Coronavirus Now: COVID-19 & Vaccine Updates for June 17

As of June 17, confirmed cases of COVID-19 now number more than 177 million around the world, including more than 33 million cases in the United States and more than 609,000 U.S. deaths. You can see a breakdown of coronavirus cases throughout the world and within the U.S. on the map and chart above.

Below you’ll find updates on the latest news about the coronavirus.


June 17 News Updates

More than 300 Vaccinated Indonesian Healthcare Workers Contract COVID-19

More than 350 vaccinated healthcare workers in Indonesia have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, Channel News Asia reported. Dozens were hospitalized. The majority of the healthcare workers were vaccinated with Sinovac, which uses an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus. Most of the workers have the Delta variant (formerly known as the variant from India.)

Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University, said it’s not clear at this point how effective Sinovac is against the Delta variant.

CureVac Vaccine Shows Disappointing Results

CureVac’s clinical trial of 40,000 volunteers in Latina America and Europe showed just a 47% efficacy, The New York Times reported. The German company will still apply for approval with the European Medicines Agency, but some experts believe variants are to blame for the poor results compared to earlier trials. CureVac’s CVnCoV is also an mRNA-based vaccine.

Africa Sees Spike in COVID Infections

In Africa, COVID-19 cases for the week jumped 44% and deaths rose 20% from the previous week, showing signs of a possible third wave, CNBC reported. Africa has fallen behind other regions in vaccinations, receiving less than 2% of the world’s vaccine doses so far. Less than 0.8% of people in the continent are fully vaccinated, Reuters reported.

Jon Stewart Goes All-In on Wuhan Lab Theory

In an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show,” Jon Stewart went all-in on the Wuhan lab leak theory for the origin of SARS-CoV-2.


Jon Stewart On Vaccine Science And The Wuhan Lab TheoryWe're back in the Ed Sullivan Theater and it's only right that Stephen's first guest is none other than friend of the show, Jon Stewart. What did they talk about? The pandemic, obviously. #Colbert #TheLateShow #JonStewart Subscribe To "The Late Show" Channel: bit.ly/ColbertYouTube Watch full episodes of "The Late Show": bit.ly/1Puei40 Like "The Late Show"…2021-06-15T07:35:01Z

“The disease is the same name as the lab,” he said. “That’s just a little too weird, don’t you think?”

Rhinovirus Cold May Help Combat COVID-19

The common cold may help combat COVID-19, but the twist is that Yale researchers discovered this to be possible of rhinovirus colds rather than coronavirus colds. The study found that rhinoviruses “jump-start the activity of interferon-stimulated genes, early-response molecules in the immune system which can halt replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within airway tissues infected with the cold.”

Triggering this early might prevent or help treat COVID-19 infections, depending on the timing. It seemed most effective immediately after infection, which might also be when people have fewer symptoms. An interferon treatment might help. You can read the full study here.


Ongoing Vaccine Updates

GettyA  woman leaves Life Care Center of Kirkland on February 29, 2020, in Kirkland, Washington.

Timeline of Pfizer Updates (mRNA vaccine)

The first dose of the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine delivers about 90% protection after 21 days, The Guardian reported in February. A real-world study in Israel of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed a 94% efficacy in symptomatic infection following two doses, Reuters reported in February. The study looked at 1.2 million people, and the UK variant was dominant.

Pfizer/BioNTech is working on boosters specifically against the new variants, Newsweek reported in late January. If any variants show resistance to the current vaccine, Pfizer wants to be able to produce a booster “very, very quickly.”

In late February, the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for normal freezer storage (temperatures of -25°C to -15°C) for up to two weeks, Time reported.

Pfizer’s vaccine reduces the viral load four-fold 12 to 28 days after the first dose, The Scientist reported in February. You can read the preprint here. A February study at the University of Texas revealed that the Pfizer vaccine provides substantial protection against the SA variant, The Guardian reported. The researchers acknowledged limitations, including not having the full set of spike mutations. A study from March indicated a reduced efficacy for Pfizer and Moderna against the SA variant, The Hill reported. Moderna’s was 12.4 times less effective against the SA variant and Pfizer’s was 10.3 times less effective. The study, which you can read here, involved 12 participants of a Moderna trial and 10 participants who received the Pfizer vaccine.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates the Pfizer vaccine is likely effective against the Brazil variant, Independent reported.

