• The New York Times reports that China is the only country that has not abandoned the “zero COVID” strategy, as outbreaks continue to trigger mass testing and lockdowns. “Every locality should firmly adhere to the policy of ‘Defend externally against importation, defend internally against rebound,’” said Mi Feng, a National Health Commission “The current control measures cannot be relaxed.” Source

Nature publishes a study of neurological complications (acute central nervous system demyelinating events, encephalitis meningitis and myelitis, Guillain–Barré syndrome, Bell’s palsy, myasthenic disorders, hemorrhagic stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage) after a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine coronavirus among 20,417,752 recipients; a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine among 12, 134, 782 recipients, and 2,005,280 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The researchers found an increased risk of hospital admission for Guillain–Barré syndrome (at 15–21 days and 22–28 days post-vaccination), Bell’s palsy (at 15–21 days post-vaccination) and myasthenic disorders (at 15–21 days post-vaccination) among recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Recipients of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has an increased risk of hospital admission for hemorrhagic stroke (at 1–7 days and 15–21 days post-vaccination). Overall, there was a much higher risk of neurological outcomes – such as acute CNS demyelinating events, encephalitis meningitis and myelitis, Guillain–Barré syndrome, Bell’s palsy, myasthenic disorders, hemorrhagic stroke and subarachnoid hemorrhage – associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Source

• A pre-print paper reports that adipose tissue supports SARS-CoV-2 infection – a possible explain for the association between obesity and severe COVID-19. Source

• Coronavirus cases reach their highest-ever level in Papua New Guinea, which the Red Cross fears will overwhelm its rudimentary health system. According to Uvenama Rova, PNG Red Cross Secretary General, “Hospitals are full, and patients are being turned away in Port Moresby and provincial areas. Urgent efforts and further support are needed in healthcare to prevent a massive loss of life in the coming days and weeks. In all areas of PNG, we are deeply concerned that the risks of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 are skyrocketing due to limited health infrastructure, high rates of illness, all compounded by poor access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation facilities.” Source

• The Biden administration plans to spend $1 billion on rapid, at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests; today it announced plans for increasing access to, and lowering prices of these tests. The National Institutes of Health will invest $70 million to identify rapid tests with the most potential for large-scale production and help their manufacturers producet the data required for US FDA authorization. Source https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/10/25/biden-rapid-at-home-tests/

• China, which has been facing outbreaks of the Delta variant, has taken several measures to curb it. It has stopped tourism-related train services around the country, made it very difficult for people from anywhere in the country that has locally-transmitted COVID-19 to enter Beijing, banned residents from provinces with a handful of cases (including Beijing, Gansu, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia from cross-country travel tours, and locked down Ejin, a county in Inner Mongolia, which has the country’s highest number of COVID-19 cases. Source

Associated Press reports on the WHO and COVAX COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa, which is a consortium of Biovac, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a network of universities and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Afrigen’s Managing Director, Petro Terblanche, said “We have a lot of competition coming from Big Pharma. They don’t want to see us succeed,” adding, “They are already starting to say that we don’t have the capability to do this. We are going to show them.” Afrigen plans to have an mRNA vaccine ready for clinical trials within a year.

Moderna has said it would not pursue legal action against a company for infringing on its vaccine patent – but it has not shared the technology for producing the vaccines. The company’s chairman, Noubar Afeyan said that the company thinks it is better to expand production: “Within the next six to nine months, the most reliable way to make high-quality vaccines and in an efficient way is going to be if we make them.”

Zoltan Kis, an expert in messenger RNA vaccines at Britain’s University of Sheffield, said that reproducing the Moderna vaccine is “…like a very complicated cooking recipe,” he said. “Having the recipe would be very, very helpful, and it would also help if someone could show you how to do it.” Source

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