COVID-19 Global Roundup: The global vaccine program faces shortages - CGTN
As countries around the globa are ramping up with massive immunization programs, the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines have met with mismatches and shortages in many areas.
A first-aid staff (R) is undergoing a 15-minute waiting process for any potential adverse reaction after receiving a Moderna vaccine shot at the Putnam Clubhouse at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., the U.S., January 15, 2021. /AP A first-aid staff (R) is undergoing a 15-minute waiting process for any potential adverse reaction after receiving a Moderna vaccine shot at the Putnam Clubhouse at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., the U.S., January 15, 2021. /AP As countries around the globe ramp up their massive immunization programs, the production and distribution of vaccines have been met with mismatches and shortages in many areas including the U.S., Brazil, and India, three of the most infected countries. In the U.S., the push to inoculate Americans against the coronavirus is hitting a roadblock: A number of states are reporting they are running out of vaccine doses, and tens of thousands of people who managed to get appointments for a first dose are seeing their appointments canceled. The reason for the apparent mismatch between supply and demand in the U.S. was unclear, but last week the Health and Human Services Department suggested that states had unrealistic expectations for how many vaccines were on the way. In any case, new shipments go out every week, and both the government and the drugmakers have said there are large quantities in the pipeline. The shortages are coming as states dramatically ramp up their vaccination drives, at the federal government's direction, to reach people 65 and older, along with certain others. More than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. have been blamed on the virus. President Joe Biden, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, immediately came under pressure to fix things. He has made it clear that his administration will take a stronger hand in attacking the crisis, and he vowed to administer 100 million shots in his first 100 days. Workers transport boxes of China's COVID-19 vaccines in Brasilia, Brazil, January 18, 2021. /Xinhua Workers transport boxes of China's COVID-19 vaccines in Brasilia, Brazil, January 18, 2021. /Xinhua Brazil's foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, said on Wednesday he still could not provide a timeline for when new coronavirus vaccine doses would arrive from India and China, raising concern in a country that is lagging behind others in vaccinating its people. Brazil is waiting for a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from India and a shipment of Sinovac vaccines from China. Meanwhile, the country on Wednesday registered 1,340 new coronavirus deaths, the health ministry said, bringing the total to 212,831. Brazil also registered 64,385 new cases of the disease, which now total 8,638,249. Brazil launched its mass vaccination campaign in all states on Monday, Minister of Health Eduardo Pazuello said. The initial plan was to begin nationwide vaccination on Wednesday, but the date was moved up in response to the request of state governors, said Pazuello. "The governors asked that as soon as (the vaccines) arrive in the states, they have the freedom to begin vaccination," Pazuello said. Brazil's Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) on Sunday authorized the emergency use of the CoronaVac vaccine, as well as the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine against COVID-19. But the current supply of active ingredients still falls short for the local manufacturing partners for vaccine makers to fill and finish doses for distribution. Brazil was distributing around six million doses, with over 4.6 million distributed by the federal government and 1.3 million by the local government of Sao Paulo. The Butantan Institute run by Sao Paulo state needs another shipment of Sinovac's ingredients by the end of the month in order to hit its target of 46 million doses by April, the head of the institute told a news conference. A health worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot at a government Hospital in Mumbai, India, January 19, 2021. /AP A health worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot at a government Hospital in Mumbai, India, January 19, 2021. /AP India's national immunization program is confronted with mistrust from the general public, as the national COVID-19 vaccine drive has been hampered by turnout as low as 22 percent in some states. Some 780,000 people have been given the first shot of the two-jab dose in the five days since the world's biggest COVID-19 vaccination drive started on January 16, according to local media NDTV. The government plans to vaccinate around 300,600 on the first day was seen as a first step in vaccinating around 300 million people with two doses in the first six to eight months of the year. But on the first day, only 200,000 vaccinations were given, still the highest one-day total of any country, but nonetheless fell short of the nationwide government targets. By Tuesday evening, the government said 631,417 people had been vaccinated, far below the expected figure. So far, in states such as Tamil Nadu and Punjab, uptake of the vaccine was as low as 22 percent and 23 percent in the first two days of the vaccination drive, according to The Guardian. The low turnout was attributed to the