Chinese COVID-19 vaccine far less effective than initially claimed in Brazil, sparking concerns

A leading Chinese COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech was just 50.38% effective in late-stage trials in Brazil, significantly lower than earlier results showed, according to a statement published by the government of Sao Paulo Tuesday.

While the number exceeds the threshold required for regulatory approval, it falls far below the 78% previously announced, raising questions as to the veracity of the data and fueling skepticism over the apparent lack of transparency regarding Chinese vaccines.

Analysts said the efficacy rate of Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine in Brazil — the lowest among its global competitors — could affect international confidence in Chinese-made vaccines and hamper Beijing’s effort to repair its image from its early mishandling of the initial outbreak by providing COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

“The Butantan Institute and the Government of Sao Paulo report that the coronavirus vaccine achieved a 50.38% overall efficacy rate in the clinical study conducted in Brazil, in addition to (an efficacy rate of) 78% for mild cases and 100% for moderate and severe cases of COVID-19. All rates are higher than the 50% level required by the WHO (World Health Organization),” the statement released Tuesday said.

The razor-thin margin for regulatory approval is likely to lead to concern among scientists, given that last week the Butantan institute released partial “clinical efficacy” results celebrating 78% to 100% efficacy in preventing infections.

The state body financed the phase 3 trials of the vaccine, which involved 13,000 health workers across eight Brazilian states.

“Regarding the overall efficacy of the analysis, we met the requirements of the World Health Organization with 50.38%,” Ricardo Palacios, medical director for clinical research at the Butantan biomedical center in Sao Paulo said Tuesday during a news conference.

However, on Tuesday, high-ranking members of the Brazilian Health Ministry told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil that “the effectiveness is borderline,” and that because “It is at the limit. We have to wait for ANVISA (Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency) to evaluate.”

A representative of Sinovac said the company is discussing the result but declined to give further comment. The final efficacy rate of the vaccine will be determined by China’s drug regulator, the National Medical Production Administration, according to the representative.


Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the U.S. based Council on Foreign Relations, described the 50.38% efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine as a “disappointing” result that had caught him by surprise.

The results suggest Coronavac is less effective than alternative vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have an efficacy rate of about 95%.

Russia says its Sputnik V vaccine is 91% effective, while the U.K.’s vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, has an average efficacy of 70%.

The Sinovac vaccine is also less effective than its domestic Chinese competitor, developed by the state-owned Sinopharm, which it says is 79.34% effective.

Despite the worse than anticipated results, Huang said the Sinovac vaccine would still be “usable” by helping to relieve pressures on healthcare systems while reducing potential deaths, given its higher efficacy for moderate and severe cases that would require medical treatment.

However, its low overall efficacy could hinder Sinovac’s ability to expand its market share globally, Huang said.

Sinovac has signed deals to provide 46 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Brazil, 50 million doses to Turkey and 7.5 million doses to Hong Kong. It’ll also supply 40 million doses of vaccine bulk — the vaccine concentrate before it is divided into vials — to Indonesia for local production.

“Since many countries are planning to order, or have already ordered Sinovac’s vaccines, it might undermine people’s willingness to take them, because people may question the usefulness of the vaccines,” Huang said. “It could be a potential stumbling block.”


A lack of transparency has been a major concern clouding Chinese-made vaccines, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to make “a global public good.”

Both Sinovac and Sinopharm have faced questions regarding the release of data. When announcing its efficacy results, state-owned Sinopharm did not provide details on its clinical trial data. A Sinopharm executive said detailed data would be released later and published in scientific journals, without giving a timeline.

There is also the issue of discrepancy in results from clinical trials conducted in different places.

Having largely eliminated the coronavirus inside its borders earlier last year, Chinese drugmakers had to look abroad for places to test the efficacy of their vaccines. But the results reported so far are far from consistent.

Sinopharm’s efficacy rate of 79%, for example, is lower than the 86% announced by the United Arab Emirates for the same vaccine in December.

