• Moderna issues a press release announcing that the EMA has authorized a third booster dose of its coronavirus vaccine for severely immunocompromised individuals 12 years of age or older, to be given at least 28 days after the second dose. Source

• AstraZeneca applied to the US FDA for emergency use authorization for its long-acting antibody combination drug, which lowered the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 by 77% in a phase II trial in people with co-existing conditions at increased risk for severe disease and/or with a reduced immune response to coronavirus vaccines. AstraZeneca, which licensed the drug from Vanderbilt University, and will pay single-digit royalties on future sales, has been given nearly $700 million from the US government for late-stage clinical trials and to scale-up manufacturing. Source

• Dr. Gao Fu, head of China’s CDC, co-wrote a paper that warns of an ongoing risk for SARS-CoV-2 mutations in the eleven species known to be susceptible to the virus. The paper calls for intensive monitoring in wild animals, noting that they pose “…a huge threat to public health if they transmit back to humans.” Source

• India’s Supreme Court has ordered the government’s disaster management agency to pay 50,000 rupees ($671) to families of people who died from COVID-19. The ruling came after public interest litigation. Based on India’s official death toll of 449, 260 (which experts believe is a significant underestimate), payouts would come to $300 million. Source

• The US Department of Health and Human Services releases a report on the benefits of coronavirus vaccines for people over age 65. During the period between January and May 2021, vaccination prevented an estimated 265,000 SARS-CoV-2 infections, as well as 107,000 hospitalizations and 39,000 deaths from COVID-19 among Medicare beneficiaries. Source

• A preprint article describes cardiovascular manifestations of Long COVID among veterans in the US. Drawing from healthcare databases, researchers compared risk for and burden of cardiovascular outcomes (cerebrovascular disorders, dysrhythmias, ischemic and non-ischemic heart disease, pericarditis, myocarditis, heart failure, and thromboembolic disease) over a one-year period among 151,195 people who had COVID-19 versus 3,670,087 contemporary and 3,656,337 historical controls. They found that COVID-19 survivors had a higher risk of stroke, irregular heart rhythm, pericarditis, ischemic heart disease, other cardiovascular disorders and thromboembolic events, which increased by severity of illness with COVID-19. The authors noted that the results of their research “…suggest that one-year risk and burden of cardiovascular disease among those who survive the acute phase of COVID-19 are substantial and span several cardiovascular disorders,” suggesting that strategies for the care of COVID-19 survivors should include “…attention to cardiovascular health and disease.” Source

• Moderna issues a press release to announce that it will invest up to $500 million to build a state-of-the-art mRNA facility in Africa (country and site to be determined), with the goal of producing up to 500 million doses of vaccines annually. The facility is expected to manufacture the drug substance, with the opportunity for fill/finish and packaging capabilities. Source

• New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, says that Auckland’s seven-week lockdown, which was triggered by a single case, has helped to curb country’s outbreak of the Delta variant, but that it will no longer adhere to a “zero COVID” strategy. “…it’s clear that long periods of heavy restrictions have not got us to zero cases,” said Ms. Arden, “But that is OK. Elimination was important because we didn’t have vaccines. Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things.”

Overall, 65 percent of New Zealanders have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 40 percent of them are fully vaccinated. The government plans a gradual easing of restrictions; in just a few days, Aucklanders can meet outdoors people from one other household, early childhood centers will reopen and people will be able to relax at the beach.  Timing of a phased reopening of retail stores, followed by bars and restaurants, has yet to be decided. Source

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