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What’s Behind Varying Efficacy Data for Sinovac’s COVID-19 Vaccine?

57 min 12 sec

(Medscape) – New efficacy data from Brazil on Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, for which there are now four widely different success rates, raised more questions than answers, as many developing countries pin their hopes on the CoronaVac to end the pandemic. Here are potential factors contributing to CoronaVac’s varying efficacy rates and expert interpretations.

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California Urges Stop to 300K COVID-19 Vaccines After Some Fall Ill

1 hour 4 min

(Medscape) – California’s state epidemiologist is urging a halt to more than 300,000 coronavirus vaccinations using a Moderna vaccine version because some people received medical treatment for possible severe allergic reactions. Dr. Erica S. Pan on Sunday recommended providers stop using lot 41L20A of the Moderna vaccine pending completion of an investigation by state officials, Moderna, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the federal Food and Drug Administration.

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Covid Trials for Kids Get Started with First Results by Mid-2021

1 hour 7 min

(Bloomberg) – In the U.S., more than 14 million Covid-19 shots have been given since mid-December, mainly to health workers, the elderly and those at high risk. To defeat the pandemic and fully revive the economy, children will also have to be immunized, experts say. To that end, trials to make sure vaccines are safe for the young are beginning in earnest. Pfizer and Moderna Inc. started recruiting participants at the end of last year, and could have data from studies by summer. The University of Oxford, which developed a vaccine with AstraZeneca Plc, is planning initial tests in 12- to 18-year-olds next month.

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Panel: China, WHO Should Have Acted Quicker to Stop Pandemic

1 day 2 hours

(Associated Press) – A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued to the media Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities” to adopt basic public health measures as early as possible. 

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‘You Can’t Treat If You Can’t Empathize’: Black Doctors Tackle Vaccine Hesitancy

1 day 2 hours

(NPR) – Black Americans have been catching the coronavirus, getting severely ill and dying from it, at a rate higher than other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Black Americans are also less likely to want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to polls. A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation last month found that around 35% of Black adults are not planning to get COVID-19 vaccines. So how can medical and public health leaders work to overcome this hesitancy? To start with, acknowledge the historical reasons for black mistrust of medicine, say researchers and Black physicians working to reach their own communities.

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Covid-19 Vaccine Guidance for Those Who Are Lactating Is Based on Faulty Assumptions, Experts Say

1 day 2 hours

(STAT News) – Government guidelines and news headlines alike have grouped those who are breastfeeding and pregnant together when talking about Covid vaccine safety. But as people try to make their own decisions without safety data, it might help to acknowledge that getting vaccinated during pregnancy and lactation carry different theoretical risks — and potential benefits.

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Polish Clinic Wants to Care for Man in Life-Support Dispute

1 day 2 hours

(ABC News) – A specialist clinic in Poland said Tuesday it is ready to admit and treat a Pole who is at the center of a life-support dispute in Britain. The middle-aged man, identified only as R.S., was removed from life support treatment after a British court agreed Monday with an earlier ruling that ending such treatment was in the best interests of the man. The man’s wife and children said he should be allowed to die, but his mother, sisters and niece argued that the man’s Catholic faith meant he wouldn’t have wanted his life terminated.

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WHO Criticized for Poor Pandemic Response by International Panel

1 day 3 hours

(The Wall Street Journal) – The World Health Organization was poorly prepared to prevent a disease like Covid-19 from becoming a pandemic, and wasn’t adapted for a globalized era of easy travel and extensive trade, an international panel said. Years of warnings that the United Nations agency’s international system wasn’t ready for a respiratory pandemic went unheeded, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, a co-chairwoman of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, said.

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COVID-19 Patients Treated in Busy ICUs at Higher Risk for Death, Study Finds

1 day 3 hours

(UPI) – COVID-19 patients treated in hospital intensive care units during periods of increased demand are nearly twice as likely to die from the disease compared to those who receive care during low-demand periods, a study published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open said. Those who receive care in intensive care units operating at 75% to 100% capacity with COVID-19 patients had a 94% higher risk for death compared to those treated for the disease in facilities at less than 25% of capacity, the data showed. 