Sinovac’s vaccine has had wildly different results from three countries: Indonesian drug regulators say interim data from Phase 3 trials showed it is 65.3% effective and gave it the country’s first emergency use approval; Turkey says it is 91.25% effective; And in Brazil, the two significantly different efficacy rates announced a week apart have further sparked questions.

Last week, Brazil’s health regulator agency ANVISA told the Butantan Institute that in order to approve the emergency use of a vaccine, the global efficacy rate had to be made publicly available — information the Institute had not received at the time from Sinovac, according to CNN Brasil sources.

ANVISA will meet on Sunday to decide on two requests for emergency use of both the Coronavac vaccine and the Oxford University AstraZeneca vaccine.


The news could potentially hinder China’s own coronavirus vaccination drive too, Huang warned.

China has inoculated tens of thousands of people with Sinovac’s vaccine since July under a government-approved emergency use program, which includes at least three Chinese vaccine candidates.

In total, it has administered 4.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine under emergency use, and is planning to vaccinate 50 million people ahead of February’s Lunar New Year celebrations.

Chinese public health experts have repeatedly told the public they are confident that Chinese-made vaccines are at least as good as, if not better, than foreign alternatives, Huang said.

“If people learn about this, they might start to question the safety and efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine, or even other Chinese-made vaccines,” Huang said. “I think the government will need to do some convincing work, on either those who have already taken the shots, or are about to do so.”

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Doctors concerned AstraZeneca vaccine ‘won’t be effective enough’

The Government may well have a problem on its hands with the vaccine rollout, with criticism one of the main contenders isn’t effective enough to create so called herd immunity.

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Ady Barkan shares his tips for effective activism

One of the most powerful voices throughout the 2020 election cycle belonged to a man who lost his ability to speak. Diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease ALS in 2016, 37-year-old lawyer and organizer Ady Barkan uses a wheelchair and assistive technology to communicate—but his call for Medicare for All has never been heard by more people. During the primaries, Barkan and his Be a Hero PAC engaged Democratic candidates including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren in frank conversations about the U.S. healthcare system for his video series, Uncovered. Barkan later spoke at the Democratic National Convention. The subject of a forthcoming documentary, Not Going Quietly, Barkan continues to advocate for progressive policies even as his disease progresses. “I’m going to continue using my time to fight for a better healthcare system and a more just society,” Barkan told Fast Company via email (his primary mode of communication is using his eyes to type messages). Here, he shares his playbook for changing hearts and minds.

Politics is personal

Even before he was diagnosed with ALS and launched his political action committee, Barkan became an organizer at the Center for Popular Democracy. One of his favorite strategies for effecting change was putting regular people in front of politicians and other authorities to force a discussion about how their decisions impact real lives. As part of his 2016 “Fed Up” campaign to reform the Federal Reserve, Barkan brought dozens of workers to speak at the Fed’s annual meeting about policies that hurt the job market and workers’ pay. Since his diagnosis, Barkan has put himself at the center of healthcare discussions in the same way, interviewing politicians, testifying before Congress, and, prior to the coronavirus, even getting arrested on Capitol Hill while protesting tax cuts that would affect Medicare and Medicaid. “One central goal of mine is to make these issues human and personal, rather than abstract,” Barkan says. “I would give up all the notoriety in a second not to have this disease, but since I have it, we need to use it to draw attention to the awful inequality in this country and change it.”

Play your part

Barkan believes that activism happens most effectively when there’s an “ecosystem” in which everyone knows their role: “There are some folks whose job is to make the case to the media, other folks whose job is to get new people involved, others still who partner with elected officials to actually enact policy change.” Barkan views his role as publicizing his illness and the attendant medical bills, to personify the need for better policies. He says that some of the curiosity about his Uncovered interviews (which drew 22 million views) was because, “Let’s be honest, folks were interested in seeing how I would even be able to interview these candidates without my own voice.” When it comes to business leaders, Barkan believes they need to do right by their own workers and consumers, but also actively advocate for industry-wide adoption of fair practices—and even shame other companies that behave poorly. “We need business leaders to reinforce the importance of paying taxes, and the shared responsibility we have to fund our priorities—education, healthcare for everyone, childcare, housing, and transportation.”

