21 April 2021

• Hospitals in Delhi, India, are running out of oxygen as they face a record-breaking surge of coronavirus cases. Source

• A leaky oxygen tank in a Maharashtra hospital led to the death of 22 people who were critically ill with COVID-19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to be more careful but said that lockdowns were a last resort, as he faces criticism for his handling of the pandemic. Source

• Chinese vaccine maker Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products is developing its own inactivated coronavirus vaccine; they have registered a phase III trial to be launched in May 2021. Source

• The US Congress is investigating Emergent Biosolutions, the company that was awarded $628 million by the Trump administration to produce vaccine, despite a history of “… inadequately trained staff and quality control issues,” and “a track record of raising prices and failing to meet contract requirements.” Source

• France announces that it will implement a digital COVID-19 passport using a QR code; initially it will be used on flights to Corsica and France’s territories overseas – and ultimately, in other countries. Source

• Government officials in Thailand announce that the country will continue use of Sinovac’s CoronaVac after six female medical workers who received it experienced “stroke-like” adverse events (all have recovered without evidence of blood clotting). Experts could not determine what caused their symptoms. Source

• The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report publishes an investigation of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Kentucky nursing home where all residents and staff were offered vaccination. Overall, 90 percent of the residents and 52.6 percent of the staff were vaccinated. After an unvaccinated staff member tested positive, twenty-six residents and 20 staff members also tested positive – but vaccinated residents and staff members were 87 percent less likely to have symptomatic illness than their unvaccinated counterparts. Source

• The Guardian publishes an account from the People’s Vaccine Alliance on what it describes as a “private profit opportunity” by coronavirus vaccine makers. Overall, $26 billion was paid by Pfizer ($8.4 billion in dividends) J & J  ($10.5 billion in dividends and $3.2 billion in share buybacks ) and AstraZeneca ($3.6 billion in dividends) to their shareholders over the last year – enough money to vaccinate the entire population of Africa. The vaccines have made multi-billionaires out of BioNTech’s founder and Moderna’s CEO.

“It’s morally bankrupt for rich country leaders to allow a small group of corporations to keep the vaccine technology and knowhow under lock and key while selling their limited doses to the highest bidder,” said Heidi Chow of Global Justice Now. A growing campaign for companies to give up intellectual property rights or patents on coronavirus vaccines includes 175 former heads of state and Nobel prize winners, who signed a letter to President Biden. Source

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