International update: US and Europe to get first doses of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine – Russia claims Sputnik V vaccine more than 90% effective

10th November 2020 (Last Updated November 10th, 2020 10:12)

10 November

Vaccine news

Global: A senior World Health Organisation official said a Covid-19 vaccine may be rolled out by March 2021 to the most vulnerable. Bruce Aylward told the WHO’s annual ministerial assembly that interim results from Pfizer’s late-stage vaccine trial were “very positive”.

The US and Europe are in line to get the first doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine after a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech delivered positive preliminary results in a large patient trial. The partners said they’ll be able to produce enough to inoculate 25 million people this year, less than a third of the population of Germany, where BioNTech is based. “We will need to find a way to distribute that in a fair fashion,” BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said in an interview.

US president-elect Joe Biden led the tone for much of the reaction from world leaders. He said it could be “many months” before the vaccine is widely available – providing it passes several more hurdles in the approval and distribution process – and warned Americans: “We’re still facing a very dark winter.”

Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious-disease expert, said the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer will have a “major impact” on the battle against the coronavirus.

Sir John Bell, one of the UK’s most eminent vaccines experts, said he believed “with some confidence” that life should return to normal by spring next year following the Pfizer/BioNTech announcement. Bell went further than many of peers in the scientific community.

US: Novavax Covid-19 vaccine received a fast-track designation from US regulators as the drugmaker prepares to launch a large, late-stage study before the end of the month, the company said on Monday. The expedited review by the US Food and Drug Administration could help push the candidate forward into a short-list of frontrunners in the race to bring a vaccine to market.

Russia: Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, is more than 90% effective, according to preliminary observations, the Health Ministry said in text message. The ministry cited observations of patients outside phase 3 of trial, according to Oksana Drapkina, Director of National Research Center for Preventive Medicine of the Ministry of Health.

Brazil: Brazil’s health regulator said Monday it had suspended clinical trials of a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine after an “adverse incident” involving a volunteer recipient, a blow for one of the most advanced vaccine candidates, AFP reports. The setback for CoronaVac, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech, came on the same day US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said its own vaccine candidate had shown 90 percent effectiveness, sending global markets soaring and raising hopes of an end to the pandemic.

Covid latest

Global: Global coronavirus infections have passed 50.9 million, meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll exceeds 1.26 million according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The latest seven-day average shows global daily infections are rising by more than 540,000 and October was the worst month of the pandemic so far, according to Reuters calculations.

US: Covid-19 infections have passed 10.1 million with 10,110,552 cases registered. The US coronavirus death toll is 238,251 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. US cases reached a new high, with more than 142,000 new infections reported on Monday – the fifth straight day with a tally over 100,000.

There were almost 59,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the United States on Monday, the country’s highest number ever of in-patients being treated for the disease. The number of people with the virus being hospitalized has surged around 73% over the past 30 days to at least 58,982 – a record level.

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorised emergency use of Eli Lilly and Co’s experimental Covid-19 antibody treatment for non-hospitalised patients older than 65 or who have certain chronic medical conditions. The FDA said its emergency use authorisation (EUA) was based on clinical trials showing that the treatment, bamlanivimab, reduced the need for hospitalisation or emergency room visits in Covid-19 patients at high risk of disease progression.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said the state’s health-care system is so taxed by the Covid-19 pandemic that hospitals are rejecting patients from other states. Speaking at a news briefing Monday, Herbert said overcrowded health facilities in Utah “are at the brink of not being able to take anyone.”

In Wyoming, where health officials have for weeks implored stubborn residents to mask up, hospitalizations set a record of 172 Monday, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Some 17 of 19 intensive-care unit beds at the state’s largest hospital, Wyoming Medical Center, were full, the Star-Tribune said, and three others reported no open ICU beds. The Cowboy State is the least populated, with about 600,000 residents.

Australia: Australia has gone three days without any locally acquired cases of Covid-19. All cases have been detected in quarantined locals who have recently returned from overseas.Now the country is considering opening its borders to Asian countries, including parts of China, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.

France: France is seeing some signs that measures to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check are working, Director for Health Jerome Salomon said in a briefing on Monday. In French cities where a curfew was instated mid-October, there’s a slowdown in virus activity, he said.

Bulgaria: Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who has been treated at home for two weeks, still hasn’t recovered from the virus and tested positive again on Sunday, the local 24 Chasa newspaper reported, citing unnamed people from his team.

Japan: Japan’s coronavirus panel cautioned on Monday that virus cases could rise without more active contact tracing and better dissemination of information, broadcaster NHK reported. The panel said foreign communities and college students have been an increasing source of outbreaks and noted that cases are on a rising trend in Hokkaido, Saitama, Kanagawa, Aichi, Osaka and Hyogo.

Ukrain: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating. Zelenskiy is feeling fine and will continue to work remotely, according to a statement from his office.

Lockdown updates

Italy: Italy will ramp up coronavirus restrictions in Tuscany and four other regions from Wednesday to rein in the second wave of the pandemic, a health ministry source said on Monday.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong will announce the details of a travel bubble with Singaore before the end of the week, a government official said Tuesday. It also plans to announce details on quarantine exemptions for Hong Kong residents returning from Guandong or Macau.

Economy updates

China: China’s inflation dips to 11-year low as pork stocks rise. Falling food prices dragged China’s consumer inflation to an 11-year low last month, spurred by improving supplies of pork, official data showed Tuesday.

US: The Federal Reserve is warning that asset prices in key markets could still take a hit if the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact worsens in coming months. “Uncertainty remains high, and investor risk sentiment could shift swiftly should the economic recovery prove less promising or progress on containing the virus disappoint,” the Fed said in its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report.