Covid-19 Coronavirus
  • Global confirmed cases
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  • Global confirmed cases
  • Global deaths
  • Global death rate
  • Global recoveries
  • Global recovery rate
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Coronavirus: A timeline of how the deadly COVID-19 outbreak is evolving

9:02 am

International update: EU warns of ‘dangerous’ Covid products as global cases pass 114.7 million

3 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.54 million with a figure of 2,549,457 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 114.7 million world wide.

EU: About 9% of dangerous products flagged by consumer protection alerts last year were Covid-related, mostly low-quality masks, the European Commission said in a press release. Other product warnings were for disinfectants with toxic chemicals, such as methanol or UV sanitizers that exposed users to strong radiation.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 28,719,000. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 516,608 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

President Joe Biden said he hopes the U.S. would be back to normal “by this time next year” but said he’d been cautioned not to provide a specific date “because we don’t know for sure.”

Turkey: Turkey added a further 11,837 new coronavirus cases to its tally on Tuesday, health ministry data showed – the country’s highest daily figure since 7 January.

Tunisia: Tunisia has detected its first cases of the more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the UK, the country’s health ministry said on Tuesday in a statement reported by Reuters.

Greece: Officials have announced plans to expand the public health system’s capacity to admit Covid-19 patients following an emergency meeting chaired by prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Ireland: Ireland reported the fewest new cases since December, in a latest sign that the virus there is easing. There were 359 newly confirmed cases, the health ministry said. That’s the least since Dec. 15. The drop is welcome, deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn said, although he warned it may be attributable to a so-called “weekend effect.” The country also reported 14 more deaths.

UK: “We have no information to suggest the variant has spread further,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons. He said a search has narrowed to 379 households in the south of England as the government tries to find the unidentified individual who tested positive for the variant. “We’ve identified the batch of home tests in question,” he said.

Netherlands: The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose for a third consecutive week in the Netherlands, though the tally remains below peak levels. In the week ended 2 March, 31,984 people with Covid-19 were confirmed, up from 29,977, health agency RIVM said. The number of fatalities fell.

Mexico: Mexico reported a daily rise of 437 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total to 186,152, according to data released by the Health Ministry. The country has administered 2,526,863 doses of vaccine against the coronavirus, and 583,896 people have received a second dose. US President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador discussed the response to the pandemic, migration and climate change in a video meeting on Monday.

Vaccine news

EU: The European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee is expected to give its recommendation for the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen on 11 March EMA said in a tweet. The panel has an extraordinary meeting scheduled for that day, aiming to conclude the evaluation.

Venezuela: Venezuela has received 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine President Nicolas Maduro said, as well as protective material for healthcare workers.

Nigeria: Nigeria’s first Covid-19 vaccines, Oxford/AstraZeneca shots from the international Covax scheme, landed in the capital city Abuja today, Reuters reports.

France: The uptake of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in France stood at 24% as of 28 February, a health ministry official said on Tuesday, well below the country’s target of between 80 and 85%.

Spain: Spain will buy 17m more doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine as part of a new deal negotiated by the European Union, government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said on Tuesday.

US: American pharmaceutical Merck & Co Inc will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine in an agreement due to be announced on Tuesday by President Joe Biden, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Biden also called for state and local governments to prioritize teachers for vaccinations, as he pushes for schools to reopen safely with full-time classroom instruction.

US states will see a boost in Covid-19 vaccine shipments next week, on top of an initial burst of the recently authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine. President Joe Biden’s administration will allocate 15.2 million doses next week for shipment to states, up from 14.5 million allocated this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday after the administration held its regular call with governors. The government also announced that 2.8 million J&J shots were sent to states, marking the first time they’ve shown how they’ll divide an initial tranche of the newly authorized shot. The U.S. received a stockpile of 3.9 million J&J doses. Psaki’s statement suggests the remainder, about 1.1 million, will be sent to pharmacies and community health centers.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is on track to hit 5 million fully vaccinated by June. “We can do it as long as we get that supply,” he said.

Denmark: Denmark may become a joint owner of a coronavirus vaccine facility in Israel as a way to dramatically ratchet up capacity. Joint ownership of such a plant would help Denmark to “significantly” up its game and inoculate people repeatedly over several years, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.

Serbia: Serbia donated 5,000 does of the AstraZeneca vaccine to neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, a rare show of solidarity in a region where ethnic tensions continue to snarl relations three decades after the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.

Angola: Angola will begin administering vaccines on Tuesday, after the government took delivery of 624,000 doses of AstraZeneca inoculations under the Covax initiative. A broader rollout is planned from 6 March, Health Minister Silvia Lutucuta told reporters in the capital, Luanda.

Malaysia: Malaysia agreed to provide conditional approval for the use of Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Sinovac during disasters, Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement on Tuesday.

Lockdown updates

Italy: Italy’s government on Tuesday ordered the closure of all schools in areas hardest hit by Covid-19 and extended curbs already in place on businesses and movement until after Easter amid worries over the highly contagious UK variant.

Germany: German chancellor Angela Merkel wants to begin relaxing coronavirus restrictions from next week, a draft document seen by AFP shows, hoping that reinforced numbers of rapid antigen tests and vaccines will allow the country to unlock.

US: Texas Governor Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate and other anti-pandemic restrictions amid declining hospitalizations and infection rates in the second-largest US state. Effective 10 March, all businesses will be allowed to open at 100% of capacity, Abbott said during a media briefing in Lubbock on Tuesday. His executive order allows county judges to reinstate anti-virus rules should hospitalizations surge. Abbott’s anti-pandemic measures have drawn the ire of his conservative electoral base, which saw them as government overreach, and may have wounded any presidential aspirations. He received 0% of the vote in a presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference this past weekend.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said indoor dining, movie theaters and gyms can reopen on a limited basis after California moved the region to a less-restrictive tier.

Scotland: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that more school children will return to full-time education from 15 March, including all those attending primary school, and aims to have all pupils back at school after the Easter holidays.

Japan: Tokyo plans to ask the national government to extend the coronavirus state of emergency that is due to expire this weekend, according to the Nikkei. The state of emergency was lifted toward the end of February in Japan’s western regions. Although numbers in Tokyo have fallen from the record levels in early January that led to the emergency being declared, the pace of decline in cases has slowed in recent days in Tokyo and some surrounding areas. The city is looking at an extension of around two weeks, the Nikkei said.

Netherlands: Bar owners are among businesses calling for less-strict lockdown rules. Two establishments in Amsterdam and the city of Breda in the south of the country briefly reopened outdoor seating areas on Tuesday in protest, defying nationwide rules, according to local media reports.

8:41 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Merck to support the manufacturing of J&J’s Covid-9 vaccine – AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine doses are starting to be supplied to the developing world through COVAX

3 March 2021

Bioengineering company CN Bio announced it has received a grant from Innovate UK, to develop human-relevant single and multi-organ models to advance research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19. The funding will allow CN Bio to develop and test advanced cell culture models that represent different parts of the lung and subsequently link these models to other organs, such as the liver and gut, to guide the development of novel Covid-19 therapeutics.

The first doses of AstraZeneca/University of Oxford‘s Covid-19 vaccine have arrived in many low and middle-income countries across the world through the COVAX initiative. Reports suggests that supply to 142 countries is currently underway, with a majority of doses being manufactured by AstraZeneca and its licence partner the Serum Institute of India. The first COVAX shipments were dispatched to Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire last week, and doses are expected to arrive soon in the Philippines, Fiji, Mongolia, Indonesia, and Moldova.

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide Merck with $268.8m in funding to enhance the existing manufacturing facilities for Covid-19 vaccines and medicines production. Merck will also support the manufacturing and supply of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine using its facilities in the US to formulate and fill vials of the vaccine.


8:15 am

Furlough extension aims to protect UK jobs

3 March

Faisal Islam, a political and economics journalist, shared an article on forecasts for peak pandemic unemployment in the UK to have been revised down as a result of encouraging vaccine rollout and furlough extension in the country.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has promised to deploy full fiscal support to protect the livelihoods of people and businesses ahead of his budget speech later today.

Economists believe the chancellor will be extending the furlough schemes until the end of September this year.

According to Sunak, the scheme which pays 80% of employees’ wages for the hours lost because of the coronavirus pandemic, will help in protecting millions of jobs and incomes across the UK.

Additionally, about 600,000 more self-employed people will be eligible for government help as access to grants is widened.

However, he has also cautioned against tough economic times and plans to raise some taxes in the future.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has supported more than 11 million jobs since it came into effect and is due to end in April.

As per the new scheme, employers will be expected to pay 10% to their staff not working in July, increasing to 20% in August and September as the economy gradually reopens.

Read more

2:21 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Most of the top five affected countries are now trending downwards in Covid infections

2 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 114,499,000, with more than 2,540,000 deaths and 75,348,000 recoveries.

The US leads the world in total confirmed Covid-19 cases, followed by India, Brazil, Russia, and the UK.

Most of these top five countries, including the US, are trending downwards in daily confirmed cases, but India has seen a slight uptick in recent weeks.

The US also leads the world in number of deaths, with Brazil, Mexico, and India rounding out the top four.

New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, has entered a seven-day lockdown after a new local case of Covid-19 was identified.

This follows a three-day lockdown from two weeks ago in response to a family diagnosed with the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the UK.

Overall, New Zealand has seen just over 2,300 cases since the pandemic began and has been one of the more successful developed countries in controlling the spread of Covid-19.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:05 am

International update: WHO warns against ‘virus rebound’ as global Covid infections rise – New variant detected in US

2 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.53 million with a figure of 2,539,880 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 114.4 million world wide.

The number of new coronavirus infections globally rose last week for the first time in seven weeks, the World Health Organization said on Monday. Part of the reason is that countries are easing restrictions, people are letting their guard down and variants are spreading, WHO officials said at a media briefing. “If the last week tells us anything, it’s that this virus will rebound,” said Maria van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead officer on Covid-19. “This virus will rebound if we let it. We cannot allow it to take off again.”

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 28,664,000. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 514,657 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A new Covid-19 variant detected in New York City that’s now travelled through various neighbourhoods is being watched “very, very closely” by US health officials, Anthony Fauci said on Monday. The variant, known scientifically as B.1.526, likely started off in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Fauci, a top adviser to President Joe Biden on the pandemic, said. It is one of five concerning variants now being tracked nationally by health officials.

Covid-19 infections in the US had the biggest monthly decline in February, plunging 61% to about 2.42 million, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg show. That helped lower the death count from January by 25% to 71,772.

Brazil: Angry with President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic in its most severe phase, 16 Brazilian governors accused the far-right leader of misleading the country and state authorities urged a nationwide curfew and closure of airports.

France: France reported that the number of people being treated in intensive care units for Covid-19 was up by 52, at 3,544, going above the 3,500 threshold for the first time since 1 December last year.

UK: The UK recorded the lowest daily death toll and the lowest number of new cases since October.

Iran: Iran recorded 108 deaths from coronavirus in 24 hours, the highest since 4 January and the first time in seven weeks that the country surpassed 100 Covid-19 deaths in one day. The number of daily new cases rose by 8,510, the highest since 11 December, the Health Ministry reported. Iran now has 60,181 deaths from the virus with more than 1.6 million infections.

Poland: The UK variant of Covid-19 is the main cause of the third wave of the coronavirus epidemic in Poland, the health minister said on Monday.

Philippines: The Philippines said it detected for the first time the Covid-19 strain that initially emerged in South Africa. Six people were reported to have the variant, some local cases and some Filipinos returning from overseas. Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian nation also reported 30 additional cases of the more contagious strain that was first discovered in the UK, bringing the total to 87.

Mexico: Mexico reported a daily rise of 437 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total to 186,152, according to data released by the Health Ministry. The country has administered 2,526,863 doses of vaccine against the coronavirus, and 583,896 people have received a second dose. US President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador discussed the response to the pandemic, migration and climate change in a video meeting on Monday.

Vaccine news

Global: Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are effective in reducing Covid-19 infections among older people aged 70 years and over, a new study shows.

Johnson & Johnson is looking for manufacturing partnerships to increase supply of its Covid-19 vaccine that was cleared Saturday by US regulators, Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said. J&J will deliver 3.9 million doses of its one-shot vaccine within the next 24 to 48 hours, Gorsky said Monday in a telephone interview. The company wants to speed up its timeline of supplying enough vaccines to immunize 20 million Americans by the end of the month and a total of 100 million by the end of June, he said.

Vaccine doses in Ukraine and Japan have been wasted due to vaccine scepticism among doctors and fridge failures respectively, it emerged on Monday.

Twitter said it will label tweets that may contain misleading information around Covid-19 vaccinations.

Russia: Nearly two thirds of Russians are not willing to receive the country’s Sputnik V vaccine, and about the same number believe Covid-19 was created artificially as a biological weapon, an independent pollster said on Monday.

Israel: The Israeli government is looking to buy an additional 36 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine in case booster shots are needed later in the year.

France: People in France aged over 65 with existing health problems can be given the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the health minister said on Monday, departing from Paris’s earlier stance that the vaccine should be for under-65s only.

China: China is lagging in its coronavirus vaccination rollout, but plans to inoculate 40% of its population by June.

Thailand: Johnson & Johnson has submitted all necessary documents for the Thai drug regulator’s approval of its Covid-19 vaccines for local use, according to government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek. Moderna is expected to submit its documents next week, she said in a post on Twitter. Bharat Biotech has also contacted the agency.

Poland: The Polish government will discuss the potential purchase of Covid-19 vaccines with its Chinese counterparts, according to a readout from a Monday phone call between Presidents Andrzej Duda and Xi Jinping. Details of possible supplies will be figured out by special working group.

Lockdown updates

EU: The European Commission will unveil a proposal this month for a “digital green pass,” which will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or has received a negative test. “The proposal’s aim will be to facilitate travel within the European Union based on this medical data that will be available in this green digital pass,” Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told reporters in Brussels on Monday.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic tightened lockdown measures on Monday, beefing up police presence to restrict movement throughout the country as the government battles the world’s worst surge in Covid-19 infections.

Austria: Austria plans to let cafe and restaurant terraces reopen this month in a further loosening of its coronavirus lockdown.

France: France needs another four to six weeks before the government can start lifting restrictions, Agence France-Presse reported on Monday, citing comments made by President Emmanuel Macron. The country is already implementing a nationwide curfew that runs from 6pm to 6am, but officials have warned that more curbs might be needed.

Finland: The Finnish government has declared a state of emergency over rising coronavirus infections, mainly in order to be legally able to close restaurants.

Zimbabwe: On Monday Zimbabwe eased a coronavirus lockdown and overnight curfew imposed in January by allowing businesses to fully reopen after the rate of new infections slowed in the last two weeks.

US: California Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders said they’ve struck a deal that would push school districts in the most-populous U.S. state to begin reopening by April. The state would hand out more than $6 billion for related costs including personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and Covid testing. To make up for lost learning, the school year might extend into summer.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he was easing restrictions, including revising maximum occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor events, as well as ending out-of-state travel restrictions. Outdoor events are now allowed a maximum of 20% occupancy, regardless of venue size, the governor said. Attendees and workers must keep six feet (1.8 meters) apart. Indoor venues can have 15% occupancy.

8:46 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Flowserve to support Pfizer’s vaccine production – MKesson helps J&J distribute its vaccine in the US

2 March 2021

Flowserve Corporation is providing pumps, valves, and seals to Pfizer to support the production of its Covid-19 vaccine. Pfizer needed immediate support to replace a mechanical mixer seal on its Covid-19 vaccine production line, which Flowserve has rebuilt. The company will also provide Pfizer with a cryogenic valve application to support their expanded production capabilities of the vaccine.

Healthcare supply chain management company MKesson has begun distributing Johnson & Johnson (J&J)‘s  Janssen Covid-19 vaccine in the US. The Janssen vaccine was granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week and is the first one-shot Covid-19 vaccine authorised in the US.

Sorrento Therapeutics and its subsidiary Scilex have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Aardvark Therapeutics to acquire the latter’s proprietary formulation Delayed Burst Release Low Dose Naltrexone (DBR-LDN), or ARD-301, to treat chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic post-Covid syndrome. This study will be conducted in multiple Phase II programmes planned for this year.

7:48 am

How UK’s Covid vaccine rollout can boost the economy post pandemic

2 March

Faisal Islam, a political and economics journalist, shared an article on the vaccine rollout being the blueprint for UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Economists opine that between fiscal tensions and extension of rescue packages, Rishi Sunak, Britain’s Chancellor was always going to point towards a changed economy in the upcoming budget.

However, the vaccine rollout, in particular, is being seen as timely to recover from the crisis.

It is also being expected that the chancellor will make the argument at the Budget that the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in the UK represents a model for medium-term changes in the economy.

The OxAz model will also see increased public participation, regulation, and significant state funding.

It is being speculated whether the government will spend equal sums of money at other forms of economic innovation, as it did for vaccines during the pandemic, by sourcing ventilators, protective equipment, and testing technologies.

Alok Sharma’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) believes that the $16.2bn upfront expenditure on vaccines will bring potential benefits worth $15.2bn and $320bn, excluding wider health and social benefits.

Read more

3:14 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 114.2 million as EU vaccination program remains sluggish

1 March

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 114,223,000, with more than 2,533,000 deaths and 75,111,000 recoveries.

The US remains the highest in the world for total confirmed Covid-19 cases, followed by India and Brazil. Russia now has the fourth highest number of total confirmed cases. Following are the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Germany.

A sluggish Covid-19 vaccine rollout has left the European Union far behind several other wealthy countries.

Five percent of the EU’s nearly 450 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, lagging behind the almost 15, 30, and 55 percent that have received it in the US, UK, and Israel, respectively.

This has led to some EU countries securing controversial side-deals with vaccine distributors, as well as increases in unsolicited, and often fraudulent, offers for vaccines.

In other vaccine news, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for use on Saturday, the first single dose vaccine available in the US.

Shaina Stacy, PhD, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData

12:06 pm

How India is beating Covid

1 March

Steve Keen, an economist, retweeted a discussion on India joining other countries in Asia and the Oceania in eliminating the virus that will disallow any resurgence in recent times.

According to experts, if that were to happen, 50% of the world would become Covid free, and provide an example to follow.

India has gone from 90,000 cases per day to just over 10,000, with important measures such as domestic and international travel restrictions, and strong local lockdowns in hotspots or regions with raging cases over the past year and now.

Experts state the levelling of new cases in the country of late has been the result of successful response efforts.

These include less urbanisation, limited travel, localised tourism, zoning, closure of schools, and rapid production of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE), and immediate isolation and contact tracing measures.

Read more

9:04 am

Coronavirus company news summary – FDA approves a third vaccine – Health Canada approves two versions of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine

1 March 2021

Health Canada has authorised two Covid-19 vaccines, one manufactured and developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford, the other is the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine. While AstraZeneca applied for authorisation in October 2020, the Serum Institute of India with its partner Verity Pharmaceuticals sought authorisation in January 2021.

The US Government has procured a minimum of 100,000 doses of Eli Lilly‘s bamlanivimab and etesevimab, two monoclonal antibody drugs indicated for Covid-19. Bamlanivimab and etesevimab combined were recently granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms in patients at the risk of developing severe disease or being hospitalised.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted EUA for a third Covid-19 vaccine. The authorisation allows Johnson & Johnson‘s Janssen Covid-19 vaccine to be distributed across the US and to be administered to individuals aged 18 years and older.

9:03 am

International update: US gives thumbs up to Johnson & Johnson one shot vaccine – EU aims for early March approval

1 March

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.5 million with a figure of 2,531,489 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 114 million world wide.

Under-reporting of cases and deaths are common worldwide, given factors like lack of testing and people dying at home.

 US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 28.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 513,091 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

hospitalizations for the coronavirus have plunged 56% from a mid-January peak as the number of patients exiting California hospitals accelerated, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show.

California reported 158 deaths yesterday, below the 14-day average of 367, according to the health department’s website. The state has reported 51,979 fatalities in total.

South Africa: South Africa’s coronavirus alert level has been downgraded from three to one following a fall in infections, president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced, with the change coming into effect at midnight.

UK: Cases of the virus variant first detected in Brazil have been discovered in the UK for the first time, Public Health England has said. Three cases have been found in England and three in Scotland. Officials will begin surge testing in the South Gloucestershire postcodes of BS320, BS328, BS329, BS345 and BS346 tomorrow.

The UK has recorded its lowest rise in cases since late September, with a further 6,035 infections registered on Sunday.

China: A study published in the British Medical Journal in February showed that deaths in the first three months of 2020 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan was 56% higher than expected, driven mostly by fatalities from pneumonia associated with Covid-19.

A separate study on the real magnitude of coronavirus infections in China, conducted in April shortly after China contained the outbreak in Wuhan, found that people with past signs of infection was ten times more than the official data on cases in the city.

France: On Sunday France reported 19,952 new cases in 24 hours, a low number compared to previous days, though weekend reporting is often incomplete. This comes against a background of tighter restrictions in several parts of the country, such as local lockdowns over the weekends, due to the spread of variants, and as the government is reluctant to impose a third nationwide confinement.

Vaccine news

EU: The Johnson & Johnson one shot jab is likely to be approved for use in the European Union in early March, a French minister said on Sunday.

US: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky formally recommended that adults 18 and older should receive Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, the agency said in a statement Sunday. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices earlier in the day voted unanimously to recommend the one-shot vaccine. Walensky’s sign-off means that J&J’s vaccine can now be administered. The company said in a statement it planned to ship 100 million doses in the first half of the year, giving the US its third approved Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, said he would take the newly approved Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine as he encouraged Americans to accept any of the three approved shots.

In total, 72.8 million doses of vaccines have been given in the US with an average over the last week at 1.65 million a day.

UK: More than 20 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of coronavirus vaccinations, new figures released on Sunday showed.

Nigeria: Nigeria will receive its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines this week, with nearly 4m of its 16m vaccines due to arrive in Africa’s most populous nation via the Covax scheme.

India: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet Monday that he took his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and urged all Indians eligible for the shot to get inoculated. Modi took Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic won’t wait for the European Union regulator’s approval to use a Russian coronavirus vaccine, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. The country has taken “concrete steps” to purchase the Sputnik V vaccine and will use it if Czech health authorities approve, Babis said on Sunday in a weekly debate show on Prima TV. Local drug authorities’ assessment of the safety of the vaccine “would be sufficient” to use the shots, he said.

Lockdown updates

Norway: The Norwegian capital Oslo is ramping up its coronavirus restrictions after a surge in infections connected to the more transmissible variant first detected in the UK.

Italy: Italy will tighten curbs in Milan, Turin and other areas starting Monday to counter an acceleration of the virus caused by new variants, particularly the strain first found in the UK People in designated medium-risk and high-risk areas, known as orange and red zones, will be barred from leaving their city or town except for work or emergency reasons. Some areas will also close schools.

Malaysia: Malaysia expects to flatten the Covid-19 curve in the coming months through ongoing restrictions on movement, adherence to virus protocols and a national immunization program, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised speech Monday. The government is drafting a strategy to contain the pandemic, that includes a more targeted approach such as strict lockdowns in cluster areas. The economy will continue to reopen, subject to social distancing and strict protocols, he said.

Economy updates

UK: London’s Heathrow airport will charge departing passengers an extra £8.90 ($12.40) in an effort to claw back costs as the coronavirus crisis depresses air travel. Heathrow has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic since it relies on long-haul markets that have been all-but wiped out. The airport last week posted a 2 billion-pound loss for 2020 after passenger numbers tumbled 73%, a decline it says has left it unable to cover the costs of providing some services.


10:07 am

International update: Global Covid death toll passes 2.5 million – infections increase in Germany, Finland and Czech Republic

26 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.5 million with a figure of 2,507,803 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 113 million world wide.

US: US Covid-19 infections have passed 28 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 508,307 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

hospitalizations for the coronavirus have plunged 56% from a mid-January peak as the number of patients exiting California hospitals accelerated, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show.

France: The French prime minister, Jean Castex, has warned the government will impose new Covid measures, including weekend lockdowns in Paris and 19 other regions, from the start of March if signs of the coronavirus accelerating persist. France has also agreed with Germany to require coronavirus tests for workers commuting across their shared border.

Japan: Will decide on whether to relax its state of emergency in five prefectures on Friday, a week ahead of schedule, after a dramatic fall in new cases across the country.

UK: The former British prime minister, Tony Blair, says the length of the Covid outbreak could have been cut by three months if they had collaborated on vaccines, testing and drugs. Blair, who was Labour PM from 1997 to 2007, urged the UK to take the lead in developing a new “health security infrastructure” that would ensure countries coordinate better in identifying emerging new threats as well as developing, testing and manufacturing vaccines and treatments.

New Zealand: has reported one new community case of Covid-19, though the infected person has been in quarantine since February 23. The latest Auckland outbreak, now a dozen people strong, has seen Australia declare the city a “hotspot” and close its borders to New Zealand citizens. Air New Zealand has halted all flights to Australia until Sunday, pending review.

South Korea: Reported 406 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, versus 396 the previous day, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. The number of newly confirmed cases remained below 500 for a seventh day, while the total number of confirmed cases reached 88,922, the data showed.

Malaysia: Malaysia recorded 1,924 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to data from the Health Ministry. There were 12 deaths while recoveries totaled 3,752.

Brazil: Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll rose by 1,541 to 251,498. The nation has the world’s most deaths after the US Another 10,390,461 cases were reported, with 65,998 confirmed in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data.

Italy: Italy reported 19,886 new cases on Thursday, compared with 16,424 the day before, marking the highest number of infections since Jan. 9. A total of 353,704 tests were carried out, revised down from 443,704 earlier.

Germany: Germany recorded 10,774 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that Europe’s biggest economy is in the midst of a third wave of infections and should proceed carefully with reopening schools and businesses, putting a damper on discussions to loosen lockdown curbs. The pace of vaccinations remains sluggish.

Vaccine news

Global: Pfizer and partner BioNTech have begun a clinical study to see if a third shot of their existing vaccine can stimulate stronger immune responses against new variants.

EU: The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has warned against virus fatigue in member states. At a virtual summit, she reassured EU leaders over vaccine distribution, saying she would ban vaccines from leaving the EU if suppliers filed to deliver again.

South Korea: Has launched its vaccination campaign. The first injections of the AstraZeneca’s vaccine were given to nursing home workers and patients across the country.

US: President Joe Biden has hailed the 50m coronavirus vaccine doses given since he took office, but warned that the country must not relax. “We’re halfway there: 50 million shots in 37 days,” Biden said, referring to his ambition of 100m doses in his first 100 days as president. “That’s weeks ahead of schedule.”

Biden said the federal government will distribute Johnson & Johnson’s one shot vaccine as fast as the company can produce it, if the shot is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That approval is expected as early as Friday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that he expects the vaccine to be available to people younger than 65 starting in March because of increased supply. He cited a rise in Pfizer doses and the expected approval of the Johnson & Johnson shot this weekend.

Hong Kong: The first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines is set to arrive in Hong Kong Saturday morning, Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip said at a briefing. The city will reopen online bookings for Sinovac vaccines on March 1, he said, adding that three more community vaccination centers will open.

Taiwan: The government plans to begin inoculating against Covid-19 as early as the first quarter with vaccines provided through COVAX, according to Premier Su Tseng-chang’s report to lawmakers. The island expects to begin vaccination with 10 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and 5.05 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine as early as the second quarter.

Vietnam: Expects to receive 9.5 million doses of covid-19 vaccine in the second quarter after 1.3 million in the first three months of this year, according to a posting on the government website, citing Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long. The country will receive 77 million vaccine doses in the second half of the year.

Mexico: Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said more than 80 million people in Mexico should be vaccinated by July. The minister said the figure represents all of the targeted adult population, adding that 34 million people would have received their vaccine by April.

Lockdown updates

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic needs to “significantly limit” people’s movements for three weeks to curb the current surge in infections and avoid overrunning hospitals, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in a televised press conference after a cabinet meeting.

Finland Finland’s government is preparing to invoke emergency powers, including a lockdown from March 8 to 28, as infection rates rise, it said on Thursday. Among the planned measures are closing restaurants and bars except for takeout, and moving students in junior high and above to remote learning. The government is also considering whether municipal elections can be held in April as planned.

