19 April 2021

• Despite the roll-out of 910 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, weekly cases have reached their highest level since the pandemic began, reaching a global total of 5.2 million. Source

• The EU  announced that it is purchasing an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, as per an agreement made in February; this raises the bloc’s total to 600 million doses. The company is also accelerating vaccine delivery by 25 percent, shipping doses that were originally scheduled to arrive in Q4 of 2021; it aims to deliver the additional doses by the end of the year. Source

• The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that Pfizer backed down from its insistence that South Africa’s government provide its sovereign assets to guarantee an indemnity against future legal cases from people with vaccine-related adverse events – even if it was caused by Pfizer’s negligence, fraud or malice – a requirement that Pfizer has  imposed on  Albania, the Dominican Republic and Peru.  South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize described Pfizer’s demand as “too risky…” and that “…as  a government we found ourselves in a precarious position of having to choose between saving our citizens’ lives and risking putting the country’s assets into private companies’ hands.” Pfizer eventually dropped the demand, but its tactics delayed discussions and delivery of vaccines.  Source

• South Africa’s Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, says that the country’s vaccine supply agreements with Pfizer and J & J  (for $10 per dose) are non-refundable. Source

• India reports 261,500 new daily coronavirus cases and 1,501 deaths as the country faces shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines. Source

• A trial at the University of Oxford, which has obtained ethics approval, will look at immune responses and duration of protection among healthy people ages 18-30 who recovered from COVID-19 at least three months ago and are re-exposed to different doses of coronavirus. Participants who become re-infected will be treated with a monoclonal antibody; all will be compensated (£5,000, which includes at least 17 days of quarantine and 12 months of follow-up). Source

• After an ongoing FDA investigation revealed that the Emergent Biosciences plant in Baltimore was unable  to prevent ingredient mix-ups or contamination, and  that its electronic data could be  manipulated or deleted, the agency stepped in to  halt production at the facility. Source

• The United States began to offer coronavirus vaccines to the detainees at Guantánamo Bay; the vaccine has already been offered to staff members. Source

• Greece has suspended rollout of  the J &J coronavirus vaccine, pending results from and EMA review. It has already received 33,600 of 1.3 million doses. Source

• On 23 April, New York City’s Museum of Natural History will begin administering coronavirus vaccines under a life-sized model of a blue whale. Source

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