Italy researchers have proposed that people with a higher BMI may need a larger dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Independent reported in early March. The study looked at 158 females and 90 males, and saw that people with a higher BMI had a lower antibody response.

A preliminary peer-reviewed CDC report, published by The New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that Moderna and Pfizer are safe during pregnancy, CBS News reported. It covered the first 11 weeks of the vaccines’ rollout, ending on February 28. You can read the study here.

Pfizer results are still looking good in early May studies, Your Local Epidemiologist reported in early May. This includes 87-90% efficacy against B.1.1.7 in a Qatar study and 72-75% efficacy against B.1.351 in a Qatar study. Real-world effectiveness against hospitalization in the U.S. is 95%, and in Israel vaccinations led to a 97% reduction in hospitalizations.

The European Medicines Agency announced in mid-May that both Pfizer and Moderna appear effective against the Delta COVID-19 strain (B.1.617) in India, Euro News reported.

An NYU lab-based study found that Pfizer and Moderna’s antibodies were a little weaker against the two India variants (B.1.617 and B.1.618), but not enough that researchers believe it would impact protection, France 24 reported in mid-May.

The CDC’s advisers are meeting on Friday, June 18 to discuss rare cases of heart inflammation following vaccination with mRNA vaccines Moderna and Pfizer, CBS News reported. More recent numbers indicated that out of 130 million Americans vaccinated, 475 myocarditis cases were discovered in people younger than 30 in the U.S., Your Local Epidemiologist shared. So far 285 of those have been fully investigated, and include 81% fully recovered and 15 still in the hospital. You can read a preprint on seven of the patients here. The cases are reported mostly in teen boys and younger men after a second dose, and are higher than expected for the age ranges of 16 to 24.

Timeline of Moderna Updates (mRNA vaccine)

Data released in mid-December showed that Moderna’s vaccine is highly protective, The New York Times reported. The vaccine had an efficacy of 94.1% in a trial with 30,000 participants. During trials, Moderna (and CanSino) both stopped giving high doses for the second dose because of the side effects, StatNews reported. Moderna’s current vaccine uses the lower dose for the second dose.

In mid-April, it was revealed that up to six months after the second dose, Moderna’s vaccine is 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 and more than 95% effective at preventing severe disease, CNBC reported. The information came from updated Phase 3 clinical trial data.

Moderna announced on January 25 that individuals who got the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine showed neutralizing antibody activity against the UK and South Africa variants (B.1.1.7 and B.1.351.) A study from early March revealed potentially less efficacy against the SA variant than previously thought, The Hill reported. Moderna’s was 12.4 times less effective against the SA variant. The study in Nature, whose preview you can read here, involved 12 participants from Moderna and 10 from Pfizer.

A preliminary peer-reviewed CDC report, published by The New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that Moderna and Pfizer are safe during pregnancy, CBS News reported. It covered the first 11 weeks of the vaccines’ rollout, ending on February 28. You can read the study here.

Moderna said in early May that new data shows its vaccine is stable for up to three months if refrigerated, CNBC reported. The company is working on formulas to extend the shelf life more.

The European Medicines Agency announced in mid-May that both Pfizer and Moderna appear effective against the COVID-19 strain in India, Euro News reported. An NYU lab-based study found that Pfizer and Moderna’s antibodies were a little weaker against the two India variants (B.1.617 and B.1.618), but not enough that researchers believe it would impact protection, France 24 reported.

Moderna is now seeking full FDA approval as opposed to emergency use approval for its COVID-19 vaccine, Bloomberg reported. Pfizer applied for full approval on May 7.

