23 June 2021

• Australia announces that it will give up to 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus each week, mainly to people over age 60, until October, when it will only administer the vaccine “subject to request.” Source

• The US CDC reports that coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have caused myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around the heart. The side effect is most common among young men (under age 30) and more likely to occur after the second vaccine dose. Overall, there have been 1,200 cases – or 12.6 cases per million second doses administered. Most cases have been mild; symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain and abnormal heart rhythm quickly clear up and most people recover fully.

CDC researchers concluded that the benefits of vaccination outweigh risks, estimate that a million second doses could cause a maximum of 70 cases in boys ages 12-17, while preventing 5,700 coronavirus infections, 215 hospitalizations and two deaths from COVID-19. Notably, COVID-19 can cause heart problems, and is far more likely to do so than the vaccines. Source

New England Journal of Medicine publishes information on immune responses among 101 transplant recipients given three doses of mRNA coronavirus vaccine. The first two doses were given 1 month apart, and the third dose was administered 2 months later. The third dose significantly increased immune response, although the authors cautioned that masking and other precautions remain necessary for immunocompromised people. Source

• WHO reports that its prequalification inspection team uncovered issues with production of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, including how vials were filled at the Pharmstandard-UfaVITA filling plant (which does not produce the vaccines). The WHO’s pre-qualification team also had concerns about sterility, including clothing that workers wore; it observed that measures to mitigate cross-contamination were inadequate, and had issues with data integrity and test results during quality controls, and with tracing and identifying batches of vaccines made at the facility. Pharmstandard-UfaVITA issued a statement listing the concerns and the actions it had taken in response to correct them. Source

• US congressional investigators expanded their inquiry into Emergent BioSolutions, the government contractor paid $628 million, mainly for reserving vaccine production capacity at its Baltimore plant – where tens of millions of coronavirus vaccines were ruined. Emergent also signed billion-dollar contracts with AstraZeneca and J & J to produce coronavirus vaccines, and the government is looking into its relationship with those companies. The government has asked AstraZeneca and J & J to document their oversight of vaccine production at the Emergent plant, and for all records on their decisions to hire Emergent.

The New York Times reported that both companies – and the government – had found deficiencies at the plant during the summer of 2020. AstraZeneca’s audit noted that Emergent had not documented mitigation of high-risk contamination hazards; instead, it modified criteria but still failed tests. J & J’s audit reported that the firm’s strategy to control contamination was insufficient and that reports monitoring bacteria and other contaminants were filed months late. Source

• Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control warns that all EU residents should be fully vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent the Delta variant – which is expected to comprise 90 percent of infections by August – from spreading across the continent. Most EU countries have fully vaccinated less than 30% of their populations. Source

• A year ago, sequenced viral samples from China’s early COVID-19 cases vanished mysteriously from an online scientific database. Jesse Bloom, a Seattle researcher, found 13 of the original sequences in Google cloud storage. The sequences may provide information about when and how the virus made the leap from a bat (or other animal) and human beings, and they support the suggestions that several coronaviruses may have been circulating in Wuhan before the human outbreak linked to animal and seafood markets in December 2019.

The author describes these samples as a “…gold mine for anyone seeking to understand spread of the virus,” noting that there was no reason to delete them, and that “.. the trusting structures of science have been abused to obscure sequences relevant to the early spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan.”  Source

• The White House announces that it is sending three million doses of the J & J coronavirus vaccine to Brazil in the coming days. Source

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