Don’t just hope—act

Ultimately, Barkan feels that the future of the country is everybody’s responsibility. “I don’t put my trust in any one politician to deliver us from the darkness,” he says. “I firmly believe that the cure to what ails American democracy is more American democracy.” He plans to continue advocating for COVID-19 relief packages, more funding for the National Institutes of Health, better health insurance policies, and coverage for long-term care “so that people like me don’t have to go bankrupt to stay in our homes with our families and so that the workers in these [long-term care] jobs can make a living.” Despite the challenges of 2020, Barkan remains encouraged by the protests, organizing, and engagement of voters he witnessed throughout the year. “Hope is not a state of mind,” he says. “Hope is a state of action.”

Activist Evolution: Key moments from Barkan’s career

2012: As an organizer at the Center for Popular Democracy, Barkan starts the “Fed Up” campaign to push the Federal Reserve to enact more equitable policies.

2016: Barkan and the CPD secure a spot for “regular people” to speak at the Fed’s annual meeting. Shortly after, he is diagnosed with ALS.

2017: A video goes viral of Barkan urging Republican senator Jeff Flake to vote “no” on cuts that would hurt Medicare and Medicaid, though Flake ultimately backs the bill.

2019: Barkan testifies before Congress on Medicare for All, publishes Eyes to the Wind, and begins interviewing Democratic presidential candidates on Uncovered.

2020: Barkan interviews Joe Biden, speaks at the DNC, and is named one of Time‘s 100 Most Influential People, in an entry penned by Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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how to make your summer break restful and effective

But Michael Inglis, psychologist and co-director of The Mind Room, says that working at a frantic pace before a break can be counter-productive and make it take even longer for you to wind down.

He suggests thinking carefully about what actually needs to be completed before we head off and delegate or hold off on the rest.

“It might be two or three things in the final week and everything else you get done is a bonus,” he says.

“Most of us work in teams but many don’t use the team around us – the art of delegation is so significant for those weeks you are away.”

Psychology consultant Dr Jo Lukins suggests using your holiday lead-up to get clear on what you’d like your holiday to look like. If you’re one of the many Australians whose holiday plans have been cancelled or scaled back, think about what you’re personally hoping to get from the time off work. “Is it to sit and relax and do nothing, or is it a physical retreat to get back into shape, or is it a holiday of indulgences?” she asks.

“If you give some thought to what you would like your break to look like, you can make sure you come out of it getting [what you want].”

Give yourself time to unwind

After the year many of us have had, our summer break can seem like a beacon of hope to de-frazzle and re-set.

But it’s worth keeping in mind that it might realistically take you a few days or longer to start to feel like you’ve officially clocked off. “You don’t flick a switch and go into holiday mode,” Inglis says.

“It’s going to take some time before you fully relax and get into that mode of non-work stimulation. Start doing small things that you enjoy and know that typically relax you.”


Dr Lukins says many people’s holidays follow something of a mental bell curve, and understanding that can help manage your expectations.

“We usually have a transition into [holiday mode] and a transition out of it. So if it was a 10-day break, you might spend two days winding down, six days in the middle and two days starting to think about returning to life as it was,” she says.

“Have a recognition from the start that relaxation is a skill of sorts and it can take some time.”

Enjoy what’s right in front of you

One of the best ways to ensure you really soak up your holiday time is to avoid incessant social media scrolling of everyone else’s seemingly perfect breaks.

“Be careful of not getting caught up in comparison – everyone’s holiday always looks amazing on social media, you see the highlight reel,” Dr Lukins says.

“If you saw the photos of a family road trip I took around Hawaii in a Kombi van, it looks fantastic. Those photos don’t show the time it was raining and dripping and the terrible Chinese food we ate.”

Laugh at the holiday blunders

If your holiday doesn’t live up to your hopes, Dr Lukins says there will still be silver linings to reflect on.

