Moreover, despite having the highest death toll, the US seven-day average of daily deaths is slightly over 750, a considerable decline from mid-January when this figure was over 3,900.

Conversely, in India and Brazil, this figure has increased since early January.

India currently has a seven-day average of daily deaths over 3,500, while this figure is around 1,900 for Brazil, indicating that these countries are moving closer towards having the most Covid-19 related deaths worldwide.

Fears of a third wave of transmission in South Africa have prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to revert the country to lockdown level two, which will impose stricter measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

In an address earlier this week, President Ramaphosa indicated that cases are 68% higher than just two weeks ago and emphasized the need to keep the country’s guard up after observing the consequences of allowing the virus to spread freely in other countries.

The news comes as winter approaches in the southern hemisphere, prompting fears that the third wave will be even worse than the second as people begin to gather more indoors.

Previous to the new lockdown, South Africa has been under level one.

 

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:23 am

How Covid driven tech can launch India’s economic recovery

3 June

Dr Arvind Virmani, an economist and chairman of the EGROW Foundation, shared an article on tech entrepreneurs and start-ups playing a key role in fulfilling the vision of a developed India where all adults are gainfully employed.

Economists believe fintech and pharma have already been driving innovations amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with a raging second wave which is gradually being curbed through rapid vaccination drives and hyper-localised restrictions.

The pandemic has highlighted the emergence of healthcare, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies as global powerhouses.

For instance, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII) have developed life-saving vaccines such as Covaxin and Covishield for domestic use, and for global supply to low- and middle-income nations.

Meanwhile, fintech firms such as HighRadius, which operates out of the US and India, collects healthcare data across systems to deliver patient records and analysis, ensuring useful patient outcomes.

Experts believe that these emerging areas will serve as important catalysts for economic growth amid India’s pandemic recovery.

Read more

10:16 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna enters Covid-19 vaccine supply agreement with UNICEF – Israel reports link between Pfizer vaccine and myocarditis cases

Moderna has entered into a long-term agreement with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to supply Covid-19 vaccines on behalf of the COVAX facility. Under the agreement, UNICEF and its partners, including the Pan American Health Organisation, will have access to approximately 34 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine to be delivered at the end of 2021 and about 466 million doses in 2022.

Biotechnology company Centivax has partnered with the US Naval Medical Research Centre for a Phase I clinical development of the company’s Covid-19 broad-spectrum injectable antibody therapeutic and prophylactic, the Centi-B9. Centi-B9 has been designed to neutralise mutated coronavirus variants with confirmed broad-spectrum reactivity against 99.5% of all coronavirus variants found in the USA, and over 98% of coronavirus variants globally, including mutations found in the Brazilian P.1 variant, California B.1.429, New York B.1.526, South African B.1.351 and UK B.1.1.7.

Israel’s health ministry has reported a link between the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and a number of myocarditis cases in the country. The majority of the cases were found to have occurred in men aged between 16 and 30 years. Myocarditis is a condition characterised by an inflammation of the heart muscle that can be caused due to a viral infection or reaction to a medication. Pfizer said in a statement that it was aware of the observations made by the Israeli health ministry, but that no causal link between its vaccine and the cases of myocarditis had been established.

9:21 am

International update: France to vaccinate teenagers from 15 June

3 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,691,773 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 171 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 595,833 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The number of new Covid cases is dropping in Minnesota, but an estimated 85% of have been traced to emerging variants of the virus, which have also sent a higher percentage of people to hospitals, said Kris Ehresmann, Minnesota Department of Health infectious disease director.

Mexico: Mexico reported 3,269 new cases of Covid-19 in the country and 306 more fatalities, Reuters reports. It brings the total to 2,423,928 infections and 228,146 deaths, according to health ministry data released on Wednesday.

Germany: In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute has confirmed that a third wave of the virus has been broken.

India: India added 134,154 new cases in a day, close to the lowest number since April 8, government data showed. The country’s death toll from the pandemic climbed by 2,887 to 337,989.

Vaccine news

US: The White House is set to announce which countries will receive the first vaccine donations from the US The Biden administration hopes the move will help fend off risks of more coronavirus variants emerging in countries with limited access to vaccines, people familiar with the matter said.

New Jersey will close all six of its vaccine mega-sites by July 23 as demand wanes and the state nears its goal of immunizing 70% of residents. “We’re localizing and this is yet another step in that direction,” Governor Phil Murphy said at a streaming virus update.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would launch in-school vaccination sites in partnership with the United Federation of Teachers, the city’s largest teachers union, starting on Friday. The program will begin with four schools in the Bronx and expand to all five boroughs in the next few weeks.

France: France will start vaccinating teenagers from age 12 with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on 15 June, the government said.

Germany: Germany plans to pay vaccine manufacturers an annual reservation fee to build up reserve capacity of around 600-700m doses per year to help it fight future pandemics, the health minister said.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s health ministry said the country will have more than 120 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines this year. The total includes 5 million doses from Moderna Inc., 20 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine and 31 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, it said. Vietnam will also acquire 30 million AstraZeneca Plc vaccine doses and 38.9 million doses through the Covax initiative, the World Health Organization-backed effort to buy and distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income nations.

India: India ordered 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses from local manufacturer Biological-E as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government comes under pressure from the nation’s Supreme Court to cover more of the population. An advance of 15 billion rupees ($205 million) will be paid to the Hyderabad-based company, the government said Thursday. Phase 3 trials are currently on and the firm will prepare the order between August and December.

Philippines: The Philippines said President Rodrigo Duterte got a commitment from Russian President Vladimir Putin for more Sputnik V deliveries on a phone call Wednesday. A statement from Duterte’s office said the Philippine leader also sought greater cooperation with Russia on trade and defense. The Southeast Asian nation has so far received 80,000 doses of Russia’s Covid-19 shot.

Bahrain: Bahrain started giving booster shots to vulnerable citizens who have been inoculated with Sinopharm vaccine using a different vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, Dow Jones reported, citing the country’s undersecretary of health Waleed Khalifa al Manea. The country is fighting a sharp resurgence of Covid-19. More than 90% of those hospitalized in the latest wave haven’t been vaccinated.

Brazil: Brazil’s Health Ministry said it expects to receive 39.8 million doses of vaccines in June, 3.9 million fewer than it had forecast, O Globo reported, without saying how it got the information. Until last week, the federal government expected to receive about 43.8 million vaccines in June.

Lockdown updates

EU: EU governments have agreed to add Japan to their small list of countries from which they will allow non-essential travel, it was reported earlier.

Spain: Spanish regions with a low Covid infection rate will be allowed to reopen nightlife before herd immunity is achieved, which is expected by mid-August, the health minister said.

Canada: The Canadian province of Ontario will keep schools closed for in-person learning until the new school year starts in September, premier Doug Ford announced.

Colombia: Colombia has began what its government called a gradual opening of its border with Venezuela after a 14-month closure intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

US: Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said employees should begin returning to offices in early September for at least three days a week.

UK: Prime minister Boris Johnson indicated his government remains on course to lift lockdown restrictions this month, a day after the UK recorded no new Covid-19 deaths for the first time. “I can see nothing in the data at the moment that means we cannot go ahead,” the British prime minister said in a pooled interview Wednesday. “But we’ve got to be so cautious,” he warned, given the recent rise in infections. Tuesday’s milestone has bolstered calls from business and members of Johnson’s Conservative Party for the government to proceed with the fourth and final stage of unlocking the economy on June 21.

5:41 pm

How Covid could define the future of the EU

2 June

Adam Tooze, a historian and professor at Columbia University and director of the European Institute, retweeted an article on greater European Union (EU) fiscal powers to boost pandemic economic recovery.

Economists believe new financial instruments are required to support the growth of Europe.

While some like Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, have advocated a new model of fiscal governance, others such as Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s former minister of finance, have highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a necessary but rushed increase in public debts which need to be curbed.

Experts opine that the outcome of this deadlock will define the future of EU.

Economists believe that the pandemic has necessitated the suspension of the stability and grown pact (SGP).

As a result, European countries increased their spending sharply with monetary cover promised by the European Central Bank (ECB).

Most importantly, the virus crisis required the Next Generation EU programme (NGEU), sponsored by European fiscal resources, to support the pandemic recovery.

Read more

2:25 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 171 million

2 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 171,244,000, with over 3,566,000 deaths and 121,312,000 recoveries.

India leads all countries in new confirmed Covid-19 cases with a seven-day average of over 175,00 incident cases per day.

Outside of India, South America is heavily impacted by Covid-19 transmission.

Brazil and Colombia round out the top three countries with the most daily infections over the past week, with an average of over 61,000 and 23,000 new daily cases, respectively.

Following these countries are the US and Argentina.

Peru recently revised its official death toll, bringing the number of deaths from 69,000 to over 180,000, resulting in the highest mortality rate in the world, with over 500 deaths per 100,000 people.

This change is the result of a revised methodology which now includes people who hadn’t tested positive but were linked to a confirmed Covid-19 case and presented clinical features consistent with Covid-19.

The news follows similar revisions to official death tolls by Russia and Mexico earlier this year.

While South America struggles to contain the epidemic, the UK reported no new Covid-19 deaths for the first time since March 2020.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

11:03 am

International update: India aims for 10 million Covid vaccinations per day by July

2 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,565,444 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 171 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 595,213 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

New York City’s Covid positivity rate on Sunday dropped to its lowest point since the pandemic began, crossing an important milestone for a city desperate to jump start its depressed tourism industry and boost its battered economy. Only 0.83% of New York City tested positive for the coronavirus over the last seven days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday. The seven-day average of hospitalizations per 100,000 has also dropped below 1% and deaths have fallen to single digits for the first time since last summer. There was an average of seven deaths over the last seven days, according to city data.

Peru: Peru has revised its official Covid-19 death toll to 180,764, nearly triple the previous official figure of 69,342, following a government review that shows the severity of the outbreak in the country.

UK: The UK reported no additional deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. Britain’s official death toll remains at 127,782, according to government data. There were 3,165 new cases, bringing the total to 4.49 million. It’s the first time the UK reported zero daily deaths within 28 days of a positive test since the start of the pandemic, the BBC reported. Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a dilemma of whether to proceed with a highly-anticipated easing of restrictions later this month at a time when scientists are increasingly worried about another surge of cases.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization has validated the Sinovac-CoronaVac for emergency use. The validation is aimed at “giving countries, funders, procuring agencies and communities the assurance that it meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing,” according to an emailed statement by the group.

The US will detail its previously announced plan for distributing about 80 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine globally “in the next week or so,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a press conference in San Jose, Costa Rica. “Among other things, we will focus on the equitable distribution of vaccines,” Blinken said. President Joe Biden had promised to make the vaccine doses available before the end of June.

US: The US National Institutes of Health has started a year-long clinical trial to determine if vaccinated people can safely get booster shots using vaccines that are different from the ones they received initially. The trial will also monitor the effectiveness of changing vaccines in this manner. It’s designed to include about 150 individuals who have received a vaccine regimen now available under emergency use authorization in the US. Two new studies confirm that messenger RNA vaccines available in the US “appear to be completely safe for pregnant women,” according to Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, writing in a blog post. The studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. The research also indicated vaccines might offer protection to infants born to vaccinated mothers.

Meanwhile, Moderna Inc. is seeking full approval for its vaccine, a move that could make the shot a stable source of revenue for years. The company said it will submit data to the Food and Drug Administration on a rolling basis in coming weeks to support the application for use in people 18 and older. Moderna’s shot, like rival Pfizer Inc.’s, is based on messenger RNA technology and has been a linchpin of the US immunization campaign.

India: India said it is aiming to triple capacity to 10 million jabs per day by July to avert another wave of Covid-19 infections as deadly as the outbreak suffered since April.

Brazil: A decrease in local Covid-19 vaccine production has slowed the pace of Brazil’s inoculation drive and contributed to a growing number of people not taking their second doses, according to the latest data from the Fiocruz biomedical institute.

Hong Kong: HSBC Holdings Plc is offering all vaccinated Hong Kong staff two days paid leave, as it responded to the city government’s ramped-up efforts to boost uptake of the inoculation in the Asian financial center.

Japan: The seven-day average of vaccine doses has quadrupled in just two weeks, with about a quarter of the 13.2 million shots given coming from the past week alone. A flurry of initiatives are being implemented or floated to further ramp up the drive in Japan – among them an expansion of those qualified to administer the shots as well as mass vaccination at workplaces and in “nighttime entertainment” districts.

Lockdown updates

Brazil: A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has given president Jair Bolsonaro five days to submit information regarding the government’s decision to host the Copa America football tournament despite the nation’s ongoing struggles with Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria told the Brazilian Football Confederation to look for other locations to host Copa America games, as controlling the spread of Covid-19 remains a top priority for the state government. Scientists from the Contingency Center for Covid-19 consider that hosting the matches would send “a bad signal.

UK: Heathrow airport in London has begun processing arrivals from red list countries in a dedicated terminal following concerns about them mixing with other passengers. Travellers arriving from red list nations on direct flights are being taken to Terminal 3.

Malaysia: Malaysia has begun a tough nationwide lockdown to battle a worsening coronavirus outbreak. Of almost 2,800 deaths from Covid-19 recorded in the country of 32 million since the start of the pandemic, over 40 percent were in May alone.

US: The Coachella music festival will return to the US in April 2022 after being repeatedly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers have announced.

Australia: Melbourne’s lockdown will be extended beyond the initial seven days announced last week as authorities struggle to contain a Covid-19 cluster that’s grown to 60 and is more infectious than seen in the Australian city’s previous outbreaks.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s aviation authority directed local carriers to reduce domestic round-trip flights to Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport to a total of 63 a week amid a Covid-19 surge in the metropolis, according to the government website.

Scotland: Scotland will keep a swathe of the country under tighter coronavirus restrictions because of concern about the number of cases of the variant first identified in India. Edinburgh, the capital, will remain in the current level rather than seeing a further easing of some rules on household mixing and on businesses on 7 June as planned, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday. Glasgow, the biggest city, will drop to the same level as Edinburgh after a surge in cases had kept restrictions there for longer.

Economy updates

Israel: Israel announced it will begin phasing out coronavirus-related payments to the unemployed and Ireland announced similar steps later this year while maintaining other income and business supports as the economy fully reopens.

Chile: The Chilean government will create a $2 billion fund to finance the fight against Covid-19 and strengthen health services, President Sebastian Pinera said in his annual speech to Chile’s congress. The government will resort to increased public debt and state savings to pay for emergency funding, the president said.

Canada: Canada’s highest-earning families were the biggest beneficiaries of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pandemic aid, opening his government to criticism that its programs were wasteful. The top 20% of income-earning families received an average of C$6,728 ($5,577) from emergency Covid-19 assistance programs, according to Statistics Canada data. The lowest-earning households got C$4,097 in aid, on average. All told, the bottom 20% of earners got just 14% of the C$95.2 billion in direct government transfers related to Covid-19 last year, data from the statistical agency show. The numbers have fueled concerns that Canada’s pandemic support — among the world’s most generous, and financed with hundreds of billions in new debt — was inefficient as cash was funnelled to dozens of different groups, and ended up being hoarded in bank accounts.

9:54 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna begins rolling submission for BLA for Covid-19 vaccine – UK in discussions to procure additional AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses

Moderna has begun the rolling submission procedure with the US Food and Drug Administration for a Biologics License Application for the licensure of its mRNA vaccine to prevent Covid-19 among individuals aged 18 years and older. The company is expected to continue submitting data in the coming weeks, along with a request for a priority review.

Indian pharmaceutical company Biological E. has signed a licensing agreement with Canada-based biotech Providence Therapeutics to manufacture the company’s mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in India. The company is expected to run a clinical trial of Providence’s vaccine in India, thereby seeking an emergency use approval for the jab. Biological E. has also signed a deal to produce about 600 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine annually.

The UK is in discussions with Oxford and AstraZeneca regarding the procurement of additional doses of their Covid-19 vaccine, which has been designed to fight the beta coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa. The UK will be funding the trials for the vaccine. The country has already secured 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab, but the new doses will be tailored to fight the B.1.351 variant, the health ministry stated.

2:12 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Seven day average of India Covid cases remains above 200,000

1 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 170,771,000, with over 3,551,000 deaths and 120,729,000 recoveries.

The US leads all countries in confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths as the incidence of new cases continues to decline gradually.

India trails the US by a little over 5 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and is third behind Brazil and the US in total deaths.

Moreover, the seven day average of new cases in India remains above 200,000 even after significant declines in incident cases since early May.

Following the US and India in total cases are Brazil, France, Turkey, Russia, the UK, and Italy, while total deaths follow a similar pattern as Mexico, the UK, Italy, Russia, and France trail the US, Brazil, and India for most Covid-19 deaths.

The WHO announced new naming conventions for variants of concern (VOC) and variants of interest (VOI) on Monday after convening with several stakeholders, country leaders, and experts.

The new naming convention labels the VOCs and VOIs using the Greek alphabet. For example, the B.1.1.7 variant originating in the UK will be named alpha, while the B.1.351 variant originating in South Africa will be named Beta, and P.1 from Brazil will be known as Gamma.

The move is designed to facilitate public conversations regarding the respective variants, but the established nomenclature for SARS-CoV-2 genetic lineages will remain in effect for scientific research.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

9:48 am

Coronavirus company news summary – New drug highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19 in mice – Samsung Biologics to add mRNA production line to its facility

University of Pennsylvania scientists have found a new drug, diABZI, to be highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19 in mice infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The study, published in the journal Science Immunology, found that diABZI activated an immune response – the body’s defence mechanism against infection – in the mice. It is hoped that the drug can also help to treat other respiratory coronaviruses.

