• More than 200 prominent people, half of them former government leaders, have signed a letter to the G7 in advance of their upcoming summit. The letter says that wealthy countries should come up with most of the $66 billion needed to vaccinate low-income countries, calling it “the best insurance policy in the world, ”and recommends dose-sharing, licensing agreements and patent waivers to stimulate global coronavirus vaccine production and prevent new variants. Source

• Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, held a news conference, where he announced the total of new infections and deaths have been declining for several weeks, but that deaths were rising in areas that lack coronavirus vaccines, such as Africa and Latin America.  “The inequitable distribution of vaccines has allowed the virus to continue spreading, increasing the chances of a variant emerging that renders vaccines less effective,” he said, adding that “the biggest barrier to ending the pandemic remains sharing: of doses, of resources, of technology.” He noted that high-income countries have taken 44 percent of the world’s vaccine doses, while low-income countries have only administered .4 percent, and that “the most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn’t changed in months.” Source

• As India’s coronavirus cases decline, Delhi and Mumbai are partially opening up while Rajasthan Karnataka, Kerala Tamil Nadu and Telangana have extended lockdowns until the middle or end of this week. Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Haryana are opening cautiously, in phases. Nonetheless, public health experts advise caution amidst the country’s lagging vaccine drive. Source

• The Delta variant is the most infectious version of the coronavirus so far, and is estimated to be 50 percent more contagious than the Alpha variant. It may cause more severe illness, and  doctors in India are reporting unusual symptoms among people with the Delta variant, such as hearing loss, swelling in the neck, severe tonsillitis, stomach pain from blood clotting in the intestines, vomiting, diarrhea and gangrene from severe, small blood clots called micro thrombi. Mucormycosis – also called black fungus, has become an epidemic among COVID-19 patients and survivors, infecting nearly 9,000 of them. Source

• A groundbreaking, 14,000-person, NIAID-funded trial planned for eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa would test mRNA-based coronavirus vaccines against the Beta variant specifically in people living with HIV, including pregnant women. Vaccines from J & J and Novavax have been less effective in people living with HIV- and against the Beta variant – and this trial could provide the evidence to push for increased access to mRNA vaccines. But Pfizer and Moderna have been unwilling to provide vaccines for the trial. A spokesperson from Pfizer said the company does not think the study is necessary because they have evidence that the vaccine is effective against the Beta variant, and it is already doing a study in pregnant women. Moderna said that it wants to assess its new formulation instead, but it expressed concern about liability for vaccine side effects and staffing for the required pharmacovigilance effort. In addition, business considerations may play a role – new data generated by the trial could complicate getting full approval for their vaccines. The trial’s organizers are working to find solutions, including that the U.S. or South African governments assume liability. Source

• After facing fierce criticism for his administration’s handling of India’s response to the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narenda Modi reverses an earlier policy: states will no longer have to procure vaccines. Procurement will now be centralized, the government will provide them for free, and everyone over age 18 will be eligible for vaccination on 21 June, although 25 percent of all vaccines will be given through the private health care system. Modi also announced that the free food program, which serves 800 million poor people, will continue until November 2021. Source

• In Uganda, where WHO reports that coronavirus cases have jumped by 137 percent in the past week, President Yoweri Museveni announces a six-week lockdown, saying “In this wave, the intensity of severe and critically ill covid-19 patients and death is higher than what we experienced in the first wave of the pandemic.” Source

• Coronavirus cases in Britain have doubled over the past month, mainly due to the Delta variant, which appears to be more likely to infect people who have only had one dose of vaccine than other versions of the coronavirus. Source

• Thailand launches a mass vaccination campaign using a locally made version of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Siam Bioscience, a pharmaceutical company owned by the king, is producing the vaccines although it has no experience in the field and shortages have already caused delays. Source

• China reports that it has exported 350 million doses of coronavirus vaccine – nearly a third of what it has produced. Source

• US CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urges parents to vaccinate teenagers, noting the increase in hospitalization rates in March and April, with nearly a third admitted to intensive care and five percent requiring ventilation. Source

Scientific Reports publishes a description of Wuhan’s wet markets from May 2017 to November 2019, during which 17 shops had total sales of 36,295 animals belonging to 38 wild animal species – kept in poor conditions. (In early 2020, China temporarily banned all wildlife trade until the end of the COVID‐19 pandemic, and permanently banned eating and trading wild animals for food). They found 33 species of animals that harbor infectious diseases or disease-bearing parasites that can cause illness in human beings, such as mink, palm civets and raccoon dogs (although they did not find bats or pangolins). Source

• Former US President Donald Trump and his Republican allies are attempting to re-write pandemic history, with false claims that the virus was developed in, and escaped from a lab in Wuhan – and that Americans, including President Biden, are covering it up. As Republicans call for Dr Anthony Fauci’s resignation, implicating him in the coverup, or even the creation of the virus, Fauci replied “Are you really saying that we are implicated because we gave a multibillion-dollar institution $120,000 a year for bat surveillance?” Source

• Moderna issues a press release to announce its new partnership with Medison Pharma, which will commercialize its coronavirus vaccine in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Israel, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Source

• Moderna announces that it has filed for conditional regulatory approval of its coronavirus vaccine for adolescents ages 12 and over in the EU and Canada, and that it plans to file with FDA. Source

The state of Washington is giving adults a joint when they get a coronavirus vaccine. Source