The British government has achieved the goal it set for itself: According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at least 15 million people – one in four adults – have now been vaccinated against the Coronavirus.
On Sunday, Johnson spoke in a video message of a “milestone”, whose country has achieved an “extraordinary achievement.” Achieving the goal is his government’s first real success in the Corona pandemic. Johnson gave 15 million vaccines at the start of the year as a flagship on February 15. According to official information – as of Saturday – 15 062 189 people received a first dose. Hundreds of thousands of vaccinations are given every day.
Britain began mass vaccination on December 8th. Three vaccines are now being used. However, only 537,000 people received a second dose, and experts believe it guarantees complete protection. According to the Minister of State in Charge Al-Zahawi, the next goal is to vaccinate those over 50 by the end of April.
So far only adults can be vaccinated. In order to study the effects on children and adolescents, the vaccine, developed by Astrazeneca’s group in collaboration with the University of Oxford, will be tested on 300 volunteers between the ages of 6 and 17. The first exams should begin this month, Oxford University announced. Up to 240 participants receive the vaccine, the rest is a control factor.
The United Kingdom is one of the countries hardest hit in Europe by the pandemic. According to official information, more than 115,000 people have so far died with or from Covid-19. A lockdown has been imposed with widespread connectivity and exit restrictions for weeks to contain it. Johnson wants to present a “roadmap” to exit Corona measures on February 22.
New Zealand reports the first new cases of corona since January
New Zealand reported its first new case of corona since January, with three locally transmitted cases on Sunday. According to Chris Hipkins, Coronavirus Measures Minister, those affected are a couple and their daughter in the greater Auckland city. Tests were currently underway to see if the infection was caused by one of the new and particularly contagious variants of the aura.
In Auckland, the three-day lockdown begins on Monday with schools and a stay-at-home system closed. New Zealand’s largest city has also been closed to the rest of the country, and the aim is to find the source of the outbreak. One of the injured works at a logistics company laundromat, in contact with local quarantine hotels. It remains unclear if the infection actually comes from this.
These are the first cases since January 24, when a person who came from Europe developed symptoms after being released from a mandatory two-week quarantine and tested positive. Previously, New Zealand had not recorded any locally transferred cases for two months. With fewer than 2,000 infections and 26 deaths in 2020, the Pacific state of nearly five million people is a prime example of how to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Italy is tightening measures in some areas due to rising numbers
Due to the high numbers of Corona, Italy has restricted freedom of movement more than before in several regions, for example in Tuscany and Liguria. The Abruzzo region in central Italy and the Province of Trentino in the Alps are also affected. The stricter rules have been in effect since Sunday. In the battle against Corona, the government in Rome introduced the division of the country into danger zones months ago, with different levels of barriers. In the four now upgraded areas (orange areas), restaurants and bars have had to close again for guests. Only ready meals are allowed. In addition, citizens there should not leave their cities and municipalities as a rule. The tightening will initially apply for a period of 15 days, as announced by the Rome Ministry of Health. South Tyrol was also a week-long orange region with stricter measures, but skiing is scheduled to begin there from February 15th.
Most of the country’s population of 60 million people still belong to the Yellow Zones with moderate restrictions. There is a night curfew from 10pm across Italy. The government recently extended the ban on cross-border travel until February 25. Exclusions apply to work and emergency situations. In Italy, the authorities counted more than 2.7 million people infected with Corona about a year ago. On Saturday, more than 13,500 new cases were officially added within 24 hours. In Italy, the number of new infections per 100,000 population (seven-day incidence) reported within seven days was more than 130 (February 1 – February 7) – and thus higher than in Germany.
Another setback for the Sanofi coronavirus
When searching for a coronavirus vaccine, the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi has to suffer another setback. The head of the drugmaker, Paul Hudson, told the newspaper that the vaccine developed with US partner Translate Bio will not be available this year. The Sunday Newspaper. So far, Sanofi has assumed that approval will actually be possible in the second half of 2021.
The filter is based on the new mRNA technology that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are also using in their already approved vaccines. Clinical trials should begin this quarter. “This vaccine won’t be ready this year, but it could be useful later on – especially if the mutagenesis continues,” Hudson said.
The news is another setback for Sanofi. The company is already battling a delay over another candidate Covid-19 vaccine, which it has partnered with UK company GlaxoSmithKline. The two companies announced in December that the drug did not stimulate an adequate immune system response in elderly people.
EMA launches a rapid trial of Curevac vaccine
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has started a rapid test of the vaccine from the manufacturer in Tübingen, Curevac. Emma announced Friday in Amsterdam. Such a measure precedes market approval in the European Union. The decision is based on preliminary results from laboratory tests and clinical studies. According to Emma, this shows that the vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies against the Corona virus.
The authority evaluates the data according to a so-called periodic review process. In this process, data and results are constantly checked, even if the test series has not yet been completed and no application for approval has been submitted in the European Union yet. The procedure is faster than traditional tests but is equally accurate, says Emma. It remains unclear how long the test will take. Once there is sufficient evidence of vaccine efficacy, the manufacturer can apply for a marketing authorization in the European Union.
Ema experts give recommendation. The European Union Commission officially decides. There are two other vaccine testing procedures currently underway. So far, three vaccines have been approved in the European Union. Ema wants to test vaccines that are supposed to work against new variants of the virus especially quickly. The guidelines are currently under review, Marco Cavalieri, head of the responsible Emma Group, told Reuters. Smaller changes in materials mean smaller test groups “with a few hundred participants instead of 30.00 to 40,000” will suffice.