This is the global coronavirus story you need to know this week.
On Monday, AstraZeneca announced interim results from its 3rd phase United States of America a study that showed 79% overall effectiveness of the vaccine against the symptoms of COVID-19. But on Tuesday, officials at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has issued a statement questioned the completeness of company data and data and the security watchdog criticized the company for “taking cherry” favorable findings rather than reporting the most recent figures. On Thursday, company revises the efficacy figures to 76%.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will do this forming an ad hoc expert group provide “additional input” in the assessment of thromboembolic events occurring in European Union (EU) residents who have received the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.
Meanwhile, the EU has told AstraZeneca to “catch up” on vaccine shipments in Europe before exporting doses to other countries.
Brazil is going through the worst period of her health crisis. Cases increased and deaths reached new heights of 3158 in 24 hours. The health system experiences long waiting times for intensive care beds, and problems with intubation, medications, respirators and oxygen. In the state of São Paulo, 115 cities are at risk of running out of oxygen cylinders. The country has seen 298,843 deaths and 12,136,615 diagnoses since February 2020. Deaths totaled 13.3 per million population. Vaccination rates remain slow with 6% of the population getting the first dose, and 2% taking the second dose on Tuesdays.
In German, after gradually lifting some of the lockdown restrictions, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units has increased again with more than 3000 beds filled, as high as a peak first wave in spring 2020. As of Wednesday, the number of new infections reported in 7 days per 100,000 population reached 108.1 nationwide.
That ENGLISH be marked one year since the first lockout with a day of reflection. In the past 12 months the number of people who have died in the UK in the 28 days after testing positive has risen from 938 to 126,172, including about 247 frontline health and care workers. Saturday saw nearly 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine delivered in one hour, or 27 per second, for a UK record 844,285 vaccines in one day. Deaths and hospitalizations continue to decline but new cases remain at around 5,000 per day.
Spanish restarting use AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday, and has extended the age limit to 65 years. There were concerns people would not believe it but the Health Minister said the vaccine was “safe and effective” and explained that if someone refuses the AZ vaccine, they will not be vaccinated. Only 4.6% of the population has been fully vaccinated. This week Spain recorded the biggest increase in COVID-19 cases in the past 10 days. Travel restrictions will remain in effect during Easter.
In Portugal, the incidence of the British variant (B.1.1.7) is increasing to cover 70% of positive cases and is expected to reach 90%. There are currently 712 COVID-19 patients hospitalized and 155 in ICU beds, the lowest since October. The current incidence rate is 81.3 cases per 100,000 population. However, between March 14 and 20, more than 30 cities saw an increase of more than or equal to 30 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Público newspaper. On Monday, Portuguese health authorities decided to continue rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccine.
France facing the resurgence of COVID-19 and curbing lockdown measures have been extended to new territories. President Macron announced several steps aimed at speeding up vaccination , including extending vaccination to people over 70 years without comorbidities. New vaccination centers will open next week. The National Drug and Product Safety Agency (ANSM) was provided an inventory of reported thromboembolic events in France with three available vaccines.
Epidemic in Italy got worse. According to the latest government reports from the Ministry of Health, the national incidence rate was above the threshold of 250 cases a week per 100,000 population for seven consecutive weeks.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 increased significantly (28,438 as of Wednesday), as well as those in intensive care (3,588), and those under home quarantine (540,740). The average positive swab rate is 5.8% at the national level. Vaccination campaigns are slowing down due to a lack of supply. Nationwide, eight million people have been vaccinated with more than 1.6 million people over 80 receiving at least one dose.
Phase 2/3 of trials of the ReiThera vaccine based on gorilla adenovirus have started in Italy, and the Spallanzani Institute will prepare a trial to verify the efficacy of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, especially against the variant of concern.
Ukraine has reported record number of COVID-related deaths each day, temporarily Bulgaria recorded the highest daily infection rate since the start of the pandemic.
Cuba drug regulatory authorities approved a second COVID-19 vaccine candidate (Soberana) for final stage clinical trials as nations race to secure homegrown jabs to quell their worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic and sell them overseas.
The country is one of the few countries in the region that has not started vaccinating COVID-19, as it is still counting its own vaccine candidates.
India have seen a spike coronavirus case. On Wednesday, the country recorded 53,476 daily cases, the highest since October. A new ‘dual mutant variant’ SARS-CoV-2 with E484Q and L452R mutations has been detected in samples from the western state of Maharashtra.
More than half Israel 9.3 million people now have fully vaccinated against COVID-19, said the country’s health minister.
Japan ending his emergency in and around Tokyo starting in early January. Despite the restrictions being lifted, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has warned people not to let their guard down to help avoid a re-emergence of the infection.
Authority at Hong Kong and Macao temporarily suspended use of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday after being notified by distributor Fosun Pharma about a broken cap in one of the batches. Fosun Pharma and BioNTech are currently investigating this matter and clarified that there is no reason to believe that the product is unsafe.
Check out more global coronavirus updates at Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.