COVID-19 live updates: Total number of cases passes 178 million

  • The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
  • Known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus has resulted in more than 178 million infections and more than 3.8 million deaths.
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection causes COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 has now been reported on every continent.
  • Keep up to date with the latest research and information about COVID-19 here.
  • For vaccine information, visit our live vaccine updates article.

06/21/2021 12:23 GMT — Delta variant cases on the rise, accounting for 99% of new COVID-19 cases in the UK

In its weekly update on June 18, Public Health England (PHE) — an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom — noted that as many as 99% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.K. are due to the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.

PHE also announced that new COVID-19 cases in the country had increased by 33,630 since the previous week. The updated total of confirmed new cases is now 75,953.

As of June 14, 806 people in the U.K. have been hospitalized due to infections with the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Of these, 527 people had not had a COVID-19 vaccine, while 84 were fully vaccinated.

Read more about the delta variant here.

06/21/2021 11:33 GMT — Flu may cause more problems than COVID-19 this winter, UK government advisor suggests

Prof. Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in the United Kingdom, has warned that the flu might become a more pressing problem than COVID-19 this winter.

He made these comments in an interview with the BBC.

Given the low rates of flu cases this past year, Prof. Harnden said, the population may not have had a chance to build up immunity to flu viruses.

“I will emphasize that actually flu could be potentially a bigger problem this winter than [COVID-19],” Prof. Harnden noted.

“We’ve had a very, very low prevalence of flu for the last few years, particularly virtually nil during lockdown, and we do know that when flu has been circulating in very low numbers, immunity drops in the population, and it comes back to bite us. So flu can be really, really important this winter,” he warned.

06/17/2021 15:23 GMT — The delta variant of SARS-CoV-2

06/17/2021 14:41 GMT — CureVac experimental vaccine just 47% effective against COVID-19

Yesterday, CureVac announced the second interim analysis of data on its experimental COVID-19 mRNA vaccine — CVnCoV. The analysis used data from about 40,000 participants. According to the press release: “CVnCoV demonstrated an interim vaccine efficacy of 47% against COVID-19 disease of any severity and did not meet prespecified statistical success criteria.”

Find more vaccine updates here.

06/17/2021 11:33 GMT — France eases COVID-19 restrictions

On Wednesday, France eased a number of COVID-19 measures. People in France no longer need to wear face masks outside unless they are in crowded areas. Also, their 8-month-long curfew will be lifted this Sunday.

“It’s actually improving more rapidly that we had hoped for,” announced French Prime Minister Jean Castex. “My dear fellow citizens, I say it, I feel it: We are experiencing an important moment, a happy moment of return to a form of normal life again.”

To date, 58% of adults in France have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more live updates here.

06/17/2021 11:15 GMT — The delta variant of SARS-CoV-2: What do we know about it?

The delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to spread rapidly across many parts of the world. In a recent Special Feature, Medical News Today explains what we know so far.

Read the article here.

06/15/2021 11:40 GMT — Whose drinking habits changed during the pandemic?

Data from almost 32,000 alcohol users from 21 European countries from late April to late July 2020 indicate that drinking in Europe declined on average during the first months of the pandemic. However, drinkers from the United Kingdom stood out for reporting an increase in overall alcohol consumption.

A decline in the frequency of heavy episodic, or binge, drinking events likely drove the decrease in overall alcohol consumption, the study authors suggest.

Read the full story here.

06/15/2021 17:35 GMT — EU formally launches ‘Digital COVID certificate’

The European Commission has formally signed the legislation required to create a COVID-19 digital passport, called the “EU Digital COVID-19 certificate.”

As of July 1, citizens from the 27 EU member states will be able to use these certificates to prove their vaccination status, if they have previously had the virus and recovered, and the results of their latest PCR test.

Find out more about the story here and more about the digital certificate here.

06/15/2021 16:35 GMT — Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines highly effective against the Delta variant

A new analysis from Public Health England found that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are effective after two doses against the Delta variant of the new coronavirus.

The results stem from an analysis of 14,019 people who had contracted the Delta variant — 166 of whom were hospitalized — between April 12 and June 4, 2021. 

The analysis found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “is 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses” and that “the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalization after two doses.”

