European Medical Agency approves Moderna booster
More details of US’s vaccine requirements for foreign travellers
Downing Street has dismissed claims that 43,000 false Covid test results from a Wolverhampton laboratory are to blame for the sharp rise in the number of situations in the south-west of England, claiming that the vicinity may be catching up with the rest of the country.
Experts have connected the high case rates in the west country to the problems at the Wolverhampton laboratory of a company called Immensa, which NHS test and trace suspended from processing PCR Covid tests earlier this month.
However, No 10 insisted on Monday that the false results issue was not the cause of the surge, suggesting that the lower Covid rates in the vicinity in the past could be behind the current increase.
“In terms of the causes behind the increase in the south-west, we’ve seen there was this lab error; I don’t believe that accounts for the increases we have seen,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said. “We know the south-west was an area that did not before have as high rates as other parts of the country, which may be a factor in addition.”
Low measure of Moderna vaccine ‘works in young children’
German immunologists have said basic misunderstandings about the way vaccines work persist among the population, after the Bayern Munich and Germany footballer Joshua Kimmich confirmed over the weekend that he had declined to receive a Covid jab owing to concerns over long-term side-effects.
“I have concerns about the without of long-term studies,” the 26-year-old told Sky Sport. “I am of course aware of my responsibility. I follow all hygiene measures and get tested every two to three days. Everyone should make the decision for themselves.”
The midfielder, who captained his country in Germany’s 2-1 victory over Romania earlier this month, denied he was an anti-vaxxer and said he had not ruled out ultimately receiving a vaccine. “There is a very good chance that I will nevertheless get vaccinated,” hesaid.
News of his unvaccinated position came as a surprise because Kimmich, who has played for his country 64 times, had been widely lauded for his mature leadership off the field. Along with his Bayern teammate Leon Goretzka, Kimmich last March set up the humanitarian initiative WeKickCorona to sustain charities and medical facilities requiring immediate help as a consequence of the pandemic.
“Everyone can do their own bit to ensure that the coronavirus won’t spread any further,” reads a statement on the campaign’s website.
Bayern Munich has urged all its players and staff to receive a Covid vaccine, and its longtime executive board chair, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, on Sunday criticised Kimmich’s reluctance. “As a role form, but also as a sheer fact, it would be better if he was vaccinated,” the club legend said.
Some Bundesliga clubs only allow fans into their stadiums if they are either vaccinated or have recently recovered from the virus, while Bayern also admits supporters into the Allianz Arena if they can show proof of a negative PCR test.
UK records 36,567 new Covid infections and 38 further deaths
The EU has cancelled its annual reception at this year’s UN climate talks because of Covid restrictions, but a spokesperson denied that delegates would be banned from attending social events at the Glasgow conference.
The European Commission usually sends a delegation to UN climate talks to represent its 27 member states, but this year fewer top officials will attend.
A commission spokesperson denied reports that officials would be banned from socialising or attending side events at Cop26 over Covid concerns. They said:
The officials attending the conference will to follow the sanitary restrictions and the safety measures which are put in place by the Cop presidency and the UNFCCC and of course we have complete confidence in those.
The spokesperson said the EU would not be organising its usual annual reception due to Covid restrictions, but senior representatives had scheduled multiple bilateral meetings, adding:
We will be taking part in various events as usual so there is really no question of our diplomatic efforts being curbed in any way by the current situation.
In the UK, 328,287 people have tested positive for coronavirus from 18-24 October, an increase of 9,4% on the past week. During the same period 949 people died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, an increase of 11.4%
A bit more on that story about Merck asking for EU approval for its anti-coronavirus pill.
The US pharma company Merck has asked the European Medicines Agency to authorise its Covid-19 antiviral treatment, the first pill that has been shown to treat the disease.
The company said the EU drug regulator had started an expedited licensing course of action for molnupiravir, which forces coronavirus to mutate itself to death. If given the green light, it would be the first treatment for Covid-19 that does not need to be administered via needles or intravenous infusions.
Earlier this month, Merck asked the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, to approve molnupiravir, and a decision is expected within weeks.
The company reported this month that the pill cut hospitalisations and deaths by half among patients with early symptoms of Covid-19. The results were so strong that independent medical experts monitoring the trial recommended stopping it early.
An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with ineffective healthcare systems.
It would also bolster a two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment, by way of medication, and prevention, chiefly by vaccinations.
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