Two new studies have revealed that a new Covid-19 variant that is spreading through New York City has mutations that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines. First detected in the city in November, the strain, named B.1.526, now accounts for about 27% of viral sequences in databases used by scientists. However, neither of the two studies have been peer reviewed or published in a science journal.
Doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine which has been designed to provide better protection against a variant of the virus from South Africa has been shipped to the NIH by Moderna. The current two-dose regimen generates a weaker immune response according to Moderna to the strain generated in South Africa. Antibodies still remain above the expected levels to protect against the virus according to Moderna.
The White House announced plans to deliver more than 25 million masks to communities hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The plans are a part of Mr. Biden’s pledge of having all Americans wear face masks through his first 100 days in office to limit the spread of COVID-19. 1,300 community health centers as well as 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens will receive ’high-quality’ cloth masks.
The COVID-19 vaccination campaign started on Wednesday in Ukraine. The campaign has risen hopes for the spread of the virus to be halted in the country as the health care system has already suffered significant strain. The first shots were given to medical workers and military personnel of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. 500,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in the country from India.
Fry’s Electronics announced on Wednesday (February 24), that all locations would be closing effective immediately as a result of industry changes and the challenges posed by COVID-19. The network of stores, founded in 1985, was known for their themed locations complete with props, architecture, and ambiance. The store operated locations in 9 states including California, Texas, Arizona, & Georgia.
Ghana has become the world’s first country to receive vaccines acquired through the United Nations-backed COVAX program. A consignment of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India arrived at Accra’s international airport on Wednesday. Ghana is among the 92 poor nations that are getting vaccines free through COVAX, which the World Health Organization is leading.
The US Food and Drug Administration said the new Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine against the novel coronavirus is safe and effective. The regulator said its scientists have found that the overall efficacy of the vaccine is about 66% in preventing moderate to severe Covid-19 cases. The FDA’s independent advisers will debate if the evidence is strong enough to recommend the shot for rollout.
The European Union has been told by AstraZeneca that less than half of the number of promised coronavirus vaccines will be delivered in the second quarter. The statement by the EU official has not been denied by AstraZeneca upon contact. The company is still working towards increasing productivity in order to deliver the 180 million doses that have been promised.
President Biden hosted his first meeting with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, where the pair pledged to strengthen their partnership and address issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. Trudeau said he and Biden are on the ’same page when it comes to standing up for the middle class.’ Biden said the US and Canada ’doubled down’ on efforts to fight climate change.
Israel is sending its spare doses of Covid-19 vaccines to its far-off friends, especially those who recognize Jerusalem as its capital, like the Czech Republic and Honduras. This comes at a time when an overwhelming majority of Palestinians living under its occupation are yet to get a single dose of the vaccine. Recently, Israel allowed a batch of 2,000 doses in Gaza, which was gifted by Russia.
Lucia DeClerck, a 105-year-old woman, was recently in the news after having defeated COVID-19. Apart from being a COVID survivor, DeClerck has a few other accomplishments to her name, too. She is the survivor of two pandemics, has survived through two World Wars, and has lived through the deaths of three husbands and the death of one of her three sons.
As the US crossed half a million Covid-19 deaths, President Joe Biden urged Americans to unify in its battle against the virus that has ravaged the world, and in which the US had been the hardest hit. In his speech to mark the somber occasion, Biden said, ’It’s not Democrats or Republicans who are dying from the virus. It’s our fellow Americans. … We have to fight this together as one people.’
The House moved forward with its $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, setting the stage for passage later this week. The chamber’s Budget Committee advanced the bill in a 19–16 vote. The bill will move through the House Rules Committee before heading to the House floor. The bill includes a $1,400 direct payments for individuals, relief to households of up to $3,600 per child, among others.
The US stood Sunday on the brink of 500,000 deaths because of COVID-19, just over a year after the country confirmed its first death due to the virus. The country is expected to reach the milestone on Monday. President Biden will mark the event with a moment of silence and a remark at sunset to honor those who lost their lives. The ceremony will also include candle-lighting at the White House.
The administration of President Joe Biden announced that it is planning to deliver ’equitable relief’ to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. It will also seek to focus on those that may have had difficulty obtaining forgivable loans and minority-owned businesses. The White House also announced that it built upon last year’s Paycheck Protection Program.
Evidence from COVID vaccination programs in England and Scotland has shown that one dose of vaccine gives high protection against severe disease and admission to hospital. A single dose also provides protection against even mild disease with no symptoms in younger people. Three other studies came to similarly positive conclusions about the protection offered by the vaccines.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, is ’OK’ according to Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. Prince Philip has spent six nights in the hospital under ’observation and rest’, after he complained of feeling unwell last week. Prince Philip went to the hospital in a car and walked in unaided. The reason for his admission has not been disclosed but COVID-19 being a reason has been ruled out.
PM Boris Johnson is expected to announce Monday a ’cautious’ 4-part plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown from the country. According to the plan, schools across England will be reopened from March 8, and up to 6 people or 2 households will be allowed to meet outdoors from 29 March. Members of Parliament will vote on the regulations, following which the final roadmap will kick into action.
The White House said Saturday they have ’deep concerns’ over the data China has provided to the WHO regarding the origins of the pandemic and asked Beijing to make available data from the earliest days of the outbreak. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also stated that it is imperative that the report be independent and free from ’alteration by the Chinese government.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday it’s ’possible’ Americans may still be wearing masks outside their homes a year from now — even as the country returns to a certain degree of ’normality’ by the year-end. ’As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with President Biden that we will be approaching a degree of normality,’ said Biden’s chief medical adviser for Covid-19.
A lion pounced on a zookeeper in Germany Sunday as she cleaned its cage, authorities said. The 25-year-old employee of the Osnabrueck Zoo, Berlin, managed to escape the attack with no major injuries but was hospitalized as a precaution. The zoo is closed to the public as part of coronavirus lockdown measures in the area.
Russia was paid $1.2 million by Israel in order to provide the Syrian government with vaccines against COVID-19. This has been part of a deal which sees the release of an Israeli woman who has been held captive in Damascus. The same has been reported by Israeli media on Sunday. The deal has drawn criticism at home.
On the 27th of February, South Korea is set to start administering the first of 117,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine by Pfizer. According to an announcement by the Prime Minister of the country, the country will also begin administering the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine a day prior. By July, 10 million high risk people are to be inoculated according to officials.
A weekend lockdown has been called for by the mayor of the French city of Nice in order to stop the flow of tourists, so as to avoid a surge in COVID-19 cases. The mayor said in a statement that tourists are welcome during normal times but the city needs to focus on battling a sharp spike in COVID-19 infections. The highest infection rate in France has been reported in the Nice area.