19 February 2021

• Africa surpasses 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, although the real death toll is likely to be much higher. Although cases are currently going down, many people are still dying because they do not have access to oxygen and basic care. John Nkengasong, African CDC Director, says that up to 40 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people could be vaccinated by the end of 2021 and 60 percent by the end of 2022,if doses are available. The African Union has already purchased 270 million vaccine doses from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, and has been offered 300 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Source
• France and the UK announce plans to donate vaccines: the UK will give its surplus to COVAX, and France will share four to five percent of the vaccines it has secured. Source
Lancet publishes a planned analysis of pooled data among 17,178 participants (8597 of whom received the coronavirus vaccine) across four trials of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, determining the impact of an extended dosing interval on immunogenicity and efficacy. After a single dose of vaccine, from post-vaccination 22 to day 90, efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 was 76 percent (protection against both asymptomatic and symptomatic infections was 63.9 percent, based on a subset of UK-only data. A longer interval between doses increased efficacy from 55.1 percent (<six weeks) to 81.3 percent (at 12 weeks or more) among people ages 18-55 years. A second dose is recommended for extend the duration of protection. Source
• Pfizer/BioNTech submit data to FDA to allow their coronavirus vaccine to be stored in conventional pharmaceutical freezers at -25o to -15o C (-13 o F to 5 o F). Source
• Russia faces domestic shortages of its Sputnik V vaccine, and uptake remains low, with only 2.2 million people in the country receiving a first dose due to widespread government distrust; President Putin has yet to be vaccinated. The country has pledged to export 1.2 billion doses of Sputnik V. Source
• Argentina’s President, Alberto Fernandez, fires Minister of Health Gines Gonzalez Garcia after it became public that he had granted requests for preferential access to coronavirus vaccines – in addition, he downplayed the severity of the virus in early 2020 and failed to close a deal with Pfizer for its coronavirus vaccine. Source

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