1 July 2021

• J & J issues a press release to announce that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine generates immune responses against the Delta variant (as well as Alpha, Beta, Epsilon, Gamma and Kappa) and that protection increases over time and persists for eight months (the maximum length of follow-up). Source

• CureVac issues a press release to announce the final results from its 40,000-person phase III trial of its experimental mRNA coronavirus vaccine, CVnCoVso, noting an overall efficacy of 48% against COVID-19 of any severity. The vaccine’s efficacy against COVID-19 increased to 53% among people ages 18-60; in this group it was 77% effective against severe disease, and 100% effective against hospitalization and death. Only nine percent of study participants were over age 60, which did not enable a statistically significant determination of efficacy. CureVac is working on a second-generation coronavirus vaccine in partnership with GSK; it is expected to enter clinical trials in Q3 of 2021. Source

• ANG-3777, a drug developed for treating organ damage and fibrotic disease, has failed in a trial for people with severe COVID-19 and pneumonia who are at risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). There were more deaths among people who received ANG-3777 than those who did not. Source

• Spain reports a surge in coronavirus cases among young, unvaccinated people; overall, over the past two weeks, the number of cases per 100,000 people rose from 92.5 to 117.7, but cases among those ages 12-19 increased by 44 in one day, reaching 287.8 per 100,000 and those among people ages 20-29 increased by 42 in just one day, reaching 293.3 per 100,000. Source

• Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli of Norway, chair of the WTO council overseeing the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). convenes a meeting in Geneva after the first round of small-group discussions about the proposed waiver on intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. During the discussions, the US joined Brazil, the EU, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland and the UK, among others – in supporting a waiver for all “health products and technologies” used “for the prevention, treatment or containment of COVID-19.” South Africa alluded to a list of “priority medical devices” that the WHO issued in December, including ventilators, patient monitors and medical and surgical masks, as well as the raw materials needed to make the vaccines.

The EU, which supports a proposal to boost global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines without suspending intellectual property protections, raised concerns that products developed during any waiver period would eventually lose their eligibility for patent protection, if unlicensed use of those products becomes too widespread during that time.

Delegations from South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and other countries maintained that the EU’s proposal should not be pushed as an alternative to their waiver, because it would do nothing to change the IP laws that are a barrier to combatting the virus’ continued spread around the world. Source

• As the Delta variant continues to spread, Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, announced mosques, schools, shopping malls and sports facilities in Bali and Java will be closed until 20 July – including during  Eid al-Adha, a major event in the country. Source

• In the EU, digital certificates to enable travel in the bloc go into effect. The certificates show that people have either been fully vaccinated (with shots from AstraZeneca, J & J, Moderna, and Pfizer/BioNTech), tested negative or have immunity after a recent recovery from COVID-19, exempting them from from most travel or quarantine restrictions. But countries have not agreed on who is responsible for checking the certificates, where they should be checked, or when – and people who received Covishield, the version of AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India and widely used by COVAX, are not eligible because the EMA has not approved it. Source

• With just over three weeks before the Olympics open in Tokyo, the capital city is facing a surge of coronavirus, driven by the Delta variant. In just one week, cases increased from 95 to 714. Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister of economic revitalization, announced earlier in the week that a new state of emergency may have to be declared if cases don’t decrease. Only 14.6 million of the country’s 126 million residents have been fully vaccinated, although Japan has been vaccinated a million people per day.

Despite the recent surge in cases, the IOC, Japan’s government, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government and the local Olympic organizing committee insist that the Games can go ahead safely if health guidelines are followed – but most Tokyo residents oppose them, fearing a super-spreader event. Source

• Romania and Bulgaria have stockpiles of coronavirus vaccines that are rapidly approaching their expiry dates, although vaccination rates in both countries are low – just 24 percent of Romania’s population has been fully vaccinated and half of that amount in Bulgaria due to distrust of authorities and concerns about vaccine safety. Bulgaria plans to donate 150,000 doses, most of which are AstraZeneca, to neighboring Balkan countries, while Romania the government is working with doctors in rural communities to boost vaccination rates. Source

• Israel reports 307 coronavirus cases, its highest rate in three months, as the Delta variant spreads. The country has reimposed an indoor masking mandate and is racing to vaccinate children, as officials consider closing Ben Gurion airport and bringing back the “Green Pass” for fully vaccinated people. Source

• In Portugal, where 34 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, a surge of infections caused by the Delta variant has led to 11 pm to 5am curfews in Lisbon, Porto and other busy tourist areas. Source

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