6 May 2021

• After the Biden administration announced its support for suspending intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says that the EU is “…also ready to discuss any proposals that address the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner. That is why we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for a waiver on intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines could help achieve that objective.”  Source

• Moderna head Stéphane Bancel says the Biden administration’s decision to support an intellectual property waiver will not have an impact on Moderna. He noted that the world has no available mRNA vaccine manufacturing capacity, and that “…people don’t know how to make it. If someone wants to start from scratch, they would have to figure out how to make mRNA, which is not in our patents. I really believe that the IP is not the issue. For mRNA, this is the wrong question.” Source

• India exceeds 21 million cases of coronavirus. After a Supreme Court ruling – and as more people are dying without oxygen in hospitals – the government agreed to increase the amount of medical oxygen it is providing to hospitals, from 490 tons per day to 730 tons. The government also denied that it has been slow to distribute donations. Source

• Canada  becomes the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15 years. Source

• The CDC publishes preliminary data on the B.1.526 coronavirus variant which was identified and has become common in New York City. Researchers compared outcomes of people who were infected with B.1.526 and B.1.1.7 – as well as other versions of coronavirus that were circulating in the area. People who acquired the B.1.526 variant were more likely to live in low-income areas, including the Bronx, and to be Black/African American, but they were not more likely to become reinfected, develop COVID-19 symptoms, be hospitalized or die than people who had other versions of the coronavirus. The authors noted that B.1.526 did not appear to cause more serious illness, but cautioned that  their findings are preliminary. Source

• In Colombia, deaths from COVID-19 have reached their highest level and over 40 percent of the country is living in poverty, a situation that has been worsened by the pandemic. Days of protests erupted against a proposal to increase tariffs on everyday good; at least 19 people were killed, many more were injured, and military forces were deployed, leading President Iván Duque to withdraw the proposal. Source

• In Fiji, which is dealing with a second wave of coronavirus, the government has closed the country’s second-largest hospital after a patient – who may have transmitted the virus to his doctor – died from COVID-19. More than 400 patients, doctors, nurses and other medical staff are quarantined at Lautoka hospital, which was locked down to prevent it from “becoming ground-zero for a wider outbreak.” Source

• A 16,000-person Japanese fishing town spent $230,000 of its $6.2 million in coronavirus relief money on a 43-foot statue of a giant squid to attract post-pandemic visitors. Source

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