Read more here.

06/14/2021 13:25 GMT — India eases up pandemic restrictions as the UK delays end of lockdown amid rise in new cases

Authorities in New Delhi and elsewhere in India have announced that they are cautiously lifting some pandemic restrictions, as the country has reached the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in over 2 months.

On Monday, June 14, there were 70,421 new SARS-CoV-2 infections, which is the lowest daily increase in confirmed cases since the end of March.

In Delhi, all shops and malls may now reopen for business. Bars, gyms, salons, cinemas, and parks, on the other hand, must remain shut.

However, Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal cautioned: “If we see coronavirus cases are going up, we will have to reimpose strict restrictions.”

At the same time, in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely announce a delay in the full end of lockdown, which he had initially set for June 21.

Some restrictions may remain in place for several more weeks, following an increase in new COVID-19 cases. Some health experts attribute it to the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, which may be 60% more transmissible than the previous dominant strain.

“We’re continuing to look at the data, no final decision has been taken, and the right time to fill everybody in on what we’re going to do with … June the 21st is tomorrow,” Johnson told the press on Sunday, June 13.

06/14/2021 11:19 GMT — Is SARS-CoV-2 infection in pets more common than we thought?

According to a small new study from Brazil — whose results appear in PLOS ONE — more cats and dogs may be affected by SARS-CoV-2 infections than scientists had previously thought.

Looking at 29 dogs and 10 cats in various households, the study authors found that 31% of all the dogs and 40% of all the cats in the study tested positive for an infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Of the 13 animals that tested positive, six appeared to have mild symptoms, while the rest showed none.

Following these findings, the study authors advise that “[i]f a person inside the household becomes sick, [they should] isolate […] from everyone else, including pets.”

Read the full story here.

06/11/2021 14:29 GMT — Fainting and vaccination: What to know and what to do

Read more here.

06/11/2021 14:16 GMT — Pfizer vaccine neutralizes the delta SARS-CoV-2 variant

In a new paper, which appears in Nature, the authors conclude that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective against the delta, or B.1.617.2, SARS-CoV-2 variant, which scientists first identified in India. For their experiment, they used blood samples from people who had received two doses of the vaccine.

Read more about this study here.

06/11/2021 09:27 GMT — COVID-19: New study highlights potential role of diet

A new small study finds a link between diet and COVID-19 severity. The study is based on the experiences of doctors and nurses with heavy exposure to SARS-CoV-2. People whose diet was plant- or fish-based had a significantly lower risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Read MNT’s coverage of the study here.

06/11/2021 09:25 GMT — Vitamin D supplements may not protect against COVID-19

Vitamin D provides some protection against respiratory tract infections, and some observational studies have hinted that vitamin D supplements could help prevent COVID-19. However, newly published research that used gene variants to simulate a randomized clinical trial suggests that higher levels of vitamin D do not prevent COVID-19.

Read more here.

06/10/2021 11:44 GMT — US plans to donate 500 million vaccines to lower income countries

The United States government plans to give 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to low income countries and the African Union. The move comes as part of its role in the global COVAX alliance.

Find more live vaccine updates here.

06/09/2021 09:33 GMT — Real-world data: mRNA vaccines reduce risk of infection by 91%

A new analysis found that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines reduce the risk of a SARS-CoV-2 infection by 91% after two doses and by 81% after one dose. The results are based on data from 3,975 participants who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccine.

Read more here.

06/09/2021 09:11 GMT — Fainting and vaccination: What to know and what to do 

Many individuals — particularly adolescents — may experience fainting, dizziness, or nausea just before or shortly after a vaccination. Medical News Today gathered tips on what adults can do to prepare for their own vaccination experience and how parents and caregivers can support their children. 

Read the feature here

06/09/2021 08:55 GMT — COVID-19 lockdowns saw increased screen time and sleep problems 

Researchers found that increased use of screens during COVID-19 lockdowns, particularly before bedtime, negatively affected sleep quality. On the other hand, people who reduced their screen time in the 2 hours before bed reported improved sleep quality.

Find out more about the study here.

