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UK delivers more than 600,000 vaccines in 24 hours


More than 600,000 first and second doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Britain in the space of 24 hours, according to data released on Saturday.

Official figures showed that 119,306 first doses were given on Friday, and 485,421 second doses. The data also showed a further 35 people had died from the virus within 28 days of a positive test, and 2,206 people had tested positive.

In the last seven days, daily deaths were down 29% from the previous week, while cases were down 6.5%.

Moderna slashing vaccine deliveries to Canada, but Pfizer steps up with 8 million more doses


Pfizer will send four million more vaccine doses in May, two million more in June, Trudeau says

Moderna will send far fewer COVID-19 shots to Canada this month than originally planned as the company grapples with production issues at its facilities in Europe.

But its main competitor, Pfizer — which also produces a highly effective mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus — has said it will send millions more doses to Canada in May, June and beyond, a commitment that will more than cover the shortfall from Moderna.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that while the delay in Moderna’s shipments is disappointing, Canada has now signed an agreement with Pfizer for eight million more vaccine doses on top of what has already been promised.

Canada will receive four million more Pfizer doses in May, another two million in June and two million more in July, Trudeau said.

That means Canada’s immunization campaign will have access to two million doses per week of the Pfizer product in May and 2.5 million shots per week in the month of June — vaccine stocks that are badly needed as the country grapples with a punishing third wave of cases.

U.S. Vaccinations Reach 200 Million as Campaign Picks Up Speed


The U.S. has administered 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a White House official said Friday.

Just under 40% of Americans have had at least one dose, and about a quarter have completed the one- and two-dose vaccinations. The news was announced on Twitter by Cyrus Shahpar, the White House Covid-19 Data Director.

The vaccine rollout has been accelerating as supply increases, with the U.S. giving shots to about 1% of the population every day, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. It took the U.S. 89 days to administer the first 100 million doses, a milestone reached on March 12. The second 100 million has come in just 36 days.

President Joe Biden has said his goal was to administer 200 million doses in the first 100 days of his administration. Because vaccination was started under Donald Trump’s administration, it will take another 16.5 million doses to reach Biden’s mark. That should happen some time next week, about a week ahead of Biden’s deadline.

Covid eight times more likely to cause rare brain clot than AstraZeneca vaccine, study finds


The risk of developing a rare brain clot from Covid-19 is about eight times greater than from the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, who are not linked to the vaccine, also found that people infected with coronavirus are “manyfold times” more likely than normal to develop the rare clotting disorder, known as cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), where blood clots in the veins that run from the brain.

“There’s no doubt that Covid is a much greater risk of this [condition] than any of the vaccines,” said Professor Paul Harrison, a co-author of the study.

The research, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, drew comparisons between more than 500,000 Covid-19 patients in the US and 34 million people in Europe who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as the background level of CVT in the general population.

For Covid-19, the incidence rate of CVT stands at 39 cases per one million people, the study showed. But for a million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab, there will be just five cases of CVT over a two-week period.

Biden administration working to ensure U.S. will have booster COVID-19 shots if they become necessary


The Biden administration is “in discussions” to ensure that it can obtain booster COVID-19 shots if they become necessary, a top official told lawmakers on Thursday. The announcement comes as drugmakers are touting their progress in developing the additional shots, which are designed to increase the body’s immune response months after the initial doses are administered.

“We are in discussions right now, making sure that we can secure those vaccines for a boost or variants. We are in that process right now,” Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for the administration’s COVID-19 response, told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Federal health officials and drugmakers have said for months that booster shots would likely be required at some point, though it’s not yet clear when that will be. The shots will likely be very similar to the original version of the vaccines, but may be administered in different doses or be tweaked to protect against variants.

Kessler cautioned that “no decision” had been reached over the strategy of how the booster shots would be administered, citing ongoing research into how long the immunity created by the vaccines lasts. Recent studies from Pfizer and Moderna suggest their COVID-19 shots remain effective for at least 6 months.

“With many vaccines, we understand that at a certain point in time we need to boost, whether that’s 9 months, 12 months. And we are preparing for that,” Kessler said.

The companies behind all three of the COVID-19 vaccines currently allowed for use in the United States have said they are pursuing additional shots.