The CDC’s advisers are meeting on Friday, June 18 to discuss rare cases of heart inflammation following vaccination with mRNA vaccines Moderna and Pfizer, CBS News reported. More recent numbers indicated that out of 130 million Americans vaccinated, 475 myocarditis cases were discovered in people younger than 30 in the U.S., Your Local Epidemiologist shared. So far 285 of those have been fully investigated, and include 81% fully recovered and 15 still in the hospital. You can read a preprint on seven of the patients here. The cases are reported mostly in teen boys and younger men after a second dose, and are higher than expected for the age ranges of 16 to 24.

Timeline of Oxford/AstraZeneca Updates (Adenovirus vaccine)

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (called Covidshield in India) uses a chimpanzee-based adenovirus vector (ChAdOx1) to try to avoid pre-existing immunity in the human population. It is made from an adenovirus that was modified to help human cells create the spike protein so the immune system can recognize it, Nature reported.

It is about 62% effective in people who got two full doses, BBC reported in late November. Another trial showed about 90% efficacy in 3,000 people who got a half-dose first and then a full dose the second time rather. AstraZeneca is testing a component of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in its clinical trials, according to a press release.

However, this vaccine faced a number of hurdles. South Africa paused its AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine rollout in early February after an analysis revealed the vaccine only provided minimal protection against the B.1.351 South Africa variant, StatNews reported. A small study revealed that the AstraZeneca vaccine may only provide 10% protection against mild to moderate infections of the SA variant, The Guardian reported.

Then in mid-March, many countries began pausing the vaccine after concerns about blood clots, CNBC reported. The Norwegian Medicine Agency noted a small number of cases of a rare blood clotting situation after getting the vaccine: a combination of low platelet blood count, bleeding, and blood clots in small and large blood vessels. This is called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

At first, WHO said it had found no links between the vaccine and blood clots, and  AstraZeneca also said there was no evidence of an increased blood clot risk. On Thursday, March 18, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that it didn’t increase overall blood clots, but acknowledged there was a possible connection to a rare type of clot. On April 4, the EMA’s safety committee concluded that rare blood clots should be listed as a rare side effect of AstraZeneca’s vaccine (now renamed Vaxzevria.) Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, abdominal pain, persistent headaches or blurred vision, or tiny blood spots under the skin that are beyond the injection site.

Two groups of researchers in Norway and Germany believe they may have found the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clot issues, The Wall Street Journal reported in mid-March. The teams identified an antibody the vaccine creates which may trigger the rare blood clot reaction and could be treated in hospitals. The findings still need peer reviews.

On March 30, Canada suspended its use for anyone under 55, The Guardian reported. New data from Europe indicated the blood clot risk may be as high as one in 100,000. The rare blood clot typically occurs between four and 20 days after vaccination. In June, Canada announced that people who got AstraZeneca as their first dose could get Pfizer or Moderna for their second.

Germany also announced that it would stop giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone under 60 unless they’re in a high-risk category for getting severe COVID-19, ABC News reported on March 30. In May, they changed their mind and said anyone 18 or older could get the vaccine.

The Netherlands suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 60, Reuters reported. Australia advised people under 50 to get the Pfizer vaccine and not AstraZeneca as of early April, ABC.net reported. In June, the country clarified that only people over 60 should get the AZ vaccine.

Another issue cropped up later in March. AstraZeneca had announced that its vaccine was 79% effective in a U.S. trial of 30,000 volunteers, but the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases issued a statement of concern that the results were incomplete, Bloomberg reported on March 23. Fauci said there is concern that trial data was outdated and might be “misleading.” AstraZeneca responded that the numbers were based on interim analysis and they would update the numbers in a couple of days. On Facebook, Your Local Epidemiologist noted that it was “highly unusual for the Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB) and a vaccine sponsor (AstraZeneca) to publicly (or privately in that matter) disagree.”

The EMA is also investigating capillary leak syndrome after five cases were reported following the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The EU Commission won’t renew its contracts for vaccines using the viral vector, including J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines, Reuters reported in mid-April.