“It might end up a great story – from every experience there is something we can learn about ourselves,” she says. “Maybe there was a beautiful sunrise or maybe there was a nice cool afternoon and you had a sleep and it was indulgent and lovely. If it wasn’t the holiday you wanted it to be, what have you learnt from it so you can do it differently next time?”

Allow yourself a break

If you’re facing financial hardship or simply want to bank your annual leave until both domestic and international borders re-open, it might be tempting to forego this summer break and keep working, but Inglis says taking breaks is crucial for energy management and psychological health.

“Yes you may be able to physically operate but psychologically you might be struggling and may not be very efficient any more because you are so fatigued,” he says.

“A break is imperative for us to refresh. We all need rest and rehabilitation and recovery to be more efficient and if you think you can keep on driving through, it will catch up with you eventually with symptoms that are physical or psychological.”


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COVID-19: Canada approves Pfizer’s vaccine – and says it is ‘safe, effective and of good quality’ | World News

Canada has become the latest country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine – describing it as “safe, effective and of good quality”.

In a statement, Health Canada said the authorisation was a “critical milestone” in the fight against COVID-19 – and stressed that the review process had been “rigorous”.

The country is set to receive 249,000 doses this month, and four million doses by the end of March.

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Who received the first jabs in the UK?

Overall, Canada has a firm order for 20 million doses of this vaccine with an option to buy 56 million more, meaning it has purchased more shots per head than any other country.

Officials stressed that they “will closely monitor the safety of the vaccine once it is on the market and will not hesitate to take action if any safety concerns are identified”.

At present, Canada is allowing people over the age of 16 to receive the vaccine, but said the rollout may be extended to young people once “clinical trials on children of all age groups” are completed.

The announcement comes a week after the UK became the first country in the world to approve Pfizer’s vaccine, which was shown to be 95% effective at preventing illness in large-scale clinical trials.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will arrive in Canada by the end of December.

The vaccine is going to be administered for free nationwide – and just like the UK, Canada has said it plans to prioritise the most vulnerable in its society, as well as the doctors and carers who look after them.

Justin Trudeau says Canada is expecting to receive 249,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month
Justin Trudeau says Canada is expecting to receive 249,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month

In an attempt to assuage concerns about how rapidly the vaccine has been approved, Health Canada has published a summary of the evidence that has been reviewed over the past two months.

Scott Moe, who leads the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, said: “Now we expect to receive those vaccines more quickly than was originally anticipated, and in greater quantities than we originally anticipated.”

Canada reported 5,981 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday and 90 deaths. In total, there have been 433,000 infections in the country and 12,931 fatalities.

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The biggest vaccination programme in the UK’s history has already gotten under way, with thousands of people receiving the first dose of the jab on Tuesday.

Patients require two doses – 21 days apart – in order to receive full protection against COVID-19.

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First patient receives coronavirus vaccine

On Wednesday, UK regulators warned that people who have a history of “significant” allergic reactions should not receive the vaccine.

It came after two NHS staff members who had the jab on Tuesday experienced “anaphylactoid reaction” symptoms.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said the jab will “substantially” reduce deaths – adding that there will be up to four different vaccines approved for use by the middle of next year.

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This $35 Bundle Can Help You Be a More Productive, Effective Leader

Learn productivity hacks from a CEO.

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As most entrepreneurs will tell you, productivity is one of the most important keys to success. Especially since many people are working from home, there can be a lot of distractions and ways to prolong your tasks for the day. Simply managing your time well and checking off items on your to-do list efficiently lets you cover significantly more ground over time. It also breeds a culture of success and accountability in your employees. If you need a little help with your productivity, look no further than The Productivity & Motivation Master Class Bundle.

This seven-course bundle focuses on many aspects of productivity and leadership. Professor Paul Cline teaches the courses. Cline is an entrepreneur and psychology expert, and is an award-winning university professor, therapist, corporate trainer, professional speaker, and business consultant. He’s currently CEO of Advanced Ideas, Inc.

