Coronavirus Breaking News

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

May 14, 2021 • 12:42 pm CDT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today the current 7-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases (35,442) decreased 23.6% compared with the previous 7-day moving average.

Compared with the highest peak on January 8, 2021, the current 7-day average decreased 85.8%.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in late 2019, a total of 32,643,851 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the USA as of May 12th.

Furthermore, the current 7-day average hospital admission rate of 12.4% decrease from April 28–May 4th. COVID-19 related hospitalizations have been consistently decreasing since April 19, 2021.

Children ages 5-17 years have the lowest hospitalization rate of all age groups.

And the current 7-day moving average of new deaths (592) decreased 10.3% compared with the previous 7-day moving average, says the CDC.

May 13, 2021 • 7:55 am CDT

The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) of the Republic of Angola confirmed on May 12, 2021, the registration of the single-component Sputnik Light vaccine. The FDA granted Sputnik V an emergency use authorization.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) stated in a press release 'the Sputnik Light vaccine is the first component (recombinant human adenovirus 26 serotype (rAd26)) of the Sputnik V vaccine, which was authorized in Angola in March 2021. The RDIF says the effectiveness of the single-component vaccine "Sputnik Light" is 79.4% from the 28th day after vaccination.

On May 6, 2021, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, and the RDIF announced the registration of the Sputnik Light vaccine.

Angola is a Southern African nation of about 31 million residents that primarily speaks Portuguese. With tropical Atlantic beaches to the west, located near the Sub-Saharan desert, Angola is administratively divided into 18 provinces and 163 municipalities.

In Angola, the US Embassy says most COVID-19 cases are in the capital city of Luanda, but COVID-19 has been confirmed throughout the provinces.  Please visit the Angolan COVID-19 Commission’s website for the most up-to-date case numbers.

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May 12, 2021 • 7:25 am CDT

The Moscow Times reported a poll by the Levada Center reported 10% of respondents indicated they have already been vaccinated. On May 12, 2021, the poll found 56% of Russians are not afraid of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and 42% are afraid. 

At its current vaccination pace, Russia is on track to vaccinate 70% of its population by February 2023, wrote the Moscow Times.

The Sputnik V vaccine was Approved for use in Russia during August 2020. Currently, Sputnik V is Authorized in about 64 countries.

The Levada Center stated these figures have not changed since February 2021. Levada conducted the new survey among 1,614 respondents from 50 Russian Federation regions between April 22-April 28, 2021.

May 11, 2021 • 6:54 am CDT

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the expansion of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the mRNA Phizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (Comrinaty) to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age. This EUA was originally issued on December 11, 2020, for administration in individuals 16 years of age and older.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., said in a press statement issued on May 10, 2021, “Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”

From March 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021, approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 cases in individuals 11 to 17 years of age have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, children and adolescents generally have very mild COVID-19 disease course as compared to adults.

The available safety data to support the EUA in adolescents down to 12 years of age, including 2,260 participants ages 12 through 15, enrolled in an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in the United States. Of these, 1,131 adolescent participants received the vaccine, and 1,129 received a saline placebo.

More than half of the participants were followed for safety for at least two months following the second dose.

The most commonly reported side effects in the adolescent clinical trial participants, which typically lasted 1-3 days, were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever, and joint pain.

Except for pain at the injection site, more adolescents reported these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so vaccination providers and recipients need to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but even more so after the second dose. The side effects in adolescents were consistent with those reported in clinical trial participants 16 years of age and older.

It is important to note that as a general matter, while some individuals experience side effects following any vaccination, not every individual’s experience will be the same, and some people may not experience side effects.

The EUA amendment was issued to Pfizer Inc. The issuance of an EUA is not an FDA Approval (licensure) of a vaccine.

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May 10, 2021 • 8:24 pm CDT

The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, does not lead to higher rates of death or severe disease in patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a new observational study of more than 78,000 people in the United Kingdom published in The Lancet Rheumatology journal on May 7, 2021.

NSAIDs are common treatments for acute pain and rheumatological diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthrosis.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a clinical debate on whether the use of such drugs increased the severity of COVID-19.

These researchers concluded the study by saying 'NSAID use is not associated with higher mortality or increased severity of COVID-19. Therefore, policymakers should consider reviewing issued advice around NSAID prescribing and COVID-19 severity.'

Prof Ewen Harrison, of the University of Edinburgh and lead author of the study, said, We now have clear evidence that NSAIDs are safe to use in patients with COVID-19, which should provide reassurance to both clinicians and patients that they can continue to be used in the same way as before the pandemic began."

May 10, 2021 • 6:18 pm CDT

The Annals of Internal Medicine published a new study on May 11, 2021, In-Hospital Mortality in a Cohort of Hospitalized Pregnant and Nonpregnant Patients With COVID-19.

These researchers stated, 'Overall and within multiple subgroups, we found a substantially lower rate of in-hospital mortality in pregnant patients than nonpregnant patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and viral pneumonia.'

This retrospective cohort study of patients in the Premier Healthcare Database, an all-payer data repository that captures 20% of U.S. hospitalizations, included female inpatients aged 15 to 45 years hospitalized from April to November 2020 with COVID-19.