9:52 am

Coronavirus company news summary – J&J single-shot jab deemed safe and effective after FDA review – Chimerix and Atossa announce trial results for Covid-19 therapies

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that healthcare company Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective for use according to trial data submitted to the agency for emergency use authorisation (EUA). Known as Ad26.COV2.S, the vaccine candidate will help prevent hospitalisations and deaths from severe Covid-19 and death from it.

Biopharmaceutical company Chimerix has announced topline results from its first cohort in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II/III study among hospitalised patients suffering with acute lung injury (ALI) and Covid-19. Survival without the need for mechanical ventilation was the primary endpoint of the study through the 28th day. The first cohort enrolled 12 patients randomised 1:1. One patient on DSTAT was ventilated and recovered, two on placebo were ventilated and died, while no deaths occurred in patients on the DSTAT arm.

Atossa Therapeutics, a Seattle-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced final results from its Phase I double-blinded, randomised, placebo-controlled clinical study that used AT-301, Atossa’s patented drug candidate administered via a nasal spray. AT-301 was found to be safe and tolerable among healthy participants at two different dose levels over 14 days. AT-301 is being developed for at-home use for recently diagnosed Covid-19 patients. The FDA has not yet approved any at-home therapy for Covid-19.

8:56 am

Why Covid track and trace can fail

26 February

Markus Brunnermeier, an economist, shared a webinar with Monica de Bolle, an economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), on a chronic pandemic, policy implications, and vaccine geopolitics.

Experts believe that the nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is too dangerous and difficult to control, coupled with the rise in zoonotic viruses because of increased human contact with the environment.

It is also being observed that Covid testing is primarily focused on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are diagnostic tests that help in detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

However, they are not good for epidemiological control as they fail to catch people in the infectious window, which makes isolation and contact tracing more difficult.

Countries have now emphasised rapid tests to identify viral loads in the infectious window.

In terms of vaccine geopolitics, richer countries have more doses contracted that they actually need.

The whole inactivated vaccine, on the other hand, which is said to have higher robustness is currently being produced by only China and India.

Other countries are unlikely to take it up due to high cost.

Experts stress on vaccines being updated regularly, highlighting the importance of evaluating debt and deficit burdens arising out of the chronic virus crisis, and rebuild economics around public health.

Read more

2:10 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Israel experiences spike in Covid cases as global infections pass 112.6 million

25 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 112,660,000, with more than 2,499,000 deaths and 73,958,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil continue to lead the global Covid-19 confirmed case count and are followed by the UK, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Germany.

In terms of vaccinations, the US leads the world in administered doses while China, the UK, India, Israel, and Brazil follow.

In Israel, a prominent health ministry official warns that the timeline Prime Minister Netanyahu laid out for re-opening the country cannot be guaranteed.

This news is due to a spike in cases among younger patients according to Health Ministry data.

Moreover, despite a successful vaccination campaign, Israel’s hospital wards remain full and the test positivity rate remains above 5%.

In addition, Israel’s R0 has increased this past week, as the value went from 0.79 on Sunday to 0.93 on Thursday.

This suggests that more people are becoming infected relative the number of active cases.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

8:56 am

Company coronavirus news summary – Moderna expands vaccine manufacturing capacity – Takeda starts dosing participants in Japanese trial of Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine

25 February 2021

Takeda announced that the first participant has been dosed with Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate (TAK-019) in Japan in a Phase I/II immunogenicity and safety study. Earlier this month, Takeda completed the enrolment of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate (TAK-919) in a Phase I/II immunogenicity and safety study in the country. Takeda will manufacture Novavax’s recombinant vaccine and distribute Moderna’s mRNA vaccine with the support of the Japanese government.

The Egyptian Drug Authority has approved the Russian Direct Investment Fund‘s f its Sputnik V vaccine. Egypt is the 35th country in the world to have approved the Covid-19 Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.

CVS Health added Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to its list of states where some CVS pharmacy locations will offer Covid-19 vaccinations to eligible populations through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Programme. This follows on from the successful rollout in 11 US states on 12 February 2021.

Moderna is making new investments to boost capacity at its own and partner’s manufacturing facilities in order to increase its global 2022 capacity to about 1.4 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses. The investments will support the increase in production of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and potential vaccine boosters needed to address emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.

8:39 am

International update: Global Covid death toll nears 2.5 million – South African Covid variant causes re-infections

25 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,497,814 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 112.5 million world wide.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 28.3 million. Meanwhile, 505,890 lives have been lost.

A new variant of the virus, containing a mutation that may help it get past the immune system, is spreading in New York, according a report in the New York Times. The B.1.526 variant was first found in samples collected in November, according to the report, which cited researchers from Caltech and Columbia University.

New York City health officials said 6% of the city’s coronavirus cases are due to the UK variant, which is believed to be more contagious. The city said the level is “higher than they liked” but that the number has remained steady in recent weeks.

New York City’s museums, sports arenas and entertainment venues are slowing coming back to life. But the sector has contracted dramatically under the pressure of the global pandemic, according to a report from the state Comptroller’s Office. Jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation fell by 66% in 2020 from a year ago, the largest decline among the city’s economic sectors, erasing a decade of gains in what was one of New York’s most vibrant industries, the report said. The business district that includes Chelsea and midtown Manhattan was the hardest-hit area of the city, accounting for 46% of all jobs in the sector.

EU: EU leaders will tomorrow debate the issue of certificates of vaccination for citizens who have been vaccinated against Covid, amid reported disagreements within the bloc – with some firmly in favour and others more reluctant.

South Africa: About 4,000 cases of reinfection with Covid-19 have been found in South Africa, Barry Schoub, the chair of the country’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said. “This is probably to a large extent due to the variant” of the virus that was first identified in the country, he said on a webinar on Wednesday.

Denmark: A Danish study suggests that people infected with a British variant of the coronavirus codenamed B117 may have a 60% higher risk of being hospitalised, health minister Magus Heunicke said.

Vaccine news

Global: Moderna Inc. is planning to study multiple approaches to vaccine booster shots that could protect against emerging coronavirus variants, while gearing up to produce more doses of its shots this year and next. Moderna said it had completed manufacturing doses of a new version of the vaccine modified to target the South Africa strain, and shipped it to researchers for clinical study. In addition, the company is testing a third dose of its existing vaccine in a clinical study, and plans to test a booster that will combine the South Africa-specific vaccine and its existing shot.

Moderna Inc. lost $12 billion of market value in the past three days as investors brace themselves for the company’s earnings report on Thursday. It will be the first since its coronavirus vaccine received an emergency authorization in December.

US: Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid vaccine protects against is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe forms of the virus, and is safe to use, according to an analysis by US regulators ahead of a final decision on the jab.

A Colorado beef plant that was the site of a deadly coronavirus outbreak will soon distribute thousands of vaccine doses. JBS USA’s facility in Greeley will offer vaccines for members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 and non-union JBS workers on March 5-6, according to a statement Wednesday from the union. The plant will be shut on those days and workers choosing to be vaccinated will receive four hours of pay and $100, the company said in a statement.

EU: The EU is “catching up” with the UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme, the European commission president has insisted as Hungary’s government started to administer a Chinese vaccine in the face of shortages, with Belgium the latest to warn of “serious delays” to its schedule.

Israel: Israel’s parliament has passed a law allowing the government to share the identities of people not vaccinated against Covid with other authorities, raising privacy concerns for those opting out of inoculation.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine was overwhelmingly effective against the virus in a study that followed nearly 1.2 million people in Israel, results that public-health experts said show that immunizations could end the pandemic. Two doses of the vaccine prevented 94% of Covid-19 cases in 596,618 people vaccinated between 20 December and 1 February, about one-quarter of whom were over the age of 60, a study shows.

Indonesia: Around 7.5 million doses of vaccines will be needed to support Indonesia’s private vaccination program, which has so far attracted 6,644 companies, according to the government. More broadly, the country hopes to vaccinate 70 million people by August as it seeks to reach herd immunity against Covid-19. Indonesia’s ultimate goal is to inoculate more than 180 million people across the world’s largest archipelago.

Mexico: Mexico expects to receive 106 million doses of vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of May, according to the Health Ministry. More than 41 million of these are from AstraZeneca and 24 million are of Sputnik V. Separately, Mexico posted a daily rise of 1,006 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total to 182,815, the ministry said.

Japan: Japan said it will begin vaccinating people age 65 and over with the Pfizer/BioNTech shot starting 12 April, after the nation kicked off its inoculation drive last week. It aims to vaccinate and observe around 40,000 healthcare workers before expanding coverage. About 17,900 people had received the first dose of the vaccine as of Thursday. Supply may limit doses initially, with the country expected to receive its third shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on 1 March.

Singapore: Everyone in Singapore who has received a Covid-19 vaccination will be given a physical vaccination card noting their personal details, vaccine brand and date of vaccinations, the Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

Malaysia: Malaysia Airlines Bhd. said it will introduce a Digital Travel Health Pass to be integrated with the airline’s mobile app. Passengers will be able to make appointments with medical partners for a Covid-19 RT-PCR test or include their vaccination certificates on their phones.

Philippines: The Philippines is offering to pay more to get earlier coronavirus vaccine deliveries, hoping to avert a supply crunch this quarter as the bulk of its orders this year will only come in the second half. Only 5.1 million of the 161 million doses expected for the year will arrive in the country this quarter, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said at a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. The first shipments will be Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccines donated by China, as well as those from the COVAX Facility, which supplies shots to poor nations. These will be followed by 24.1 million shots in the second quarter.

Zimbabwe: China will donate a second batch of 200,000 coronavirus vaccines to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochun, the Chinese ambassador to the southern African nation said Wednesday on Twitter following a virtual meeting with its President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Zimbabwe began its inoculation program on Feb. 18 using the donated Sinopharm vaccines, and by Tuesday had issued shots to 4,041 front-line workers. The country expects to take delivery of an additional 600,000 vaccines it bought from China early next month.

Lockdown updates

Sweden: The Swedish government has said it would reduce opening hours for all restaurants, bars and cafes as well as tighten limits on the number of people allowed in shops as it seeks to ward off a third wave.

Switzerland: Switzerland is to start easing out of its lockdown from 1 March, the government has said, confirming preliminary plans to open shops, museums and libraries and allow outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people.

Denmark: Denmark is also to ease some shopping restrictions and allow schools in parts of the country to reopen on 1 March, the government said, potentially allowing hospital admissions to triple in the coming month.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic is preparing to impose a stricter lockdown to prevent the collapse of its medical system as existing measures fail to contain one of the fastest-spreading and deadliest outbreaks in Europe. Almost exactly a year after the first Covid-19 case appeared in the country, the crisis is worse than ever and the situation requires a tougher response, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. The cabinet will discuss more extreme rules to limit contact among people on Wednesday evening, he said.

7:25 am

Tax rises proposed to pay for Covid debts

25 February

Richard Murphy, a political economist, shared an article on the Labour leader Keir Starmer facing a backlash after stating that he would oppose any new tax on business in next week’s budget, as it was no time for tax rises on families and businesses.

Treasury officials are looking at increasing the tax on company profits from 19% to up to 25% as the government tries to recover some of the massive debts incurred during the Covid-19 crisis.

Although the rise is expected to be delayed until later in the parliament, Murphy opines that Labour is right in stating that there is no need for overall tax increases right now, and that redistribution to reduce inequalities is essential as Covid has created that divide.

Starmer’s comments prompted criticism from the party’s left, who stated that big corporations like Amazon have profited during the pandemic, while working people have struggled to survive.

Meanwhile, some US state governors are proposing higher income and capital-gains taxes on the states’ wealthiest residents, to fortify state budgets weakened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more

3:04 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 112.2 million – Brazil P.2 variant reaches Mexico

24 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 112,229,000, with more than 2,487,000 deaths and 73,706,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil continue to lead the global Covid-19 confirmed case count and are followed by the UK, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Germany.

Deaths follow a similar pattern with the US leading the world, followed by Brazil, Mexico, India, the UK, Italy, France, Russia, Germany, and Spain.

In Mexico, samples provided by the University of Guadalajara to Mexico’s Institute for Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (InDRE) have confirmed the presence of the Brazilian P.2 variant in Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.

As a result of this discovery, InDRE has recommended the implementation of a molecular epidemiological surveillance system in SARS-CoV-19 positive samples.

The news comes as the P.2 variant is believed to drastically reduce the body’s ability to neutralize the virus.

Mexico’s Covid-19 deaths continue to climb towards 182,000  having overtaken India for third most deaths worldwide earlier this month.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

12:43 pm

Can Europe implement a zero-Covid strategy?

24 February

Guntram Wolff, an economist, re-tweeted an article on a zero-Covid strategy and whether it could be implemented in Europe.

According to some public health experts and economists, reducing Covid infections could be the only way out of the crisis.

While some health officials earlier opined that it was time to live with the virus when European countries started reopening their economies in the summer of 2020, others believe that the end of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was a missed opportunity in Europe.

Now, many academics and experts are voicing their opinions for stricter restrictions to bring down Covid-19 transmission rates, instead of relying on vaccines to curb the spread.

A zero-Covid strategy is being suggested, which will use zoning and implementing travel restrictions in Covid hotspots to fight the pandemic.

The strategy focuses on driving down infection rates to manageable levels in the community.

Researchers claim that it has more to do with suppressing Covid cases to feasible levels, where it can be managed with the help of test, trace, and isolate support systems.

Read more

9:07 am

International update: One shot vaccine on the way as global Covid infections pass 112 million

24 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,485,434 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 112 million world wide.

Chinese officials did “little” in terms of epidemiological investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wuhan in the first eight months after the outbreak, according to an internal World Health Organization document.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 28.2 million. Meanwhile, 502,660 lives have been lost.

The US is now analyzing about 14,000 coronavirus cases each week with genetic sequencing to detect faster-spreading variants, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. That’s up from 250 sequences per week when Walensky took office last month.

France: French investigators probe manslaughter allegations against Italy’s Costa Cruises over its handling of Covid-19 cases onboard one of its ships, which claimed the lives of three passengers.

Serbia: Daily infections spiked to the highest in two months in Serbia, despite one of the fastest vaccinations in Europe. The biggest former Yugoslav republic reported 3,257 new Covid-10 cases on Tuesday, a spike the authorities warned would happen after tens of thousands used a long February weekend to go skiing and ditched face masks too soon.

Nigeria: One in four people in Africa’s biggest city may have had Covid-19. A survey showed that 23% of people in the West African nation’s commercial hub of Lagos, which has a population of 21 million people, have been infected. That’s far above the official estimate of 152,616 cases in the whole of Nigeria.

Vaccine news

US: Johnson & Johnson said it will be ready next month to ship 20 million doses of its one-shot vaccine. That adds to a coming surge in vaccine availability in the US, according to a Bloomberg analysis of drugmaker promises. Along with vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., which both require two doses, the delivery targets through next month will be enough to fully vaccinate 130 million Americans.

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee scheduled a meeting for Sunday and Monday regarding J&J’s application for emergency use of its vaccine candidate. An authorization could swiftly follow the meeting.

EU: A person familiar with the matter confirmed a report by Reuters that AstraZeneca is expected to deliver about half the Covid-19 vaccines it had committed to supply the European Union in the second quarter. According to Reuters, the company told EU officials it would deliver fewer than 90 million doses, compared with a commitment of 180 million. The shortfall would not impact the EU’s target of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer, the person said.

Israel: Israel announced it would send a “token amount” of surplus coronavirus jobs to several countries, in the latest move to suggest limited global supplies will lead to a new form of diplomatic currency.

South Africa: South Africa has held extensive talks with the manufacturers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and has concerns about its efficacy against a variant of the coronavirus first identified in the country. The country is also concerned about the adenovirus 5 vector used in the shot, which has in previous studies appeared to make people more susceptible to HIV infection, Anban Pillay, deputy director-general in the Department of Health, said on Tuesday. The country’s health authorities don’t think that the vaccine produced by Novavax Inc. is suitable for the country because of its low efficacy against the variant, he said. Talks have been held with India’s Bharat Biotech International Ltd., he said.

South African President Cyril Rampahosa backed a call by French President Emmanuel Macron and European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for wealthy countries to donate 5% of their vaccines to poorer nations. “We need to pool our resources, capabilities, knowledge and intellectual property” to ensure equitable access to vaccines and medical supplies across the globe, Ramaphosa said. South Africa and India have urged the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual-property rights related to Covid-19 to ensure access to vaccines and medication for all.

India: India began its vaccination drive last month, but with only 11 million people inoculated so far, is lagging behind a target to inject 300 million people by August.

Hong Kong: The Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine procured by the Hong Kong government will arrive in the city as soon as Thursday, HK01 reported, citing unidentified sources.

Lockdown updates

Scotland: Scotland is to look to begin a “substantial” easing of coronavirus restrictions from 26 April, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

Ireland: Ireland is to start reopening some schools next week but is extending other lockdown restrictions until April to prevent another explosion in Covid-19 cases.

Netherlands: The Netherlands is expected to announce a slight easing of restrictions, allowing schools and hairdressers to reopen.

Spain: Spain extended its ban on arrivals from Britain, Brazil and South Africa until 16 March to safeguard against the spread of new coronavirus strains from these countries.

Iceland: Starting on Wednesday, the gathering limit in Iceland will be 50 people instead of 20, and up to 200 will be allowed to attend sporting events, stage performances and museums as long as social distancing is observed, the country’s health minister said. Iceland has had no domestic infections outside of quarantine since the beginning of the month.

Italy: Italy plans to impose a hard lockdown in the northern province of Brescia and other municipalities of the Lombardy region following a surge of infections related to variants of Covid-19. The area is close to the original epicenter of the pandemic in Italy.

Germany: People traveling to Germany from the Czech Republic and the Austrian province of Tyrol face border controls until at least 3 March after restrictions were extended by eight days, news agency DPA reported, citing a spokesman for the interior ministry. The measures have been in place since 14 February to stem the spread of aggressive variants. The new end date coincides with a scheduled meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers to discuss next steps.

UK: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “very optimistic” that England’s restrictions on social contact will end on 21 June but there is no guarantee, according to a pooled interview on Sky TV. The vaccine rollout has “made all the difference,” he said.

Economy updates

UK: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is set to spend billions of pounds in extra support for the economy over the next four months, as pandemic curbs pushed unemployment to its highest level in almost five years.

Meanwhile, UK holidaymakers have begun showering airlines with summer bookings after Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a road map for air travel to return. EasyJet Plc ticket sales more than quadrupled in the hours after Johnson said that international trips may restart as soon as 17 May. Tour operator TUI AG said holiday bookings to Spain, Turkey and Greece jumped sixfold overnight, while Ryanair Holdings Plc cited Italy as another popular destination.

9:05 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK study suggests Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine is highly effective after one dose – RedHill wants to expand its Phase II/II severe Covid-19 study to the US

24 February 2021

Clover Biopharmaceuticals has completed an oversubscribed $230m Series C financing, bringing its total capital raised to $400m in the past year. The proceeds will support the development and expansion of Clover’s protein-based vaccines and biologic cancer therapies. Clover is hoping to initiate a Phase II/III study of its Covid-19 vaccine, SCB-2019, in the first half of 2021.

Independent analysis carried out in the UK shows that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is highly effective against Covid-19, including symptomatic disease, after the first dose. Early data from Public Health England’s SIREN study revealed promising impact in healthcare workers aged below 65. Data further revealed that one dose of the vaccine could reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 by more than 70%, which rose to 85% after the second dose.

TerSera Therapeutics announced that its intravenous drug cetirizine has been recommended by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an adjunctive therapy to manage anaphylaxis after Covid-19 vaccination in adults.

RedHill is looking to expand its global Phase II/III study of its drug opaganib in severe Covid-19 patients to the US. This will come after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed the data from the US Phase II study of Opaganib.

2:29 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: US leads the World in active Covid cases as deaths there exceed half a million

23 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 111,824,000, with more than 2,476,000 deaths and 75,051,000 recoveries.

Globally, the US leads the world in active cases with nearly four times as many active cases than the UK, the next leading country.

Following the UK is France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Brazil, respectively.

The US also leads the world in total Covid-19 deaths with more than half a million fatalities, and is followed by Brazil and Mexico to round out the top three countries while India, the UK, Italy, France, Russia, Germany and Spain trail these countries in Covid-19 deaths.

In France, which has been ravaged by the UK variant, high infection rates have hindered efforts by the government to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Nice, a hotspot for new infection, will go into lockdown for the next two weekends.

Germany faces a similar issue as schools reopened on Monday and will likely prolong its shutdown.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:51 am

International update: Grim milestone for US as Covid deaths pass half a million

23 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,475,283 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 111.7 million world wide.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 28.1 million. Meanwhile, more than half a million people have died of Covid-19 in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country had recorded that more than 500,300 lives have been lost as of Monday afternoon.

US president Joe Biden marked the latest tragic milestone of Covid deaths in the US on Monday night, with a candlelit commemoration and moment of silence for the 500,000 who have lost their lives. “That’s more Americans who’ve died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined,” Biden said in a televised address before the ceremony. “That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth.”

Italy: Italy allegedly misled the World Health Organization (WHO) on its readiness to face a pandemic less than three weeks before the country’s first locally transmitted coronavirus case was confirmed.

France: France reported a further 333 deaths from Covid-19, as well as 4,646 new infections, an increase from last Monday’s daily case tally of 4,376.

New Zealand: New Zealand reported the ninth case linked to an outbreak in Auckland. The new community case is a contact of a previously identified case, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Vaccine news

Argentina: Argentina’s government released the names of dozens of officials and allies who secretly got vaccinated against Covid-19 in an apparent violation of the country’s guidelines, attempting to contain a growing political scandal. The list of about 70 people disclosed on Monday by the government includes leaders from the ruling Peronist party, mid-level government officials and family members who received the shots. The release comes after President Alberto Fernandez fired his health minister, Gines Gonzalez Garcia, on Friday, when the preferential access to the vaccine was made public.

US: Moderna Inc. has received positive feedback from U.S. regulators on a proposal to expand the number of doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in each vial, the company said, a move that could help expand supplies. In prepared testimony for a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, Moderna said the US Food and Drug Administration could allow it to put as many as 15 doses of its Covid-19 shot into each vial. Currently, its vials hold ten doses.

Drugmakers won’t have to perform giant efficacy trials for new vaccines or booster shots developed to combat new variants of the coronavirus, the US Food and Drug Administration said. In documents released by the agency Monday, it said a determination of effectiveness for new vaccines against variants should be based on so-called immunogenicity studies, in which researchers give vaccines to people and then conduct lab tests to measure the immune response the vaccine produces in their blood. These tests, similar to what is done for annual flu shots, are far simpler to conduct than the massive efficacy studies needed for clearance of the initial vaccines.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo touted the state’s largest community-based coronavirus vaccination site at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, which will serve one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic. The site will open on Wednesday, and appointments during the first week of operations will be reserved for those living in areas with low vaccination rates, Cuomo said. It’s part of an effort to fight vaccine hesitancy and bring the shots to communities underserved by traditional health-care institutions. The site will administer 3,000 vaccines a day, for a total of 21,000 a week, he said.

Thailand: Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration has approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s Covid-19 vaccine for local emergency use ahead of the launch of a national inoculation program. The country, which aims to inoculate 50% of its population by the end of this year, has already approved AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine for emergency use.

UK: Real-world evidence from the Covid vaccination programmes in England and Scotland show that one dose of vaccine gives high protection against severe disease and admission to hospital – and protects against even mild disease with no symptoms in younger people.

India: India began its vaccination drive last month, but with only 11 million people inoculated so far, is lagging behind a target to inject 300 million people by August.

Hong Kong: The Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine procured by the Hong Kong government will arrive in the city as soon as Thursday, HK01 reported, citing unidentified sources.

Lockdown updates

UK: Prime minister Boris Johnson has set out a four-stage plan for England to come out of lockdown that could pave the way for nightclubs to reopen, sports fans to fill stadiums once again and staycations to return.

Japan: Japan is planning to lift the state of emergency outside the Tokyo area earlier than planned, with falling numbers of coronavirus cases easing the strain on hospitals, local media reported Tuesday. The government is considering lifting the emergency in six prefectures including Osaka and Kyoto at the end of the month, a week earlier than the planned end date of March 7, according to reports. The decision could come as soon as Friday.

India: The chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra, which includes the financial capital of Mumbai, warned that new regional localized lockdowns could be imposed after the number of daily Covid cases rose to almost 7,000 on Sunday, accounting for about half the entire country’s reported infections. Uddhav Thackeray said that he will monitor the situation in the state over the next two weeks and would impose movement restrictions if mask wearing rules weren’t being followed. So far India has avoided a large-scale second wave since a September peak of nearly 100,000 cases a day.

US: Movie theaters in New York City will be allowed to open starting on March 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday. Theaters can open at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screening, he said during a virus briefing. Masks must be worn, and assigned seating will be required, Cuomo said. The theaters must be properly ventilated as outlined in state health regulations, he said. Cinemas have been allowed to operate at limited capacity in other parts of the state.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi signed an executive order Monday allowing schools that meet certain criteria to resume in-person classes starting 1 March. In a press conference, Pierluisi said schools would have to be certified by the Health Department, guarantee social distancing and operate at no more than 50% capacity in order to reopen. The Education Secretary will announce which of the island’s schools are eligible to reopen Thursday.

9:23 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sanofi steps up to support Janssen’s Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing – Novavax completes Covid-19 vaccine Phase III enrolment in US and Mexico

23 February 2021

Chinese Kintor Pharmaceutical has completed recruitment of 588 patients for its clinical trial of Proxalutamide in hospitalised Covid-19 patients in Brazil. Results of the interventional, placebo controlled, double-blinded, randomised, and multi-centre study are expected in March 2021.

India-based PNB Vesper Life Sciences announced positive results from its completed Phase II clinical trials of PNB-001 (GPP-Baladol), its proprietary drug to fight Covid-19. The company further stated that it will soon apply for emergency use authorisation of the drug. PNB was authorised by the Drug Controller General in early September 2020 to conduct the Phase II clinical trial.

Novavax has completed the enrolment of PREVENT-19, its pivotal Phase III study in the US and Mexico. The trial will evaluate the safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373. The company previously reported positive interim efficacy results of the recombinant protein-based vaccine in an ongoing Phase III clinical trial in the UK.

Sanofi has entered into an agreement with Janssen to support the manufacturing of the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine to meet the global supply requirements. This is Sanofi’s second commitment to leverage its manufacturing network to bolster global Covid-19 vaccine supply. Meanwhile, Janssen has applied for emergency use authorisation of its single-dose vaccine candidate to the US FDA, as well as for conditional marketing authorisation with the European Medicines Agency.


8:48 am

US optimism for post Covid boom

23 February

Claudia Sahm, an economist, shared an article on the prospects of the US economy set to not just recover but to boom after the pandemic, as the virus loosens its grip and signs of economic activities picking pace in the country.

Experts have predicted a supercharged US rebound post Covid, which is most likely to bring down unemployment, and also drive up wages leading to years of stronger growth.

Already there are hints of the economy having turned a corner, such as the rise in retail sales last month as government aid showed up in consumer spending.

In addition, analysis revealed that new unemployment claims have declined since early January, although they still continue to be high as a result of the pandemic-induced job losses.

Business investments have also picked pace, indicating signs of building confidence among corporate leaders.

Goldman Sachs economists have forecasted the US economy to grow 6.8% in 2021 and the unemployment rate to fall to 4.1% by December.

The growing optimism is on account of several factors such as falling coronavirus infections, increase in vaccine rollouts, and federal compensation.

Read more

1:39 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: US administers more than 57 million Covid vaccinations

22 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 111,434,000, with more than 2,467,000 deaths and 74,827,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil lead the world in confirmed Covid-19 cases, respectively.

However, the order within the top three might change soon, as Brazil continues to close in on India for the second leading place.

Outside of these three countries, Europe remains heavily impacted, with the UK, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Germany rounding out the top of worldwide confirmed cases in that order.

In terms of vaccinations, the US has administered the most doses thus far with over 57,737,000 shots and is followed by China, the UK, India, and Israel.

Israel leads the world in doses administered per 1,000 people, followed by the United Arab Emirates.

Sunday marked one year since the first locally transmitted case in the west appeared in Italy.

