27 May 2021

• FDA authorizes sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody co-developed by Vir and GlaxoSmithKline, purported to be active against all known variants of the coronavirus. Source

• Sanofi begins to enroll participants in a phase III trial of a stronger formulation of its experimental coronavirus vaccine. Source

• Arizona. California, Florida, Indiana, Oregon and Washington join Illinois and Massachusetts, where the  combined frequency of coronavirus infections with the P.1 and B.1315 variants exceed 10 percent. This has led the FDA to recommend pausing distribution and use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab, since the monoclonal antibody combination is ineffective against these variants. FDA recommends  REGEN-COV instead, as it is likely to remain active. Source

• In Africa, seven countries have not begun coronavirus vaccination for various reasons: Burundi, Eritrea and Tanzania have not joined COVAX. Burkina Faso has not signed the indemnity and liability agreements that Pfizer requires before shipping vaccines, while Madagascar has just joined COVAX. And Central African Republic has just made a plan to deploy vaccines. Although it has not signed indemnity and liability agreements with Pfizer, Chad turned down the AstraZeneca vaccine to wait for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The Democratic Republic of Congo ceded 1.3 million vaccine doses because it lacked the capacity to deliver them. Source

• In Taiwan, government officials are under pressure to get coronavirus vaccines from China; President Tsai Ing-wen has refused to purchase the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine directly from Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co, which has an agreement to distribute them in the region. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung cited concerns about “…about security, efficacy and legal issues,” noting that “Instead of asking China to provide vaccines, we should all ask China to let go and not to intervene with Taiwan buying vaccines directly from international pharmaceutical companies so that it can meet expectations of Taiwan nationals and our national interests.” China’s Taiwan Affairs office countered by accusing Tsai and her political party of violating “business rules and trust” for bypassing Fosun Pharma and denied accusations that China was blocking sales of the vaccine. Source

• Victoria, Australia announces a seven-day lockdown after officials find 26 cases of the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in Melbourne. Source

• Twitter accuses India’s government of intimidation after receiving a notice of noncompliance with the country’s information technology laws in connection with official requests to remove content about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. By law, if Twitter does not remove it, the company’s executives in India could face up to seven years in prison. Twitter released a statement saying it plans to pressure leaders in India to change the new regulations granting the government greater authority over online media, citing “the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.” Source

• Malaysia imposes new restrictions to stop a post Eid al-Fitr surge in coronavirus infections as intensive care units fill with COVID-19 patients, Source

• US President Joe Biden announces that he will release the report on origins of coronavirus days after Beijing declines to participate in additional WHO investigations. Source

• As coronavirus cases surge in Manitoba, its Indigenous people and people of color are disproportionately affected; they make up 61 percent of cases, although they are only 37 percent of the province’s population. Doctors have called for the province to close non-essential businesses and issue a stay-at-home order, but Manitoba’s Premier, Brian Pallister, has said that the worsening outbreak was caused  by people failing to comply with restrictions already in place, not because there are too few of them, saying ““I don’t have a lot of sympathy left for people who disobey public health orders knowingly and willingly.” Source

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