In the UK, most people under 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, BBC reported in early May. So far there have been 242 rare clotting events and 49 deaths out of 28.5 million doses. However, the clot risk in the UK for people in their 30s was one in 60,000 and for people in their 40s, one in 100,000. Dr. June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said that the benefits are still greater than the risks for older demographics, but the benefits versus risks for younger demographics are “more finely balanced.”

AstraZeneca is showing a low efficacy against the B.1.351 variant, with a good efficacy against B.1.1.7, Your Local Epidemiologist reported. Efficacy against B.1.351 (from South Africa) was about 10 to 22% against mild-to-moderate disease. For B.1.1.7, it showed 74% efficacy.

German scientists reported that they believe they can improve AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to avoid blood clots, The Guardian reported. Rolf Marschalek, a professor at Goethe University, developed the solution with a team of colleagues. The team released the findings in a preprint still awaiting peer review, which you can read here.

Timeline of Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine Updates (Adenovirus vector vaccine)

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine using Ad26 as its first dose and Ad5 for its second.

Russia’s Sputnik vaccine is reported to be 91.6% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 and 100% effective against moderate and severe cases, CNN reported in early February. This is reported in interim Phase 3 trials and published in The Lancet. People over age 60 showed a 91.8% efficacy. Serious reactions were rare, and most side effects included mild-flu like symptoms, pain at the injection, and low energy. The analysis hasn’t reviewed asymptomatic cases, transmission, or how long protection lasts.

Russians who receive the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine are being asked not to drink alcohol for two months after, the New York Post reported. This is the amount of time they said it takes the vaccine to be effective and alcohol can be a strain on the body’s immune response, the experts said.

In mid-February, the first 100,000 doses of the Sputnik vaccine arrived in Venezuela, Yahoo News reported. On February 23, AP reported that Mexico received its first shipment of the Sputnik vaccine: 200,000 doses.

Fauci said in late March that data on Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine indicates it’s “quite effective” and “looks pretty good,” Bloomberg reported. He had previously said he was skeptical of the vaccine when Russia approved it before Phase 3 trials.

A committee of experts has recommended Sputnik V’s use in India, NDTV reported on April 12. If approved, this would make it India’s third vaccine, alongside Covishield (AstraZeneca’s vaccine) and Covaxin. It still requires approval by the Drug Controller General of India before it can be used.

The Gamaleya Center announced in mid-April that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine did not show signs of CVST in its clinical trials. (The Gamelaya Center is a research institution in Russia that developed Sputnik V.) The Gamaleya Center proposed several ideas for why it has not yet shown the blood clot issue, writing:

Sputnik V is a two-component vaccine in which adenovirus serotypes 5 and 26 are used. A fragment of tissue-type plasminogen activator is not used, and the antigen insert is an unmodified full-length S-protein. Sputnik V vaccine is produced with the HEK293 cell line, which has long been safely used for the production of biotechnological products.Thus, all of the above vaccines based on adenoviral vectors have significant differences in their structure and production technology. Therefore, there is no reason and no justification to extrapolate safety data from one vaccine to safety data from other vaccines.The quality and safety of Sputnik V are, among other things, assured by the fact that, unlike other vaccines, it uses a 4-stage purification technology that includes two stages of chromatography and two stages of tangential flow filtration.

Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund announced in mid-April that a real-world study showed the Sputnik V vaccine is 97.6% effective, higher than reported in the initial trial, Reuters reported. The results are expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal next month. The results were calculated after the second booster dose, about 35 days after the first injection. An incident rate of .027% was reported, as compared to unvaccinated adults showing 1.1%.

Brazil’s regulatory authority turned down emergency use authorization for the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia after Anvisa, Brazil’s drug agency, said that data indicated it had a “replication-competent” adenovirus, Science Mag reported in late April. However, the Gamaleya Institute disputed the findings and threatened a defamation lawsuit in response. Others have debated if Anvisa is interpreting Sputnik’s data correctly, Science Mag reported.

Russia approved a one-dose version of its Sputnik V vaccine that’s called Sputnik Light in early May, The Straits Times reported. The two-dose version has 91.6% efficacy compared to 79.4% for the one-dose version after 28 days.