Israel mask wearing outside to no longer be required as of Sunday


Israel will lift the requirement to wear masks outdoors starting on Sunday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced on Thursday. The requirement will remain for indoor spaces.

“The masks are intended to protect us from the coronavirus,” said Edelstein. “After our health professionals came to the conclusion that they are no longer needed outdoors, I decided to allow it according to their recommendation. The level of morbidity in Israel is very low thanks to our successful vaccination campaign, and thus we can ease up further restrictions for you, citizens of Israel. I ask you to still carry a mask in order to enter closed buildings. Together we will keep the morbidity low.”

The move had been under discussion for several weeks, but authorities decided to wait until the end of Remembrance Day and Independence Day, fearing that mask-less celebrations might lead to a spike in cases.

The majority of experts agree that the risk of contracting the coronavirus outdoors is very limited.

“We know that wearing masks outdoors is not as effective as doing it indoors,” Dr. Eyal Leshem, the director of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, said last week. “Moreover, we see that many people don’t actually wear masks anymore anyway. Therefore at this point, with a low number of cases and a majority of the population vaccinated or recovered, it would make sense from epidemiological and public health perspectives to lift the requirement.”

EU reaches milestone of 100 million vaccinations


Over 100 million vaccines have been administered in the European Union as of Wednesday, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced during a statement.

Of these vaccinations, more than a quarter are second doses, which means that more than 27 million Europeans have been fully vaccinated.

“I am happy to say that today we reached a target of 100 million vaccinations in the European Union. This is a milestone that we can be proud of,” said von der Leyen.

During the statement, she also announced that vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech will bring forward their delivery of 50 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine for the continent to April.

“These doses were initially foreseen for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2021, but now they will become available in the second quarter. This will bring the total doses delivered by the companies to 250 million in the second quarter,” said von der Leyen.

Covid-19 deaths in London ‘hit zero’ on several days this month


Deaths from Covid-19 have fallen to zero on several days so far this month in London as the disease is pushed further onto the retreat, official figures reveal today.

They currently show that no deaths, within 28 days of individuals testing positive for coronavirus, were recorded in the capital on April 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, with zero also announced yesterday.

Health chiefs say some of these figures may change up to five days afterwards, or possibly even later, so certainly the most recent need to be treated with caution.

However, they highlight how fatalities from the disease in the city are now at a very low level.

COVID Hospitalisations Cut In Half Among Older New Yorkers Thanks To Vaccines


New York City is beginning to see the “real world” effect of COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 hospitalizations among senior citizens have dropped by 51% since mid-January, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Choskhi said Wednesday. The drop is nearly twice the reduction in hospitalizations among New Yorkers younger than 65, which has decreased by 29%.

Chokshi pointed to COVID-19 vaccines, which were prioritized for older people through senior center programs and age requirements to reach the most vulnerable in the early days of the vaccine rollout. Over 61% of older adults have received at least one shot.

“The vaccines are life-saving, and here in New York City, we are starting to see them have the real world benefit that has been observed in Israel, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere,” Chokshi said during a press briefing on Wednesday. Israel’s early and robust rollout meant nearly all of its oldest citizens had been fully vaccinated by mid-March. The nation witnessed a rapid decline in cases, first among older groups but then into children who haven’t been vaccinated, according to numbers compiled by Our World In Data.

“What’s been proven now very, very clearly is the power of this vaccine to protect our seniors—to protect everyone—but particularly those who are most vulnerable,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

U.K. Coronavirus Strain Does Not Lead To More Severe Illness And Death, Study Finds


People infected with the U.K. variant of the coronavirus didn’t experience more severe symptoms and weren’t more likely to die from this particular strain, according to a new study of hospitalized patients published Monday.

The strain, called the B.1.1.7 variant, remains more contagious than original strains of the virus however, according to the study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The U.K. strain is believed to have first emerged in England in September 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is now the most common strain in the U.S.

Researchers for The Lancet study collected samples from patients at the University College London Hospital and the North Middlesex University Hospital between Nov. 9 to Dec 20, 2020. The samples were collected just prior to a surge in hospitalizations in England and Ireland due to the rapid spread of this particular strain of the coronavirus.