16 June 2021

• In the US, deaths from COVID-19 surpass 600,000. The first reported death in the country occurred in February 2020; it took 89 days to reach 100,000 deaths on 27 May; 118 days to reach 200,000 deaths on 22 September ; 83 days to reach 300,000 deaths on 14 December; 36 days to reach 400,000 deaths on 19 January 2021; 34 days to reach a half-million deaths on 22 February  and 114 days to reach 600,000. Source

• Fair Health publishes a White Paper with an analysis of US private healthcare claims among people with “long-haul COVID”, following 1,959,982 COVID-19 patients from February to December of 2020. Overall, 23.2 percent of whom had at least one post-COVID condition. These conditions were most common among people who had been hospitalized (50 percent), followed by non-hospitalized people who experienced COVID-19 symptoms (27.5 percent) and people were asymptomatic (19 percent). The five most common post-COVID conditions were pain, breathing difficulties, hyperlipidemia, malaise and fatigue, and hypertension.

Females were more likely to develop post-COVID conditions than males. The most common post-COVID conditions among females were thyroid issues, depression, migraine or headache, anxiety, anemia, eye issues, adjustment disorders, vertigo, skin issues, and intestinal issues. The most common post-COVID conditions among makes were heart disease, kidney failure, respiratory distress, death after 30 days, blood clots, diabetes, hypertension, tic disorders, cardiac inflammation, hyperlipidemia, stroke, and respiratory disorder. Sleep disorders, abnormal organ tests and hearing loss were equally common among females and males.

The odds of death 30 days after diagnosis were 46 times higher for people who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 versus those who were not hospitalized. The causes of death were sepsis, unspecified respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, aneurysms (brain, aortic, etc.) and pneumonia, acute kidney failure, endocarditis, pulmonary embolism and acute myocardial infarction. Most of the deaths occurred in people ages 60 and over, a majority in males. Source

• Globally, Africa is the only area where coronavirus cases increased over the past week, the continent has a 44 percent increase in new cases, reaching 95,000 and a 20 percent increase in COVID-19 deaths, reaching 1,400. Because testing rates in the region are low, it is likely that many more cases may be going undiagnosed. Source

• CureVac issues a press release with the second batch of interim results from a 40,000- person phase IIb/III trial of its experimental mRNA coronavirus vaccine, CVnCoV. The vaccine was 47 percent effective against COVID-19 disease of any severity; it did not meet prespecified statistical success criteria. Overall, 134 cases occurred at least two weeks after the second vaccine; 124 of them were sequenced. Only one case was the original version of SARS-CoV-2; 57 percent of cases were caused by variants of concern, while the other cases were caused by less well-known variants. The release noted that CureVac is developing second-generation mRNA coronavirus vaccines – and others that could prevent multiple infections – in partnership with GSK, and expects to launch a phase I trial of a second-generation vaccine in Q3 of 2021. Source

New England Journal of Medicine publishes results from the 289-person, randomized controlled, double-blind STOP COVID trial of the Janus kinase inhibitor tofacitinib a, in hospitalized adults with COVID-19 pneumonia. Death or respiratory failure through day 28 – the trials’ two main endpoints – occurred in 18.1 percent of the tofacitinib group vs. 29 percent of the placebo group. The authors suggest JAK inhibitors may be an additional therapeutic option COVID-19 pneumonia in patients who are not receiving mechanical ventilation. Source

• South African President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country’s virus alert level from two to three, and announced additional measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, including limiting alcohol sales for off-site consumption to Monday through Thursday; extending a 10pm until 4am curfew, and limiting public gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Source

• The US CDC has classified the Delta variant, which rose from 2.7 percent of US cases to nearly 10 percent in a matter of weeks, as a variant of concern due to its increased transmissibility, and because  of the possibility that certain antibody treatments may be less effective against it. Source

• In Pakistan, low vaccination rates have led government officials in Punjab and Sindh to announce that they will block cellphone service  to people who refuse to get vaccinated against coronavirus; Sindh is also planning to withhold wages  from unvaccinated government employees. Source

• The UK RECOVERY Trial announces preliminary results of treatment with the monoclonal antibody combination of casirivimab and imdevimab (also known as REGEN-COV) in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Although the treatment did not benefit everyone, it did reduce duration of hospitalization and progression to invasive mechanical ventilation or death in people who did not mount an immune response to COVID-19. Sir Martin Landray, RECOVERY’s Joint Chief Investigator, said  the results were “‘excellent news – it is the first time that any antiviral treatment has been shown to save lives in hospitalised COVID-19 patients.” Source

• The New York Times reports that five top executives at Emergent Biosolutions were given nearly eight million dollars in bonuses and stock awards, even as its Baltimore plant ruined 75 million doses of J & J coronavirus vaccines and has remained shut during an ongoing investigation. The company generated record profits from a federal contract awarded by the Trump administration, which did seek other bids, despite regulators noting quality shortcomings at Emergent-owned sites in recent years. Source

• WHO urges wealthy countries to prioritize countries in Latin America for coronavirus vaccine donations due to high transmission and mortality rates. Over the last week, there were 1.1 million new cases and 31,000 in the region. Source

• The US agrees to purchase 200 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, with an option to include new variant-fighting boosters and pediatric doses – bringing the country’s total procurement to 500 million doses. Moderna said it expected to deliver 110 million doses in Q4 of 2021, and the remaining 90 million in  Q1 of 2022. Source

• Although AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine is approved in Japan, it is not being given there despite the country’s slow rollout, due to concerns about rare blood clots with low platelets. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced that Japan is sending one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Viet Nam, in addition to giving Taiwan more than a million doses earlier in the month. The country is planning to make additional vaccine donations to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand; none have been made through COVAX. Source

• In Taiwan, where less than 5 percent of the population has been vaccinated against coronavirus, leaders blame “Chinese intervention” for their inability to purchase vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech. China considers the accusation to be “fabricated out of nothing.” A Chinese company says it has exclusive commercial rights to distribute the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Taiwan – which is an unpalatable option for the country Source

• Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former aide, Dominic Cummings, posted a text message from Mr. Johnson, describing the government’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, with a profanity, as “totally hopeless.” Source

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