An affordable, anti-inflammatory drug has been found to reduce hospitalisation risk and death among some Covid-19 patients in a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, home-based study conducted in Canada, Europe, South Africa, South America, and the US. Colchicine, traditionally used for treating gout, pericarditis, and familial Mediterranean fever, is being considered for the treatment of Covid-19 complications. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said that while it does not currently recommend colchicine for use in hospitals, “further research should be carried out in community settings to see whether it might yet be an effective treatment”.

South Korean biotech Samsung Biologics is looking to add an mRNA vaccine production line to its Songdo facility by the first half of 2022. The company said the expansion is part of a long-term strategy to move beyond its current focus on monoclonal antibodies and become a fully integrated global biopharmaceutical company. Samsung Biologics also entered into a fill-finish manufacturing agreement with Moderna last week, one of the four such contracts announced in the country.

9:46 am

International updates: Global Covid infections exceed 170 million

1 June

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,550,007 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 170 million world wide.

The World Health Organization announced a new naming scheme for coronavirus variants using the Greek alphabet. The scientific names used to date “can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting,” the organization said in a statement. “As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory.”

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 594,568 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Beds in US hospitals occupied by Covid-19 patients on 28 May held steady at 3.67%, the least since March 14, 2020, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services. The hospitalization rate was little changed from the day before and hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients totaled 25,393.

Argentina: Argentina reported 28,175 new Covid-19 cases Monday, for a total of 3.8 million, according to the country’s evening report. It reported 638 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 78,093.

Brazil: Brazil reported a confirmed 30,434 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. The country’s coronavirus death toll rose by 860 in the past 24 hours to 462,791.

Peru: Peru, already one of the world’s hardest-hit countries during the pandemic, updated its official death toll from Covid-19 on Monday, adding more than 110,000 fatalities than previously reported.

Vaccine news

Global: The heads of the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization called for a “stepped-up coordinated strategy, backed by new financing, to vaccinate the world,” in an editorial published in the Washington Post. The call, issued before the G-7 meeting next week, aims to boost vaccinations in developing countries.

Germany: Germany has pledged to crack down on fraud in coronavirus test centres, after evidence that some have been claiming for more tests than they have carried out.

EU: The EU, UK and Japan have continued to voice doubts at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about a proposed intellectual property waiver on Covid-19 products such as vaccines.

UK: Scientists are urging the government to speed up second doses of Covid vaccines and delay a decision on easing lockdown restrictions in England on 21 June in an effort to tackle the creeping spread of new cases.

France: France has opened up vaccines to all adults a week before Germany, as Europe rushed to avoid another wave of infections caused by new virus variants.

Hong Kong: Total bookings for coronavirus vaccine appointments, which include first and second doses, surged to the highest in nearly two months after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a new campaign to boost the city’s sluggish inoculation rate by September.

Denmark: Denmark’s government has asked the national health authority to review whether the country can resume use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, and include Johnson & Johnson in its inoculation program, after initially judging they were too risky, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke tells state broadcaster DR. J&J was removed from the Danish vaccine program in May, amid concerns it was linked to blood clots. Denmark suspended AstraZeneca’s vaccine in April.

Myanmar: Myanmar will continue to push for Covid-19 vaccination after cases soared in the last week of May, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports. The country is set to administer more than 800,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines in 15 provinces.

Lockdown updates

Philippines: The Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, has prolonged partial Covid curbs in the capital and nearby provinces until mid-June to contain infections.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel is ready to allow Germany’s controversial lockdown law to lapse, the latest sign that the pandemic is releasing its grip on Europe’s largest economy.

Turkey: Restaurants and cafes in Turkey, which have been effectively closed for weeks except for takeaway and delivery, in a partial easing of lockdown measures will be allowed to open in June from 7 am until 9 pm except for Sundays, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting on Monday. Gyms and parks will also reopen in June.

Vietnam: Vietnam has announced the suspension of incoming international flights to its capital and tightened restrictions in its biggest city. The inbound flight suspension to Hanoi will apply from 1-7 June.

France: Travellers from the UK will have to provide “compelling reasons” to enter France from Monday, as French authorities tighten curbs to halt the spread of the Indian Covid variant.

EU: The European Commission has proposed that all EU countries gradually ease travel measures over the summer.

Argentina: Next month’s Copa America football tournament will take place in Brazil after original host Argentina pulled out after a surge of Covid-19 cases.

Thailand: Thailand’s Covid-19 task force overturned Bangkok’s plan to relax restrictions on 1 June as the capital struggles to contain its worst wave of coronavirus infections.

Japan: Some members of the Japanese government’s coronavirus expert panel warned that it would be “difficult” to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer if the capital’s virus situation remains at the highest of four levels, the Asahi newspaper reported. Meanwhile, the first group of foreign athletes arrived in Japan on Tuesday for training ahead of the Games, Kyodo said. The Australian women’s softball team flew in to Narita airport, and are fully vaccinated.

Economy updates

Malaysia: Toyota and Honda will close shut down production in Malaysia on Tuesday as the country enters a pandemic lockdown, Nikkei reports, without citing where it obtained the information. Toyota will halt production and sales starting Tuesday, Nikkei reported, while Honda will close two plants during the lockdown.

12:46 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 169 million

28 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 169,021,000, with more than 3,511,000 deaths and over 118,593,000 recoveries.

The US continues to hold the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

However, the daily new cases in the US and India have declined in recent days. Countries in Latin America are still the most heavily affected with a high number of daily new cases and deaths.

Uruguay is reporting over 1,000 daily new cases per million population.

The total number of Covid-19 cases has crossed 30 million in South Asia.

India is the most heavily affected country in Asia, but neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are also suffering from the disease.

The vaccination rate in this region is also low compared to the US and Western Europe.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

9:49 am

International update: Global Covid death toll passes 3.5 million – US calls for second Covid investigation

28 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,511,575 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 168 million world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 593,288 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The United States called on Thursday for the World Health Organization to carry out a second phase of its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, with independent experts given full access to original data and samples in China. The US intelligence community acknowledged its agencies had two theories on where Covid-19 originated, with an element embracing a possible laboratory accident as the source of the pandemic. US President Joe Biden said he is likely to release a report detailing the US intelligence community’s findings on the origins of Covid-19 in full.

India: reported on Friday 186,364 new coronavirus infections during the previous 24 hours, for its lowest daily rise since April 14, while deaths rose by 3,660.

UK: Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has become the latest minister to defend health secretary Matt Hancock, saying “Very few people – if anyone – worked as hard as he did.”

Up to three-quarters of new UK Covid cases are thought to be caused by the variant first detected in India, as the reported number more than doubled to almost 7,000, Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

Argentina: Reported a record one-day number of new Covid-19 cases of 41,080 on Thursday, amid a second wave of infections that has made the country one of the hardest hit in the world, pushing the local health care system to its limit.

Vaccine news

Germany: Plans to make enough Covid vaccine doses available to offer a first shot to all children aged 12 and over by the end of August, a draft health ministry document showed.

Africa: Needs at least 20m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine within six weeks if those who have had their first shot are to get the second in time, the WHO said on Thursday.

Thailand: Thailand’s food and drug regulator on Friday approved for emergency use the coroanvirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm, Reuters reports, citing a senior official.

Japan: Said on Friday it would consider sharing its Covid vaccines with other countries as a ruling party committee urged it to provide a portion of its AstraZeneca Plc vaccine stock to Taiwan, Reuters reports.

Japan plans to lower the minimum age for Pfizer shots to 12 from 16 if safety and efficacy are confirmed at a ministry panel on Friday, Kyodo News reported, citing Health Minister Norihisa Tamura.

Singapore: Plans to roll out vaccines to students in a “great acceleration” of vaccinations, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in an interview on CNN. Vaccinations in Singapore are currently open to those aged 40 and above, as well as for priority workforces such as first responders, hospital staff and airport workers.

South Africa: Insurer Discovery Ltd. and private-hospital group Mediclinic International Ltd. have scaled back plans to expand coronavirus vaccine sites in South Africa amid supply concerns, Business Day reported, citing company executives.

Philippines: Migrant workers who will be deployed in the next four months are now a top priority for vaccinations, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said, as the government tries to speed up inoculations. Private and informal sector employees who work away from home have also been included in the next group to be vaccinated.

Lockdown updates

Sweden: Will go forward with its plan to ease some of its Covid curbs from June 1, prime minister Stefan Lofven said.

Ireland: Will introduce the EU’s Digital Green Certificate program on 19 July, allowing international travel for those who are fully vaccinated, the Irish Independent reported, ahead of a government announcement on reopening measures.

Scotland: Murdo Fraser of the Scottish Conservatives has criticised the continued restrictions in place across Glasgow. PA Media reports that he has said if the latest data shows infections are still high then a “more targeted” approach was needed.

Japan: Is expected to extend emergency coronavirus measures in Tokyo and several other regions by about three weeks, according to officials, as the country struggles to rein in a fourth wave of infections less than two months before the Olympics.

Canada: A Canadian advisory body said the government should relax its stringent border rules for vaccinated travelers and drop a requirement that international air passengers quarantine in a hotel when they arrive.

Economy updates

Nigerian cocoa exporters , which rely on imported jute bags to package their beans, are facing a shortage after production in India and Bangladesh slowed due to a surge in coronavirus cases and factory closures. The West African nation, which has about $34 billion of foreign-exchange reserves, may lose as much as $700 million in cocoa bean export earnings because of the shortage, Mufutau Abolarinwa, president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, said in an interview.

Finland’s economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter, showing the recovery from the pandemic has stalled in the only Nordic member of the euro area. Gross domestic product shrank 0.1% from the prior three months, Statistics Finland said. A flash estimate had indicated 0.4% growth.

Germany: A €2.5bn (£2.15bn) package has been agreed by the German government to help the culture industry get back on its feet as the country slowly emerges from a third wave of the Covid pandemic.

Profits at China’s state-owned enterprises totaled 1.36 trillion yuan ($213 billion) in the first four months of the year, a 240% surge from the same period in 2020 when the coronavirus outbreak was at its worst in the country. Total revenue rose 32% to 22.2 trillion yuan, the Ministry of Finance said.

9:44 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sanofi and GSK begin Phase III Covid-19 vaccine trial – Novartis and Molecular Partners commence Phase II/III studies of Covid-19 treatment candidate

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have begun enrolling participants into a Phase III clinical study of their adjuvanted recombinant-protein Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The global randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study will include about 35,000 volunteers aged 18 years and older from different countries, including sites in Asia, Africa, the US and Latin America. The study will assess vaccine formulations targeting the original D.614 virus and the B.1.351 variant across geographies. A booster trial is likely to begin in the coming weeks, with the vaccine expected to be approved by the end of 2021.

Novartis and Switzerland-based biopharma Molecular Partners have commenced the EMPATHY clinical trial, a Phase II and III study exploring the use of its DARPin therapeutic candidate ensovibep (MP0420) for treating Covid-19. Novartis is expected to conduct the clinical trial programme, with Molecular Partners as sponsor of the trials. Molecular Partners reported positive results from its initial Phase I trial of ensovibep in healthy individuals in March 2021. EMPATHY will enrol 2,100 patients across the two studies, with the aim of preventing the severity of the disease and hospitalisation.

Swiss biotechnology company ACM Biosciences has received a grant from Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency, to collaborate and develop a novel delivery system for mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. Dr Steve Pascolo, an mRNA vaccines expert at the University Hospital Zurich, will partner with ACM Biosciences to develop a new stable carrier for mRNA with improvements to the flexibility, logistics, and refrigeration of the vaccines.

2:06 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases still rising as India variant spreads

27 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 168,497,000, with more 3,499,000 deaths and over 117,900,000 recoveries.

Covid-19 cases are still rising worldwide, but the rise is uneven as the daily new cases are declining in North America and Western Europe but increasing in Latin America and the Middle East.

Most of the countries in Latin America are reporting a high number of daily new cases. In the Middle East, Bahrain is reporting a high number of daily new cases.

However, daily new cases are now in decline in India.

The recent rise in daily new cases in the UK is causing concern to the countries in Western Europe.

The increase is attributed to variant B.1.617.2 which originated in India.

Germany has designated the UK as a virus variant region of concern and has restricted travel from the UK to Germany.

France has also imposed a strict quarantine on UK travellers.

 

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

1:44 pm

How vaccine cost savings cost lives and slowed economic recovery

27 May

Joseph Gagnon, economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), shared an article on the economic costs and benefits of accelerated Covid-19 vaccinations.

He stated that the seemingly workable cost saving measures for vaccines not only cost lives and economic output, but cost the government more in lost tax revenue than they save upfront.

He further added that two illustrative scenarios supported the conclusion that the acceleration of Covid-19 vaccination programmes would reap economic benefits far greater than their costs.

For instance, the Policy Brief highlighted that if the US adopted a more aggressive policy of unconditional contract with vaccine producers in 2020, it would have to bear the upfront cost, but more lives would have been saved and the economy would have been more resilient.

Read more

12:49 pm

International update: Global Covid death toll nears 3.5 million

27 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising towards 3.5 million with a figure of 3,498,553 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 168,417,000 world wide.

The World Health Organization has had informal consultations with member states about the next phase in efforts to find the origins of the coronavirus, and will continue to have those discussions in the coming weeks, Mike Ryan, head of the WHO health emergencies program, said in a speech to the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the Geneva-based agency. The group of international scientists that traveled to Wuhan, China, where the first Covid cases emerged at the end of 2019, said in a joint report with Chinese counterparts that the pathogen most likely spread from bats to humans via another animal. A lab accident was deemed least likely, though WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the probe didn’t adequately analyze the possibility of a lab leak.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 591,947 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

UK: At least 77,000 hospital staff in England caught coronavirus during the pandemic, while there were nearly a quarter of a million absences for Covid-related reasons, Guardian research has revealed.

China: China accused the US of “spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation” after health chief Anthony Fauci said he was no longer convinced the coronavirus originated naturally – propelling the theory that it emerged from a Wuhan laboratory back into mainstream debate.

China supports “overall examinations” of all early Covid cases that were discovered around the world, according to a statement on the foreign ministry’s website. The probe must be complete, transparent and based on facts and should include “some secret bases and biological labs,” the ministry said, without elaborating.

Meanwhile, Facebook Inc. will stop taking down posts that claim Covid-19 was man-made or manufactured, according to Politico. “In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of Covid-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that Covid-19 is man-made from our apps,” a company spokesperson told Politico in an emailed statement. Twitter Inc. and YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, didn’t respond to the publication on whether they are amending policies on the origins of the disease.

Vaccine news

Global: Vaccine manufacturers stand to gain as much as $190 billion in sales this year if they hit production targets, with two Chinese companies accounting for at least a quarter of the revenue, according to Airfinity Ltd. estimates. Production constraints and shortfalls will likely bring the final 2021 sales numbers closer to a range that tops out at $115 billion, the research firm said.

US: The US Food and Drug Administration may refuse to grant new emergency use authorizations for vaccines for the remainder of the pandemic, particularly for developers that have not engaged with the agency during the past year, according to a guidance update. Vaccine makers that have already received early feedback from the agency are more likely to have the appropriate data and information needed for authorization, the agency said late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s monoclonal antibody drug Sotrovimab won emergency use authorization from the US FDA to treat mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in people 12 and older. Sotrovimab mimics the human body’s immune response and blocks the coronavirus from attaching to and entering cells. It has been shown to help against variants first reported in the UK, South Africa, Brazil, California, New York and India. The treatment can be administered as a 500 milligram single dose intravenously by health care providers, the FDA said. Potential side effects include anaphylaxis and infusion-related reactions, rash and diarrhea. The drug isn’t approved for use in patients who are hospitalized or need oxygen because of the disease.

New York is raffling off 50 four-year full-tuition scholarships, including room and board, to any public college and university in the state to adolescents who get vaccinated. Staring Thursday through 7 July, teens 12 to 17 years old who get their first vaccine dose will be in a pool to win one of ten scholarships given weekly, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced. The drawing will be held every Wednesday.

EU: The European Commission demanded an urgent court order requiring AstraZeneca to deliver millions more vaccines to the bloc or face a hefty fine, in a case that may reflect its anger more than its need for doses.

South Africa: South Africa’s review of the Sinovac and Sputnik coronavirus vaccines is nearing completion, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said. China’s Sinovac Biotech Co. may be able to supply South Africa with as many as 5 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, Johannesburg-based newspaper Business Day reported in March. In April, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize directed officials to buy 10 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm shots. No applications have been received yet for the Sinopharm inoculation, officials said.

China: Vaccines from China’s Sinopharm successfully contained Covid-19, according to a study published in a prestigious US medical journal, the first time detailed findings from a late-stage trial of a Chinese shot have appeared in the scientific literature. The two inactivated vaccines developed by Sinopharm’s vaccine-making unit China National Biotec Group Co. prevented symptomatic infections by 72.8% and 78.1%, largely in-line with what the state-owned drugmaker previously announced. The findings were reported in the 26 May Journal of the American Medical Association.

Vietnam: Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh approved the establishment of a fund to facilitate donations to help Vietnam acquire and produce Covid-19 vaccines. The health ministry has estimated it will cost the country about $1.1 billion to acquire 150 millions of doses for 75 million people. More than 1 million people in Vietnam, or 1% of the population, have received at least a first vaccine dose.

Slovakia: Slovakia became the second EU country to authorise the use of the Russian-made Sputnik V Covid vaccine, which has not yet been approved by the bloc’s drug regulator.

