12 May 2021

• Cuba, which plans to inoculate its entire population with coronavirus vaccines it produces, launches a vaccination campaign in Havana, with two domestically produced coronavirus vaccines:  Sovereign 2 and Abdala. Neither vaccine has been approved, but they have already been given to 145,000 people in clinical trials and an intervention study among healthcare workers. Source

BMJ publishes a modeling study on efficacy of standard versus delayed scheduling for second doses of coronavirus vaccines, looking at the impact on COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and death over a 180-day period. They found that delaying the second dose (for vaccines that are at least 80 percent effective, with a daily vaccination rate of up to  0.3 percent of the population) reduced mortality by 26 – 47 per 100,000. Source

• India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi cancels his trip to the UK for the Group of Seven Summit due to the country’s coronavirus crisis. Source

• Pandji Dhewantara, an official from Indonesia’s Ministry of Health, announced that Sinovac’s CoronaVac was 94 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, 96 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and 98 percent effective at preventing death from COVID-19 among 128,290 healthcare workers. Similar results were reported among a group of 25,374 people, where the vaccine was equally effective against symptomatic illness and hospitalization, and 100 percent effective at preventing death from COVID-19. Source

• In the US, COVID-19 cases among young children and teenagers have surpassed those among people over age 65. Cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a potentially life-threatening but treatable condition linked with COVID-19, have increased, and pediatricians are investigating whether they could be associated with the B.1.1.7 variant. Source

• Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, has signed a book deal with Harper Business for his Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible, an “… exclusive, first-hand, behind-the-scenes story” of how the company developed its coronavirus vaccine. Bourla announced that proceeds from the book, which will be released in November 2021, will be donated to charity. Source

• Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, announces the launch of a 6,000-person phase III trial of ARCoVax, an mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine candidate from China’s Walvax Biotechnology, which is working in partnership with the Academy of Military Science (AMS) and Suzhou Abogen Biosciences, on 30th May. Source

• Fuad El-Hibri founder and executive chairman of Emergent Biosolutions, and Robert Kramer, CEO, will testify on 19 May  at a congressional hearing, after  it contaminated millions of doses of the J & J coronavirus vaccine. Source

• After successfully staving off coronavirus for more than a year, Taiwan is seeing clusters of untraceable cases as it considers going into lockdown.Source

• The US CDC endorsed the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 12 to 15. Source

 Lancet publishes an interim analysis from the Com-COV, a multicenter study comparing four prime/boost strategies, using the AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines at 28- and 84-day intervals. The analysis included 461 people, age 50 and over, who received two vaccines at 28-day intervals. People who got both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine reported more side effects after their first (prime) shot; those who got two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reported more side effects after their second (boost) dose. During the two days after their doses, people who got two different vaccines reported worse side effects with the boost:  34 percent of those receiving AstraZeneca/ Pfizer/BioNTech reported fever, vs. 10% for those who got two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while 47 percent of those who got Pfizer/BioNTech/AstraZeneca reported fever versus 24 percent of those who got two doses of Pfizer/BionTech. A similar pattern was reported for chills, tiredness, headache, joint pain and muscle aches. Data on immunogenicity are expected in June. Source

• Ontario, Canada will no longer give first doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine due to the risk of rare blood clots with low platelets out of an “abundance of caution,” after cases rose from 1 per 100,000 to 1.7 per 100,000; the government is deciding whether to use the vaccine for second doses. Source

• Goa’s government approved and is providing a five-day course of ivermectin to prevent or and treat COVID-19 to everyone age 18 and over, although WHO has warned not to use it outside of clinical trials. Source

• The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response releases COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, calling for sweeping reforms and describing COVID-19 as “…the worst combined health and socioeconomic crisis in living memory, and a catastrophe at every level.” The report recommends “ a fundamental transformation designed to ensure commitment at the highest level to a new system that is coordinated, connected, fast-moving, accountable, just, and equitable—in other words, a complete pandemic preparedness and response system on which citizens can rely to keep them safe and healthy.” Source

• The US CDC confirms 13 additional cases of blood clots with low platelets  – including six in men- among recipients of the J & J coronavirus vaccine, reaching a total of 28 people among the nine million who received it. Women appear to be at higher risk than men, with 12.5 cases per million among women ages 30-39, and 9.4 cases per million among women ages 40 to 49. Source

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