9 June 2021

• President Joe Biden will announce that the US government has reached a deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to purchase 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccine at an undisclosed, “not-for-profit” price. The first 200 million doses would be distributed in 2021, and the remaining doses would go out by mid-2022. WHO estimates the global need at 11 billion doses. Source

• A pre-print publication describes genomic analysis of breakthrough coronavirus infections with the Alpha and Delta variants in Delhi, India, after vaccination with Covishield or Covaxin. The study, conducted at a healthcare center, looked at 63 breakthrough infections in people with known dates of vaccination. Overall, 53 people received Covaxin and ten received Covishield: 36 people received two vaccine doses, while 27 had received one dose of vaccine. None had pre-existing conditions and the average age was 37. Most infections were caused by the Delta variant (84.6 percent in the double-dose group, and 66.5% of the single-dose group). Although they had the same symptoms as unvaccinated people, none of the people with a breakthrough infection developed severe COVID-19 or died. Source 

Nature Medicine publishes data from 2.5 million people who received a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine from a prospective COVID-19 surveillance cohort in Scotland.  The first dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was associated with a small increased risk for Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, an uncommon autoimmune disorder that causes low platelets, bruising and bleeding and “suggestive evidence” of an increased risk of arterial blood clots and hemorrhagic events. Source

• In Mongolia, where over half of the population has been fully vaccinated with an inactivated vaccine from Sinopharm, which is less effective than mRNA vaccines. The country is now experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases, as did Seychelles, which also relied on Sinopharm’s vaccine, although few people fell seriously ill. Experts note that vaccines based on an inactivated version of a virus are less effective at preventing infections, but better at preventing serious illness. Source

• Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest country, has not vaccinated any of its residents against COVID-19. It turned down COVAX’s offer of the AstraZeneca vaccine because many people feared the side effects. When the country had a surge of coronavirus cases and decided to use the vaccines, there were none left to send, because India had stopped exporting them. There is no scheduled date for Haiti’s COVAX shipment, but US President Joe Biden has pledged to send vaccines to Haiti. Source

• In the US, hospitalizations for COVID-19  in eight states (and some small communities) with low vaccination are on the rise, although overall numbers are low. Experts are concerned that these increases could lead to a surge over the summer. Source

• Dr. Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the China’s National Health Commission, says that WHO should consider using levels of neutralizing antibodies (which indicate immunity) instead of data from large phase III trials as criteria for granting emergency use listing for coronavirus vaccines. Source

• FDA releases a briefing document, Licensure and Emergency Use Authorization of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19 for Use in Pediatric Populations for its 10 June advisory committee meeting, where necessary data, length of follow-up, immunobridging (using adult data  on immune responses to infer vaccine effectiveness in  pediatric populations), endpoints and the framework for pediatric vaccine approval will be discussed. Source

Bloomberg reports that the US and the EU are joining forces to push for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19; they have developed a draft statement in which they “…call for progress on a transparent, evidence-based, and expert-led WHO-convened phase 2 study on the origins of COVID-19, that is free from interference,” and “commit to working together toward the development and use of a swift and independent means for investigating such outbreaks in the future.” The draft, which they hope to adopt at an upcoming summit, includes additional concerns, such as human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet, the erosion of democratic processes in Hong Kong, economic coercion, disinformation campaigns, regional security issues and the situations in the East China and South China Seas .Source

• The US government announced that it plans to spend $1.2 billion to purchase 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir, a nucleoside analog that Merck is co-developing with Ridgeback Pharmaceuticals, pending positive Phase III results. In earlier trials,  the drug did not shorten hospital stays or prevent death from COVID-19, but a 1,850-person trial is looking to prove that it can stop high-risk, newly diagnosed patients from ending up in the hospital based on signals from earlier studies. Source

• Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, told state officials to store doses of the J & J coronavirus vaccine that are nearing expiration until new data is released that shows whether the vaccines are still safe to use; FDA officials are optimistic that the expiration dates could be extended. Source

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