Belgium: Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid vaccine is to be limited in Belgium to people aged 41 and over, authorities said following the death of a woman who received the jab.

Russia: Vets in several parts of Russia reportedly started vaccinating cats against Covid-19. Russia in March said it had registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine for animals. Only two animals in Russia, both cats, have so far tested positive for the virus.

Lockdown updates

Switzerland: Switzerland is to re-open indoor restaurants and people will no longer be required to work from home, the government announced, saying it was lifting restrictions faster than previously planned.

France: France will impose a compulsory quarantine on travellers arriving from the UK because of growing concerns over the spread of the Indian variant of the coronavirus, the government’s spokesman has said.

Australia: Melbourne, the Australian city that’s already endured one of the world’s longest and most arduous lockdowns, is heading back into enforced isolation due to another Covid-19 outbreak. The city of 5 million people, along with all other areas of Victoria state, will go into lockdown from midnight for seven days, state Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday. The number of cases within the community spread had doubled in the past day to 26, he said.

Zambia: President Edgar Lungu banned campaign rallies ahead of elections scheduled for 12 August, saying large gatherings risked spreading the Covid-19 virus.

Economics updates

Taiwan: The Taiwanese government will strengthen support measures for industries affected by Covid restrictions, increasing relief loans and speeding up help for the self-employed such as drivers. The government is being pushed to widen its fiscal support to help the economy cope with business shutdowns and possible job cuts as virus restrictions tighten across the island. Lawmakers are set to approve an almost 50% jump in government spending to NT$630 billion ($22.6 billion) on Monday, with pressure building to increase that further.

Vietnam: Authorities in Vietnam’s province of Bac Ninh, the nation’s second worst virus-hit region, ordered companies to let workers sleep in factories beginning 1 June. The order, aimed to prevent production disruptions, comes as a new outbreak is spreading in the nation’s north, threatening industrial areas.

11:13 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Belgium halts use of J&J vaccine after first EU death reported – Dyadic and Syngene partner on developing new Covid-19 vaccine in India

Belgium has halted the administration of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Covid-19 vaccine for individuals aged 41 years and below following Europe’s first death from severe side-effects linked to the jab. A 37-year-old woman in Belgium died after suffering a blood clot with low platelets. The country’s health minister and seven regional counterparts stated that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will carry out a benefit-risk analysis, while the general population above 41 years will continue to be vaccinated with the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine temporarily, pending a more detailed analysis.

Biotechnology company Dyadic International has collaborated with India-based contract research, development and manufacturing company Syngene to develop a Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The new vaccine is expected to provide protection against current and future variants of concern and will be produced on a large scale and affordably using Dyadic’s C1-cell protein production platform.

Altimmune, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, has released new data from a preclinical study showing that the company’s Covid-19 vaccine, AdCOVID, can neutralise the rapidly emerging B.1.351 variant of concern from South Africa. The variant has been found to carry multiple mutations in the receptor binding domain (RBD) including the E484K mutation that may reduce the efficacy of authorised vaccines. The study was conducted along with Saint Louis University researchers, who found the neutralising titer against B.1.351 to be only 4.4-fold lower than the neutralising titer against an original Wuhan-like isolate when treated with a single intranasal dose of AdCOVID.

1:44 pm

Global lockdown easing helps Nigeria’s economic recovery

26 May

Mohamed El Dahshan, economist, writer, and associate fellow with the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme, shared an article on Nigeria finally having exited its second recession since 2016 in the fourth quarter, despite a full-year contraction in 2020.

Official data confirms that the country’s economy grew 0.5% in the first quarter of 2021 due to higher crude production and oil prices driven by gradual easing of coronavirus lockdowns.

Nigeria was struggling with low economic growth before the pandemic triggered a recession, thereby causing huge financial gaps, such as inflation and dollar shortages.

The country is now vaccinating its 200 million citizens, but has directed regions to stop administering first doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine once half the stock is used, in order to create a buffer for a second dose.

Read more

12:41 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases continue to rise driven by South America

26 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 167,878,000, with more than 3,487,000 deaths and over 117,357,000 recoveries.

Covid-19 cases are still rising worldwide but not as sharply as in April.

The cases in North America and Western Europe are in decline whereas countries in South America are still reporting a high number of daily new cases.

Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil remain heavily affected and are reporting a high number of daily new cases and death.

Daily new cases are in decline in India although the daily death count is still very high.

The outbreak has shifted to a neighbouring country such as Nepal where 50% of Covid-19 tests are confirmed positive.

Japan will face the logistical challenge of organizing the international Olympics safely in July this year.

Approximately 80,000 people are expected to visit Japan for the Olympics.

Japan is also reporting a high number of daily new cases and the hospitals are stretched with Covid-19 admissions.

 

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:43 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna Covid-19 vaccine meets endpoints in trial among adolescents – Phase III trial of molnupiravir begins in India

The Phase II/III study of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, among adolesecents has met its primary immunogenicity endpoint. Using the primary definition, no Covid-19 cases were identified among the participants who had received two doses of the vaccine. The TeenCOVE study was carried out among 3,700 participants aged between 12 and 18 years in the US. The vaccine demonstrated 93% efficacy in seronegative individuals 14 days after the first dose.

Pharmaceutical company MSN Laboratories is commencing a Phase III clinical trial of molnupiravir capsules for treating Covid-19 in India. The company confirmed that it had sought approval from the Drug Controller General of India to conduct a safety and efficacy study of the drug to treat mild to moderate symptoms in Covid-19 patients. The clinical trials are expected to take place at more than 40 sites across the country, enrolling more than 2,400 individuals with mild to moderate symptoms.

Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Xencor has entered into a technology licensing agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb to provide the latter access to its Xtend Fc technology to extend the half-life of a novel antibody combination therapy that neutralises the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Phase I clinical study to examine dosing and safety of the therapy is being conducted at Rockefeller University Hospital, while the initial Phase II and III studies will form a part of the NIH ACTIV-2 trial investigating treatments for Covid-19 outpatients.

9:39 am

International update: Covid vaccine news – Moderna Inc.’s vaccine highly effective in teenagers

26 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising towards 3.5 million with a figure of 3,486,104 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 167,856,000 world wide.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 590,941 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The Biden administration has reaffirmed its support for Tokyo’s plan to hold the Olympic Games this summer despite a new wave of coronavirus cases and the US urging its citizens to avoid all travel to Japan

UK: At least 77,000 hospital staff in England caught coronavirus during the pandemic, while there were nearly a quarter of a million absences for Covid-related reasons, Guardian research has revealed.

France: The number of people with Covid-19 in intensive care units in France fell by another 49 to 3,447 on Tuesday, while the overall number of people in hospital with the virus fell by 271 to 19,430.

Uruguay: Public approval of Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou’s handling of the pandemic fell to 62% in May from 72% in February, pollster Opcion Consultores found. Disapproval of Lacalle Pou’s handling of the pandemic rose to 15% from 10%. Opcion interviewed 824 people via mobile phone May 13-20 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%. Uruguay led the world in Covid-19 deaths per capita in the last week even with one of Latin America’s most successful vaccination programs.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc.’s vaccine was highly effective in 12- to 17-year-olds in a large study, paving the way for regulatory submissions around the world by early June. In a news release, the company said its vaccine was between 93% and 100% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid in teenagers, depending on whether very mild cases are included in the count. The study met its primary goal of showing that immune responses to the vaccine were as good as those produced in adults, and no significant safety concerns were observed, according to the company.

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as of 30 April there were 10,262 cases of vaccinated people who were later infected with Covid-19 out of approximately 101 million people who are fully inoculated. A small number of so-called breakthrough infections after full vaccination are to be expected because no vaccines are 100% effective. The CDC notes the reported cases are likely a substantial undercount since many people, especially those who are asymptomatic or have only mild illness, might not seek testing.

Maine Governor Janet Mills said 70% of state residents age 12 and older have received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Five other states – Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut – have also reached that milestone, she said in a statement, citing CDC data.

Poland: Poland will launch a lottery with prizes of as much as 1m zlotys ($273,000) to encourage people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, the minister in charge of the immunisation programme has said.

South Korea: South Korea, in its latest attempt to spur more people to get vaccinated, announced it will exempt those who’ve been inoculated from wearing masks when outdoors. Health authorities did not specify how those who had a jab would be identified when the exemption takes effect in July.

Vietnam: Australia will provide Vietnam with a A$40 million ($31 million) grant for Covid-19 vaccine purchases, according to a post on Vietnam’s government website. Vietnam has also asked for help obtaining AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in Australia.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong may donate Covid-19 vaccines to countries more in need of them via channels such as the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative as local demand for Pfizer-BioNTech shots “has gradually become sluggish recently,” according to a government statement late Tuesday.

Russia: As Russia struggles to get its population to take the coronavirus vaccines heralded by President Vladimir Putin, the far east region of Yakutia is passing the strictest inoculation requirements yet. All companies, both public-sector and private, are required to organize shots for their workers, according to a decree by the region’s chief medical authority. Employers that fail to do so may face fines, Yakutia President Aisen Nikolaev’s press service said separately. The target is to cover at least 70% of all adults by July.

Lockdown updates

Australia: Melbourne officials declined to declare a snap lockdown in the city Wednesday, even as the cluster of cases there grew to 15, passing the number that triggered the last short-notice restrictions in February. Australia’s second-biggest city issued a mask mandate and restricted gatherings earlier this week.

Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is considering asking the central government to extend a coronavirus state of emergency in the capital that’s due to expire 31 May, public broadcaster NHK reported, without saying where it got the information. Infections are dropping but officials are concerned about a resurgence if the emergency is lifted too soon, NHK said.

Canada: British Columbia, whose economy weathered the pandemic better than much of Canada, said it foresees a return to “normal life” as it announced plans to lift most restrictions by the fall. The western province on Tuesday released a four-stage plan that could see offices fully reopened, sporting events and concerts allowed, and constraints on travel lifted by September. The reopening will be based on data, and dates and rules could change depending on new outbreaks.

US: Harvard students will return to the classroom full time for the fall semester and campus housing will go back to its usual density after more than a year of remote learning. The university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is expecting the largest entering class in its history, Harvard said Tuesday in a statement on its website. All enrolled students, who must be vaccinated to attend, can expect full campus access, which includes libraries, archives, museums and research facilities.

UK: The British government warned people to avoid traveling to hot spots in England where the variant first identified in India is spreading. The guidance applies to eight areas including Hounslow in west London, the central England city of Leicester and the northwest towns of Blackburn and Bolton. People there should not meet up indoors or travel outside their districts, the government said.

Ireland: Ireland is set to announce this week that it will remove the requirement for travelers arriving from the UK to self quarantine for 14 days, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported, even amid increasing concern about the spread of the variant first identified in India.

Economics updates

UK: UK trade with the EU collapsed by nearly a quarter at the start of 2021 compared with three years before as Brexit and Covid-19 disruption hit exports, while China replaced Germany as the biggest single import market, according to official figures.

US: The rebound in US travel is gaining steam, according to the country’s three biggest airlines. The pace of the recovery has been faster than expected, Delta Air Lines Inc. President Glen Hauenstein said Tuesday. United Airlines Holdings Inc. predicted it would turn a profit before certain items next quarter, while American Airlines Group Inc. said corporate trips and long overseas flights – the worst-hit segments during the pandemic – are poised for improvement.

2:53 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid cases in decline in US and India

25 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 167,345,000, with more than 3,474,000 deaths and over 116,767,000 recoveries.

The US continues to hold the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

However, the cases in the US have been in steady decline and India is also reporting a decrease in daily new cases in recent days.

Brazil, on the other hand, is continuing to report a high number of new daily cases.

Latin America remains the most heavily affected continent in the world with Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil reporting a high number of daily new cases and deaths.

India has reported 9,000 total cases of mucormycosis (a very rare type of fungal infection) during this pandemic.

This fungus is deadly with a 50% fatality rate if not treated promptly. Most of the cases had recently recovered from Covid-19, treated with steroids, and were diabetic.

 

  Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist, at GlobalData Plc.

11:37 am

International update: Global Covid death toll heads towards 3.5 million

25 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising towards 3.5 million with a figure of 3,474,656 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 167,345,000 world wide.

China has vehemently denied a Wall Street Journal report citing US intelligence materials that said several members of staff at a key virus laboratory in Wuhan had fallen ill shortly before the first patient with Covid-like symptoms was recorded in the city on 8 December 2019.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 590,574 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

With more than 61% of U.S. adults having received at least one vaccine dose, the rate of new coronavirus infections continues to slide. New cases rose 0.5% in the past week, the slowest increase since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

Bahrain: Bahrain reported its highest daily number of coronavirus deaths on Monday, with 23 further deaths registered amid a spike in cases.

Taiwan: Taiwan has recorded six new deaths from Covid-19, and several hundred more cases in the continuing outbreak. It is the second day in a row of six recorded deaths from the outbreak.

Malaysia: Malaysia has reported a 61 further coronavirus deaths – its highest daily toll since the pandemic began. The south-east Asian country, which has a population of around 32 million, also registered 6,509 new positive cases, taking its total since the pandemic began to 518,600.

Malaysia has overtaken the global pandemic hotspot of India in confirmed coronavirus infections per capita. The Southeast Asian nation’s new Covid cases reached 216 per million on May 23, higher than 175 in India, according to data compiled from Johns Hopkins University and the United Nations. However, there’s a statistical caveat that India’s numbers may have undercounted cases especially in the villages, and the country’s death rate is higher.

Vaccine news

US: The US could pursue a single shot to protect against the top ten infectious diseases and an mRNA vaccine to shield against common cancers as part of a $6.5 billion research center sought by President Joe Biden. The details, from National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, are the first specifics of potential research that may be pursued by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. Biden’s proposal is modeled on initiatives at the Pentagon and the Department of Energy that paved the way for the internet and GPS.

India: Many of India’s 140 million migrant workers are at risk of being left out of the country’s vaccination programme, experts have warned, despite being at high risk of illness.

Brazil: One in five Brazilian cities reported a shortage of Covid-19 vaccine doses last week, according to a survey of the country’s municipalities.

Malta: Malta has vaccinated up to 70 per cent of the adult population with least one dose of the vaccine, the first country in the EU to reach this goal.

Taiwan: China is willing to send emergency vaccine shipments to Taiwan, according to a Xinhua report, citing the website of the State Council’s Taiwan affairs office. China is also willing to send medical experts to Taiwan to help control an increasing case count there, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson of the office, was quoted as saying.

Vietnam: Prime Minister Chinh called on government agencies and ministries to seek donations to the nation’s vaccine fund, according to a post on the government’s website. Vietnam’s finance ministry has proposed setting up a fund to speed up purchases of vaccines. The health ministry estimated it will cost the country about 25.2 trillion dong ($1.1 billion) to acquire 150 millions of doses for 75 million people.

Lockdown updates

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka has extended its on going travel ban for another two weeks as health experts warn of a possible breakdown of the country’s health system due to rampant coronavirus infections.

Vietnam: Hanoi authorities increased restrictions amid a growing virus outbreak in northern Vietnam, banning indoor dining, parties and closing parks and hair salons beginning from noon Tuesday, according to a post on the government’s website. The order follows a rising number of infections in the capital with a dozen untraceable cases, it said. Residents are encouraged to work from home, the city government said on its website.

Australia: Group restrictions will be imposed in Melbourne as authorities race to clamp down a small cluster of Covid-19 cases in Australia’s second-most-populous city. Private gatherings in homes will be limited to five visitors per day from 6 pm Melbourne time on Tuesday, while public gatherings will be restricted to 30 people, Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters in Melbourne. Masks will be mandatory when indoors in public spaces for people aged 12 and older, including in workplaces.

US: The US raised its travel advisory on Japan to say Americans shouldn’t visit the country, where sections are under a state of emergency that could be extended. The State Department issued the upgraded travel advisory on Monday. The move is another blow to Japan’s plans to host the Olympic Games starting on 23 July.

10:43 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer tests co-administering Covid-19 jab with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine – Panacea Biotec launches production of Sputnik V vaccine in India

Pfizer has announced that its first enrolled subjects have received immunisations as part of a new study that explores co-administration of its 20-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (20vPnC) candidate after a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine among adults aged 65 years or older. The conjugate vaccine candidate is currently authorised for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The study aims to establish the safety of co-administering both vaccines, along with a six-month follow-up after vaccination. The secondary objectives are to report immune responses elicited by both vaccines.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and pharmaceutical company Panacea Biotec have launched production of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, in India. The first batch of the vaccines manufactured at Panacea’s facilities at Baddi will be sent to the Gamaleya Center in Russia for quality control. Full-scale production of the Sputnik V vaccine is expected to commence in the summer. India authorised Sputnik V for emergency use in April, while vaccinations began in May. RDIF and Panacea have agreed to produce 100 million doses of the vaccine every year.

Moderna and contract manufacturer Aldevron have expanded a partnership to support the development of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and other programmes in Moderna’s therapeutic pipeline. Aldevron will provide plasmid DNA, which will serve as the genetic template for producing Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, as well as supporting other clinical development programmes.

1:18 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid deaths approach 3.5 million

24 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 167,229,000, with more than 3,464,000 deaths and over 116,135,000 recoveries.

India is still reporting a high number of daily new cases, but the new cases have declined in recent days.

India has now reported over 300,000 total deaths which are the third highest after the US and Brazil.

South America remains the most heavily affected continent in the world.

Uruguay and Argentina in South America are reporting over 1,000 daily new cases per million population.

