Coronavirus Breaking News

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

Jul 14, 2021 • 2:32 pm CDT

The U.S. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) announced the agenda for a digital meeting scheduled for July 22, 2021, from 11 am to 4 pm ET. The agenda for this ACIP meeting focuses on two items, which are:

  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) after Janssen COVID-19 vaccine,
  • Clinical considerations for additional doses in immunocompromised individuals

Registration is not required to watch the live, no-cost meeting webcast.

The ACIP provides advice and guidance to Dr. Rochelle Paula Walensky, the Director of the CDC, regarding the use of vaccines and related agents to control vaccine-preventable diseases in the civilian population of the USA. The CDC Director reviews recommendations made by the ACIP and, if adopted, are published as official CDC/HHS recommendations in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jul 13, 2021 • 7:25 pm CDT

Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced cooperation to produce the Sputnik V vaccine in India.

With their import approved by the Drug Controller General of India, the vaccine cultivation process has begun. The first batch of Sputnik vaccines is expected to be produced at SII’s facilities in September 2021. The parties intend to produce over 300 million doses of the vaccine in India per year.

The RDIF previously reached agreements with a number of pharmaceutical companies in India (Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech, and Morepen) for the production of Sputnik.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII, commented in a press statement, “I am delighted to partner with RDIF to manufacture the Sputnik vaccine. We hope to make millions of doses in the coming months with trial batches starting in the month of September."

"With high efficacy and a good safety profile, it is critical that the Sputnik vaccine is accessible in full measure for people across India and the world."

"Given the uncertainty of the virus, it is important for international institutes, and governments to collaborate and further bolster up our fight against the pandemic.”

To date, the Sputnik V vaccine has been registered in 67 countries. The effectiveness data obtained by regulators from countries including Argentina, Serbia, Bahrain, Hungary, Mexico, San Marino, UAE, and others, demonstrates that Sputnik V is one of the safest and most effective vaccines against coronavirus.

The Sputnik Light vaccine is the first component (recombinant human adenovirus 26 serotype) of the Sputnik V vaccine.

The RDIF is Russia's sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors. 

Jul 12, 2021 • 12:33 pm CDT

The Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund announced today the study results on neutralizing sera activity from individuals vaccinated with the Sputnik V vaccine against new variants of SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus.

This study published by the journal Vaccines on July 12, 2021, found vaccination with Sputnik V produced protective neutralizing titers against new variants, including Alpha B.1.1.7 (UK), Beta B.1.351 (South Africa), Gamma P.1 (Brazil), Delta B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3 (India) and Moscow endemic variants B.1.1.141 and B.1.1.317 with mutations in the receptor-binding domain (RBD).

The study compared neutralizing activity of Sputnik V induced sera to the internationally relevant variants with the neutralizing activity to the ancestral B.1.1.1 variant. The sera were obtained from individuals after vaccination with 2 doses of Sputnik V.

The data confirms that the Sputnik V vaccine remains protective against newly detected variants.

Furthermore, Sputnik V demonstrated significantly less of a reduction in its virus-neutralizing activity against several variants compared to data from other vaccine producers, which had earlier confirmed the efficacy of their vaccines against new variants of coronavirus.

The Gamaleya Center is actively studying emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 to access VNA, and the efficacy of Sputnik V against new strains as the virus is still evolving in various parts of the world. The Gamaleya Center and RDIF are also studying new opportunities to develop vaccine cocktails jointly with other leading COVID vaccine producers using the first component of Sputnik V.

Note: Virus neutralizing activity assay is not directly related to the effectiveness of a vaccine.

Jul 12, 2021 • 6:11 am CDT

SINOVAC Biotech Ltd. announced today that it had signed an advance purchase agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on behalf of COVAX Facility, to provide up to 380 million doses of inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, CoronaVac for distribution through the COVAX Facility.

Mr. Weidong Yin, Chairman, President, and CEO of SINOVAC, said in a press statement issued on July 12, 2021, “Our mission at Sinovac is to supply vaccines to eliminate human disease. We appreciate the efforts from international organizations, including WHO and COVAX partners, to accelerate the efforts of disease prevention."