06/08/2021 13:08 GMT — China approves Sinovac vaccine for emergency use in 3-year-olds

In recent days, the Chinese health authorities have approved the emergency use of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 3 years old. The Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available for people aged 3–17 years, said Yin Weidong, the company’s CEO and founder.

Read the story in full here.

06/08/2021 13:00 GMT — Treating COVID-19: Are we overusing antimicrobials?

New research underscores the importance of antimicrobial stewardship — that is, guidance on the effective use of antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics — in COVID-19 patient care.

The study confirms that bacterial coinfections were rare among people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the first wave of the pandemic, yet 85% of them received antimicrobials. This raises concerns about fostering antimicrobial resistance, which is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time.

“Given the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, particularly during its early stages, when […] the role of possible coinfections [was] unknown, it is unsurprising that doctors would prescribe antimicrobials,” says Dr. Antonia Ho, co-author of the new study. 

“However, we now know that bacterial coinfection is uncommon in patients with community-acquired COVID-19.” Since “antimicrobial resistance remains one of the biggest public health challenges of our time, measures to combat it are essential,” stress the authors.

Such measures include limiting antimicrobial use in the absence of a confirmed diagnosis upon hospital admission, choosing antimicrobials that would target only likely pathogens, and encouraging physicians to discontinue antimicrobials if tests show no bacterial infection and if the risk of coinfection is deemed very low.

You can read the full story here.

06/07/2021 11:15 GMT — ‘Black fungus’ and COVID-19: Myths and facts

In India, COVID-19 has associations with an increase in cases of mucormycosis, a serious fungal infection also known as “black fungus.”

This infection can be life-threatening, and many people have wondered about its causes, effects, and treatments.

Various myths have been circulating about it also, such as the false claim that the infection can pass on from person to person, that face masks can harbor the fungus that causes it, or that black mold that forms on onions and garlic is the mucormycosis-causing fungus.

Read our Special Feature that addresses these and other myths.

06/04/2021 15:20 GMT — How does the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine work?

Read Medical News Today‘s full article on Sputnik V here.

06/04/2021 12:00 GMT — UK approves Pfizer shot for children aged 12–15

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), in the United Kingdom, has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12–15-year-olds. According to the MHRA, the decision comes following “a rigorous review of the safety, quality, and effectiveness of the vaccine in this age group.”

MHRA’s chief executive, Dr. June Raine, says, “We have carefully reviewed clinical trial data in children aged 12–15 years and have concluded that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.”

She continues: “We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved COVID-19 vaccines, and this surveillance will include the 12–15-year age group. No extension to an authorization would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness have been met.”

Read more about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine here.

06/04/2021 10:32 GMT — Vaccinating children ‘not a high priority’

According to Dr. Kate O’Brien, a vaccine expert who works with the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccinating children against COVID-19 is “not a high priority” in the face of vaccine shortages. Dr. O’Brien explained that “[c]hildren are at [a] very, very low risk of actually getting [COVID-19].”

Read more on this story here.

06/03/2021 11:37 GMT — Restrictions are easing up, but should you ease up on hygiene practices?

As several countries gradually ease restrictions, it is important that individuals do not leave behind their commitment to good hygiene practices. In a recent feature, Medical News Today spoke with health experts to find out why.

Read the feature here.

06/03/2021 09:49 GMT — Urban crime dropped globally during pandemic

According to a new study, which appears in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, urban crime rates fell during COVID-19 restrictions. The authors investigated this effect in 27 cities across 23 countries in the Americas, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

Across all 27 cities, the authors found that daily assaults fell by an average of 35%. Similarly, robberies fell by an average of 46%.

Overall, the authors conclude, “Our findings show that the stay-at-home policies were associated with a considerable drop in urban crime but with substantial variation across cities and types of crime.”

Senior author, Prof. Manuel Eisner, director of the Violence Research Centre at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, explains some of the reasons behind this effect:

“City living has been dramatically curtailed by COVID-19, and crime is a big part of city life. […] No drinkers spilling into the streets after nights out at bars and pubs. No days spent in shops and cafés or at the racetrack or football match. Some cities even introduced curfews. It choked the opportunism that fuels so much urban crime.”

