20 May 2021

• The European Commission, which has already purchased 600 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for 2021, signed a deal for an additional 900 million doses, including a vaccine that is adapted to emerging variants- and an option to purchase an additional 900 million doses, reaching a total of 2.4 billion doses – all manufactured in the EU. Source 

• Thailand announces that it is prioritizing workers for coronavirus vaccines (in addition people who are elderly and/or have underlying conditions). Source

• Many of Nepal’s hospitals are overwhelmed and no longer able to admit people with severe COVID-19. Source 

• In the US, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Black, Native American and Alaska Native people have also been underrepresented in clinical trials of coronavirus vaccines; although more than 13 percent of the US population is Black, only 9.7% and 9.8% of the participants in the  Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech’s Phase III vaccine trials, respectively, were Black, and American Indian and Alaska Native participants comprised only 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent of participants, respectively. Source

• WHO announces a steep drop in Europe’s coronavirus cases, from 1.7 million in April to 685,000 over the last week, but cautions that progress is  “fragile” due to slow vaccine rollout and the presence of more infectious variants, such as B.1.617, which has already spread to 26 of 53 countries in the WHO European region.  Source

Clinical Infectious Diseases reports the discovery of a novel canine-feline coronavirus in a person with pneumonia that could be the eighth coronavirus that causes illness in people. If confirmed, the authors call for better surveillance of animal coronaviruses, noting that they are a potential threat to public health. Source

• Taiwan is battling its first surge of coronavirus – after going a year with under 1,300 cases and only 12 deaths, daily cases have ranged from 200 to 350.  Source

• Mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus, is a potentially deadly infection. In India, people who have, or are recovering from COVID-19  – especially those with diabetes – become vulnerable to the fungus after being treated with steroids. Cases are spreading across the country and increasing every day, leading the federal government to require that state governments to report them. A shortage of  the antifungal medicine amphotericin B has sent prices soaring from $80 to $500 per vial. Source

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