26 July 2021

• Shionogi announces that it has launched a phase I trial of S-217622, an oral protease inhibitor, as an experimental treatment for COVID-19. Source

• Coronavirus cases in Malaysia surpass one million. Source

• Hundreds of children have died from COVID-19 in Indonesia, which has become the global epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic. Children, many under the age of 5, make up 12.5 percent of the country’s cases. Source

• Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, announces that the country is facing a third wave of coronavirus, driven by the Delta variant. Only 2 percent of its 20 million residents are fully vaccinated, but the country expects that all adults will be vaccinated by the end of 2021, and it is procuring 17 million doses of the J & J single-dose vaccine and is expecting 1.5 million doses of vaccines from  AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech. Ghana has also set aside $25 million to help fund local vaccine manufacturing. Source

• Dr Anthony Fauci warns that the US is headed “in the wrong direction” as coronavirus cases continue to soar. Source 

• Despite being urged to shorten their six-week summer holiday by World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, delegates have not changed their plans. But before they go, they will adopt a report acknowledging that they have not made much progress towards making coronavirus vaccines widely available. “The WTO’s response to Covid is the most critical issue before our organization right now,” said its spokesperson Keith Rockwell, “Millions have died and lives are at stake. Finding a pragmatic outcome by December is essential.” Source 

• A South Korean coronavirus vaccine-mixing study in 499 healthcare workers found that combining a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine with a second shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine increased neutralizing antibodies by six-fold, reaching similar levels to those elicited by two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Source 

• The US Department of Veterans Affairs announces that all 115,000 of its frontline health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 coronavirus inoculation in the next two months or face possible job loss, while the governor of California and the mayor of New York City announced that government workers will need to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing for the virus. Source

• The Biden administration will continue to restrict Europeans and others from entering the US, to stop further spread of the Delta variant. Source 

• Nearly 60 US medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, issue a joint statement calling to mandate coronavirus vaccines for everyone working in healthcare and at long-term care facilities, nothing that “This is the logical fulfillment of the ethical commitment of all health care workers to put patients as well as residents of long-term care facilities first and take all steps necessary to ensure their health and well-being.” Source

• Federal regulators in the US have urged Pfizer and Moderna to expand clinical trials of their coronavirus vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 to detect rare side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle which has been reported among young men who received mRNA vaccines. Source

• US President Joe Biden announces that Americans who have long COVID will have access to benefits and protection provided under federal disability law, noting that “breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain or fatigue,” from long COVID can become disabling. Source 

• Democratic legislators interviewed eleven current and former federal health officials as part of a widening investigation into the Trump administration’s political interference in the response to the pandemic. Source

• Coronavirus cases in the UK have been falling for nearly a week despite lifting of most restrictions. While there are several theories for the decrease, there is no consensus on an explanation – and experts say another week is needed before the impact can be determined. Source

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