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CORONA VIRUS

First Covid-19 Case Detected At Tokyo Olympics

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A person has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Tokyo Olympics athletes’ village, organizers said on Saturday, in the first such case that adds to concerns about infections at the Games which begin next week.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto confirmed that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organizing the Games had tested positive. He would not reveal the person’s nationality, citing privacy concerns.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, is being held mostly without spectators and under tight quarantine rules.

Athletes are just starting to arrive for the Games which run July 23 through Aug. 8.

Japan’s public has been lukewarm about the Games amid a resurgence in new coronavirus infections and worries that an influx of foreign visitors may help turn the Tokyo Olympics into a super-spreader event, which in turn could put further strain on Japan’s already stretched medical system.

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CORONA VIRUS

Misinformation Makes Africans Wary of Covid Vaccines

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Ongoing misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines is contributing to skepticism from many people across Africa, leading them to shun jabs, the African Union (AU) has said.

The statement was made by William Carew, head of the Secretariat of AU’s Economic Social and Cultural Council, as he urged Africans to get vaccinated if herd immunity is to be achieved.

Only 3.6% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus so far.

“There has been a lot of misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines that had contributed to many people being wary of getting vaccinated,” an AU statement issued Tuesday quoting Mr Carew said.

He made the remarks during Covid-19 vaccines capacity building and sensitisation meeting, which was held recently as part of a continental campaign aimed at promoting the accessibility and use of the vaccines in order to build herd immunity in Africa.

The official called on Africans to implement public health experts’ assertion that vaccination remains the only realistic path to finally halting the spread of the virus, given its ease of transmissibility and ability to mutate.

“I want to urge you all to take this opportunity to get the right information about the vaccines and help us to educate the communities that you operate in,” Mr Carew told representatives of African civil society organisations at the meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that as the COVAX facility is forced to slash planned vaccine deliveries to Africa by around 150 million this year, the continent faces a shortage of almost 500 million doses. This is short of the global year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of its population.

With the cutback, COVAX is now expected to deliver 470 million doses to Africa this year, which will be enough to vaccinate just 17% of the population, far below the 40% target.

An additional 470 million doses are needed to reach the end-year target even if all planned shipments via COVAX, a multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines, and the AU are delivered, according to the WHO.

As of Tuesday noon, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa reached 8,166,634 while the death toll from the pandemic stood at 206,740, according to the latest figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

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CORONA VIRUS

‘Most People Don’t Need Covid Vaccine Booster’, Scientists Say

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Covid-19 vaccines work so well that most people don’t yet need a booster, an all-star panel of scientists from around the world said in a review that’s likely to fuel debate over whether to use them.

Governments would be better served to focus on immunizing the unvaccinated and to wait for more data on which boosters would be most effective and at what doses, the authors, who included two prominent U.S. Food and Drug Administration experts, argued in the medical journal The Lancet.

They based their assessment on a wide range of real-world observational studies as well as data from clinical trials.

“None of the studies has provided credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease,” the authors wrote. There could also be additional side-effect risks if boosters are introduced too soon or too broadly, they said.

Most countries with ample vaccine supplies are debating whether to allocate doses for booster shots to prop up immunity and potentially help stop the spread of the more infectious delta variant.

The U.S. plans to roll out booster shots starting Sept. 20, though the proposal still needs sign-off from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scientists are by no means unanimous on the topic of boosters. Even a small reduction in efficacy against the spread of Covid can strain a health-care system, and “there is therefore no ‘one size fits all’ approach,” said Azra Ghani, chair in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, who wasn’t involved with the review.

Shares of vaccine makers fell after the review was published. BioNTech SE’s American depositary receipts fell as much as 7.7%, the biggest intraday decline in almost a month, while partner Pfizer Inc. dropped as much as 2.5%. Moderna Inc. also lost as much as 7.7% as of 11:12 a.m. in New York, and AstraZeneca Plc. slipped as much as 1.2% in London.

The analysis is a blow to President Joe Biden, who announced his booster program in August after an extraordinary joint statement from his top medical advisers, including CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

Biden’s advisers said then that the data supported the need for boosters and that they would begin preparing for them, noting that regulators would still need to sign off on the plan.

Some experts have questioned the need for the extra shots, while the World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on them until more people outside of rich countries can get protection.

A U.K. government advisory panel is set to soon recommend whether to move forward with broad use of a third vaccine dose.

Britain is already offering boosters to those with severely weakened immune systems, as are many European Union countries. The European Medicines Agency is also reviewing booster data from Pfizer and BioNTech, and from Moderna Inc.

Among the scientists behind the Lancet article were Marion Gruber, who leads the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, and her deputy Philip Krause. Both have said they would step down later this year.

Gruber and Krause were two of a group of FDA staff who last year pushed back against pressure by the Trump administration to speed up the authorization of the Covid vaccines, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The WHO’s Soumya Swaminathan, Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo and Mike Ryan also worked on the review.

The WHO said it would make better public-health sense to focus on immunizing those who haven’t gotten any shots yet — whether because of anti-vaccine sentiment in countries with ample reserves, or because they live in places with little access to shots.

“Even if boosting were eventually shown to decrease the medium-term risk of serious disease, current vaccine supplies could save more lives if used in previously unvaccinated populations,” the authors wrote.

Across the observational studies done so far, vaccination has shown an average of 95% effectiveness against severe disease, including against more infectious variants such as delta, and more than 80% effective at preventing any infection, the review found.

Even in countries with high vaccination rates, it’s unvaccinated people who are driving transmission of the virus — and who are at highest risk of becoming very ill, the study found.

 

Bloomberg

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CORONA VIRUS

President Tshisekedi Finally Takes Covid-19 Vaccine Jab

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Until DRC lost 1,068 citizens and 56,096 recorded cases to the deadly Covid-19 since its emergence in the country last year, President Félix Tshisekedi had not taken a vaccine jab.

On Sunday, Tshisekedi rolled up his sleeve on his left hand to allow a physician sink into his flesh a syringe containing the covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, on the same occassion on Sunday, the DRC First Lady Denise Nyakeru also took her first Covid-19 vaccine before cameras.

However, the name of the vaccine was not released, but the Presidential Press noted that immediately after being vaccinated, Tshisekedi reiterated his support for the vaccination.

“The vaccine remains the best-indicated solution for the time being in the face of COVID-19,” President Tshisekedi said after taking his first dose at the UA city presidential clinic in Kinshasa.

The presidential couple thus launched the second phase of the national anti-Covid19 vaccination campaign.

Dr Roger Kamba, Special Advisor of the PR in charge of universal health coverage, confirmed the presence in the DRC of more than 250,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine as well as the imminent arrival of several thousand doses of the Johnson & Johnson, Astra vaccines. zeneca and Pfizer.

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