8 January 2021

• The US records a record-breaking daily coronavirus death toll of over 4,000 people. Source
• The US CDC suggests that more than half of all US coronavirus cases are transmitted by people without symptoms. Source
• The UK, which has ordered 17 million doses of Moderna’s corona virus vaccine, grants emergency approval for it. Source
• Preliminary research supported by Pfizer/BioNTech indicates that their coronavirus vaccine may be effective against the N501Y mutation found in faster-spreading variants identified in Britain (B.1.1.7) and South Africa (B.1.351). Sources 1,2
• The EMA states that vaccine developers haven’t provided sufficient evidence to justify cutting the number of doses each person receives, lengthening the time between shots or mixing vaccines from different manufacturers. Source
• Lancet publishes a report on long-term COVID-19 symptoms among 1,733 people who were ill enough to have been hospitalized. Data were collected from questionnaires, physical examinations and blood tests; 390 people who had more severe illness were offered pulmonary function tests, chest CT and ultrasonography at a median of 180 days after first symptoms. Overall, 76 percent had at least one long-term symptom; 63 percent reported fatigue or muscle weakness, 26 percent experienced trouble sleeping, and 23 percent felt anxiety or depression. People with more severe COVID-19 were at higher risk for lung damage in addition to other symptoms. In addition, some people developed persistent renal dysfunction, were newly diagnosed with diabetes, or experienced a cardiovascular or cerebrovascular event. Source
• Brazil’s President Bolsonaro announces that Brazilians do not want coronavirus vaccines; that he thinks it is unnecessary to negotiate with vaccine makers and intends to wait until prices for syringes and needles drop before purchasing any. Source
• In Indonesia, the council of Muslim clerics announces that Sinovac’s coronavirus is pork-free, and acceptable under Islamic law. Source
• UK health authorities issue an interim position statement encouraging use of tocilizumab or sarilumab (which are interleukin-6 inhibitors, used for arthritis) for people with severe pneumonia from COVID-19, if treatment is started within 24 hours of intensive care admission. In a pre-print report from the REMAP-CAP trial, combining one of these immune modulators with a corticosteroid reduced the death rate by 24 percent (from 35.8 percent to 27 percent) – a strategy that could avert 1 of every 12 deaths in this group. In addition, people who received one of these immunomodulators recovered more quickly. Results from previous trials of these therapies have been mixed or disappointing. Sources 1,2,3
• Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the US coronavirus task force, suggests that the surge of COVID-19 cases could be explained by the emergence of a highly contagious variant in the US. Despite objections from the CDC, she issues a report to State officials with this information. Source
• As of mid-January, the UK will require all visitors to produce a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of their journey; it is banning travelers who have come through or from any southern African country in the previous 10 days. Source

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