21 January 2021

• India announces that it will begin deliveries of Covishield, its locally-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, beginning with donations of two million doses to Bangladesh (which has already ordered 30 million doses), 150,000 doses to Bhutan and 100,000 doses to the Maldives and additional doses going to Myanmar, Nepal and the Seychelles. Source
• AstraZeneca announces a shortfall in expected deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine to the EU, citing “reduced yields at a manufacturing site within our European supply chain.” Source
• Emergency teams worked all night after Storm Cristoph caused flooding at a manufacturing facility in North Wales which helps to produce AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, and exclusively supplies the UK; they were able to prevent any losses. Source
• A fire at India’s Serum Institute in Pune India caused five deaths, but the company says it will not have an impact on production of coronavirus vaccines. Source
• Dr John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announces that the continent’s case fatality rate has risen to 2.5 percent, which is above the global average of 2.2 percent; overall, the rate has exceeded 3 percent in 21 African countries. Source
• US President Biden reverses ex-President Trump’s decision to withdraw from WHO and issues multiple executive orders to address coronavirus, including a directive to restore US leadership, support the international pandemic response effort, promote resilience for future threats, and advance global health security. Sources 1,2
• Nature publishes a summary of pre-print research on the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant (which was identified in South Africa). This variant includes several mutations of the spike protein – the target of preventive vaccines. When researchers tested the variant against plasma samples from people who had recovered from COVID-19, they found that neutralizing antibodies – which can prevent infection – were less effective against this variant than earlier versions of the virus, suggesting that it can evade immune responses ( although its effect on T-cell responses has not yet been studied). It is not clear whether existing vaccines will be less effective against this variant; research to determine this is currently underway. Sources 1,2,3,4,5
• Experts respond to pre-print research on the 501Y.V2 coronavirus vaccine variant, saying non-neutralizing antibodies may offer significant protection against infection, and that immune responses to an infection may differ from those induced by a vaccine; they called for large-scale ‘real-life’ studies to confirm these laboratory findings. Source
• In Manaus, Brazil, where researchers estimate that 76 percent of the population may have already been infected with coronavirus, the virus is surging again, possibly because people are becoming reinfected with the new P.1 virus variant. Source
• In Peru, healthcare workers begin a hunger strike to protest the government’s pandemic response, saying that there are no more ICU beds, no plans for or hope of a vaccine and that people will soon be dying in the street; they say the strike will continue until the Labor Minister removes the head of Health Social Security, Fiorella Molinelli. Source
• Chinese propaganda outlets publish accusations that the English-speaking media is downplaying deaths among elderly people with terminal illness which occurred within days of receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, saying that Europe and Australia should reject the “hasty” American vaccines linked to elderly death. George Gao, who heads the country’s CDC, has questioned whether the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could cause cancer. Sources 1,2
• A spokesperson from China’s Foreign Ministry suggests that an investigation of the US Army’s Fort Detrick should be investigated as the origin of coronavirus. Source
• California resumes administering the Moderna coronavirus vaccine after reports of a possible allergic reactions among seven people vaccinated at a single site led to a pause; California’s Department of Public Health, in collaboration with medical specialists, San Diego County health officials, and experts from the FDA, the CDC – and Moderna – found no scientific basis for continuing the pause, noting that people across the country had gotten vaccines from the same lot without experiencing similar reactions. Source
• Eli Lilly issues a press release with results from its BLAZE-2 trial; its monoclonal antibody, bamlanivimab, reduced coronavirus infections among 299 nursing home residents by 80 percent, and among 66 staff members by 60 percent after infusions were given as soon as a single case was identified in the facility. Sources 1,2

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