11 August 2021

• WHO announces the SOLIDARITY PLUS trial, which will look at the effectiveness of three potential treatments for COVID-19: artesunate (which is used to treat severe malaria; imatinib, an anti-cancer drug, and infliximab, a monoclonal antibody used for immune disorders). SOLIDARITY PLUS will include a network of over 600 hospitals in 52 countries. Source

• The US CDC endorses coronavirus vaccination for people who are pregnant, noting new data that found vaccination did not increase miscarriage risks among people vaccinated during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Source

• The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announces a plan for purchasing and distributing millions of coronavirus vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean, where only 20 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. PAHO’s Assistant Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, said that “…countries need to go further than 20 percent and it is not clear if COVAX will offer more vaccines after this 20 percent.” The initiative will begin in Q3 of 2021. Countries will have to pay for the vaccines, with PAHO handling pricing negotiations and distribution. Source

• The Delta variant continues to spread through Sydney and into New South Wales state, where the city of Dubbo went into lockdown; Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended for an additional week. Source 

• In Kenya, where only 2.6 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, government workers are now required to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine before 23 August; those who do not comply will face disciplinary action. Source                   

• Associated Press reports that only 3 million of Iran’s 80 million residents are fully vaccinated although the country is home to the Middle East’s highest rates of illness and death from COVID-19. Vaccine roll-out has been slow; the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has refused to accept donations from Western countries, preferring to develop locally produced vaccines based on  traditional “dead virus” technology. The government claims that its locally- developed vaccine is 85 percent effective, but it has not released data from clinical trials. In the meantime, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Health announced that Iran could import Western vaccines “as long as they’re not produced in the U.S. or Britain.” The country also purchased 60 million doses of Sputnik V, but only a million of them have been delivered. Japan has donated 2.9 million doses of  its locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and China, which  has sent 10 million doses. Vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are available on the black market for $1,350. Source

Associated Press reports that Senegal is suffering through a third wave of coronavirus, driven by the Delta variant. COVAX has delivered 500,000 vaccines to the country, which is home to 16 million residents. Hospitals are being overwhelmed; Dr. Mouhamed Lamine Dieng, who triages COVID-19 patients, said “Now there is an overflow of calls and an overflow of patients and very few places available.” Source

• The US CDC is forecasting that the country’s death toll from COVID-19 could reach 630,000 to 662,000 by 4 September. Source

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