On a more positive note, Covid-19 related hospitalizations in the US reached their lowest levels since November on Sunday, according to the Department of Health Services.

This news follows the downward trend of new cases in the country since the middle of January.

Despite this positive news, Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that Americans may need to continue to wear masks into 2022, despite significant advances in the US vaccination campaign in the last few weeks.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:15 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech publishes data showing their Covid-19 vaccine can be stored at higher temperatures – J&J seek Covid-19 vaccine approval from the WHO

22 February 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted new data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that showed their Covid-19 vaccine was stable when stored between -25°C and -15°C (-13°F to 5°F), which is temperatures of pharmaceutical freezers. This data will be used to support a proposed update to the companies’ US emergency use authorisation (EUA) prescribing information to allow the vaccine to be stored at these temperatures for two weeks as an alternative to a ultra-low temperature freezer of -80°C.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has submitted an emergency use listing to the World Health Organization (WHO) for its single-dose Janssen Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The data package submitted includes  interim efficacy and safety results from a Phase III ENSEMBLE clinical trial. This means J&J has completed its rolling data submission to the WHO.

Chugai Pharmaceutical has concluded a license agreement with Roche to develop and market AT-527, a new oral drug for Covid-19, in Japan. Global Phase II clinical studies of AT-527 are currently ongoing in mild to moderate Covid-19 patients. AT-527 was created by Atea Pharmaceuticals in the US, but it is being jointly developed with Roche. As a result of this deal, Chugai now has exclusive rights to develop and market AT-527 in Japan.

According to Nikkei, Fujifilm Holdings will restart clinical trials of Avigan, its antiviral drug for treating Covid-19, in Japan. The drug’s approval was delayed because of inconclusive trial data, according to a Japanese health ministry panel in December 2020. The new study will involve approximately 270 patients and Fujifilm will seek approval again in October 2021.

8:50 am

International update: US nears half a million Covid deaths – Global infections pass 111 million

22 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,466,444 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 111.3 million world wide.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 28 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 498,897 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US infectious diseases official Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that it is possible Americans will still be wearing masks in 2022, but that measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 would be increasingly relaxed as more vaccines are administered.

Italy: Coronavirus cases are rising again in Italy, a top virologist has warned in a newspaper interview, largely attributing the surge to the more transmissible variant first detected in the UK.

UK: Daily fatalities in the UK were the lowest since December and less than half of the average of the previous seven days. Another 215 people died, compared to a weekly average of almost 500. Reporting delays usually result in lower figures on weekends. The UK reported 9,835 new cases on Sunday.

South Korea: South Korea reported 332 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, the smallest increase in eight days.

Vaccine news

Global: Pfizer-BioNTech shot stops Covid’s spread. The vaccine, which was rolled out in a national immunization program in Israel that began 20 December, was 89.4% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed infections, according to a copy of a draft publication that was posted on Twitter and confirmed by a person familiar with the work. The early results on lab-confirmed infections are important because they show the vaccine may also prevent asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus that causes Covid-19, something that hadn’t been clear so far.

US: The top US infectious diseases specialist, Anthony Fauci said the backlog of vaccinations from last week’s severe weather should be mopped up by midweek. Fauci spoke as the US stands on the verge of a milestone few imagined when the first coronavirus cases were diagnosed a year ago: 500,000 deaths. “It’s something that is stunning when you look at the numbers, almost unbelievable,” Fauci said. “People will be talking about this decades and decades and decades from now.” While 88 days passed from the first death, on Feb. 29, 2020, to 100,000, it will take just over a month for the toll to rise from 400,000 to half a million.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said vaccines that were delayed due to weather conditions have been shipped to Los Angeles. The city’s six vaccination sites will resume operations on Tuesday after appointments were postponed since Friday. The county reported 1,465 new cases Sunday, bringing the total to 1.18 million – or more than one in nine people. Deaths rose by 93 to 19,885.

South Korea: The country on Friday is scheduled to begin using AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine to inoculate about 272,000 patients and workers at nursing homes and related facilities who are younger than 65. Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine will be used to inoculate medical workers beginning Saturday.

UK: People living with HIV in England will no longer have to disclose their status in order to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a report in

Palestine: Gaza received 20,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine from the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, a move secured by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s rival, Mohammad Dahlan, who is based in the Gulf state.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other top officials will receive Covid-19 vaccines on Monday, as the Asian financial hub prepares to begin its delayed rollout of inoculations. While a statement announcing the vaccinations didn’t specify which shot would be administered, Lam previously said she would receive the Chinese vaccination produced by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Hong Kong will start its vaccination drive on Friday.

Philippines: The Philippines approved Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s coronavirus vaccines for emergency use, ahead of the expected delivery of 600,000 doses. The Chinese developer’s shots are effective to prevent Covid-19, Food and Drug Administration head Eric Domingo said. Sinovac isn’t recommended for health workers exposed to the virus due to its 50.4% efficacy for this group, he said Vaccines from Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and AstraZeneca Plc have already been approved for limited use, with health workers as priority.

Lockdown updates

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce that all schools in England will reopen from 8 March, as he outlines how the national coronavirus lockdown will be lifted over the coming months. Alongside the reopening of schools, people will be allowed to meet one-on-one to sit down for a coffee or picnic outdoors, and after-school activities outside can restart from the same date, according to a person familiar with the plans. In a statement to Parliament on Monday, Johnson is also expected to allow more social contact from 29 March when outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households can take place, and outdoor sports such as tennis and football can resume.

Nottinghamshire police have issued a £10,000 fine to the organiser of a church gathering in a pub car park. Officers said about 30 people in Nottingham attended the Church on the Streets service on Saturday afternoon in breach of lockdown rules.

US: The Biden administration continues to call for K-8 public schools to reopen for in-person learning by the end of April, and said the provision of additional funds will be key. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Sunday drew a direct line from the timetable for classrooms to be back in action to the $1.9 trillion Biden-backed stimulus plan now moving through Congress almost entirely with Democratic support.

Germany: Germany needs to further slow the spread of the coronavirus before the government can consider additional steps to loosen restrictions on Europe’s largest economy. “Once we have firm footing, we can take another step” after reopening schools and daycares, Health Minister Jens Spahn said in an interview with ARD television. Germany’s contagion rate rose to the highest level in more than a week on Sunday, the latest evidence that a steady decline since a peak before Christmas has ground to a halt.

France: Lorry drivers returning to France from the UK will not now need to have a coronavirus test if they have spent less than 48 hours in the country, UK transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Sunday.

Israel: Israel allowed a number of businesses to reopen their doors to customers on Sunday – with some venues only available to those who have received two Covid-19 vaccine doses.

Netherlands: Police have forcibly cleared demonstrators protesting against lockdown in Amsterdam’s Museum Square.

India: India’s western Maharashtra state, home to the country’s financial hub Mumbai, is imposing new coronavirus restrictions in four districts, amid concerns about a second wave and slow vaccine rollout.

New Zealand: Auckland will step down to Alert Level 1 from midnight Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters. The change from Level 2 means there will be no limit on the size of gatherings at public events or hospitality outlets.

Thailand: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha will consider easing restrictions on alcohol sales and consumption at restaurants and also allow the re-opening of entertainment venues at a Covid-19 panel meeting later Monday, he said in a Facebook post.

8:01 am

How race and wealth are affecting US Covid vaccine roll out

22 February

Adam Tooze, a historian and director of the European Institute, shared an article on huge disparities in coronavirus vaccine delivery in the US cities.

According to the influencer, vaccine delivery is facing supply constraints, but its allocation is demand driven. As a result, people should get a shot at the earliest possible opportunity.

Another aspect highlighted by the article was were racial inequalities, indicating that worst hit communities and areas were being vaccinated at a slower rate than the rest of the US population.

Analysis suggested that fewer vaccinations were being administered to neighbourhoods where people of colour lived.

Experts claim that racial disparities are one of the biggest factors in determining whether someone had received a vaccine shot or not.

This was found to be especially true in Chicago, where a map illustrating vaccine distribution revealed that it matched the historic racial segregation in the city, with white neighbourhoods having a far higher percentage of people who had been vaccinated.

Read more

9:39 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 110.3 million as daily numbers continue to fall

19 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,441,917 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 110.3 million world wide.

Reported daily coronavirus infections have been falling across the world for a month and on Tuesday hit their lowest since mid-October, figures that suggest the seasonality of the virus show.

A team of World Health Organization scientists is focusing on two animal types – ferret badgers and rabbits – in the search for the origins of the coronavirus, the Wall Street Journal reported. The animals can carry the virus and were sold at a market in Wuhan, China, where the earliest cases of the coronavirus emerged.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 493,098 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil: Covid cases surpassed 10 million, with infections picking up speed in recent weeks as a new variant spreads amid a shortage of vaccines. Latin America’s largest nation reported 51,879 new cases Thursday, pushing the total confirmed to 10,030,626, according to Health Ministry data.

Philippines: The Philippines has detected Covid-19 virus mutations in its central Visayas islands, the Department of Health said, while adding that more data are needed to determine if these make the coronavirus more transmissible and if they will be considered a new variant. The development won’t affect the push to further reopen the capital region, which is away from the area where the mutations were found, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at an online forum Friday.

Vaccine news

Global: A single dose of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE significantly reduced Covid-19 symptoms in the first four weeks after injection, according to an analysis. Among health-care workers who got the vaccine, symptomatic infections were reduced by 85% in the 15 to 28 days after the first dose, compared with those who didn’t get a shot, according to the report in The Lancet medical journal. While most workers received a second dose on schedule – about three weeks after the first – the booster would only have just started to kick in by the end of the study, so it was essentially looking at the effects of one dose, researchers said Thursday. The result gives support to health officials who recommend postponing second shots to quickly get first doses to as many people as possible.

The World Health Organization urged nations producing Covid vaccines not to distribute them unilaterally but to donate them to the global Covax scheme to ensure fairness.

Novavax Inc. will supply 1.1 billion doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine to Covax, a global alliance many low and middle-income countries are relying on to protect their populations from the virus. The Covax Facility is an effort led by the World Health Organization, The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Novavax, along with its manufacturing and distribution partner the Serum Institute of India, announced the commitment in a statement on Thursday, sending shares of the US drugmaker up 7% in post-market trading. Novavax and Gavi haven’t yet finalized the advanced purchase agreement for supply of the two-shot regimen.

A laboratory study suggests that the South African variant of the coronavirus may reduce antibody protection from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by two-thirds, and it is not clear if the shot will be effective against the mutation, the companies have said.

US: The US will contribute as much as $4 billion to Covax, the global effort to fund vaccinations in lower-income countries, but doesn’t plan on shipping any of its own vaccines abroad until the nation’s own demand has been met, officials familiar with the matter said.

Los Angeles shut down vaccine distribution on Friday at some of its largest sites, including Dodger Stadium, due to supply shortages. Approximately 12,500 residents were to receive an email or text message telling them of the delay, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement Thursday.

Houston plans to resume virus vaccinations and testing on Friday for the first time since an unprecedented winter storm and power outages paralyzed Texas for the better part of a week.

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce on Friday that the UK will donate surplus coronavirus vaccines to developing countries to boost the global battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. The “majority” of any future UK surplus coronavirus vaccines will be shared with the World Health Organization-backed Covax program, Johnson’s office said late Thursday in a statement. That’s on top of the 548 million pounds ($766 million) the country has already donated to the program, which is aimed at supplying some of the world’s poorest nations with inoculations.

France: France is committing to donate 5% of its secured Covid-19 vaccine supplies to poorer countries through the World Health Organization-backed Covax program. A multilateral approach via Covax – a global alliance many developing nations are relying on for inoculations – is the most efficient way to show solidarity, a French official who asked not to be named in line with protocol, said Thursday.

Canada: Canada has begun to accelerate its vaccine rollout after delivery disruptions became a major political headache for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In an update by public-health officials Thursday, the government announced the pace of deliveries of both the Pfizer Inc. -BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. shots is ramping up as of this week.

Germany: Doctors and public health officials have pleaded with Germans to take up AstraZeneca Covid vaccines. AFP reports that officials in Italy, Austria and Bulgaria were also starting to signal some public resistance to the British vaccine, and France’s health minister, Olivier Véran, got the jab live on television to drum up support, amid similar reports in Sweden.

South Africa: A top coronavirus adviser to South Africa’s government expects a slower vaccine roll-out than what has been officially mapped out. The start of the program was delayed this month after studies showed AstraZeneca Plc’s shot, the first to arrive in South Africa, provided little protection against mild forms of the disease caused by a variant of the virusidentified late last year. The government is targeting inoculating about 67% of the population this year. That time-line may be too ambitious, said Salim Abdool Karim, who co-chairs the health minister’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19. Instead, South Africa should aim to complete the first two phases, which would cover about 43% of almost 40 million people it plans to vaccinate this year, he said in an interview.

Lockdown updates

Netherlands: A night-time curfew to limit coronavirus transmissions looks set to remain in place in the Netherlands as most parties in parliament voiced support for an emergency government bill which would circumvent a court order that the measure be dropped.

Spain: Protesters in Spain flouted coronavirus restrictions for a second consecutive night to demonstrate against the imprisonment of a rapper who had posted tweets insulting police and the Spanish monarchy, with more than 50 people arrested and dozens injured following clashes with officers.

9:16 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK’s RECOVERY trial starts studies in Indonesia and Nepal – Novavax signs up to the COVAX facility

19 February 2021

The UK‘s RECOVERY trial is now going global; Indonesia and Nepal are the first countries to join. Launched in the UK in March 2020 to investigate new treatments for Covid-19, the RECOVERY trial is open to all NHS patients with the viral disease. The first patients have been recruited for the international study. The RECOVERY trial has already shared positive results for six of the treatments studied,  including dexamethasone and tocilizumab.

Researchers from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Institut National de Sante Publique du Quebec in Canada have announced that the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine could be delayed to extend supply to all priority groups. This is because the vaccine had an efficacy of up to 92.6% between the first and second doses, according to documents submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The researchers published their conclusion in a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Novavax has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Gavi, the vaccine alliance, to supply 1.1 billion cumulative doses of NVX-CoV2373, the company’s recombinant protein-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate, for the COVAX facility. The vaccine doses are expected to be manufactured and distributed across the world by Novavax and the Serum Institute of India.

Pfizer and BioNTech have dosed the first participants in a global Phase II/III study to assess their Covid-19 vaccine in healthy pregnant women aged over 18. The randomised, placebo-controlled trial will assess the safety, immunogenicity, and tolerability of the vaccine to prevent Covid-19 in 4,000 healthy women who are between 24 and 34 weeks pregnant.

2:21 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 110 million as infections begin to decline in several countries

18 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have passed the unwanted milestone of 110 million, with more than 2,432,000 deaths and 73,614,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the three countries with the highest total confirmed cases worldwide.

The UK maintains its position as the fourth worst affected country, with only 17,000 cases between itself and the fifth worst affected country, Russia.

After launching its vaccination programme prioritising healthcare workers, Japan continues to see declines in numbers new daily confirmed cases, mirroring trends observed across the US and Europe.

This follows record numbers of daily new cases and deaths reported in January of this year.

A large-scale survey in the UK has found active Covid-19 infections have fallen by almost two-thirds since the peak of the second wave in January, with current rates now similar to that seen in September.

Although daily new cases are falling, hospital admissions remain relatively high, and a further improvements will be required prior to re-opening of normal economic activities.

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

9:27 am

Coronavirus company news summary – the EC procures additional doses of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – NIH initiates study of remdesivir in pregnant women

18 February 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that the companies have signed an agreement with the European Commission (EC), the executive branch of the European Union (EU), to supply 200 million additional doses of their Covid-19 vaccine. The agreement brings the total supply of the vaccine to EU to 500 million doses; the EC can also exercise the option to request supply an additional 100 million doses of the vaccine.

The EC has procured an additional 150 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, which is expected to be delivered in the third and fourth quarter of 2021. This brings the total confirmed order commitment to 310 million doses in 2021. As per the agreement, the European Commission can also exercise the option to procure an additional 150 million doses of the vaccine, which is expected to be delivered in 2022.

Spanish pharmaceutical company Pharma Mar has received regulatory approval to conduct a late-stage clinical trial in the UK of its drug Apildin to treat hospitalised patients with moderate Covid-19. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the first regulator to authorise the Neptuno trial, which will test the efficacy of the drug against other treatments for treating moderate Covid-19.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded a new study called the IMPAACT 2032, which will analyse the effects of remdesivir in treating Covid-19 in pregnant women. The study is expected to be conducted across 17 sites in the continental US and Puerto Rico; it will aim to understand how pregnant women metabolise the drug and whether there are any potential risks.

8:32 am

International update: Global Covid cases near 110 million – Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine less effective against South Africa variant

18 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,430,511 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 109.9 million world wide.

One in five diabetes patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 die within 28 days, research suggests. Results from an ongoing study by the University of Nantes in France also showed that one in eight diabetes patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus were still in hospital 28 days after they first arrived.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.8 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 490,500 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN council that the US will pay the more than $200 million it owes to the World Health Organization by the end of the month.

UK: National prevalence of the virus was down by two-thirds in the first half of February compared to January, according to a survey by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, one of the country’s largest coronavirus studies. The number of infected people fell to 51 per 10,000 at the time of the latest survey in February, down from 157 per 10,000 in January.

The UK is set to carry out the world’s first study to deliberately expose volunteers to the new coronavirus to speed research. The human challenge study was approved by a research ethics committee and may eventually help accelerate development of vaccines and treatments and take on variants, the partners including Open Orphan Plc said. The trial involving as many as 90 people – due to begin within a month – is aimed initially at determining the smallest amount of the virus needed to cause infection.

Germany: The fast-spreading virus variant first found in the UK now makes up more than 20% of cases in Germany, Health Minister Jens Spahn said. “We must assume that it could also dominate here soon,” Spahn said in a tweet on Wednesday, citing data from the Robert Koch Institute. The share of variants from South Africa and Brazil is also rising, but is at a much lower level, Spahn said.

South Korea: South Korea reported 621 more coronavirus cases, the second day above 600 and biggest gain in six weeks, raising worries about a fresh wave of cases. The country’s health authorities said Wednesday that it was “hard to judge” whether the latest increase is due to a temporary spike in tests after the four-day Lunar New Year holiday or marks a resurgence of its “third wave.”

Vaccine news

Global: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global vaccination effort, urging the G20 group of countries to coordinate it. “The world urgently needs a global vaccination plan to bring together all those with the required power, scientific expertise and production and financial capacities,” Guterres told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine stimulated roughly two-thirds lower levels of neutralizing antibodies against the South African variant of the coronavirus in a lab study. The Pfizer results are part of tests of its vaccine against a lab-created virus that had all the mutations found in the South African variant, which is thought to spread faster than earlier versions. The study released on Wednesday showed reduced neutralization of the South Africa-like virus by blood from people who had been immunized with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The companies believe their vaccine will still work against the variant.

EU: The European Commission finalized an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech for 200 million more doses of their vaccine and announced a major new order with Moderna for 150 million more doses, also for this year. The moves lock in a second-quarter supply boost as countries struggle to speed up their immunization drives.

Germany: After a clash last month over whether EU countries would get their fair share of AstraZeneca’s vaccine shipments, fewer than one-tenth of the doses delivered to Germany have been administered in the initial days of the rollout. Some health-care workers also say they’re concerned about side effects amid reports about unexpectedly strong reactions. Germany isn’t alone: Some French health workers are also pushing to get shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech instead.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong authorized a vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd for emergency use, the government said in a statement. That is the second shot the city has approved, after the vaccine developed by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. Hong Kong has also agreed to buy a different vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc, but that hasn’t been approved yet, and it’s seeking a fourth contract. The government said it has so far purchased enough doses to cover its 7.5 million residents. The city is expected to roll out its inoculation program in early March. Sinovac said Wednesday that it could ship 1 million doses of the vaccine to Hong Kong on Friday.

Spain: Spain will administer AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine to people aged 45 to 55 in the next phase of its national inoculation plan, as new figures showed the third wave of infection receding further.

Indonesia: Getting a Covid-19 vaccination in Indonesia will be mandatory for eligible citizens, the government said, with the country seeking ways to quicken its inoculation program to curb Southeast Asia’s largest outbreak. The government will punish citizens who refuse the vaccine, including with fines and delaying or halting the provision of social assistance and administrative services.

Iran: Iran’s health ministry has issued an emergency-use approval for Covid-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford and India’s Bharat Biotech, a deputy at the country’s Food and Drug Administration said. Iran aims to buy AstraZeneca-Oxford shots through the World Health Organization-backed Covax program “or directly from South Korea and Russia-based producers of the vaccine,” Heidar Mohammadi was cited as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Lockdown updates

Europe: Central European countries asked the European council president, Charles Michel, to help ease tighter controls imposed by Germany on the Czech and Austrian borders to free up the flow of goods and industrial components, the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, said on Wednesday.

New Zealand: People in New Zealand will have to wear a face covering on most public transport, the government announced after the end of a lockdown of Auckland ended Wednesday. There were no new positive Covid-19 cases in the community reported Thursday.

Turkey: Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday the country would enter a gradual normalisation period, province by province, in March. Weekend lockdowns, which have been in place since December, would be lifted gradually on a provincial basis subject to low infection numbers, he said.

Cyprus: Cyprus plans to reopen its airports with the help of a colour-coded health risk assessment from 1 March, applicable to travellers from its main tourism markets and the EU, authorities said on Wednesday.

UK: Signs that a national lockdown are curbing the pandemic are welcome news for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is under pressure to ease restrictions and help the UK economy rebound from its worst recession in 300 years. Johnson is due to set out a “road map” for easing the rules on 22 February.

France: France is extending the duration of quarantine to 10 days for those who test positive to Covid in the northeastern section of the nation where virus circulation and the prevalence of new variants is particularly high. The French government also said testing and tracing campaigns will intensify there, and that vaccines will be earmarked for the area. It’s too soon to reopen restaurants, bars, culture and sports venues, according to French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, as cases and deaths are on a “high plateau.”

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong government will allow venues including gyms, beauty parlors, cinemas and theme parks to reopen from Thursday while keeping public beaches and swimming pools closed.

Economy updates

Global: The pandemic has added $24tn to the global debt mountain over the last year a new study has shown, leaving it at a record $281tn and the worldwide debt-to-GDP ratio at over 355%.

Netherlands: The Netherlands set aside 8.5 billion euros in a multi-year support plan for the country’s education system, to help pupils and schools hit by the pandemic. To remove study delays caused by the outbreak, primary and secondary schools can use extra funds on targeted measures such as tutoring for pupils in small groups. About 6,600 primary schools will on average get 180,000 euros per school in the coming year, while the 650 secondary schools will receive more than 1.3 million euros on average. Tuition fees for university students will be cut in half next year.

7:41 am

How lockdown on the elderly can reduce deaths and help the economy

18 February

Fabio Ghironi, an economist, retweeted an article on the macroeconomics of age-specific containment measures for Covid-19.

Much of the world data has revealed that the elderly face a higher risk of dying from the coronavirus disease.

Experts believe that policymakers can limit Covid mortalities at a lower economic cost using age-specific containment measures that focus on reduced social interactions between the old and the young.

Economists are working on a combination of economic and epidemiological models that assesses the potential risk factors and payoffs of considering different strategies to tackle the pandemic.

A susceptible-infected-removed-age macro model compares optimal economic shutdown and social distancing policies.

The model found that for a given economic shutdown, uniform social distancing measures were less effective compared to age-specific measures.

For example, data revealed reduced Covid deaths when social distancing was strictly imposed on retirees and only mildly imposed on young people.

In addition, a more extreme measure to enhance social distancing between the young and the retirees caused fewer deaths among the elderly.

It was also realised that the cumulative gross domestic production (GDP) contraction was significantly less severe with efforts to reduce contact between retirees and the rest of the population.

The basic takeaway from the model and its result was that the retirees face a higher mortality risk and contribute less towards economic activity.

Meanwhile, the additional advantage of reduced deaths achieved through economic shutdown is meagre.

Social distancing alone could achieve the same reduction in Covid-related death tolls as against an economic shutdown, but with lesser reduction in output.

Read more

1:17 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 109.6 million as infections trend down across Europe

17 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 109,604,000 with over 2,421,000 deaths and 73,319,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the three countries with the highest total confirmed cases worldwide.

The UK maintains its position as the fourth worst affected country, however, the gap is closing between itself and the fifth worst affected country, Russia, with only 17,000 cases between them.

Numbers of daily new cases are trending downwards within all these countries, a pattern also reflected across many European countries including Spain, Italy, France and Germany.

In the US the CDC has published guidelines for the safe reopening of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic, which mainly focus on mitigation strategies within middle and high schools, with less emphasis on requirements for elementary schools.

The strength of recommendations are based on the level of community transmission for each school.

Strategies to be implemented prior to the opening of schools within areas of high community transmission include universal mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing, cleaning and contact-tracing.

Vaccination of teachers and staff is not yet considered to be a requirement prior to re-opening.

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

9:53 am

Economists call for US to take lead in Covid vaccine roll out

17 February

Economists believe that the US should inject its ambition to combat the global coronavirus crisis, by urging vaccine developers to share their vaccine technology and increase manufacturing capacities to quickly ramp up supply.

Dean Baker, an economist, retweeted an article on the need for US President Joe Biden to mobilise the world community to produce the Covid-19 vaccine.

Experts are of the opinion that allowing further spread and mutation of the virus will pose additional risks to public health and the economies at large.

Citing an example of the bird flu pandemic in 2006, which prompted the US government to teach the world how to make a flu vaccine, experts state that there is a need for the world community to develop more of the coronavirus vaccine.

The Serum Institute of India has warned that the current production of vaccine may not suffice for everyone until 2024.

The US bird flu programme helped scale flu vaccine manufacturing capacity across 13 countries through effective collaboration, technical assistance, and capacity building.

It is hoped that the US government will inject a similar plan to share the vaccine recipe, most of which is funded by taxpayers, and build manufacturing capacity.

Research suggests that if developing countries are unable to vaccinate most of their populations by the end of 2021, the world economy will lose $1.5tn to 9.2tn, with the US and other developed countries losing the lion’s share.

Additionally, it would take years for low-income countries to achieve herd immunity.

Read more

9:06 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 109.5 million – encouraging news on vaccinations from UK, Israel, Romania

17 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,419,696 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 109.5 million world wide.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 488,081 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

France: France has registered 586 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, a sharp fall from 724 last Tuesday while the seven-day moving average of deaths fell to 381, the first time the average was below 400 since late January.

Two French airlines, Air Caraibes and French Bee, will start a pilot study next month of the AOKpass mobile application used to verify travellers’ Covid-19 test results. The test will include flights from Paris to overseas territories such as Guadeloupe and Tahiti. AOKpass is currently used on Etihad flights connecting Abu Dhabi with Paris and Pakistan.

Iran: Iran recorded 8,011 new virus cases of over the last 24 hours, the highest since 12 December. The death toll reached a total of 59,117 with 89 more fatalities overnight, up from 83 a day earlier, the latest Health Ministry data showed.

Vaccine news

Global: Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard has said that his government is to present a complaint at the United Nations security council tomorrow about the unequal access to Covid vaccines globally, Reuters reports.

UK: A report from the Office for National Statistics showed people over age 80 – a high-priority group in the country’s vaccination drive – were the most likely to test positive for Covid antibodies in England. The analysis estimated that 40.9% of people in that bracket had antibodies during the four-week period ending 1 February, “most likely due to the high vaccination rate in this group.”

Israel: Study results earlier this week from Israel’s Clalit health service provider showing a 94% drop in symptomatic cases among the vaccinated. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed spurring Israel’s sputtering vaccine drive by “outing” the uninoculated.

Romania: Romania reported significant declines in cases among the elderly and inside hospitals after most residents in nursing homes and medical workers were vaccinated. The hospital infection rate has dropped by 87% in recent weeks, according to Valeriu Gheorghita, the head of the vaccination task force.

EU: The EU is adding clauses to contracts with vaccine makers to allow the bloc to gain access to possible upgraded shots that may offer better protection against variants of the virus, sources have told Reuters.