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U.S. Commission Says China Possibly Committed ‘Genocide’ Against Xinjiang Muslims

1 day 3 hours

(Reuters) – China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, a bipartisan commission of the U.S. Congress said in a report on Thursday. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) said new evidence had emerged in the past year that “crimes against humanity – and possibly genocide – are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the United States.

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Orthodox Jewish Docs Wrestle with COVID-19, Bad Press

1 day 3 hours

(Medscape) – Although the pandemic has been a disruption for people from all walks of life, it has affected Orthodox Jewish communities in unique ways. Physicians who are part of those communities have been working nonstop to keep members safe while helping them observe their many sacred rituals and traditions. Although the challenges may be specific to their community, the doctors’ methods and successes may provide examples for those helping other groups

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Yemen: This Doctor Saw Covid Hospital Empty After Fake Death Text

2 days 4 hours

(BBC) – As war-torn Yemen braces itself for a second wave of Covid-19, one doctor recalls how she battled the pandemic alone after her colleagues fled the hospital, and the dramatic fake news that plagued the assistance when it eventually arrived.

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Egypt Denied an Oxygen Failure Killed Covid Patients. We Found That It Did.

2 days 4 hours

(New York Times) – Witnesses, including medical staff and relatives of patients, said in interviews that the oxygen pressure had fallen to precipitously low levels. At least three patients, they said, and possibly a fourth, had died of oxygen deprivation. A close analysis of the video by doctors in Egypt and the United States confirmed that the chaotic scene in the I.C.U. indicated an interruption in the oxygen supply. The fatal oxygen shortage was the end result of a cascade of problems at the hospital, our investigation found.

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WHO: Just 25 Covid Vaccine Doses Administered in Low-Income Countries

2 days 4 hours

(The Guardian) – The world is on the edge of a “catastrophic moral failure” in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, with just 25 doses administered across all poor countries compared with 39m in wealthier ones, the head of the World Health Organization has said. It was the sharpest warning so far from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the dangers of vaccine hoarding since inoculations started being administered in 49 mostly high-income countries.

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A Troubling New Pattern Among the Coronavirus Variants

2 days 4 hours

(The Atlantic) – For most of 2020, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 jumped from human to human, accumulating mutations at a steady rate of two per month—not especially impressive for a virus. These mutations have largely had little effect.But recently, three distinct versions of the virus seem to have independently converged on some of the same mutations, despite being thousands of miles apart in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. (A mutation is a genetic change; a variant is a virus with a specific set of mutations.) The fact that these mutations have popped up not one, not two, but now three times—that we know of—in variants with unusual behavior suggests that they confer an evolutionary advantage to the virus. All three variants seem to be becoming more common. And all three are potentially more transmissible.

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WHO, China Could Have Acted Faster on Pandemic: Experts

2 days 4 hours

(Medical Xpress) – China and the World Health Organization could have acted faster to avert catastrophe during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, a panel of independent experts has concluded. The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said its evaluation of the start of the crisis in China “suggests that there was potential for early signs to have been acted on more rapidly”.

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Norway Adjusts Advice After Vaccine Deaths But Isn’t Alarmed

2 days 5 hours

(ABC News) – Norwegian officials have adjusted their advice on who gets the COVID-19 vaccine in light of a small number of deaths in older people, leaving it up to each doctor to consider who should be vaccinated. The Norwegian Medicines Agency on Thursday reported a total of 29 people had suffered side effects, 13 of them fatal. All the deaths occurred among patients in nursing homes and all were over the age of 80.

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CVS and Walgreens Under Fire for Slow Pace of Vaccination in Nursing Homes

5 days 6 hours

(Kaiser Health News) – The effort to vaccinate some of the country’s most vulnerable residents against covid-19 has been slowed by a federal program that sends retail pharmacists into nursing homes — accompanied by layers of bureaucracy and logistical snafus. As of Thursday, more than 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna covid vaccines had been allocated to the federal pharmacy partnership, which has deputized pharmacy teams from Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate nursing home residents and workers. Since the program started in some states on Dec. 21, however, they have administered about one-quarter of the doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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China COVID Vaccine Reports Mixed Results–What Does That Mean for the Pandemic?