Across these courses, you’ll learn about the major productivity challenges faced by companies and discover skills, strategies, and techniques to navigate these challenges in cost-efficient ways. You’ll also learn the four key areas of productivity: productivity skills, project management, teamwork, and communication. From there, you’ll delve into strategies to improve your discipline, hack your productivity, develop success rituals, elevate your essential life skills, and much more. Finally, the courses help you share these benefits with your staff and the people around you. There are courses dedicated to effective leadership and management, as well as courses aimed at helping you become the best motivator you can be.

Hack your productivity and become a more inspiring leader for your team and the people around you. The Productivity & Motivation Master Class Bundle is on sale now for just $34.99.

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UAE says Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine 86% effective, but few details on data – National

The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the federation of sheikhdoms is 86% effective, in a statement that provided few details but marked the first public release of information on the efficacy of the shot.

The UAE, home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, conducted a trial beginning in September of the vaccine by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm involving 31,000 volunteers from 125 nations. Volunteers between 18 and 60 years old received two doses of the vaccine over 28 days.

Read more:
China readies for large-scale coronavirus vaccine rollout

The UAE’s Health and Prevention Ministry announced the results via a statement on the state-run WAM news agency, saying they “have reviewed Sinopharm CNBG’s interim analysis of the Phase III trials.”

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“The analysis shows no serious safety concerns,” the statement said, without detailing whether any participant suffered side effects.

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Coronavirus outbreak: China would make COVID-19 vaccine a ‘global public product’

Coronavirus outbreak: China would make COVID-19 vaccine a ‘global public product’ – Jun 7, 2020

It wasn’t immediately clear if the announced results included only those taking part in the testing in the UAE or if they also include results from China and elsewhere. The statement described the vaccine as receiving “official registration” without elaborating on what that meant. Emirati officials and Sinopharm did not be immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.

The Sinopharm vaccine has been approved for emergency use in a few countries and the company is still conducting late-stage clinical trials in 10 countries. Morocco is gearing up for an ambitious COVID-19 vaccination program, aiming to vaccinate 80% of its adults in an operation starting this month that’s relying initially on the Sinopharm vaccine.

Read more:
Chinese officials push use of emergency coronavirus vaccine despite concerns

Sinopharm’s shot relies on a tested technology, using a killed virus to deliver the vaccine, similar to how polio immunizations are made. Leading Western competitors use newer, less-proven technology to target the coronavirus’ spike protein using RNA.

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Top officials in the UAE, including Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, have publicly receive the shots as part of the vaccine testing.

Associated Press writer Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed to this report.

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine around 70% effective, study shows

New partial results from a coronavirus vaccine trial have been welcomed by the head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who claimed they show it is safe and around 70% effective.

Developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the vaccine is not-for-profit, and is intended to be distributed to low and middle-income countries.

Andrew Pollard, the head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said “we have no safety concerns about the vaccine,” with no hospitalisations or severe disease among those who received it, and results from all study locations consistently showing benefit.

However, according to results published in the medical journal the Lancet on Tuesday, there was an error over the dosages given to one of the groups, making the results slightly more confusing.

The results show those who were given two standard doses achieved 62% protection, while those mistakenly given a lower first dosage achieved 90%.

That second group with the higher efficacy only consisted of 2,741 people, leading some independent experts to say the number is too small to judge the value of using a lower initial dosage.

The half-dose group also didn’t include anyone over 55, and among others in the study, only about 20% were in that age group.

“Vaccine efficacy for the prespecified primary analysis (combining dose groups) against the primary endpoint of COVID-19 occurring more than 14 days after the second dose was 70·4%,” declared the study in the Lancet.

“No serious adverse events or deaths that were treatment associated occurred in ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 recipients,” it added.

It listed the strengths of the study as the “large sample size, randomisation to vaccine groups, inclusion of diverse sites targeting different races and ethnicities, standardisation of key elements between the trials, balance of participant characteristics between the vaccine groups, inclusion of all participants in the safety assessment, and having similar results in Brazil as in the UK for the SD/SD (standard dose) group, which lends credibility to the results.”

It is yet to be determined how effectively the vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, might help protect those over 55, which remains a key concern.

