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Coronavirus digest: Researchers urge delay to 2nd Pfizer dose

Coronavirus digest: Researchers urge delay to 2nd Pfizer dose

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Researchers have urged national governments to delay administering the second dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine after a month, citing "strong data."

The researchers, Danuta Skowronski and Gaston De Serres, said there appeared to be very little advantage in administering the dose in the short term.

The team said the shot had an efficacy of 92.6% after the first dose. Given the shortage of vaccines globally, they said, it would be better to distribute first doses of the vaccine to more people.

"Given the current vaccine shortage, postponement of the second dose is a matter of national security that, if ignored, will certainly result in thousands of COVID-19–related hospitalizations and deaths this winter in the United States," the authors warned in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The scientists said their findings were derived from Pfizer's documents submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration.

In response, Pfizer said that alternative dosing regimens of its vaccine had yet to be evaluated.

Here's a rundown of some of the other most notable pandemic-related news from around the world at present. 

Europe

European aircraft giant Airbus has said it booked a net loss of €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) amid the collapse of the airline sector. The group actually said the result was a slight improvement on the previous year, when it was hit with a huge fine of €3.6 billion in a corruption scandal.

The European Commission said it has approved a contract with US drugs manufacturer Moderna for 300 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses

In Germany, the proportion of cases resulting from the coronavirus mutation first detected in the UK is doubling every week, officials said. German Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin Wednesday that the B117 coronavirus variant now accounts for 22% of all new infections in the country.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany increased by 10,207 to 2,360,606, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases on Thursday. Reported fatalities rose by 534 to 66,698.

The UK's clinical ethics body has given approval for the first human challenge trial involving the coronavirus. Around 90 healthy, young participants will be exposed to the coronavirus, the government said.

Asia

India is making COVID-19 molecular tests mandatory for people who arrive directly or indirectly from the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, in an effort to stop the spread of variants.

The country detected the South African variant in four people last month and the Brazilian one in one person this month.

The government of Hong Kong has approved the Chinese-made Sinovac COVID vaccine for emergency its recommendation was fast-tracked by a panel of experts, despite the drug's comparatively low efficacy.

Nepal has approved the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Vero Cell for emergency use, the second shot to be cleared after the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.

Americas

US President Joe Biden has met top union leaders, telling them that his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan and a separate measure to modernize US infrastructure would create millions of well-paid jobs.

Brazil's health minister has promised to mobilize 11.3 million doses of coronavirus by the end of the month. The figure included doses that do not yet have a confirmed delivery date.

Minister Eduardo Pazuello is under growing criticism from governors and mayors over the inoculation program. Vaccination campaigns have been halted in recent days in major cities like Rio de Janeiro and Salvador due to a lack of shots.

A private clinic in northern Mexico was found offering fake coronavirus vaccines for up to $2,000. Experts have long worried about criminal gangs attempting to counterfeit vaccines.

rc/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)

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