• AstraZeneca issues a press release to announce results from an 922-person phase III trial of its long-acting antibody combination, AZD7442, in outpatients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who were at risk for severe illness. A 600 mg injection of AZD7442, given within seven days of symptom onset, reduced the risk of severe COVID-19 or death (from any cause) by 50 percent; efficacy increased to 67 percent among people who were treated within five days of experiencing symptoms. AZD442 is also being studied in hospitalized patients. AstraZeneca has already submitted data to the US FDA for emergency use authorization of AZD442 to prevent COVID-19. Source

Financial Times reports that data on coronavirus vaccination rates may be unreliable, since many countries do not know how many residents they have, what proportion of eligible people have come forward for the jab and how many remain unvaccinated.” For example, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control found that the number of first vaccine doses given to people over age 60 in Ireland and Portugal exceeds the number of people in this age group in each country’s population, and the same was true for first doses among people over age 80 in Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Malta and Spain. Source

• England’s National Health Service reports that almost 20% of critically ill COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated pregnant women. “There is robust evidence showing that the vaccine is the most effective way to protect both mother and baby against the possibility of severe illness,” said Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

A pregnant woman who was in intensive care for nearly a month said she was reluctant to get the vaccine after two miscarriages. adding “I completely understand the hesitation not to get vaccinated when you are growing a child inside you. After what happened, I can honestly say the risk of not having the COVID vaccine outweighs any doubts about having it.” Source

• Merck applies to the US FDA for emergency use authorization of its experimental oral antiviral molnupiravir; in an interim analysis of a clinical trial in unvaccinated people at high risk for serious COVID-19, the drug, which needs to be started within five days of developing symptoms, halved the risk of hospitalization and death. It is possible that pregnant people could be ineligible for molnupiravir, because the drug might cause birth defects. Source

• The US government is expected to expand eligibility for coronavirus boosters to a much larger group of people, as a US FDA advisory group meets to discuss third doses for people who got vaccines from Johnson and Johnson or Moderna. Experts are especially concerned about the 15 million recipients of the single-dose J & J vaccine, since it is less effective than two doses of an mRNA vaccine. Source

• The Guardian reports that the higher coronavirus vaccination rates in western Europe have lowered cases of and deaths from COVID-19; in some parts of central and eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria, Latvia, and Romania, where vaccination rates are lower, coronavirus cases have overwhelmed health systems. Notably, Britain – which has similar vaccination rates to those in western Europe – has seen a surge of new coronavirus – and it has the highest COVID-19 death rate in western Europe, possibly because the country relaxed is preventive measures months ago. Source

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