Daily new cases have started to rise slightly in the UK and B.1.617.2 variant (originated in India) is suspected to be behind this surge.

The UK has vaccinated a third of its population with two doses and 55% of the population with a single dose.

According to the recently published report by Public Health England, two doses of vaccine provided good protection against the B.1.617.2 variant.

The UK is hoping that a high rate of vaccination will have a positive effect very soon.

 

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist, at GlobalData

10:24 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Japan grants emergency approval to AZ vaccine – Samsung Biologics to provide fill-finish manufacturing for Moderna jab

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine Vaxzevria, formerely AZD1222, has received emergency use approval in Japan for inoculating individuals aged 18 years and older. The approval was granted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on the basis of positive Phase III efficacy and safety results from the Oxford University-led clinical trial programme in Brazil, South Africa and the UK, as well as a Phase I/II trial conducted in Japan.

Moderna and contract manufacturing organisation Samsung Biologics have entered into a manufacturing and supply agreement that will require the latter to carry out large-scale, commercial fill-finish manufacturing for Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273. Immediate technology transfer is expected to commence at Samsung Biologics’ facilities in South Korea after the deal is executed. This will speed the production of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine to non-US markets in the third quarter of the year.

US-based biotechnology company Therapeutic Solutions International has announced new data and patent filing indicating that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug, lithium carbonate, substantially increased the scar inhibiting activity of its licensed JadiCell universal donor stem cell therapy. Data further revealed that the JadiCell was more effective than other stem cells at obstructing the development of lung scarring in pulmonary fibrosis. Therapeutic Solutions chief medical officer Dr James Veltmeyer said the data suggest JadiCell could treat post-Covid lung failure, with long-term lung scarring affecting around a third of those who have been hospitalised with Covid-19.

10:20 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 167 million – India fatalities at near record levels

24 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,463,982 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 167 million world wide.

Three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, about the time when experts say the coronavirus began circulating around the Chinese city, the Wall Street Journal reported.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 589,893 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The US reported just over 18,700 new cases Saturday, capping the first week since June with no days of infections exceeding 30,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Average daily infections dropped to about 25,600, compared with almost 217,500 at the end of the first week that vaccines were rolled out in the US in mid-December. A further 481 fatalities were recorded, capping a week with the fewest fatalities since the end of March 2020.

Falling hospitalizations from Covid-19 show a “rapidly-declining vulnerability” in the US as the people getting infected – sharply falling, but still averaging over 25,000 a day in the past week – tend to be younger and less vulnerable to complications, said former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Meanwhile, Federal health officials are ramping up their surveillance of the highly transmissible Covid-19 variant first identified in India, as experts warn that under-vaccinated areas in the US could become hot spots for the mutation.

France: The number of people treated for Covid-19 in intensive care units (ICUs) in France has fallen by 29 over the past 24 hours to 3,515, nearly half the amount five weeks ago, the health ministry has said. Meanwhile, France’s daily Covid-19 death toll fell to a more than seven-month low of 70, while the seven-day average for new cases fell below the 13,000 level for the first time since 2020.

India: India reported 222,315 new coronavirus infections on Monday, the lowest since April 16, government data show. While cases have peaked, almost 4,500 people died over the past 24 hours, and fatalities continue at near-record levels. Meanwhile, India’s capital, New Delhi, extended its lockdown until 31 May as it halted vaccinations of people age 18 to 44 due to a shortage of jabs. India and scores of other World Trade Organization members made a fresh appeal for a three-year patent waiver on products and technology used in the treatment of Covid-19, the Economic Times reported.

Singapore: Singapore has approved a breath test designed to detect Covid-19 and give accurate results within a minute. The Breathonix test has so far undergone three clinical trials, and achieved a sensitivity of 93% and specificity of 95% in one early Singapore-based pilot study that involved 180 patients. The city-state will screen incoming travelers from Malaysia at the Tuas Checkpoint on the western side of the island in a deployment trial of the breathalyzers, the Straits Times reported. Anyone who tests positive in the breath test would be screened in a confirmatory PCR swab test. Singapore currently screens entrants with antigen rapid tests, which would continue alongside the breathalyzers.

UK: Covid-sniffing dogs could be used to detect the coronavirus at ports of entry, potentially reducing long waits at testing lines and strengthening efforts to contain transmission, according to a UK study. Two dogs could accurately scan 300 plane passengers in about half an hour as part of a rapid screening strategy, scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said in research published Monday. Then only the people selected by the dogs would need to undergo a PCR test.

The UK government pushed back on claims from the former chief aide of Prime Minister Boris Johnson that officials pursued a herd-immunity strategy in the early days of the pandemic. Dominic Cummings unleashed a series of tweets on Saturday criticizing the UK’s response. He said that letting enough citizens become infected in order to reach natural herd immunity was the “official plan in all docs/graphs/meetings” until early March 2020, when it became clear that such a policy would lead to catastrophe. When asked about the allegations in an interview on the BBC on Sunday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that was “not at all” the plan. Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, also said it wasn’t the nation’s strategy.

Vaccine news

US: The US has administered 285,720,586 vaccine doses as of Sunday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

UK: UK health secretary Matt Hancock celebrated on Twitter after 60m vaccines have been administered across the UK.

Japan: Japan’s large-scale vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka opened from Monday, as the government pushes towards the goal to administer 1 million doses a day and finish inoculating the country’s 36 million over-65s by the end of July. The venues will use Moderna Inc.’s vaccine.

Lockdown updates

UK: The possibility of all safety restrictions being lifted in the UK next month is said to be “looking good”, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency has said.

Taiwan: Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, banned all on-site dining and drinking from May 24, the city government said in a statement Sunday. Outlets will only be allowed to serve takeout food or make deliveries. Operators who fail to comply will be fined as much as NT$15,000 ($536).

Malaysia: In new rules imposed in Malaysia from 25 May, businesses will only be allowed to operate from 8 am until 8 pm daily, while about 80% of government officers and 40% of private sector employees will work from home, with the move affecting 7 million to 8 million workers.

Japan: The Japanese government is planning to extend a coronavirus state of emergency in nine prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka that’s scheduled to expire on 31 May, the Yomiuri newspaper reports, citing several unidentified officials. The government is considering an option to extend the period in all nine prefectures to 20 June. Another option being discussed is to end the period on 13 June. An official decision is expected this week.

Israel: Israel will end local Covid-19 restrictions following its vaccine rollout that has nearly stamped out new infections, the country’s health minister said.

Germany: Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, has promised a wide-ranging easing of pandemic restrictions during the summer if the country’s seven-day incidence rate falls below 20. “Last summer the rate was below 20. We should aim for that again,” Spahn told the Sunday edition of Bild. According to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany has a seven-seven-day incidence rate of 64.5. That means that there are 64.5 new infections per 100,000 individuals over a period of seven days.

5:11 pm

International update: Brazil confirms first case of India Covid variant

21 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,430,955 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 165 million world wide.

Waiving intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines will not be enough to close the huge supply gap between rich and poor countries, the head of the World Trade Organization warned.

US: Covid -19 infections have passed 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 588,539 according to Johns Hopkins University data. US health leaders’ move to relax nationwide rules on masks for fully vaccinated people has spurred “understandable confusion” that must be cleared up, said Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor.

Brazil: Brazil confirmed its first cases of a variant first found in India. The infected people are six crew members of the Shandong da Zhi vessel, which came from South Africa and was chartered by Vale to deliver iron ore in Sao Luis in Maranhao state, UOL reported.

Singapore is stepping up Covid testing amid a rise in new and unlinked infections. The government will conduct tests for all residents of one housing block after positive cases were found there, and about 2,000 more students and staff from Singapore Polytechnic will undergo testing after four students were found to have the virus.

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans Friday to create a “global pandemic radar” to identify and track new coronavirus variants and other emerging diseases. The WHO will work with the UK and partners, including the Wellcome Trust, to develop an international pathogen surveillance network before the end of 2021, according to an emailed statement. The announcement was made ahead of the Global Health Summit convened by G20 President Italy and the European Union.

Meanwhile, the number of UK cases of a worrying coronavirus variant from India more than doubled for a second week as authorities also monitor a new mutation of the virus, adding fresh doubt to plans to fully unlock the economy. Health officials have now detected 3,424 cases of the B1.617.2 variant, Public Health England said Thursday in a statement, up from 1,313 last week and 520 a week earlier. They’re also investigating a mutation called VUI-21MAY-01, with 49 cases logged so far.

Africa: Critically ill Covid patients in Africa face an outsize risk of death, mainly because health systems lack key resources like hospital beds and oxygen machines, according to a study. The death rate in the month after admission to intensive care is about 48% on the continent, compared with about 32% globally, according to a report published Thursday in The Lancet.

Vaccine news

EU: With the summer tourism season at stake, European Union negotiators agreed to introduce mutually recognized vaccination certificates designed to let people travel within the EU without having to quarantine. European Parliament representatives and the 27 EU governments agreed on the plan, which requires a formal approval process before taking effect at the end of June. Proof of vaccination issued by non-European governments would be accepted. The EU will soon allow quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors from non-EU countries deemed safe, too.

US: Moderna Inc. has begun exporting US produced Covid vaccines to other countries, a key step as US. vaccine supply begins to be shipped abroad. Moderna and Pfizer Inc. have been the backbone of the US vaccination campaign, which is leveling off as domestic demand wanes. Their shipments of their coveted mRNA vaccines could be a turning point for nations that have sought to get any doses they can, including less effective ones.

Taiwan: US help in securing vaccines could protect Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, according to James Lee, the head of Taipei’s cultural and economic office in New York, amid concern about a shortage of chips used in everything from mobile phones to automobiles. While Taiwan’s increasing cases haven’t had an impact yet, “if it lasts too long there could be logistical problems,” he said in an interview. “We have talked to the Biden administration and we work closely together. We expect them to help.”

Turkey: BioNTech SE Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said Thursday the company plans to both produce and engage in research and development of vaccines in Turkey. BioNTech plans to increase the number of vaccines to be dispatched to Turkey to 120 million, with new shipments planned from July to September, Sahin said after attending a meeting of the Turkish pandemic board.

UK: Two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine are around 85% to 90% effective against symptomatic disease, Public Health England analysis indicates.

Japan: Regulators recommended the approval of Covid vaccines developed by Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca PLC.

South Korea: South Korea has said it will conduct a clinical trial that mixes Covid vaccine doses developed by AstraZeneca Plc with those from Pfizer Inc and others.

New Zealand: New Zealand will push to remove tariffs on vaccines and medical supplies when it hosts a virtual summit of APEC trade ministers on 5 June, Dow Jones reported, citing an interview with Trade Minister Damien O’Connor. A commitment to removing barriers to trade in vaccines and related medical supplies will be the “first and core component” of the meeting, O’Connor said.

Indonesia: Indonesia will decide whether the Sputnik and Cansino vaccines will be used in the state inoculation program or in a private program, Honesti Basyir, president director of Indonesia’s state vaccine maker Bio Farma, told a parliament panel Thursday.

Lockdown updates

EU: The EU has reached a deal on Covid certificates designed to open up tourism across the bloc this summer, the centre-right European People’s Party said.

Northern Ireland: The devolved government has agreed to add Portugal, Israel and Gibraltar to its “Green list” for international travel, according to a letter to lawmakers seen by Reuters.

Canada: Canada announced it is renewing non-essential travel restrictions along the US border until 21 June.

Philippines: The Philippines is considering accepting fully vaccinated foreign travelers, with the Tourism and Foreign Affairs Departments tasked with crafting protocols, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Friday. The government will prioritize vaccinating athletes for the Tokyo Olympics and Southeast Asian games, with workers in the outsourcing sector included in the next priority group, Roque said.

Thailand: Protest leaders plan to revive demonstrations as soon as the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak starts to ease, adding to the government’s challenges as it comes under fire for a slow vaccine rollout.

Japan: Japan’s government will discuss whether to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas by as much as three weeks, broadcaster TBS reported, with daily virus cases still high two months before the Olympics.

Argentina: Argentina will impose a stricter lockdown for nine days as cases and deaths have shot up in recent weeks. President Alberto Fernandez announced that all non-essential, in-person activities – including schools, sports, churches and social gatherings – will be suspended from Saturday. People will be allowed to circulate from 6 am to 6 pm near their home, and only essential businesses may remain open. Then, from 31 May to 11 June, the government plans to lift the lockdown and return to current restrictions, which still involve an 8 pm curfew and limited social activities. Argentina has reported more than 35,000 new cases each day this week, by far its worst stretch, with about 73% of the country’s ICU beds occupied.

Brunei: Brunei temporarily suspended its reciprocal “green lane” travel arrangement with Singapore until further notice from Thursday evening, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office of Brunei.

Malaysia: Industries are calling on the government to avoid a full lockdown and instead tighten virus protocols and accelerate the vaccine roll-out, as infections hit a record for a second straight day.

Morocco: The nightly curfew, which has been in force for much of the last 13 months, will be eased on Friday after new cases declined, the government said in a statement. Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to say open an extra three hours until 11 pm, according to a cabinet statement on the MAP newswire.

2:06 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 165.5 million – more than 3 million deaths

21 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 165,584,000 with more than 3,431,000 deaths and 114,375,000 recoveries reported.

The US continues to hold the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

The case fatality rate in the US has stabilized at approximately 1.8 deaths per 100,000 population since mid-February.

California, Texas and Florida are top three most affected states. California reporting over 3,774,000 total confirmed cases.

Case fatality rate in Brazil has been increasing since late March, as of May 20th it stands at 2.79 deaths per 100,000 population.

Sao Paulo remains in the lead as the most heavily affected area with over 3,147,000 total confirmed cases reported. Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul follow as the second and third most affected regions in Brazil.

The US reports Covid-19 at 1,338 test per 100,000 population as of 18 May and a positive test rate (proportion of confirmed cases out of number of tests) of 7.5%.

India reports test rates of 240 tests per 100,000 population as of 20 May  and a positive test rate of 7.9%.

The most recent data for Brazil is from September when the test rate was reported at 31 test per 100,000 population and positive test rate stood at 70.5%.

As a rule of thumb the WHO has suggested the positive test rate remain below 5% for at least two weeks before governments consider reopening.

South Korea and Australia report test positive rates below 2% as of 20 May.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:47 am

Coronavirus company news summary – EC signs supply deal for 900m doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine – Canada funds study on Covid-19 vaccine mixing

Pfizer and BioNTech have signed a new supply agreement with the European Commission (EC) for 900 million doses of Comirnaty, the companies’ Covid-19 vaccine, to the European Union (EU). The EC has the option to request an extra 900 million doses. The new deal is in addition to the 600 million doses already committed to the EU through 2021. The 900 million doses are expected to be delivered between December 2021 and 2023.

The Canadian government, through the Covid-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) and the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group (VSRG),  is supporting a new $4.8m nation-wide study that will analyse the effects of mixing and matching authorised Covid-19 vaccines in adults. The study will focus on examining the safety and efficacy of using two different Covid-19 vaccines for the first and second dose.  The project will also assess the effects of increasing the intervals between the two doses.

Biopharmaceutical company Immunome has been awarded an additional $4.3m by the US Department of Defence (DOD) Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence (JPEO-CBRND), in partnership with the Defence Health Agency (DHA), for continuing the development of its antibody cocktail (IMM-BCP-01) to fight Covid-19 and its variants. The DOD had awarded $13.3m to the company to develop the antibody cocktail a year ago. IMM-BCP-01 contains three monoclonal antibodies that exhibit combinatorial effects in vitro against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants.

5:28 pm

Why stress levels are rising in Russia as the pandemic recedes

20 May

Jacques Sapir, an economist and a specialist in Russia and Euro monetary issues, retweeted on the Covid-19 disease being the main worry for Russia in 2020.

However, as the pandemic has gradually started receding this year, Russians are faced with a new problem of rising prices and low wages and income.

According to a new poll, even though Russians felt less stressed than last year when the virus hit, money was still a huge cause of concern today with respondents worried about inflation and low salaries.

The poll revealed a significant drop in stress since 2020, with 55% of the respondents being worried rather than 79% who felt the same way last year.

Among most common concerns related to finances, the poll found 62% of the respondents to be stressed by rising prices and inflation, 56% to be stressed over their low wages, and only 30% expressed were worried about the economy in general.

Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development revealed that the country had reported growth for the first time in April this year since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Read more

2:23 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Taiwan Covid increase linked to relaxed quarantine for airline pilots

20 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 164,981,000 with more than 3,419,000 deaths and 113,810,000 recoveries reported.

The US continues to hold the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nursing home residents who had been vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna saw a decrease in the spread of the virus in nursing homes in the US.

Researchers said that vaccinations appeared to protect nursing home residents who did not get immunized.

Taiwan and Singapore have seen a sudden rise in Covid-19 cases.

Taiwan reported approximately 1,300 new cases in the last week, and Singapore reported approximately 270 new cases in the last week.

While the number of cases does not seem high compared to the figures of other countries they represent a significant increase for Taiwan and Singapore.

Of the unlinked cases, some have tested positive for the B.1.617 strain, first detected in India.

To limit the spread of the virus Singapore has re-instated lockdown measures banning all dine-in at food and beverage establishments, as well as limiting public social gatherings to two people.

Singapore has now also announced that it would separate flights and passengers from high-risk countries and regions from those arriving from lower-risk places.

The increase in Taiwan is tied to a decrease in testing and more relaxed quarantine measures for unvaccinated pilots.

The initial quarantine measure for pilots was 14 days, then it was reduced to five days and subsequently to three days.

