US health authorities are calling for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, after reports of extremely rare blood clotting cases. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was acting “out of an abundance of caution”. It said six cases of severe blood clotting had been detected in more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine.
Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall. Most COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide are for adults, who are at higher risk from the coronavirus. Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and older.
World leaders from countries in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia have called for a World War II-style treaty to “dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism” in order to shore up the response to future pandemics in an open letter published in several newspapers on Tuesday. The proposed treaty would be grounded in the constitution of the WHO and seek to improve pandemic preparedness on an international scale.
European Union leaders meet on Thursday to discuss a coordinated path out of the COVID-19 pandemic as infections surge again in many of their countries, seeking agreement on how to ramp up supplies of vaccines after a feeble start to inoculation. Ahead of the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron spelled out the frustration over vaccine rollouts that are far behind those of Britain and the United States, acknowledging that European leaders had been too timid.
The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was 79% effective in preventing symptomatic illness in a large trial in the US, Chile and Peru, the company said on Monday, paving the way for it to apply for US approval. The vaccine was 100% effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalization and was safe, the drugmaker said on Monday, releasing results of the late-stage human trial study of more than 32,000 volunteers across all age groups.
The US will release four million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, the White House has said. The plan would mark the first time the US has directly supplied vaccines to another country. It comes as China has moved aggressively to export its vaccines in what is seen as an effort in ‘vaccine diplomacy’.
Joe Biden has directed states to make all American adults eligible for coronavirus vaccines by 1 May and set an audacious goal of 4 July for gatherings to celebrate “independence” from the deadly pandemic. But in his first prime-time address, which marked the anniversary of America’s shutdown, the president warned that restrictions could be reinstated if the nation lets down its guard against the virus.
The normal rules of business that protect the profits of vaccine manufacturers will have to be set aside if that is what it takes to ensure everybody is immunized against the coronavirus, according to the director general of the World Health Organization. Writing in the Guardian, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the world needs to be “on a war footing”.
President Biden said on Wednesday that states like Texas and Mississippi are making a big mistake by ending mandates to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a time when the nation is making a push to boost vaccinations. “The last thing — the last thing — we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters,” Biden told reporters.
President Joe Biden announced a major partnership Tuesday afternoon between pharmaceutical giants Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson to help produce J&J’s newly authorized vaccine and changed the vaccine timeline, saying there would be enough for every American adult by the end of May. He compared the two companies collaboration to what the U.S. saw during World War II and said that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine manufacturing facilities will now begin to operate 24/7.