Johnson & Johnson sought regulatory clearance for its Covid-19 vaccine in the European Union, on track to become the fourth shot approved in Europe and the first that can be given as a single dose. The European Medicines Agency said a decision could be possible by mid-March, capping a rolling review process that started on 1 December and has allowed EMA to examine the data on the vaccine as it emerged. A European Commission approval could follow immediately thereafter, President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.

US: The US vaccine supply is increasing to 13.5 million doses per week, up from 11 million, and the number of shots distributed through pharmacies will double, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

More than a quarter of a million New Yorkers signed up for coronavirus vaccines on Sunday as the state expanded eligibility to include people with comorbidities, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday. Nearly all state-run vaccination are now booked through 16 April. Approximately 10 million people are now eligible for the vaccine in New York, including essential and health-care workers, as well as those age 65 and older.

US public health advisers are weighing recommendations for extending the interval between the first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines, a potential strategy for quickly getting protection to more people amid the spread of new variants. Health officials have rejected a dose-stretching policy adopted by the UK that allows up to 12 weeks between Covid shots. Most drugmakers have concurred, saying that policies should follow the protocols used in the shots’ testing, in which the intervals were set at three or four weeks.

Morocco: Morocco has received a second batch of 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine, health ministry sources have told Reuters.

Hong Kong: A panel of experts recommended that Hong Kong approve a vaccine from Chinese developer Sinovac Biotech, saying the shot – CoronaVac – has an efficacy rate of 50%. The move came after the group last week postponed a decision on the shot, saying it needed more efficacy data.

South Africa: The manufacturers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine have applied to register the shot for use with South Africa’s health products regulator, according to the country’s health ministry.

Lockdown updates

Scotland: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that a phased return to school for younger pupils in Scotland will start from Monday. This will include children aged four to seven and secondary school pupils required to carry out practical assignments.

Norway: The Norwegian government will lift all the extra restrictions imposed on the capital region to stop the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus on Thursday, the government has said.

Germany: Germany is to offer free Covid-19 antigen tests for all from March, the health minister, Jens Spahn, has said, as the country cautiously began allowing some children to return to schools.

Netherlands: Prime minister, Mark Rutte, has called on the country to respect a night-time curfew, saying it was still needed to fight the pandemic despite a court ruling earlier today that the measure lacked a legal basis.

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong government will allow venues including gyms, beauty parlors, cinemas and theme parks to reopen from Thursday while keeping public beaches and swimming pools closed.

Economy updates

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government aims to establish a fund to help German companies threatened with collapse, part of an effort to defuse mounting tension over the sluggish reopening of the economy. After listening to the grievances of dozens of business lobbies on Tuesday, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he would lay out a path for easing lockdown measures.

8:38 am

Coronavirus company news summary – UK Government funds Covid-19 Phase I studies – LifeArc provides funding to UK Covid-19 research

17 February 2021

The UK Government has announced funding to a Phase I clinical trial platform to fast-track research and development of the most innovative Covid-19 treatments. The move will allow the best researchers to study treatments in the UK  and will also offer cutting-edge treatments to NHS patients in months rather than years.

Medical research charity LifeArc announced that it will be providing in $6.94m funding to assist the GenOMICC Covid-19 study carried out by the GenOMICC consortium and Genomics England. Launched in May 2020, the study uses genomics to understand why some people are severely affected by Covid-19.

2:41 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid infections trending up in India but death rate remains low

16 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 109,246,000 with over 2,410,000 deaths and 72,947,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the three countries with the highest total confirmed cases worldwide.

The UK maintains its position as the fourth worst affected country, with only 19,000 cases between its total and the fifth worst affected country, Russia.

Of these countries, the seven day moving averages of new cases in both Brazil and India are trending upward.

Within the US, decreasing trends in reported numbers of new cases are observed within all but four states (Delaware, South Carolina, Nebraska and South Dakota).

Despite having the second highest total number of cases, India has reported over 155,000 total deaths, the fourth highest in the world.

Compared to its population of over 1.35 billion, this equates to 115 deaths per million people, a figure much lower than that observed across the US (1,400 deaths/million people) or Europe (between 500-1,900 deaths/million people).

With recent serological studies suggesting the proportion of the population having been infected by the virus is well below the herd immunity threshold, the cause of this low death rate compared to other countries is unclear.

Some experts suggest the low rates could in part be attributed to a generally younger population than other countries.

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

11:12 am

How the US state of Georgia balanced its books in the face of Covid

16 February

Economists believe that Georgia has been more effective in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, compared to other US states.

The US state of Georgia continues to budget conservatively, focusing on key areas such as restoring education, expanding internet access, and prioritising public health.

Jeffrey Dorfman, Georgia’s state fiscal economist, retweeted Governor Brian Kemp’s signing of the amended fiscal year 2021 budget.

Kemp added that funding the budget with no agency cuts, furloughs, layoffs, or new taxes was possible only because of Georgia’s balanced response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The governor stated that the state was quick to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and budget conservatively, as other states resorted to cutting essential services, raised taxes or furloughed workers.

Kemp stated that the amended budget not only restored critical funding but also provided a foundation for continued growth, even in the midst of the pandemic.

For example, the state has managed to restore education funding with over $610m for K-12 schools and $1,000 bonus to be provided to teachers and state employees, has invested $20m to expand rural broadband access, and has allocated approximately $300,000 towards supporting hospitals and healthcare staff.

Read more

8:38 am

Coronavirus company news summary – WHO approves two additional forms of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine – Novavax and SK Bioscience collaborates on Covid-19 vaccine in South Korea

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved two additional versions of the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. The vaccines in question are being produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio in South Korea and the Serum Institute of India. This approval allows the vaccines to be rolled out globally with the help of the COVAX facility.

According to reports by RIA news agency, India is likely to approve Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to tackle Covid-19. The Russian vaccine candidate is currently being tested for safety and efficacy in small human trials being conducted in India. India’s Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have been collaborating to conduct these trials.

Novavax and SK Bioscience have expanded their  collaboration and license agreement for 40 million doses of the former’s Covid-19 vaccine in South Korea. In addition, SK Bioscience has obtained a license to increase the production capacity and supply to the South Korean government.

According to the German biotech firm Leukocare, a pan-European consortium  developing a Covid-19 vaccine is currently in discussion with big pharma to receive support for late-stage development of the jab and also to ramp up manufacturing. Leukocare has collaborated with Italy’s ReiThera and Belgium’s Univercells on an adenovirus vaccine candidate, which is similar to Covid-19 vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford and Johnson & Johnson.



8:33 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 109 million – WHO clears AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use

16 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,408,635 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 109 million world wide.

Incoming World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has warned that “vaccine nationalism” will slow progress in ending the global pandemic.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 486,321 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The US recorded 65,336 new infections on Sunday, the lowest daily number since 25 October, before a holiday surge sent case numbers soaring, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

New Zealand: New Zealand reported no new community transmission cases of the Covid-19 virus, less than a week after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern placed the country’s largest city Auckland into a three-day lockdown and reimposed social distancing requirements for the rest of the country. It’s “too soon to speculate” whether Auckland lockdown will end tomorrow night but no new community cases is “encouraging,” Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a news conference. Some 109 close contacts of three positive cases now identified, and more than 2000 casual contacts, authorities said. Genomic sequencing showed them to be the more virulent UK strain of the virus, the Ministry of Health said earlier this week.

UK: The UK reported 9,765 new cases of coronavirus, compared to a 7-day average of 13,200, the government said. The last time the UK reported fewer than 10,000 new cases was 2 October.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization cleared AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, adding its official approval to a shot that’s expected to speed up inoculations in developing countries. The WHO validated two versions of the vaccine, produced with SK Bioscience Co. of South Korea and the Serum Institute of India. The formal approval follows a recommendation by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization to allow the vaccine to be administered to all adults over 18. That guidance differs from the approach taken by some European Union countries that have restricted its use in the elderly, citing insufficient trial data.

Incoming World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has warned that “vaccine nationalism” will slow progress in ending the global pandemic.

EU: The European Union may secure an extra 150 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Moderna Inc. as the bloc seeks to accelerate inoculations, according to an EU official familiar with the matter. The deal being arranged by the European Commission would bring to 310 million the total number of vaccine doses from Moderna for EU countries.

Nigeria: Nigeria is evaluating four coronavirus vaccines for possible approval, including Russian, Indian and Chinese jabs, the health minister has said, according to AFP.

Colombia: Colombia’s first Covid-19 vaccines have arrived in the country, according to Reuters, with distribution due to begin in the next few days.

Peru: Hundreds of Peruvians abused positions of authority to get vaccinated in secret with the Sinopharm vaccine, President Francisco Sagasti said. A total of 487 people took courtesy doses of China’s Covid-19 vaccine months before it became available to the public, Sagasti said in a national address. These included former head of state Martin Vizcarra, who apologized in a video posted on his Facebook page, and Health Minister Mazzetti, who quit over the weekend. “We are indignant and with a feeling of deep pain, because these people who formed part of our transition government failed in their duty as public servants,” Sagasti said.

Israel: The Palestinian authority has accused Israel of blocking 2,000 vaccines set to be delivered to Gaza health workers in the blockaded coastal strip.

Malaysia: Malaysia has secured access to 66.7 million doses of Covid shots, enough to cover the entire population of the Southeast Asian country. The government also said it’s is in talks with Russia to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccines in Malaysia.

Australia: The Therapeutic Goods Administration granted provisional approval to AstraZeneca for its Covid-19 vaccine, making it the second vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia for the virus, the regulator says on its website. More than 142,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine arrived at Sydney airport, with the nation on track for the first and most vulnerable Australians to start receiving jabs from 22 February.

South Korea: Signed a contract to buy more Pfizer vaccines for 3 million people and Novavax vaccines for 20 million, according to a statement from Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Pfizer doses for 500,000 people will be imported within the first quarter, earlier than the planned timeline of the third quarter, with inoculations possibly starting from April.

Lockdown updates

UK: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to draw up plans to lift national pandemic restrictions on socializing, shopping and traveling to work, including possible target dates for when the curbs will be eased. “We want this lockdown to be the last,” he said at a news conference from 10 Downing Street on Monday. “We want progress to be cautious but irreversible.” Johnson has confirmed his priority will be to try to reopen schools from 8 March, but no decision has yet been made on whether all age groups will return to classrooms at the same time. He said he will unveil the earliest potential dates for removing restrictions from other sectors, “if we possibly can.”

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic’s government is to reopen schools from 1 March despite high levels of Covid infection.

Germany: Travel restrictions at Germany’s border with the Czech Republic risk severing automotive supply lines that could spark a wave of production stoppages, according to Germany’s VDA automaker association. BMW AG and Volkswagen AG operate plants in Bavaria and Saxony that depend on car parts particularly from Czech Republic. Traffic lines appeared at some border crossings, according to local media reports. From Sunday, only German citizens and residents in the country are allowed to enter Germany from the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region, two zones where more infectious variants of coronavirus are widespread. Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg cautioned Germany against “excessive” steps. On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman left open the possibility of further border closures with neighboring countries as a last resort to combat the pandemic.

Austria: Austria won’t reopen restaurants, bars, and cafes before the Easter holiday as new mutations from the UK and South Africa render the situation “volatile,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. Decisions about easing will be made in two weeks at the earliest, he said.

2:14 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 108.8 million – new cases still trending upwards in Brazil and India

15 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 108,877,000 with more than 2,401,000 deaths and 72,678,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the three countries with the highest total confirmed cases worldwide.

The UK maintains its position as the fourth worst affected country, with only 23,000 cases between its total and the fifth worst affected country, Russia.

Of these countries, the seven-day moving averages of new cases in both Brazil and India are trending upward, with Brazil reporting over four times the number of active cases as India (830,000 vs. 137,000).

An investigator within the independent commission sent by the WHO to explore the origins of Covid-19 in China has claimed raw patient data from early cases of the disease have been withheld from the team, and that only a summary was received.

Raw data of the first 174 cases is a crucial part of the investigation as only half of these cases had exposure to the wet-market where the virus was initially detected.

Beijing has insisted that it has been transparent with the team of investigators.

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

10:24 am

International update: Global Covid infections near 109 million – UK variant found in 39 US states

15 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,399,985 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 108.8 million world wide.

There is growing controversy over a World Health Organization investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic after one of its members said China had refused to hand over key data, and the US national security adviser said he had “deep concerns” about the initial findings.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.6 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 485,336 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Americans should not get complacent about rapidly falling coronavirus cases as a potentially more lethal variant spreads in the US, according to Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The US has seen more than 1,000 cases of the strain first identified in the UK, with infections across at least 39 states, Walensky said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” one of three scheduled interviews on Sunday.

New infections at Nebraska’s almost 200 federally-licensed nursing homes fell by more than 80% in three weeks of vaccinations, the Omaha World-Herald reported. The newspaper reported a similar drop among nursing staff. More than 40% of the state’s 2,000 deaths have been at nursing homes, the paper said.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear indicated that infections have declined for five straight weeks, which he said was the longest stretch since the start of the pandemic. “We are doing better and better,” he said in a video message. “So keep it up.”

Ohio reported 1,809 cases, the fewest since October. Cases and hospitalizations have been on a steady decline for more than a month after Governor Mike DeWine imposed restrictions, including a recently-lifted curfew. Deaths remain at a plateau, and the state just completed logging more than 4,000 unreported fatalities. Total deaths are now 16,346.

New York state hospitalizations fell by more than 1,000 to 6,593 over the last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. That compares with more than 9,000 almost a month ago at the peak of the state’s post-holiday virus surge. Cuomo reported 8,316 new cases, a daily decline in line with the lower pace of infection that has prompted him to ease some restrictions, including allowing limited indoor dining in New York City. The positive test rate was steady at 3.54%. Another 107 people died of Covid-19.

Brazil: Brazil has confirmed two cases of the UK variant in the state of Goiás after sequencing test samples taken on 31 December, Reuters reports, citing the state’s health department. It did not say if these are the first cases of the variant detected in Brazil.

UK: The UK has reported a further 10,972 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases, according to government data – a fall from last Sunday’s figure at 15,845. A total of 4,038,078 people have tested positive.

Australia: Melbourne has recorded one new locally acquired case of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the Australian city’s Holiday Inn cluster to 17 cases. The lack of new cases may give optimism to Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews that the cluster of the UK strain of the virus is being contained, and could allow the state’s 5-day lockdown to be lifted on Thursday as planned.

France: France reported 16,546 new infections on Sunday amid worries about variants of the coronavirus that are spreading in some northern and eastern parts of the country. Deaths rose by 167 to 81,814.

Vaccine news

Global: Sanofi’s two Covid-19 vaccines are entering new phases of trials in coming weeks and both could be available by the end of the year, said Thomas Triomphe, head of Sanofi Pasteur. Sanofi’s more advanced vaccine candidate, being jointly developed with GlaxoSmithKline Plc, will enter another Phase II trial later this month, and there have been no problems with getting the right formulations, Triomphe said in a phone interview. His comments came in response to an earlier report in French weekly Journal du Dimanche, questioning whether they would be ready.

Lebanon: Lebanon has started vaccinating high-risk groups, including healthcare workers and elderly people.

Rwanda: Rwanda has started vaccinating healthcare workers and other high-risk groups, its health ministry has said, making it the first country in east Africa to start its rollout.

UK: A total of 15,062,189 people in the UK have now had a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest government figures.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed his government had met its target of immunizing everyone over the age of 70, along with people who live or work in nurse homes, health service workers and those who are most vulnerable to Covid-19.

Israel: An Israeli study of more than half a million fully vaccinated people indicated the Pfizer/BioNTech jab offered 94% protection against Covid-19, according to the country’s largest healthcare provider.

US: The Biden administration should consider tailored solutions to get the vaccine into “underserved communities,” including mobile vans and grass-roots outreach to community groups instead of mass vaccination sites, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. “I’d be marshalling federal resources toward that kind of a mission and letting Walmart work off the easy demand,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

Mexico: Mexico is in talks with Cuba to host part of a trial on a Covid-19 vaccine in an effort to draw more supplies from international laboratories as doses run short in the country and the death tally grows.

North Macedonia: A shortage of shots prompted one ex-Yugoslav republic to donate 4,680 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to another member of the former federation, in an atypical instance of Balkan solidarity. Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic delivered the vaccines to North Macedonia’s Premier Zoran Zaev at the mutual border on Sunday, the first part of 8,000 vaccines for the southern neighbour. Both states aspire to join the European Union though they haven’t received any vaccines from the bloc. Serbia has managed to buy more than 1.8 million shots directly from drug makers, and has shared some with neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia.

Lockdown updates

Italy: Italy extended its ban on ski resorts, set to expire on Monday, until 5 March, Ansa reported. The action was taken by Health Minister Roberto Speranza after warnings from a senior aide as well as Italy’s Scientific Committee that the spread of new coronavirus variants made the reopening of resorts too risky, despite the overall easing of outbreak in Italy and a loosening of other restrictions. Resorts were a source of infection in last year’s deadly surge in Italy.

Denmark: Denmark must prepare to deal with Covid-19 for a long period of time, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in an interview with the newspaper Berlingske. Frederiksen suggested a “massive testing strategy” to keep society open. This model would require Danes to get used to getting tested several times a week. She also referred to longer-term border controls to prevent new mutations from spreading.

Switzerland: Influential Swiss business lobby group Economiesuisse called for the easing of some coronavirus restrictions beginning in March, putting pressure on Switzerland’s government. Health Minister Alain Berset is expected to announce the government’s plan to potentially reduce restrictions on 24 February. The Swiss government has closed restaurants, banned outdoor gatherings of more than five people, urged people who can to work from home and closed non-essential shops to stop the spread of the virus.

Australia: Australia has suspended quarantine-free travel with New Zealand after it locked down Auckland following the detection of three new community cases.

Serbia: Around 1,000 people have been caught flouting restrictions in a Belgrade nightclub, Serbia’s interior ministry said on Sunday. The country’s coronavirus restrictions allow gatherings of up to five.

Czech Republic: The Czech government prolonged its pandemic lockdown measures, escalating its conflict with lawmakers opposed to the extension even as the country struggles to contain one of the worst outbreaks in Europe. The cabinet of Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Sunday agreed to maintain the state of emergency for two more weeks, keeping the legal framework allowing it to shut shops and services, curb movement of people and impose a nighttime curfew. Babis’s rivals said the move violated the constitution.

UK: On Sunday, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab signalled that schools in England will be allowed to reopen from early next month.

9:22 am

Coronavirus company news summary – EMA starts rolling submission of CureVac Covid-19 vaccine – RECOVERY trial finds tocilizumab to reduce risk of death in hospitalized patients

15 February 2021

CureVac has announced the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has begun a rolling submission of CVnCoV, the company’s mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The EMA’s rolling submission will accelerate time to potential marketing authorisation of CVnCoV.

Moderna announced that the company has received an additional order of four million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the Canadian Government, bringing the total commitment order to 44 million doses. Health Canada authorised Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for immunising people aged over 18 at the end of December 2020.

A new UK trial has found the arthritis drug tocilizumab reduces the risk of death among hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The RECOVERY trial also found that the drug helped reduce the need for ventilation support.

The US Government has exercised its option for an additional 100 million doses of the PfizerBioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine, bringing the total vaccine doses to 300 million . The US government is expected to pay $1.95bn for the additional vaccine doses.

7:33 am

Why over optimism raises Covid danger

15 February

Kweku Opoku-Agyemang, an economist, retweeted an article on Northwestern University economist Seema Jayachandran discussing her wide-ranging research in the developing world and insights on the pandemic impact in poor nations.

She argues that one of the many tragedies of the Covid-19 pandemic is that hunger, poverty, and infant mortality are all going to be increasing.

While working on a research project in India that examines people suffering with co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, Seema says that they face two-fold risks as they cannot interact with healthcare staff because of the restrictions.

As a result, they are not able to manage their disease and are therefore at high risk of suffering from the Covid disease.

Additionally, the research found that approximately 90% of the people believed they were at a low risk of getting Covid or dying from the disease.

People were quite sure about other people being at risk, but overly optimistic about themselves not being at risk, she stated.

Read more

2:17 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 108 million – UK infections pass 4 million

12 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 107,883,000 with over 2,370,000 deaths and 71,739,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil lead the world in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began and are followed by the UK, Russia, France, Spain, and Italy.

Active cases remain clustered in the European region as the UK, France, Spain, and the Netherlands have the most active cases outside of the US.

Meanwhile, the US continues to lead the world in Covid-19 related deaths and is followed by Brazil, Mexico, India, the UK, Italy, France, Russia, Spain, and Germany, respectively.

Australia, which has been very successful in containing the epidemic after reporting only 28,400 cases and 909 deaths in the past year, has reported a clustered outbreak in a “quarantine hotel” in Melbourne.

All 11 cases have been linked to the variant originating in the UK – which can spread more easily and may also be up to 30% more lethal.

Authorities think the outbreak was caused by a nebulizer which likely suspended the viral particles from the hotel room and into the hallway.

The outbreak has led to increased border controls within Australian states, particularly for those coming from Victoria.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

12:48 pm

International update: Global Covid infections approach 108 million – Brazil variant may be three times as contagious

12 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,370,362 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 107.8 million world wide.

Blood-thinning drugs reduced the risk of death from Covid-19 in a new study, pointing to one more promising tool as physicians scour their medicine cabinets for treatments to blunt the pandemic. About 14% of patients who were given anticoagulants within 24 hours of hospital admission died from the coronavirus, compared with 19% of those who didn’t, according to a study published Friday in the British Medical Journal. The patients were treated with heparin, an injected blood-thinner. The study is based on observation, which means the results need to be confirmed by clinical trials and some are underway, the scientists said.

The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, appears to have rejected comments made on Tuesday by the team of experts studying the origins of the Covid-19 virus after they said it was “extremely unlikely” that it leaked from a Wuhan virology laboratory and “isn’t a hypothesis we suggest implies further study”. Tedros said “I want to clarify that all hypotheses remain open and require further study”.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 475,457 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, US hospitalizations for the coronavirus plunged about 16% so far in February, dropping to the lowest since mid-November, data from the Department of Health and Human Services show.

US President Joe Biden has confirmed the US has ordered 200m more doses of coronavirus vaccine. He said “my predecessor did not do his job” in scaling up the country’s vaccine rollout and urged Americans to “mask up”.

People in the US who have received a full course of Covid vaccine can skip the standard two week quarantine following exposure to someone whose infected as long as they remain asymptomatic, health officials have suggested.

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee approved more than $46 billion for Covid-19 testing and $20 billion to expand vaccine distribution as part of House Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Legislation, approved by a vote of 31-25, will now advance to House floor with a vote possible during the week of 22 February.

Brazil: The Brazilian Amazon variant of the coronavirus disease may be “three times” as contagious as other strains, the country’s health minister has said.

Mexico: Reported a daily rise of 1,474 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total to 171,234, according to data released by the Health Ministry. The country is in the process of deploying vaccines with more than 700,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered. More than 85,000 have received a second dose.

Vaccine news

US: New data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show allergic reactions to Covid-19 are rare and anaphylaxis, one type of severe reaction, occurs in 2 to 5 people for every million vaccinated in the US. The update from the CDC draws on data from the agency’s system to monitor vaccine side effects. When anaphylaxis occurs it is almost always within half an hour of administering the vaccine, the CDC said. The system hasn’t found any link between Covid vaccines and death, the agency said on its website.

Los Angeles is expected to run out of Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday and will shut Dodger Stadium and four other mass vaccination sites on Friday and Saturday while waiting for more doses to arrive.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said vaccinations of nursing-home patients have helped cut the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, allowing the state to lift a daily curfew in force since November. Nursing-home residents account for more than half of Ohio’s deaths, which state officials revised upward to 12,577 on Thursday after what DeWine called a data reconciliation issue.

Anthony Fauci predicted an increasing supply of vaccines will allow for “much more of a mass vaccination approach” in the US by April, allowing anyone who wants a shot to get one. “I would imagine by the time we get to April that will be what I would call for better wording, open season,” the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said on NBC’s “Today Show.” “Namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.” He cautioned however that it would take several more months logistically to meet demand.

Nearly 20,000 Covid-19 vaccine appointments at CVS Health Corp. stores in New Jersey were booked within an hour Thursday as a national pharmacy expansion rolled out. About 1 million shots are available at nearly two dozen pharmacy chains across the country through a federal program that started on Thursday. CVS, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Rite Aid Corp. are among participating companies.

Philippines: The Philippines is poised to receive 600,000 doses this month of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine donated by China, a portion of which will be used to inoculate military personnel.

Singapore: Singapore will start vaccinating the city-state’s seniors starting 22 February, Straits Times reported, citing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The move comes after Singapore carried out a monthlong pilot program where seniors age 70 and above at two areas.

Japan: Japan’s first shipment of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine arrived in the country by airfreight on Friday, Nikkei reports, citing an unidentified person. Kyodo reported that the shipment contains more than 400,000 doses. Public broadcaster NHK reported earlier that a health ministry panel is expected to approve the vaccine’s use on Friday. The panel starts meeting at 6 pm local time and approval would pave the way for the government to officially approve the vaccine “soon,” NHK said.

Venezuela is seeking to create a $300 million fund for Covid-19 vaccines, President Nicolas Maduro said on state television. The government is seeking a “practical and effective agreement” to create the fund with the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, he said.

Lockdown updates

Portugal: Has extended a lockdown until 1 March or perhaps later to tackle its worst surge of Covid-19 infections since the pandemic began.

Ireland: Which has, according to the latest official figures, recorded 3,794 Covid related deaths, is set to extend its lockdown until April, prime minister Micheal Martin has said.

Germany: Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has defended her government’s decision to extend Germany’s lockdown into March by highlighting the “very real danger” of a third wave driven by Covid mutations. Germany plans to impose restrictions on travel from Austria and the Czech Republic over concerns about aggressive mutations of the coronavirus, potentially disrupting cross-country commuters and commerce. The German states of Bavaria and Saxony have asked the federal government to establish border controls with the neighboring countries, Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said on Thursday.

Philippines: The government will soon allow cinemas, theme parks and conferences to resume as it seeks to further reopen an economy that suffered a record contraction last year. It will also expand the seating capacity of religious gatherings to a maximum of 50% from the current 30% starting 15 February, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement on Friday. President Rodrigo Duterte is worried about the economy and aims for an immediate recovery, Roque said earlier this week.

Australia: Victoria state will enter a snap five-day lockdown from midnight after an outbreak of the virulent UK strain of the coronavirus from a quarantine hotel spread. Residents must stay home except for essential shopping, care, exercise and work. Supermarkets will remain open but other retailers, gyms and entertainment venues will close. The Australian Open will continue without spectators. “We must assume that there are further cases in the community than we have positive results for, and that it is moving at a velocity that has not been seen anywhere in our country over the course of these last 12 months,” state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Friday.

Japan’s Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a government advisory panel that it’s necessary to maintain a state of emergency for ten areas of the country, including Tokyo and Osaka. Nishimura said the medical system is still under strain and the number of elderly people with infections isn’t dropping.

UK: Ministers will discuss a Cabinet Office proposal to create vaccine and testing certificates for when international travel is able to resume, Sky News reported, citing an unidentified government official and briefing paper. The Department of Transport would draw up plans for a certificate infrastructure and the Foreign Office will help design the international certificate system, Sky said. Formal engagement with other countries and international organizations will also begin with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to sign off on the proposal ahead of a meeting with other ministers.

8:57 am

Coronavirus company news summary – WHO approves AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in all adults – US procures more doses of Moderna’s vaccine

12 February 2021 

A World Health Organization (WHO) panel has recommended that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford can be used for widespread use, including in people aged over 65. Interim recommendations suggested that the vaccine be taken in two does, with a gap of of eight to 12 weeks between doses. South Africa had recently paused its rollout as a result of inefficacy data from a trial of the vaccine in the South African (501Y.V2) variant.

The US government has procured an additional 100 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, bringing the total confirmed order to 300 million doses. The company has supplied 41 million doses of the vaccine to the US to date.

1:45 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: WHO mission firm in belief that Covid-19 originates from bats

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 107,435,000, with over 2,357,000 deaths and 71,397,000 recoveries.

The US continues to lead the world in confirmed Covid-19 cases and is followed by India, Brazil, the UK, Russia, France, Spain, and Italy, respectively.

