11 May 2021

• WHO designates B.1.617 – the variant that has been sweeping across India – as a variant of concern (VOC), noting that preliminary studies indicate it  is more transmissible. (A VOC is associated with an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, and/or an increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation, and/or a decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics – or that  it is considered a VOC by  the WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group). Source

• The Indian Medical association calls for a nationwide lockdown, saying that it  was “…astonished to see the extreme lethargy and inappropriate actions from the Ministry of Health in combating the agonizing crisis born out of the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Source

• Coronavirus surges in Cambodia, Malaysia (which entered lockdown) and Thailand are leading to “an unacceptably high plateau,” according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, who said ““Globally, we are still in a perilous situation.”  Source

• The US FDA authorizes use of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in children ages 12 to 15. Source

• Bran Castle, the inspiration for Dracula’s home, has become a COVID-19 vaccination center. Source

Obstetrics and Gynecology publishes findings from a group of 200 pregnant women, 84 of whom received a coronavirus vaccine, supporting safety and efficacy of vaccination during pregnancy. Source

• Novavax – which has never marketed a vaccine – announces delays in filing regulatory submissions for its coronavirus vaccine candidate from Q2 of 2021 to Q3, due to issues with assay manufacturing. A shortage of raw materials, including 2,000-liter plastic bags used to grow cells for the vaccine, will delay full production capacity from Q3 to Q4, when Novavax says it can produce 150 million doses per month. Source

• Seychelles is the world’s most vaccinated country; over 60% of its population of 100,000 have received coronavirus vaccines. A recent surge in infections, including with the B.1.351 variant, has overwhelmed the country’s only treatment center, triggered a lockdown and raised questions about the effectiveness of one of the vaccines. The daily total has reached 300 cases – a higher per capita rate than that of India.

• Overall, 38,000 people received Sinopharm’s coronavirus vaccine, and more than 20,000 people were given the AstraZeneca vaccine from India’s Serum Institute. The Ministry of Health reported that over a third of new cases occurred among people who were fully vaccinated, although it did not disclose which vaccine they received.  Source

• BioNTech selects its first manufacturing facility outside of Germany, choosing Singapore to produce hundreds of millions of doses of mRNA -based vaccines. Source

• In India, as coronavirus infections decrease in Mumbai and New Delhi, the epidemic is spreading into rural areas. Bodies – suspected to be people who died from COVID-19 – are washing up on the banks of the Ganges River, as cremation prices have increased from 2,000 to 15,000 rupees ($27 to $200). Rural hospitals face deadly oxygen shortages and are refusing to share supplies. Source

• Malaysia announced that a nationwide lockdown will begin on 12 May to slow the coronavirus before the Eid holiday begins. Source

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