Immunity produced from Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine should last at least a year, the company has said.
The company’s vaccine, mRNA-1273, uses synthetic mRNA to mimic the surface of the coronavirus and teach the immune system to recognise and neutralise it.
Moderna said in December it would run tests to confirm the vaccine’s activity against any strain.
The company said on Monday it expects to deliver between 600m doses and one billion doses of its vaccine in 2021, and forecast vaccine-related sales of $11.7bn for the year, based on advance purchase agreements signed with governments.
“The team feels very comfortable with the track record we have now ... that we are on track to deliver at least 600 million doses,” chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said.
Egypt expects to start receiving Covid-19 vaccines through the GAVI vaccine alliance in the coming weeks, the health minister said.
Egypt will get 40m doses via GAVI for 20 million people or 20% of the 100 million population, Hala Zayed said.
“Within two or three weeks maximum there will be the beginning of the influx of GAVI vaccines, which largely will be AstraZeneca (vaccines),” she said.
GAVI and the World Health Organization have established the COVAX initiative to secure fair vaccine access for lower and middle income countries.
Zayed said Egypt also expected to sign a contract with AstraZeneca once an Egyptian drug regulator approves the company’s vaccines and that approval was expected within a week.
Egypt received its first shipment of vaccines developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in December, but further shipments have been delayed. Zayed said more Sinopharm vaccines would arrive within days.
As of Monday, Egypt’s government has confirmed 150,753 infections and 8,249 deaths since the start of the pandemic. However, health officials say the real number is likely far higher because of the relatively low rate of coronavirus testing and the exclusion of private test results.
Here is a quick recap of the latest coronavirus developments across the globe over the last few hours:
- Portugal’s president tests positive for Covid-19. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is seeking a second term in an election on 24 January, has tested positive for the coronavirus but has so far shown no symptoms, his office said.
- ‘Reckless’ Christmas rule relaxation blamed for Ireland’s dire Covid surge. The country has the world’s highest rate of infection with critics blaming socialising over festive period.
- Lebanon tightens Covid-19 restrictions as infections skyrocket. Lebanon has tightened coronavirus measures by imposing a total lockdown for an 11-day period and introducing new travel restrictions to stem an unprecedented rise in infections.
- Spain sees record weekend rise in infections. Spain reported a record rise in coronavirus infections over the weekend and the number of new cases measured over the past 14 days rose to 436 per 100,000 people on Monday, from 350 on Friday.
- Verdict unlikely from WHO team exploring Covid origins in China. Expectations should be set very low that a World Health Organization team of experts investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic will reach any definitive conclusion from their first trip to China, a health expert affiliated with the WHO has said.
- US lawmaker tests positive for Covid-19 after Capitol siege. A 75-year-old US lawmaker has tested positive for Covid-19 after being locked down to avoid a mob attacking the US Capitol last week, saying she believed she was exposed while sheltering in place with maskless colleagues.
- CDC says nine million Americans now vaccinated. The 8,987,322 people who have been given the first of two shots, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, represent less than one third of the total doses distributed to states by the government.
- Two gorillas at San Diego Zoo test positive for Covid-19. The animals tested positive for the coronavirus after exhibiting symptoms of the disease, in what is believed to be the first known transmission of the virus to apes.
- Dubai removed from UK’s travel corridor list. Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Monday the United Arab Emirates is being taken off the list and anyone arriving from the country from 4am on Tuesday will be subject to the new restrictions.
Nearly nine million Americans had been given their first Covid-19 vaccination dose as of Monday morning, as states scrambled to step up inoculations that have yet to slow rising cases.
The 8,987,322 people who have been given the first of two shots, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, represent less than one third of the total doses distributed to states by the US government.
Reuters reports that Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has sought permission from the Trump administration to directly purchase 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use. The FDA has also approved a vaccine made by Moderna .
“We remain ready to accelerate distribution to get doses into arms,” Whitmer, a first-term Democrat, said in a letter to health and human services secretary Alex Azar.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who has pledged to inoculate one million residents by the end of January, told reporters the city could run out of vaccine doses if the federal government does not send more.
US president-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on 20 January, is considering releasing more vaccine doses that the federal government had stockpiled in an effort to ensure enough supply for a required second dose.
Second shots of both authorised vaccines are prescribed for three or four weeks after the first.
Public health experts have said no US state, including New York, has so far come close to using up its federal allotments of vaccines, due in some instances to rigid rules sharply limiting who can be inoculated.
The slow roll out of vaccinations has yet to make a dent in the health crisis as the pandemic claimed on average about 3,200 lives nationwide each day over the last week. Covid-19 has killed more than 374,000 people in the US since March.
In recent days states have been adding vaccination capacity with the ad hoc conversion of sports venues, convention halls and empty schools into vaccine centres. Los Angeles officials have said that a testing site at Dodger Stadium would be converted to a vaccination hub.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo last week relented on his demand that all healthcare workers be offered a vaccine before other groups become eligible, which led to hundreds of doses being wasted as half-finished vials were discarded at the end of each day.
He has since said that certain groups of other essential workers and people over age 75, as of Monday, can make appointments to receive a shot.
There are now over four million people in New York state eligible to receive the vaccine out of a population of about 19 million, Cuomo said, but only about one million doses on hand.