Argentina researchers have found that Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is effective against the Brazil variant, Reuters reported. Russia’s Direct Investment Fund said in a statement: “The study confirmed that the immunity developed in people vaccinated with ‘Sputnik V’ neutralizes the Brazilian strain after having received two doses, and even after the first.”

Timeline of Novavax Updates

Novavax is not an mRNA vaccine, ScienceMag reported. Instead, Novavax is using a baculovirus to insert a gene for the spike protein, harvesting the spike proteins and using that in an adjuvant.

Your Local Epidemiologist shared that Novavax’s vaccine is different from the others available in the U.S. This one “contains a coronavirus protein that prompts the immune system,” which is combined with an immune-boosting adjuvant from the soapbark tree. The vaccine was made in moth cells, rather than mammal cells, allowing Novavax to manufacture the vaccine faster.

In mid-February, FT reported that Novavax was about to finish its U.S. trial of the vaccine in record time, having enrolled 30,000 participants since beginning the trial in late December. A UK trial of the two-shot vaccine found it 85.6% effective against B.1.1.7 and 95.6% effective against the original variant.

Production of the vaccine is underway in Billingham as of late March, along with some areas in the United States, TessideLive reported. The UK has ordered 60 million doses, but the vaccine hasn’t yet been approved by the MHRA.

Novavax showed 49% efficacy in HIV+ and HIV- participants in South Africa. A placebo group showed no protection against B.1.351 variant.

Recent Phase 3 trials showed positive results for Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, NBC News reported in mid-June. The trial showed an overall efficacy of 90.4% (77 cases of COVID-19 were found in the placebo group and 14 in the vaccine group with nearly 30,000 participants.) The vaccine group cases were mild, indicating 100% effectiveness against moderate to severe illness. The findings, however, still need peer review. The company will apply for FDA authorization in the third quarter based on the results. 

Timeline of Inovio Updates

Inovio is working on a vaccine called the INO-4800 DNA vaccine. Inovio announced positive results from two Phase I clinical trials in early July. The Phase 1 trial was expanded to include older participants in June and July. This is a nucleic-based vaccine that will be stable at room temperature for more than a year and doesn’t need to be frozen.

On January 4, Inovio said it expected to begin a late-stage study of its vaccine in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2021 after finishing mid-stage trials in March, Reuters reported. The vaccine has three mid-stage trials, one in the U.S., one in China with Advaccinek, and one in South Korea. The U.S. Phase III trial had been delayed as the FDA requested more information on the delivery device.

On February 12, Inovio shares traded higher, Seeking Alpha reported. Analyst Hartaj Singh believed Inovio’s vaccine showed promise, noting: “We believe the overall DNA platform by INO should not be overlooked.”

Timeline of Johnson & Johnson Updates (Adenovirus vector vaccine)

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine using an Ad26 vector (a human adenovirus) believed to have less natural immunity in the human population.

Johnson & Johnson received emergency use authorization for its vaccine in the U.S. Data related to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine shows 66% overall effectiveness: 57% in South Africa (rising to 64% after about a month), 66% in Latin America, and 72% in the United States, CNBC reported. The vaccine group reported no deaths, while the placebo group reported seven deaths. People ages 60 and older with comorbidities had a lower efficacy rate of about 42.3%. You can read the 62-page FDA briefing document from Johnson & Johnson here.

Following approval in the United States, Canada approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, CBC reported.

Johnson & Johnson said it would be working on new COVID-19 vaccines that would be effective against variants, Reuters reported in mid-March.

But on April 9, EMA announced that it was investigating if Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine might have any correlation with rare blood clot events found in AstraZeneca, called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

The FDA and CDC paused the J&J vaccine while investigating CVST on April 13. Fifteen people in the U.S. had developed a rare clotting condition — cerebral venous sinus thrombosis out of about 8 million doses, as of late April. It’s not clear how many of those fall in the 18-48 demographic. One was a healthy 25-year-old man who had a cerebral hemorrhage, The New York Post reportedthe only case not in a woman ages 18-59. On April 25, the CDC recommended that use of the vaccine resume in the U.S., believing benefits outweigh risks. The CDC noted that women under 50 should be aware of the rare but increased blood clot risk and know there are other vaccines for COVID-19 that don’t show this risk.

