• Coronavirus cases in the US, where only 61 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, surpass 50 million. Source

• Although the French government has already ordered 50,000 treatment courses of molnupiravir, its National Authority of Health refused to authorize the drug, noting that other available options are more effective for treating COVID-19, noting the significant discrepancy in the drug’s efficacy in interim versus final results of a clinical trial – where it dropped from 50 percent to 30 percent. Source

• Moderna issues a press release to announce an “agreement in principle” with Australia’s government to build a manufacturing facility in Victoria, which could produce 100 million doses of mRNA vaccines per year. Source

• In Denmark and Norway, public health experts predict that the Omicron variant will become dominant in both countries within days; Omicron could overwhelm hospitals, even if it usually causes mild disease – with its rapid spread and sheer volume of cases. Source

• Coronavirus cases in Nigeria – where only 1.9 percent of the population is fully vaccinated- have risen by five-fold in just a week, from 76 to 451, following the detection of Omicron in travelers from South Africa. Source

Associated Press reports that journalists and public health experts in Hungary are demanding more information on the outbreak from the government, which has barred reporters from entering medical facilities and prohibited interviews with medical staff. Even the country’s own National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information has asked the government to release municipal-level data to mayors, writing that both local leaders and the public “need to know the figures in order to make informed decisions about how to protect themselves against the pandemic.”

Illes Szurovecz, from the country’s news website 444.hus – which has successfully sued to obtain detailed figures on daily hospitalizations, deaths and the number of those treated in hospital ICUs during previous surges – says, “There’s a lot we don’t know. If there was more detailed data, people would be better able to judge how severe the pandemic is and how dangerous the virus is. …Doctors from different parts of the country would be better able to compare their results and care could be improved.”

The government believes that testing is ineffective, and that the only way lives can be saved is through mass vaccination; it claims that it’s high official COVID-19 death rate results from broad criteria for attributing deaths to the illness. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said “Anyone who says that more people die in Hungary than elsewhere is also saying that our doctors are doing a worse job, and I will defend them against your accusations.” Source

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