• The New York Times reports that countries in Asia, which were behind on coronavirus vaccination, are catching up to, and in some cases, outstripping the EU and the US because of the lack of polarization around vaccines – although concerns about safety remain. Japan, Malayaia and South Korea have now administered more doses per 100 people than the US, although rollout in Southeast Asia has been slower and uneven, but the lack of social safety nets in some countries has driven uptake of coronavirus vaccines. “If I get sick, I don’t get money,” said Arisman a motorcycle driver in Jakarta, Indonesia. “If I don’t work, I don’t get money.” Source

• The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has purchased millions of doses of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine to address inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. PAHO is also in negotiations with other vaccine producers. “This is a purchase — it isn’t a donation,” said PAHO’s Assistant Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, noting that the Inter-American Development Bank was offering loans to countries that needed them. Source

• Transport and health ministers from G-7 countries are holding a virtual meeting to discuss restarting international travel by building a consensus on easing border restrictions. Source

• Bloomberg reports that China’s vaccine diplomacy faces challenges as concerns arise about the efficacy of their vaccines against the Delta variant. China’s customs data reflects a 21 percent drop in vaccine exports from July to August, from $2.48 billion to $1.96 billion. Some governments are now ordering or seeking donations of mRNA vaccines instead of using China’s inactivated virus-based vaccines. Thailand has stopped using vaccines from Sinovac, replacing them with mRNA-based vaccines; Singapore excluded recipients of Chinese vaccine from privileges and its official tally of fully vaccinated persons; the UAE has mandated boosters for people who received Chinese vaccines; although the Philippines relied on Sinovac, the country has just ordered 90 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine; Hong Kong is considering whether to provide mRNA boosters to people fully vaccinated with Sinovac; after Turkey agreed to purchase 100 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, it ordered 120 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which it is giving to some people who were fully vaccinated with Chinese vaccines; Brazil pulled out of negotiations to purchase 30 million doses of Sinovac to support booster with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and Ecuador is using Sinovac only for second doses and has ordered more vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfier/BioNTech than from Sinopharm or Sinovac. Source

• AstraZeneca announces plans to submit its monoclonal antibody combination to the FDA after it was 77 percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 compared to placebo. Source

Science reports that researchers from National University of Laos and colleagues from the Pasteur Institute discovered three coronaviruses among 645 cave-dwelling bats in Laos with a genetic sequence that is 96.8 percent identical to SARS-CoV-2. Linfa Wang, a bat coronavirus researcher at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, said “The core, functional part of SARS-CoV-2 has a natural origin,” says “It’s proven.” But the controversy about the virus’s origin remains. “The Laos finding does not move the needle at all,” says Gilles Demaneuf, a data scientist who has defended the lab-origin hypothesis from what it sees as unwarranted attacks. “It is perfectly compatible with both hypotheses.” Source

• Peter Marks, Director of the US FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, says that coronavirus boosters might be a third dose that completes the series, saying, ““Honestly, the reason why we’ve sometimes called them third doses is because the third dose is being given at six months and may indeed be the third dose of a primary series. It may be that after this pandemic is over, much like the hepatitis B vaccine or the hepatitis A vaccine or other adult vaccinations, there will be three doses at 0, 1, and 6 months,” adding that “…the reason for calling it a booster and not the third dose of a primary series, is that we actually don’t want to alarm the entire population by suddenly telling them that they’re no longer completely vaccinated with a three dose series. So it’s a booster for now and ultimately we may transition into calling it a three dose series.” He recommended that physicians continue to call them boosters, because that’s what they’re called on the label, and that’s what people understand, noting that they could be called third doses for people with immunocompromising conditions, who may need additional boosting. Source

• The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention issues a warning, based on data modeling projections, to countries with coronavirus vaccination coverage at or below the EU’s current average. In these countries, relaxing masking and other preventive measures could lead to significant surge of cases, hospitalisations and mortality until the end of November 2021. In contrast, the agency noted that countries in the region with above-average vaccination coverage have a lower, manageable risk until the end of November 2021 – with a caution that waning immunity could lead to a rapid decline in vaccine efficacy. Source

• Only 15 African countries have vaccinated 10 percent of their population – and only four percent of the continent’s population has been fully vaccinated, leaving Africa way behind on achieving the WHO 40 percent target for coronavirus vaccination by 2021. “In Africa, the major issue has been a supply issue rather than a demand issue,” said Dr. Richard Mihigo, the WHO program coordinator for vaccine development in Africa. Source

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