It’s unclear if the results will be enough to lead regulators in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to approve its use right away.

“Our data are all published, we’re very confident in the results,” Pollard said. “We’ll have that stamp of approval, I hope, before too long.”

On Tuesday, the UK became the first Western country to start a mass vaccination program after British regulators authorized the use of a COVID-19 shot developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.

US and European Union regulators may approve the vaccine in the coming days or weeks, fueling a global immunisation effort.

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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine effective after first dose, but U.S. may face supply shortage

(HealthDay)—New data released Tuesday suggests that Pfizer’s two-dose coronavirus vaccine begins to work well protecting recipients against COVID-19 within 10 days of the first dose. It also appeared to work well regardless of the trial volunteers’ age, sex or weight.

The data was published on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website in advance of a meeting of its vaccine advisory committee, The New York Times reported.

Last month, Pfizer presented data showing a 95% effectiveness of the vaccine after two doses, but the new data suggests protection arrives even after the first dose.

But will Americans who need the shot get one? In related news, Pfizer has already told the Trump administration it can’t deliver additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine until summer because other countries have snatched up most of the company’s supply.

That means the U.S. government may not be able to ramp up its vaccination campaign as quickly as it had hoped. Right now, 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been purchased, but whether most Americans can get the vaccine by late spring or early summer is no longer certain, the Washington Post reported.

Trump administration officials denied there would be availability issues in the second quarter, noting that other coronavirus vaccines are moving through the pipeline.

“I’m not concerned about our ability to buy vaccines to offer to all of the American public,” Gen. Paul Ostrowski, who oversees logistics for Operation Warp Speed, told the Post Monday. “It’s clear that Pfizer made plans with other countries. Many have been announced. We understand those pieces.”

But several officials knowledgeable about the vaccine contracts said that vaccines from other countries may not fill the gap.

Last summer, Pfizer officials had urged Operation Warp Speed to purchase 200 million doses, according to people knowledgeable about the issue who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Post reported. But Warp Speed officials declined, opting instead for 100 million doses, they said.

It was only last weekend, with U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency clearance of the Pfizer vaccine imminent, that federal officials asked to buy another 100 million doses from Pfizer. By then, the company said it had committed its supply elsewhere and it might only be able to provide 50 million doses at the end of the second quarter, and another 50 million doses in the third quarter, the Post reported.

Pfizer spokeswoman Amy Rose would not confirm any information about the company’s discussions with the government, and said a separate agreement would have to be negotiated for any doses beyond the 100 million the United States has already purchased, the Post reported.

Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser to Warp Speed, told the Post Monday that the government strategy was to spread its risk widely over many different types of vaccines from different companies. He declined to comment on negotiations with any particular company, but said he did not believe vaccine supply would fall off sharply at any point.

Slaoui did note that Johnson & Johnson was likely to report trial results in early January and be ready to ship doses in February, if its vaccine is authorized. He also predicted that AstraZeneca’s trial would report results in late January or early February and potentially begin distributing doses later that month.

“We could have all of them,” Slaoui told the Post. “And for this reason, we feel confident we could cover the needs without a specific cliff [drop in supply] … We have planned things in such a way as we would indeed avoid a cliff.”

The contract that Pfizer signed with the government in July included an option to contract to buy an additional 500 million doses. No agreements with Moderna beyond its initial contract have been announced, but the United States has the option to purchase 400 million additional doses of that vaccine, the Post reported.

Biden Makes Top Health Official Picks

President-elect Joe Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Harvard infectious diseases expert Dr. Rochelle Walensky to run the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Becerra, Biden puts a staunch defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to carry out the administration’s coronavirus response, the Associated Press reported.

If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra will be the first Latino to head the HHS, a $1-trillion agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, cutting-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans, the AP said.

Biden’s selection of Becerra was confirmed by two people familiar with the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement that is expected on Tuesday, the AP reported. Two people also anonymously confirmed the choice of Walensky; the post of CDC director does not require Senate confirmation, the AP said.

