15 January 2021

• The global coronavirus death toll surpasses two million, as the world reaches 93.5 million cases. Source
• Worldwide, over 35 million coronavirus vaccine doses. have been administered. Source
• Pfizer announces upgrades to expand the production capacity of its vaccine plant in Belgium – which supplies all countries outside of the US; this will reduce deliveries in the EU during January and February, despite binding commitments. In Canada, officials are expecting to receive only half of the vaccine doses they were expecting over the next month. Source
• Paraguay grants emergency use authorization for the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Source
• US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar did not disclose that the national coronavirus vaccine stockpile had already been distributed when he announced that it would be released – leaving state vaccine plans in chaos. Sources 1,2
• The Norwegian Medicines Agency is investigating reports of 23 deaths among frail, elderly people with severe underlying disease who received the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, saying that adverse reactions from vaccination may have contributed. Sources 1,2
• Germany is investigating the deaths of ten elderly people (ages 79-93), all terminally ill, who died within days of receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, although it assumes that they died from underlying conditions. Source
• China’s Sinopharm reports that its coronavirus vaccine is safe in children aged 3 to 17 years, although no additional data was provided. Source
• The WHO emergency committee calls for “… a global expansion of genomic sequencing and sharing of data, along with greater scientific collaboration to address critical unknowns,” and requests that WHO develop a system for naming new variants in a geographically and politically neutral manner to avoid stigma. During the meeting, Committee chairman Didier Houssin stated that differing country-level approaches to visas, quarantine and travel bans call for WHO to reassess what guidance could be provided on international air, land and sea travel. Source
• Hours after Britain imposes a ban on travelers from Latin America and Portugal, it reports finding eight cases of a Brazilian coronavirus variant. Source
• The CDC publishes a warning that the B.1.1.7 variant may become the dominant coronavirus strain in the US by March of 2021; it urges public health measures – vaccination, masking, handwashing, social distancing and quarantine – to limit illness and death. Source
• In northern Brazil, Amazonas State imposes a 10-day curfew as it is overwhelmed by a COVID-19 surge – possibly driven by a more contagious variant – and an oxygen shortage. In Manaus, where there is no oxygen left, “some health centers have become a type of suffocation chamber,” said Jessem Orellana from the Fiocruz-Amazonia Investigation Institute. Source
• As coronavirus cases surge in Portugal, the country imposes a 30-day lockdown. Source

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