24 February 2021

• COVAX’s first shipment – 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine – arrives in Ghana. Source
• Moderna announces that it has sent an updated coronavirus vaccine, which is specific to the B.1.351 variant, to the NIH for a phase I clinical trial. It is also developing a lower-dose booster, which is in trials, a variant-specific booster for B.1.351, and a booster that will protect against its approved vaccine with the B.1.351 booster. Source
• Pfizer is studying a third boosting dose of its coronavirus vaccine as well as testing a version of the vaccine that has been modified to work against the B.1.352 variant. Source
• An FDA review of data on the J & J single-dose coronavirus vaccine reports that 28 days after vaccination, it is 72 percent effective overall, and 86 percent effective against severe COVID-19 in the US, and 64 percent effective overall and 82 percent effective against severe COVID-19 in South Africa, where over 94 percent of infections were caused by the B.1.351 variant. However, the vaccine was less effective against moderate/severe COVID-19 among people living with HIV (47.5 percent, although data from more people are needed for evaluating efficacy) and in people over age 60 with pre-existing conditions (42.3 percent). Source
• New England Journal of Medicine publishes a report on efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, comparing 596,618 vaccinated people to a matched group of unvaccinated persons (these groups were younger and tended not to have pre-existing conditions as higher vaccination rates among older people made it impossible to find matched group of unvaccinated persons). Within 14 to 20 days after the first dose, the vaccine’s estimated effectiveness for preventing coronavirus infection was 46 percent; it was 57 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, 74 percent effective at preventing hospitalization, 62 percent effective for preventing severe illness and 72 percent effective for preventing death. Effectiveness increased at 21 to 27 days after the first dose, to 60 percent for preventing coronavirus infection, 66 percent for preventing symptomatic COVID-19, 78 percent for preventing hospitalization, 80 percent for preventing serious illness and 84 percent for preventing death. After the second dose, vaccine effectiveness for coronavirus infection, symptomatic COVID-19, hospitalization, and severe disease were 92%, 94% 87% and 92%, respectively. Source
• CanSino issues a press release with interim results from its phase III single-dose coronavirus vaccine trial. At 14 days after vaccination, it was 65.83 percent effective at preventing all symptomatic cases of COVID-19, and 95.47 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19; at 28 days post-vaccination, it was 65,28 percent effective at preventing all symptomatic COVID-19, and 90.7 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19. Source
• CanSino files for regulatory approval of its coronavirus vaccine with China’s National Medical Products Administration. Source
• Afghanistan – where up to 10 million people may have been infected with coronavirus in 2020 – begins administering coronavirus vaccines donated from India’s Serum Institute amidst continuing violence. Source
• Israel announces plans to donate surplus coronavirus vaccines to allies, including the Czech Republic and Honduras, although it still refuses to vaccinate Palestinians living in its occupied territories. Source
• JAMA publishes a study on characteristics and outcomes among 1,116 children in the US who were hospitalized with severe COVID-19 or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).It reported that children with MIS-C were more likely to be younger (ages 6-12 years) Black, without pre-existing conditions and were more likely to need intensive care and to have more extreme inflammation and severe cardiovascular or skin and mucous membrane involvement than those with severe COVID-19. Source
• Researchers have reported finding a new coronavirus variant, B.1.526, which has been spreading in New York City since November of 2020; it now accounts for roughly a quarter of the new infections that have been sequenced. Another group of researchers found the variant among 12 percent of 1,142 people with COVID-19. The new variant is concerning, since it is more likely to evade immune responses from a previous infection or a vaccine than older versions of the virus. Source
• Outbreaks during high-intensity exercise classes at gyms in Chicago and Hawaii – despite reduced class size and distancing – lead CDC to recommend making during exercise. Source

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