Shortly after an outbreak of the UK variant, known as B.1.1.7, it was traced to a Novotel where China Airlines pilots had been staying.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:01 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK launches trial of third-dose booster vaccines – Histogen and Amerimmune report potential benefits of emricasan against Covid-19

The UK has launched a study to ascertain whether a third booster dose of Covid-19 vaccines can offer greater protection and immunity against the virus. The trial, called Cov-Boost, is expected to enrol 2,886 participants and will look into seven different Covid-19 vaccines as potential boosters, including those from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Valneva, and CureVac. The third shots will be administered to people who have already received two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, with initial findings expected to be reported in September.

Clinical-stage therapeutics company Histogen and its partner Amerimmune have reported pan-caspase inhibitor emricasan’s potential in vitro benefit in acute and long-haul phases of Covid-19 in Allergy, the journal of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study found that when administered orally, emricasan can reduce caspase-related inflammation in tissues, thereby potentially helping in the treatment and prevention of downstream Covid-19-related complications. The drug is currently being studied in a Phase I trial in mild-symptomatic Covid-19 patients at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York, with the study expected to complete in the second quarter of 2021.

Mumbai-headquartered drugmaker BDR Pharma has signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Eli Lilly to manufacture and distribute baricitinib, a repurposed drug for treating Covid-19. The partnership is intended to increase the availability of the drug in India. BDR has also submitted a request to the Drugs Controller General of India for restricted emergency use of the drug for Covid-19.

9:51 am

International update: Covid booster shot study to commence in Africa

20 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,417,982 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections near 165 million world wide.

ImmunityBio Inc.’s hAd5 T-cell Covid-19 vaccine candidate is being considered as a booster shot in a study of almost 500,000 South African health workers who have received Johnson & Johnson’s inoculation. The health workers, the first people outside of much smaller studies to be vaccinated in South Africa, will need a booster, according to Glenda Gray, the co-lead of the South African studies. “It could be the universal boost that we are looking for,” she said. “Hopefully we will start in a couple of weeks.”

Dogs are able to detect Covid-19 in humans, a new study showed, paving the way for the broader use of sniffing canines in a global effort to contain the pandemic. The dogs’ detection reached 97% sensitivity in the French study, meaning that’s how well the canines could identify positive samples. The sensitivity rating beats that of many 15-minute antigen tests, which tend to be better at ruling out infection than at finding it.

US: US Covid -19 infections exceed 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 587,874 according to Johns Hopkins University data. Covid-19 infections have dropped significantly across the Americas, with the most dramatic improvement in the US due to mass vaccination.

Amazon.com Inc.’s fully vaccinated staff in frontline jobs in the US. won’t have to wear masks starting on Monday next week, unless mandated by state or local regulations. Workers who are fully vaccinated and have a copy of their vaccine card won’t have to wear face coverings in the company’s warehouses and other logistics depots, Amazon said in a message to employees on Wednesday. Amazon, which employs about 1.3 million people, is the second-largest private sector employer in the US. behind Walmart Inc. The online retailer instituted its mask requirement in April 2020.

Iceland: Iceland’s Eurovision entry, Dadi og Gagnamagnid, has pulled out of the live event this weekend after a group member tested positive for Covid-19.

Tanzania: A year after the late Tanzanian president John Magufuli denied the existence of coronavirus in the country, the government will start reporting the disease’s prevalence.

Singapore: Singapore’s Ministry of Health issued an order to Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and SPH Magazines requiring corrections to be made over what it says are online falsehoods that imply a new coronavirus variant had originated in the country. “There is no new ‘Singapore’ variant of Covid-19,” the ministry said in a statement. “Neither is there evidence of any Covid-19 variant that is ‘extremely dangerous for kids’. The strain that is prevalent in many of the Covid-19 cases detected in Singapore in recent weeks is the B.1.617.2 variant, which originated from India.”

Vaccine news

Global: Data indicate mRNA vaccines are better at stopping people from becoming contagious, helping reduce onward transmission. Other vaccines, while effective in preventing acute illness or death from Covid, appear not to have this extra perk to the same degree.

US: The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized storage of thawed, undiluted Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in the refrigerator for as long as one month, according to a statement from the regulators. When initially authorized late last year, the shot had to be kept at ultracold temperatures, which limited its use in some areas that didn’t have access to the required storage technology. Previously, the shot could only be kept in a refrigerator for as long as five days. Regulators in Canada have issued a similar clearance.

The United States will donate a significant number of vaccines through the World Health Organisation COVAX scheme to distribute doses to poorer countries.

A probe by the US Congress into Emergent BioSolutions Inc. found that the contract manufacturer failed to address deficiencies in vaccine production at its facilities despite warnings following a series of inspections in 2020. Emergent, which was tasked with manufacturing the underlying drug substance used in the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 vaccines, has faced production setbacks after conflating the active ingredient used in the two vaccines. The error at its Baltimore plant in late February led it to discard 15 million doses worth of an ingredient used in the J&J shot, and has delayed the vaccine maker’s ability to supply the US and world.

Africa: Burundi, Tanzania and Eritrea have so far rejected the World Health Organization’s advice to register for Covax, an initiative to distribute vaccines to poorer countries, with some officials downplaying the impact of Covid-19 and effectiveness of jabs that have allowed several countries to begin opening up.

Japan: A Japanese health ministry panel is expected to approve the use of AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine at a meeting scheduled Thursday after trials held in the nation confirmed effectiveness, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified person. The broadcaster reported Tuesday that the ministry also plans to approve the use of Moderna Inc.’s Covid vaccine.

UK: The UK has launched a study exploring whether a third dose or “booster” shot of the coronavirus vaccine would be a safe and effective way of extending immune protection against Covid-19.

More than 70% of UK adults have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, the Department of Health and Social Care said, and about 40% of people are fully vaccinated. The country’s health services have administered 57.8 million vaccines as of 18 May 18an effort that began in December, according to a statement. The UK remains on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July, the agency said.

Thailand: Thailand has begun vaccinating Buddhist monks against the coronavirus this week in hopes to build up their protection to allow them to perform their spiritual duties safely. Thailand aims to administer one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to 70% of its population by September. Meanwhile, Thailand is adding workers to the front of the vaccination queue in an effort to buttress the economy as a raging Covid outbreak threatens to delay plans to reopen borders for foreign tourists. Millions of employees under the social security program in Bangkok, the nation’s capital and financial hub, and nine provinces with large economies will get their shots along with other priority groups, including senior citizens and individuals with underlying conditions, according to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha.

Malawi: Malawi destroyed nearly 17,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that had expired in mid-April, as the health minister blamed ‘propaganda’ for the reluctance of residents to receive the jab.

Philippines: The Philippine Interior Department ordered local governments not to announce available vaccine brands at vaccination centers, saying there’s a “need to educate the people in order to overcome brand preference.” Vaccine recipients will only be informed of the brand on-site, and can refuse to inoculated. The order is also to prevent crowding, after long queues formed at the Pfizer vaccine rollout in the capital earlier this week.

Serbia: Some 440,000 vaccines made by China’s Sinopharm were flown to Serbia, of which 240,000 were paid for and 200,000 were donated by China’s national defense ministry for inoculation of Serbia’s military.

Switzerland: Switzerland has earmarked an additional 50 million francs ($55 million) for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines. The government has already decided to order vaccines for 2022, and intends to extend business with developers Moderna Inc. and the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE partnership beyond that date to guard against emerging variants of the virus.

Argentina: The workers union representing cemetery, crematorium and funeral workers has threatened a national strike in Argentina if it does not reach a deal with the government on vaccines.

Ireland: Pfizer to begin vaccine production in Ireland after investing $40m in a vaccine centre that will create 75 jobs, the US drugmaker said in a statement.

Lockdown updates

EU: EU ambassadors have backed plans to allow vaccinated holidaymakers to visit the bloc this summer.

Germany:    Berlin joins the growing number of regions in Germany, slowly emerging from the restrictions put in place to break a third wave of the pandemic in March.

Egypt: Egypt will extend coronavirus safety measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, including early closing hours for shops, until the end of May.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has launched an online portal for airlines operating in the kingdom to register immunisation data for all foreigners travelling to the Gulf Arab state.

Vietnam: Vietnam may cut the quarantine for vaccinated travelers arriving at the country’s airports to seven from 21 days. Vietnam increased mandatory quarantines for travelers arriving in the country to 21 days from 14 days earlier this month following a flareup in domestic infections.

Pakistan: Pakistan will reopen the tourism sector and outdoor restaurants to full capacity starting on 24 May, according to a statement. Educational institutions in districts with less than 5% Covid-19 positivity rates, as well as outdoor marriage ceremonies with a maximum of 150 people will reopen on 1 June.

1:48 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: India Covid variant under surveillance as lockdowns ease

19 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 164,284,000 with more than 3,406,000 deaths and 113,117,000 recoveries reported.

The US continues to hold the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

In the US, states are setting criteria and dates to reopen.

In New York and New Jersey, most percentage-based capacity limits were lifted today; however, mask use indoors remains mandatory.

In California, mask use guidelines have been revised to align with CDC recommendations.

California expects to reopen on 15 June provided hospitalization rates decrease and there is a sufficient vaccine supply.

Several European countries are also reopening.

Poland has reopened bars and restaurants over the weekend after being shut down for several months.

In the UK, indoor dining has resumed and France is reopening theaters, museums, retail stores, and cinemas at limited capacity.

Italy’s health minister has said that current trends indicate the country can reopen gradually.

The night-time curfew in Italy has been moved from 10 pm to 11 pm.

Surveillance of the B.1.617 strain, first detected in India, will remain a priority to reopen Europe safely.

Cases of the B.1.617 variant have been reported in the UK, Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

1:36 pm

Why global Covid vaccine roll out requires global governance

19 May

Fabio Ghironi, a professor of economics at the University of Washington (UW), retweeted an article by Nobel laureate economist Michael Spence who believes that Covid-19 has revealed that global governance is not about taking critical decisions unanimously, with every country trying to exercise their veto rights.

Instead, an agency such as the UN is required to declare a global emergency to trigger necessary actions.

Spence believes that although much of the Covid-19 vaccines debate is focused on waivers for intellectual property rights (IPs), technology and knowledge transfer, it is also important to understand whether global vaccine production can be ramped up quickly to have the entire world vaccinated.

Although the US is the only developed nation to support a Covid-19 vaccine waiver as against other Western countries, Spence argues that the pandemic requires it, given the scale of deaths and shortfall of vaccine supplies in most developing countries.

However, he also states that compulsory licensing should be preferred as against waving IP rights as it would minimise adverse effects on future incentives.

He is also of the opinion that mandatory licensing of vaccines could affect the production of other drugs, as proprietary manufacturing technology does not relate to drugs composition alone.

Additionally, transfer of production technology is not necessarily an easy process.

However, with countries reaping the immediate benefits of domestically produced vaccines, it is important to scale up manufacturing capacity in as many countries as possible.

Read more

10:39 am

Coronavirus company news summary – OSE receives public funding to develop CoVepiT multi-variant Covid-19 vaccine – Biological E. to produce J&J vaccine in India

Biotechnology company OSE Immunotherapeutics has received €10.7m in public funding as part of the ‘Capacity Building’ call for projects, operated on behalf of the French government by Bpifrance. The funding will further the development of CoVepiT, the company’s multi-variant Covid-19 vaccine, which is currently in a Phase I clinical trial. CoVepiT is a second-generation, multi target, multi-variant vaccine that demonstrated during preclinical studies an ability to activate T cell defences through CD8 T-cell multi-epitope responses for long-term T memory cell immunity.

Indian biopharmaceutical company Biological E. is set to produce Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine, alongside its own vaccine candidate, to help India boost the overall supply of vaccines amid a shortage in the country. The infrastructure and production plants for both the vaccines will be separate, according to Biological E. managing director Mahima Datla. Biological E. is planning to contract-manufacture around 600 million doses a year of the J&J vaccine. However, the Indian government did not factor in any domestic production of the J&J jab this year in a recently-released vaccine output list.

Canadian biotechnology company Mountain Valley MD has received third-party Bio Safety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab study results from a recent Covid-19 viral clearance study conducted with Ivectosol. The trial showed that a single dose of 2.5mg per kg of Ivectosol proved to be effective at interfering with viral replication and driving viral clearance of the original B.1.1.7 Covid-19 variant. Tests revealed the same antiviral effect at 5uM Ivectosol concentration after 24 and 48 hours respectively against all three variants tested, including the original B.1.1.7 variant, the P.1 Brazil variant, and the South African B.1.351 variant.

10:21 am

International update: Combining vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer-BioNTech safe suggests study

19 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,404,990 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 164 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections are nearing 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 587,219 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

India: India’s daily Covid-19 deaths rose by a record 4,529 to reach 283,248, government data showed. New cases totalled 267,334.

Argentina: Argentina reported a record one-day coronavirus death toll of 745 on Tuesday as the country is hit by a second wave of infections that has brought the number of positive tests recorded in a 24-hour period to 35,543.

Malaysia: Malaysia reported 47 new coronavirus deaths, a new record in fatalities for a second successive day.

Singapore: Employees at DBS, HSBC and Mizuho Bank Ltd. were among 27 new coronavirus cases identified in the local community by Singapore authorities on Tuesday as the number of unlinked infections in the country persists. Some 11 of the 27 confirmed cases in the community have not been traceable. There are now 19 active virus clusters in the country, up from 11 a week earlier, according to health ministry data. The government is lengthening the time between vaccination doses in an effort to administer first shots to more adults as it races to stem transmissions.

Thailand: Infections continued to spread among inmates and workers in Thai prisons, accounting for almost half the country’s daily cases. Thailand on Wednesday reported 3,394 new infections and 29 fatalities, bringing the nation’s total caseloads to 116,949 and 678, respectively. Some 1,498 of the new cases were from prisons. More than 10,000 new Covid-19 cases have been reported in about a dozen densely-packed Thai prisons.

Vaccine news

Spain: Combining doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer-BioNTech is safe and gives people high levels of immunity, according to a study by Spain’s Instituto de Salud Carlos III. The research institution conducted one of the first studies into the combined use of shots that includes clinical trials. The study administered 441 people younger than 60 years old a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second of Pfizer-BioNTech. Results show an increase in antibodies after the second dose and mild secondary effects that didn’t require hospitalization. The research was prompted by the appearance of blood clots in some people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

US: Covid-19 vaccination coverage in the US was generally lower in rural counties than in urban ones, according to a report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, adult vaccination coverage was 38.9% in rural counties and 45.7% in urban counties. Coverage among age groups and among men and women in rural counties also lagged behind urban counties. The study analyzed data on adults who received their first dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, from mid-December to early April. Residents of rural communities have limited access to intensive care and are at a greater risk for severe Covid illness or death, the report said, so vaccination disparities between urban and rural counties hinder efforts to reduce severe illness and death nationally.

Africa: An extended halt to exports of Covid-19 vaccines from India risks undermining vaccination efforts already under way in Africa, according to one of the continent’s top health officials.

India: India’s Serum Institute will prioritize making vaccines for its home country, delaying deliveries to other nations and the World Health Organization-backed Covax initiative until the end of the year. The firm, the largest vaccine manufacturer, is licensed to churn out at least one billion doses of AstraZeneca’s shot.

South Africa: South Africa vaccinated 39,371 people over two days as it began a broad rollout of vaccines. The slow-pace of the vaccination program, which is initially using the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, highlights the challenges the country is facing in reaching its aim of the inoculating the 40 million it needs to reach so-called herd immunity. The government has said the program will pick up pace. While almost 480,000 South African health workers have been inoculated as part of a trial with single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the government has come under criticism for delays to the broad rollout.

Singapore: Singapore has authorised the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds in order to extend protection to more groups.

Singapore will lengthen the time between vaccination doses to six to eight weeks, in an effort to stretch out limited supply that could see its entire adult population receive a first shot by the end of August.

Ukraine: Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to dismiss the health minister who has faced criticism for the slow pace of the nation’s coronavirus vaccination effort, AP reports.

Bahrain: Bahrain will vaccinate adolescents aged 12-17 with two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, state news agency BNA said, citing the country’s national medical taskforce for combatting the coronavirus on Tuesday.

Mexico: Mexico aims to ensure its population has had at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot by October, before the onset of colder weather, the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Tuesday.

Lockdown updates

Algeria: Algeria has backed off a decision to reopen land borders closed because of the coronavirus pandemic but will go ahead with a plan to partially resume international flights from next month, the presidency said on Tuesday.

Kuwait: Kuwait’s cabinet said on Tuesday that direct commercial flights for India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are limited to departing flights only, while cargo flights will continue, until further notice, the cabinet wrote on Twitter.

Sudan: Sudan will restrict all travellers who have visited India within the prior two weeks, the country’s health emergency committee said in a statement. India’s Covid-19 caseload topped 25 million on Tuesday, and there are concerns about the spread of a new, highly infectious variant, B.1.617, first found there.

Germany: Residents of two tower blocks in Germany have been put under quarantine after a woman was diagnosed with the infectious Covid Indian variant, an official said.

Japan: Okinawa in southern Japan will ask the central government to expand a coronavirus state of emergency to include the prefecture, Jiji reported in a one-line dispatch.

Canada: Quebec, the Canadian epicenter of the crisis early on in the pandemic, has announced a reopening plan as the local government estimates 75% of adults will be at least partially vaccinated by 15 June. A curfew in place since January will be lifted on 28 May. Three days later, restaurants will be able to open in most regions of Quebec, followed by bar patios on 11 June. The government is also set to allow visits inside private homes from 14 June.

