Coronavirus Breaking News

The coronavirus disease COVID-19 is currently reaching pandemic levels in various countries.

Jul 23, 2021 • 10:25 am CDT

The human medicines committee (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended granting an extension of indication for the COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax (previously Moderna) to include use in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.

The vaccine efficacy of Spikevax has been investigated in a study involving 3,732 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. 

This limited study showed that Spikevax produced a comparable antibody response in 12- to 17-year-olds to that seen in young adults aged 18 to 25 years. In addition, none of 2,163 children receiving the vaccine developed COVID-19 compared with only four of 1,073 children given a placebo injection.

The most common side effects in children aged 12 to 17 are similar to those in people aged 18+. They include pain and swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes, chills, nausea, vomiting, and fever. However, these effects are usually mild or moderate and improve within a few days from the vaccination.

The CHMP noted that due to the limited number of children and adolescents included in the study, the trial could not have detected new uncommon side effects or estimated the risk of known heart health side effects such as myocarditis and pericarditis.

The EMA publishes the agendas, minutes, and highlights of the plenary meetings of its Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use at this website.

Jul 23, 2021 • 6:32 am CDT

BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. announced on July 23, 2021, that the U.S. government had purchased an additional 200 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, known as Comirnaty.

These doses are expected to be delivered from October 2021 through April 2022.

“As a long-term partner to the U.S. government in the fight against this (COVID-19) pandemic, we are proud of the impact of vaccination efforts across the country. Vaccines have been and will remain critical to protecting lives against this devastating disease,” said Albert Bourla, CEO, Pfizer, in a related press release.

“These additional doses will help the U.S. government ensure broad vaccine access into next year.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, based on BioNTech proprietary mRNA technology, was developed by BioNTech and Pfizer. BioNTech is the Marketing Authorization Holder in the European Union and the holder of emergency use authorizations or equivalent in the United States (jointly with Pfizer), Canada, and other countries in advance of a planned application for full marketing authorizations in these countries.

Jul 22, 2021 • 10:55 am CDT

Massachusetts-based Moderna, Inc. announced today an additional supply agreement with the country of Taiwan for 20 million doses of Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 (SpikeVax) vaccine and its updated variant booster vaccine candidate if authorized.

These additional vaccines will begin delivery in 2022 and an additional 15 million vaccine doses in 2023.

This new supply agreement is in addition to the February 2021 agreement between Moderna and Taiwan for 5 million vaccine doses in 2021.

Local media reported President Tsai Ing-wen stated on July 21st that 'Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement is proceeding as planned, with the country’s inoculation rate expected to reach 25% before the end of the month (July'21).'

On July 22, 2021, the Taiwan Central Epidemic Command Center pointed out that the interval between the first dose and second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at this phase was extended to 10-12 weeks for some groups of people on July 12th, and such change was made based on international recommendations. Furthermore, the experts discussed this change at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Previously, the AP reported the U.S. government sent 2.5 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan.

Jul 20, 2021 • 6:30 am CDT

Massachusetts - based Moderna, Inc. announced that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan (MHLW) and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited have agreed to purchase and distribute an additional 50 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine (TAK-919) and its updated variant booster vaccine candidate, if authorized, to begin delivery in 2022.

This new supply agreement is in addition to the prior agreement for 50 million doses in 2021, resulting in a total of 100 million doses for Japan. 

Moderna is responsible for the manufacture and supply of Moderna’s vaccine candidate, and Takeda, with the support of the MHLW and Moderna, is responsible for all import, local regulatory, development, and distribution activities in Japan for these additional 50 million doses beginning in 2022.

“We thank the MHLW and Takeda for their support and for partnering with us to bring our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to Japan,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, in a press release.

“We remain committed to making our vaccine available around the world as we seek to address the pandemic.”

On May 21, 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna Intramuscular Injection (TAK-919) was authorized in Japan.