The Australian government announced that it won’t use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in its rollout, because of the similarities to the AstraZeneca vaccine, UPI reported.

The EU Commission won’t renew its contracts for vaccines using the viral vector, including J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines, Reuters reported in mid-April.

A real-world trial of Mayo Clinic patients from February 27 to April 14 revealed 76.7% efficacy for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to an April 30 study.

German scientists reported that they believe they can improve AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to avoid blood clots, The Guardian reported. Rolf Marschalek, a professor at Goethe University, developed the solution with a team of colleagues. The team released the findings in a preprint still awaiting peer review, which you can read here.

In the UK, Janssen’s single-dose vaccine was approved in late May.

Timeline of CureVac updates

On February 12, EMA began a rolling review of CureVac’s vaccine, CVnCoV, EMA reported. CureVac is conducting clinical trials on safety, immune response, and effectiveness. CureVac utilizes the mRNA vaccination method.

On February 25, CureVac announced that preliminary animal trials showed it was effective against UK and SA variants, Reuters reported.

On March 4, CureVac and Novartis signed a manufacturing agreement for the second quarter of 2021, with the hope of having 50 million doses available by the end of 2021 and 200 million in 2022. Manufacturing would take place in Austria.

CureVac is now expanding late-stage clinical trials as of late March, BioPharma reported. The trials will look at efficacy against UK, SA, and Brazil variants. Phase 1 data showed strong antibody responses and T cell activation.

Timeline of Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Updates

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline vaccine early trials were disappointing, The New York Times reported in mid-December. The vaccines didn’t produce a good immune response in older participants, although they did in people under 50.

Timeline of China/Sinovac’s CoronaVac Vaccine Updates

One study called into doubt whether Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine will trigger enough protection against the Brazil variant, Reuters reported. This was based on plasma samples from eight people, which didn’t effectively neutralize the variant. The vaccine uses an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Meanwhile, Turkish trials showed China’s Sinovac vaccine was 83.5% effective, and 100% effective in preventing hospitalization, Bloomberg reported. Officials in Brazil had said it was 50.38% effective in preventing cases.

Indonesia reported that China’s Sinovac vaccine protected 98% of healthcare workers from death and 96% from hospitalization, Yahoo! Finance reported on May 12. About 94% of the 128,290 health care workers were also protected from symptomatic infection, the January-March study found. This differs greatly from a Phase III trial in Brazil that showed efficacy at about 50%.

Indonesia Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that after tracking 25,374 healthcare workers who received the vaccine in Jakarta, they found that Sinovac protected 94% from infection and 96% from hospitalization, SCMP reported. It’s not known if they were screened for asymptomatic infection.

Sadikin said they saw a “drastic drop” in hospitalizations and deaths among vaccinated healthcare workers. In Chile, 89% of people vaccinated with CoronaVac were protected from serious COVID-19 complications.

Timeline of China’s CanSino Biologics’ Vaccine (Adenovirus vector)

China’s CanSino Biologics revealed that its coronavirus vaccine had 65.7% efficacy at preventing symptomatic cases and 90.8% effective in preventing severe disease, Bloomberg reported on February 8. The one-shot vaccine is developed by the biologics company and the Chinese military. This adenovirus vector vaccine was the first to start clinical trials in the world, but a trial in North America was indefinitely delayed.

The vaccine received emergency use approval in Hungary on March 22, Reuters reported. It was also approved in China, Pakistan, and Mexico.

China’s CanSino Biologics has also obtained approval to start clinical trials of an inhaled version of the COVID-19 vaccine using an Adenovirus Type 5 vector, Global Times reported in late March. The vaccine is the same as the already approved single-dose vaccine, only using an “atomization inhalation device.”