Becerra has led a coalition of Democratic states defending “Obamacare” from the Trump administration’s latest effort to overturn it, a legal case the U.S. Supreme Court will consider next year, the AP said.

Becerra served for more than a decade in Congress, representing parts of Los Angeles County. As a senior House Democrat, Becerra was deeply involved in steering the Obama health law through Congress in 2009 and 2010, the AP said.

But overseeing the coronavirus response will be the most complicated task he has tackled: The United States will be in the middle of a mass vaccination campaign next year. So far, the vaccines have shown surprisingly strong efficacy, but it is impossible to tell how smoothly a national rollout of the vaccines will go.

Early in California’s coronavirus response, Becerra defended broad shutdowns Gov. Gavin Newsom had put in place to curtail the pandemic, including limits on religious gatherings. Three churches in Southern California had sued Newsom, Becerra and other state officials because in-person church services had been halted.

As CDC director, Walensky would replace Dr. Robert Redfield. Walensky, who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, has spent most of her career combatting HIV/AIDS.

A global scourge

By Tuesday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 15 million while the death toll neared 284,000, according to a Times tally. According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Tuesday were: Texas and California with over 1.3 million cases each; Florida with just over 1 million cases; Illinois with nearly 798,000; and New York with nearly 718,000.

Curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the rest of the world remains challenging.

Many European countries are tightening restrictions, the Associated Press reported. France has entered a nationwide lockdown, and Germany and Austria have started partial lockdowns as government officials across the continent scramble to slow a sharp rise in infections that threatens to overwhelm their health care systems.

England has followed suit, while Italy, Greece and Kosovo also announced new measures, the AP reported.

Things are no better in India, where the coronavirus case count passed 9.7 million on Tuesday, a Johns Hopkins University tally showed. Nearly 141,000 coronavirus patients have died in India, according to the Hopkins tally, but when measured as a proportion of the population, the country has had far fewer deaths than many others. Doctors say this reflects India’s younger and leaner population. Still, the country’s public health system is severely strained, and some sick patients cannot find hospital beds, the Times said. Only the United States has more coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, Brazil had over 6.6 million cases and over 177,000 deaths as of Tuesday, the Hopkins tally showed.

Worldwide, the number of reported infections passed 67.7 million on Tuesday, over 1.5 million deaths recorded, according to the Hopkins tally.

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COVID 19: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, independent analysis finds | UK News

The Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective, independent analysis has confirmed.

Researchers say the jab will have a “big impact” on the coronavirus pandemic.

The study, published in the Lancet, is the first peer-reviewed analysis looking into phase 3 data from a vaccine trial.

Scientists working on the vaccine stressed the importance of “transparency” and data sharing within the scientific community.

Live COVID updates as UK rolls out Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

They hope the vaccine will be approved for use in the UK “within the coming weeks”.

Nearly 12,000 volunteers have been taking part in the trial in both the UK and Brazil.

The results show, on average, the vaccine efficacy was 70.4%.

In a group which received two standard doses, the efficacy was 62.1%.

But in a group which by accident, received a half dose, then a full dose, the efficacy rose to 90%.

The data has been submitted to regulatory bodies around the world for approval.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, said: “Today, we have published the interim analysis of the phase III trial and show that this new vaccine has a good safety record and efficacy against the coronavirus.

“We are hugely grateful to our trial volunteers for working with us over the past eight months to bring us to this milestone.”

The vaccine is both simple and cheap to produce, and can be manufactured in large quantities at low cost.

Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, it does not need to be kept at ultra low temperatures.

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Pfizer vaccine: ‘If I can do it, so can you’ – Patient A

Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, described today as “probably the best day of 2020”.

She said: “Following the demonstration of vaccine efficacy in many preclinical studies, we now have clear evidence of efficacy in the trial results presented in a peer-reviewed publication today.

“Now under regulatory review, we hope that this vaccine will shortly be in use to start saving lives.”

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The trial is still ongoing and questions remain about how long it provides immunity, and whether people might need a booster jab.

It will be up to independent regulators to decide which dose people might be given.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine.

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