Jul 20, 2021 • 5:32 am CDT

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced on July 19, 2021, it strongly recommends in-person learning and urges all who are eligible to be vaccinated to protect against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

In addition to vaccinations, the AAP recommends that everyone older than age 2 wear face masks, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

The AAP recommends universal masking because a significant portion of the student population is not yet eligible for vaccines. In addition, masking is proven to reduce the transmission of viruses and protect those who are not vaccinated.

Sonja O’Leary, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on School Health, stated in a press release, “Combining layers of protection that include vaccinations, masking, and clean hands hygiene will make in-person learning safe and possible for everyone.”

Universal masking is ..... 'also the most effective strategy to create consistent messages and expectations among students without the added burden of needing to monitor everyone’s vaccination status.'

AAP emphasized the need for schools and local communities to use science and data to guide decisions, understanding that policies are intended to lessen but cannot eliminate health risks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

Jul 19, 2021 • 3:19 pm CDT

With the Russian Direct Investment Fund's support, the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation announced on July 19, 2021, they sent the Sputnik V vaccine for athletes from the national teams of the Arab Republic of Egypt and other African teams.

 

Almost 3,000 athletes will be able to take advantage of this COVID-19 vaccine.

 

An airplane with the vaccines arrived in Cairo today, where representatives of the Egyptian government received it for subsequent transfer to the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports. Moreover, athletes of the national teams of Algeria and Tunisia will also get the vaccine.

 

The Sputnik V adenoviral-based, two-part vaccine was initially produced in Russia, Sputnik V uses a weakened virus to deliver small parts of a pathogen and stimulate an immune response. Sputnik V is now available in about 67 countries.

 

Jul 19, 2021 • 1:01 pm CDT

Following a request from the UK's Department of Health and Social Care for advice on a possible extension of the COVID-19 vaccination program, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirmed it had reviewed the available evidence around vaccinating young people under the age of 18.

From July 19, 2021, the JCVI advises that children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine.

This includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression, and multiple or severe learning disabilities.

The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.

Under existing JCVI advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should have already been offered COVID-19 vaccination.

However, the JCVI is not currently advising routine vaccination of children outside these groups, based on the current evidence.

Evidence shows that COVID-19 rarely causes severe disease in children without underlying health conditions. Therefore, JCVI’s current view is that the minimal health benefits of offering universal COVID-19 vaccination to children do not outweigh the potential risks.

COVID-19 symptoms, when seen, are typically mild. Fewer than 30 children have died because of COVID-19 in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic as of March 2021, stated the Public Health England press release.

The JCVI is an independent expert advisory committee that advises United Kingdom health departments on immunization policy.

Jul 19, 2021 • 11:21 am CDT

TASS reported on July 17, 2021, research conducted by Argentina’s National Scientific and Technological Research Council found Sputnik V vaccine induces long-term immunity in more than 90% of vaccinated people.

"A considerable T-lymphocyte response shows that protection will remain for a long time. There remain memory lymphocytes that record the coronavirus and remember it," Buenos Aires Province Health Minister Daniel Gollan stated to local media. "When they reencounter the coronavirus, they will quickly produce antibodies and 'killer cells' that will kill the virus."

Previously, the journal Cell Reports Medicine published a study on July 9, 2021: Sputnik V Vaccine Elicits Seroconversion and Neutralizing Capacity to SARS CoV-2 after a Single Dose.

These researchers evaluated SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody responses after Sputnik V vaccination of healthcare workers in Argentina, measuring IgG anti-spike titers and neutralizing capacity after one and two doses in a cohort of naïve or previously infected volunteers.

By 21 days after receiving the first dose of vaccine, 94% of naïve participants develop spike-specific IgG antibodies.

Furthermore, a single Sputnik V (Light) dose elicits higher antibody levels and virus-neutralizing capacity in previously infected individuals than in naïve ones receiving the full two-dose schedule.

After a single dose in naïve participants, the high seroconversion rate suggests a benefit of delaying second dose administration to increase the number of people vaccinated. The data presented provide information for guiding public health decisions in light of the current global health emergency, stated these researchers.

