The president of Sao Paulo’s Butantan Institute biomedical center, Dimas Covas, said all necessary data for the CoronaVac vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd has been or will soon be sent to health regulator Anvisa.
He expects Anvisa to approve it, regardless of the political storm between Brazil’s President Bolsonaro and Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria over competing vaccines.
I want to think that no political problem is bigger than people’s lives,” Covas said in an interview with GloboNews.
Doria said earlier on Monday that the country’s most populous state plans to start vaccinating its population against COVID-19 on January 25.
The federal government expects to roll out its own immunisation plan at least a month later.
Doria’s ambitious timeline comes even though the Sinovac vaccine has yet to be approved by Anvisa.
Trump administration officials passed when Pfizer Inc offered in late summer to sell more vaccine doses to the US, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The drugmaker now may not be able to provide more of its vaccine to the US until next June because of its commitments to other countries, the newspaper reported.
Vaccine developers Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc on Monday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s invitation to attend a White House “Vaccine Summit”, according to Reuters.
The meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, comes ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) review of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine candidates.
It will be attended by President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and private-sector executives.
Bolsonaro to offer free Covid-19 vaccine to all Brazilians
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said the government will offer COVID-19 vaccines to all Brazilians, without cost or obligation, once health regulator Anvisa gives it scientific and legal approval.
In a post on his Twitter account, Bolsonaro also said the economy ministry has pledged there will be no shortage of resources for everyone who wants a vaccine to get one.
Brazil has recorded 20,371 new coronavirus cases and 376 deaths on Monday.
The South American country has now registered 6,623,911 cases since the pandemic began, while its official death toll has risen to 177,317, according to ministry data
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday to ensure that priority access for COVID-19 vaccines procured by the U.S. government is given to the American people before assisting other nations, a senior administration official told Reuters.
Trump, who has faced sharp criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, is eager to take credit for the speedy development and distribution of a vaccine.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters the order would set up a framework for U.S. government agencies to help other countries procure the vaccine as well.
It was unclear why an executive order was needed to ensure that the vaccines would be distributed in the United States.
The White House is holding a summit event on Tuesday to highlight the distribution process through Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, which has been organizing the effort.
Officials from Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team were not invited to the summit.
World Health Organisation experts have suggested they would support the coronavirus vaccination becoming “a requirement” for hospital workers.
The WHO’s immunisation director, Professor Kate O’Brien, told a WHO press conference there “may be some countries where there are professional circumstances where it would be required to be vaccinated”, specifying “certain jobs in hospitals”.
Her comments were reinforced by Dr Michael Ryan, director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
Dr Ryan added: “There are specific circumstances where governments may have to require a specific mandate for vaccination.
But I think all of us who work in public health would rather avoid that as a means of getting people back to business.
“I think we are much better served to present people with the data, present people with the benefits, and let people make up their own minds, obviously within reason because there are certain circumstances where I would believe it would be the only responsible thing to be vaccinated when the vaccine is fully available.”
Trump’s lawyer Giuliani ‘doing well’ in hospital after positive Covid-19 test
Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who tested positive for COVID-19, is doing well in the hospital and does not have a fever, the US president said.
“Rudy’s doing well,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
No temperature, and he actually called me earlier this morning. Was the first call I got.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will get up to 249,000 doses of the vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech before the end of December.
The vaccine is expected be approved by Health Canada as soon as Thursday.
Trudeau had come under criticism from opposition parties for saying Canadians won’t be among the first to get a vaccine against COVID-19 because the first doses will likely go to citizens of the countries they are made in. Canada doesn’t have mass vaccine-production facilities.
He said Canada recently amended the contract with Pfizer so that it would deliver up to 249,000 doses this month. That will mean about 124,500 of the highest risk Canadians will get vaccinated at first as two doses are required per person a few weeks apart.
We are now contracted to receive up to 249,000 of our initial doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in the month of December,” Trudeau said. “Pending Health Canada approval, the first shipment of doses is tracking for delivery next week.”
Canada has contracts with six other vaccine makers as well.
Trudeau said 14 distribution centers will be located in large Canadian cities initially. There will be one in each province and two each in Canada’s four largest provinces.
He said millions of more doses will be on the way.
“It has been a difficult year, and we are not out of this crisis yet, Trudeau said. “But now, vaccines are coming.”
Here’s a summary of the most recent developments:
- Italy’s interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, discovered during a cabinet meeting on Monday that she had coronavirus, prompting her to leave the gathering hastily, political sources told Reuters. Citing a source in her office, the news agency reported that Lamorgese was asymptomatic and tested positive after undergoing a routine swab before the meeting.