Turkey: Turkish officials failed to persuade Russia to lift a ban on flights between the two countries at the end of May, a setback for a tourist sector attempting to recover from a year of pandemic restrictions as new cases fall. Moscow is now expected to allow tourists to travel to Turkey, a popular destination for Russians, from mid-June at the earliest, according to a senior Turkish official with direct knowledge of the matter.

Economy updates

Asia: Equity investors in Asia are screening hospitalization rates and watching predictions on virus peaks as countries in the region struggle with a fresh jump in cases. The pandemic’s resurgence has already worsened Asian stocks’ underperformance against global peers this year. With efforts by countries to reopen their economies taking a hit, the severity of restrictions, the pace of increase in caseloads, the preparedness of governments and progress in vaccination rollouts have become key yardsticks for stock traders.

Thailand: Thailand plans to borrow an additional 700 billion baht ($22.3 billion) to fund measures to counter the worst wave of Covid-19 to hit Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, people familiar with the matter said. A meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha on Tuesday approved the new borrowing plan from the finance ministry, the people said, declining to be identified before a public announcement.

5:20 pm

How US employers can narrow racial gaps in Covid vaccination

18 May

Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork, retweeted on how US employer actions could enable equitable access to Covid-19 vaccinations.

Experts state that despite higher deaths and illness reported among Hispanic and Black communities in the US, they have been less likely than their White counterparts to receive the Covid-19 vaccine jabs.

About 28% of unvaccinated employed adults in the country stated that they would get vaccinated if their employers gave them paid time off to get a vaccine and recover from its side effects.

According to findings, approximately 64% Hispanic and 55% Black adults were very, or somewhat, worried about missing work if they suffered side effects from a Covid-19 vaccine for a day or more, compared to 41% of their White counterparts who felt the same.

Economists state that if employers provided paid time off to its employees to get inoculated and recover from its side effects, it could help boost vaccination rates among these groups and also narrow racial gaps in vaccination.

They also believe that vaccination rates could improve if employers provided vaccines at work, and also financial incentives to employees to get vaccinated.

Read more

1:44 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid Cases near 164 million – vaccine shortage in India

18 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 163,675,000 with more than 3,391,000 deaths and 112,371,000 recoveries reported.

The US continues to hold the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

In the US, New York City is planning on holding its marathon in November but will limit runners to 33,000 instead of 55,000.

Vaccination efforts in India are facing challenges due to a shortage of vaccine supplies.

The shortage has left Delhi with only four days’ worth of supplies.

In Europe, Spain is hoping to open to travellers for the summer season now that the state of emergency has been lifted, and the EU is introducing a vaccine passport.

Denmark has already started using a passport called Coronapas.

Fully vaccinated individuals, those with a negative result in the last 72 hours, or those recovered from an infection in the last 180 days can get it.

Businesses like hair salons, massage parlors, and driving schools have reopened to customers with Coronanaps.

Restaurants have also opened indoor dining to customers with Coronapas.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:49 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UNICEF urges G7 nations to donate to COVAX scheme as India vaccine supply shortfall looms – Oracle partners with Oxford Uni on Covid-19 analysis

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has urged G7 countries to donate supplies to the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme, to address a severe shortfall of vaccines caused by disruption of Indian vaccine supplies to the facility. India stopped exporting its AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India (SII), as the country faces an emergency to tackle a massive second wave of infections. UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for supplying Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX, is expecting a supply deficit of 190 million doses by the end of June.

Oxford University and US-based computer software company Oracle have partnered to create a Global Pathogen Analysis System (GPAS) to enable scientists, public health agencies, diagnostic companies and healthcare services to analyse the Covid-19 disease, and other microbial dangers to public health. The new Scalable Pathogen Pipeline Platform (SP3) will compare sequence data of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, yielding genomic sequences and detecting new variants and those of concern.

Biopharmaceutical company Humanigen and Chime, a contract development and manufacturing organisation, have entered into a manufacturing services agreement to produce lenzilumab bulk drug substance and drug product for Humanigen for commercial use after receiving regulatory approvals in regions outside the US such as Brazil, Europe, India, and the UK. Chime will use the KuBio (Cytiva) biologics facility in China, the technical transfer work of which has already been initiated, and the commercial product will be available in 2022.

9:16 am

International update: US Covid infections falling as cases near 33 million

18 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,390,316 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 163 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections are nearing 33 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 586,359 according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US recorded 16,857 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, the lowest daily total since the early days of pandemic in March 2020, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. In January after a holiday-fueled surge, the US was averaging about 250,000 new cases a day.

Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will retire this summer. It’s a high-profile exit following the departure of another top official, Nancy Messonier, on Friday. The moves come amid criticism of the agency’s communications and policy changes in response to emerging science on how the virus spreads through aerosols and when wearing masks is needed.

California will keep its mask mandate in place until it fully reopens its economy on 15 June in an effort to persuade more residents to get vaccinated, breaking from other states that are dropping their requirements on the federal government’s advice.

New York will lift its mask mandate on Wednesday in accordance with national guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Covid vaccinations approach 50% of the state’s residents and cases and hospitalizations ebb.

India: India will add 17 laboratories to the Indian Sars Cov-2 Genomics Consortium, or Insacog, to help understand the spread of variants, the Economic Times reports citing Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. The minister announced the additions to the existing 10 labs, which were supposed to test 5% of positive samples from states and all positive international travelers, but are actually testing far fewer samples, according to the report.

France: France reported there were 4,186 people in intensive care units with Covid-19 on Monday, a fall of 69 and the 14th consecutive decline. Health ministry data also showed that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 fell again, by 214 to 22,749, after rising on Sunday for the first time in nearly two weeks, Reuters reports.

Malaysia: Malaysia has reported 45 new Covid-19 deaths, its highest daily number so far. The health ministry also recorded 4,446 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of infections to 474,556 with 1,947 deaths, Reuters reports.

Singapore: The World Economic Forum has cancelled a summit planned to take place in August in Singapore, saying it was impossible to convene an in-person meeting because of the uncertainties of the Covid pandemic.

UK: Authorities have identified 2,323 cases of the Indian strain of coronavirus in the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, as the highly transmissible new variant spreads. Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Hancock said 86 different local authority areas had now identified at least five people with the new strain. Cases have doubled in the past week in Bolton, Blackburn and Darwen in northwestern England and the Indian variant is now the dominant strain of the virus, Hancock said.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe recorded 38,560 coronavirus infections and 1,582 deaths by 16 May, according to government data.

Pakistan: New infections in Pakistan dropped to the lowest level in nine weeks after it imposed a week-long shutdown, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Johns Hopkins University.

Vaccine news

EU: BioNTech on Monday said the European Medicines Agency agreed to extend the time it would allow medical agencies to store the Covid-19 vaccine it makes with Pfizer at refrigerator temperature to 31 days, longer than the five days it previously gave permission for. The change to the rules will allow for more vaccinations within Europe. The company said US regulators are considering a similar request.

US: President Joe Biden plans to send an additional 20 million doses of US coronavirus vaccines abroad by the end of June – including, for the first time, shots authorized for domestic use, where supply is beginning to outstrip demand.

Americans who resisted wearing masks when they were urged to also were less inclined to get a Covid-19 vaccine, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data. Half of non-mask wearers said they would “definitely not” get vaccinated, according to a poll taken the week of 15 March. The foundation has been running surveys since December 2020, and has seen an increasing number of people who were on the fence about the vaccine get inoculated. But the number of people who say they definitely don’t want a Covid-19 vaccine has remained stable at 13% to 15%.

Germany: Germany will scrap its Covid vaccine priority list and start offering jabs to all adults from June 7, the country’s health minister Jens Spahn said. The move means anyone aged 16 and up will be eligible for a vaccine in Germany, scrapping the existing priority criteria based on age, jobs and pre-existing medical conditions, AFP reports.

Indonesia: Indonesia has kicked off its privately run vaccination campaign, with companies including Unilever Plc inoculating local employees to help Southeast Asia’s biggest economy reach herd immunity sooner and revive growth.

Philippines: The Philippines ordered 40 million coronavirus vaccine doses from Pfizer Inc., the Southeast Asian nation’s biggest supply agreement as it fights one of the region’s worst outbreaks. The country is targeting herd immunity this year to help an economy that remained in recession last quarter.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will start offering on-site Covid-19 vaccinations at major corporations from Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a briefing. The city has administered about two million doses so far and has another two million in storage.

Seychelles: Seychelles, which has vaccinated a greater proportion of its population than any other nation against Covid-19, said it has started offering Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in addition to the AstraZeneca Plc and Sinopharm shots. So far 99% of the “target population” has been vaccinated with at least a single dose of vaccine and 88% have received two doses, the health ministry said in a statement on Monday. However, Seychelles has seen a surge in cases in recent weeks.

Zimbabwe: The People’s Liberation Army of China donated 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the southern African nation’s Health Ministry said on its Twitter account.

Lockdown updates

Italy: Italy’s ruling parties have agreed to put back a nationwide nightly curfew to 11 pm from 10 pm with immediate effect, government sources told Reuters. Speaking after a meeting of medical advisers to Mario Draghi’s government and coalition representatives, the sources said the curfew will begin at midnight from 7 June, and be abolished altogether from 21 June. Italy reported 140 coronavirus-related deaths on Monday against 93 the day before, the country’s health ministry said.

Netherlands: The Netherlands will ease its coronavirus lockdown measures 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 8pm.

Hong Kong: The long-awaited Hong Kong-Singapore “travel bubble” has been deferred again, amid the surge in Covid cases in Singapore, the two governments have said.

Macau: Macau extended the quarantine period to 35 days from 28 days for visitors from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Nepal or Brazil who have positive antibody test results, according to a government statement Monday. Visitors from other places who have antibodies will have their quarantine extended to 28 days from 21.

Economy updates

Japan: Japan’s recovery stalled last quarter, with the economy shrinking for the first time since last year’s pandemic collapse, as renewed restrictions to contain the coronavirus weighed on activity. Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 5.1% from the prior quarter in the three months through March, ending a two-quarter streak of double-digit growth, the Cabinet Office reported Tuesday. Economists had forecast a 4.5% contraction.

5:58 pm

Why Russia and China shouldn’t be ignored when Covid vaccines are discussed

17 May

Dean Baker, senior economist at the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), retweeted on a New York Times (NYT) piece on vaccinating the world that completely ignored the vaccines developed by China and Russia.

Experts believe that both of the countries have developed effective vaccines against the coronavirus, which have slowed the spread and reduced hospitalisations and deaths.

Therefore, it was imperative to consider the production of their vaccines while discussing world immunisation against the virus.

The second point the article misses, experts opine, is the need for open-source technologies.

The idea is not just to replicate the technology of Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, but to allow engineers to examine it, and improve it.

Similar efforts with the production technology for shortage of inputs is required, along with the cooperation of Chinese and Russian vaccine manufacturers as well.

Economists believe that the technology for producing all Covid-19 vaccines should be open-sourced to get the world vaccinated at a faster pace.

Read more

1:49 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Shocking infant and child Covid mortality rate in Brazil

17 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 163,120,000 with more than 3,380,000 deaths and 111,617,000 recoveries reported.

The US continues to hold the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

India continues to report devastatingly high numbers of new cases and deaths, although new daily cases seem to be on a gradual decline.

In the US, due to a slowdown in Covid-19 vaccinations, some states like New Orleans and Ohio have begun door-to-door efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy and increase access to the vaccine.

In Brazil, Covid-19 appears to be killing infants and young children at a shockingly high rate.

Healthcare personnel are struggling to understand why the virus is having such a big impact on children, but suspect it could be the result of a variant.

However, there is little data on the impacts of variants in young children.

There is also a lack of comparable infant and child Covid-19 mortality data from other countries because the impact of the virus is tracked differently from country to country.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, MSc DLSHTM, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:40 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sputnik V vaccine launches in India – Sinopharm jab shows 78.89% efficacy in Phase III Middle East trial

Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine is now being used in India, as it becomes the first overseas-developed vaccine to be administered in the country. Sputnik V vaccine dosing was launched in Hyderabad from 14 May, after the first batch of the vaccine arrived on 1 May. The vaccine was approved under emergency use authorisation (EUA) in India on 12 April 2021.

An ongoing Phase III clinical trial of one of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccines, being conducted in five Arab countries since 2020, has shown a 78.89% efficacy on people aged 18 years and above. According to Zhang Yuntao, vice president and chief scientist of Sinopharm China National Biotec Group, a subsidiary of Sinopharm, the trialled vaccine also demonstrated 100% protection against severe Covid-19 and hospitalisation resulting from the disease. Approximately 45,000 participants from 125 countries have been enrolled on the trials being conducted in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Egypt, Sharjah, and Jordan.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has announced that the country expects to receive a new shipment of 473,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine by late May this year, under the framework of the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility. The new vaccine consignment is expected to be distributed among employees at Ukraine’s educational facilities.

10:03 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 163 million – India death toll may be higher than stated

17 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,379,501 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 163 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.9 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 585,684 according to Johns Hopkins University data. Dr Anthony Fauci has said that “the undeniable effects of racism” have led to severe health disparities that especially impacted African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The US added slightly more than 30,000 cases on Saturday, sending the nation’s rolling one-week average to the lowest level since late last June, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. Even so, another 480 people died of illness related to Covid-19. That compares with peaks of more than 5,000 deaths a day in January and February.

California’s deaths doubled to 55 from 27 the day before, with the fatalities still low at 0.1 deaths for every 100,000, based on the state’s seven-day average. The positive test rate dipped slightly to 1%, the health department’s website said. The state reported 1,370 Covid-19 cases yesterday, a rate of 3.3 new cases per 100,000, a decrease from the day before. California has administered more than 34.4 million vaccines in total.

India: India reported 311,170 new infections Sunday, continuing the downward trajectory seen in the past few days, bolstering hopes that cases may have peaked after a deadly second wave that overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums. The case tally has crossed 24.6 million, according to the India’s health ministry. More than 182 million vaccine doses have been administered.

While the daily surge in cases is ebbing, there’s no let up in deaths with the Asian nation reporting 4,077 more casualties, pushing the total to 270,284. Those death toll numbers might be under stated, according to local media reports of bodies floating along river banks in the northern states.

The Dainik Bhaskar, a Hindi newspaper popular across India’s crowded heartland, fanned 30 of its reporters along the banks of the river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh state. They found – and photographed – more than 2,000 corpses across some 1,140 kilometers (708 miles). The state government claims only about 300 are dying daily.

Amazon.com Inc. and Indian renewable energy company Greenko Group are boosting supplies of oxygen concentrators to the country. The US company is working with “sellers on its marketplace to help them bring in about 9,000 oxygen concentrators for customers in India,” it wrote in a blog on Saturday. The first batch of 1,000 oxygen concentrators have landed and are available for purchase while the rest are expected in the second half of May, it said.

UK: A public inquiry must examine whether Boris Johnson’s decision to delay adding India to the travel “red list” of countries was influenced by his desire to start trade talks with Delhi, the chair of a cross-party Covid inquiry group has said.

Italy: Italy’s daily death toll fell below 100 for the first time since October, with 93 Covid-related deaths reported on Sunday.

France: The number of Covid-19 patients in France’s intensive care units has dropped for the 13th consecutive day, with 4,255 reported on Sunday.

Mexico: Mexico reported a daily rise of 53 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total to 220,433, according to data released Sunday by the Health Ministry.

Vaccine news

EU: The European Union will support an expansion of vaccine production in Africa with President Ursula von der Leyen to back proposals for strategic vaccine production hubs, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified European officials. Contributions could include both direct EU aid as well as funding from the European Investment Bank and national development agencies, the FT said. The EU also wants to help build up regulatory capacity, including the establishment of the African Medicines Agency.

US: Any mandates in the US to require people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 will be set at the local level by companies and institutions such as colleges, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. “It may very well be that local businesses, local jurisdictions, will work towards vaccine mandates,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “That is going to be locally driven and not federally driven.”

Separately, on “Fox News Sunday,” Walensky cited colleges or universities that may enforce vaccine mandates for students, and that the cruise ship industry may also consider it for people about to embark on multiday journeys at sea. Walensky spoke days after the CDC announced that Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 were clear to shed their face masks in public at most times.

India: Mumbai canceled vaccinations Monday at all public sites after a cyclone warning, the municipality said on Twitter. Cyclone “Tauktae” is set to hit the western coast of India – the country’s industrialized belt with big refineries and ports – prompting authorities already grappling with a deadly second virus wave to start preparations for evacuating citizens. Local authorities in Mumbai have already moved hundreds of Covid-19 patients to other facilities.

UK: More than 20 million adults in the UK have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. More than two-thirds (69.4%) of adults have had a first dose while and 38.2% have had both.

Mexico: Mexico has administered more than 23 million doses of vaccine against the coronavirus with 10.6 million people now fully vaccinated.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s private vaccination program will start with 484,400 doses of Sinopharm vaccines, Rosan Perkasa Roeslani, chairman on the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry known as Kadin, said by text message Monday. The first phase will prioritize the manufacturing sector in 20 sites across the greater Jakarta area with Kadin estimating 20-26 million workers will be inoculated. Earlier, the country suspended use of a certain batch of AstraZeneca’s vaccine pending an investigation into its side effects as a precautionary measure to test its toxicity and sterility.

China: China is vaccinating almost 14 million people a day, a record for the nation as worries grow amid a Covid-19 flareup. The ramp up in shots comes just days after China detected its first new cluster in months with a smattering of cases in the eastern province of Anhui and northeastern region of Liaoning. Videos on social media showed citizens rushing to get their vaccines, with long queues at inoculation sites despite heavy rainfall.