"Sinovac has delivered over one billion doses globally as of the end of June 2021 with the aim of contributing to the accessibility and affordability of Covid-19 vaccines during this pandemic. Further, safety and regular transportation and storage condition of inactivated vaccine supports easy access to the vaccine in every corner on the globe.”

The WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) had systematically reviewed and evaluated evidence of vaccine safety and effect of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine, recommending two doses of CoronaVac® for adults aged 18 and above. Following the review by SAGE, the WHO announced its intention to authorize Sinovac’s CoronaVac for Emergency Use on June 1, 2021.

Jul 11, 2021 • 8:16 am CDT

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported on July 2, 2021, from January 2021 to June 29, 2021, 10 MERS-CoV cases have been reported in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (9) and the United Arab Emirates (1), including five deaths.

In Saudi Arabia, all were primary cases, of whom six reported contact with camels. These nine cases were reported in Riyadh (4), Makkah (3), and the Eastern Province (2).

Since April 2012, and as of June 29, 2021, the ECDC reported 2,591 cases of MERS-CoV, including 941 deaths, have been reported by health authorities worldwide.

A previous study published on April 30, 2021, investigated the evolution of human coronaviruses (HCoVs). In this study, the researchers studied amplified fragments of ORF1a/b, Spike (S) gene, ORF3/4a, and ORF4b of four human MERS-CoV strains for tracking the evolution of MERS-CoV over time.

This study concluded 'MERS-CoV appears to evolve continuously. Therefore, it is recommended that future MERS-CoV strains' molecular and pathobiological characteristics be analyzed regularly to prevent potential future outbreaks at early phases.'

As of July 11, 2021, the U.S. FDA has not Approved any MERS vaccine candidates.

Jul 11, 2021 • 6:31 am CDT

India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare published a new COVID-19 Update on July 11, 2021, which is summarized below:

  • 37.60 Cr. Vaccine Doses (377 million)administered so far under Nationwide Vaccination Drive
  • India reports 41,506 new cases in the last 24 hours
  • India's Active Caseload currently at 4,54,118
  • Active cases constitute 1.47% of total cases
  • 2,99,75,064 Total Recoveries across the country so far
  • 41,526 patients recovered during the last 24 hours
  • Recovery Rate increases to 97.20%
  • Weekly Positivity Rate remains below 5%, currently at 2.32%
  • Daily positivity rate at 2.25%, less than 3% for 20 consecutive days
  • Testing capacity substantially ramped up – 43.08 cr tests total conducted

If you have questions related to COVID-19, ask our expert by tweeting your questions with #COVIDCHARCHA. Prof (Dr.) Nitin M. Nagarkar, Director and CEO, AIIMS Raipur, will be joining us on July 13th.

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Jul 10, 2021 • 6:44 pm CDT

The Scottish Government announced on July 11, 2021, it has released £12 million in additional funding to health boards across Scotland to support non-COVID emergency care. This immediate action will help put measures in place to reduce waiting times for urgent or emergency treatment, focusing on boosting staffing levels and available beds.

On July 10th, over 2,100 new COVID-19 cases were reported, and 7 reported deaths of people who had tested positive.

Of Scotland's 5.5 million residents, 3,911,189 people have received the first dose of a Covid vaccine.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said in a press statement, “We are acutely aware that hospitals are facing significant challenges due to a rise in non-Covid attendances and that some health boards are taking necessary measures to protect urgent and emergency care capacity."

For updated COVID-19 vaccine information, please visit this webpage.

Jul 10, 2021 • 2:03 pm CDT

The European Medicine Agency (EMA) announced on July 9, 2021, the safety committee (PRAC) has recommended that people who have previously had capillary leak syndrome must not be vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen.

The PRAC reviewed three cases of capillary leak syndrome in people who had received COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen, which occurred within 2 days of vaccination. One of those affected had a history of capillary leak syndrome, and two of them subsequently died.

