19 May 2021

• The US exceeds 33 million coronavirus cases. Source 

• The USFDA extends the storage period for undiluted, thawed vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine from five days to one month in a refrigerator.  Source

• The EU agrees to open its borders to tourists who are fully vaccinated (with AstraZeneca, J & J, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech or Sinopharm) or are from countries with low rates of COVID-19, ending a ban on non-essential travel that has lasted for over a year. Source

• Documents from a US House Subcommittee indicate that Emergent Biosolutions, which has been under investigation after it ruined millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines, gave top executives hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses last year. Source

• US President Biden has set a goal  that 70 percent of adults will have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by 4 July. At the current pace, the country is likely to reach 68 percent of adults with a first dose but vaccination rates are uneven and at least 30 states will not reach 70 percent due to factors including limited access to healthcare and vaccine hesitancy. Source

• The United Arab Emirates announced that it would offer a booster shot to recipients of Sinopharm’s coronavirus vaccine at least six months after the initial two doses. Bahrain said it, too, would offer a third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine at least six months after the second shot, starting with more vulnerable groups. Source

• India’s Serum Institute announces that it hopes to begin delivering coronavirus vaccines to COVAX by the end of 2021. Source

• The UK Department of Health and Social Care announces that it is launching CoV-Boost, a 2,886-person trial looking at immune responses to seven coronavirus booster shots (from CureVac, Janssen, Moderna, Novavax, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Valneva); results will be used to inform decisions on administering  third doses. Source

• India’s  Council of Medical Research approves CoviSelf, a rapid home antigen test for people who have symptoms of, or who have been in contact with a person with COVID-19. It can be purchased without a prescription for Rs 250 ( $3.43) – a price that may be too high for many who need it. Source  

• Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says it is likely that a coronavirus booster shot will be needed eight to 12 months after the first two vaccines, and that the company is developing a  ready-to-use version of its coronavirus vaccine that could be stored in normal refrigeration for up to six months. Source

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