South Africa: South Africa will start a mass vaccination effort Monday at 87 sites across the country using Pfizer Inc. doses administered to frontline health-care workers and the elderly, health minister Zweli Mkhize said Sunday.

Ghana: Ghana will begin administering doses from a second delivery of vaccines from the WHO-backed Covax facility starting May 19. Ghana received a batch of 350,000 AstraZeneca Plc vaccines. Priority will be given to those who already have a first shot, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a television broadcast in the capital, Accra.

Singapore: Singapore may be facing slower vaccine deliveries over the next couple of months, as the country considers delaying second shots. New Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the government is studying holding off the second shots in order to give more people at least one vaccine dose.

Lockdown updates

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has announced that travellers flying from most countries will no longer need to quarantine if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Algeria: Algeria will reopen its air and land borders on 1 June, but strict measures will be imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the presidency announced on Sunday.

UK: Health experts in the UK have said people should ignore Monday’s easing of lockdown and avoid socialising indoors in pubs and restaurants to prevent the new Covid-19 variant first detected in India sparking a third wave of the disease.

A decision on whether all legal restrictions can be ended in England next month will be made on 14 June, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will increase restrictions on arrivals from Taiwan and Singapore, the South China Morning Post reports. Taiwan, Singapore and Japan are to be classified high risk according to the city’s vaccine bubble travel arrangements. Unvaccinated travelers arriving from those places will have to quarantine at designated hotels for 21 days as well as present proof of a negative test.

Singapore: All primary, secondary, junior college and Millennia Institute students will shift to full home-based learning from May 19 till the end of the school term on May 28, Singapore’s Ministry of Education said on Sunday. Preschools and student care centers remain open to support parents who have to work. The city also plans to vaccinate under 16 year-olds after a recent rise of infections among students.

Economy updates

Thailand: Thailand’s economic contraction continued into the start of year, setting the stage for a further slump as the country now faces its worst wave of Covid-19 cases. Gross domestic product in the first quarter shrank 2.6% from a year earlier, the National Economic and Social Development Council said Monday. The government faces a fresh dilemma between containing the new outbreak and sustaining domestic demand, which had started to recover in March before slumping again last month. The fresh wave, with new cases hitting a record 9,635 on Monday, has almost quadrupled the country’s total caseload since the start of April, sending consumer confidence to a 22-year low.

UK: The amount of central London office space companies need will fall by as much as 15% as people continue working from home even after coronavirus restrictions ease, according to a Deloitte survey. Developers anticipate that more flexible working patterns post-pandemic will result in less densely filled offices, so businesses will need less square footage, although this will be offset by reduced hot-desking and demand for more meeting space. Some large corporate tenants will shrink their office footprints by half, Deloitte said.

2:16 pm

Globaldata Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 161 million – India struggles for vaccines

14 May

Globally, the reported total confirmed cases of Covid-19 has reached over 161,224,000 with more than 3,346,000 reported deaths and 109,626,000 estimated recoveries.

New Covid-19 cases are reported to be rising in many countries across Asia, with India, Nepal, and Japan thought to be seeing the biggest increase.

The situation in India is showing little improvement with a record number of deaths reported in the country on Wednesday and only 2.8% of the population thought to be fully vaccinated.

State governments in India plan to buy vaccines from global companies as locally manufactured supplies run low.

Thailand saw its highest number of daily confirmed cases on Thursday, with the surge thought to be linked to outbreaks in two Bangkok prisons.

Further lockdown restrictions have been introduced to contain this third wave of the virus.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

 

2:25 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 160.5 million – rises reported across Asia

13 May

Globally, the reported total confirmed cases of Covid-19 has reached over 160,540,000 with more than 3,333,000 reported deaths and 108,942,000 estimated recoveries.

New Covid-19 cases are reported to be rising in many countries across Asia, with India, Nepal, and Japan thought to be seeing the biggest increases.

India is the main driver of cases in this region, now estimated to account for 50% of global cases and 30% of global deaths – although this is thought to be an underestimate due to limitations with testing and unregistered deaths.

Gibraltar (a British territory) reports to fully vaccinating the largest proportion of its population, followed by the Seychelles and Israel; however, the Seychelles is currently the most vaccinated country worldwide.

The Seychelles carried out a successful vaccination programme, though a rise in Covid-19 cases in this region have called for a review of this data by the WHO.

Factors such as the early easing of lockdown restrictions, vaccine effectiveness, severity and case timing will all be considered.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:57 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Moderna to supply 25 million vaccine doses to Australia – Brazil halts AZ jab in pregnant women after death reported

Moderna has signed a new supply agreement with the Australian government for the delivery of 25 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the country. The agreement includes the supply of 10 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine against the ancestral strain (mRNA-1273) to be delivered in 2021 and 15 million doses of the company’s updated variant booster vaccine candidate to be delivered in 2022. Any purchase under the agreement requires the regulatory approval of mRNA-1273 and booster vaccine candidates by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia.

Brazil has stopped administering AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in pregnant women, after a 35-year-old pregnant woman died of a haemorrhagic stroke in Rio de Janeiro that is being linked to the AstraZeneca shot she received days earlier. While authorities are investigating the issues, the suspension does not apply to the use of other vaccines in the country, including shots from Sinovac and Pfizer. AstraZeneca stated that pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers were not included in its Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials.

INOVIO has reported that its next-generation  pan-Covid-19 vaccine candidate, INO-4802, demonstrated potent neutralising antibodies and T cell responses against the original Wuhan strain, B.1.1.7 (UK variant), B.1.351 (South African variant) and P.1. (Brazilian variant) in preclinical models. A study showed that INO-4802 induced cross-reactive immune responses against current and emerging variants, as either a first-line vaccine or as a booster for individuals inoculated with other Wuhan-matched vaccines.  The company plans to conduct Phase I/II trials of the vaccine candidate later this year.

9:20 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 160 million – deaths reach 583,684

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,331,604 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections exceed 160 million world wide.

Covid was preventable and need not have led to such huge loss of life, according to an WHO-commissioned report.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 583,684 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Newly reported Covid deaths and hospitalizations in the US will likely decrease over the next four weeks, according to ensemble forecasts published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The median forecast for new weekly deaths drops to 3,366 for the week ending 5 June from 4,357 for the week ending 15 May. The median forecast for new daily hospitalizations falls to 2,024 for 7 June from 3,915 for 13 May.

UK: UK prime minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for delaying until spring 2022 the newly-announced public inquiry into his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, UK researchers have found that the Indian variant of Covid-19 may be spreading more quickly than the Kent variant that led to the UK’s second lockdown last year and spread around the world.

Mexico: Mexico’s health ministry on Wednesday reported 3,090 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 267 more deaths, Reuters reports. It brings the total number of cases in the country to 2,371,483 and fatalities to 219,590.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s ministry of health said that the country has yet to see the worst of a current surge in coronavirus cases, as it reported its highest daily death count to date. It recorded 39 deaths among the 4,765 new cases on Wednesday, pushing its total caseload past 450,000 with 1,761 fatalities – the third highest rate in south-east Asia behind Indonesia and the Philippines.

Japan: Japan will set up a temporary Covid-19 testing facility in New Delhi from next week to test Japanese citizens who want to return home, according to NHK. From Friday, Japan will ban all foreign residents of Japan who’ve been in India, Pakistan or Nepal within the previous 14 days from re-entering Japan unless there are “special exceptional circumstances.” The ban applies to permanent and long-term residents, and spouses or children of Japanese nationals, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on its website Wednesday.

Thailand: Thailand reported a record single-day increase in infections Thursday, with 4,887 new cases reported after the discovery of thousands of infections in the capital’s main prisons. Of the new cases, 2,835 were from two prisons. Bangkok is working to speed up its vaccination efforts to contend with a new wave of infections which began in early April. The total death toll exceeded 500 after 32 new deaths.

South Africa: South Africa’s Department of Health said that while Covid-19 infections climbed 46% in the past week the country hasn’t yet reached a “resurgence threshold.” Cases are rising fastest in the Northern Cape and Gauteng provinces, the department said in a statement on Wednesday. While deaths rose 18% in the week, the number of hospitalizations hasn’t increased, it said. “We have not yet hit the third wave; however, we are at risk,” the department said.

Vaccine news

Global: United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has highlighted the need to double the capacity of Covid-19 vaccine production and for fairer redistribution of the shots in the developing world.

Mixing doses of two leading Covid-19 vaccines increased patients’ side effects such as fatigue and headaches in early findings from a study that has yet to show how well such a cocktail defends against the virus. People who got a first dose of AstraZeneca Plc’s shot followed by Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine four weeks later reported more short-lived side effects, most of them mild, researchers from the University of Oxford reported in The Lancet medical journal. That was also true when the order of the shots was switched.

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it has found more cases of potentially life-threatening blood clotting among people who received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and sees a “plausible causal association”.

In an effort to boost flagging vaccine numbers Ohio will give $1 million dollar cash prizes to five randomly selected residents who get a shot by May 26, Governor Mike DeWine announced. “I know that some of you now are shaking your head and saying, ‘That Mike DeWine, he’s crazy. This million-dollar-drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,’” he said from his Cedarville home. “But truly, the real waste in this pandemic when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it, the real waste is a life that is lost now to Covid-19.”

Brazil: Brazil could run out of ingredients to produce AstraZeneca Plc’s shot by the end of the week, Fiocruz’s Bio-Manguinhos Director Mauricio Zuma said in an interview. Butantan Institute has enough inputs until Friday — after that, it will halt vaccine production, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria said on Wednesday. The country reported a total of 15,359,397 Covid-19 cases, with 76,692 confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

Norway: Norway will not resume the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine and has delayed a decision on whether to start using jabs made by Johnson & Johnson, following a press conference led by the country’s prime minister Erna Solberg. It comes after a government-appointed commission recommended that both vaccines should be excluded from Norway’s vaccination programme due to a risk of rare but harmful side-effects.

Australia: Australia will buy 25 million doses of the Moderna Inc. vaccine, according to the government, and is in also talks with the company about building a factory to make the vaccine domestically. The government expects the company to apply for approval soon.

South Korea: May soon announce a deal to produce the shot locally, according to domestic media.

Taiwan: A rising number of Covid-19 infections is prompting thousands of members of the hesitant Taiwanese public to get vaccinated. A record 11,018 people received vaccinations Wednesday, after a combined 23 confirmed cases on Tuesday and Wednesday. That outbreak prompted the government to reimpose restrictions on large gatherings for the first time since last summer, although it sees a smaller chance of further raising the Covid-19 alert level, the Apple Daily reports, citing health minister Chen Shih-chung. That is because investigators have found some signs of the infection route for local cases with unknown sources.

Seychelles: Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan said vaccines that have been widely administered to the nation’s population are working, even as the Indian Ocean archipelago experiences a surge in coronavirus cases. The country has fully inoculated 62.2% of its population, the biggest proportion of any nation, issuing them with either Sinopharm shots or Covishield vaccines that are made under license from AstraZeneca Plc. Most infections have been mild, according to Ramkalawan. “Imagine if we did not have our people vaccinated?” he said in an interview late Tuesday. “We have only a few people needing intensive care.”

Lockdown updates

EU: The European Union’s executive arm asked the bloc’s 27 member states to ban all non-essential travel to and from India, according to a statement on Wednesday. “It is important to limit to the strict minimum the categories of travelers that can travel from India for essential reasons and to subject those who may still travel from India to strict testing and quarantine arrangements,” the European Commission said. The so-called emergency brake is intended to limit the spread of the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India. “EU citizens and long-term residents, as well as their family members, should still be able to travel to Europe, subject to strict testing and quarantine arrangements,” the commission said.

Japan: Japan’s northern Hokkaido Prefecture is proceeding with “careful considerations” over whether to ask the central government to declare a state of emergency as virus infections soar, NHK reports. The capital Sapporo is expected to report a daily record of about 500 infections Thursday, national broadcaster NHK says, citing an unidentified local official, and about 700 cases are expected across the prefecture, the Asahi reported earlier.

Greece: Greece will lift most remaining restriction measures from May 14 including the need for citizens to send a text message with a specific code in order to leave home, Deputy Minister for Coordination of Government Work Akis Skertsos said.

Switzerland: Switzerland plans to ease restrictions on indoor dining at restaurants and public gatherings after a decline in coronavirus infections. Restaurants will be able to welcome guests indoors again starting 31 May, while theaters will be able to accommodate more guests, the government said Wednesday. A final decision will be made on 26 May, following input from the cantons, or states, and will depend on how the Covid-19 case load develops.

3:33 pm

benefits to richer nations providing vaccines to rest of the world exceed costs – economists

12 May

Nuno Palma, a senior lecturer (associate professor) in economics at the University of Manchester, retweeted a survey of economists that concluded that the benefits to richer nations such as Canada, Europe, Japan, US, and others paying for the 12 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines at the existing prices while providing them for free to the rest of the world exceeded costs incurred.

A majority 53% of the experts in the poll agreed that reliable Covid-19 vaccines would reach developing countries faster, if the rich countries paid the pharmaceutical companies at prevailing prices to manufacture and distribute the vaccines, rather than waiving patent protection.

Another 37% of the experts strongly agreed that the benefits to richer countries who paid for the Covid-19 vaccines at the prevailing prices and offered them for free to the rest of the world would exceed the costs incurred by them.

Read more

1:36 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for US children as young as 12

12 May

Globally, the reported total confirmed cases of Covid-19 has reached over 159,732,000 with more than 3,319,000 reported deaths and 108,289,000 estimated recoveries.

South-East Asia has reported the largest rise in new cases in the last week, with India thought to account for 95% of cases and 93% of deaths in the region.

Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region have reported the largest decrease in new cases in the last week.

The situation in the US looks promising, with a continued drop in new daily cases and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine now approved for use in children as young as 12.

There are concerns of a new surge in cases and deaths In Africa, due new variants circulating and a low vaccination rate.

Only 1.1% of the population in Africa are thought to have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Factors such as distribution issues and vaccine scepticism are thought to be playing a role in this.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:08 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Slovakia suspends use of AZ vaccine for first doses – FDA fast-tracks Cerecor’s CERC-002 for hospitalised Covid-19 patients

Slovakia’s Ministry of Health has suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for people receiving their first shots, after experts reviewed the death of a recipient. The State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) confirmed that the death of a 47-year-old woman was likely caused by the company’s vaccine due to an existing condition she suffered from. Some European countries paused administering the AstraZeneca vaccine in March due to concerns over rare blood clots. Slovakia is currently using Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, while those already vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab will continue with the second dose of the vaccine.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track status to biopharma company Cerecor’s CERC-002 treatment for hospitalised Covid-19 patients. CERC-002 is a first-in-class fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the LIGHT cytokine that is entitled to both rolling submission and priority review under the fast-track designation. The monoclonal antibody, which was licenced from Kyowa Kirin, is the only clinical-stage anti-LIGHT therapy and is expected to treat various LIGHT-associated immune diseases including cytokine storm-induced Covid-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Organicell Regenerative Medicine, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, has announced that its Zofin therapy has been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan for a Covid-19 patient on compassionate grounds. The treatment will take place at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and will adhere to all dosing protocols used by investigators in Organicell’s ongoing Phase I/II Covid-19 trial.

9:51 am

International update: Global Covid infections near 160 million – Indian variant found in 44 countries

12 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,318,053 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections are nearing 160 million world wide.

The India variant Covid-19 has been found in dozens of countries all over the world, according to the World Health Organization’s weekly update on the pandemic. The UN health agency said the B.1.617 strain had been found in “44 countries in all six WHO regions”.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 582,848 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

India: A tracker developed by researchers at Cambridge Judge Business School and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research suggests the number of new coronavirus infections in India has peaked. “But there is substantial variation among states and union territories in their trajectories, with cases continuing to increase over the next two weeks in areas such as Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Tripura,” the researchers wrote. The projections are in line with those from some other experts, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advisers. However, the nation has reported more than 300,000 new infections for more than 20 straight days and health services remain overwhelmed.

Australia: A fresh outbreak in Australia has been blamed on a man who had completed hotel quarantine in South Australia. Officials in neighbouring Victoria said on Wednesday that the man tested positive after returning home to Melbourne.

Singapore: Authorities found 13 new cases of coronavirus with more than half linked to an existing cluster at Changi Airport as the government stepped up testing to track down the spread in the local community. Singapore has taken an aggressive approach in tackling an uptick in coronavirus infections by tightening border controls and reimposing stricter social distancing rules in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, The World Economic Forum plans to go ahead with its annual meeting in Singapore this August despite a jump in coronavirus cases that prompted the Asian city-state to reimpose restrictions and tighten border controls. The WEF’s marquee event, typically held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, is scheduled for 17-20 August.

Vaccine news

US: Americans will be offered free taxis to vaccination centres in order to convince them to have a dose of the treatment. Joe Biden announced the scheme with Uber and Lyft on Tuesday.

US health agencies have identified 23 cases of a rare and dangerous blood-clotting condition among people who have received Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to an update on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website. As of 4 May, more than 8.4 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered. Only 23 cases of so-called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome have been identified, underscoring that the known and potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh its potential risks, the CDC said. “Nearly all reports of this serious condition have been in adult women younger than 50 years old,” according to the website, which was updated on Tuesday. “For all women, this is a rare adverse event. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare.”

Indonesia: Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s vaccine is wiping out Covid-19 among health workers in Indonesia, an encouraging sign for the dozens of developing countries reliant on the controversial Chinese shot, which performed far worse than western vaccines in clinical trials. Indonesia tracked 25,374 health workers in capital city Jakarta for 28 days after they received their second dose and found that the vaccine protected 100% of them from death and 96% from hospitalization as soon as seven days after, said Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin in an interview on Tuesday. The workers were tracked until late February.

