Updates on Coronavirus

  • October 21, 21 - 11:28 am - LABS

    Pfizer and BioNTech report high efficacy of COVID-19 booster vaccine; Chile already knew this

    Pfizer and BioNTech said on Thursday that data from an advanced-stage trial demonstrated the high efficacy of a booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, including against the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.

    They said that a trial of 10,000 participants of 16 years aged and over showed 95.6% efficacy against the disease during a period when the Delta strain was prevalent. The study also found that the booster dose exhibited a favorable safety profile.

    READ ALSO: Brazil’s Ministry of Health reduces the interval between the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses

    Pfizer had said that the effectiveness of its two-dose vaccine decreases over time, citing a study that showed 84% effectiveness four months after a second dose — the peak is 96%. In Latin America, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile are already inoculating booster doses for the elderly and immunosuppressed people.

    Photo: Shutterstock

    The drugmakers said the median time between the second dose and a booster dose or a placebo in the study was about 11 months, adding that there were only five cases of COVID-19 in the booster group and 109 cases in the placebo group. “These results provide further evidence of the benefits of boosters as we aim to keep people well-protected against this disease,” Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in a statement.

    The study’s results will submit detailed study results to publications in the scientific community, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other regulatory agencies as soon as possible.

    Chile’s good experience

    In early October, health authorities in Chile, the country that led vaccination in Latin America, released a study on the response generated by the third dose. 2,017,878 vaccinated with CoronaVac in the country received a booster dose.

    In detail 1,506,154 of them received AstraZeneca; 371,592, Pfizer-BioNTech, and 140,132 CoronaVac. The main conclusion is that all vaccines used as booster doses can significantly increase the levels of effectiveness to prevent symptomatic COVID-19.

    In the case of CoronaVac, it far exceeded estimates with two doses, increasing its effectiveness from 56% to 80.2%. With Pfizer-BioNTech, it rose from 56% to 90%, and with AstraZeneca, from 56% to 93%.

  • October 17, 21 - 1:26 pm - LABS

    Brazilian Senate’s COVID-19 Inquiry is likely to call for Bolsonaro’s indictment for 11 offenses

    After nearly six months of work in the Brazilian Senate, the COVID-19 Parliamentary Inquiry Commission is expected to present its final report next Tuesday.

    Created to investigate the federal government’s management of the fight against the pandemic, the Inquiry is likely to ask for the indictment of President Jair Bolsonaro for the commission of 11 crimes, in addition to targeting the current Health Minister, Marcelo Queiroga, and former Minister Eduardo Pazuello.

    If approved by a majority of the commission’s senators, the report will be sent to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR, in the acronym in Portuguese), which will have the task of conducting investigations into those indicted with privileged jurisdiction, such as President Bolsonaro, ministers and federal parliamentarians.

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
    Photo: Marcelo Chello/Shutterstock

    The report will also be forwarded to the 1st instance of the prosecutors of each state, which will have the task of carrying out the investigations involving other indictees.

    Copies of the investigations will also be sent to the Federal Police and the Internal Revenue Service, in addition to the International Criminal Court, on account of the accusations of genocide of indigenous people and crimes against humanity.

    Among the crimes that the Commission will list in Bolsonaro’s indictment request are “the crime of an epidemic resulting in death”, which is a crime provided for in the Brazilian Penal Code for those who cause or propagate the pandemic, and the “crime of breach of preventive sanitary measures “, also provided for in the Penal Code for anyone who “infringes a determination of public authority, aimed at preventing the introduction or spread of a contagious disease”.

  • October 17, 21 - 12:27 pm - LABS

    Brazil’s Ministry of Health reduces the interval between the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses

    Brazil‘s Ministry of Health reduced the interval between the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine doses from 12 to 8 weeks. The change had been announced in August, but the effective measure was postponed due to the delay in delivering the vaccine.

    In a note, the Ministry stated that it has already sent 100% of the AstraZeneca doses necessary to complete the vaccination schedule for the entire adult Brazilian population. The Ministry also says that it will continue sending vaccines for the new stages of the immunization program in the country, which include a booster dose for seniors over 60, immunosuppressed, and health professionals.

    The next vaccine shipments will also include Pfizer‘s immunizations intended to complete the vaccination schedule for Brazilians who have already taken the first dose of the vaccine.

    Last week, the country reached nearly 100 million people fully immunized against COVID-19. Vaccination is identified by experts as one of the main strategies to control the pandemic.

