• Gavi signs agreements with Sinopharm and Sinovac, making 110 million doses of their coronavirus vaccines available immediately for distribution through COVAX. Gavi has agreed to purchase 60 million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, which will be available from July through October of 2021, with an  option to purchase an additional 60 million doses in Q4 of 2021, and 50 million more doses in the first half of 2022, reaching a total of 170 million doses. Gavi’s advance purchase agreement with Sinovac covers 50 million doses, which will be available from July through September of 2021, with an option to purchase an additional 150 million doses in Q4 of 2021 and 180 million more doses in the first half of 2022, reaching 380 million potential doses. Source

The WHO spoke out about countries ordering booster shots while others go without vaccines. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the rise in global cases and driven by the Delta variant, and singled out Pfizer and Moderna for selling boosters to high-income countries. “The global gap in COVID-19 vaccine supply is hugely uneven and inequitable. Some countries and regions are actually ordering millions of booster doses, before other countries have had supplies to vaccinate their health workers and most vulnerable.” 

WHO’s Chief Scientist, Souya Swaminathan, added that the need for boosters should be  “…based on the science and the data, not on individual companies declaring that their vaccines need to be administered as a booster dose.”  

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said: “We will look back in anger, and we will look back in shame” if countries use precious doses on booster shots, at a time when vulnerable people are still dying without vaccines elsewhere. Source

• Taiwan’s Foxconn and Semiconductor Manufacturing Company have made a deal on behalf of the government, paying around $350 million for 10 million doses of BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, which will be delivered in September of 2021. They will be donated to the Taiwanese government, which has also ordered millions of vaccine doses from AstraZeneca and Moderna. Source

• As Thailand faces record-breaking daily cases of and deaths from COVID-19, the country’s Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, announced that healthcare workers who received two doses of  CoronaVac will get a booster with a different vaccine;  those given a first dose of CoronaVac will get a second dose of coronavirus vaccines from AstraZeneca or Pfizer/BioNTech. Professor Thiravat Hemachudha, a specialist in clinical, virological, and immunological studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, said that a study of people who had received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine they had “barely efficacious” levels of antibodies against the Alpha and Delta variants.  Sinovac has not provided any data on CoronaVac’s efficacy against variants. Source

• The US FDA adds a new warning about the J & J coronavirus vaccine, saying that it can lead to an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological condition – although it concluded that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.  The FDA said that  “… available evidence suggests an association” between the vaccine and a higher risk of  Guillain-Barré, “it is insufficient to establish a causal relationship.” The vaccine appears increases the risk by three to five times (although COVID-19 can also cause Guillain-Barré).  

Each year, about 10 out of every million people in the US develop Guillain-Barré – when the immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and occasional paralysis – which most people recover from. So far, federal officials have found 100 cases of Guillain-Barré among the 128 million vaccine recipients in the US. Source

• Dr Reddy’s, which has administered nearly 200,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines in hospitals across India, announced that the rollout of Sputnik V was delayed due to a shortage of second doses (which rely on a different formula than the first dose).  A company spokesperson who was interviewed by Reuters, said, “As a matter of responsibility, we would not like to announce a full-fledged commercial launch until we have an equivalent quantity (of the second dose).” India received million first doses of Sputnik V on 1 June; about 360,000 doses of the second are expected by mid-July. The country plans to be one of the biggest manufacturing hubs for Sputnik V, expecting 100 million doses of the vaccine between August and December of 2020. Source  

Vaccines publishes a study from the state-run Gamaleya Center, which developed the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which reported that the vaccine generated weaker immune responses against the Beta, Delta and Gamma variants, noting the need for a “direct comparative study” to make a final conclusion. Source

• As Indonesia battles a record-breaking surge of COVID-19, state-owned Kimia Farm delays its plan to sell  two doses of Sinopharm’s CoronaVac directly to the public for 879,140 rupiah ($60.53). Health experts in the country were critical, saying that such commercial schemes could bypass vulnerable groups in a country where vaccines are promised for everyone at no cost. Diah Saminarsih, a ‎senior adviser to the Director-General of the World Health Organization, said, “Later if vaccines are in bountiful supply, maybe then there could be an option for paid vaccines, but not now.” Source

• In France, where only 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, President Emmanuel Macron ordered the nation’s healthcare workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by 15 September or face fines and sanctions. Special passes (issued to people who have either been fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or had a fresh negative test result) will become necessary for entry to restaurants, shopping malls, trains, planes and to visit the hospital. Mr. Macron said he planned to declare a state of emergency as virus cases soar, which would enable authorities to impose additional restrictions.  

Other European countries have begun to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations: Greece announced that healthcare workers who refuse to get the vaccine will be suspended, and Italy has made vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers and pharmacists, who risk suspension or salary reductions. Denmark requires a digital pass proving full vaccination or a recent negative test to enter restaurants and public events, and some German states also require proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test for going to restaurants. Source 

• For six consecutive days, coronavirus cases in South Korea have exceed 1,000, leading the government to impose strict measures to control the spread, including closing nightclubs and churches, prohibiting private gatherings of three or more people after six in the evening, and banning visitors from hospitals and nursing homes. Source

• Sydney’s three-week lockdown may be extended, as the Delta variant drives COVID-19 cases to 112, a new daily high. Source

• Chris Fearne, Malta’s Minister of Health, announces that the country will ban visitors over age 12  unless they are fully vaccinated – the first EU country to do so. Source

• A study of electronic health records from nearly 75,000  COVID-19 patients found that the flu shot appears to offer some protection against severe COVID-19. People who did not get a flu shot were 45% to 58% more likely to have a stroke, about 40% more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis and 36% to 45% more likely to have sepsis, as well as being more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit. The researchers closely matched records from all COVID-19 patients for age, sex, ethnicity, co-existing conditions and lifestyle factors such as diet and cigarette smoking, noting that people who got the flu vaccine may have been in better general health than those who did not, or that social deprivation might also play a role. The authors speculated that “It could be that the flu vaccine stimulates the immune system non-specifically,” cautioning that a flu shot is not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination and that “The best way to protect yourself from Covid is to get a Covid vaccine.” Source