nervousness about safety among the healthcare workers who were first in line to receive the vaccine, as well as technical difficulties with the app designed to alert people of their vaccine appointments. The Health Ministry said on Wednesday that at least three of the four deaths reported among candidates who got their COVID-19 jabs are not because of the coronavirus vaccines, after a 42-year-old healthcare worker died in Telangana. "The post-mortem is ongoing," an official health ministry statement said referring to the death of a Telangana man, who got a COVID jab on Tuesday morning and died early Wednesday morning after complaining of chest pain. The percentage of adverse events among those administered COVID jabs was 0.18 per cent, while hospitalizations accounted for a negligible 0.002 per cent, the ministry added in an attempt to underline that the two vaccines are safe. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, September 18, 2020. /AP Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, September 18, 2020. /AP New version of vaccine on the way for the new variant Oxford scientists are preparing to rapidly produce new versions of their vaccine to combat the emerging more contagious COVID-19 variants discovered in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday. The team behind the vaccine from Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc is undertaking feasibility studies to reconfigure the technology, the newspaper said, citing a confirmation from Oxford University. They were working on estimating how quickly they could reconfigure their proprietary ChAdOx vaccine platform, which is the base of their COVID-19 vaccine, the report said. An Oxford spokesman said the university is carefully assessing the impact of new variants on vaccine immunity and evaluating the processes needed for rapid development of adjusted COVID-19 vaccines if these should be necessary. Tuesday, the scientists reported on bioRxiv ahead of peer review that, the variant of the new coronavirus identified in South Africa can resist, or "escape," antibodies that neutralize earlier versions of the virus. It "exhibits complete escape" from three classes of monoclonal antibodies manufactured for treating COVID-19 patients, and it shows "substantial or complete" resistance to neutralizing antibodies in blood donated by COVID-19 survivors, said the scientists. Recent laboratory tests have indicated that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE is likely to be effective against the new variant. BioNTech has said it plans to publish a more detailed analysis of the likely effect of its vaccine on the new variant within a few days. (With input from agencies)
U.S. faces half a million COVID-19 deaths by end-February, study finds - CGTN
More than a half million people in the United States could die from COVID-19 by the end of February, but around 130,000 of those lives could be saved if everybody were to wear masks, according to estimates from a modelling study on Friday. The estimates by researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed that with few effective COVID-19 treatment options and no vaccines yet available, the United States faces "a continued COVID-19 public health challenge through the winter." "We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge," said IHME Director Chris Murray, who co-led the research. He said the projections, as well as currently rising infection rates and deaths, showed there is no basis to "the idea that the pandemic is going away," adding: "We do not believe that is true." President Donald Trump said in Thursday's election debate of the pandemic: "It's going away." The Friday update was the first time the IHME has projected deaths beyond February 1. Its current forecast on its website is for 386,000 deaths as of February 1. Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 221,000 Americans so far, has become the top issue for him and Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the November 3 election. Polls have shown that Americans trust Biden more than Trump to handle the crisis. The IHME study forecast that large, populous states such as California, Texas and Florida will likely face particularly high levels of illness, deaths and demands on hospital resources. "We expect the surge to steadily grow across different states and at the national level, and to continue to increase as we head towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and in January," Murray said. The modelling study, which mapped out various scenarios and their projected impact on the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, found that universal mask-wearing could have a major impact on death rates, potentially saving 130,000 lives. Current mask use in the United States varies widely. While some states, like New York, set strict rules on when to wear masks, others have no requirements. The issue has become political, in which some supporters have taken their cues from Trump, who is often seen without a mask and has repeatedly questioned their usefulness. "Expanding mask use is one of the easy wins for the United States ... and can save many lives," Murray said. He added that, just as parts of Europe and some local U.S. areas of high transmission are doing now, many U.S. states would need to re-introduce social distancing measures to curb the winter surge. (Cover image via CFP)
Study reveals dozens of animals could catch COVID-19 - CGTN
Researchers have warned that animals could potentially act as reservoirs for the virus and reinfect humans.
