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Research: Possible cure for malaria transmission discovered

Researchers at the University of Pretoria in South Africa report that they have found substances that could prevent tmalaria ransmission. They write in the journal Nature Communications that two substances that have been studied for their effectiveness against tuberculosis and cancer can kill malaria parasites - even when it is infectious. For the past year, the WHO fears even more victims because many prevention measures could not be implemented due to the Corona pandemic.

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The first person to be vaccinated in Brazil is a black woman, ICU nurse, minutes after Coronavac being approved
The first person to be vaccinated in Brazil is a black woman, ICU nurse, minutes after Coronavac being approved
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Minutes after the first vaccine being approved for use in Brazil, the Coronavac Vaccine by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, the first person that has been vaccinated is a black woman, 54 years old, working in Sao Paulo's Emilio Ribas hospital, as ICU nurse.

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India says Brazil rushed to send plane for vaccine
India says Brazil rushed to send plane for vaccine
Credit: Tony Winston/MS (Public Domain)

A spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry told the Hindustan Times that it was "too early" to send the batches of the vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute in partnership with Oxford University and pharmacist AstraZeneca.

On 5 January, Brazil's Foreign Ministry confirmed the purchase of Oxford vaccine doses produced in India, despite the Indian government's announcement that the vaccine's export was banned. The statement also mentioned plans to distribute the vaccines to Brazilian states within a few days of authorization from the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) and highlighted the successful acquisition of the doses with an example of the "excellent relations" between the two countries.

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Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict received first shot of Covid-19 vaccine
Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict received first shot of Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Vatican News

The Vatican confirmed on Thursday that Pope Francis, aged 84, and retired Pope Benedict, aged 93, have had their first doses of a coronavirus vaccine. The pontiff and his predecessor got the first half of their vaccinations as part of a campaign for Vatican City residents and employees launched on January 13th.

"You are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others," Francis said in a recent interview with Italian broadcaster Canale 5. He said "anti-vaxxers" were living in inexplicable "suicidal denial."

In December, the head of the Vatican's health service said the tiny city-state would roll out its vaccination program with the Pfizer medication.

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World Health Organization says Covid-19 herd immunity will not happen in 2021
World Health Organization says Covid-19 herd immunity will not happen in 2021
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Soumya Swaminathan, World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist, said Monday that despite the growing availability of vaccines herd immunity to the Covid-19 would not be achieved in 2021. . Until then, preventive measures such as masks will be necessary.

Swaminathan commended the "incredible progress" made by researchers to develop several safe and effective vaccines at unprecedented speed.

"We won't get back to normal quickly," Dale Fisher, chairman of the WHO's Outbreak Alert and Response Network, told a conference hosted by the Reuters news agency.

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AstraZeneca applies for approval of Covid-19 in European Union
AstraZeneca applies for approval of Covid-19 in European Union
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced that AstraZeneca has applied for approval of their Covid-19 which has been developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

According to the EMA "the assessment of the vaccine, known as COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, will proceed under an accelerated timeline" and added that "an opinion on the marketing authorisation could be issued by 29 January during the meeting of EMA’s scientific committee for human medicines (CHMP), provided that the data submitted on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are sufficiently robust and complete and that any additional information required to complete the assessment is promptly submitted."

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Study: BioNTech vaccine effective against mutation
Study: BioNTech vaccine effective against mutation
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The corona vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer also protects against a mutation of the virus that has emerged in the UK and South Africa, according to a new study. The variants of the virus first discovered in the UK and South Africa feature a mutation that did not block the vaccine in the study. The study was published on the Internet for researchers and has not yet been reviewed by experts.

The mutation, called N501Y, is a slight change in a site of the spike protein on the surface of the virus. This change is thought to be the reason why the two variants can spread so quickly. Most vaccines being rolled out around the world teach the bodies of those vaccinated to recognize and fight the spike protein.

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European Medicines Agency approves drawing six instead of five vaccination doses per BioNtech ampoule in EU
European Medicines Agency approves drawing six instead of five vaccination doses per BioNtech ampoule in EU
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

From now on, more people can be vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine from one ampoule of the manufacturers BioNtech and Pfizer.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved that six instead of five doses may be drawn from an ampoule, said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Health in Berlin on Friday.

This approval of six instead of five vaccinations per ampoule applies only to the EU. In the remaining countries outside the EU, the national authorities decide whether to change the vaccine approval.

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UK health expert warns that Covid-19 is "probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war"
UK health expert warns that Covid-19 is "probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war"
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to Dr Adrian James, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, that the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences probably pose "the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war" and will result in around 10 million people needing new or additional mental health support.

“This is going to have a profound effect on mental health,” James said. “It is probably the biggest hit to mental health since the second world war. It doesn’t stop when the virus is under control and there are few people in hospital. You’ve got to fund the long-term consequences.”

