22 March 2021

• AstraZeneca issues a press release from a 32,449- person, placebo-controlled, randomized phase III trial of its coronavirus vaccine which took place in the US, Chile and Peru. Overall, the two-dose vaccine, given four weeks apart, was 79 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, and 100 percent effective at preventing severe COVID-19 and hospitalization; a longer dosing interval may boost effectiveness. There were no significant safety concerns- including cases of thrombosis –  among  21,583 participants given at least one  dose of vaccine. Source
• Within hours of the AstraZeneca press release on results from its US phase III trial, the independent expert monitoring board overseeing the trial sent a  sharp – and nearly unprecedented – rebuke to the company and federal officials, saying that AstraZeneca had cherry-picked data to make the vaccine look more effective (cited at 79 percent – although the experts say the actual number might be between 69 and 74 percent effective  and that “Decisions like this are what erode public trust in the scientific process.” Source
• The EU’s Internal Markets Commissioner, Thierry Breton, says that the bloc does not need the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, pledging that 100 million vaccine doses would be delivered in April – and that Europe could achieve immunity by 14 July. Sputnik’s producer replied to the Commissioner with a series of tweets, telling him to “… please stop being biased. Europeans want a choice of safe and efficient vaccines, which you so far failed to provide. Sputnik V is already registered in 54 countries,” and suggesting that the EU deserves a better commissioner. Source
• Sinopharm’s UAE distributor, has offered a third vaccine dose to recipients with an insufficient antibody response to the vaccine (which it describes as a “very small number”). Source
• In Germany, coronavirus cases have passed a key threshold past which intensive care units will be overwhelmed, as infections in  Belgium, Greece, Romania, and Turkey are increasing. Source
• Japan’s Daiichi-Sankyo, in partnership with Tokyo University, and with support from the government, launches a 152-person  phase I/II trial of its RNA coronavirus vaccine candidate. Source
• Russian President Vladimir Putin announces that he will be vaccinated with Sputnik V on 23 March – although he has been eligible since December  and did not explain why he has waited so long. Source
• CanSino’s coronavirus vaccine is approved for emergency use in Hungary (the EMA has provided clinical advice on the vaccine’s development but has not approved it). Source

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