29 June 2021

• WHO urges all people, including those who have been fully vaccinated, to continue wearing masks, in contrast to the CDC, which has not changed its guidance despite the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant in the US and over 80 other countries. Source

Nature Medicine reports that COVID-19 has led to a significant reduction of life expectancy in Brazil – in some states, it has dropped to what it was 20 years ago. They note that a rebound to pre-pandemic levels is unlikely to happen quickly because coronavirus cases remain high, vaccination rates are low, and other healthcare services have been disrupted, including cancer screenings and childhood immunizations, and people’s health is likely to have worsened due to treatment interruptions, lack of physical activity and Long COVID. In addition, the pandemic has worsened Brazil’s economic crisis, and reductions in the healthcare budget are likely to have a negative impact on infant mortality, access to primary healthcare and avoidable deaths. Source

• The Washington Post reports that within hours of an announcement from Moscow’s mayor mandating coronavirus vaccines for 60 percent of people with public-facing jobs, ads for fake vaccination certificates appeared on social media for just $25. Source

• Namibia, home to Africa’s worst coronavirus outbreak, is now using the vaccine doses it had reserved for second shots for first doses, as per advice from WHO. Less than one percent of the country’s population has been vaccinated. Doctors are calling for a nation-wide lockdown as  the positivity rate reached 45 percent, PPE and oxygen are in short supply, and hospitals and funeral homes are being overwhelmed. Source

• Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, announces that visitors from the UK are now required to provide proof of full vaccination (with vaccines from AstraZeneca, J & J, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac) against coronavirus or a negative PCR test result to enter the country. He announced this measure in order to protect both residents and visitors, given the rising infection rates in the United Kingdom. Source

• Abu Dhabi announces unvaccinated people (except for children under age 15 and people who are exempt) will not be allowed to enter universities, schools, nurseries, gyms and shopping centers as of 20 August. Source

• Moderna issues a press release announcing that their coronavirus vaccine showed neutralizing activity against all variants studied, including different versions of the Beta variant, and the Delta, Eta and Kappa variants, based on serum samples from eight people in a phase I trial of the vaccine. Source

• As the Delta variant spreads across the Asia Pacific region, governments are taking action to stop it: Malaysia’s nationwide stay-at-home order has been extended indefinitely; officials in Hong Kong have banned flights from the UK; soldiers in Bangladesh are preparing to patrol the streets to enforce the stay-at-home order and Australia extended its lockdown to Brisbane and Perth. Source

• AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine is on the list of vaccines that confer eligibility for an EU digital travel certificate. But the EU has excluded Covishield, the version of the vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India and used by COVAX. The African Union has criticized the EU, saying that excluding Covishield could cause discrimination against travelers from Africa, and that it endangered “equitable treatment of persons having received their vaccines in countries profiting from the EU-supported COVAX Facility, including the majority of the African Union (AU) Member States.” Source

• NIH issues a press release announcing that although the J & J coronavirus produces fewer neutralizing antibodies against variants, it produced similar overall immune responses (against the Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants and the original version of SARS-CoV-2. The researchers suggest that lower levels of neutralizing antibodies may be protective against COVID-19 – or that non-neutralizing antibodies and T cell responses contribute to protection against COVID-19. Source

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