A new study led by researchers at University College London has found numerous animals could be susceptible to catching COVID-19. /Charles J Sharp A new study led by researchers at University College London has found numerous animals could be susceptible to catching COVID-19. /Charles J Sharp Numerous animals may be vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a large study modeling how the virus might infect different species' cells. The study, published in Scientific Reports and led by researchers at University College London (UCL) reports evidence that 26 animals regularly in contact with people may be susceptible to infection. The researchers investigated how the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2 could interact with the ACE2 protein it attaches to when it infects people. The focus of the investigation was whether mutations in the ACE2 protein in 215 different animals, which make it different from the human version, would reduce the stability of the binding complex between the virus protein and host protein. Binding to the protein enables the virus to gain entry into host cells; while it is possible the virus might be able to infect animals via another pathway, it is unlikely based on current evidence that the virus could infect an animal if it cannot form a stable binding complex with ACE2. The researchers found that for some animals, such as sheep and great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos, many of which are endangered in the wild), the proteins would be able to bind together just as strongly as they do when the virus infects people. Some of the animals, such as sheep, have not yet been studied with infection tests, so this does not confirm the species can indeed be infected. Lead author Christine Orengo, a professor of structural and molecular biology at UCL, said: "We wanted to look beyond just the animals that had been studied experimentally, to see which animals might be at risk of infection and would warrant further investigation and possible monitoring. "The animals we identified may be at risk of outbreaks that could threaten endangered species or harm the livelihoods of farmers. The animals might also act as reservoirs of the virus, with the potential to reinfect humans later on, as has been documented on mink farms." The research team also performed more detailed structural analyses for certain animals, to gain a better understanding of how infection risks may differ across animal species. By comparing their findings to other experimental data, they set thresholds to predict which animals are at risk of infection, and which ones most likely cannot be infected. They found that most birds, fish, and reptiles do not appear to be at risk of infection, but the majority of the mammals they reviewed could potentially be infected. Orengo added: "The details of host infection and severity of response are more complex than just the interactions of the spike protein with ACE2, so our research is continuing to explore interactions involving other host virus proteins." CLICK: HOW THE EDUCATION SECTOR IS ADAPTING TO COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS The team's findings mostly agree with experiments conducted in living animals and with reported cases of infections. They predict possible infection in domestic cats, dogs, mink, lions, and tigers, all of which have had reported cases, as well as ferrets and macaques, which have been infected in laboratory studies. First author, Su Datt Lam, who specializes in structural and molecular biology at UCL and the National University of Malaysia, said: "Unlike laboratory-based experiments, the computational analyses we devised can be run automatically and rapidly. Therefore, these methods could be applied easily to future virus outbreaks that, unfortunately, are becoming more common due to human encroachment into natural habitats." Researchers found that sheep and great apes could be vulnerable to infection. /Charles J Sharp Researchers found that sheep and great apes could be vulnerable to infection. /Charles J Sharp Co-author Joanne Santini, a professor of structural and molecular biology at UCL, said: "To protect animals, as well as to protect ourselves from the risk of one day catching COVID-19 from an infected animal, we need large-scale surveillance of animals, particularly pets and farm animals, to catch cases or clusters early on while they're still manageable. "It may also be important to employ hygiene measures when dealing with animals, similar to the behaviours we've all been learning this year to reduce transmission and for infected people to isolate from animals as well as from other people."
Brazil could launch Chinese COVID-19 vaccine this year: Governor - CGTN
The governor of Brazil's Sao Paulo state said on Wednesday that a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China may be available to Brazilians as early as December as the vaccine has shown promising results in phase three clinical trials.
The governor of Brazil's Sao Paulo state said on Wednesday that a China-developed COVID-19 vaccine may be available to Brazilians as early as December as the vaccine has shown promising results in phase three clinical trials. Sao Paulo, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in hard-hit Brazil, is one of six states helping to test the CoronaVac vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech. Some 9,000 Brazilian volunteers are participating in the Sinovac trials. Governor Joao Doria said phase two trials had shown that the vaccine produced an immune response in 98 percent of recipients over 60 years old, with no adverse side effects reported so far. "The results have been extremely positive," he told a news conference. "We will soon be able to immunize Brazilians in Sao Paulo and across the country with the CoronaVac vaccine... The projected delivery date is in December this year." Sinovac has partnered with a Brazilian public health research center, the Butantan Institute, to conduct phase three clinical trials of the vaccine the last step before regulatory approval. The deal gives the institute the right to produce 120 million doses of the vaccine, according to officials. Other vaccine trials Brazil is the third hardest-hit country by COVID-19 after the U.S. and India, and has become a testing ground for at least two vaccine candidates. One such vaccine is being developed by AstraZeneca, which has had to pause global trials after an unexplained illness in a participant in Britain. Trials for the AstraZeneca vaccine on 5,000 volunteers in Brazil are well advanced and have not produced any problems in participants, according to the immunobiology center of Sao Paulo's Federal University, which is running the trials. Vaccination of volunteers in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador have been put on hold, but work continues monitoring those who have received the first and even the second dose, a university representative said. At the start of next year, phase three trials of Russia's "Sputnik-V" COVID-19 vaccine will also be conducted on 10,000 volunteers in Brazil in partnership with the state of Parana's Technology Institute, known as Tecpar. Brazilian lab and hospital group DASA SA said on Wednesday it had agreed to conduct phase two and three trials in Brazil for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by COVAXX, a unit of privately owned United Biomedical Inc.