Covid-19 deaths have a similar pattern, as the US, Brazil, and Mexico lead the world while India, the UK, Italy, France, Russia, Spain, and Germany follow behind in that order. Active cases continue to be clustered within Western Europe as the UK, France, and Spain only trail the US in global active cases.

Covid-19 cases continue to climb in the Middle East as several Gulf States are reaching their 2020 daily highs.

In the United Arab Emirates, daily infections have tripled over the last six weeks but are beginning a slight decline. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain continue to see their daily cases increase and have imposed travel restrictions for non-citizens and social gatherings, with the latter country also banning prayers at mosques for the next couple of weeks.

A WHO mission investigating the origins of the SARS-COV-2 virus in China found no evidence that it originated in a laboratory and remains firm in the belief that it emerged from bats.

The US has revealed its intentions to independently review the WHO’s data stating that they did not have any input in the planning and implementation of the mission.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

11:58 am

International update: Global Covid cases pass 107 million – asthma drug offers hope – Lancet report slams Trump

11 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2,356,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 107.4 million world wide.

A cheap and widely available asthma drug called budesonide appears to significantly reduce the risk of people getting seriously ill with Covid-19, if it is taken within the first week of developing symptoms.

World Health Organization investigators have identified possible Covid-19 cases that appeared two months before the disease was identified, Dow Jones reported. About 90 people were hospitalized with Covid-19-like symptoms in central China in late 2019, Dow reported, citing the investigators. They are pushing for further testing to see if the virus was spreading earlier than previously known, Dow said.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.2 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 471,575 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the US was under 100,000 for a third consecutive day on Tuesday, the first time that’s happened since the week of 2 November, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.

The US could have averted 40% of deaths from Covid-19, had the country’s death rates corresponded with the rates in other high-income G7 countries, according to a Lancet commission tasked with assessing Donald Trump’s health policy record. Former President Donald Trump’s disdain for science and cuts to global health programs and public health agencies impeded the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, causing tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, according to the scathing report in the British medical journal The Lancet. The 33 scientists who co-authored the article blamed Trump for eschewing the advice of public health agencies and politicizing common sense responses to the pandemic such as mask-wearing.

A study by the US CDC has shown wearing two masks can “substantially reduce” exposure to Covid-19. The report found that in the lab tests with dummies, “exposure to infectious aerosols decreased by about 95% when they both wore tightly fitted masks”.

The governor of Montana will lift a statewide mask order Friday, the Billings Gazette reported. Greg Gianforte, a Republican who took office in January, announced his plan after signing legislation shielding businesses and other organization from Covid-19 liability, the newspaper said. Montana’s mask order has been in place since July.

China: China has recorded its lowest number of new cases in five months, with just two new infections on 10 February. It follows a series of robust counter-measures that helped stamp out a new wave of the disease that emerged in the northeast last month.

Australia: A cluster of the virulent UK strain of coronavirus in Australia rose to eight on Thursday, with authorities saying it started in a Melbourne quarantine hotel by a person who used a nebulizer to treat a health condition. The medical device, which vaporizes medication or liquid, also worked to spread the virus through mist “suspended in the air with very, very fine aerosolized particles,” said Victoria state Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. This was how the virus was carried out of the hotel room into the corridor, where staff walking the halls were exposed, he said.

Vaccine news

Global: The WHO says that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be given to adults of all ages, after some countries decided not to give the dose to those aged over 65 over doubts about its effectiveness.

Malaysia: Malaysia will extend its free vaccination programme to all foreigners residing in the country, including students, refugees and undocumented migrants, the government said on Thursday.

Mexico: Mexico has signed an emergency use authorisation for China’s Sinovac vaccine, according to the country’s deputy health minister.

Philippines: The Philippines will receive 600,000 Sinovac Biotech Ltd. vaccine doses donated by China this month, with the military getting 100,000 shots, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday. The shots are expected to arrive on 23 February, and will be stored until these are cleared for emergency use by the nation’s Food and Drug Administration, he said in a televised briefing. Vaccines from the World Health Organization-backed Covax initiative, which were due to arrive next week, will be shipped later this month, he said.

Indonesia: A group of Indonesian companies are calling on the government to let them conduct their own Covid-19 vaccinations as the country struggles to procure enough shots in time. The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is compiling a list of companies that want to do their own inoculations, with a preference to buy the shots from the government, Chairman Rosan Roeslani said by phone on Thursday. He said the government plans to issue the rule allowing private vaccinations as soon as next week.

India: India-based vaccine maker Panacea Biotec Ltd. is in advanced talks with Russian Direct Investment Fund to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine, Mint reported, citing two people aware of the discussions who weren’t named. The management of Panacea and RDIF are in the process of finalizing the deal, Mint reported. The Russian company is gearing up to soon start technology transfer for the two-dose vaccine, and vaccines produced by the Indian company could be sold in both the domestic and export markets, it said.

US: Merck & Co. may agree with other drugmakers to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines that have already received regulatory clearance. Merck believes it has a responsibility to contribute to the pandemic response and would consider “potential support for production of authorized vaccines,” the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company said in an email. The development was reported earlier by Dow Jones. Merck last month discontinued development of its two experimental Covid-19 vaccines after early trial data showed they failed to generate immune responses comparable to a natural infection or existing vaccines.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. is in talks with Covid-19 vaccine makers about helping to produce and distribute shots as demand rises for immunizations. The generic drug giant is offering to dedicate its manufacturing capacity in the US, Europe and beyond to aid with mass-immunization efforts geared at combating the pandemic, Chief Executive Officer Kare Schultz said Wednesday.

Governor Gavin Newsom said California is making progress in delivering coronavirus vaccines and trends are improving, even as the state is poised to surpass New York for the most Covid-19 fatalities. The governor said more than 5 million vaccinations have been administered in California while other data, including new cases and hospitalizations, are moving in the right direction. The state had 45,052 Covid-19 fatalities as of Wednesday, compared with 45,306 in the early virus epicenter of New York.

Lockdown updates

Italy: Italy is reopening its ski resorts in Lombardy, the region worst hit by the coronavirus. Lifts will resume operating from 15 February, which will mark the return of skiing for the first time this year.

Germany:    Germany will remain in a partial lockdown until at least 7 March. Following crunch talks with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the number of new Covid-19 infections in Europe’s top economy was dropping after more than two months of shuttered schools and shops.

German schools and kindergartens may reopen as soon as next week, a win for state leaders over Chancellor Angela Merkel in a wider battle over how quickly Europe’s biggest economy reopens. Authorities on Wednesday set guidelines for relaxing curbs, should the country’s coronavirus outbreak continue to recede, starting with granting states the power to open schools and daycare centers. Merkel had argued for maintaining consistent rules across the country and keeping children at home until the end of the month.

US: New York’s large venues and stadiums can start reopening on 23 February with testing requirements and capacity limits, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Barclays Center will be one of the first to reopen on 23 February for the Brooklyn Nets basketball game versus the Sacramento Kings, Cuomo said Wednesday at a virus briefing. Venues with over 10,000-person total capacity must adhere to a 10% capacity limit. All attendees must show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the event. Face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks are required, along with assigned and socially distanced seating.

8:42 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Chugai publishes positive Phase III results of Covid-19 antibody drug – J&J teams up with Biological E on Covid-19 vaccines manufacturing

11 February 2021

Wockhardt has been granted a six-month extension to its contract with the UK Government to fill-finish Covid-19 vaccines. This expands the initial agreement from 18 to 24 months, meaning the contract will last until August 2022. Manufacturing is expected to take place at CP Pharmaceuticals, Wockhardt’s subsidiary based in  Wrexham, North Wales.

Indian pharmaceutical company Biological E is looking to contract manufacture approximately 600 million doses of Johnson and Johnson (J&J)’s Covid-19 vaccine each year, according to Reuters. Biological E’s managing director Mahima Datla further stated that it was not clear when the company would start production, but it is also looking to introduce its own Covid-19 product.

Chugai Pharmaceutical announced positive results from its Phase III J-COVACTA clinical study for the humanised anti-human IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody Actemra Intravenous Infusion to treat  patients with Covid-19 associated pneumonia. Actemra has not been approved by any health authorities, but Chugai will discuss filing with the Japanese health authority based on ongoing studies.

7:33 am

Could a ‘Global Bio Force’ protect the world from future pandemics?

11 February

Adrian Saville, the founder and CEO of Cannon Asset Managers, retweeted an article on the Covid-19 crisis, with genomic surveillance appearing to offer a way out of it.

Francis deSouza, an economist, argues that continuous genetic monitoring of viruses and mutations can tackle the Covid-19 crisis and also prevent another pandemic.

He writes that a similar revolution, like that of cybersecurity surveillance, needs to happen.

Therefore, a global Bio Force comprising private and government partnerships needs to be created to tackle the growing SARS-CoV-2 virus mutations, as well as to protect the world from future pandemics, bioterrorism, antimicrobial resistance, and others.

An effective Bio Force will collaborate with countries, research institutes, companies, and international bodies, to advance the genomics sector.

The need is urgent, and while whole genome sequencing of pathogens is rapid, scalable, and cost-effective, it can be used as a radar to spot viral threats, experts opine.

Read more

1:52 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid deaths exceed 2.3 million – Russian figures may be inaccurate

10 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 106,993,000, with over 2,343,000 deaths and 70,991,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil continue to lead the world in confirmed cases with the UK, Russia, France, Spain, and Italy following suit.

The order is likely to remain consistent in the near future as the US is followed by the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Brazil in active cases.

India is the exception – ranking 21st on the global list of active cases.

Recently released data from the Federal Statistics Service in Russia revealed that Russia’s death toll in 2020 may have been up to three times as high as official government reports.

If these estimates are accurate, Russia’s death toll in 2020 would place it third, behind the US and Brazil.

2021 has been a turning point for Russia so far, however, as new cases have been declining since December.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:47 am

International update: Global Covid infections near 107 million – annual vaccinations may be needed – drugs chief

10 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2,342,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 106.9 million world wide.

“We are only at the start of this epidemic, unfortunately,” said Belgian microbiologist Peter Piot. “We have to start thinking in terms of society living with Covid.” While vaccines will likely allow a return to a semblance of normalcy, from time to time, there will be flare ups, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said in an interview with L’Echo newspaper. “We must also continue the distancing measures for a period long enough for there to be a good suppression of the virus,” said Piot, who helped isolated the Ebola virus in 1976 and now advises European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

A World Health Organization-led investigation in China found that the coronavirus most likely jumped to humans through an animal host or frozen wildlife products, finding that it’s “extremely unlikely” it came from a laboratory leak. No further research is needed to look into the theory about a leak, Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO food-safety scientist, told reporters Tuesday at a joint briefing with China in Wuhan, the city where Covid-19 first mushroomed at the end of 2019. That speculation has been promulgated by former US. President Donald Trump and some others.

A member of the WHO mission to China exploring the origins of the coronavirus pandemic took a swipe Wednesday at US intelligence on the issue, after the State Department cast doubt on the transparency of their probe. Briton Peter Daszak said in a tweet as the mission ended: “Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump and frankly wrong on many aspects.”

Estonia is working on a pilot project with the World Health Organisation on how globally recognised electronic vaccine certificates – so-called ‘vaccine passports’, might work.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27.1 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 468,203 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Eli Lilly’s combination antibody drug for Covid-19 was cleared for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, providing doctors with a treatment option that is expected to be better able to combat new coronavirus mutations. The FDA authorized the treatment for use in Covid-positive adults and children 12 and older who are at high risk of developing severe forms of the disease or progressing to the hospital, according to a fact sheet posted by the agency on Tuesday.

Brazil: Brazil has reported 51,486 new coronavirus cases, as well as 1,350 deaths, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

UK: Two new Covid variants, one of which has been classified as a “concern”, have been identified in England with some similarities to the South African and Brazilian variants, a government advisory scientific committee said.

In London, Lambeth council is asking some residents to take a coronavirus test after the variant first identified in South Africa was detected in the local area.

Spain: Spain has now recorded more than 3 million Covid cases, while also registering 766 deaths over the past 24 hours – the highest daily death toll of the current third wave.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s capital is racing to open more cemeteries to cope with the coronavirus death toll that has doubled in less than three months despite vaccination efforts. Jakarta’s government bought more than three hectares (7.4 acres) of land to use as dedicated cemeteries for those who have died from Covid-19, said Suzi Marsitawati, who heads the province’s park and forest service. The new sites will accommodate at least 8,000 burial plots, after the existing two cemeteries hit capacity.

Vaccine news

Global: People may need to get vaccinated against Covid-19 annually for the next several years due to mutations to the virus, Johnson & Johnson chief executive Alex Gorsky told CNBC on Tuesday.

EU: Pfizer Inc. said it has resumed manufacturing the Covid-19 vaccine it developed in partnership with BioNTech SE at its plant in Belgium after temporarily reducing production to upgrade the facility’s production lines, the Wall Street Journal reported. Pfizer also plans to increase deliveries next week to meet its contractual obligations for the first quarter, a spokeswoman said.

US: The Navajo Nation’s vaccination rollout continues to surpass the broader United States, Al Jazeera reports, having distributed 94 per cent of the doses it has received.

New York City has surpassed 1 million vaccine doses, a major milestone but missing a goal that Mayor Bill de Blasio had hoped to reach by the end of January. “The challenge for us constantly is the lack of supply,” he said in a briefing on Tuesday. “This is a really good sign of what we could do in this city, but we could be doing a lot more.”

New Zealand: Will administer the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to quarantine personnel, frontline health workers and airline staff, after the government formally approved its use on Wednesday.

Venezuela: Will receive the first 100,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine next week, President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday.

South Africa: Approval processes for Johnson & Johnson inoculation are underway, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said. Roll out of vaccination will proceed in form of “implementation study” in partnership with Medical Research Council, Health Dept. Government in “advanced stages” of evaluating Sputnik V vaccine; continuing engagements with Sinopharm and offer by China currently being considered.

The lead researcher of the South African trial of AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus vaccine urged authorities in the country to continue using the shot to cut death and hospitalization rates and the chance of further virus mutations. Early data of a small phase trial showed that AstraZeneca’s vaccine has limited efficacy against mild disease caused by the B.1.351 variant that’s now dominant in South Africa, prompting the government to suspend plans to give it to health workers. The study didn’t determine whether it protects against severe Covid-19 cases and deaths because most participants were “young healthy adults,” according to the company.

South Korea: South Korea’s drug safety agency approved the AstraZeneca vaccine under the condition that it submits results of additional clinical trials. The vaccine will be used for people aged 18 years and over, including the elderly.

Japan: Japan will start coronavirus vaccinations by middle of next week, Jiji reported.

UK: Early findings from the UK’s vaccination program, due to be released within days, show that the first dose reduced the symptomatic infection risk among patients by 65% in younger adults and 64% in over-80s, a person familiar with the matter said. The data, first reported by The Sun newspaper, showed that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine saw protection rise to between 79% and 84%, depending on age. The AstraZeneca vaccine offers similar protection, the newspaper said.

Lockdown updates

Ireland: Ireland is likely to gradually emerge from its strict lockdown between April and June with outdoor dining and domestic tourism likely to be possible during the summer, deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar has said.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is expected to announce Wednesday planned changes to existing social-distancing measures after the Lunar New Year holiday, South China Morning Post reported, citing an unidentified government source. Currently, restaurant dine-in services are banned after 6pm, public gatherings are limited to two, and venues such as gyms, beauty parlors, bars and clubs remain closed.

Japan: The Japanese government is planning to keep the state of emergency in the 10 prefectures despite earlier reports that it was considering lifting it in some areas on Friday, broadcaster FNN reported, without attribution. Officials see need to keep the emergency in place to ease pressure on the medical system.

Australia: A hotel in Melbourne being used to quarantine overseas arrivals has been closed after new coronavirus cases were linked to it. The Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport will close until further notice, Victoria state quarantine authorities said. About 135 staff and 48 residents who were in the hotel between 7 January and 9 February will need to enter a 14-day quarantine, while two schools located in the suburb that’s recorded seven new exposure sites have closed as a precaution.

Greece: The Greek government has reintroduced a stricter lockdown in Athens and the surrounding Attica region in a bid to curb a recent spike in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The area accounts for around half of Greece’s population of almost 11 million.

9:25 am

Coronavirus company news summary – FDA grants EUA to Lilly’s combination therapy – Moderna signs supply deals with Taiwan and Colombia

10 February 2021 

Eli Lilly announced that it has been granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for combining investigational bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) and etesevimab (LY-CoV016). This combined antibody therapy is now authorised to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms among patients aged over 12 who are at high risk of severe Covid-19 and/or hospitalisation.

Bactiguard’s urinary catheter has been provided an Interim Order approval by Health Canada. The catheter has been approved with a temperature sensor to prevent infection. As many critically ill Covid-19 patients require a urinary catheter with temperature monitoring, the risk for additional bacterial infection arises. Bactiguard’s catheters reduce the risk of secondary infections for these critically ill hospitalised patients.

Moderna has signed two Covid-19 vaccine supply agreements: one with the Taiwan government to supply five million doses and another with the Colombia to supply ten million doses. The delivery of the vaccines will begin in mid-2021. The Covid-19 Vaccine Moderna is currently not approved for use in Taiwan or Colombia, but it is working with regulators to get the necessary approvals before distribution.

8:42 am

Why the markets back Biden’s Covid Relief Bill

10 February

Greg Ip, a journalist and economics commentator for The Wall Street Journal, shared an article on markets disagreeing that Biden’s $1.9tn Covid relief bill is too much.

Instead, investors have predicted a sort of inflation that they like – slightly higher in the next few years but moderating down after that.

President Joe Biden’s Covid stimulus package came with a lot of resistance and warnings from left-leaning economists, that it is so large that it risks runaway inflation and the crowding out of other, more productive, spending plans.

However, despite reasonable arguments around it, markets did not show any signs of concern either in the average expectation of inflation implied by the bond market or the likelihood of high inflation in the options market, both of which are back to where they stood in 2018.

Investors maintain that the initial rise and subsequent fall in prices will help stocks and commodities while limiting the pain to bondholders from rising yields.

Read more

1:52 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid-19 infections pass 106.5 million – ‘worst in Europe’ UK nears 4 million

9 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 106,555,000, with over 2,327,000 deaths and 70,572,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain firmly at the top of the global confirmed case count as Brazil (the third leading country) has more than double the UK’s confirmed cases (the fourth leading country) although the ‘worst in Europe’ UK is now nearing the unwanted figure of 4 million confirmed infections.

Following the UK are Russia, France, Spain, and Italy in that order.

However, these countries’ case counts are much more clustered, with a little over 1.3 million cases separating the UK and Italy.

Turning to Eastern Europe, Ukrainian President Zelensky has stated that his country’s situation has stabilized after several restrictions in January.

Poland has announced similar news and plans to ease restrictions later this week despite some cases of the B.1.1.7 strain having been detected in the country.

The Czech Republic has not been as fortunate as its PES epidemic system remains in the second-highest degree of alert.

Consequently the Republic’s lawmakers are discussing an extension of the national state of emergency beyond February 14.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

10:32 am

Why the US needs to ‘go big’ on relief to prompt economic recovery

9 February

Claudia Sahm, an economist, retweeted an article on the risk of going too big on the Covid economic relief plan as being trivial, as compared to the risk of going too little being significant.

Letting the unemployment shock from the coronavirus pandemic linger for years, rather than having the US Federal Reserve to neutralise the effects of inflation, were too big a risk to take, she added.

Some economists believe that if vaccine rollouts are effective and restrictions are relaxed in the coming year, the economic relief provided during the crisis and Biden’s new Covid relief plan could help the US economy recover at a faster rate and also boost employment levels.

Even though some factors pointed at the economy to be well-poised and unemployment to return to pre-Covid levels sooner than perceived without Biden’s plan, these economists believe it is too big a risk to go small on the spending on relief and recovery measures, as it could encourage the unemployment levels driven by Covid to linger for years.

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10:18 am

International update: Global Covid death toll exceeds 2.3 million – Russian figures could be understated by more than 50%

9 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.3 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 106.5 million world wide.

WHO investigators are to brief media from Wuhan at 4pm local time. The international team of experts in China investigating how the outbreak started will speak to the media in Wuhan on Tuesday, the WHO has announced. The briefing, at 4:00pm local time (0800 GMT) at a hotel in the city, will be live-streamed in English on the UN health agency’s digital and social media platforms.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 27 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 465,072 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggested that testing people for the coronavirus before US domestic flights could help reduce transmission, as she urged state and local leaders to maintain steps to limit Covid-19’s spread. She didn’t say whether the CDC will move forward with the policy, which the Biden administration is actively considering.

Russia: Russia has recorded a dramatic increase in mortality in 2020 fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data published by the Rosstat agency. The figures showed that between April, when the pandemic hit Russia, and December, the country saw 162,429 coronavirus-related fatalities. However, as of Monday, the official total released by Russia’s health officials stood at only 77,068 virus deaths – on the Johns Hopkins University tracker, the figure is listed as 75,828.

UK: Covid mortality in England still higher for some ethnic minorities, study finds. A new sweeping analysis in England shows that between the first and second waves of the pandemic in 2020, death rates in black communities improved, but continued to remain high in people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds.

The UK’s plan for “surge testing” to detect and suppress new variants of coronavirus is unlikely to work unless it is done on a larger scale, a scientific adviser to the government said. Mike Tildesley, an academic at the University of Warwick who advises Boris Johnson’s government on pandemic modelling, said authorities should “cast their net slightly wider” to pick up cases and make sure people with the virus are staying home.

China: The number of newborns in China plummeted 15% in 2020 from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Public Security, with the onset of the novel coronavirus disrupting the economy and weighing on decisions to have a family. China saw 10.035 million births last year, the ministry said on Monday, compared with 11.79 million in 2019. Of those born last year, 52.7% were boys and 47.3% girls.

Five people including three officials have been jailed in China for dereliction of duty over an outbreak in a Shandong prison which saw more than 200 inmates infected in February 2020.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said there were indications the city’s Covid-19 wave was subsiding, while urging caution ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. Hong Kong reported 28 new local coronavirus infections on Monday amid a winter wave.

Vaccine news

Global: The World Health Organization insisted on Monday that the AstraZeneca vaccine was still a vital tool in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic, after South Africa delayed the start of its inoculation programme over concerns about its efficacy against a virus variant.

Facebook has banned misinformation about all vaccines following years of harmful, unfounded health claims proliferating on its platform. As part of its policy on Covid-19-related misinformation, Facebook will now remove posts with false claims about all vaccines, the company announced in a blogpost on Monday.

EU: The European Commission chief said on Monday she had called on EU member states to donate some of their coronavirus jabs to Ukraine, as it prepares to launch its vaccination campaign.

Easter Island: Authorities on Easter Island began vaccinating residents on Monday, distributing 1,200 doses on the first day, AFP reports.Situated 3,500 kilometres (2,200 miles) off Chile’s coast, the island – renowned for its ancient, giant humanoid monoliths – has not reported a single coronavirus case in more than 300 days.

Thailand: Thailand will rely on vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. to kick off an inoculation drive that aims to cover about two-thirds of the eligible population by the end of this year, potentially paving the way for a full reopening of its tourism industry. While the bulk of vaccine needs will be met from AstraZeneca Plc shots to be locally produced by a Thai drugmaker, the country’s drug regulator is expected to approve Sinovac’s product for emergency use parallel to the arrival of the first shipment of 200,000 doses later this month, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Monday.

Pakistan: CanSino Biologics Inc.’s experimental coronavirus shot demonstrated an efficacy rate of 66% at preventing symptomatic cases, making it the latest vaccine candidate to show some protection against Covid-19. It is also 90.98% effective in preventing severe disease, Faisal Sultan, Pakistan’s health adviser, said in a Twitter post on Monday.

China: China’s new vaccination plan, which was recently communicated to health officials, shifted the timeline for reaching 50 million shots to the end of March, people familiar with the matter said. Bloomberg and other media reported in December that China intended to reach that target by the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts this Thursday.

Lockdown updates

UK: Scientists and senior MPs have renewed calls for sweeping border curbs to protect the UK’s vaccination programme against new variants as Boris Johnson prepared to introduce tougher measures and Britain saw internal infections fall.

US: Indoor dining in New York city will open at 25% capacity starting on Friday, 12 February, not Valentine’s Day as originally planned, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Restaurant owners asked for the date to be moved up to take advantage of the entire weekend, he said.

Economy updates

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Economy Minister Peter Altmaier over delays in the payment of aid to help companies weather the pandemic, Bild-Zeitung reported. Citing people close to the Christian Democratic Union party, the newspaper reported that Merkel told a meeting of party leaders that she couldn’t understand why the Finance Ministry and the Economy Ministry haven’t managed to provide the support the government promised.

9:11 am

Coronavirus company news summary – China approves SinoVac’s Covid-19 vaccine for over 18s – CanSino’s Covid-19 vaccine was 65.7% effective in clinical trials

9 February 2021 

Chinese Sinovac Biotech announced that it has been granted a conditional marketing authorisation by the China National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) for CoronaVac, the company’s Covid-19 vaccine, for individuals aged over 18. The approval was granted on the basis of results from the company’s Phase III clinical trials, the efficacy and safety of which is yet to be confirmed.

Veru published positive data regarding a cancer drug’s potential in fighting the Covid-19 disease. The prostate cancer treatment achieved positive efficacy and safety data in the company’s Phase II clinical trial in hospitalised patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by Covid-19.

Reuters reports that Pakistan’s health minister confirmed that Chinese CanSino Biologics’ Covid-19 vaccine achieved 65.7% efficacy in preventing symptomatic cases in clinical trials. The vaccine also showed a 90.98% success rate in stopping severe disease in one of its interim analysis of global trials being carried out in Pakistan, Mexico, Russia, Argentina and Chile.

2:11 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 106 million – South Africa pause AstraZeneca vaccine

8 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 106,227,000, with more than 2,318,000 deaths and 70,277,000 recoveries.

The US leads the world in confirmed cases with over 27 million confirmed cases while India and Brazil follow suit with 10,828,00 and 9,447,000, respectively.

These countries are followed by the UK, Russia, France, Spain, and Italy in that order.

Moreover, the UK, France, and Spain trail only the US in active cases, indicating that Europe remains the most impacted region.

Outside of Europe, Mexico’s death toll continues to rise over 166,000, now leading India by over 10,000 deaths after surpassing it just last week for third most in the world behind the US and Brazil.

In Africa, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda appear to have cleared a second wave of the virus.

Testing remains uneven between countries, however, making it difficult to assess the true burden of Covid-19 in the continent.

Additionally, COVAX, a WHO organization focused on the equitable distribution of Covid-19, vaccines has announced plans to distribute more vaccines to Africa by the end of the month.

How South Africa’s recent decision to pause the distribution of AstraZeneca’s vaccine will impact their plans remains to be seen.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

9:42 am

International update: US passes grim milestone of 27 million Covid infections as weekly case numbers fall

8 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.3 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 106 million world wide.

 US: Covid-19 infections have now passed the grim milestone of 27 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 463,471 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The US added 106,570 Covid-19 cases on Saturday, almost 8,000 fewer than the week’s previous low, suggesting that the declining trend in infections is continuing.

President Joe Biden said it’s unlikely the US will reach herd immunity for the coronavirus before the end of the summer due to a shortfall in vaccine availability. “The idea that this can be done and we can get to herd immunity much before the end of this summer is very difficult,” Biden said in an interview with CBS News that aired on Sunday.

A new study warns of “further surges” in the US as the coronavirus variant first found in the UK likely becomes the dominant strain.

The B.1.1.7 variant is 35-40% more transmissible, the study says, and “will likely become the dominant variant in many US states by March, 2021, leading to further surges of Covid-19 in the country, unless urgent mitigation efforts are immediately implemented.”

The study was carried out by a team of virologists in the US in association with the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. It echoed the same warning last month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the variant’s rapid spread. The variant has been found in at least 30 US states.

South Korea: South Korea reported 289 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, the lowest number in 11 weeks.

Indonesia: Covid-19 infections and deaths continued to rise by record numbers in the Indonesia in January. Authorities confirmed 163 deaths from the virus in the 24 hours through midday Sunday, bringing the total to 31,556.