Jul 19, 2021 • 7:57 am CDT

A recent study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics analyzed the breast milk of seven women after receiving mRNA vaccines and found no trace of the vaccine, offers the first direct data of vaccine safety during breastfeeding, stated a UC San Francisco press release.

These researchers found that none of the samples showed detectable levels of vaccine mRNA in any component of the milk.

This limited study's finding could allay concerns among those who have declined COVID-19 vaccination or discontinued breastfeeding.

Research has demonstrated that vaccines with mRNA inhibit transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. The study analyzed the Pfizer - BioNTech (Comirnaty) and Moderna (SpikeVax) vaccines, both containing mRNA.

“The results strengthen current recommendations that the mRNA vaccines are safe in lactation, and that lactating individuals who receive the COVID vaccine should not stop breastfeeding,” said corresponding author Stephanie L. Gaw, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UCSF, in a press statement issued on July 16, 2021.

The study was conducted from December 2020 to February 2021. The mothers’ mean age was 37.8 years, and their children ranging in age from one month to three years. Milk samples were collected before vaccination and at various times up to 48 hours after vaccination.

The study was supported by the Marino Family Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and others.

UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area in California.

Jul 19, 2021 • 6:22 am CDT

The South African Football Association (SAFB) confirmed on July 18, 2021, three members from Team SA’s men’s under-23 football team and one coach have produced positive tests for COVID-19 and are in isolation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics isolation facility.

The rest of the team has already tested negative twice and is following all the recommendations of the local health authorities closely.

Team SA officials and management have followed all relevant Olympic 2020 rules, protocols, and procedures throughout the pre-Games and Games arrival routines.

The SAFA members had been tested on arrival, daily at the Olympic Village. They complied with all the mandatory measures implemented to ensure the safety of the Games participants and the people of Japan, including keeping physical distance and wearing masks at all times.

“Every member of Team South Africa required full medical clearance as an eligibility criterion. In addition, they were encouraged to isolate for two weeks pre-departure, monitor health daily, report any symptoms, and produce two negative nasopharyngeal PCR tests taken within 96 hours of departure, as per Tokyo 2020 requirements,” explained Team SA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Phatho Zondi, in a press statement.

“The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test in these individuals was done during the incubation period of the infection, which is how they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan."

"They are now in isolation where they will continue to be monitored and will not be allowed to train or have any physical contact with the rest of the squad,” Dr. Zondi added.

Note: BBC Sports reported on July 19, 2021, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases related to the Olympics has reached 62.

Jul 16, 2021 • 11:26 am CDT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today the current 7-day moving average of daily new cases (26,306) in the USA increased 69.3% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (15,541).

Furthermore, the current 7-day moving average of new deaths (211) has increased 26.3% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (167).

And the COVID Data Tracker Vaccination Demographic Trends tab shows vaccination trends. Since the U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Program began on December 14, 2020, about 336 million vaccine doses have been administered. The CDC's data indicates 79.3% of seniors (65+) are fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Moreover, a recent CDC report found that COVID-19 vaccination coverage was lower in rural counties than urban counties. As a result, efforts are underway to raise awareness about COVID-19 vaccines and make vaccines more accessible to residents of rural communities, stated the CDC.

As of July 16, 2021, the U.S. FDA has Authorized three experimental COVID-19 vaccines for use in the USA.

Jul 16, 2021 • 4:18 am CDT

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported today there had been a 64.3% increase of weekly COVID-19 cases compared to last week, as of data reviewed by July 15, 2021.

At this stage in the COVID-19 pandemic, the reported hospital occupancy rate for the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) overall remains stable.

Based on data reported by 24 countries, the rate was 4.2 per 100 000, compared to 5.0 in week #26.

By the end of week #27, 63.4% of people aged 18 years and older in the EU/EEA had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 48.1% had been fully vaccinated. This ECDC data compares with the USA, where the U.S. CDC reports about 48.3% of the population had been vaccinated.

As of July 16, 2021, there are over eighteen COVID-19 vaccines available worldwide.

