26 February 2021

• The US FDA expert panel votes to approve the single-dose J & J coronavirus vaccine. Source
• As Brazil surpasses 250,000 COVID-19 deaths, President Bolsonaro announced that masks were bad for children and could cause headaches, difficulty concentrating and other problems. Source
• Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa states that vaccination will not be mandatory, but those who refuse it will be prohibited from working or using local transportation, although the country is still struggling to secure an adequate supply of vaccines for its 15 million residents. To date, Sinopharm donated 200,000 doses, and the country is expecting an additional 600,000 doses in March, in addition to over 1.1 million doses from COVAX. Source
• Canada approves AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, including the version produced by India’s Serum Institute. Source
• China approves coronavirus vaccines from CanSino and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, bringing its total of approved vaccines to four. Details on safety and efficacy of these vaccines are not yet available. Source
• A pair of studies from the UK published in Lancet add to evidence supporting the effectiveness of a single dose of an mRNA coronavirus vaccine (from Pfizer/BioNTech) as sufficient for boosting immunity in people previously infected with coronavirus. Source
• WHO issues a warning about oxygen shortages in low-and middle-income countries, where an estimated 500,000 people need it each day. Overall, $1.6 billion will be needed over the next 12 months, with an estimated $90 million needed to meet the most urgent needs in Afghanistan, Malawi and Nigeria. Source
• Although coronavirus infections in Europe have declined to half of their peak this winter, rates are still 10 times higher than they were last May, cautions WHO. Source
Lancet publishes an account of the Peruvian coronavirus vaccine scandal, described by Oscar Maúrtua, former foreign affairs minister and head of the Peruvian International Law Society, as “a grave crisis that has again shined a light on the serious problem of corruption that affects Peru.” Vaccines were given to impeached former President Martin Vizcarra (who falsely claimed that he was vaccinated through participation in a clinical trial), his family and 500 other people months before they were available to anyone else in the country. Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti and Foreign Affairs Minister Elizabeth Astete- who have since resigned with dozens of their staffers – were also secretly vaccinated; these ministries were in charge of clinical trials and vaccine negotiations.

In addition, trial administrators at Cayetano Heredia University gave three coronavirus vaccine doses to at least 40 people, which led to a suspension by National Institute of Health prohibiting the University from performing clinical trials; the incident was described by a former student working at MSF as “impacting the level of confidence international stakeholders have regarding Peruvian regulation and the ethics of researchers”. Source

Return to the timeline