Japan: Tokyo reported 276 new infections as an easing trend in the Japanese capital continues. While the beginning of the week typically brings lower tallies, the number is the smallest for a Monday since 16 November.

Vaccine news

US: There’s “a reasonable chance” that vaccines will stay ahead of virus mutations, said Scott Gottlieb, a former head of the US Food and Drug Administration. “I think there’s a rule of thumb we can assume that the vaccines are probably going to be about 20% less effective against these new variants from Brazil and South Africa,” Gottlieb said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans not to delay their second doses of the coronavirus vaccine, after other health experts suggested recently there may be a benefit to pushing more people to get a first shot and possible delaying the follow-ups a bit.

UK: More than 12 million people in the UK have now received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to government data up to and including 6 February, when 549,078 were vaccinated.

France: France aims to vaccinate up to 4 million by the end of this month, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said in an interview on CNews, without clarifying if this target included the shots from both Pfizer and Moderna.

Afghanistan: Afghanistan received its first batch of AstraZeneca’s vaccines from India’s Serum Institute on Sunday.

Hungary: Hungary has approved Russia’s coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, with 40,000 doses of the jab ready to be rolled out.

South Africa: South Africa plans to fast-track the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine after it showed more efficacy against a new variant that’s prevalent in more than 90% of new cases in the country, according to Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council. The move comes after trial data released Sunday showed that a shot developed by AstraZeneca Plc has limited efficacy against the mutation that was identified late last year. Even though South Africa received its first vaccines this month with the arrival AstraZeneca’s product, its use should temporarily be suspended, Barry Schoub, chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said Sunday in an online briefing.

Sarah Gilbert, leading the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine program, said work was already under way to adapt the vaccine to deal specifically with the South African variant. The new shot is “very likely” to be available by autumn, she said.

Lockdown updates

Montserrat: The government of Montserrat imposed a 14-day lockdown on Sunday after four coronavirus cases were confirmed on the Caribbean island with less than 5,000 residents.

Japan: The Japanese government is considering lifting the state of emergency in 10 prefectures early depending on the virus situations ahead of the expiry date of 7 March, Asahi reported, without attribution.

Indonesia: Indonesia is extending restrictions to focus on specific regions as it continues to battle the worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia. The new restrictions, which will run from 9 February until 22 February, will impose different limitation on movements in certain districts and regencies, depending on their severity, according to an order issued by the Home Ministry. Restrictions will be eased in locations where improvements are seen.

South Korea: The government over the weekend relaxed social distancing rules, allowing longer opening hours for some retail businesses. Restaurants, coffee shops and gyms outside the capital Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi province will now be permitted to stay open until 10 p.m., Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a meeting on Saturday.

Singapore: Singapore’s efforts to open its borders are stalling, with a plan to allow business travelers to avoid quarantine and stay in a dedicated facility near the airport still not materializing. The [email protected] pilot program for businesspeople and so-called high-economic value travelers was due to get going in January, yet the tourism board hasn’t selected operators for the facilities where the visitors would stay, the Business Times reported Monday.

Germany: Germany will have to extend its lockdown when state and federal leaders meet on Wednesday to discuss Covid-19 strategy, Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder said. Soeder, whose CSU party is part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing bloc, told broadcaster ARD “it makes no sense to just call it off now” and risk a resurgence of the virus by easing restrictions prematurely.

Norway: Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen, will go into lockdown after transmission of the South African virus variant was detected at construction sites. Shops, cafes, restaurants, gyms and museums will close, and all events will be banned in the city and two nearby municipalities for one week from 6 pm on Sunday.

9:16 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Indonesia approves Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in the elderly – Myanmar approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

8 February 2021

Celltrion Group announced that South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has granted a conditional marketing authorisation to the company’s Regdanvimab (CT-P59). The anti-Covid-19 monoclonal antibody drug has been allowed for emergency use among patients aged 60 years and above, or people suffering with at least one underlying comorbidity along with mild Covid-19 symptoms, and among adult patients suffering from moderate symptoms.

Bukwang Pharmaceutical announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the company an investigational new drug (IND) application to conduct a Phase II clinical trial of Levovir to fight Covid-19. The trial is expected to be conducted in a multi-centre randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial for outpatients. It will test the efficacy and safety of the drug or placebo among 40 patients, excluding those suffering from serious Covid-19 symptoms.

A letter from the food and drug agency in Indonesia stated that the country has approved Sinovac Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in its elderly population. This is expected to potentially change the country’s vaccination strategy, which had earlier prioritised the vaccination of its working population.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund announced that the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for Covid-19 had been registered for emergency use in Myanmar. The vaccine recived approval without the need to conduct additional clinical trials in the country. This makes Myanmar the 21st country in the world to approve the Sputnik V vaccine.

8:07 am

Biden stimulus package to bring full employment in 2022 – US Treasury Secretary

8 February

Lawrence Lepard, an investment manager and economist, retweeted an article on US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stating that the US should not be settling for long, and slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

She further believed that full employment could be achieved in 2022, given Biden’s Covid-19 stimulus package is implemented. Otherwise, there are risks for a slower rebound of jobs and the economy.

Yellen also believed that the job market is still stalling, and that low-wage earners, minority communities, and women were suffering from the coronavirus-induced job losses.

She added that the prolonged recovery and slowdown could lead to permanent damage. It is being cited that without Covid relief, it would take the US until 2025 to dig itself out of the labour market hole.

One of her key agendas also highlighted that US workers earning $60,000 per year should receive stimulus cheques as part of the White House’s proposed $1.9tn coronavirus relief package.

Although the Biden’s stimulus plan did not aim at job creation, Yellen added that spending would help create greater demand for workers.

She also pushed back former Treasury’s concerns over the package being too large and associated with big inflation risks.

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2:11 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 105 million – Israel vaccination results show promise

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 104,996,000 with over 2,285,000 deaths and 58,349,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the three countries with the highest total confirmed cases worldwide, with the UK maintaining its position as fourth worst affected country. However, rates of new daily confirmed cases continue to trend downwards across all four.

The overall positivity rate of testing undertaken within the US has fallen rapidly from a high of 13.5% at the beginning of January to 7.9% recorded this week, closer to the 5% positivity rate recommended by the WHO.

Some 21 states now having testing rates lower than recommended. Low testing rates mean enough Covid-19 cases are being captured to inform decisions about lifting national restrictions.

The rollout of an efficient vaccination program means that Israel has vaccinated the highest proportion of its population (22.03%) worldwide.

Initial results from its vaccination programme look promising with only 317 infections occurring out of the 715,325 people who had been fully vaccinated (0.04%).

Within this group, only 16 of the positively identified Covid-19 cases required hospitalisation, which equates to 0.002% of the total population vaccinated.

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

11:31 am

Buying our way clear of Covid

5 February

Mortiz Schularick, professor of economics at the University of Bonn, shared an article on how to save the world from the effects of long Covid lockdowns.

Experts believe that governments and countries should spend whatever they have got to vaccinate their people and the world as soon as possible.

Time is of the essence and no one is safe until everyone is safe.

Experts believe that vaccines will help in preventing disease from all types of strains and not just Covid-19.

However, a worrisome scenario being predicted by researchers is that vaccine-resistant mutations can cause years of deaths, lockdowns, economic downfall, and political instability.

Read more

9:06 am

Coronavirus company news summary – J&J submits EUA to FDA for Covid-19 vaccine – Regulators start a rolling review of Novavax’s vaccine

5 February 2021

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced that its subsidiary Janssen has submitted an emergency use authorisation application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its investigational single-shot Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The submission followed J&J achieving top-line efficacy and safety results in its Phase III ENSEMBLE clinical trial.

Novavax announced multiple regulatory agencies, including in the UK, the European Union, the US and Canada, will begin the rolling review process for authorisation of NVX-CoV2373, its Covid-19 vaccine. While the reviews are underway, the company will complete its pivotal Phase III trials in the UK and US and continue to share data with the regulatory agencies.

Sunshine Biopharma and the University of Georgia (UGA) have signed an exclusive license agreement for two Covid-19 drugs, which the UGA had earlier developed and patented. The entities will advance the development of the two compounds, as part of the agreement, along with Sunshine’s own SBFM-PL4 compound. The next steps will be to test the efficacy of these compounds in stopping the progression of disease in transgenic mice.

11:08 am

International update: US Covid death toll passes 450,000 amid warnings that it could exceed 600,000

4 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,269,947 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 104 million world wide.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 26.5 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll has passed 450,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, as it approaches a staggering half a million lives lost. The Biden administration has warned that the US toll could pass 600,000 before the virus is under control.

UK: Care homes in England operated by profitable chains have been branded unsafe by inspectors, who found serious failures in efforts to control the spread of coronavirus in its latest wave.

New Zealand: A new community case of Covid-19 has been identified in New Zealand: a close contact of two recent cases, who has been self-isolating. The new case is the mother of the toddler (known as Person C) who tested positive for Covid-19 after quarantining at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland. Person B, her partner, also tested positive.

Mexico: Mexico reported 1,707 daily coronavirus deaths, bringing the country’s total to 161,240. That’s the third highest toll globally, after the US and Brazil.

Vaccine news

US: The rush to vaccinate US residents was bogged down this week, as snow blanketed the Northeast and appointments for shots were missed or canceled. The US administered 868,000 doses Monday, 33% fewer than the seven-day rolling average of 1.3 million that day.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a partnership with the Biden administration to open a mass vaccination site at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, home of the Oakland A’s baseball team, as the most-populous state tries to ramp up an inoculation effort that has trailed other parts of the US.

New York City’s Yankee Stadium will open as a mass vaccination site for Bronx residents on Friday, with 15,000 appointments available in the first week of operation, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

Canada: Canada is set to receive a significant haul of vaccines over the next months through a platform designed to maximise supply to poor countries, according to a new forecast, despite reserving the most doses-per-person in the world through direct deals with pharmaceutical companies. The Globe and Mail reports that Canada will be the only G7 country worldwide to accept vaccines from the scheme.

Brazil: The Brazilian government announced Wednesday it was negotiating the purchase of 30 million coronavirus vaccine doses from Russia and India, after regulators made it easier for the treatments to win emergency-use authorisations.

Chile: Chile, the Latin American country that has procured the most vaccines per capita, expanded its inoculation program Wednesday to include the elderly. People lined up at state-run health centers and private clinics to receive the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine. The government is putting into practice a program that begin with people age 90 and higher and essential workers. In coming days, the age limit will fall progressively.

Serbia: Serbia has appealed for more Chinese vaccine doses after being the first in Europe to import shots from Sinopharm last month, the office of President Aleksandar Vucic said. The initial shipment of 1 million doses put the Balkan country ahead of the rest of continental Europe in inoculation.

UK: Oxford trial to test efficacy of mix of Covid vaccines for individuals. Volunteers are being sought for a world-first trial to establish the efficacy of giving people a first dose of one vaccine and a second dose of a different vaccine. The trial, which is being run by Oxford University and is funded by the government’s vaccine taskforce, has been described by ministers as “hugely important”.

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are planning to have a re-engineered shot that protects against new mutations available by the fall in time for the next round of immunizations that may be required before winter. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator of the Oxford trials, said switching out the genome sequence, manufacturing and completing new studies for a vaccine against variants should be fairly quick.

The UK has passed the peak of its latest wave of the pandemic, officials said, as the country reached the milestone of vaccinating 10 million people, about 15% of the population. However, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said infections remain widespread and the state-run National Health Service would be “back in trouble extraordinarily fast” if social restrictions are lifted. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “very hopeful” that schools will open on March 8, though he cautioned against moving too soon.

Israel: One dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine gives people about 90% protection from Covid by 21 days, according to an analysis of Israel’s mass vaccination programme.

Japan: Japan could start vaccinating medical personnel as soon as 17 February, FNN reported, citing unidentified government officials. The health ministry is expected to approve the use of Pfizer vaccines scheduled to arrive in the country around 14 February.

Taiwan: Taiwan will likely start providing Covid-19 shots in June instead of an earlier estimate of March as the government is having difficulty purchasing vaccines, health minister Chen Shih-chung said in an interview with Apple Daily in Taipei.

Australia: Everyone in Australia will have access to Covid-19 vaccines, Health Minister Greg Hunt said, as the country secured a further 10 million doses from Pfizer. Australia now has access to 150 million doses in total, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Africa: Covax, the global program that strives to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines, has allocated millions of doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s shots to African countries and aims for its first deliveries by the end of the month. Nigeria, the most populous nation on the continent, stands to receive 16 million doses, while Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are in line for 9 million and 7 million doses respectively, according to an interim distribution forecast published Wednesday. Other African countries will get a smaller number of vaccines.

Moderna offered to supply its coronavirus vaccine to South Africa, in what would be its first deal to sell shots to an African nation, a person familiar with the talks said. Business Day newspaper earlier reported that Moderna offered to sell South Africa 20 million doses, with the first arriving in May.

Lockdown updates

Australia: More than 500 tennis players and officials were ordered into isolation in the Australian city of Melbourne on Thursday as authorities reintroduced coronavirus restrictions after a worker at a quarantine hotel tested positive for the virus.

US: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserted on Wednesday that US schools can safely reopen even if teachers have not received the coronavirus vaccine, while the top US infections expert supported the idea of wearing two face masks.

Chicago Public Schools again delayed a scheduled return to in-person learning after officials and the teachers’ union failed to reach an agreement on opening. President Biden is pushing to resume in-person learning in his first 100 days, but teachers’ unions and districts are at odds over how to do so safely.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy loosened indoor capacity restrictions for restaurants and other businesses to 35% from 25%. He also lifted the 10 p.m. curfew on indoor restaurant service. All changes are effective Friday.

UK: Britain’s health minister will make an announcement on further plans to order hotel quarantine for some travellers on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

South Korea: South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Thursday ordered a revamp of social distancing guidelines in a bid to win greater public support for efforts to stop local transmission of the new coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia: All gatherings including celebrations such as weddings, company meetings at private or hotel halls as well as rest centers and camps will be halted for 30 days starting Thursday evening, state-run SPA reported, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is set to allow up to one-third of a school’s student capacity to return to classes on a half-day basis after the Lunar New Year holiday, double the current capacity. School campuses have been closed as the city battles an extended wave of the coronavirus, which has led authorities to enact some of its strictest restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

Economy updates

Global: Qualcomm Inc., the world’s largest smartphone chipmaker, said it is struggling to meet demand, signaling that a global semiconductor shortage is spreading. Like most chipmakers, Qualcomm outsources production to companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co., but these suppliers are having difficulties adjusting to a vigorous rebound in demand. The auto sector has also complained about the issue of shortages.

The World Economic Forum proposed to reschedule the Special Annual Meeting in Singapore to mid-August due to travel restrictions and the current state of the coronavirus pandemic. The meeting had been scheduled for late May.

UK: UK car sales got off to the slowest start to a year since 1970 as dealerships closed because of the pandemic, with January registrations down about 40% from a year earlier, according to preliminary data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Final data will be released later Thursday. More than 10,000 jobs were cut across the auto sector last year.

Thailand: Centara Hotels & Resorts, owned by one of Thailand’s richest families, is preparing to reopen properties, betting that wider global vaccine availability and easing containment measures will revive tourism. The chain expects a resumption in regional traffic in the third quarter and some international travel in the following three months, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Markland Blaiklock said. Foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand slumped to 6.7 million last year from 40 million in 2019.

US: American Airlines Group Inc. told 13,000 employees they could be laid off, many for the second time in six months, saying a much-anticipated summer travel rebound isn’t materializing. The warning came less than a week after United Airlines Holdings Inc. notified 14,000 employees that their jobs may again be in danger. With vaccination campaigns still in the early stages, domestic airline passengers are at less than 40% of 2019 levels. Foreign travel is at only about 15%, the International Air Transport Association said Wednesday.

The US House of Representatives passed a budget that helps clear the path for a fast-tracking of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan. The Senate plans to pass an identical version of the budget later this week.


9:58 am

Pfizer Canada criticized over push for lower taxes

4 February

Iglika Ivanova, an economist, retweeted an article on Pfizer profiting from its coronavirus vaccine, while pushing for lower taxes.

The pharmaceutical company reported total profits of $9.6bn in 2020 while paying an income tax rate of just 6.4%, up slightly from the even lower 5.4% tax rate it paid in 2019.

The company is expected to make profits worth $4bn this year. This will primarily come from the $15bn in sales of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Other vaccine developers such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson stated that they would not take a profit from their vaccine but offered to sell them at cost.

Moderna, on the other hand, stated that it would not enforce its Covid-19 patents during the pandemic.

Pfizer Canada has been pushing the federal government to introduce a wide range of tax breaks and concessions in the upcoming budget, including backing off on regulatory changes that would make drugs more affordable in the country.

Canadian researchers claim that Pfizer is already reporting steep decline in taxes yet is aggressively lobbying during the coronavirus pandemic for even more tax breaks and preferential concessions.

Read more

8:39 am

Coronavirus company news summary – GSK and CureVac team up to develop vaccines against emerging Covid-19 variants – Singapore approves Moderna’s vaccine

4 February 2021

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and CureVac have announced a new €150m collaboration, to jointly develop next generation mRNA vaccines against Covid-19. The vaccine will have a multi-valent approach to fight multiple emerging variants. As part of the deal, GSK will also support the development of approximately 100 million doses of CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV in 2021.

Moderna announced that the Singapore Health Sciences Authority has granted interim authorisation to its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine has been authorised for use through the Pandemic Special Access Route and is based on Phase III results published in November. The Singapore Ministry of Health secured access to Moderna’s vaccine through a supply agreement signed in December 2020.

Bristol Myers Squibb and Rockefeller University signed a definitive agreement, which allows Bristol Myers Squibb to develop, manufacture, as well as commercialise Rockefeller’s new monoclonal antibody duo treatment that neutralises the SARS-CoV-2 virus to treat or prevent Covid-19.

Contract development and manufacturing organisation Avid Bioservices and Humanigen signed a manufacturing services agreement to expand production capacity for Lenzilumab, the latter’s therapeutic candidate for Covid-19. Lenzilumab is a monoclonal antibody that prevents and treats cytokine storm associated with Covid-19. Humanigen completed the enrolment of 520 patients in its Phase III clinical trial of Lenzilumab among hospitalised patients.

2:11 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Concern as Brazil passes herd immunity threshold but infections continue to rise

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 103,972,000 with over 2,255,000 deaths and 57,777,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the three countries with the highest total confirmed cases worldwide, with the UK maintaining its position as fourth worst affected country.

However, rates of new daily confirmed cases continue to trend downwards across all.

Within the EU, France, Spain and Italy remain the forerunners with the highest total confirmed cases.

Of these three countries Italy has the highest case fatality rate at 3.48%, which compares to 2.36% and 2.1% for France and Spain, respectively.

During January 2021, the Brazilian city of Manaus experienced a sharp increase in the number of hospitalisations due to Covid-19 during a second wave of infection, despite a large proportion of the population having been infected by the virus during the first wave.

Seroprevalence studies undertaken in the city indicated approximately 75% inhabitants had been infected by SARS-COV-2 by October 2020, surpassing the herd immunity threshold.

Case numbers began to rise shortly following the detection of the new variant (P.1) within Brazil, leading to concerns over whether the newer strains may be able to evade antibodies and therefore negatively impact vaccine efficacy.

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

9:19 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine was over 90% effective in clinical trials – Novavax collaborates with Canada to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine

3 February 2021

According to a peer-reviewed paper in the Lancet, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine reported 91.6% efficacy in fighting the Covid-19 disease in Phase III trials. Experts believe that the results diminish the transparency concerns over the jab, which has already been rolled out in Russia and a few other countries. The vaccine is named after the Soviet-era satellite.  The current study suggests that Sputnik V is one of the top-performing vaccines alongside Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, which have also reported over 90% efficacy.

Novavax announced a memorandum of understanding  with the Canadian Government to manufacture NVX-CoV2373, the company’s protein-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate, in Canada. Establishing a manufacturing foothold in Canada will be critical for meeting the urgent need for vaccines in the country. Novavax intends to produce its vaccine at the National Research Council’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal once Health Canada approvals are granted to the vaccine and the facility.

Ocugen and Bharat Biotech announced a definitive agreement to manufacture, supply, as well as market the latter’s’s COVAXIN, an advanced stage inactivated Covid-19 vaccine candidate in the US market. As per the terms of the agreement, Bharat Biotech will supply initial doses to Ocugen and also support the technology transfer for manufacturing, while Ocugen will hold exclusive rights to develop, seek regulatory emergency use approval and commercialise the vaccine in the US.

Edesa Biotech has received approximately C$14m (US$11m) from the Government of Canada to complete its Phase II part of the Phase II/III clinical study for EB05, its investigational drug, for treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients. The funds were awarded as part of the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund after reviewing Edesa’s drug technology and strategies.

9:04 am

International update:

3 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,253,565 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections are nearing 104 million world wide.

World Health Organization inspectors visited a laboratory in China’s Wuhan city on Wednesday that American officials suggested could have been the source of the coronavirus. The inspection of the Wuhan virology institute, which conducts research on the world’s most dangerous diseases, will be one of the most-watched stops on the team’s probe into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vast majority of people who contract coronavirus develop antibodies that may help protect them against reinfection for at least six months, researchers say. Blood samples collected from more than 20,000 UK residents between June and November 2020 revealed that 99% of those who tested positive had antibodies for at least three months, with 88% having them for the full six months studied.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 26.4 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 446,807 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The US Centers for Disease Control may recommend wearing two masks — one over the other — to keep at bay the more contagious variants of the coronavirus, according to Anthony Fauci. The agency doesn’t yet have the data to make any formal recommendation, he said Tuesday during a Washington Post event. Still, “it makes common sense” to increase protection, said Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert.

France: The number of patients in hospital with coronavirus in France is at its highest since November. The health ministry reported 28,029 people were in hospital with the virus and 3,270 in intensive care. Both numbers set new 2021 highs.

Ireland: Ireland recorded 101 virus related deaths on Tuesday, the highest since the pandemic began, health authorities said. The nation had battled one of the world’s worst outbreaks last month, which is now showing signs of easing. Daily infections dropped to 879, the lowest in over a month.

Vaccine news

Global: Covid-19 vaccine nationalism is harmful for all, the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He said weak cooperation between nations is a major barrier to achieving worldwide vaccination at the scale needed to end the pandemic.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and World Bank President David Malpass on Tuesday stressed the need to coordinate in responding the global pandemic, improving vaccine access for the poorest countries, and combating climate change.

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine provided strong protection against Covid-19 in an interim analysis of an advanced clinical trial, while its backers said it appears to work against new strains. The vaccine was well-tolerated and also worked among the elderly, according to the peer-reviewed findings, which were published Tuesday in the medical journal The Lancet. Sputnik V showed efficacy of 91.6%, validating claims by the developers last year.

EU: The EU predicted a surge in the domestic supply of Covid-19 vaccines during the second quarter and said the bloc had authorized exports of the shots to the UK and Canada. “We expect that in the second quarter we should be receiving 300 million doses and, of course, more if other vaccines come on stream,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told reporters on Tuesday in Brussels. Meanwhile, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said he had a video-conference meeting with AstraZeneca Plc CEO Pascal Soriot, who reiterated a commitment to boost production in Europe to meet the EU’s delivery schedule for vaccines.

US: President Joe Biden’s administration will begin Tuesday to test a program to provide coronavirus vaccines directly to pharmacies, as they try to ratchet up the pace of US. inoculations. Biden’s team will announce Tuesday that they’ll ship roughly 1 million doses per week directly to pharmacies as a trial run, according to two people familiar with the plans. The people asked not to be identified ahead of the announcement. The program will expand as vaccine supply allows, the people said. It’s distinct from a planned 5% increase in shipments that the Biden administration revealed to states in a call with governors Tuesday morning, one person said.

UK: AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid vaccine showed 82.4% effectiveness with a three-month gap between two shots, according to a new study that bolsters the UK.’s controversial decision to adopt the extended dosing interval. The vaccine also may significantly reduce transmission of the virus, according to analysis of trial data by the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine with the UK drugmaker. Swabs taken from volunteers in the U.K. arm of the trial showed a 67% reduction in transmission after the first dose, the report showed.

New Zealand: The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been provisionally approved for use in New Zealand, where the government will begin vaccinating frontline healthcare and border workers in the coming months. Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, said the approval was a positive step in the country’s fight against Covid-19, of which there have been fewer than 2,000 cases nationally.

France: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that all of his countrymen who want a vaccine will be offered one “by the end of the summer”. He told the TF1 channel that 80% of care-home residents – some 500,000 people – would be vaccinated by early March.

Germany: Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has said “all vaccines” approved by the EU’s medicines regulator are welcome, including Russian and Chinese shots, Reuters reports. In a TV interview, she said Germany welcomed the strong data from trials of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Mexico: Mexico on Tuesday approved Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in the country, one of the worst hit by the pandemic, following the release of positive trial results. The move is a boost to the Latin American nation’s efforts to keep its immunisation program on track in the face of limited supplies from other manufacturers.

Myanmar: Myanmar’s vaccine roll-out is set to continue uninterrupted even though a section of medical workers and doctors are halting work to protest the coup, according to Khin Khin Gyi, director of emerging infectious disease at the Ministry of Health and Sports. The country inoculated more than 80,000 health workers, volunteers and officials in the first week of the vaccination drive and is set to receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India on Feb. 11 and another batch of 4.2 million shots from the global Covax facility by the end of the month.

Africa: Doctors Without Borders said Southern Africa is in dire need of vaccine doses, and called for more-equitable distribution of shots with health workers and people at highest risk given priority. “Health workers in Mozambique, Eswatini, and Malawi are currently struggling to treat escalating numbers of patients with little prospect of receiving a vaccine to protect themselves or others from the virus,” the group said in a statement.

Lockdown updates

South Africa: Australian cricket’s governing body said it had no choice but to delay the tour of South Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic, amid a second wave and new variant of the virus. Cricket Australia Interim CEO Nick Hockley said the decision was not “made lightly” and that there are plans to complete the tour at a later date. South Africa remains on virus alert level 3, although it has begun easing restrictions and a ban on alcohol sales as the positivity rate declines to less than 20% from a peak of 36% last month.

Singapore: Singapore is adding foreign-worker testing measures, according to a government statement. Some newly arrived workers from the construction, marine and process sectors who have recent travel history to higher-risk countries will have to stay at a designated facility to go through an additional seven-day testing regime after completing their mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Foreign domestic workers and confinement nannies who have recent travel history to higher-risk countries will also have to take an on-arrival serology test in addition to the existing polymerase chain reaction test.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is considering whether to allow up to one-third of a school’s student capacity to return to classes on a half-day basis after the Lunar New Year holidays, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified people. Currently no more than a sixth of student capacity is allowed.

Taiwan: Opening day for Taiwanese schools will be delayed to 22 February from 18 February, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung said in a briefing in Taipei. Extension of the winter break will allow schools to complete disinfection and virus containment preparations.

Thailand: A Thai resort island popular for its beaches is drawing up plans to fully reopen to vaccinated visitors by October to revive its wrecked tourism industry. More than a dozen business groups are planning to pool funds to vaccinate 70% of the island’s population above 18 without waiting for a government rollout. They are betting that it’ll be safe to open the region to foreign tourists once the local population achieves herd immunity. The plan, which will need government approval, also seeks to waive a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement, a major hurdle for many potential travelers.

Netherlands: The lockdown in the Netherlands will be extended until March 2, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Tuesday. Despite decreasing infections since Christmas, Rutte warned of “an inevitable third wave” because the British mutation accounts for about two-thirds of all new infections. A relaxation of measures would have been possible if it weren’t for the British variant, he said.

Scotland: Scotland will tighten rules for anyone coming into the country in an effort to further suppress coronavirus infections as the government in Edinburgh set out an initial road map out of lockdown. “We intend to introduce a managed quarantine requirement for anyone who arrives directly in Scotland, regardless of which country they’ve come from,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.

Variant news

In the Netherlands, health agency RIVM estimates that about two-thirds of newly infected people last week had the UK variant.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency, meanwhile, said random checks suggest it’s also seeing an increased spread of the British variant. It was found in almost 11% of 2,220 samples analyzed. In the Paris region, an analysis of positive tests found the strain accounted for 15% to 20% of cases last week, up from around 6% in the first week of January.

