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April 14, 2021

International update: Johnson & Johnson delay vaccine rollout in Europe – Global Covid infections pass 137 million

By Paul Dennis

14 April

Global: The global Covid death toll has passed 2.95 million. Meanwhile, infections have passed 137 million world wide, according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged countries to suspend the sale of wild animals at so-called wet markets as an emergency measure, saying 70% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans have wildlife origins. The first outbreak of Covid-19 was linked to a wet market in Wuhan, China.

US: US Covid -19 infections exceed 31 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is more than 563,000 according to analysts at Johns Hopkins University.

India: India reported another record daily tally of Covid-19 cases, adding more than 184,000 overnight to push its total number of infections to more than 13.8 million, second only to the US It’s capital New Delhi also reported a record surge, with 13,500 new cases reported on Tuesday. It comes as the nation’s crematoriums and burial grounds work overtime to cope with the surging number of deaths and hospitals report being swamped with cases. The escalating public health crisis highlights just how ill-prepared Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has been to deal with this second wave.

Argentina: Argentina reported a record 27,001 new Covid-19 cases, hitting a total of 2.58 million, according to the country’s evening report. It recorded another 217 deaths, reaching a total of 58,174.

Vaccine news

Global: Regulators in New Zealand are slated to decide on Thursday on Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, and say they will take the latest information into account. The Philippines was expected to sign with J&J this week, while Thailand approved it for emergency use on March 25. India, facing a mounting outbreak, has said it will fast-track approvals of shots that other countries cleared, including the one from J&J. South Korea, which granted the company conditional approval last week and has placed the largest order in the region for it, said it will monitor the US suspension and track the shot’s safety. It isn’t expecting shipments until the third quarter. Japan also said it’s gathering information on J&J’s vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson is pausing the administration of its vaccine in all clinical trials while it updates guidance for investigators and participants. The decision follows the halt of J&J’s vaccine distribution in much of the US after six women who got the shot developed a rare and severe form of blood clotting. Most US states halted distribution of the shot following a recommendation for a pause from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration.

Moderna Inc.’s vaccine remained more than 90% effective after six months, according to a new analysis of data from the company’s final-stage trial. Beginning two weeks after the second dose, the shot was more than 90% effective overall, and more than 95% effective at preventing severe cases, according to a statement. The company didn’t release further details and said the follow-up results were preliminary as the study is continuing.

EU: The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it was reviewing cases of rare blood clots in women who had taken Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after US federal health authorities recommended pausing the use of the shot. Johnson & Johnson has made the decision to “proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe”, the company said.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan will travel for face-to-face talks with ministerial counterparts in Germany, France and Brussels from Thursday, after the European Union restricted exports of Covid-19 vaccines. The talks will address “the supply of EU-produced Covid-19 vaccines that Australia has contracted and how we can work with the EU to enhance the global supply of vaccines,” Tehan said in an emailed statement.

Stella Kyriakides, the European Union’s health commissioner, asked member states to provide data on potential side effects from AstraZeneca’s vaccine by Friday at the latest, in order to develop a coordinated approach to restrictions in administering the shot.

US: Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Twitter that the company ramped up production and will be able to deliver 10% more doses to the US by the end of next month than had been previously agreed on.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would pause all Johnson & Johnson vaccinations on Tuesday following guidance from US health officials. The city will reschedule upcoming J&J appointments for residents, who will instead receive vaccines made by Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc., de Blasio said in a Tuesday briefing. De Blasio, who received the J&J shot himself, said the city has given 234,000 doses of the vaccine and hasn’t seen any reports of blood clots. Overall, New York has delivered more than 5 million doses as it seeks to fully vaccinate 5 million residents by June.

South Africa: South Africa has temporarily suspended the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, its health minister said on Tuesday, after US federal health agencies recommended pausing its use because of rare cases of blood clots.

Canada: Canada said it had recorded its first case of blood clotting with low platelets after someone received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, according to a health ministry statement. The person, who was not identified and who received the inoculation produced at the Serum Institute of India, is at home and recovering.

Brazil: A Brazilian Supreme Court justice has ordered health regulator Anvisa to decide within 30 days whether it would approve the emergency import of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine by the government of Maranhao state, Reuters reports.

China: Two inactivated vaccines developed by Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group have given given more than 100 million doses so far, the company says on its official WeChat account. The monthly supply of inactivated shots has reached 100 million doses since April. Annual production for the two inactivated vaccines will be boosted to 3 billion doses after completion of new facilities.

Indonesia: The Indonesian capital, Jakarta, is extending its Covid-19 inoculation drive to the general public by allowing those accompanying the elderly to also receive the shot, according to the provincial government. The initiative would enable Jakarta achieve its goal of vaccinating over 900,000 people, the government said in a statement. Each person between 18 and 59 years old would also get the vaccine when accompanying two people aged 60 and above to receive their first dose.

Lockdown updates

Canada: Canada is to reinstate enhanced screening measures for travellers who have been in Brazil in the previous 14 days, Reuters reports.

France: France suspended all flights to and from Brazil until further notice as concern grows over the spread of the Brazilian variant of the virus.

Turkey: Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan announced several new restrictions and a “partial closure” for the first two weeks of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to curb a rise in coronavirus infections.

Colombia: Colombia’s capital Bogota will impose quarantines beginning on Friday 12 am to Monday 4 am amid an increase of virus cases, Mayor Claudia Lopez said at a press conference. The city decreed a “red alert” for its hospital network.

Netherlands: Lockdown measures in the Netherlands will be prolonged until at least April 28 as the number of new Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions continue to strain the country’s health system, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press briefing on Tuesday evening. If fewer patients are admitted, Rutte’s government announced a plan to reopen Dutch society, with first steps including reopening outdoor seating areas and end to a much-debated night-time curfew.

Economy updates

Philippines: The Philippines may miss its target of at least 6.5% economic growth this year after a resurgence of Covid-19 infections forced the capital into a two-week lockdown, Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said. “We were a healthy economy before Covid. Now, we’re struggling,” Chua said in an interview Tuesday. “We were too risk averse: We shut down a big part of the economy when other countries didn’t need to do that.”

New Zealand: New Zealand’s central bank signalled it’s in no rush to remove monetary stimulus, saying the outlook remains uncertain as the economy gradually recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Policy makers are assessing whether an expected pick-up in inflation this year will be sustained, and whether the labor market’s gradual recovery will be hurt by the possibility of a double-dip recession.

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