Coronavirus latest news: UK regulator identifies 30 cases of blood clot events after AstraZeneca jab
British regulators on Thursday said they have identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events after the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 25 more than the agency previously reported.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said it had received no such reports of clotting events following use of the vaccine made by BioNTech and Pfizer.
The health officials said they still believe the benefits of the vaccine in the prevention of Covid-19 far outweigh any possible risk of blood clots.
Some countries are restricting use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while others have resumed inoculations, as investigations into reports of rare, and sometimes severe, blood clots continue.
On March 18, the UK medicines regulator said that there had been five cases of a rare brain blood clot among 11 million administered shots.
On Thursday, it put the count at 22 reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, an extremely rare brain clotting ailment, and 8 reports of other clotting events associated with low blood platelets out of a total of 18.1 million doses given.
Moderna gets nod to speed up vaccine output with bigger vials
The US drug regulator gave Moderna clearance to speed up output of its vaccine by letting it fill a single vial with up to 15 doses, with the United States banking on rapid immunisation to stem the spread of the deadly virus.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also authorised vaccinators to extract a maximum of 11 doses from the current vials, instead of the ten previously permitted.
In a statement, Moderna said its vaccine can now can be supplied in vials containing 11 or 15 doses, and it expected to begin shipping 15-dose vials in coming weeks.
“Both of these revisions positively impact the supply of Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine, which will help provide more vaccine doses to communities and allow shots to get into arms more quickly,” Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Centre for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said.
However, the regulator also warned that without proper syringes and needles it may not be possible to extract more that 13 doses from Moderna’s 15 dose vials, and more than 10 doses from the current vials.
China vaccine maker Sinovac says doubles production capacity
Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac said on Friday a third production line for its Covid-19 vaccine has been put into use, doubling its annual capacity of the jabs to two billion doses.
Its CoronaVac is one of four domestic vaccines given conditional approval by Chinese authorities, which helps rush emergency drugs to market.
On Wednesday, experts from the World Health Organisation said an interim analysis of clinical trial data from two Chinese vaccines, including Sinovac’s product, showed they demonstrated “safety and good efficacy”, although more data is still needed.
Police issues warning ahead of more Kill the Bill protests
Police have issued warnings against people gathering over the Easter weekend as multiple Kill the Bill protests are expected to take place across England on Friday.
A rally against the Government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been organised for 2pm at Finsbury Park in London, with similar events planned in Leeds, Manchester and Southampton.
Although the protests are lawful providing organisers submit a risk assessment and take steps to ensure the gatherings are safe, the Metropolitan Police warned on Thursday the safety of the wider community is paramount.
The force said: “Enforcement action will be taken, if needed, in the interests of public health.”
The vaccine, once hailed as another milestone in the fight against the COovid-19 pandemic, has been dogged by questions since late last year, even as it has been authorised for use by dozens of countries, not including the US.
Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the White House, said the US has enough contracts with other vaccine makers to vaccinate its entire population, and possibly enough for booster shots in the fall.
Dr Fauci said: “If you look at the numbers (of doses) that we’re going to be getting, the amount that you can get from J&J, from Novavax from Moderna if we contract for more, it is likely that we can handle any boost that we need, but I can’t say definitely for sure.”
Sao Paulo exhumes old graves to make space for surging burials
Brazil’s biggest city on Thursday sped up efforts to empty old graves, making room for a soaring number of Covid-19 deaths as Sao Paulo city hall registered record daily burials this week.
Gravediggers in the Vila Nova Cachoeirinha cemetery in the city’s northern reaches worked in white hazmat suits to open the tombs of people buried years ago, bagging decomposed remains for removal to another location.
Relocating remains is standard in cemetery operations, said the municipal secretary responsible for funeral services, in a statement. But it has taken on new urgency as Brazil suffers its worse coronavirus wave since the pandemic began over a year ago.
Brazil’s Health Ministry reported 3,769 new deaths on Thursday, narrowly missing a daily record for a third straight day.