Economy updates

Australia: Australia’s economy is expected to recover to its pre-pandemic size by the middle of this year – six to 12 months early – the Reserve Bank governor has revealed. On Wednesday, Philip Lowe released the bank’s revised projections showing a faster than expected recovery during the Covid-19 recession is expected to translate to growth of 3.5% this year and next, with unemployment set to fall to 6% in 2021.

US: US President Joe Biden will order a government-wide review of critical supply chains in an effort to reduce US reliance on countries such as China for essential medical supplies and minerals, according to people familiar with the matter. The administration’s goal is to protect government and private sector supply chains to prevent future shortages and limit other countries’ ability to exert leverage over the US, according to an administration official.

7:56 am

How sport increased Covid mortalities

3 February

Experts believe that professional sport has experienced severe shocks like other sectors from the global coronavirus pandemic, thereby leading to natural experiments.

These experiments or studies addressed pertinent questions such as how airborne viruses can spread in crowds, how crowds should respond to risks and new viruses, how the lack of crowds will impact social pressure and decisions, and how quickly betting markets will respond to new information.

The first study on Covid-19 spread during major sports events focused on North America.

Researchers studied the effects of scheduling of NBA and NHL games during a 12-day period in early March 2020.

The study evaluated the effects, spread and mortality related to the disease in the context of holding indoor, mass sports gatherings.

The authors found that each of these gatherings, on an average, increased the number of cumulative deaths directly from the Covid-19 disease by 9% till the end of April 2020.

Another study looked at the impact of the English football matches that took place with crowds during the start of the pandemic.

Authors concluded that despite of these games taking place outdoors, rather than the US indoor games study, the presence of large crowds during the matches led to an increase in the virus spread.

Read more

9:02 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 103 million – US January death toll exceeded 95,500

2 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,238,624 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 103 million world wide.

The team of international scientists investigating the origins of the coronavirus is focusing on early cases and is having “very good discussions around that,” World Health Organization officials said Monday. “They’re having very productive discussions with their Chinese counterparts, they’re visiting hospitals and had a good visit to the market, seeing first-hand the stalls and walking through,” said Maria van Kerkhove, the group’s technical lead officer on Covid-19.The coronavirus was first found in people who shopped or worked at a so-called wet market in the central city of Wuhan, where live animals were sold.

An Irish organized crime gang is behind a scheme to forge coronavirus test results for people traveling between countries, according to Europol. Europol has received “intelligence on the alleged use of a mobile application by the Rathkeale Rovers Mobile Organised Crime Group which allows members of the organized crime group to manually falsify test results,” the law-enforcement group said in a statement Monday.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 26.3 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 443,355 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The US recorded the worst monthly death toll from the pandemic in January, more than 95,500, but fatalities in February are likely to be lower, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg. That’s because the seven-day average of daily confirmed cases at the end of last month dropped to about 151,000, a level last seen in November and down from a peak of nearly 282,000 in early January. Confirmed cases in January were 6.2 million, down from from 6.4 million in December.

Ten Republican senators have agreed to carry on talks with the White House in an attempt to negotiate a bi-partisan coronavirus relief package, after a two-hour meeting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Monday night ended short of a breakthrough.

The Covid Tracking Project, a widely cited resource that compiles figures on coronavirus cases, testing, hospitalizations and deaths and is staffed by a small army of volunteers, said on Monday that it would stop compiling data next month. In a posting on the group’s website, co-founders Erin Kissane and Alexis Madrigal said the site would release its final daily data update on March 7, the one-year anniversary of its launch. Covid Tracking, which is supported by The Atlantic magazine, will continue to do documentation, analysis and archival work for two months before closing in May, they said.

China: China reported the fewest new coronavirus cases in a month as imported cases overtook local infections, official data showed on Tuesday, suggesting the country’s worst wave since March 2020 is being stamped out ahead of a key holiday. Thirty cases were reported in the mainland on 1 February, the National Health Commission said in a statement, down from 42 cases a day earlier and marking lowest total since 24 cases were reported on 2 January.

Italy: Italy registered the lowest daily increase in virus cases since Oct. 14 on Monday, with 7,925 new infections, down from 11,252 the day before. The country reported 329 deaths, from 237 on Sunday.

Vaccine news

Global: Bayer AG agreed to produce CureVac NV’s experimental coronavirus vaccine to help speed up the roll out of a promising shot that’s in advanced clinical tests. The move extends Bayer’s current pact with CureVac beyond simply helping with regulatory clearances and global distribution. It follows commitments from fellow European pharma giants Sanofi and Novartis AG to put their manufacturing capacities behind scaling up Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 injection.

US: More Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine than have tested positive for the virus, an early but hopeful milestone in the race to end the pandemic. As of Monday afternoon, 26.5 million Americans had received one or both doses of the current vaccines, according to data gathered by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Since the first U.S. patient tested positive outside of Seattle a year ago, 26.3 million people in the country have tested positive for the disease.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found only 5.4% of coronavirus vaccine recipients were black, in its first analysis of how vaccines were given out among different demographic groups in the first month of US distribution.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said a briefing he would be open to making the coronavirus vaccine available to restaurant workers but said it’s not possible with the current supply coming from the federal government. The state has administered 1.96 million vaccinations to date but only receives about 300,000 doses from the federal government each week, he said. Currently 7 million people are eligible, including health-care and essential workers, and those age 65 and over.

A massive snowstorm has shut down most of New York City and all vaccination appointments will be canceled on Monday and Tuesday.

South Africa: The first vaccine doses have arrived in South African, where president Cyril Ramaphosa hailed their arrival on Monday as a chance to “turn the tide” on a disease that has devastated the country.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico will quit providing vaccines to first-responders for four weeks to focus on the island’s seniors. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado Lopez said he will be signing an order Monday restricting the island’s vaccine supply to people 65 and older — save a handful of clinics that are providing vaccines to teachers. Mellado said first-responders can resume getting shots after the four-week period is over. The change doesn’t affect medical personnel, most of whom have already been vaccinated.

Malawi: Malawi has secured doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine through the Covax initiative to inoculate its population, the government said. The first consignment of the vaccine is expected to arrive in the South-East African country at the end of February in readiness for the rollout in March, said President Lazarus Chakwera, who leads the nation of about 19 people.

Lockdown updates

China: Many places in China plan to suspend religious gatherings during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays to control the coronavirus outbreak, the Global Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

EU: European Union governments agreed to tighten rules for travelers to the bloc by requiring them to get a Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure, highlighting concerns about new virus variants. The move covers essential and non-essential travelers to the EU except “transport and frontier workers,” officials said on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations on Monday in Brussels were confidential. Diplomats also decided to open the door for member countries to impose self-isolation, quarantine and contract-tracing obligations for as many as 14 days after arrival from outside the EU, according to the officials. The deal among EU member-country envoys still needs formal approval.

UAE: Dubai imposed a new set of restrictions Monday, requiring restaurants and cafes to close by 1 am It also asked hotels to operate at 70% capacity, and indoor venues like cinemas to operate at 50%. The government also vowed tougher penalties for violators. Those measures are to remain in effect until the end of the month. The UAE has seen a rise in coronavirus cases as it accelerates its vaccination drive. It has so far administered 3.4 million doses.

Australia: Austrian retail opens for business from 8 February, albeit under strict Covid measures. Consumers need an FFP2 mask and 20 square meters space in order to shop. Schools will partially reopen two days a week for kids who test negative. Those seeking a haircut need a negative test within 48 hours before booking an appointment.

Isle of Man: The Isle of Man, a small island that sits between Great Britain and Ireland, removed all of its coronavirus restrictions on Monday, leaving it surrounded by countries under lockdown. The community of about 85,000 people will not ask for social distancing, mandate masks or restrict socializing. Schools will reopen and everyone can return to work. The island has just 15 active coronavirus cases. In a bid to retain its freedom, travel onto the island for non-residents is banned.

9:00 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Bayer and Rentschler separately support CureVac’s Covid-19 manufacturing – UK orders an additional 40 million doses of Valneva’s Covid-19 vaccine

2 February 2021

Bayer has signed an agreement with CureVac to support the manufacturing of its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, CVnCoV,  in Germany; this expands upon an existing development and commercialisation between Bayer and CureVac. This update to the agreement occurs in the context of the need for current production capacities for Covid-19 vaccines to be increased, as Stefan Oelrich, the president of Bayer’s pharmaceutical division, announced at a press conference.

The UK Government has exercised its option to order 40 million doses of Valneva‘s inactivated, adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine candidate in 2022. This brings the total volume of Valneva’s vaccine ordered to 100 million doses. The UK also retains the option to order an additional 90 million doses between 2023 and 2025. If all the options are exercised, the total cost of the deal is expected to total $1.69bn.

CureVac is collaborating with global contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) Rentschler Biopharma to set-up manufacturing capabilities for CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine, CVnCoV. While CureVac has begun its Phase IIb/III clinical trial of CVnCoV, Rentschler looking forward to scale-up current Good Manufacturing Practice production of the formulated mRNA for CVnCoV.

Eli Lilly has collaborated with local health systems to launch a dedicated infusion centre for north, south and central Indiana, which will help enable access to important Covid-19 treatments.  The US Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorisation to multiple neutralising antibody therapies that need to administered via intravenous infusion for treating mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms among high-risk patients.

8:30 am

Covid highlights how the US fails to re-skill its unemployed

2 February

David Deming, an economist and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, retweeted an article on leaders warning that the US is almost uniquely ill-equipped to help people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic to gather new skills and prepare for new careers.

Workforce experts believe that there is no central place for the unemployed people to turn to for re-training for new jobs, and this could have lasting effects.

In addition, overlapping and confusing job training programmes scattered across the country with less coordinated efforts on what training might be necessary to obtain by employers, have left many wary about their investment in training actually paying off or not.

Nearly 11 million people are jobless in the US since the Covid pandemic struck in the spring last year.

The country is historically known to do a poor job at helping people who have been displaced due to offshoring, recessions, automation, and other economic dislocation.

As data suggests, the country invests less in its workforce development, just about 0.11% of its GDP, than many other developed nations.

Read more

3:01 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 103 million – Portugal suffers new surge citing UK variant

1 February

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 103 million with more than 2,229,000 deaths and 57,145,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil remain the three countries with the highest total confirmed cases worldwide, with the UK maintaining its position as fourth worst affected country ahead of Russia.

However, new daily confirmed cases continue to trend downwards within the UK, India and across nearly all states within the US.

Mexico has now overtaken India as the country with the third highest death toll of over 158,000, which trails only Brazil and the United States with reported deaths of over 224,000 and 441,000, respectively.

Concerns rise in Portugal as vacant ICU beds run low, with some patients being shipped to Portuguese islands for care.

Reportedly, 843 out of 850 ICU beds allocated to Covid-19 are in-use, many by patients suffering with ‘long-Covid’.

The country has recently experienced a surge in new cases following a relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period, claiming that up to 65% of the new cases observed in the last three weeks are due to the new variant first discovered in the UK.

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

9:22 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Novartis supports manufacturing of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine – EMA approves AstraZeneca/Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine

2 February 2021

Swiss pharma giant Novartis has signed an initial agreement to offer its manufacturing capacity and expertise to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic. As per the agreement, the company will support the production of Pfizer and BioNTech‘s Covid-19 vaccine at its sterilised manufacturing facilities in Stein, Switzerland. The company will take bulk mRNA active ingredient from BioNTech and fill it into vials and then ship them back to BioNTech for distribution across the world.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford‘s Covid-19 vaccine, making it the third vaccine to be approved for use in the European Union. An EMA expert committee unanimously agreed to approve the vaccination for over 18s, despite concerns over inadequate data supporting its efficacy for people aged over 65.

Johnson & Johnson announced top-line safety and efficacy results from its Phase III ENSEMBLE clinical trial for an investigational single-dose Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The study met all its primary and key secondary endpoints and were based on 43,783 participants accruing 468 symptomatic Covid-19 cases.

9:06 am

International update: Global Covid infections pass 102 million – China arrests fake vaccine suspects

1 February

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,227,923 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 102 million world wide.

A World Health Organization-led team investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic was due on Monday to visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Hubei province, the central Chinese region where the outbreak emerged in late 2019. The team has already visited the Huanan food market in Wuhan.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 26 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 441,319 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

A leading infectious disease expert predicted on Sunday that the deadlier British variant of Covid-19 will become the dominant strain of the virus in the US and could hit the country like a hurricane.

President Joe Biden has invited a group of 10 Republican senators to meet with him in the coming days to discuss their alternative plan for Covid-19 economic stimulus, the White House said Sunday evening. The GOP lawmakers offered a $600 billion proposal early Sunday in a letter to Biden, responding to the $1.9 trillion plan he laid out more than two weeks ago and which Republicans have rejected.

China: China reported the lowest daily increase in new Covid cases in more than three weeks, official data showed on Monday, reversing a sharp uptick a day earlier, amid efforts to contain the disease ahead of a major holiday break. New confirmed reported cases more than halved to 42, the National Health Commission said in a statement, down from 92 a day earlier and marking the lowest one-day increase since 33 reported on 8 January.

 Taiwan: Taiwan health authorities are still battling an outbreak centred around a Taoyuan hospital, which claimed the first Covid-related death almost nine months on Friday. The woman in her eighties was a relative of another confirmed case. Authorities said she presented with Covid-like symptoms on Thursday and was taken to hospital. A test returned a negative result for Covid, but she passed away on Friday night. She had chronic kidney disease and other underlying health issues.

Thailand: Thailand reported 836 new Covid-19 cases, of which 832 were local infections, according to Apisamai Srirangsan, the country’s Covid-19 spokeswoman. “There will be more active case-finding efforts this week, so daily reports may still show high numbers,” she said. Thailand’s Covid-19 task force last week approved loosening restrictions across the country to allow businesses and schools to resume operations. The country is facing its biggest wave of infections since the pandemic started.

Brazil: Brazil reported 27,756 new cases, fewer than the previous day as the nation’s second-wave outbreak slows. Total cases are 9,204,731, according to data from the Health Ministry. Another 559 people died, also fewer than the day before, for a total of 224,504 fatalities. Brazil has the most deaths after the US.

Vaccine news

EU: The EU wants 70% of adults vaccinated by end of summer. AstraZeneca will increase its coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the EU by 30%, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday as the bloc sought to claw back time lost rolling out the jabs. The aim was still to vaccinate 70% of adults in the EU by the end of summer, she added.

China: Chinese police detained more than 80 suspects involved in fake Covid vaccine manufacturing and selling in a special campaign against vaccine-related crimes, Xinhua reported. Suspects have been using saline to make fake coronavirus vaccines and have been selling them to the public since September, the report said. The case was exposed by police in provinces and cities including Jiangsu, Beijing and Shandong.

UK: The NHS has said official figures are expected to confirm on Monday that it has offered a coronavirus vaccine to every older care home resident across England. In another milestone for the vaccine programme, coming after it set a new daily record of almost 600,000 people being inoculated against Covid-19 on Saturday, nurses, GPs and other NHS staff have offered the jab to people living at more than 10,000 care homes with older residents. Some 598,389 shots were administered on Saturday, bringing the total to 8.98 million. New cases continue to drop, with 21,088 reported Sunday, and another 587 people died. Figures are often lower on weekends due to reporting delays.

Pakistan: Pakistan received its first batch of Covid vaccine doses, 500,000 from China’s Sinopharm, on Monday, Health Adviser Faisal Sultan said in a statement released on Twitter. “Thank God, the first batch of Sinopharm vaccine has arrived! Grateful to China and everyone who made this happen,” he said. “I salute our frontline healthcare workers for their efforts and they’ll be first to get vaccinated.”

US: New York City broke down its Covid-19 vaccination data by ethnicity for the first time, with the mayor underscoring a “profound problem” with racial inequality. White residents made up nearly half of the people who have received at least one dose, despite consisting of only a third of the population. Latinos, 29% of the city, only accounted for 15% of those vaccinated. The lowest ratio was among Blacks – even though they make up almost a quarter of the city’s population, they only accounted for 11% of those vaccinated.

Singapore: Singapore said migrant workers will be among the priority groups for vaccinations, as their communal living and working conditions put them at higher risk of infections and formation of large clusters, Tan See Leng, second minister for manpower, said in Parliament on Monday. Tan said those in higher-risk dorm accommodations will be among those vaccinated first.

Lockdown updates

Japan: Japan is expected to extend a state of emergency this week for Tokyo and other areas as hospitals remain under pressure despite a decline in cases from their peaks, local media reported on Monday.

US: Chicago Public Schools on Sunday delayed the resumption of in-person classes for thousands of elementary and middle school students by at least a day as the district and teachers failed to reach an agreement on a Covid safety plan.

Hong Kong: As Hong Kong continues to fight its widespread outbreak, authorities have employed a new tactic in response to clusters of infection in residential housing blocks. Since last week, police have launched four ambush-style lockdowns, arriving unannounced at buildings to immediately prevent anyone leaving and to run mandatory testing.

Ghana: Ghana has reimposed a ban on social gatherings as the number of Covid-19 cases spiral in the West African nation, the president announced Sunday. Schools reopened in January after a 10-month closure, but President Nana Akufo-Addo said a return to stricter measures was needed. “Our hospitals have become full, and we have had to reactivate our isolation centres,” he said.

Israel: Israel extended a national lockdown on Sunday as Covid variants offset its vaccination drive and officials predicted a delay in a turnaround from the ongoing crisis.

Australia: About 2 million Australians begun their first full day of a strict coronavirus lockdown on Monday following the discovery of one case in the community in Perth, capital of Western Australia state, but no new cases have since been found.

Singapore: Singapore tabled a bill on Monday in parliament to formalize the use of contact tracing data in criminal investigations for serious offenses, after it was revealed that such information was used for that purpose in a murder case. The law will specify that public sector agencies can use personal contact tracing data recorded in digital contact tracing systems only for the purpose of contact tracing, except where there is a need for police officers and law enforcement officers to use the data for criminal investigations and proceedings in respect of serious offenses, according to the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office in a statement on Monday. Such offenses include murder, terrorism, kidnapping and serious sexual offenses.

Italy: Italy reported 11,252 new cases and 237 deaths Sunday, as it gets ready to ease restrictions for most of the country starting Monday. The positivity rate remained even at around 5.2%. Italy’s cases have remained stable in recent weeks, and the country has so far avoided the sharp increases suffered by some neighboring countries. Both the Milan and Rome regions will fall in the so-called “yellow zone” starting Monday, the lower tier of restrictions which allows bars and restaurants to remain open during the day.

7:52 am

Why increased investment in Covid vaccine manufacturing is still important

1 February

Garett Jones, an economist and author, re-tweeted a working paper on how to accelerate vaccine availability during a pandemic.

In his opinion, even at this stage, investments in expanding vaccine manufacturing capacity will have large benefits.

The study evaluates the challenges being faced by governments to procure and administer the vaccines, arguing that buyers should directly fund manufacturing capacity and shoulder risks of failure, while at the same time maintaining direct incentives for speed.

Many experts in the industry and internal organisations believe that there were hard limits on the how much supply could be created in the required time.

It was found that early at-risk investments in vaccine manufacturing capacity would have resulted in large net benefits for countries for all levels of income.

However, data further revealed that higher income countries such as the US and UK invested billions of dollars at risk contracting for large number of courses across multiple vaccine candidates, while upper middle-income countries invested lesser in vaccine doses and candidates.

At the same time, most lower income countries did not strike vaccine deals at all and waited to receive from donors such as the COVAX facility.

Read more

2:11 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid infections pass 101.5 million – deaths near 2.2 million

29 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 101,575,000, with over 2,193,000 deaths and 66,387,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil continue to lead the world in confirmed cases and the UK has surpassed Russia for fourth in the world.

Mexico’s death count is has now overtaken India for the third highest crude Covid-19 mortality total.

The UK, followed by France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Brazil trail only the US in active cases worldwide.

The WHO has revised its clinical management guidelines, calling for increased access to follow up care among confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases if they have persistent, new, or changing symptoms.

This recommendation comes as the WHO is prioritizing the further understanding of ‘Long Covid’ and will engage in several consultations in February to better define the condition and its subtypes in hopes of reaching a consensus among the medical community.

In addition, the Pan-American Health Association (PAHO) warns that the Covid-19 epidemic could worsen in Latin America in the coming weeks and is not likely to be under control until the end of the year.

Further heightening this issue is the slower flow of vaccines relative to the US or Europe and coronavirus fatigue in much of Latin America after a year of on and off lockdowns.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist, at GlobalData

10:57 am

International update: South African Covid variant sweeps across African continent – Europe suffers vaccine shortages

29 January

Global: The global Covid death toll has reached 2,192,912 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 101.5 million world wide.

A team from the World Health Organization began meetings in China today to try to understand the origins of the coronavirus. The WHO said on Twitter the group would visit hospitals, laboratories and markets, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Huanan market, and Wuhan’s CDC laboratory, and would speak with early responders and some of the first Covid-19 patients.

Africa: A variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa is driving record numbers of infections and deaths as it spreads across the region, the World Health Organization said. The mutated virus has been found in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and the French territory of Mayotte, and is probably circulating in other countries on the continent, said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. Another fast-spreading mutant that surfaced in the UK has been detected in Nigeria and the Gambia.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 25.7 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 433,206 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The US has detected its first cases of a coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, health officials in South Carolina said.

President Joe Biden moved to make it easier for Americans to buy health insurance during the pandemic, reopening the federal Obamacare marketplace with an order on Thursday taking a step toward reinvigorating a program his predecessor tried to eliminate.

California reported 737 daily coronavirus deaths, its second-highest tally, in a bleak reflection of the surge in cases over recent months that’s now starting to ebb. The most-populous state’s fatalities now stand at 38,961, behind only New York in the US. California’s outbreak has shown improvement, leading Governor Gavin Newsom to lift lockdowns earlier this week. There were 16,696 new cases on Thursday, well below the 14-day average, according to the state health department. Hospitalizations are down 25% from a peak three weeks ago.

New York state may have had twice as many coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes than the official count of more than 8,700 reflects, state Attorney General Letitia James said. The Attorney General’s Office released a report Thursday saying the state Health Department erred in counting Covid-19 fatalities and detailed a lack of compliance with infection-control policies at many nursing homes. Howard Zucker, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner, said in a release late Thursday afternoon that New York’s data has always been clear. Any suggestion of an undercount, he said, is “factually wrong.”

Brazil: Researchers in southern Brazil said they found two patients infected with different strains of the new coronavirus at the same time, Reuters reported. The patients, both in their 30s, had mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization. The cases raise concern among scientists that co-existence of two strains in the same body could speed up mutations of the virus. The study, posted on medical website medRxiv, has not been published in a scientific journal or been peer reviewed, Reuters said.

France: French health authorities reported 23,770 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours on Thursday, down from 26,916 on Wednesday. The country’s Covid-19 death toll rose by 344 to 74,800, the world’s seventh-highest, after an increase of 350 on Wednesday.

Mexico: Covid-19 deaths surpassed those in India, making it the country with the third-highest number of fatalities worldwide, as officials struggle to contain a pandemic that’s taking an increasingly grim toll. The Health Ministry reported the number of deaths rose 1,506 to 155,145 on Thursday night. Total cases reached 1,825,519.

Vaccine news

Global: Novavax Inc said on Thursday its coronavirus vaccine was 89.3% effective in preventing Covid-19 in a trial conducted in the United Kingdom, and was nearly as effective in protecting against the more highly contagious variant first discovered in the UK, according to a preliminary analysis. A mid-stage trial of the vaccine in South Africa, where a troubling new variant of the virus is common, showed 60% effectiveness among people who did not have HIV.

Germany: Authorities have blocked the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on people aged over 65, the Financial Times has reported.

Spain: Spain has insisted it supported the European Union’s handling of a shortfall in Covid-19 vaccines after a leaked document suggested the health ministry was blaming Brussels, Reuters reports.

US: Johnson & Johnson initially will deliver about 2 million doses of its one-shot Covid-19 vaccine when it receives emergency-use authorization in the US, according to a Government Accountability Office report. A spokesman for J&J said in an email that the company expects to supply 100 million doses to the US government in the first half of the year.

France: France’s health ministry has announced supplies of the Moderna vaccine expected during February will be reduced by 25%. Elsewhere, a shortage of vaccines has forced Paris and two other regions – that together account for a third of the French population – to postpone giving out some first doses, a source familiar with the discussion and health officials said on Thursday. The public health agency for Paris and the surrounding region, an area of 12.1 million people, told regional hospitals on a conference call on Wednesday that from 2 February, all deliveries of first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to medical establishments would be suspended, the source said.

Singapore will grant financial assistance to people who suffer serious side effects related to the Covid-19 vaccine in a bid to boost confidence among those being inoculated. People with a reaction that require hospitalization or intensive care would receive up S$10,000 ($7,517), or S$225,000 in the case of death or permanent severe disability. More than 113,000 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine as of 27 January, the city-state’s health ministry said. Over 50 individuals have received the second dose.

Brazil: President, Jair Bolsonaro, who says he won’t take any Covid vaccine, has vowed to quickly inoculate all Brazilians, tempering his tone after his support fell due to a patchy vaccine rollout and a brutal second wave of infections, Reuters reports.

Lockdown updates

Lebanon: A man has died of his wounds after clashes last night between security forces and protesters angered by the combined impact of a severe economic crisis and a coronavirus lockdown. There were fresh protests today.

US: New York City will ask government workers to return to their offices in May after working remotely since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the city last Spring, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in his annual “State of the City” address. He pledged to vaccinate 5 million New Yorkers by the end of June.

UK: The UK banned direct passenger flights from Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates to stop the spread of a new virus strain originally identified in South Africa, putting one of the world’s busiest international air routes on ice. Starting 1 pm UK time, passengers who’ve been in or transited through the UAE in the previous 10 days will no longer be allowed to enter the country. Visitors from Burundi and Rwanda in Africa are barred as well. Exemptions usually in place, including for business travel, will no longer apply.

New Zealand: Is mulling tighter restrictions on international arrivals after three people tested positive for Covid-19 despite completing a mandatory quarantine without showing signs of the virus. People may have to self isolate even after finishing two weeks in a government-managed quarantine facility, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. People may also be required to have another Covid test, meaning some could face as many as five tests in less than a month.

Denmark: Will extend its current coronavirus restrictions by three weeks to curb the spread of a more contagious coronavirus variant first registered in the UK, its prime minister said on Thursday.

Thailand: Thailand loosened restrictions across much of the country to allow businesses and schools to resume operations as the biggest coronavirus wave to hit the nation eased. The number of provinces categorized as high-risk areas will drop to five from 28. Most businesses, including restaurants, will be allowed to resume near-normal operations, while some establishments, such as gambling venues, will remain closed. Bangkok and its three surrounding provinces are still considered high-risk zones, although more curbs can be eased by local authorities. Almost 13,000 of the nation’s 17,023 Covid cases were reported since 15 December.

Philippines: The Philippines will lift on 1 February a travel ban imposed on more than 30 nations, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. Foreign nationals are required to have a pre-booked accommodation for at least seven nights in a quarantine hotel or facility and will undergo Covid-19 testing on the sixth day from arrival, he said.

Economy updates

Global: The coronavirus crisis cost the global tourism sector $1.3tn in lost revenue in 2020 as the number of people travelling plunged, the United Nations has said, calling it “the worst year in tourism history”.

UK: At least a fifth of Oxford Street, London’s main shopping thoroughfare, will be “boarded up with no hope of recovery” and more than 50,000 retail and hospitality jobs lost when the latest lockdown ends, according to The New West End Company, which represents hundreds of businesses in the city’s premier shopping and entertainment area. The group said 57 of 264 stores on Oxford Street are already permanently closed and more than 50,000 jobs will be lost in the West End area by March if action is not taken soon.

8:41 am

How Covid is driving technology into an economic ‘super-cycle’

29 January

Sonal Varma, an economist, re-tweeted a discussion on why Asian economies could be the outperformers in 2021, given the potential for vaccine deployment and re-opening of the global economy. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections, China is expected to overtake the US GDP only in 2030. However, post pandemic, China seems to be climbing to the top spot on the global GDP as early as in 2028.

Sonal Varma further added that although all countries were going to witness better growth rates, the pace of recovery would diverge between the regions. Consequently, China has been the first in, first out and the leader of the pack.