The PRAC also recommended that capillary leak syndrome be added to the product information as a new side effect of the vaccine, together with a warning to raise awareness among healthcare professionals and patients of this risk.

Capillary leak syndrome is a very rare, serious condition that causes fluid leakage from small blood vessels, resulting in swelling mainly in the arms and legs, low blood pressure, thickening of the blood, and low blood levels of albumin.

Healthcare professionals should be aware of the signs and symptoms of capillary leak syndrome and of its risk of recurrence in people who have previously been diagnosed with the condition, says the EMA.

As of June 21, 2021, more than 18 million doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen had been administered worldwide. People vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen should seek immediate medical assistance if they experience rapid swelling of the arms and legs or sudden weight gain in the days following vaccination. These symptoms are often associated with feeling faint, says the EMA.

This review was carried out by EMA's Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC), the Committee responsible for evaluating safety issues for human medicines in the context of a procedure known as a 'type II variation.' The PRAC’s recommendations will be submitted to EMA’s human medicine committee, CHMP, for endorsement.

Jul 9, 2021 • 10:55 am CDT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested on July 9, 2021; COVID-19 vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings. And the CDC continues to say 'masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2+) who are not fully vaccinated.'

However, the CDC is not advising schools to require vaccinations for teachers and vaccine-eligible kids.

Nor did the CDC issue advice for people previously infected and recovered from COVID-19.

“We’re at a new point in the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re all really excited about. So it’s time to update the guidance," stated CDR Erin K. Sauber-Schatz, who leads the CDC task force that prepares recommendations designed to keep Americans safe from COVID-19, reported the AP.

Furthermore, the CDC published positive data indicating very few COVID-19 cases in school-age students.

This CDC guidance is meant to supplement—not replace—any federal, state, tribal, local, or territorial privacy or public health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which K-12 schools must comply.

Jul 9, 2021 • 5:49 am CDT

Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera indicated the government plans to buy the Sputnik V vaccine to ensure the possibility of immunization of the population with the third dose of the coronavirus vaccine, reported TASS on July 8, 2021.

Pinera did not provide any details on the talks with the Gamaleya Research Institute.

Chile currently uses the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty), China’s Sinovac Biotech, and the British-Swedish AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccines to immunize the population.

As of July 8, 2021, the Chilian Ministry of Health had confirmed 1,579,591 cases of COVID-19, with a reducing number of new cases being reported.

The U.S. Embassy in Chile confirmed the country is under a daily nationwide curfew from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am, and Chile will remain under the State of Emergency through September 2021.

Jul 8, 2021 • 7:51 pm CDT

The 2021 Health Care Insights Study published by CVS Health® on July 8, 2021, reveals the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic but also highlights the resilience of patients, providers, and the U.S. health care system.

The CVS Health study reveals people’s changing viewpoints toward their own health as well as generational and gender preferences in how they would like their health care delivered.

In fact, 77% of people said the COVID-19 pandemic has led them to pay more attention to their health in general, and 50% indicated previous stay-at-home orders helped them achieve their health goals.

Even as access to health insurance coverage (55%) and location of care (43%) remain among the top factors that influence consumer health care decisions, more people are exploring different avenues of care.

The Health Care Insights Study by CVS Health, first released in 2018 and called the Health Ambitions Study, then known as the Path to Better Health Study in 2019 and 2020, was conducted in March 2021 and included two surveys fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm.

Jul 8, 2021 • 4:22 pm CDT

The journal Nature published an article on July 7, 2021, indicating researchers are learning how COVID-19 damages the human brain. In addition, new evidence suggests that the coronavirus’s assault on the brain could be multipronged.

An infection with the SARS-CoV-2 beta coronavirus can cause memory loss, strokes, and other effects on the brain.

SARS-CoV-2 might attack certain brain cells directly, reduce blood flow to brain tissue, or trigger the production of immune molecules that can harm brain cells.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers speculated that the virus might cause damage by somehow entering the brain and infecting neurons, the cells responsible for transmitting and processing information.