  • October 10, 21 - 8:37 am - Reuters

    US to accept foreign entry with WHO-approved Covid vaccines

    The United States will accept international visitors vaccinated with Covid-19 immunizers authorized by the US regulators or the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Friday.

    In September 20th, the White House announced that the US will suspend in November the restrictions to visitors from 33 countries, including Brazil, China, India and most of Europe, who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 without specifying which vaccines.

    A CDC spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday: “Six vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by the WHO will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S.”

    The CDC said that “earlier this week, to help them prepare their systems, we informed the airlines” about the vaccines that would be accepted, and added: “The CDC will release additional guidance and information once the travel requirements are finalized.”

    Some countries pressured the Biden government to accept WHO-approved vaccines, as US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized vaccines are not widely used in all countries.

    All four immunizers being applied in Brazil and currently approved by the WHO are: CoronaVac, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen.

    However, is still no clear the decision for those who were vaccinated with Sputinik V (from Russsia). Sputnik V was used in Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

    On Friday, a spokesman from WHO said the agency was “close” to clear the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, but it has not a date for possible approval for emergency use.

    (Translated by LABS)

  • October 08, 21 - 2:36 pm - Reuters

    Brazil’s third-largest airline sees its number of flights more than doubled in September

    Brazil‘s third-largest airline, Azul announced on Thursday that passenger traffic on its flights in September was 120.1% higher than a year earlier. Compared to September 2019, when the country had not yet been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a 10.6% drop.

    Slowly, the airline industry is recovering from the pandemic, but it will still take years to make up for losses. Demand for international travel is expected to double next year and reach 44% of 2019 levels. However, the vaccination rate, as well as the lifting of border restrictions imposed by the government, will determine the pace of recovery.

    Photo: Shutterstock

    Considering only domestic flights, demand for seats on Azul flights last month grew 125.6% over a year earlier. Over September 2019, there was an increase of 8.7%.

    On international flights, demand in September was 53.6% higher but fell 78.5% against the same month in 2019.

    The total occupancy rate of aircraft on Azul flights in September was 79.4%, down 0.8 percentage point compared to a year earlier and 3.9 points compared to September 2019.

    (Translated by LABS)

  • October 04, 21 - 4:46 pm - Reuters

    Global airlines forecast lower losses in 2022

    Global airlines projected a sharp decrease in industry losses next year with the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, which progresses at different speeds but has revised upward the financial damage posed by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry’s leading trade body, has predicted that net losses at airlines will decline to $11.6 billion in 2022, from $51.8 billion this year.

    Losses for 2021 were revised upwards, estimated in April at $47.7 billion. IATA also revised upwards losses in 2020 to 137.7 billion dollars, compared to the 126.4 billion dollars forecast previously.

    While airlines in all regions are expected to perform better, North American airlines are expected to return to profit next year.

    “We have already passed the deepest point of the crisis,” Iaya’s general director Willie Walsh said at the group’s annual meeting. “Although serious problems remain, the path to recovery is looming.”

    Even so, IATA urged governments to maintain wage support measures and vacancy fluctuations until international traffic recovers.

    Photo: REUTERS/Darren Abate

    Demand for international travel is expected to double next year and reach 44% of 2019 levels. However, the vaccination rate, as well as the lifting of border restrictions imposed by the government, will determine the pace of recovery.

    “People … are being prevented from traveling internationally because of restrictions, doubt and complexity,” said Walsh.

    As governments are leaning on vaccines as a way out of the health crisis, Walsh said they need to be made available to whoever wants them.

    The demand for domestic travel is assumed to reach 93% of the pre-pandemic level by 2022 — a 20 percentage point improvement from this year.

    The total number of passengers is expected to increase to 3.4 billion next year, from 2.3 billion in 2021, estimates IATA, but will be below 4.5 billion in 2019.

    (Translated by LABS)

  • September 25, 21 - 11:01 am - LABS

    After Chile and Brazil, it’s Mexico’s turn to start vaccinating teenagers

    On October 1st, teenagers between 12 and 17 years old will be able to register to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Mexico. By the middle of the month this group will begin to be immunized, said the undersecretary of Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell.

    He explained that through the government’s platform, children between 12 and 17 years old who suffer from some type of disability or comorbidity can be registered. Unlike the national vaccination strategy for adults over 18 years of age, the application modules will be located in hospitals and will be permanent.