In her views, two factors are driving this divergence; the first being the resilience against Covid and the subsequent rollout of vaccination programmes, and the second being the exposure to the largest sector that has been resilient through 2020, that is, the technology sector.

She states that the technology sector is in a super-cycle which will not only continue because of the increasing demand arising from trends such as remote working, smartphone usage, and server demand, but also due to the demand coming from significant areas such as 5G, AI, and others.

Read more

8:21 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Novavax publishes positive efficacy results for its Covid-19 vaccine – Valneva begins producing its Covid-19 vaccine to support scale-up

29 January 2021

Novavax announced that its protein-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 has met its primary endpoint and achieved 89.3% efficacy in a Phase III clinical trial carried out in the UK. The company collaborated with the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce for the study. Novavax also published successful results from its Phase IIb study in South Africa.

RedHill Biopharma announced an agreement with Cosmo Pharmaceuticals to expand the manufacturing capacity for the former’s Covid-19 drug Opaganib to help address emerging viral strains following potential future global emergency use authorisations. The orally administered inhibitor achieve top results in its Phase II study, and is currently being evaluated in a Phase II/III trial.

Kintor Pharmaceutical announced that its clinical trial of Proxalutamide for treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of Brazil. The trial has been approved for further accelerated review and the Brazilian government has agreed to provide medical resources to enable patient recruitment to begin at the weekend.

Speciality vaccine company Valneva has begun the production of its inactivated, adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine candidate alongside its ongoing clinical studies. The company stated that it has begun production to optimise potential deliveries of the vaccine in the months ahead. Recruitment for a Phase I/II clinical study is now complete and will report initial results in April 2021.

2:40 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 100,986,000 – France faces third lockdown

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 100,986,000, with over 2,177,000 deaths and 65,959,000 recoveries.

The US, India, and Brazil continue to lead the world in total confirmed cases and deaths, with Brazil having fewer cases but more deaths than India.

Currently, Europe remains one of the hardest-hit regions by the pandemic as the UK, followed by France, Spain, and the Netherlands trails only the US for the most active cases worldwide.

Mexico continues to gain traction on India in total deaths, for the third leading spot in the world in this unwanted statistic.

In France, rising hospitalization and ICU admission levels over the last few days are leading to calls for a third lockdown by top government officials.

The current 6 pm-6 am curfews are not doing enough to slow down transmission.

Moreover, in response to the rise in vaccinations among wealthier nations, the chair of South Africa’s coronavirus advisory panel warns that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

He urges other countries not to hoard limited supplies, as he warns of a potential cat and mouse game due to the increased risk of mutations as the virus spreads to more people.

This call comes as a response to the new variant originating in South Africa, which can spread more quickly and may elude current treatments.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

9:22 am

International update: Global Covid infections near 101 million – increased bribery and corruption worldwide alleged

28 January

Global: The number of Covid infections is nearing 101 million worldwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Global deaths attributed to Covid have passed 2.17 million.

With populations under lockdown and governments wielding greater emergency powers, the Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated already alarming levels of graft and democratic violations worldwide, Transparency International said. Bribery for virus tests and the procurement of medical supplies are allowing ruling elites to skim taxpayer funds, according to a report from the global corruption watchdog published Thursday. Transparent budget spending is also particularly difficult to enforce during a pandemic, it said.

 UK: Covid-19 deaths have now passed 102,000 in the UK with infections in excess of 3.7 million. The UK recorded a further 1,725 deaths, up from 1,631 the day before, and a further 25,308 cases of the disease.

The lockdown in England is showing some signs of starting to curb the spread of the virus, the Financial Times reported, citing the React-1 study, led by Imperial College London. The prevalence of the virus had started to flatten last week, though high infection rates will continue to strain the healthcare system, according to the report.

US: Covid-19 cases have passed 25.5 million, with nearly 430,000 deaths, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Mexico: As the pandemic swept across Mexico, deaths increased by nearly 37% between January and August. Covid-19 was the second-leading cause of death nationwide after heart disease during the eight months.

Vietnam: Vietnam reported a coronavirus outbreak in two northern provinces, triggering movement curbs and prompting a plunge in stocks. The health ministry announced earlier on Thursday two domestic virus patients with one tied to a woman who tested positive for the new Covid-19 variant in Japan. Then officials reported 82 new local virus cases in the northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh. The benchmark VN Index tumbled 6.5% at the mid-day break, poised for its biggest slump since September 2001.

China: China’s Fujian province said it detected Covid-19 in a shipment of imported cotton whose origins are unknown, the American Cotton Shippers Association said in an email to members seen by Bloomberg. The shipment has been sealed to prevent further distribution, ACSA said in a note, citing information obtained from sources on the ground. Local ports in Hubei and Qingdao are quarantining imported agricultural products for disinfection, ACSA said in the note.

South Korea: South Korea reported a drop in new cases to 497 after hitting a two-week high yesterday when cluster outbreaks at dormitory-style cram schools reversed a downward trend.

Vaccine updates

Global: Pfizer and BioNTech said results of studies indicate their vaccine is effective against both the UK and South Africa variants. Research found that neutralization against the virus with key mutations present in the South African variant was slightly lower compared to neutralization of virus containing other mutations. But the companies believe the small difference is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine. They said the findings don’t indicate the need for a new vaccine to address the emerging variants.

EU: The European Union failed to resolve its row with AstraZeneca over vaccine supplies, raising the risk of additional delays to the bloc’s sluggish inoculation campaign and putting the drugmaker on a collision course with 27 governments. The root of the dispute is Astra’s decision to prioritize the UK over the EU for its limited vaccine supplies following a Belgian production glitch, in what Brussels claims to be a breach of contractual commitments. The quarrel could add another thorn to the tumultuous post-Brexit ties between Britain and the EU.

South Africa: South Africa is expecting its first 1m Covid-19 doses to arrive on Monday, 1 February, the health ministers Zweli Mkhize has said.

Czech Republic: The Czech health ministry has recommended halting new Covid-19 vaccinations for the next two weeks to prioritise giving second doses due to supply delays.

Pakistan: Pakistan will launch its Covid-19 vaccination programme next week, starting with frontline health workers, a government minister said on Wednesday. In the past 24 hours, the country has reported 1,563 new infections and 74 deaths.

Belgium: Pfizer’s production plant in Puurs, Belgium have said that they are back on schedule to produce the vaccine. Last week and at the start of this week, dose production was 8% lower than initially expected, Le Soir reports.

Israel: Vaccinations in Israel will now be available for all citizens aged 35 and up beginning on Thursday, the health ministry said.

UAE: Residents of the United Arab Emirates are being offered everything from free coffee and food to discounts on driving lessons and Uber rides as the UAE seeks to boost participation in its free Covid-19 vaccination program, the Khaleej Times reported. The UAE has the second-fastest vaccination program per capita after Israel, with 2.67 million doses administered, covering about one quarter of the population.

Philippines: The Philippines cleared AstraZeneca’s coronavirus shots for emergency use, paving the way for the expected rollout of these vaccines next quarter. The Food and Drug Administration found AstraZeneca’s vaccine to be effective in preventing coronavirus infections, the local regulator’s head Eric Domingo said. Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was given a similar approval earlier this month. The nation, which has Southeast Asia’s second-worst outbreak, targets to inoculate more than half of its population this year.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will set up 18 community vaccination centers – one in every district – to each handle at least 2,000 residents a day as the city prepares to administer the Covid-19 shot developed by BioNTech and Pfizer as early as the end of February. The centers will only handle the BioNTech vaccine, while the other two shots the city has ordered – from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and AstraZeneca – will be distributed to private hospitals and clinics, according to Thomas Tsang, a member of Hong Kong’s vaccination task force.

Lockdown updates

France: The French Cannes 2021 film festival will take place between 6 July and 17 July instead of 11-22 May as initially planned, organisers said in a statement on Wednesday.

UK: British home secretary Priti Patel has outlined new rules for tighter border controls amid unprecedented pressure on the UK health service and over 100,000 Covid-19 deaths. The home secretary has said that those who want to leave will need to make a written declaration explaining why they need to travel.

Norway: Norway is set to close its borders to all but essential visitors from midnight on Friday local time.

UAE: Dubai imposed further restrictions on air travel and hospitals as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the United Arab Emirates. The Middle East business hub reduced the validity of PCR test to three days from four “irrespective of the country they are coming from,” according to a statement. It also made it mandatory to have prior appointments for hospital visits.

Australia: Australia suspended its travel bubble with New Zealand for another 72 hours after two more cases of Covid-19 were reported in Auckland. The cases are linked to a woman who was likely infected with the South African variant of the virus while in mandatory isolation at a quarantine hotel for returned overseas travellers. The suspension underlines the difficulties of restarting broad international travel even between countries that have been highly successful in limiting community transmission of the virus.

China: Beijing has stepped up requirements for entering the city ahead of a meeting in March that will be China’s largest political gathering of the year. Travellers from medium- and high-risk areas for the coronavirus are in principle barred from entry while those traveling from low-risk regions need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result taken within seven days of entry, China Central Television reported on Wednesday, citing a local government briefing. The requirements were set to take effect Thursday and last to 15 March, according to the state broadcaster.

Thailand: At a popular resort in Thailand, officials arrested 89 foreigners for violating coronavirus regulations at a party in a bar. Thailand has barred nearly all tourists from entering the country since last April.

US: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying the “holiday surge is over,” lifted restrictions in hot spot areas across the state. He kept curbs in two areas of the Bronx, Manhattan’s Washington Heights, an area of Queens, and in Newburgh.

Economy updates

Germany: The German government has said that they expect to grow its economy by 3% this year, less than previously forecast, as the ongoing pandemic slows economic recovery.

8:36 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Sanofi to support production of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine – GSK, Lilly and Vir team up on antibody combination therapies

28 January 2021

Sanofi and BioNTech have entered into an agreement, where the former will support the manufacturing and supply of BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, which has been co-developed with Pfizer. Sanofi will support to BioNTech produce more than 125 million doses of the vaccine in Europe. The company will supply the initial doses from its Frankfurt production facilities from the summer of 2021.

Eli Lilly, Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline are collaborating to evaluate the efficacy and safety of bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) along with VIR-7831 (GSK4182136) to treat low-risk patients suffering with mild or moderate Covid-19 symptoms. The BLAZE-4 trial will evaluate the combination therapy to fight the SARS-COV-2 virus and marks the first initiative taken by more than one company to combine their monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19.

Aji Bio-Pharma and Humanigen will be expanding their manufacturing agreement for the fill finish supply of Lenzilumab, the latter’s drug candidate that prevents and treats the cytokine storm associated with Covid-19. The drug is currently in Phase III development for treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

7:40 am

How Covid is helping to break US unions

28 January

Iglika Ivanova, an economist, re-tweeted an article on US companies taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic as a tool to break unions.

The article further details how lockouts have impacted unions because of the coronavirus-induced unemployment and greater availability of replacement workers.

This has led to protests against employers who have been leveraging the pandemic as an opportunity to mount an attack on collective bargaining.

For example, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 28, filed unfair labour practice charges against the National Labour Relations Board and also held protests outside the Portland Trailblazers home games.

This happened on account of the Portland Trailblazers replacing their unionised crew with non-union workers, to organise their games.

Read more

1:21 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 100.3 million – UK second only to US in active case numbers

27 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 100,300,000 with over 2,160,000 deaths and 65,419,000 recoveries.

As the global total confirmed case count numbers over 100 million, the US, India, and Brazil continue to lead the world in Covid-19 cases.

They are followed by Russia, the UK, France, and Spain, respectively.

The UK has reached a grim milestone after topping 100,000 deaths while it currently trails only the US in active Covid cases.

Mexico has also reached a grim milestone after surpassing 150,000 deaths and is closing in on India’s 153,000 deaths for the third most deaths in the world.

In Japan, the continuing high number of cases is driving concerns over strains on the healthcare system as the country is increasingly likely to extend its state of emergency.

However, Prime Minister Suga remains determined to continue preparations for a safe and secure Olympic Games.

In response to the recent rise in more virulent Covid-19 strains, there is increasing conversation among experts about wearing additional masks or masks with additional layers.

This is because the new variants may lead to higher viral loads in the nose and mouth, which can put more viral particles in the environment.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

12:10 pm

International update: UK Covid related deaths pass 100,000 – worst in Europe – 100 million infections worldwide

27 January

Global: The number of Covid infections has passed the grim milestone of 100 million worldwide in just over a year, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Global deaths attributed to Covid have passed 2.1 million. The official number of cases represents just a fraction of the real number of infections around the world. Many countries were late to implement systematic testing, and some continue to test only the most seriously ill.

 UK: Covid-19 deaths have now passed 100,000 in the UK – the first country in Europe to reach this shocking figure. Deaths in London, which is at the center of the current outbreak, are running at 84% above the five-year average amid concerns that a new strain of the virus is more fatal. There are 37,561 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country.

US: Covid-19 cases are nearing 25.5 million, with more than 425,000 deaths, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

China: A relative of a coronavirus victim in China is demanding to meet a visiting World Health Organization team, saying it should speak to affected families who say their voices are being stifled by the Chinese government.

New Zealand: Two more returnees who stayed at the same New Zealand hotel at the same time as Sunday’s coronavirus case have tested positive after finishing their quarantine. The two people are asymptomatic and had already completed their managed isolation at Auckland’s Pullman hotel and returned two negative tests, the Department of Health said. It is yet to be confirmed if they are recent or historic infections and further testing is urgently being carried out.

Cuba: Cuba’s death toll from the coronavirus reached 200 on Tuesday, with authorities reporting nearly as many deaths so far in January as in the six previous months combined, due to an unprecedented acceleration in infections.

South Korea: South Korea reported 559 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s website. That’s the biggest gain in almost two weeks. Health officials blamed the latest surge on cluster outbreaks at dormitory-style cram schools. Since Sunday, nearly 300 students and teachers at six schools operated by IM Mission have tested positive for the virus, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. A school official apologized on the organization’s website for dismissing symptoms as signs of a cold and not acting more quickly.

Vaccine updates

Global: Most poor countries will not achieve mass Covid-19 immunisation until at least 2024 and some may never get there, according to a new forecast, which maps a starkly divided world over the next few years in which a handful of developed countries are fully vaccinated while others race to catch up.

EU: European Medicines Agency Executive Director Emer Cooke signalled Pfizer Inc. is gearing up to increase deliveries to EU countries of its Covid-19 vaccine developed with BioNTech SE with production at more sites. “With respect to the Pfizer vaccine, they have already submitted a protocol to include additional sites and we expect those to come through during February-March and to have an impact on supply at the start of the second quarter,” Cooke told a European Parliament committee on Tuesday.

US: President Biden vows to vaccinate 300m people in US by end of summer or early fall. The administration’s immediate plan is to accelerate vaccine distribution to deliver roughly 1.4m shots a day and 10m doses a week for the next three weeks, as part of the White House’s earlier-stated ambition to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days.

Singapore: Singapore began giving seniors Covid-19 vaccinations on Wednesday under a pilot scheme in certain areas that will eventually be expanded more broadly in the city-state, the Straits Times reported.

China: China has administered 23 million coronavirus vaccine doses, Zeng Yixin, vice head of the country’s National Health Commission, said at a briefing.

Lockdown updates

EU: European Union governments plan to remove Japan from their list of countries whose residents should be allowed to visit the bloc during the current phase of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an EU official familiar with the matter. The removal of Japan as a result of increased virus cases in the country leaves just Australia, China, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand as approved places of departure.

UK: A hotel quarantine system targeted at arrivals from high-risk countries will be announced by the home secretary, Priti Patel, on Wednesday, after ministers met to sign off the more targeted approach.

Australia: Australia recorded a tenth straight day of no new local cases on Wednesday, allowing its most populous state of New South Wales to relax coronavirus restrictions after controlling a fast-spreading cluster.

Germany: The German government is discussing reducing to almost zero the number of flights into Germany in an effort to prevent more virulent mutant Covid variants gaining a foothold in Germany, the interior minister, Horst Seehofer, told Bild newspaper.

Peru: President Francisco Sagasti of Peru on Tuesday night announced a total lockdown of the capital and nine other regions following a significant increase in Covid cases, which he said had pushed hospitals close to collapse.

Netherlands: Three straight days of riots in Dutch cities gave way to calm on Tuesday, as protests over Covid-related lockdowns led to only minor incidents. In Maastricht in the south of the country, soccer fans marched in the streets just before curfew to show support for police.

Thailand: Thailand is set to further relax Covid-19 restrictions to allow parts of its economy to reopen after local infections in some regions eased. Schools in most provinces including the capital Bangkok may reopen from 1 February with some restrictions, while restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons until 11 pm, Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesman Taweesilp Witsanuyotin said.

Philippines: Starting from February the Philippines will require all incoming passengers to be tested for Covid-19 on the fifth day of their 14-day mandatory quarantine. If they test negative, they can travel to other parts of the country, where they will have to finish their quarantine.

Japan: Japan is likely to extend its state of emergency set to expire 7 February, Kyodo reported, citing several unidentified people. An option being considered is to extend the emergency until the end of February.The country will probably know in the next few days whether its emergency declaration to contain the virus has been effective, the head of an advisory panel on the pandemic told a parliamentary committee Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government will proceed with preparations for hosting the Olympics this summer with the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers as questions are raised about holding the event during the pandemic. The government is examining specific measures to prevent the spread of the virus at the games, Suga told parliament.

Bulgaria: Bulgaria is gradually easing measures after it went into partial lockdown at the end of November, when it reached the EU’s highest coronavirus death rate. All schools will reopen in the next month, and movie theaters and gyms will reopen from 1 February with limited capacity, the health ministry said. Bars, restaurants and night clubs will remain closed until 1 March. All arrivals will need to present a negative PCR test result upon entering the country.

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Coronavirus company news summary – Eli Lilly’s antibody cocktail reduced Covid-19 deaths and hospitalisations – Iran approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

27 January 2021

Eli Lilly announced that its neutralising antibodies bamlanivimab and etesevimab together helped in reducing the risk of Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths, which are referred to as events, by 70% in its Phase III BLAZE-1 trial. Among 1,035 patients, there were 11 events in patients taking therapy and 36 of these events in patients taking placebo. The trial also had only 10 deaths in total, all of which occurred in the placebo group.

Care Access Research, a decentralised research organisation, and AstraZeneca have announced a collaboration to fast-track a Phase III clinical trial for AZD7442, AstraZeneca’s long-acting monoclonal antibody combination, in the US to prevent Covid-19 . The STORM CHASER trial assesses the safety and efficacy of AZD7442 for post-exposure prophylaxis and preventive treatment among 1,125 participants in the US and UK.

Shionogi and BioAge announced a license agreement that gives the latter exclusive rights to develop and market BGE-175, a prostaglandin D2 DP1 receptor antagonist, to control the severity of Covid-19 in the US and Europe. BGE-175 was discovered by Shionogi and was previously in its development stage for treating allergic rhinitis.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that Iran has approved Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Iran stated that it will only depend on vaccines developed by Russia, China, or India, while also working towards producing its own shot.

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Why virus suppression is key in pandemic exit strategy

27 January

Christian Odendahl, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform, shared an article on vaccines being oversold as part of the pandemic exit strategy.

However, the article highlighted the urgent need for vaccination to continue alongside virus suppression efforts as regions with raging transmission served as a breeding ground for other resistant variants.

Leading science commentators such as Anjana Ahuja, writes that if logistics permitted, approximately 15 million people in the UK would receive their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine by February.

In addition, provided the second dose is administered in time, the vulnerable sections of the population would not require intensive care hospitalisations.

A model from the University of East Anglia suggests normalcy is far from achieved, even with the rollout of vaccines.

It is being suggested that imperfect vaccine efficacy, poor uptake of vaccines, and the birth of infectious variants could hinder attempts to achieve herd immunity.

Read more

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GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases near 100 million – ‘long haul’ symptoms can last more than six months

26 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 99,800,000 with more than 2,142,000 deaths and 64,939,000 recoveries.

The US, followed by India and Brazil, continue to lead the world in total confirmed cases.

However, In terms of active cases, Western Europe is significantly affected.

Outside of the US, the UK, France, and Spain have the highest number of active cases worldwide following the sharp rise in cases since late December.

A new variant of the virus (P.1) originating in Brazil which shares similar characteristics to the variant initially detected in South Africa (B.1.351) has been detected in the US for the first time.

Meanwhile, a recent international survey (currently in the pre-print stage) revealed that 2,464 of 3,700 ‘long haulers’ – those who experience Covid-19 symptoms for over 28 days – continued to report symptoms lasting over six months.

The findings suggest that even among non-severe cases, the virus’s potential prolonged impact may continue to affect many lives well after clearing the initial viral infection, which typically takes around 10-14 days after symptom onset.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData Plc.

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GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases pass 99.3 million – US tops 25 million

25 January

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 99,301,000 with over 2,131,000 deaths and 54,843,000 recoveries.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US topped 25 million over the weekend.

The US continues to lead the world in Covid-19 cases followed by India and Brazil.

The UK and France have the most cases among the European region as cases continue their dramatic increase since late December.

Due to the new, more infectious, viral variants in both the UK and South Africa, and rising case numbers in Brazil, the Biden Administration will restrict non-US citizen travel from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe.

In addition, Mexican President Lopez Obrador has tested positive for the virus, underscoring the rising cases in Mexico, which also boasts the highest case-fatality ratio.

Walter Gabriel, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

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International update: Global Covid infections approach 100 million as daily case count averages 650,000

25 January

Global: Covid infections have passed 99.2 million world wide as the total moves rapidly towards a shocking 100 million people infected with Covid-19 in just over a year. On average, around 650,000 coronavirus cases have been reported daily in the last week. Meanwhile, The global Covid death toll has reached more than 2,130,000 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 25 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 419,215 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

White House economic adviser Brian Deese was asked on Sunday by Republican and Democratic lawmakers for justification for the $1.9 trillion price tag of the administration’s Covid-19 relief plan. “Part of what we’re asking for is more data — where did you get the number?” said Senator Angus King, a Democratically-aligned Maine independent who participated in Deese’s call. King was referring to the potential cost of the package’s components, versus the total price-tag.

China: China reported a climb in new Coronavirus cases driven by a spike in infections among previously symptomless patients in northeastern Jilin province, official data showed on Monday. The total number of confirmed cases in the mainland rose to 124 on 24 January from 80 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said in a statement, amid the worst wave of new infections China has seen since March 2020.

Residents in Tonghua, a city of about 2 million in northeastern Jilin province which has been locked down since 18 January, complained on social media that the lockdown had left them short of food and medicines, triggering an apology from local officials.

New Zealand: New Zealand authorities have said a new case of Covid-19 that emerged outside quarantine appeared to be the South African variant. Health officials said on Monday that they believed the infected woman, aged 56, contracted the virus from an infected person on the same floor of the Pullman hotel in Auckland where they were both quarantining.

Mexico: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he’s infected with Covid-19 after the country posted record increases in cases and fatalities from the outbreak in the past week. The president announced his diagnosis in a tweet, saying his symptoms are mild and that he’s receiving treatment. He’s also expected to stay on top of the country’s affairs, and will take a scheduled call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday.

South Korea: South Korea has confirmed nine additional patients with coronavirus variants that are raising concerns with their potency and contagiousness. All of the patients – four with the UK variant, three with the South African and two with the Brazilian types – were imported, or overseas arrivals, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Korea has confirmed 27 patients infected with one of the three variants in total so far, all imported.

Vaccine updates

Turkey: Turkey received 6.5 million further doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech on Monday, CNN Turk and other media reported, allowing its nationwide rollout to continue. An initial consignment of 3 million doses previously arrived in Turkey and it has so far vaccinated 1.245 million people, mostly health workers and elderly people, according to health ministry data.

Australia: In Australia, the Pfizer vaccine has met strict standards for safety, quality and efficacy, a statement from the prime minister’s office said on Monday, and the vaccine has been approved for rollout in Australia for people age 16 years and older.

Japan: will start its Vaccination program using the vaccine from Pfizer Inc., with the launch expected from late February, Taro Kono, the government’s point man for the campaign, told reporters. The inoculations will start with about 10,000 medical personnel, Kono said.

Myanmar: Myanmar will begin its nationwide vaccine rollout program on Wednesday with the inoculation of frontline health workers and volunteers, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports. Cabinet members including de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint will receive shots on Thursday, said Khin Khin Gyi, director of emerging infectious disease at the ministry.

Lockdown updates

Australia: Amid concern the single case of community transmission in New Zealand is of the South African variant, Australia’s federal health minister, Greg Hunt, has announced the Australian government will suspend the travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours.

US: US president Joe Biden on Monday will formally reinstate Covid travel restrictions on non-US travellers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders, according to two White House officials. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the order, also confirmed Sunday that South Africa would be added to the restricted list because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce Monday the lifting of a stay-at-home order, NBC Bay Area reported, citing a letter from the California Restaurant Association to its members. The letter said senior officials in the Newsom administration confirmed the move with the association.

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong government lifted a lockdown in an area of Kowloon district in the early hours of Monday after testing about 7,000 people for coronavirus to curb an outbreak in the densely populated area.

Israel: Israel on Sunday announced a week-long ban on most incoming and outgoing flights in a bid to slow the spread of new coronavirus variants. The measure will begin at midnight from Monday into Tuesday and remain in effect until Sunday, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

Netherlands: Protests against a curfew to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Netherlands degenerated into clashes with police and looting in cities across the country Sunday, authorities and reports said.

Thailand: Foreign tourist arrivals into Thailand plunged to the lowest level in at least 12 years after the country closed its borders to contain the coronavirus outbreak, with a resurgence in infections now undermining efforts to reopen the industry. Tourist arrivals slumped to 6.7 million in 2020 from 39.9 million a year earlier, data from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports showed Monday. That’s the lowest number of visitors since at least 2008, according to ministry data.

Indonesia: Jakarta is extending restrictions of movement by two weeks to Feb. 8, in line with the national policy, to curb a rise in cases in the Indonesian capital. Some of the restrictions include a requirement for religious places and non-esssential businesses to operate at 25% to half the capacity, while no public events are allowed, the Jakarta government said in a statement.

UK: The UK is considering tightening controls at its borders to prevent the import of new strains of coronavirus, which it fears may undermine the success of its vaccination program.

Sweden: Sweden has introduced a travel ban with neighboring Norway that starts at midnight on Monday and runs until 14 February The country has also extended its temporary entry bans from the UK and Denmark, Interior Minister Mikael Damberg said at a press conference on Sunday. “A feared outbreak of the mutated variant in Olso, in combination with the extensive shutdowns may entail a risk of a flood of people to the Swedish side of the border,” he said.

Brazil: Brazilian protesters took to the streets to call for President Jair Bolsonaro’s impeachment as his administration faces criticism over a slow coronavirus vaccination roll-out and a surging death toll from the pandemic. Sunday’s demonstrations were backed by conservative groups, while Saturday protests were organized by left-wing political parties and labor unions.

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Coronavirus company news summary – Pfizer/BioNTech sign a 40 million supply deal with COVAX – Novavax signs supply deal with Canada

25 January 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech announced an advance purchase agreement to supply 40 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to the COVAX facility. COVAX was set up by the WHO, CEPI and Gavi to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines to every country in the world. The doses are expected to be delivered through 2021 with the first deliveries expected in the first quarter. Pfizer and BioNTech will deliver the vaccine to the COVAX facility at a not-for-profit price.

Novavax announced that it has finalised a purchase agreement with the Canadian government to supply approximately 76 million doses of NVX-CoV2373, the company’s protein-based Covid-19 vaccine. The country has agreed to purchase 52 million doses of the vaccine, with an option to buy an additional 24 million doses. The vaccine candidate is currently being studied in Phase III clinical development.

Scotland-based Elasmogen and researchers from the University of Minnesota announced a collaboration to identify protein-based drugs that are capable of fighting Covid-19. Initial funding for the new approach has been provided by the Scottish Government and coordinated by the University of Aberdeen. Elasmogen’s new anti-Covid-19 spike protein VNAR drugs block the virus.

South Africa’s health regulator has authorised the Serum Institute of India to supply the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. This comes after the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority approved the vaccine.