5 days 6 hours

(Nature) – Long-awaited results about the effectiveness of a leading Chinese COVID-19 vaccine were tinged with disappointment and confusion this week. But researchers say the vaccine could help reduce deaths from the disease. Researchers in Brazil reported that CoronaVac, developed by Beijing-based Sinovac, was 50.4% effective at preventing severe and mild COVID-19 in late-stage trials. That’s significantly lower than the 90% efficacies of several leading vaccines. The CoronaVac figures were much lower than those from early trials of the same vaccine in Turkey and Indonesia, and below the efficacy first reported by the Brazil trial team last week.

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China Builds New Quarantine Center as Virus Cases Rise

5 days 6 hours

(Associated Press) – A city in northern China is building a 3,000-unit quarantine facility to deal with an anticipated overflow of patients as COVID-19 cases rise ahead of the annual Lunar New Year travel rush.  State media on Friday showed crews leveling earth, pouring concrete and assembling prefabricated rooms in farmland in an outlying part of Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of Hebei province, which has seen the bulk of the new cases. 

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In LA, Ambulances Circle for Hours and ICUs Are Full. Is This What Covid-19 Has in Store for the Rest of the Country?

5 days 6 hours

(STAT News) – The situation here is dire. Every minute, 10 people test positive for Covid-19. Every eight minutes, someone dies. Ambulances circle for hours, unable to find ERs that can accept patients. Hospitals are running out of oxygen. ICU capacity is at zero. Patients lie in hallways and tents. Emergency room nurses have more patients than they can handle — sometimes six at a time. The National Guard has arrived, not to help treat patients, but to manage the flood of bodies. As Los Angeles County approaches its millionth case of Covid-19, doctors describe their wards as war zones. Even the gorillas at the San Diego Zoo have gotten sick.

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EU Regulator: Hackers ‘Manipulated’ Stolen Vaccine Documents

5 days 6 hours

(ABC News) – The European Union’s drug regulator said Friday that COVID-19 vaccine documents stolen from its servers in a cyberattack have been not only leaked to the web, but “manipulated” by hackers. The European Medicines Agency said that an ongoing investigation into the cyberattack showed that hackers obtained emails and documents from November related to the evaluation of experimental coronavirus vaccines. The medicines agency, which regulates drugs and medicines across the 27-member EU, had troves of confidential COVID-19 data as part of its vaccine approval process.

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Pfizer Temporarily Reduces European Deliveries of Vaccine

5 days 7 hours

(Associated Press) – U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed Friday it will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity to 2 billion doses per year.  “This temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” a spokeswoman for Pfizer Denmark said in a statement to The Associated Press. Line Fedders said that to meet the new 2 billion dose target, Pfizer is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, which “presupposes adaptation of facilities and processes at the factory which requires new quality tests and approvals from the authorities.”

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Saliva-Based COVID-19 Tests as Accurate as Those Using Nose, Throat Samples

5 days 7 hours

(UPI) – COVID-19 tests that use patients’ saliva to screen for the virus are just as effective as those that use swabs collected from the nose and throat, an analysis published by JAMA Internal Medicine found. Saliva-based tests correctly identified those infected with the new coronavirus 83% of the time, while nose-throat swab tests were 85% accurate, the review of data from 16 studies showed. 

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Feds Plead for Greater use of Monoclonal Antibodies to Fight COVID

5 days 7 hours

(Medscape) – Federal officials are urging healthcare professionals and patients to use monoclonal antibody treatments to help stave off more severe COVID-19 illness, and have now set up three federally supported infusion sites. In its push, the government also has posted an online locator for sites offering the therapies and is encouraging use at long-term care facilities and other alternative locations.

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