In-hospital death occurred in 0.8% (n = 9) of pregnant patients and 3.5% (n = 340) of nonpregnant patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and viral pneumonia.

The median time from admission to death was 18 days for pregnant patients and 12 days for nonpregnant patients.

Among the subgroup of patients admitted to an intensive care unit, in-hospital mortality was 3.5% (9 of 255) in pregnant patients and 14.9% (283 of 1898) in nonpregnant patients. Among those who received mechanical ventilation, in-hospital death occurred in 8.6% (9 of 105) of pregnant patients and 31.4% (294 of 937) of nonpregnant patients.

A strength of this study is the use of a large database, including patient discharge data from 853 hospitals. It is hospital-based, providing a clearly defined population without the biases of registry-based studies.

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May 10, 2021 • 7:25 am CDT

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved on May 8, 2021, the application of the drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, a lab of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.

Clinical trial results have shown that this molecule helps in the faster recovery of hospitalized patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. A higher proportion of patients treated with 2-DG showed RT-PCR negative conversion in COVID patients.

In Phase-II trials conducted from May to October 2020, 2-DG was found safe in COVID-19 patients and showed significant improvement in their recovery. A significantly favorable trend (2.5 days difference) was seen in terms of the median time to achieve normalization of specific vital signs parameters compared to SoC.

Based on successful results, DCGI further permitted the Phase-III clinical trials in November 2020.

2-DG comes in powder form in a sachet, taken orally by dissolving it in water. It accumulates in the virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. 2-DG selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique.

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May 9, 2021 • 10:13 am CDT

The U.S. CDC confirmed on May 7, 2021, the principal mode by which people are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 beta coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is through exposure to respiratory fluids carrying infectious virus.

Exposure occurs in three principal ways: (1) inhalation of very fine respiratory droplets and aerosol particles, (2) deposition of respiratory droplets and particles on exposed mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, or eye by direct splashes and sprays, and (3) touching mucous membranes with hands that have been soiled either directly by virus-containing respiratory fluids or indirectly by touching surfaces with the coronavirus on them.

People release respiratory fluids during exhalation, such as quiet breathing, speaking, singing, exercise, coughing, sneezing in the form of droplets across a spectrum of sizes. These droplets carry viruses and transmit infection.

Once infectious droplets and particles are exhaled, they move outward from the source. The risk for infection decreases with increasing distance from the source and increasing time after exhalation, says the CDC.

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May 8, 2021 • 1:24 pm CDT

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) met on May 3, 2021, reviewing safety signals related to COVID-19 vaccines.

The EMA authorizes four COVID-19 vaccines for use in the EU: Comirnaty, COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna, Vaxzevria (previously COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca), and COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen.

On May 7, 2021, PRAC stated, 'the evaluation of safety signals is a routine part of pharmacovigilance and is essential to ensuring that regulatory authorities have a comprehensive knowledge of a medicine’s benefits and risks.' These risks are identified on this EMA webpage.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on May 7, 2021, the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine had been listed for emergency use.

WHO’s Emergency Use Listing is a prerequisite for the COVAX Facility vaccine supply. It also empowers countries worldwide to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer Listed COVID-19 vaccines.

May 7, 2021 • 1:08 pm CDT

According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting today, the current 7-day moving average of daily new cases (45,817) decreased 13.2% compared with the previous 7-day moving average.

Compared with the highest peak on January 8, 2021, the current 7-day average decreased 81.6%.

Throughout the sixteen-month COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 32,356,034 cases have been reported in the USA as of May 5, 2021.

Three COVID-19 vaccines are currently authorized and recommended for use in the USA, including the one-dose Johnson & Johnson - Janssen vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. All three vaccines are safe, effective, and reduce your risk of severe illness, says the CDC.

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May 7, 2021 • 8:53 am CDT

GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) and California-based Vir Biotechnology, Inc. announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had started a rolling review of data on an investigational compound known as Sotrovimab (VIR-7831), a dual-action SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody.

The antibody binds to an epitope on SARS-CoV-2 that is shared with SARS-CoV-1, indicating that the epitope is highly conserved and less likely to mutate over time. Sotrovimab, which incorporates Xencor’s Xtend™ technology, also has been designed to achieve high concentration in the lungs to ensure optimal penetration into airway tissues affected by SARS-CoV-2 and to have an extended half-life.

The EMA will evaluate all data on Sotrovimab, including evidence from clinical trials, as they become available.

The EMA's decision to start the rolling review is based on the interim analysis of efficacy and safety data from the Phase 3 COMET-ICE clinical trial, which evaluated Sotrovimab as monotherapy for the early treatment of COVID-19 in adults at high risk of hospitalization. The interim analysis demonstrated an 85% reduction in hospitalizations over 24 hours or deaths in those receiving Sotrovimab.

The companies submitted an Emergency Use Authorization application for Sotrovimab to the US Food and Drug Administration. Sotrovimab is also under review by other global regulators, including Health Canada. Sotrovimab has not been granted a marketing authorization anywhere globally.

