30 April 2021

• Moderna issues a press release announcing that WHO has issued Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for its coronavirus vaccine. Source

• Vaccination centres in Mumbai announce that they are closing for three days because they are out of vaccines. Source

The New York Times reports that Latin America is home to 35 percent of COVID-19 deaths, globally – and only eight percent of the world’s population. The region’s epidemic is worsening, as Argentina, Brazil Colombia and Peru face record-breaking COVID-19 death tolls; it has already suffered through strict lockdowns, long school closures, erased hard-won economic gains, and increased inequality. The epidemic has been exacerbated by fragile health systems and the spread of the P.1. variant, which appears to be more contagious, more likely to cause severe illness  and death in young, healthy people – and more likely to re-infect people who have recovered from COVID-19. In Peru, a man lost his job and his home after falling ill with COVID-19 would up living in a tent with his family; his wife, who also had COVID-19, delivered twin daughters prematurely who both died. “I left the hospital with my daughter in a black plastic bag and got in a taxi and went to the cemetery,” he said. “There was no Mass, no wake. No flowers. Nothing.” Source

• SAHPRA, South Africa’s drug regulator, has  said that pregnant women with comorbidities or who are at high risk of becoming infected with coronavirus (such as healthcare workers)  – who were excluded from a clinical trial –  can receive the J & J vaccine “ …in consultation with their healthcare providers,” and that women who are breastfeeding should  ” …be counselled on the absence of information in this regard and a benefit-risk assessment should be made by the enrolling clinician.” Source

• AstraZeneca has told U.S. officials it may delay its application to FDA for emergency use authorization of its coronavirus vaccine, planned for mid-April,  until mid-May. The company is gathering real-world data from the UK on vaccine efficacy and safety, and the impact of the vaccine on transmission, which is expected to extend the amount of time needed for regulators to review it. Source

• AstraZeneca – which has pledged not to profit from its coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic –  announced $275 million in first quarter sales of its coronavirus vaccine, just under four percent of the company’s revenue. J & J, which has also pledged to sell its coronavirus vaccine at cost (without disclosing an amount), and is charging the US government $10 per dose, generated $100 million in sales of the vaccine during Q1 of 2021. Higher-priced vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna – who have not said that they are forgoing profits – will bring in $15 billion and $18.4  billion, respectively. Source

• Emergent BioSolutions, the vaccine manufacturer that was shut down and investigated by the FDA after possible contamination forced it to dump up to 15 million doses of coronavirus vaccines – and previously discarded millions of doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine – announced personnel changes; while taking responsibility for the ruined doses, the company’s  executives also predicted that the company would generate revenues close to two billion dollars in 2021. The company’s chief executive, Robert Kramer, said that it would respond to the FDA in coming days, and was hoping to “get back into production as quickly as possible.” Emergent’s  shareholders  have sued  the company, claiming that its executives misled them about the company’s ability to manufacture coronavirus vaccines at the Baltimore plant. Source

• Canadian regulators are withholding release of the country’s first shipment of coronavirus vaccines from J & J, after they discovered that a drug substance used to  make the vaccines was produced at the troubled Emergent Biosolutions plant in Baltimore, Maryland; they are working with FDA and Janssen to determine whether the vaccines meet national standards. Source

• Rosstat, Russia’s statistics agency, said around 250,000 people died from COVID-19 deaths during the period between April 2020 to March 2021. Source

• Britain’s  Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reported an additional 41 cases of rare blood clots among recipients of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, bringing the total to 209 (among 22 million vaccine recipients); it said the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks. Source

• Another hospital fire – possibly caused by a short circuit – is reported in India. It killed at least 16 of 27 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and two ICU nurses at The Welfare Hospital in Bharuch district. People broke the windows to  rescue the remaining ICU patients, who were sent to nearby hospitals. Prime Minister Narenda Modi said he was “…pained by the loss of lives due to a fire at a hospital in Bharuch,” and send condolences to their families. Source

• Turkey and Albania approve the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Vaccines have already been shipped to Albania, and Turkey’s Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca, said the country had arranged for delivery of 50 million doses of Sputnik V before November 2021. Source

• Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s government is trying to censor criticism over his management of the current COVID-19 crisis – and even pleas for help from people with COVID-19. Volunteer groups seeking oxygen and hospital beds for people with COVID-19 via What’s App and Telegram groups are facing threats and demands to shut them down. In Uttar Pradesh, police filed a complaint against a man who asked for medical oxygen for his dying grandfather on Twitter, claiming that he was “spreading misleading information.” Source

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