EU to get 50 million Pfizer doses early as US prolongs J&J pause

Health worker Caryn Blair (R) delivers a vaccine for Covid-19 to Nicolas Gonzalez Marcelino at the Florida Memorial University vaccination center in Miami Gardens, Florida on April 14, 2021

The European Union announced on Wednesday that it was expecting 50 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses earlier than expected as the US announced it would continue the vaccination break with the Johnson & Johnson shot for at least a week so regulators could avoid possible blood clots Be able to judge connections.

Rival drug maker AstraZeneca faced a similar setback after Denmark banned its use, including over blood clot compounds.

Concerns about J&J and AstraZeneca vaccine use have dampened hopes that mass vaccination will lead to a swift exit from the global pandemic that killed nearly three million people and devastated the global economy.

That said, there was some good news when BioNTech / Pfizer announced that 50 million cans, which should arrive in Europe in late 2021, will arrive as early as this month.

More than 820 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have now been administered worldwide. Demand continues to outpace supply, and countries strive to secure the much-needed shocks for their populations.

The race to secure vaccines has sparked diplomatic clashes, particularly between the UK and the EU, after the London bloc accused of hoarding shocks. Australia has also accused the EU of failing to keep the promised doses.

Fear of blood clots

A panel of U.S. health experts decided that the break in using the J&J vaccines would be at least another week to give them time to assess the risk of blood clots.

Covid-19 vaccines in use

Covid-19 vaccines in use

Another case of the coagulation disorder was reported Wednesday, bringing the total US cases to seven – including one fatality – among the 7.2 million J&J doses administered in the country.

“I don’t want to send the message that there is something fundamentally wrong with this vaccine,” said Beth Bell, chair of the expert group convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“But I want to be able to understand and defend the decision I made (whether or not to keep using the vaccine) based on an adequate amount of data,” she added.

Johnson & Johnson said it would delay its European rollout, again because of blood clot fear – a huge hit for the continent’s beleaguered vaccination campaign.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that it would make a recommendation on the safety of the J&J sting next week after evaluating the clot compounds.

AstraZeneca has faced similar setbacks. Many countries are now restricting its use to the elderly after recent blood clots appeared in younger populations, some of which were fatal.

Brazil is still struggling to contain its outbreak

Brazil is still struggling to contain its outbreak

Denmark said Wednesday it will no longer use it – a European first – despite assurances from the EMA and the World Health Organization that the benefits far outweigh the possible risks.

The Russian state research institute Gamaleya stated that the Sputnik V vaccine posed no risk of blood clots.

Several countries, from Germany to India to Argentina, are struggling in some cases with worrying increases.

Ganges infections

In India, more than 1,000 people tested positive for the virus after bathing in the Ganges for the world’s largest religious festival.

A huge crowd of devotees grabbed the banks of the river for a bath as part of a bathing ritual, despite rising virus cases in India.

“Our faith is the greatest thing for us,” Siddharth Chakrapani, a member of one of the Kumbh Mela organizing committees, told AFP and explained why so many people came to the river.

A health worker in a morgue in Paraguay

A health worker in a morgue in Paraguay

The WHO fears that the pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa could worsen during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Confirmed cases in the region rose 22 percent last week and deaths rose 17 percent, said Ahmed al-Mandhari, WHO chief for the Eastern Mediterranean.

In Turkey, officials imposed new restrictions, including a tougher overnight curfew, while in Bangladesh, police patrolled the capital when a strict nationwide lockdown was put in place.

Most European countries are still facing virus restrictions due to persistently high case numbers, but cafes and restaurants in Belgium were allowed to open their terraces from May 8, and bars and restaurants in Switzerland can reopen from Monday.

In Argentina, however, COVID-19 cases have increased five-fold compared to the previous month. President Alberto Fernandez announced measures that include closing schools in the greater Buenos Aires area, limiting business hours and a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

In Brazil, where the vaccine rollout has been chaotic and the virus has gotten out of control, authorities said around 1.5 million people vaccinated have not shown up for a second time.

German doctors said they are treating more and more young people as new varieties conquer the country

German doctors said they are treating more and more young people as new varieties conquer the country

For the past week, there were an average of 3,000 COVID deaths per day in Brazil, forcing cities and states to reintroduce lockdown measures.

In Japan, part of the Tokyo Olympics torch relay had to be pulled from public streets due to a surge in COVID cases.

Just 100 days before the planned opening, the Vice President of the International Olympic Committee, John Coates, said that the cancellation was “certainly not” on the table.

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