23 February 2021

• The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports on Pfizer’s demands to some Latin American countries, including Argentina and Brazil. They were told  that purchasing coronavirus vaccines would require collateral for potential legal cases stemming from vaccine-related adverse events, with sovereign assets, such as their embassy buildings and military bases and cash reserves. Also, the pharmaceutical corporation insisted that governments amend legislation to indemnify it against future legal claims, including those for the company’s acts of negligence or malice.Source
• Globally, over 209 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been given.
• AstraZeneca is expected to deliver only half of the 180 million vaccines it promised to the EU by Q2 of 2021. Source
• Sinopharm seeks approval for a second coronavirus vaccine developed at the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, which can produce 100 million doses; it entered phase III trials in June 2020 although no data on its safety and efficacy are available. China is also developing a third vaccine, based on recombinant protein, which should be more effective and easier to produce. Source
• A scandal occurs in Lebanon, as 16 politicians get vaccinated in secret – and ahead of their turn. Source
• Israel reports its first case of intrauterine COVID-19 transmission, resulting in fetal death, which occurred in a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant when she was infected with coronavirus; this follows a 2020 case report of five coronavirus-associated fetal deaths in Brazil. Sources 1,2
• During an interview, Mark Esser, head of microbial sciences at AstraZeneca, said that laboratory tests of company’s experimental monoclonal antibody combination found it effective against coronavirus variants identified in the UK and South Africa. The company is developing the antibody cocktail across five trials, looking at it as prevention for people with weakened immune systems who do not mount an adequate immune response to vaccines and as treatment for COVID-19. Source
• The New York Times reports that a new coronavirus variant, B.1.427/B.1.429, first discovered in California in late 2020, is more contagious – with cases doubling every 18 days -than older versions of the virus. Although it can evade immune responses, it is less effective at doing so than the B.1.352 variant; researchers are not sure whether it causes more serious illness. Source

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