13 April 2021

• The US FDA and CDC issue a joint press release, recommending that the US pause its administration of the J & J coronavirus vaccine “out of an abundance of caution” until a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and an FDA investigation have been completed. It noted six cases of rare and severe blood clotting among over 6.8 million recipients of the J & J coronavirus vaccine; all cases occurred among women, ages 18 to 48, within 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The agencies advise that vaccine recipients who have a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination should contact their health care provider.  Source

• Britain begins to end one of the world’s longest lockdowns as gyms, salons, retailers and outdoor cafes and pubs opened for the first time in months; nearly all restrictions will be lifted by 21 June if all goes according to plan. Source

• New York City health officials announce that the B.1.1.7 variant accounts for over 30 percent of coronavirus infections across the city, and that the B.1.526 variant – first identified in New York City- now makes up 45 percent of cases that have been sequenced – and has been detected in all five boroughs. Source

• In India, home to the world’s second highest rate of coronavirus, hospitals are overflowing and exports of remdesivir have been suspended, while millions of people gather in the city of Haridwar for a month-long religious festival, Kumbh Mela. Health officials fear that these celebrations will  increase the spread of coronavirus across the country and among millions of religious pilgrims. Source

• The Guardian publishes a piece by former UK chancellor and Prime Minister Gordon Brown which says “The traditional international crisis response- the G7 passing around the begging bowl- will not yield the funds on the scale needed. The global equivalent of a charity fund raiser is no substitute for countries agreeing on an equitable sharing of the burden,” noting that “the G7 countries are in the best position to agree to transfer vaccine technology to low-income countries. The temporary waiver of patents proposed by the People’s Vaccine Alliance will help Africa create its own manufacturing facilities and end months of vaccine nationalism,” and calling for  financial solutions and “..the global apparatus to deal with this pandemic and other global crises to come.” Source

• India announces that it will approve all coronavirus vaccines that have received emergency use authorization from WHO and regulatory agencies in the EU, Japan, the US and the UK, as well as the Sputnik V vaccine. Russia has already entered agreements with five Indian biosimilar producers to make over 850 million doses of the vaccine, which should be ready later this year. Source

• United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, noting a $5 trillion increase in wealth among the world’s richest people over the last year, calls on countries to institute a wealth tax to “to reduce extreme inequalities… We need a new social contract, based on solidarity and investments in education, decent and green jobs, social protection, and health systems.” Source

• The EU and South Africa announce a pause in administering the J & J coronavirus vaccine. Dr. Zwelini Mkhize, South Africa’s Minister of Health, described the pause as precautionary, and that he expected vaccination to resume in a few days after cases were investigated. Source

• An abstract from the American Academy of Neurology’s Virtual Meeting reports finding neurologic symptoms among half of 46 children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19. The most common symptoms were headaches, encephalopathy, speech disorders, hallucinations, abnormal and uncontrolled movements, peripheral nerve involvement and seizures; these symptoms were more likely to occur in children with severe illness. Source

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