• Lancet publishes a review of the prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing from data (mainly from high-income countries) which was published during the period between 1 January 2020 and 29 January 2021 to compare changes in pre-pandemic to mid-pandemic prevalence. Globally, during the pandemic, prevalence of major depressive disorder increased by 27.6 percent (corresponding to an additional 53.2 million cases) while prevalence of anxiety disorder increased by 25 percent (corresponding to an additional 76.2 million cases); prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety was higher prevalence among younger people, and among females. The authors noted that “…taking no action cannot be an option,” suggesting that tackling the mental health burden will be challenging, but “…it is also an opportunity for countries to broadly reconsider their mental health service response.” Source
• Merck has entered into voluntary licensing agreements with at least eight Indian drugmakers (Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Hetero Labs, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, and Viatris) for molnupiravir; five of them are collaborating on a trial in outpatients with mild COVID-19.
Indian drugmakers Aurobindo Pharma Ltd and MSN Laboratories have asked the country’s Drug Controller General to end their late-stage trials of molnupiravir in outpatients with moderate COVID-19. A source from the Drug Controller General of India said molnupiravir did not show “significant efficacy” against moderate COVID-19, but seems to be effective against mild cases. Merck has halted enrollment in a successful trial of outpatients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 and suspended an unsuccessful trial in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Hetero, another licensee, has already shared interim data from its late-stage trial of generic molnupiravir in mild COVID-19, and submitted an application for emergency use. It is also studying molnupiravir in patients with moderate COVID-19. Source
• Russian authorities have repeatedly delayed inspections required to obtain EMA approval of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which also has not been approved by WHO. Markus Ederer, the EU ambassador to Russia, described the process as technical, rather than political, adding that “When Russian officials talk about the process being delayed and politicized by the European side, I sometimes think they are largely referring to themselves, because it is they who make this about politics.”
Russia’s health ministry said that the EMA had received the required documents at the end of September, and that its officials could visit in December, while its Minister of Health, Mikhail Murashko, said last week that all that remained for the W.H.O. certification was some paperwork. A spokesperson from WHO said that it “near” to resolving outstanding issues with certifying Sputnik V. Source
• In the US, where 50 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, health experts fear increased transmission during the coming colder months, noting that steady rates of vaccination are key to keeping the coronavirus at bay. Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Stanford, said that the next few months would be critical. “Most of us don’t think we’re going to see the terrible surge we saw last winter,” she said, adding, “I hope we never have to live through something like that again.” Source
• The UK changes its travel guidelines after India retaliates by imposing quarantine on British visitors, ending the quarantine requirement for people vaccinated with Covishield (a version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine produced by licensee Serum Institute of India – which has been given to millions of people in Britain). Source