5 March 2021

• South Korea approves the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Source
• Researchers in Oregon identified a new, troubling coronavirus variant. It has the same backbone as the more contagious and deadlier B.1.1.7 variant and the E484K mutation (found in variants from Brazil, New York City and South Africa), which blunts the immune response to vaccines. Source
• South Africa, which has vaccinated 92,000 people (and aims to vaccinate two-thirds of its 60 million residents by the end of 2021), will not achieve its target of 1.5 million by the end of this month due to a  vaccine shortage. Only 700,000 people will be inoculated by the end of March. Source
• A pre-print study of electronic medical records from 1,407 people – 27 percent of whom have long COVID –  found that 32 percent  of them were initially asymptomatic. Source
• The UK RECOVERY Trial halts enrollment in the colchicine study, based on lack of efficacy:  it made no difference in 28-day mortality among11,162 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Source
• France supports Italy’s decision to block AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines from export to Australia. Source
• UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries defended the proposed 1 percent wage increase for National Health Service workers as the  “….most we think we can afford,” as the British Medical Association described it as a “kick in the teeth” for the NHS workforce, which had “literally kept this country alive for the past 10 months,” SOURCE
• The New York Times reports that coronavirus vaccinations rates  reflect long-standing racial disparities in access to health care, with half as many Black people receiving the vaccine than White people – and even fewer Hispanic people were vaccinated (in the 38 states that track this data). Source
• China is requiring that some overseas travelers undergo anal swab testing for coronavirus. Source

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