Timeline of Covaxin Updates

Covaxin, a vaccine from India created by Bharat Biotech International and the Indian Council of Medical Research, showed an efficacy of 81% after two doses in early Phase 3 data, but whether this applied to mild symptoms or severe cases isn’t known, Bloomberg reported. This data was based on 36 cases of COVID-19 in a placebo group versus seven cases in a vaccinated group. The vaccine came under criticism when it was rolled out in India before Phase 3 trial data was available.

On March 4, Zimbabwe announced that it had approved the vaccine for use, making it the first country in Africa to authorize the vaccine.

The vaccine uses an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Timeline of Zoetis Animal Vaccine Updates

San Diego Zoo vaccinated nine great apes (four orangutans and five bonobos) using an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. They’re planning to vaccinate three more bonobos and a gorilla. The apes were given two doses in January and February, spaced by three weeks. They voluntarily sat down for the injections, which weren’t forced. No visible side effects have been noted, except a few rubbed their head or the injection site.

Zoetis, which was once part of Pfizer, is developing the COVID-19 vaccine for animals. It delivers a piece of the surface protein, similar to how Novavax works. The doses aren’t authorized for people.

The vaccine will soon be trialed in a formulation developed for minks, The Guardian reported in late March. A vaccine among minks might help slow down the emergence of variants that could infect the human population.

Timeline of Oravax Medical’s Oral Vaccine Updates

Oramed Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli-American pharmaceutical company, is working with India’s Premas Biotech to develop a vaccine by a new company called Oravax Medical. This would be an oral vaccine that could be taken at home, The Jerusalem Post reported in late March. Phase 1 trial data could be available within three months. The vaccine targets three structural proteins rather than one spike protein, and the company believes it may be more resistant to variants.

China’s Sinopharm Vaccine Updates

On May 7, WHO gave emergency approval to China’s vaccine made by Sinopharm, Channel News Asia reported. This was the first time WHO gave emergency approval to any Chinese infectious disease vaccine, and the first non-Western country to receive WHO approval for a COVID-19 vaccine. This is another vaccine using an inactivated virus.

Sinopharm announced December 30 that it was 79% effective, but the United Arab Emirates said it was 86% effective in January. A Phase III clinical trial revealed 78.1% efficacy, Channel News Asia reported.

QazVac Vaccine Updates

Kazakhstan has begun rolling out a new vaccine called QazVac (originally called QazCovid-in), Fortune reported on April 27, 2021. The vaccine was developed within Kazakhstan and researchers claim it has 96% efficacy in Phase 2 trials. Phase 3 trials will end in July, but regulators already approved a rollout of the vaccine. This is a more traditional vaccine that, like India’s Covaxin and China’s CoronaVac, uses an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus. It requires two doses, three weeks apart.

ImmunityBio Oral Vaccine Updates

At Chan Soon-Shiong Research Institute in El Segundo, California, researchers from ImmunityBio are testing an oral COVID-19 vaccine, CBS News reported in early April. It’s being tested on healthy volunteers using four approaches, including some people getting both the pill and a vaccine shot. The pill targets creating T cells that react to a globe in the middle of the virus that’s less prone to mutation, while current vaccines create antibodies to the spike protein. The trial is available to people who are 55 or younger, haven’t had COVID, and aren’t pregnant.

Other Adenovirus Vaccines

ImmunityBio is developing an adenovirus-vector vaccine based on Ad5. They are conducting a trial using a combination of an oral vaccine and an under-the-tongue vaccine. Some hope that Ad5 delivered this way might have less of an issue with pre-existing immunity in the population.

Altimmune, Stabilitech BioPharma, and Vaxar are testing Ad5 vaccines using nasal sprays or pills, CEN reported. Altimmune’s AdCOVID is adenovirus-based but is delivered intranasally. On March 15, the results from a transgenic mouse model were announced from a preclinical trial.

ReiThera (once called Okairos) is testing a COVID-19 vaccine using a gorilla-derived adenovirus vector, CEN reported. This GRAd-COV2 vaccine candidate just started its Phase 2/3 clinical study on March 18. The study is named COVITAR.

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