Covid-19 Vaccine

Health
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.

Health
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.

Health
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.

Health
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.

Health
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."

Regional News • Middle East
20 per cent of all Israelis have been vaccinated against Covid-19
20 per cent of all Israelis have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The Israeli Health Minister Juli Edelstein announced that around 1.8 million Israelis had received the first vaccination dose. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had also received his second vaccination against the coronavirus on Saturday evening. Israel is currently in its third Corona lockdown, as infection numbers had risen significantly again by the end of the year.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Credit: Courtesy of Instagram

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip have received their first dose of vaccine against the new coronavirus, Buckingham Palace announced. A second source told the British news agency PA that the Queen and her husband had been vaccinated by the royal family's doctor at Windsor Castle, where they spend the confinement period. Usually quite discreet about her state of health, "the Queen has decided to make this information public to avoid inaccuracies and possible rumours," added PA.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The EU Commission has concluded a contract for up to 300 million more doses of the Corona vaccine from the Mainz-based company BioNtech and its US partner Pfizer. 75 million doses of this should be available as early as the second quarter of 2021, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels on Friday.

Back in November, the EU Commission ordered up to 300 million doses of vaccine from BioNtech/Pfizer for all 27 states - a firm order for 200 million doses and an option for 100 million more, which was recently pulled.

In Germany, BioNtech is currently working on a new production site in Marburg. If this goes into operation in February as planned, the company will be able to massively expand vaccine production.

Health
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.

Health
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.

Regional News • Europe
European Medicines Agency recommends authorization of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
European Medicines Agency recommends authorization of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

On Wednesday, the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety announced on Twitter that they are "expected to follow the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommendation and grant the authorization shortly after which the roll-out of the vaccine in the EU can begin."

Emer Cooke, EMA executive director, said on Wednesday that "this vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency." and "It is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all involved that we have this second positive vaccine recommendation just short of a year since the pandemic was declared by WHO," she said.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US Covid-19 death toll surpasses 350,000
US Covid-19 death toll surpasses 350,000
Credit: The White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Covid-19 related death toll in the United States has surpassed 350,000 on Sunday as experts warn of a post-holiday surge of infections.

During an interview with NBC, Dr Anthony Fauci said there were "no excuses" that vaccinations have been low, averaging at half a million people a day.

"We’re not where we want to be. We’ve got to do much better, but let’s give it about a week or two into January to see if we can pick up momentum that was slowed down by the holiday season," so Fauci.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
UK to roll out Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine starting Monday

The UK is set to start administering the new Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford University and the AstraZeneca group on Monday, stating that the "NHS will be the first health service in the world to provide this life-saving vaccine."

The vaccine will initially be delivered in a small number of hospitals, but will be widely distributed to hundreds of vaccination centers later this week.

Business • Health Care
Chinese Covid-19 vaccine shows efficacy of 79 per cent
Chinese Covid-19 vaccine shows efficacy of 79 per cent
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

Pharmaceutical company Sinopharm is the first manufacturer in China to announce details of the efficacy of its Corona vaccine. The company said that the vaccine is expected to provide more than 79 percent protection against Covid-19 (79.34 percent).

The release of the data is an important step toward final approval of the vaccine, doses of which have already been secured by countries outside China.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

BioNTech is working flat out with partner Pfizer to boost production of their Covid-19 vaccine, its founders said, warning there would be gaps in supply until other vaccines were rolled out. The German biotech start-up has led the vaccine race but its shot has been slow to arrive in the EU due to relatively slow approval from the bloc’s health regulator and the small size of the order placed by Brussels.

The delays have caused consternation in Germany, where some regions had to temporarily close vaccination centres days after the launch of an inoculation drive on December 27th.

Regional News • Middle East
Israel: 1 million people vaccinated against coronavirus
The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, visits the vaccination center of the Maccabi Healthcare Services in Jerusalem. Wednesday, December 30, 2020. Photo credit: Haim Tzach / GPO.
The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, visits the vaccination center of the Maccabi Healthcare Services in Jerusalem. Wednesday, December 30, 2020. Photo credit: Haim Tzach / GPO. Credit: Haim Zach / Government Press Office (Israel), Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Over a million people in Israel have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, the highest amount for a country globally. This results in 11.55 in 100 people being vaccinated, compared to 1.47 in 100 people in the UK. Israel started vaccinations on December 19th with a rate of 150,000 vaccinations per day.

Regional News • Asia • India
India approves Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use

An expert panel of India's Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use on Friday, making it the third country to approve the vaccine. The CDSCO may also approve a locally developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) soon.

Regional News • Asia • China
Sinopharm Coronavirus vaccine approved in China

The Coronavirus vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm was approved by China’s health authorities, s promising to provide the general public with free vaccination. China plans to vaccinate 50 million people with the Sinopharm vaccine before February's Lunar New Year celebrations.

"Vaccine is a public good by its nature, and the price may vary based on the scale of use, but an important premise is that it will be provided to the public for free," Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of China's National Health Commission said.

Business • Health Care
Biontech applies for change in approval to get more doses from vials
Biontech applies for change in approval to get more doses from vials
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

One ampoule of Biontech vaccine can often be used to produce six rations instead of five. The Mainz-based manufacturer Biontech has now submitted an application to the European Medicines Agency Ema for a change in the conditions of approval. The Ema had told the German newspaper SPIEGEL on Tuesday that if Biontech submitted an application to change the terms of its marketing authorisation, it would be "rapidly" reviewed by its human medicines committee.

Biontech is lobbying for doctors to be allowed to draw six full vaccine doses of 0.3 ml each from the provided vials containing a total of 2.25 ml of finished vaccine in the future - provided they can draw up six full doses.

Health
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.