31 May 2021

• WHO convened a group of experts to consider easy-to-pronounce, non-stigmatizing labels for coronavirus variants of interest and variants of concern. The group has recommended letters of the Greek alphabet, as follows: Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1) and  Delta (B.1.617). Source

• In the US, gun sales hit a record high during the pandemic. Marqueece Harris-Dawson a City Council member from South Los Angeles, which is experiencing a surge of gun violence, said “Americans are in an arms race with themselves. There was just as much a run on guns as on toilet paper in the beginning of the pandemic.” Source

• A global corps of dogs is being trained to sniff people who have COVID-19 in Australia, Belgium, Britain, Chile, France, Germany, Thailand and other countries. They are already working at airports in Finland, Lebanon and the UAE. In preliminary studies, the dogs appear to be better at detecting the virus (which has a distinct scent even in asymptomatic people) than rapid antigen testing – and they are faster and far less costly than PCR testing. Source

• Malaysia enters a two-week lockdown as the country faces an upward surge of coronavirus cases. Source

• A study sponsored by Sao Paulo’s state government, provided Sinovac’s  CoronaVac  to residents of  Serrana, a small Brazilian town. Overall, 75 percent of the town’s residents – making up 95 percent of adults – were fully vaccinated. As surrounding cities were hit hard by the P.1 variant, five weeks after mass vaccination in Serrana, deaths from COVID-19 decreased by 95 percent, hospitalizations decreased by 86 percent and  symptomatic cases dropped by 80 percent. Source

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