Brazil: Brazil has signed a deal for Pfizer to deliver an additional 100m doses of its Covid-19 vaccine, doubling the number of shots from the company. The health ministry recorded 72,715 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 2,311 deaths.

Covid-19 vaccination of pregnant and postpartum women with AstraZeneca vaccine will be temporarily interrupted in Brazil, the country’s Immunization Program coordinator Franciele Francinato said during a press conference. Pfizer and Sinovac’ vaccines will continue to be given out.

UK: Pfizer has asked the UK medical regulator for permission to use its Covid-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds in Britain, the Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

South Korea: “Vaccine partnership” is on the agenda for next week’s bilateral summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart Joe Biden, according to presidential chief of staff for policy Lee Ho-seung. The US has the original vaccine technology, while South Korea has world-class bio-production facilities, said Lee, adding that the Asian nation could potentially become a “global hub” for vaccine production.

Canada: The Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario said on Tuesday they would stop offering first doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, with Ontario citing evidence that the risk of rare blood clots is somewhat higher than previously estimated.

Lockdown updates

Taiwan: Taiwan may be forced to raise its Covid-19 alert level in “coming days”, the health minister said on Wednesday. It could mean the closure of shops dealing in non-essential items after a cluster of six cases was discovered – a high number on the island which has kept infections very low throughout the pandemic.

Vietnam: Hanoi banned gatherings of more than ten people in public places and requested the suspension of non-essential meetings and events. The city, which is asking residents to leave home for essential reasons only, closed parks after a new outbreak centered in North Vietnam began 27 April. The municipality also requested beer establishments, wet markets and most restaurants to close.

Malaysia: Malaysia will follow a standardized protocol nationwide to make it easier for people to comply with social-distancing procedures as the nation bolsters efforts to stem a new wave of Covid infections. The decision comes after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin extended the restrictions on movements nationwide to rein in the fresh wave that has left some hospitals low on ICU beds. There’s been confusion among the public over the different protocols that have been imposed from time to time to tackle the pandemic.

Maldives: The Maldives, which has one of the world’s fastest growing Covid-19 outbreaks, has tightened its restrictions. Residents of Male, the capital, are now required to stay indoors from 4 pm, until 4 am and visas for tourists from India and other nations in South Asia will be halted from 13 May, the Indian Ocean archipelago’s Health Protection Agency said in Twitter postings.

Scotland: Scots will be able to drink alcohol indoors at pubs and restaurants from next week and meet more people in their homes after a reduction in new cases, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. The general success of the vaccination rollout means some restrictions are being lifted ahead of schedule, she told reporters in Edinburgh. Cinemas, theaters and casinos will be able to reopen from Monday, and the government is also reviewing rules on physical distancing. Rules may be relaxed further at the next review in three weeks, Sturgeon said.

Economy updates

US: Major US airlines have weighed in alongside UK carriers to urge the reopening of transatlantic travel, calling on governments in Washington and London to arrange a summit as soon as possible.

Australia: The virus has cost Australia A$311bn (£171bn), according to Tuesday’s federal budget, thanks to the massive cost of health and job support schemes.

India: Some companies in India are temporarily halting business or offering unusual assistance to employees as a devastating wave of the coronavirus sickens and kills hundreds of thousands. Feng Tay said it will suspend its Indian factories for ten working days to keep its employees safe, following firms including Honda Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp. that have announced similar decisions in recent days. Developer Godrej Properties Ltd. extended a long weekend by three days to offer its employees time “to heal” while property company The Lodha Group will pay 12 months salary to the family of any of its associates who dies of Covid while in the service of the firm.

2:07 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 159 million – lockdowns ease across Europe

11 May
Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 159,027,000 with more than 3,305,000 deaths and 107,608,000 recoveries.

China has administered the largest number of vaccine doses worldwide, followed by the US and India.

Israel is now thought to have fully vaccinated 58.7% of its population and real-world data suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective in helping control the pandemic.

Across Europe, countries begin to ease lockdown restrictions, with vaccination programs underway and infection rates remaining low.

Spain has finally lifted its state of emergency, allowing residents to travel across the country for the first time since October.

China plans to set up a “line of separation” on side of Mount Everest’s peak in attempt to prevent Nepal’s recent Covid-19 outbreak from crossing the border.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:00 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine emergency approval expanded to adolescents aged 12-15 – Eva Pharma to supply 300,000 remdesivir doses to India

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the emergency use authorisation (EUA) for Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, which will now include adolescents aged between 12 and 15 years. It is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved in the US for administration in children in this age group. The vaccine showed 100% efficacy in a Phase III trial that enrolled 2,260 participants aged between 12 and 15 years, and was also found to be well tolerated by the age group.

Egyptian generic drugmaker Eva Pharma has signed an agreement with the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to provide 300,000 doses of remdesivir, a potential treatment for Covid-19. Signed at the Indian embassy in Cairo, the agreement is intended to help India fight the recent surge in Covid-19 infections in the country. In June 2020, Eva Pharma received a licence from US biotech Gilead Sciences to manufacture remedisivir in Egypt for distribution to 127 countries.

Niche pharmaceutical services company Open Orphan has announced that its subsidiary hVIVO has signed a $4.2m contract with Imperial College London to manufacture a SARS-CoV-2 challenge virus, as part of the Wellcome Trust-funded effort. hVIVO is expected to develop the challenge virus based on new emerging variants of the virus, which will be used in future human challenge trials to allow direct comparisons of vaccines or antivirals against different Covid-19 variants. The UK has already launched a human challenge trial for SARS-CoV-2, in which healthy volunteers will be infected with the virus.

10:07 am

International update: Nearly 900 twice vaccinated people among Seychelles 2,486 new Covid cases

11 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,303,888 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections are nearing 159 million world wide.

The World Health Organization considers a highly contagious Covid variant spreading in India as a “variant of concern” at the global level, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead for Covid-19. The WHO will provide more details in a report on Tuesday, Van Kerkhove said in a news briefing on Monday. She called for more targeted sequencing to be done to track the variant.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 582,153 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Seychelles: Seychelles, which has vaccinated the largest proportion of its population of any country against Covid-19, said active cases of the disease more than doubled in the week to 7 May. The health ministry of the archipelago off Africa’s east coast said in a statement on Monday that 2,486 people currently have Covid-19 and of those, 37% have received two doses of vaccine. The number of active cases rose from 1,068 a week earlier. Of those in the country who have taken two doses, 57% were inoculated with Sinopharm shots and the rest with Covishield, a vaccine made in India under license from AstraZeneca Plc.

France: The French prime minister Jean Castex has said that France was “emerging on a long-term basis” from the Covid-19 crisis as the country records 3,292 new Covid-19 cases and 292 deaths – the lowest figures this year.

Argentina: Argentina’s health ministry confirmed its first cases of the Covid-19 variants first discovered in India and South Africa in three travellers returning from Europe.

Singapore: Singapore’s decision to test all hospital staff follows the the emergence of a cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which has since grown to be the country’s largest, with 43 linked cases. There are presently 11 active clusters nationwide, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Monday.

Vaccine news

Global: Novavax Inc. has said the development of its Covid-19 vaccine is slower than previously anticipated and does expect to file for regulatory approval until the third quarter of 2021.

US: University students at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) must get vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend classes during the fall semester.

Meanwhile, US regulators authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12.

Los Angeles, the most populous county in the US, is likely to achieve herd immunity by mid-to late-July if the brisk pace of vaccinations continues, health officials said.

New York is setting up vaccination sites at Grand Central, Penn Station and other mass transit stops, and will offer free Metropolitan Transportation Authority rides for everyone who gets a shot.

Bali: Bali has secured nearly 2 million doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines so far, with another 500,000 arriving later this month and more to come in June and July, Governor Wayan Koster said late Wednesday.

Japan: Governors in Japan have drafted a recommendation that calls on the central government to consider declaring a nationwide state of emergency, Asahi newspaper reported without attribution. The officials called the national virus situation grave and urged the government to take immediate actions beyond the current measures to “to defeat covid variants that are rampant.”

Lockdown updates

China: Hong Kong’s government won’t push ahead with a requirement that all foreign domestic workers must be vaccinated against Covid-19 before applying for or renewing work visas, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said. The proposal had been critizised for stigmatizing and singling out the city’s roughly 380,000 foreign domestic workers. Domestic workers must, however, undergo a second round of mass Covid testing by 30 May if they’re unvaccinated. Lam also said schools can start to operate half-day in-person classes at full capacity from 24 May.

1:51 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 158 million – devastating rises in India

10 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 158,399,000 with more than 3,294,000 deaths and 106,920,000 recoveries.

The US holds the lead as the most heavily affected country worldwide, followed by India and Brazil.

India continues to report devastatingly high numbers of new cases and deaths, with 4,187 new deaths reported on Saturday, the highest seen in the region since the pandemic began.

Concerns have been raised about rising case numbers in countries neighbouring India, such as, Nepal and Pakistan.

As Pakistan battles a third wave of the virus, the country has entered an eight-day partial lockdown in the lead up to Eid al-Fitr being celebrated this week.

The Tokyo Olympics are due to take place in less than three months; however, with rising Covid-19 cases in Japan, a state of emergency has been extended until 31st May in several prefectures to prevent the situation worsening.

However, with only 0.9% of the population fully vaccinated in Japan, and many residents petitioning for the games to be called off, it is uncertain if they will go ahead as planned.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:57 am

International update: Deadly fungal infection adds to India’s Covid woes

10 May

Global: The global Covid death toll is still rising with a figure of 3,293,355 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 158 million world wide.

US: US Covid -19 infections have passed 32.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 581,754 according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The share of US hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients fell to 5.37%, the lowest since 5 October, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci says there’s “no doubt” the United States, which has reported the world’s worst overall Covid-19 death toll, has been undercounting fatal cases.

India: India added 366,161 more cases Monday, lower than the 400,000-odd numbers it reported Sunday. Numbers on Monday typically tend to be lower than usual because of a dip in testing across the country during the weekend. The data tends to rebound starting Wednesday. India also reported 3,754 deaths Monday, taking the total death toll in the country to 246,116.

Coronavirus is causing the spread of a deadly fungal infection called mucormycosis across the western state of Maharashtra, the Times of India reported. Hospitals in Mumbai, which are treating dozens of such patients, are facing a shortage of anti-fungal medicines. The infection can also lead to blindness. The fungal infection usually sets in two to three weeks after treatment for Covid and was mostly found in patients who already suffer from diabetes and then got affected by Covid-19.

Singapore: Singapore will test thousands of people for Covid-19 as the number of infections unlinked to current virus clusters continued to rise over the weekend. An additional ten Covid-19 cases were reported by the country’s health ministry late on Sunday. Separately, four individuals are connected to an earlier cluster at Changi Airport and three are related to the cluster at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Japan: The International Olympic Committee is making arrangements for President Thomas Bach to travel to Japan in June, FNN reported, without saying where it got the information. Bach’s visit scheduled for May 17 has been canceled as a result of the extension of a state emergency covering Tokyo and other areas where the coronavirus outbreak is spreading.

Vietnam: Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh warned the nation could face political instability if the current coronavirus outbreak spreads nationwide, according to a post on the government’s website. Vietnam reported 78 new domestic virus patients this morning, and 411 since the latest outbreak began on 27 April. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have shut most schools. In both the capital and Ho Chi Minh City, cinemas, gyms and spas have been shuttered. Other areas of the nation have put in place similar restrictions.

Brazil: A maskless President Jair Bolsonaro led a Mother’s Day motorcycle parade on Sunday as Brazil added almost 39,000 Covid-19 cases. Deaths increased by 1,024 to 422,340 in the latest daily count, according to Health Ministry data.

Vaccine news

EU: The European Union has not yet renewed its contract for the supply AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June and is not certain it will, the bloc’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said, a day after a new contract with Pfizer is announced.

US: Los Angeles will offer appointment-free vaccinations at all sites starting Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said, in an effort to “knock down barriers to vaccine access.” The city is expecting to administer more than a quarter million shots for a second straight week.

China: Shanghai Fosun said on Sunday it will set up a 50:50 joint venture with BioNTech to produce mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in China. Both companies have committed up to $100 million investment through cash, production facilities and technologies. Fosun will set up a production facility capable of making 1 billion doses of the vaccine, according to the company’s filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

UK: More than a third of the United Kingdom’s adult population is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and two-thirds of adults have received a first shot. The UK has now administered more than 53 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. The success of the vaccine rollout, coupled with strict lockdown measures that are now being eased, has led to a plunge in new cases and deaths. Health authorities on Sunday reported just two daily deaths from the virus in all of the UK.

Brazil: The health ministry will begin distributing 1.12 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Monday. The latest batch brings Brazil’s distribution to about 75.4 million doses and more than 46.8 million shots administered.

Iran: President Hassan Rouhani said some 13 million people in Iran, about 15% of the population, will be vaccinated against the coronavirus by 22 July, as the country tries to combat the Middle East’s worst outbreak. Rouhani said he expects all people in high-risk groups to receive at least their first dose by that date, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported, adding that two domestically developed shots will be ready for mass use by June.

Lockdown updates

UK: The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is to set out a timetable on Monday for lifting coronavirus restrictions in England. He’s expected to say friends and family will be able to hug and mix indoors from next week, while cinemas and museums can reopen. It comes despite growing concerns over the spread of the India coronavirus variant.

Spain: People broke out in spontaneous celebration at midnight, after a national state of emergency that included curfews from 11 pm to 6 am in most of Spain ended at midnight. In the capital of Madrid alone, the police intervened in more than 450 incidents, the Associated Press reported, as hundreds of people, mostly youth, took to the main plazas and streets in several large cities. “Freedom doesn’t involve holding booze parties in the street because street drinking is not allowed in the city of Madrid,” Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida said Sunday. Restrictions were eased on restaurants, travel between regions, and on social gatherings.

China: China will set up a “separation line” on the peak of Mount Everest to avoid possible Covid-19 infections by climbers from virus-hit Nepal, state media reported, after dozens were taken ill from the summit’s base camp.

India: Members of India’s opposition have called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order a national lockdown as the country’s official death toll to date hits 238,270.

Taiwan: China Airlines will temporarily reduce cargo flights to deal with pilot shortage after one-sixth of its pilots got sidelined due to quarantine measures, the Central News Agency reported. The airline will cut its cargo flights globally and half of its cargo flight services to the US, Apple Daily reported on Saturday, without saying where it got the information. Around 200 pilots are unable to fly as a precaution after 12 pilots were confirmed to have Covid-19 since 20 April.

10:20 am

Coronavirus company news summary – WHO grants emergency approval to Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine – EMA begins rolling review of GSK/Vir’s sotrovimab for Covid-19

China’s state-owned pharma company Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine has received emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the World Health Organization (WHO). Sinopharm’s vaccine is the first Covid-19 vaccine developed by a non-western country to get approval from the WHO. The approval was based on a review of latest clinical data and manufacturing practices of the vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has initiated a rolling review of data on GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology’s investigational dual-action SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, for treatment of Covid-19 patients aged 12 and older. EMA will assess data on sotrovimab, which includes evidence gathered from clinical trials, as they become available.

Shanghai-based pharma group Fosun Pharma has signed a $200m joint venture agreement with Germany’s BioNTech for domestic production and commercialisation of the latter’s messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccine. Fosun Pharma will invest $100m to produce one billion vaccine doses a year, while BioNTech will invest a maximum of $100m in production technology and patents.

2:10 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid deaths exceed three and a quarter million

7 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 156,164,000, with more than 3,258,000 deaths and 104,893,000 recoveries.

The US, Brazil, and India hold the top three spots for total Covid-19 deaths.

However, India reached several grim milestones on Thursday, recording over 412,200 confirmed cases and over 3,900 deaths, its highest numbers to date.

India remains the third highest for total number of vaccine doses administered, but only 2.2% of the country is fully vaccinated.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated the B.1.617 coronavirus variant, first identified in India, as a variant of interest.

There is a suggested correlation between the surge in Covid-19 cases in India and the rise of the B.1.617 variant, although the link is not definitive.

According to the CDC, variants of interest may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible or cause more severe disease.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:15 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Russia authorises use of single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine – Novavax to deliver 350 million doses of vaccine candidate to COVAX facility

The Russian Ministry of Health has authorised the use of a single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik Light, in Russia. The vaccine, which is the first component of the Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V jab, showed 79.4% efficacy from four weeks after administration, according to data from a Phase I/II trial. It also demonstrated the development of virus neutralising antibodies in 91.67% of people 28 days after administration.

The vaccine alliance Gavi has signed an advance purchase agreement with biotech firm Novavax to buy 350 million doses of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373. Gavi secured the agreement on behalf of the COVAX facility and the vaccine delivery will start in Q3 2021, after Novavax receives regulatory approvals. The vaccine will be delivered to both high-income and upper-middle-income countries participating in the COVAX facility, along with 92 lower-income nations in accordance with the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

Biopharma company Trevena’s novel AT1 receptor selective agonist TRRV027 has been chosen for an NIH ACTIV (Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines) trial in Covid-19 patients. The trial, ACTIV-4d RAAS, is being coordinated by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and will study treatments targeting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) and ascertain if they can prevent progression of disease or death among hospitalised Covid-19 patients. TRRV027 fights disruption within the RAAS by binding to and rebalancing AT1 receptor activation and blocking the pathways that cause lung damage and blood clotting.