“We only receive 300,000 doses per week from the federal government,” he said. “At this rate, it will take us 14 weeks, just to receive enough dosages for those currently eligible.”
New York has so far recorded nearly 40,000 Covid-19 related deaths, by far the most of any US state.
Texas and Florida have been vaccinating people over age 65 since late December, although reports from those states have indicated that demand has far outstripped appointments.
• This post was amended on 12 January 2021 to correct a mention of Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer as “Whitman”.
Portugal's president tests positive for Covid-19
Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is seeking a second term in an election on 24 January, has tested positive for the coronavirus but has so far shown no symptoms, his office said.
The 72-year-old had one major presidential debate scheduled for Tuesday, as well as a meeting with health experts to discuss the details of a planned lockdown to be announced on Wednesday, but his office said he had already cancelled all his public appearances.
In a statement shared on his official website, Rebelo de Sousa’s office said the president has already informed prime minister António Costa and health minister Marta Temido of the situation.
Rebelo de Sousa will self-isolate at his official residence in Lisbon, the statement said.
His positive test result comes after he tested negative on 6 January after being in contact with someone who was infected and so resumed his work schedule.
Tunisia has recorded 3,074 new confirmed coronavirus cases, the highest since the start of the pandemic, as intensive care units in most public hospitals reached maximum capacity.
Coronavirus cases have been rising fast in Tunisia, which managed to contain the virus last year. The country has now reached 162,350 cases and 5,284 deaths.
Officials said the health situation was “very critical”. Health authorities will meet on Tuesday to approve more measures. President Kais Saied called for a partial lockdown in the regions experiencing rapid infection.
Tunisia banned travel among the country’s regions and extended a curfew in October, as it tried to contain a surge of Covid-19 cases.
“The situation is very critical, and [...] doctors now will choose who should be taken in intensive care units”, said Dr Hichem Aouina, an official at Charles-Nicolle hospital in the capital, Tunis.
The official date for the start of vaccinations in Tunisia is not known, reinforcing fears the country will struggle to deal with rising cases.
Two gorillas at the San Diego zoo have tested positive for Covid-19 after exhibiting symptoms of the disease, California’s governor said, in what is believed to be the first known transmission of the virus to apes.
Governor Gavin Newsom, in his latest coronavirus update for the state, said the source of the gorillas’ infection was still under investigation to determine whether the virus was transmitted between animals or from humans to the apes.
A statement posted on the San Diego zoo safari park website said the gorillas were suspected of having contracted infection “from an asymptomatic staff member,” despite following all Covid-19 safety precautions recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Zoo authorities initiated testing of fecal samples of the park’s gorillas after two of the apes began coughing last Wednesday, and preliminary results two days later found the presence of the virus “in the gorilla troop,” the statement said.
The US Department of Agriculture National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the positive results on Monday.
“The test results confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in some of the gorillas and does not definitively rule out the presence of the virus in other members of the troop,” it said.
“Aside from some congestion and coughing, the gorillas are doing well,” Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego zoo safari park, said in the statement. “The troop remains quarantined together and are eating and drinking. We are hopeful for a full recovery.”
Gorillas are members of the family of primates known as the great apes, or hominids, that also include orangutans, chimpanzees and humans.
The coronavirus has also been found in a number of other wild animal species in captivity, including several lions and tigers at the Bronx zoo in New York and four lions at the Barcelona zoo in Spain.
But the gorillas in San Diego are believed to mark the first known case of infections confirmed in apes. The virus also has shown up in a number of household dogs and cats.
Last month, the USDA said it had confirmed the first known case of the coronavirus in an animal in the wild, a mink, following an outbreak among farmed minks that killed 15,000 of the animals.
A 75-year-old US lawmaker has tested positive for Covid-19 after being locked down to avoid a mob attacking the US Capitol last week, saying she believed she was exposed while sheltering in place with maskless colleagues.
US representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement that a rapid test result came back positive and she was awaiting the results of a more comprehensive test, noting she had already received the first shot of the two-dose coronavirus vaccine.
Congress’ attending physician said lawmakers who hid together for hours in a closed room to avoid Wednesday’s mob may have been exposed to the coronavirus by an infected person. Some 200 people, including scores of House members, sheltered for hours in a closed room where a number of Republicans did not wear masks.
“She believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the US Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots,” Watson Coleman’s office said in a statement.
Democratic president-elect Joe Biden, who has made tackling the Covid-19 pandemic a top priority, told reporters he was appalled that Republican lawmakers refused to wear masks while hunkered down even when others passed them out: “It’s not a political issue. It’s an issue of public safety.”
Health officials and experts have warned the attack will likely be a superspreader event, noting lawmakers were isolated for hours inside while a violent crowd of mostly maskless Trump supporters stormed inside in an unsuccessful bid to block lawmakers’ certification of Biden’s presidential win.
“You have to anticipate that this is another surge event,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Robert Redfield told McClatchy News on Friday. “These individuals all are going in cars and trains and planes going home all across the country right now. So I do think this is an event that will probably lead to a significant spreading event.”
British supermarket group Sainsbury’s has said it will enforce the wearing of masks in stores with security guards who will also ensure that people shop alone, amid concern about the possibility Covid-19 is spreading in stores.
The company said in a statement it had reduced the number of customers allowed into stores at any one time, as it followed Morrisons in tightening the rules.