In April 2020, Vir and GSK entered into a collaboration to research and develop solutions for coronaviruses. GSK is collaborating with several organizations on COVID-19 vaccines by providing access to our adjuvant technology. For further information, please visit www.gsk.com/about-us. 

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May 7, 2021 • 6:22 am CDT

Understanding Adverse Events (AEs) associated with COVID-19 vaccination has various public health implications, especially future vaccine hesitancy.

A recent study conducted in the United Kingdom focused on whether individuals with prior history of COVID-19 were more likely to experience AEs after a new vaccination than those without previous COVID-19.

These researchers found of 974 respondents, 27% reported a previous COVID-19 infection.

The proportion of people (81% female, mean age 48) reporting one moderate/severe symptom was higher in the previous COVID-19 group (56% v 47%, OR=1.5 [95%CI, 1.1–2.0], p=.009), with fever, fatigue, myalgia-arthralgia, and lymphadenopathy significantly more common.

In the smaller sensitivity analysis cohort (412 people), similar findings were obtained, although only myalgia and arthralgia remained significant.

This non-peer-reviewed study's finding indicates 'prior COVID-19 infection but not ongoing Long-COVID symptoms, were associated with an increase in the risk of self-reported adverse events following BNT162b2/Pfizer vaccination.'

'And COVID-19 illness-vaccination interval did not significantly influence AEs.'

'This data can support education around vaccine-associated AEs and, through improved understanding, help to combat vaccine hesitancy,' stated these researchers.

Funding for the CHOIS study was from the North East and North Cumbria Academic Health Sciences Network and Siemens Healthcare Ltd, who provided biomarker and serological assays, but had no input into the study design, analysis, or interpretation.

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May 6, 2021 • 11:49 am CDT

Urgent international support is needed to prevent a worsening humanitarian catastrophe in countries across South Asia, announced the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on May 5, 2021. 

In Nepal, many hospitals are full and overflowing with COVID-19 patients.

Southern towns near the Indian border are unable to cope with the growing number of people needing medical treatment. Nepal is recording 57 times more COVID-19 cases than this time last month. 

Across Nepal, 44% of tests recently returned positive results according to government authorities, indicating many thousands of infections are undiagnosed.

Nepal Red Cross Chairperson, Dr. Netra Prasad Timsina, said in an IFRC statement, “What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal’s future if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge that is claiming more lives by the minute."

“Every effort is being made to save lives right now across Nepal with increased medical treatment. Nepal Red Cross volunteer health teams are also reducing record infections by helping with testing, vaccinations, handwashing, mask-wearing, and isolating infected people." 

“It is beyond distressing to see that people cannot say goodbye to their loved ones as cremations are taking place at record levels due to these new COVID variants, which are striking down people of all ages in Nepal.” 

All South Asian countries have started vaccinating people who are most at-risk, yet in Nepal, only 1% of the population has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of May 5th.

The IFRC's Asia Pacific Director Alexander Matheou added, "This coronavirus has no respect for borders. Nepal urgently needs support, to save more lives and treat people who are suffering. We will not succeed in overcoming this terrible disease until vaccines are available to protect everyone, regardless of nationality or income.”

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May 6, 2021 • 10:42 am CDT

Novavax, Inc. today announced that it had finalized an advance purchase agreement (APA) with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), for the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine.

Under the new APA, Novavax is expected to manufacture and distribute 350 million vaccine doses of NVX-CoV2373 to countries participating under the COVAX Facility. NVX-CoV2373 is a protein-based vaccine candidate engineered from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

Under the APA, Novavax expects to deliver doses with antigen and adjuvant manufactured at facilities directly funded by the $400 million investment Novavax received from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

Under a separate APA with Gavi, the Serum Institute of India is expected to manufacture and deliver the balance of the 1.1 billion doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.

Stanley C. Erck, President, and CEO, Novavax, commented in a press release issued on May 6, 2021, "This arrangement is the culmination of a collaboration among CEPI, Gavi, Serum Institute, and Novavax, who are partnering in our urgent mission to deliver significant amounts of vaccines to all countries, regardless of income level."

Gaithersburg-based Novavax, Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX) is a biotechnology company that promotes improved health globally by discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases.

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May 5, 2021 • 12:29 pm CDT

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced via Twitter on May 3, 2021, We’re launching our “Shot and a Beer” program to encourage eligible New Jerseyans ages 21+ to get vaccinated, with a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Any New Jerseyan who gets their first COVID-19 vaccine dose in May 2021 and takes their vaccination card to a participating brewery will receive a free beer. The bars include the Hackensack Brewing Company, Gaslight Brewery, and Restaurant, Battle River Brewing, and others.

"We need that push," Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, told ABC News. "You have to find a way to motivate people. This is one way to do it."

In New Jersey, there are several ways to find vaccination providers, such as:

  • Visit Vaccines.gov to find vaccination providers near you. In some states, information may be limited while more vaccination providers and pharmacies are being added. Learn more about COVID-19 Vaccination Locations on Vaccines.gov.
  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination appointments are available. Find out which pharmacies are participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

New Jersey Department of Health news releases are posted to our website. You may unsubscribe at any time. Visit our Subscribe page.

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