• Russia delays approval of China’s CanSino coronavirus vaccine to prioritize its own domestically produced Sputnik V vaccine. Russia’s Petrovax – which has invested $26 million into a new production line for the vaccine, completed a local phase III trial of the CanSino vaccine in 2020; it was hoping that the vaccine would be authorized in January, but the Russian Health Ministry has recently asked for additional information. Source

• developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine criticize research saying it is less effective against the B.1.351 variant, saying ““The Gamaleya Institute’s own studies, based on a much larger sample than the 12 people used in this study, will be published in May in a peer-reviewed journal and demonstrate a higher efficacy of the Russian vaccine versus novel strains, including the South African variant, than that of other vaccines, including Pfizer.” Source

• Rockefeller Foundation issues One for All: An Action Plan for Financing Global Vaccination and Sustainable Growth, a report recommending that the International Monetary Fund should quickly approve and distribute $650 billion in from its reserve assets to help ensure that countries with developing economies can vaccinate up to 70 percent of their population by the end of 2022. Source

• Cavaleri, head of vaccines at EMA, says events that there is a link between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and thrombotic events  – before the agency has made an official announcement. Source

• a statement from its head of vaccines, the EMA announced that it had “…not yet reached a conclusion” about a connection between AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine and thrombotic events, and that “…review is currently ongoing”,  with an announcement of findings in the coming days. Source

• The Lancet Psychiatry publishes a report on COVID-19’s effect on the brain, using electronic medical records to look at six-month neurological and psychiatric outcomes among 236,379 people who had COVID-19 compared to a matched group of people who had influenza  and an additional matched group who had ant respiratory tract infection – including influenza- during the same time period. The incidence of a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis  was higher among people who had COVID-19 than other groups, especially among people who had severe illness. Overall, 33·62 percent of people with COVID-19 received a diagnosis;  the rate was higher (38·73 percent) among  people who were  hospitalized, and among those in intensive care   (46·42) percent of those in intensive care, and highest in  people diagnosed with encephalopathy (62·34 percent). Notably, COVID-19 increased the risk for stroke and dementia  among people with severe illness. The authors mentioned a need for resources to support necessary services for people with post-COVID-19 neurological and psychiatric diagnoses. Source

• Moderna spent $1.1 million on security for its top executives in 2020, including over $1 million on CEO Stéphane Bancel, $143,719 for CMO Tal Zacks, $28,161 on SVP Juan Andres and $16,380 on President Stephen Hoge. Source

New England Journal of Medicine publishes research on effectiveness of convalescent plasma and coronavirus vaccines from Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV) and Sinovac (CoronaVac); it found that all are less effective against the B.1.351 variant; the authors highlighted “…the importance of sustained viral monitoring and evaluation of the protective efficacy of vaccines in areas where variants are circulating.” Source

New England Journal of Medicine publishes an interim report from a 33-person phase I trial which is following people who received both doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. At 180 days post-vaccination, three different serologic tests found persistent antibody responses to the vaccine. Source

• South Africa signs a deal for 20 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine after resolving “contractual conditions demanded by Pfizer that aren’t in line with South Africa’s normal procurement policies,” according to Anban Pillay, a deputy director general in the Department of Health. Bloomberg reports that Pfizer insisted that the health and finance ministers sign the vaccine-supply pact, which includes indemnity clauses to protect the company against any future legal claims. Pfizer responded that such discussions are confidential, and that the company was “…unable to divulge any details at the moment.” Source