1 June 2021

• The WHO approves Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use,  although some of its experts noted data gaps and missing evidence. The vaccine was 51% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 and hospitalization.  Source

• In India, regulators granted emergency use approval for  bamlanivimab and etesevimab, a combination of monoclonal antibodies used to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19. The approval covers restricted use for adults in emergency situations in hospital settings. Source

• The EU plans to lift quarantine rules on people who are fully vaccinated – and their children – on 1 July. A system has been put in place to issue digital passports to facilitate travel in the bloc. The same rights will be conferred on people who have  a negative test result (within 72 hours  of travel for PCR testing and within 48 hours  of travel for rapid antigen testing)  or proof of recovery from COVID-19. Countries may choose to impose restrictions on people arriving from outside of the EU. Source

• Peru’s death toll has tripled following a government review of COVID-19 data; it is now home to world’s highest per capita death toll at over 500 per 100,000 people. Source

• In Brazil, tens of thousands of protesters across 200 cities and towns hit the streets to demand the resignation of President Jair Bolsanaro for his disastrous handling of COVID-19. “This government is more dangerous than the virus,” said Irene Grether, a 69-year-old psychoanalyst at the demo, who said two relatives had died as a result of her government’s inaction. Source

• In some countries, coronavirus vaccines are arriving too late, due to inefficient distribution and short shelf life. South Sudan sent 72,000 doses to Kenya, fearing that it would be difficult to administer them before they expired. In Malawi, Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda incinerated nearly 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that had passed the official expiry date, although the manufacturer said they could be used for another three months. Matthew Kavanagh, director of the Global Health Policy & Politics Initiative at Georgetown University, said  “The idea that African countries should use the leftovers of high-income countries, including expired doses, is not only deeply unethical but a recipe for vaccine hesitancy.”

• John Nkengasong, Director of Africa’s CDC, said “The greatest challenge is the predictability of availability of vaccines to enable planning and community mobilisation.” Typically, vaccines have a three-year shelf life; in contrast, coronavirus vaccines have strict storage requirements and far shorter shelf lives. Vaccine producers are performing stability tests and asking for extensions to shelf life. After a consultation with the African Union, India’s Serum Institute, which had been stockpiling doses, extended their shelf life from April to July, and Pfizer has secured regulatory approval in the US and the EU to extend storage of  refrigerated thawed, unopened vials from five days to a month.  Source

• More than five percent of lawmakers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have died from COVID-19. The country is struggling to vaccinate its residents.  Only 23,000 of over 86 million residents have been vaccinated, and the epidemic is raging. It received 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine from COVAX in March, which were not administered for a month due to concerns about rare blood clots with low platelets. By May, the country had sent 1.3 million doses to other African countries, fearing that they would expire before they could be given out. Source

• Moderna announces that it has started the process for full FDA approval of its coronavirus vaccine in adults ages 18 and over with a rolling submission of data from phase III trials. Source

• Moderna issues a press release announcing an agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific (which already supplies some of the raw materials used in the vaccine) for fill/finish sterile manufacturing services and supply packaging for its coronavirus vaccine; production will start in Q3 of 2021.  Source

• In Israel, where 81 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, coronavirus cases have decreased to less than 20 per day. The country has now lifted restrictions (except for the requirement for masks  in closed public spaces); people have access to restaurants, sports and cultural events regardless of their vaccination status. Source

• Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Poland have issued and are accepting digital green certificates. Source

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