Science Saturday 20200725 - CGTN
In this week's Science Saturday, from the first Arab Mars mission to China's underwater gliders, let's take a look at what's making news in the world of science.
In this week's Science Saturday, from the first Arab Mars mission to China's underwater gliders, let's take a look at what's making news in the world of science. UAE Mars mission blasts off from southern Japan The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched its first space mission to Mars, marking the Arab world's first interplanetary mission. The Hope Probe took off from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on Monday. It's expected to reach Mars by February next year, and will stay in orbit for 687 days, to gather data about Mars' atmosphere. The probe is part of a greater global ambition to put humanity on Mars in the future. Chinese underwater gliders Haiyan-X set new world record Chinese underwater gliders set a new world record. The Haiyan-X series reached a depth of over 10,000 meters during a recent mission, breaking its own world record by about 2,000 meters. The unmanned gliders can survey marine conditions, such as temperature, salinity and currents over a long period. Researchers say the results show the reliability of the gliders in deep-sea environments. ESA, NASA jointly reveal closest images of Sun A new spacecraft has taken the closest ever pictures of the sun's surface. The Solar Orbiter, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency, took the images 48 million miles above the solar surface, between the orbits of Mercury and Venus. The images reveal what researchers call "campfires." They believe these miniature flares can explain the mystery of why the sun's atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface. Research suggests human activities pose threats to biodiversity Antarctic biodiversity is increasingly under threat. A new study shows that less than 32 percent of Antarctica remains free from human interference. While most of the continent is still technically wilderness, much of that is the ice-covered interior that doesn't support much biodiversity. Most human activities have taken place in the ice-free and coastal regions. Scientists are calling for a significant expansion of Antarctic areas that are kept permanently free of people, to ensure that its unique biodiversity is conserved. "Science Saturday" is part of CGTN's science and technology series "Tech It Out." The segment brings you the latest news about innovations and technological breakthroughs in the past two weeks from across the world.
Severe coronavirus cases can lead to 'delirium,' researchers find - CGTN
People hospitalized with severe coronavirus infections are likely to experience delirium, confusion or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), research in a leading medical journal suggests.
People hospitalized with severe coronavirus infections are likely to experience delirium, confusion or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), research in a leading medical journal suggests. The report, published in the Lancet, looked at different coronavirus strains including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that started in 2002, Middle-East respiratory syndrome (MERS) from 2012, and early data from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The psychological symptoms are exacerbated by long stays in intensive care units (ICU) and the intrusive experience of being put on a ventilator, researchers wrote. The report examined COVID-19 cases from Italy and the UK, the two European countries with the highest death tolls, as well a smaller number of subjects from China, where cases were first reported. Researchers found evidence of negative psychological effects confusion and delirium in more than 60 percent of COVID-19 cases that required ICU treatment. The report recommended that doctors remain vigilant to further psychological effects in recovering patients, as 33 percent of survivors from the SARS and MERS epidemics experienced PTSD two years after they were seriously ill. READ MORE: Lockdown exacerbates 'mental health issues' The report notes how political and economic conditions can contribute to the psychiatric effects, citing the "wider social impact of the pandemic and the governmental response, including physical distancing measures and quarantine. "Both the infected and non-infected population might be susceptible as a result of certain experiences, such as widespread anxiety, social isolation, stress in healthcare workers and other essential workers and unemployment and financial difficulties." Co-leader of the research, Jonathan Rogers of University College London's psychiatry department, said: "Most people with COVID-19 will not develop any mental health problems, even among those with severe cases requiring hospitalization, but given the huge numbers of people getting sick, the global impact on mental health could be considerable. "Our analysis focuses on potential mental health risks of being hospitalized with a coronavirus infection and how psychiatric conditions could worsen the prognosis or hold people back from returning to their normal lives after recovering." The report examined 72 studies from across the world that were carried out after the 2002 SARS outbreak and 10 years later, following MERS. In total, the review looked at 3,500 patients who were hospitalized with the respective viruses. READ MORE: How are Europe's metros coping as lockdowns ease? The results revealed that almost a third of patients hospitalized with MERS and SARS developed PTSD. In the subjects, rates of depression and anxiety were high, with around 15 percent of patients suffering a year after overcoming the virus. A further 15 percent experienced the symptoms of anxiety or depression without being diagnosed and yet another 15 percent suffered from other psychological effects including insomnia and mood swings. While research into COVID-19 is ongoing and partial, early evidence suggests that similar levels of delirium and confusion could be present, according to the researchers. The report stresses, however, that its findings are based on those with serious cases of the virus. Early data suggest the majority who contract COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms and do not require ICU treatment. Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19