Jul 15, 2021 • 8:50 pm CDT

The BBC reported on July 14, 2021, a COVID-19 outbreak has been confirmed on the Royal Navy's largest and most powerful flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth. The BBC reported there had been around 100 cases on the aircraft carrier.

A spokeswoman said, "As part of routine testing, crew from the Carrier Strike Group have tested positive for Covid-19."

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace commented, 'all crew on the deployment had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and the outbreak was being managed,' reported the BBC.

On July 15, 2021, news media reported a second British ship's crew had contracted COVID-19. About eight crew members on the Prince of Wales tested positive after going ashore in Gibraltar, Sky News understands. "The good news is no one has so far had in any way even been referred to sickbay," Mr. Wallace said, according to Sky News.

Previously, on July 13, 2021, the HMS Queen Elizabeth – leading the Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group – linked up with the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and USS Iwo Jima amphibious ready group. The two-day exercise saw the three navy task groups, comprising US, UK, and Dutch ships, test their abilities, reported the Royal Navy's website.

As of June 25, 2021, the UK military reported 261,770 Defence personnel had a COVID-19 test administered as part of the national testing program. Of these, 9,502 UK armed forces personnel had positive results for COVID-19.

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Jul 15, 2021 • 6:44 pm CDT

According to data published today by WHO and UNICEF, a majority of countries last year experienced drops in childhood vaccination rates. As a result, about 23 million children missed routine immunization services in 2020.

Concerningly, most of these – up to 17 million children – likely did not receive a single vaccine during 2020, widening already immense inequities in vaccine access, says the WHO.

“Even as countries clamor to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backward on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio, or meningitis,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in a press statement issued on July 15, 2021.

“Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, global childhood vaccination rates against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, and polio had stalled for several years at around 86%. This rate is well below the 95% recommended by WHO to protect against measles –often the first disease to resurge when children are not reached with vaccines - and insufficient to stop other vaccine-preventable diseases.

The WHO says 'concerns are not just for outbreak-prone diseases. Already at low rates, vaccinations against human papillomavirus (HPV) - which protect girls and boys from cancer later in life - have been highly affected by school closures.

As a result, across countries that have introduced an HPV vaccine, approximately 1.6 million more girls missed out in 2020. Globally only 13% of girls were vaccinated against HPV, falling from 15% in 2019.

Jul 15, 2021 • 1:26 pm CDT

Tennessee local media reported on July 15, 2021, 'The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) will halt COVID-19 adolescent vaccine outreach.' An internal memo seen by Mainstreet-Nashville had been sent outlining how children can legally receive the COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent.

Internal documents show that the health department will stop holding COVID-19 vaccine events at schools and facilities that primarily serve children and stop sending postcards to youth reminding them to get a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine the Tennessean first reported on July 13, 2021.

However, TDH spokesman Bill Christian says that the department has “in no way halted the immunizations for children program.”

“TDH understands the importance of childhood immunizations, the impacts to overall health for Tennesseans, and we continue to support those outreach efforts,” Christian said. “Providing information and access are routine public health functions, and that has not changed.”

The Vaccines for Children program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1993, provides information to parents regarding common childhood immunizations and provides free vaccines to children who would otherwise not have access. More than 600 physicians and health clinics in Tennessee participate in the program.

The U.S. CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees—i.e., state health departments and certain local and territorial public health agencies—which in turn distribute them at no charge to those private physicians’ offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers.

Tennessee’s childhood vaccination rates are at or above the national average for common vaccines, including DTaP, MMR, Varicella, HPV, and the flu shot, according to TDH data published in 2018.

Note: as of July 14, 2021, TDH reported over 5.4 million people in Tennessee had received a COVID-19 vaccination, representing about 42% of the state's population. COVID-19 Vaccines are now widely available to Tennesseans 12+ in all 95 counties across our state.

Check COVID-19 vaccine appointment availability by browsing all vaccine providers and find a location close to you at VaccineFinder.org.