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United Kingdom approves Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 for use
United Kingdom approves Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 for use
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday amid rising coronavirus cases. This will cover the entire population when combined with the full order of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

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One day delay in Pfizer vaccine delivery to Spain due to logistical issue
One day delay in Pfizer vaccine delivery to Spain due to logistical issue
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa announced that Pfizer has postponed the delivery of a new batch of the coronavirus vaccine to the country by one day to Tuesday due to a logistics hurdle.

The cool boxes designed by Pfizer have GPS trackers so the company can deal with potential storage issues en route. The vaccine must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of about -70 degrees Celsius before being shipped to distribution centres in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.

"Due to a minor logistical issue, we have rescheduled a limited number of our deliveries," Andrew Widger, Pfizer's director for media relations said.

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Drugmaker Roche says Covid-19 test can detect new strain

Both the drugmaker Roche and the United Kingdom have assured that diagnostic tests used to detect Covid-19 were able to detect the new mutant strain. Roche is conducting further tests its rapid antibody test and will share their findings "as soon as these indications have concluded".

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United States count over 3 million deaths in 2020

Preliminary numbers for the United States suggest that the country is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019. Final mortality data for this year will be available only in a few months.

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Over 2.2 Million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Over 2.2 Million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The first Covid-19 shots have been given to more than 2.2 million people in six countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. It’s the start of the biggest vaccination campaign in history and one of the largest logistical challenges ever undertaken.

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One person in Italy tests positive for the British Covid-19 variant
One person in Italy tests positive for the British Covid-19 variant
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The scientific department of the Celio military polyclinic, which is collaborating with the Higher Institute of Health in this emergency, has sequenced the genome of the Sars-Cov-2 virus from a subject who tested positive with the variant found in recent weeks in Great Britain.

The patient, and his partner, who returned from the UK on a flight that landed at Fiumicino airport in Rome in the last few days, are in isolation "and have followed, together with other family members and close contacts, all the procedures established by the Ministry of Health". Several experts agree on this last point, from the president of the Higher Health Council Franco Locatelli to virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco and Giacomo Gorini, a researcher at Oxford University's Jenner Institute.

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Several European countries halt landing of British flights after detection of new virus mutation
Several European countries halt landing of British flights after detection of new virus mutation
Credit: unsplash.com / Daniel Klein

After a new strain of Covid-19 was detected in the UK, several European countries have imposed a landing ban on British flights. Trains to Belgium have also been banned.

The Netherlands have banned British Flights until January 1. Italy's foreign minister has announced that his government joins the ban on flights. Austria and Germany are planning to impose similar measures, but no immediate details are currently known.

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New Covid-19 strain detected in United Kingdom possibly up to 70% more transmissible
New Covid-19 strain detected in United Kingdom possibly up to 70% more transmissible
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

A Covid-19 variant discovered in England is massively accelerating the spread of the virus. According to experts, the mutation could also be responsible for the increase in Germany.

According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the new variant of the coronavirus discovered in Great Britain is, according to initial findings, significantly more contagious than the known form. But there was no evidence that vaccines were less effective, Johnson told reporters in London.

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More Than 1.1 Million People Have Been Vaccinated Globally
More Than 1.1 Million People Have Been Vaccinated Globally
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The first Covid-19 shots have been given to more than 1.1 million people in four countries. Other countries have gotten a head start on vaccinations. China and Russia authorized their own shots in July and August, before they’d been fully tested. Since then, they’ve vaccinated hundreds of thousands of people.

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Belgian politician tweets Covid-19 vaccine prices
Belgian politician tweets Covid-19 vaccine prices
Credit: Courtesy of vrt.be

A Belgian politician has apparently accidentally revealed the Covid-19 vaccine prices of those manufacturers with whom the EU Commission has signed contracts:

Consumer Protection State Secretary Eva De Bleeker published a table with prices per dose of the vaccines from six companies on the short message service Twitter on Thursday. The tweet has since then been deleted.

Moderna would be the most expensive at $18 per dose and Astrazenca the cheapest with €1,78 per dose.

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USA approves Pfizer BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine
USA approves Pfizer BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency approval Friday evening to the vaccine made by Mainz-based biotech company Biontech and its partner Pfizer.

The Washington Post reported that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Hahn on Friday to resign if the vaccine, made by Mainz-based Biontech and its U.S. partner Pfizer, is not approved before the end of the day (local time).

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UK permits first clinical trial for depression treatment with DMT
UK permits first clinical trial for depression treatment with DMT
Credit: unsplash.com / Pretty Drugthings

The Imperial College London's Centre for Psychedelic Research will run the first clinical trial of depression treatment with the psychedelic and illegal substance dimethyltryptamine (DMT). It will be held in in collaboration with Small Pharma, with a neuropharmaceutical company.

