20 April 2021

• The EMA’s safety committee announces that a warning about unusual blood clots with low platelets should be added to the product information for the J & J coronavirus vaccine, and they should be listed as rare side effects from the vaccine. The committee noted that the risk for this side effect is very low, but people who have shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision and tiny blood spots under the skin that go beyond the injection site within three weeks of vaccination should seek urgent medical attention. Source

• J & J issues a press release to announce that it is updating the product information for its coronavirus vaccine to include information on diagnosis and management of the very rare blood clot-related adverse event and that it will alert healthcare professionals about “…the signs and symptoms of thromboembolism with thrombocytopenia, as well as the appropriate course of treatment.” J & J also noted that it is resuming shipments of their coronavirus vaccine to the EU, Iceland and Norway. Source

• A ‘real-world’ vaccine efficacy study of CoronaVac among 10.5 million people in Chile found that it was 67 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, 85 percent effective at preventing hospitalization, and 80 percent effective at preventing death from COVID-19. Source

• A pre-print article describes a possible cause of the rare blood clotting associated with the AstraZeneca and J & J coronavirus vaccines, suggesting that it is linked to the adenovirus vector. Parts of the AstraZeneca vaccine may be sticking to proteins that platelets release while blood clots are formed. The body may see these clumps as invaders, which could cause a chain reaction turning platelets into harmful blood clots. Source

• Researchers in China have launched a 120-person trial combining coronavirus vaccines from CanSinoBIO and Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical. Source

• Cambodia has instituted harsh legal measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, including 20-year prison sentences, which have led to criticism from human rights advocates, such as Sopheap Chak, executive director at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, who said that “The law’s ill-defined offences open the door to subjective interpretation and arbitrary enforcement, and the disproportionate criminal sanctions they carry represent a threat for critical and dissenting voices in Cambodia, against whom the repressive legislative framework has frequently been used as a weapon in recent years.” Source

• The Philippines Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of coronavirus vaccines from J & J and Bharat Biotech. Source

• The US State Department announced that the “Do Not Travel” list will be increased from 34 to nearly 130 countries, reaching 80 percent of countries worldwide. Source

• A top stock market analyst predicts that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will reap revenues of  $38 billion from sales of their coronavirus vaccines to high-income countries in 2021. Source

• Health officials in India  have asked US diplomats to lift an export ban associated with the Defense Production Act, to increase the country’s access to raw materials for vaccine production; the US has told India that they would act “at the earliest.” Source

• A zoo in Georgia reported an outbreak of coronavirus among geriatric otters, who were likely to have become infected by an asymptomatic staff member; their symptoms have been mild, and they are expected to make a full recovery. Source

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