11 December 2020

• UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls for a globally coordinated coronavirus vaccine effort, saying, “ The response has been fragmented and chaotic, with countries, regions and even cities competing against each other for essential supplies and front-line workers… We cannot let the same thing happen for access to new Covid-19 vaccines, which must be a global public good.” Source
• Saudi Arabia approves the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Source
• Mexico approves the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. It has already bought 34.4 million doses and plans to purchase 35 million doses of the Cansino vaccine. The country plans to roll out universal, free and voluntary vaccination during the third week of December, beginning with healthcare workers, then by birth cohort, with a plan to cover the entire nation by the end of 2021. Sources 1,2
• US FDA grants an EUA for the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, including pregnant and breastfeeding women are age 16 and over, in contrast to the UK, where the vaccine is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women – despite a lack of concern about its safety. Sources 1,2
• Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, announces purchase of 15 million coronavirus vaccine doses, half from Pfizer/BioNTech and half from Sinovac. Source
• Japan announces a deal to buy 120 million doses of AstraZeneca’s experimental coronavirus vaccine, in addition to 120 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 50 million doses of Moderna’s experimental vaccine. Source
• Sanofi Pasteur /GSK announces a setback with the coronavirus vaccine they are co-developing; plans to launch a phase III trial this month were delayed by the discovery that the formulation used in phase I/II trials was inadequate, leaving participants underdosed, especially older people, in whom the vaccine was less effective. Work to optimize the vaccine’s formulation will continue, but the companies will no longer meet their projections for producing 100 million doses this year and a billion doses in 2021, enabling deals made with Britain, the EU and the US. Source
• Australia stops development of an experimental coronavirus vaccine from University of Queensland and the biotech company CSL. used two harmless fragments of an HIV protein, which was effective in early hamster studies, triggered positive HIV antibody test results among phase I study volunteers. Source
• Researchers from Russia’s Direct Investment Fund and AstraZeneca will launch a trial combining their vaccines by the end of 2020, using a prime/boost strategy where an initial vaccine triggers the immune response and a different vaccine enhances the response. Source
• The New England Journal of Medicine publishes results from a 1.033-person, double-blind, randomized controlled trial of remdesivir plus either baricitinib (an oral janus kinase inhibitor used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; it was identified through artificial intelligence as a potential COVID-19 treatment and mentioned in case reports) or placebo in people who were hospitalized with COVID-19. which found that people who were receiving high-flow oxygen or non-invasive ventilation and both medicines recovered one day faster, had fewer adverse events (16 percent versus 21 percent); were less likely to require new use of oxygen (22.9 percent versus 40,3 percent) or mechanical ventilation (10 percent versus 15.2 percent) and had lower mortality rate at day 28 (5.1 percent versus 7.8 percent). Notably, these benefits were seen across age, racial and ethnic groups, and regardless of disease severity at the time of enrollment, although people who required supplemental oxygen or high-flow oxygen or noninvasive ventilation recovered 1 and 8 days sooner than those given placebo. The authors suggest a head-to-head trial comparing remdesivir plus dexamethasone to remdesivir plus baricitinib – which is significantly more expensive than dexamethasonem at $1500 per treatment course. Sources 1,2
• Some areas in Germany and Switzerland impose restrictions, including curfews and closures, to stem the spread of coronavirus. Sources 1,2
• Snow leopards at Kentucky’s Louisville Zoo test positive for coronavirus. Source

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