Small Pharma stated that the approval is a "truly ground-breaking moment" in the treatment of depression and the chief medical and scientific officer at the company, Carol Routledge, has added that she believes that "Psychedelic assisted therapy will revolutionise the treatment of depression because it gets right to the root cause of the illness".

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On record-breaking Sunday, Uruguay reach 339 covid cases in a single day, plus one more death
On record-breaking Sunday, Uruguay reach 339 covid cases in a single day, plus one more death
Credit: Alvaro Mouriño / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

With almost a daily record-breaking peace, on Sunday reached a new record of positive covid cases in a single day, counting 339 of a total number of 7.362 tests, 258 cases of which were placed in Montevideo, and a total number of 26 patients in ICU.

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Quebec government cancels Christmas gatherings
Quebec government cancels Christmas gatherings
Credit: unsplash.com / Jamshed Khedri

Although the Quebec government was going to wait until December 11th, Legault broke the bad news early, saying that “With the numbers we have, it’s unrealistic to think we will be able to change the situation in time for Christmas." Red zones will not be able to have gatherings, while in yellow zones, ten people will be allowed to gather, in orange zones, six.

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Covid-19 may have been in US weeks earlier than initially thought, study finds
Covid-19 may have been in US weeks earlier than initially thought, study finds
Credit: unsplash/Louis Reed

Covid-19 may have been present in the United States weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought and before the first cases were publicly reported in China, a new study suggests.

The first Covid-19 case was officially confirmed on January 21 in the state of Washington, a patient who recently had returned from Wuhan. Scientists from the US CDC have published their research in the peer-reviewed medical journal 'Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggesting that "SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been present in the U.S. in December 2019, earlier than previously recognized." Their conclusion was based off routine blood samples collected by the Red Cross between December 13 and January 17, 2019, from residents of nine states.

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Interactive tool from MIT created to evaluate indoor safety with Covid-19
Screenshot of the tool
Screenshot of the tool

MIT researchers created a model and an interactive simulation tool to provide guidelines on indoor safety during the pandemic. Safety factors include the space dimensions, ventilation, mask details and people behaviours. Assuming one person in the room has COVID-19, the tool allows you to tweak the variables in order to get recommendations.

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Scotland will pay £500 "thank you" bonus to NHS and social care workers
Scotland will pay £500 "thank you" bonus to NHS and social care workers
Credit: Arctic Circle / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has announced a one time "thank you" bonus payment for NHS and social care workers in Scotland of £500 for extraordinary service during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She stated that "I can announce today that, on behalf of us all, the Scottish Government will give every full-time NHS and adult social care worker £500 as a one-off thank-you payment for their extraordinary service in this toughest of years". Part-time workers will receive a "proportionate share".

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Moderna to apply for EU approval of Covid-19 vaccine
Moderna Logo
Moderna Logo Credit: Moderna

According to Moderna, the pharmaceutical company will submit its application for conditional market authorization for its new Covid-19 to the European Medicines Agency Ema on Monday.

The EU Commission has already secured up to 160 million doses of the vaccination according to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

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AstraZeneca likely to do another study of Covid-19 vaccine after accidental lower dose shows higher efficacy
AstraZeneca likely to do another study of Covid-19 vaccine after accidental lower dose shows higher efficacy
Credit: unsplash/ Obi Onyeador

AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Wednesday acknowledged a manufacturing error that has raised questions about their Covid-19 vaccine after revealing earlier this week it was “highly effective” against the disease. AstraZeneca is likely to conduct an additional global trial to assess the efficacy of its Covid-19 vaccine, according to the company’s CEO.

The vaccine's rollout to the rest of the world likely won't be affected, according to AstraZeneca's CEO, since the studies that have been conducted, including safety data, are already in place from participants around the world outside of the U.S.

While vaccine candidates from Moderna and Pfizer have also shown robust efficacy in early Phase 3 data, hopes are riding high on the AstraZeneca version because it relies on a different technology, can be stored and transported at standard refrigerator temperatures rather than frozen, and costs just a fraction per dose compared to the other two leading vaccines in development.

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Scotland unanimously votes in favor of free access to menstrual products
Scotland unanimously votes in favor of free access to menstrual products
Credit: unsplash.com / Gabrielle Rocha Rios

Scotland is the first country in the world to vote for free access to menstrual products. The law, which was unanimously passed in parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday, obliges the administrations of public buildings to provide hygiene products for women free of charge.

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, has stated that: "This will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates. There has already been great progress at a community level and through local authorities in giving everyone the chance of period dignity."

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Putin does not want to be vaccinated with Russia's "safe" Covid-19 vaccine
Putin does not want to be vaccinated with Russia's "safe" Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Kremlin.ru / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

According to his spokesperson, Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want to be vaccinated with the Russian "Sputnik V" vaccine. Even though Putin recently appraised the world's vaccine at the G20 summit as safe and effective, his spokesperson said that as head of state he could not participate in a vaccination campaign as a "volunteer". Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that tThe president cannot take an uncertified vaccine".