5 July 2021

• In Malaysia, a social media campaign has led people suffering from economic hardship to fly a white flag outside their home to signal their need for help “without having to beg or feel embarrassed.” Celebrities, food retailers and many other people are driving around the city to drop off supplies and money to those in immediate need. The campaign has created controversy, and could increase public rage at the government. Source 

• Israel’s Ynet news reports a steep decline in efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine due to the Delta variant and loosening of government restrictions, although most cases among vaccinated people have been milder. Citing figures from the nation’s health ministry, between 2 May and 5 June, the vaccine’s efficacy rate was 94.3 percent; from 6 June (five days after restrictions were eased) until early July, the vaccine’s efficacy rate dropped to 64 percent. Nonetheless, vaccination offered strong protection against hospitalization and serious illness from COVID-19’ it was 98.2 percent effective between 2 May and 5 June, and 93 percent effective from 6 June to 3 July. Overall, 55 percent of cases occurred in vaccinated people. Source  

• Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-Ocha, was exposed to coronavirus during Phuket’s re-opening to vaccinated foreign tourists; he is fully vaccinated but will isolate at home for seven days. Source

• A 100-person trial of the Sputnik V vaccine in children ages 12 to 17 has been launched in Moscow. Source  

• Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, has been hospitalized with COVID-19 “as a precautionary measure.” Source 

New England Journal of Medicine publishes results from the 15,187-person phase III trial of NVX-CoV2373, an experimental recombinant nanoparticle coronavirus vaccine given in two doses 21 days apart. Participants included people age 65 or over (27.9 percent) and those with co-existing illnesses (44.6 percent); over 90 percent were White. Overall, vaccine efficacy was 89.7 percent; 106 SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred among trial participants at least seven days after their second dose of vaccine (10) or placebo (96). No hospitalizations, deaths or cases of severe COVID-19 occurred among the fully vaccinated group (although one participant who received a single dose of vaccine died from COVID-19), while five cases of severe COVID-19 and one death from it occurred among the placebo group. The vaccine was 86.3 percent effective against the Alpha variant and 96.4 percent effective against other variants (which were not specified; in a different trial, the vaccine had 51 percent efficacy against the Beta variant). The most common side effects among vaccine recipients were mild-to-moderate pain and tenderness at the injection site, and mild-to-moderate headache, muscle pain and fatigue. One case of myocarditis occurred in a vaccine recipient, who recovered fully after two days in the hospital. Source

• Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announces that he will remove social distancing and masking requirements on 19 July, replacing them with “personal responsibility’ despite a surge in cases of the Delta variant among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people. Johnson said that he wanted to stress that the pandemic is “…far from over,” but that the county would have to “learn to live with this virus. We must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from COVID.” He predicted that daily cases could reach 50,000 by the time the restrictions are lifted. Source

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