New England Journal of Medicine publishes letters on the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna against the B.1.351 variant; both found reductions in serum neutralizing activity against the variant. The impact of this reduction on protection against the variant is not clear. Sources 1,2
• US President Biden promised a nearly $200 million “down payment” for tracking coronavirus variants; the money will increase capacity for viral sequencing as CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky noted the first case of a B.1.1.7 variant with a mutation that that renders coronavirus vaccines less effective. Source
• One of Cuba’s four coronavirus vaccines, Sovereign 2, is set to enter phase III; the country plans to produce 100 million doses in 2021. Sources 1,2
• The European Commission approved a second contract with Moderna, enabling it to purchase a total of up to 350 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine in 2021 and 2022. The contract includes an option for the EU to re-direct doses other European countries or donate them to low- and middle-income countries. It also made a new deal with Pfizer for an additional 200 million doses, bringing the bloc’s total supply to 500 million doses. Sources 1,2