3 June 2021

World leaders (including from Australia, France, Kuwait, Mauritius, Mexico, Switzerland and Viet Nam as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mastercard, the Visa Foundation and the European Investment Bank) at a virtual summit hosted by Gavi, the vaccine alliance and Japan’s government, pledge $2.4 billion to COVAX. Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Spain and Sweden announced a plan to share 54 million doses of their domestic vaccine supplies to countries that are least able to afford them. Source

A pre-print publication reports on a persistent case of COVID-19 in a woman living with advanced HIV (CD4 count of 6 cells/mm3) and antiretroviral treatment failure. The woman participated in a study on the effects of HIV and tuberculosis on the natural history and immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and was followed for over six months. She remained positive for SARS-CoV-2 over 216 days; during this period, over 32 mutations emerged, including the E484K substitution, which is associated with escape from neutralizing antibodies, and N501Y, which is found in most variants of concern. Source

BARDA, the US’s top pandemic preparedness agency, is launching a venture capital fund to invest in technologies for future outbreaks or other public health emergencies. Sandeep Patel, BARDS’s research director, says the fund will invest in five to nine companies per year with clearer commercial applications outside of public health emergencies, so it will be sustainable without heavy public funding and ready if a crisis strikes. Source

Moderna issues a press release announcing that Botswana’s government has granted emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine and has entered an agreement to purchase the vaccine, although no details were disclosed. Source

The US announces that it would distribute an initial 25 million doses of coronavirus vaccines this month in Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa, as well as the Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank. The remaining 55 million doses will be reserved for regions dealing with “urgent, present crises,” said Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser. Source

WHO cautions that a sharp increase in coronavirus cases could amount to Africa’s third wave. Test positivity has risen in 14 countries over the past week – eight of which reported new cases surging by over 30 percent. Only 31 million of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccines and only seven million are fully vaccinated. Source

Afghanistan’s health ministry has declared that the country is in the midst of a third wave of coronavirus; the positivity rate is 34 percent, as hospitals begin turning people away and oxygen shortages are occurring. Source

Canada is experiencing vaccine shortages. It prioritized giving first doses, so 62 percent of adults have received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – but less than 6 percent of them are fully vaccinated. To extend the supply, the country’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization said people who had received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine could be given a second dose of the  Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna  vaccines (it also said these two mRNA vaccines could be used interchangeably, although it recommended using a single one when possible). Source

An estimated 10,000 of 80,000 volunteers for Tokyo’s Olympics have quit, due to concerns about the country’s coronavirus epidemic. Source

India’s Supreme Court has asked Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s administration to prepare a vaccination policy that prices the shots equally for all and protects the poor. Although Modi’s government says it will vaccinate the country by the end of 2021, at the current pace- and due to vaccine shortages – it will take two years to vaccinate 75 percent of the population. Modi’s administration announced that it has ordered 300 million doses of a  protein sub-unit vaccine developed by Baylor College of Medicine and India’s Biological-E, which is currently in phase III trials. Source

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