    “We are going to use the infrastructure of the health system itself, that is, in the medical units where these people are treated, which are mostly second-level hospitals and referral hospitals, it is where we are going to put the permanent vaccination stations, they will not be temporary If not, they will be permanent,” he explained.

  • September 24, 21 - 11:43 am - LABS

    Vaccine tourism to the U.S. ends in November

    Vaccine tourism to the United States will end in November, said the White House. As of that month, travelers who wish to enter the country must be fully vaccinated, and only by immunizers approved by CDC and those on the list for emergency use of the World Health Organization (WHO): Pfizer/BioNTech; AstraZeneca; Janssen (Johnson & Johnson); Moderna; Sinopharm and Sinovac’s Coronavac.

    However, four vaccines would be outside the list: Sputnik V (from Russia), Novavax (U.S.), and Abdala and Soberana (Cuba).

    It is not yet clear what the case will be for people who receive a dose of each vaccine. Argentina, for example, was one of the first countries to widely use Spunitk V. In August, however, the country’s government announced that it would offer a second dose of Moderna or AstraZeneca to those first vaccinated with Sputnik V due to the delay in the arrival of new shots from the Russian vaccine.

    Sputnik V was also used in Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

    The decision can boost the U.S. economy

    According to Reuters, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday that the decision by the Biden administration to lift international travel restrictions in early November will be a boost to the U.S. economy, especially for tourist destinations like New York and for business travel.

    Raimondo said the decision announced Monday to allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to fly to the United States “is huge. I think it will really be a boost to our economy, it will certainly be a boost to travel, tourism, hospitality.” To address COVID-19 concerns, the U.S. has barred most foreign nationals from coming to the United States who have recently been in 33 countries including China, South Africa, Brazil, India, and much of Europe.

  • September 22, 21 - 5:54 pm - LABS

    Brazil’s Fiocruz is selected by WHO as the development center of a new COVID-19 vaccine in Latin America

    According to the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, Brazil‘s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (​Fiocruz) was selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the center in Latin America for the development and production of an RNA vaccine at the preclinical stage.

    The vaccine candidate is based on self-replicating RNA technology (the same one used in Pfizer‘s and Moderna‘s immunizers), and expresses not only Spike protein, but also N protein, for better immune response. Once developed, the vaccine will undergo WHO’s pre-qualification process, which ensures compliance with the highest international standards to ensure its quality, safety, and efficacy.

    The worldwide call for this selection was launched in April this year. About 30 Latin American companies and entities signed up. Fiocruz was selected through its Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz).

    Molecular diagnosis kit for coronavirus
    Molecular diagnosis kit for coronavirus from Bio-Manguinhos / Fiocruz. Photo: Bernardo Portela/Fiocruz Imagens
  • September 20, 21 - 6:58 pm - LABS

    Brazil’s anti-vaccine president Jair Bolsonaro may announce dose donations for poorer neighbors

    According to the newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, Brazilian diplomats are “pulling their strings” to convince President Jair Bolsonaro to announce a donation of vaccines against COVID-19 to poorer countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Paraguay and Haiti, during his speech at the UN General Assembly.

    Since the beginning of his government, Bolsonaro has been portrayed in the international press as a leader who threatens democracy, human rights, and the environment in Brazil. Despite having questioned the effectiveness of vaccines over the past year, Bolsonaro is expected to celebrate, in front of international leaders, that the country has advanced in vaccination more than many wealthy nations and could become a “regional hub” for immunization production.

    At the same time, Bolsonaro has created problems for the trip’s organizers, according to Reuters. Bolsonaro is the only G20 president not vaccinated against COVID-19 yet. The president claims that he doesn’t need to be vaccinated because he has a high antibody count — which doesn’t mean he can’t be reinfected — and talks about the possibility of being vaccinated only “after the last Brazilian gets vaccinated”.

    This Monday, Bolsonaro met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who “recommended” him the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

    Despite the statement made to Reuters by diplomats that other meetings were being negotiated, the only one that has been confirmed is with the far-right president of Poland, Andrzej Duda.

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro leaves the UK Consulate General after meeting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Alan Santos/Presidency of Brazil

    However, New York City requires residents and visitors to present a vaccination certificate to frequent bars, restaurants, and shops and has tried to impose the same policy on the United Nations. The UN — which does not need to follow the city’s policy — chose to keep its “code of honor”, the confidence that the heads of state who enter the place will be fully vaccinated.

Return to first page   View more