30 December 2020

• Regulators in the UK approve the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine; it has ordered a million doses, 530,000 of which will be available next week. Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency announces that the vaccine is 80% effective among people who are given two full doses three months apart. Sources 1,2,3,4
• AstraZeneca announces that it is seeking WHO Emergency Use Listing for its coronavirus vaccine. Source
• Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation issues controversial advise, prioritizing delivery of a first coronavirus vaccine dose (using the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine) to as many people as possible from at-risk groups, rather than giving two doses in as short a time as possible; the second dose will be given within three months (rather than three weeks later for the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine and four weeks later for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine) to maximize the impact of vaccination on rates of severe illness, hospitalization and death. In addition, despite the current lack of evidence on interchangeability of coronavirus vaccines, UK guidance recommends that if it is not known which vaccine was given, or if someone is at a site where the same vaccine is not available, “… it is reasonable to offer one dose of the locally available product to complete the schedule. This option is preferred if the individual is likely to be at immediate high risk or is considered unlikely to attend again. In these circumstances, as both the vaccines are based on the spike protein, it is likely the second dose will help to boost the response to the first dose.” Sources 1,2
• Pfizer and BioNTech issue a statement disapproving the British dosing strategy for their coronavirus vaccine, saying “Data from the phase 3 study demonstrated that, although partial protection from the vaccine appears to begin as early as 12 days after the first dose, two doses of the vaccine are required to provide the maximum protection against the disease, a vaccine efficacy of 95%. There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.” Source
• The British Medical Association releases a statement calling the strategy to delay the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine “… is unreasonable and totally unfair” to elderly and vulnerable patients, saying that rebooking their appointments will “cause huge logistical problems for almost all vaccination sites and practices.” Source
• Bolivian President Luis Arce signs an agreement for 5.2 million doses of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine; the first 6,000 doses are expected in January. Source
• Serbia receives its first 2,400 doses of Sputnik V, and will begin to deliver them in days, pending approval from the country’s regulatory agency.Source
• California and Colorado report cases of B.1.1.7, a coronavirus variant considered to be more transmissible – although it does not cause more severe disease – than other versions of the virus. Both cases were in people who had not traveled to the UK, suggesting that the variant is already spreading through communities. Source
• As new coronavirus infections reach a record-breaking daily total of 53,135 British government imposes its strictest measures on three-quarters of England’s population. Source

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