- UK to administer first vaccine doses on Tuesday. Britain is set to administer the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday, with the NHS giving top priority to people over the age of 80, frontline healthcare workers and care home staff and residents. The vaccine needs to be kept at -70C (-94F) and only lasts five days in a regular fridge. For that reason it will first be administered in 50 hospitals. About 800,000 doses are expected to be available within the first week.
- Giuliani in hospital – reports. Multiple news outlets are reporting that Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer to Donald Trump, has been admitted to hospital, following the announcement by Trump on Twitter that Giuliani had tested positive for coronavirus. CNN, the New York Times and ABC, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, report that Giuliani has been admitted to Georgetown University hospital.
- President-elect Joe Biden has picked the California attorney general Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response. If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Biden is expected to nominate Massachusetts general hospital’s chief of infectious diseases, Rochelle Walensky, to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Reuters reports, citing a person familiar with the decision.
- In Australia, Melbourne has welcomed its first international passenger flight in five months, an arrival that will test the state of Victoria’s revamped hotel quarantine system. Australia’s borders have been closed to non-citizens since March, and airports serving Victoria’s capital stopped accepting any arrivals in late June after an outbreak of Covid-19 that began at two hotels where arrivals were quarantining.
- South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, ordered testing to be expanded, mobilising the military and more people from the public sector, as the country continued to report triple-digit daily new cases. It had 615 new coronavirus cases on Monday.
- Public support for Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, has plummeted over the past month amid criticism of his handling of the pandemic. A poll by the Kyodo news agency put support for his cabinet at 50.3%, down 13 percentage points from a month earlier. Disapproval rose from 19.2% to 32.6%.
- The Serum Institute of India has sought emergency use authorisation from India’s drug regulator for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, according to several reports in Indian media.
- Japan is preparing to send nurses from the Self-Defence Forces to Osaka and Hokkaido to help tackle a surge in coronavirus infections as soon as the two prefecture governments request it, a government spokesman said on Monday.
- Indonesia received its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China on Sunday, President Joko Widodo said, as the government prepares a mass inoculation programme.The vaccine still needs to be evaluated by the country’s food and drug agency while his administration prepares to distribute it across the archipelago of 270 million people.
- The Arizona Capitol Times reports that the Arizona state legislature will close for the whole of this coming week “after at least 15 current or future Republican legislators may have been directly exposed to Covid-19 by meeting with Rudy Giuliani”.
The US recorded 174,387 more cases and 1,118 deaths on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, taking the cumulative totals to 14,636,914 and 281,253.
France unlikely to end lockdown as planned on 15 December
The French health ministry’s top official, Jérôme Salomon, has backed up the bleak assessment attributed to the health minister, Olivier Véran, earlier, who said the country was unlikely to meet the conditions required for ending its national lockdown on 15 December.
“For the last few days, the level of infections has stopped falling,” Salomon told a press conference.
Two government sources told Reuters earlier that France may have to delay unwinding some Covid-19 lockdown restrictions next week after signs that the downward trend in new infections had flattened out.
On Monday, French health authorities reported 3,411 new infections over the past 24 hours, sharply down from Sunday’s 11,022, but the number of people hospitalised for the disease increased for the second day – the first time it has done so in three weeks.
The Monday figures tend to dip as there are fewer tests conducted on Sundays. The seven-day moving average of new infections, which averages out weekly data reporting irregularities, stood at 10,489.
France’s cumulative number of cases now totals 2,295,908, the fifth highest tally in the world.
Italian government minister tests positive – source
Italy’s interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, discovered during a cabinet meeting on Monday that she had coronavirus, prompting her to leave the gathering hastily, political sources said.
Citing a source in her office, Reuters reported that Lamorgese was asymptomatic and tested positive after undergoing a routine swab before the meeting. Lamorgese, a 67-year-old former civil servant who has no political affiliation, returned home and will remain there in isolation while continuing to work.
The foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, and the justice minister, Alfonso Bonafede, both members of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, have decided to self-isolate because they were sitting next to Lamorgese in the meeting, a second source said.
The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, and his other ministers did not come into close contact with Lamorgese but are expected to undergo tests as a precaution.
The cabinet met to discuss a national plan on how to spend more than €200bn (£178bn, $243bn) that Italy is due to receive from the European Recovery Fund, designed to revive the bloc’s economy after the pandemic.
The WHO wants to visit China “as soon as possible” to study the origins of the pandemic, its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said.
“We are planning and hope to be on the ground as soon as possible,” he told a news conference.
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not foresee countries making it mandatory for citizens to take the new vaccines that have been developed, an official has said. “I don’t think we envisage any countries creating a mandate for vaccinations,” Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s director of immunisation vaccines and biologicals, said.
“There may be some countries or some situations in countries where professional circumstances require it or highly recommend to be vaccinated,” she added, saying hospitals might be one such instance.
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