In this file:

 

·         Japan finds new Covid-19 strain, while immigration centre reports infections

·         Pfizer, BioNTech start testing COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women

·         Biden rolling out plan for $4 billion global vaccine effort to help poor nations.

 

 

Japan finds new Covid-19 strain, while immigration centre reports infections

 

By Reuters

via Times Live (S.Africa) - 19 February 2021

 

Japan confirmed a new variant of Covid-19, and an infection cluster emerged at a Tokyo immigration facility, presenting new challenges as the country tries to overcome a third wave of the pandemic.

 

The new variant has been found in 91 cases in the Kanto area of eastern Japan and in 2 cases at airports, Chief cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters on Friday. The government is raising surveillance against mutant varieties as they may be more resistant to vaccines, which Japan started to distribute this week.

 

“It may be more contagious than conventional strains, and if it continues to spread domestically, it could lead to a rapid rise in cases,” Kato said.

 

The new strain appears to have originated overseas but is different from other types that have been found sporadically in Japan, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. It has the E484K mutation on the spike protein of the virus that has been found in other variants, which may undermine the effectiveness of vaccines.

 

Japan has reported 151 cases of variants from Britain, SA and Brazil, according to the health ministry...

 

more

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/sci-tech/2021-02-19-japan-finds-new-covid-19-strain-while-immigration-centre-reports-infections/

 

 

Pfizer, BioNTech start testing COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant women

 

Julie Steenhuysen and Michael Erman, Reuters

via Financial Post (Canada) - Feb 18, 2021

 

CHICAGO — Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have started an international study with 4,000 volunteers to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of their COVID-19 vaccine in healthy pregnant women, the companies said on Thursday.

 

Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, and many public health officials have recommended some women in high-risk professions take coronavirus vaccines even without proof they are safe for them.

 

Dr. William Gruber, senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development for Pfizer, said in an interview the company could have results by the fourth quarter of 2021.

 

Gruber said data so far suggest that pregnant women with COVID-19 have higher rates of severe disease. They also have higher rates of pregnancy complications, such as premature birth, compared with pregnant women not infected by the coronavirus...

 

more

https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/pfizer-biontech-start-testing-covid-19-vaccine-in-pregnant-women-2

 

 

Biden rolling out plan for $4 billion global vaccine effort to help poor nations.

 

Associated Press, CNN

via Omaha World-Herald (NE) - Feb 19, 2021

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will use his first big presidential moment on the global stage at Friday’s Group of Seven meeting of world leaders to announce that the U.S. will soon begin releasing $4 billion for an international effort to bolster the purchase and distribution of coronavirus vaccine to poor nations, White House officials said.

 

Biden will also encourage G-7 partners to make good on their pledges to COVAX, an initiative by the World Health Organization to improve access to vaccines, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview Biden’s announcement.

 

Former President Donald Trump declined to participate in the COVAX initiative because of its ties to WHO, the Geneva-based agency that Trump accused of covering up China’s missteps in handling the virus at the start of the public health crisis...

 

more

https://omaha.com/news/national/biden-rolling-out-plan-for-4-billion-global-vaccine-effort-to-help-poor-nations-get/article_b1969e5d-cb4e-5f35-9c70-6a32c2a06ab6.html