Worries Emerge Over Delta-Plus Mutation As Britain Suffers Covid Surge
Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has called for scientists to look into a potential "delta-plus" mutation of covid, suspected to be linked to a current covid surge in the U.K. Meanwhile, Japan is reported "puzzling" over a sudden, dramatic drop in cases.
U.K. Covid Surge Sparks Call For Probe Into Delta Plus Mutation
Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called for “urgent research” into a mutation of the delta variant -- known as delta plus -- following a surge in Covid-19 cases in the U.K. “We need urgent research to figure out if this delta plus is more transmissible, has partial immune evasion,” Gottlieb said in a tweet. “There’s no clear indication that it’s considerably more transmissible, but we should work to more quickly characterize these and other new variants. We have the tools.” (Yang, 10/17)
Vaccines, Masks? Japan Puzzling Over Sudden Virus Success
Almost overnight, Japan has become a stunning, and somewhat mysterious, coronavirus success story. Daily new COVID-19 cases have plummeted from a mid-August peak of nearly 6,000 in Tokyo, with caseloads in the densely populated capital now routinely below 100, an 11-month low. The bars are packed, the trains are crowded, and the mood is celebratory, despite a general bafflement over what, exactly, is behind the sharp drop. (Yamaguchi, 10/18)
Valneva Says Covid Shot Beat AstraZeneca’s in Trial, Seeks EU Approval
Valneva SE’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine elicited better immunity than AstraZeneca Plc’s shot in a clinical trial that will pave the way for regulatory submissions and sent the shares up as much as 42%. Patients injected with two doses of the product had more antibodies -- a proxy for protection against the coronavirus -- and fewer side effects than those who got the Astra shot in a U.K. study of about 4,000 adults, Valneva said in a statement Monday. Both groups had the same number of Covid cases and no patient got severely ill, the company said. (Mulier, 10/18)
Pope Francis Calls On Companies To Release COVID Vaccine Patents
Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports. There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses. (Frazier, 10/16)
The New York Times:
Will New Covid Treatments Be As Elusive For Poor Countries As Vaccines?
Unlike the vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, which have resisted calls for license agreements to let overseas manufacturers make their shots, Merck will allow generic manufacturers in India to sell the pills at a far lower price in more than 100 poorer countries. Most nations in sub-Saharan Africa, where vaccination rates are as low as 3 percent, are covered by the deal. (Nolen, 10/17)
In news about Ebola —
Sequencing Suggests New DRC Ebola Cases Tied To Earlier Outbreak
Initial genetic sequencing of the Ebola virus isolated in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) most recent outbreak suggests a link to the large 2018-2020 outbreak that was centered in North Kivu province, the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office said yesterday on Twitter. So far, two cases have been confirmed in the flare-up in Beni, one of the hot spots in the earlier outbreak. Earlier this year, a similar recurrence in Butembo in North Kivu province resulted in 12 cases, all but 1 of them confirmed, and 6 deaths. (10/15)