But studies have since indicated that the virus has difficulty getting past the brain’s defense system and that it doesn’t necessarily attack neurons in any significant way.

With millions of people already affected — neurological symptoms appeared in 80% of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 who were surveyed in one study — researchers hope that the growing evidence base will point the way to better treatments.

The question Serena Spudich, a neurologist at Yale University in New Haven, CT, asked, “Can we intervene early to address these abnormalities so that people don’t have long-term problems?”

The read Michael Marshall's full article is available on this weblink.

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Jul 8, 2021 • 9:15 am CDT

Japan’s Olympics minister confirmed on July 8, 2021; spectators will not be allowed to attend 2020 Olympic venues in the capital city of Tokyo. This news follows the decision from Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to place Tokyo's 13 million residents under the fourth state of emergency.

Tokyo confirmed 896 new cases of COVID-19 on July 8, 2021, as the new state of emergency was announced.

Japan Times reported 'Japan has revised its quarantine protocol for incoming travelers, adding Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, and Zambia to its list of countries.

As of July 9th, Japan's Foreign Ministry confirmed travelers who have recently been in those countries are required to observe a 10-day quarantine in government-designated facilities and undergo multiple tests for COVID-19 — on arrival and the 3rd, 6th, and 10th days of the self-isolation period. Only those who test negative at the end of their stay can relocate to a place of their choosing for the remainder of the standard 14-day quarantine period.

 

Jul 7, 2021 • 4:42 pm CDT

A new study found men with symptomatic COVID-19, who were found to have low testosterone, were more likely to become severely ill and die from the disease. The study, carried out in Milan, Italy, during the first wave of coronavirus in 2020.

These researchers found that the lower the levels of testosterone, the higher the likelihood that male patients would need intensive care, be intubated on a ventilator, and remain in hospital over a longer period.

The likelihood of these men dying from COVID-19 increased six-fold.

The findings are presented at the European Association of Urology Congress, EAU21, which runs this week from July 8-12, 2021.

Even when age, pre-existing conditions, and body mass index were considered, the differences in hormonal profiles and clinical outcomes were still stark.

Professor Andrea Salonia, a specialist in urology and endocrinology at San Raffaele Hospital, stated in a press release issued on July 6, 2021, "At the start of the Covid pandemic, we were seeing far more men than women coming to the hospital and suffering very severe forms of the disease."

"We immediately thought this might be related to male hormone levels, particularly testosterone."

"The relationship is very clear: the lower the testosterone, the higher the severity of the condition and likelihood of death. I've never seen anything like it in my 25 years in the field."

Because the research team did not have data on the testosterone levels in the patients before they contracted Covid-19, they cannot say whether low testosterone was a pre-existing long-term condition that exacerbated the disease or whether a SARS-COV-2 coronavirus infection caused it.

Jul 7, 2021 • 10:32 am CDT

US Defense Department senior leaders have had “preliminary discussions” about making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all U.S. military troops once the experimental vaccines receive Approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pentagon spokesperson John F. Kirby said during a press briefing on July 6, 2021.

Currently, there are three COVID-19 vaccines Authorized for use by the FDA.

Kirby was adamant that the required COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary — for now. Although Kirby said there is no decision yet, communications to the military forces suggest that more than thinking is underway.

Throughout the eighteen-month COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. DOD has confirmed (26) fatalities related to COVID-19 out of the 1.3 million active-duty personnel.

However, recent data indicates heart-related issues have been identified in military-aged people.

The journal JAMA Cardiology published a case series of 23 male patients on June 29, 2021, including 22 previously healthy military members. Myocarditis, a heart condition, was identified within 4 days of receipt of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in these cases.

And the U.S. CDC confirmed on July 6, 2021, over 1,200 heart-related cases in people under the age of 30 are under review following an mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.

And, the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has reported similar heart cases following mRNA vaccinations. Myocarditis and pericarditis cases are rare in the general population, and it is estimated that in the UK, there are about 6 new cases of myocarditis per 100,000 patients per year and about 10 new cases of pericarditis per 100,000 patients per year.