Coronavirus latest news: Pfizer says EU export controls a ‘significant’ burden

Pfizer has accused the European Union of hampering its Covid vaccine production.

The US drugmaker, which supplies Britain and more than 70 other countries with coronavirus jabs, said new EU rules about the free movement of goods across borders are damaging its ability to export the vaccine.

The rules oblige manufacturers to seek Brussels’ approval before exporting every parcel of jabs, which has caused “a significant administrative burden and some uncertainty”, said Danny Hendrikse, the pharmaceutical giant’s vice-president of global supply.

“Ultimately what we would like our colleagues to do is to focus on making and distributing the vaccine,” he said.

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5:48AM

Few poeple self-isolate woth Covid symptoms, survey finds

Fewer than one in five people request a Covid-19 test if they have symptoms, while adherence to self-isolation is low, according to a large study examining the Test and Trace system.

Experts, including from the Public Health England (PHE) behavioural science team at Porton Down in Wiltshire, found that only half of people could identify the main coronavirus symptoms, which include a cough, high temperature and loss of taste or smell.

Just 18% of those with symptoms said they had requested a test, while only 43% with symptoms in the previous seven days adhered to full self-isolation.

The findings, published in The BMJ, are based on 74,697 responses to online surveys from 53,880 people aged 16 or older living in the UK.

In total, 37 survey waves were carried out from March 2 last year to January 27 this year, with about 2,000 participants in each wave.

The results showed that only 52% of people could identify the main symptoms of Covid-19, and this did not really improve as time went on.

Across all waves, 43% of people adhered to rules around self-isolation, though this improved in January to 52%.

3:52AM

Mass testing in schools costs £120,000 for every positive case

Mass testing in schools is costing up to £120,000 to find just one positive case, experts claimed as they called for the programme to be halted.

Between March 11 and March 17, data from secondary schools showed that just 1,805 positive cases were found from 3.8 million tests.

Under current false positive rates, around 1,160 of those positives would be wrong, meaning only 645 would be correct – approximately one in 6,000. 

“At £20 a test, that is £120,000 per case found,” said Prof Jon Deeks, head of the biostatistics, evidence synthesis and test evaluation research group at the University of Birmingham. 

“There is obviously a lot of uncertainty in this, and I don’t think this includes all costs, and obviously they will have varied. But even if it is only £10 per test, we are talking £60,000, which is an inefficient cost to detect a single case.”

Read more: Experts call for mass testing in schools to be halted

3:33AM

15m Johnson & Johnson vaccines wasted after factory error

About 15 million doses of the single-shot coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson were ruined in a factory error in the United States, The New York Times reported – a blow to the company’s efforts to quickly boost production.

The pharmaceutical giant told AFP it had identified a batch of doses at a plant in Baltimore run by Emergent BioSolutions “that did not meet quality standards” but did not confirm the specific number affected. The company also said the batch “was never advanced to the filling and finishing stages of our manufacturing process”.

“Quality and safety continue to be our top priority,” it said.

The Food and Drug Administration told AFP it was “aware of the situation” but declined to comment further.

Read more: 15m doses of Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine wasted after factory error

3:00AM

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