06/03/2021 09:23 GMT — China gave 100 million COVID-19 injections in 5 days

Despite a slow start, China is ramping up its vaccine rollout. Over just 5 days in May, it provided 100 million people with a COVID-19 injection. Chinese officials aim to vaccinate 80% of the country’s 1.4 billion residents by the end of 2021.

Read more on this story here.

06/02/2021 12:05 GMT — Nearly half of people who needed hospital care for COVID-19 have lasting health issues

A new study found that 45% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic were still experiencing related health issues after being discharged. The research analyzed the medical charts of 288 people hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and April 2020.

Almost 20% of the patients could no longer live independently after being discharged from the hospital.

Read our full analysis of the study here.

06/02/2021 12:01 GMT — WHO authorizes Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine

On June 1, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued Emergency Use Listing for the Sinovac CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine. According to the WHO’s data analysis, CoronaVac prevented symptomatic disease in 51% of vaccinated individuals and hospitalization in 100% of cases. 

Read more here.

06/01/2021 12:31 GMT — Peru COVID-19 death toll is now the highest in the world per capita, revised data indicate

As of Monday, May 31, Peru’s official death toll due to COVID-19 had almost tripled, reaching 180,764 deaths, compared with the 69,342 deaths reported the previous day.

This is a rate of more than 500 deaths per 100,000 people, which means that Peru now has the highest COVID-19 death rate per capita in the world.

The data were initially publicized by Johns Hopkins University, which led Peruvian officials to revise and update their own information.

According to the officials, this discrepancy was due to insufficient testing, which made it unclear whether some of the deaths had been due to COVID-19 or other causes.

However, “we think it is our duty to make public this updated information,” Peru’s prime minister, Violeta Bermudez, commented during a press conference.

06/01/2021 11:35 GMT — WHO renames SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest and concern using ‘simple, easy to say and remember labels

On May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the decision to call SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest and concern by new and simple names using Greek letters.

According to the new labeling, B.1.1.7, the variant that scientists initially identified in the United Kingdom, is now the “Alpha” variant, while B.1.351, which emerged in South Africa, is now the “Beta” variant.

Similarly, P.1, the variant of concern that scientists identified in Brazil, is now labeled the “Gamma” variant, and B.1.617.2, which scientists first identified in India, is the “Delta” variant.

“These labels do not replace existing scientific names […], which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research,” the WHO press release clarifies.

However, the new labels will allow the media and the public to avoid referring to the variants by the names of the geographical locations where they first emerged. The hope is that this will prevent misunderstandings and discrimination.

“While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting. As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory. To avoid this and to simplify public communications, WHO encourages national authorities, media outlets and others to adopt these new labels,” the press release notes.

05/28/2021 11:10 GMT — California announces huge vaccine pay out

Californian officials have announced a $116.5 million pot of vaccine prize money. As the state plans to fully reopen in June, the officials hope that this incentive will entice the 12 million Californians who are eligible for a vaccine but have not yet been vaccinated.

Read more on this story here.

05/28/2021 09:42 GMT — Production of new COVID-19 vaccine to begin shortly

Yesterday, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline announced the imminent start of a phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial. The study will involve more than 35,000 adults from the United States, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. If the trial is successful, they expect the vaccine to be available toward the end of 2021.

Read more on this story here.

05/27/2021 10:38 GMT — Number of COVID-19 cases by country

  1. United States: 33,190,560
  2. India: 27,369,093
  3. Brazil: 16,274,695
  4. France: 5,683,143
  5. Turkey: 5,212,123

05/27/2021 09:58 GMT — Vaccine mix-up in India

In the Siddharthnagar district of India’s Uttar Pradesh state, healthcare workers gave 20 people two different vaccines for their first and second shots. They received Covishield (AstraZeneca) first, followed by Covaxin. According to Indian officials, there were no side effects.

Read more on this story here.

05/27/2021 09:31 GMT  — Vaccination may ease symptoms of long COVID

In the largest survey to date of vaccinated people with long COVID, 57% of respondents reported an overall improvement in their symptoms following vaccination, while 19% reported an overall deterioration. Possible explanations for improvements after vaccination include clearing the residual virus and restoring a healthy balance to the immune system.

Read more about the survey here.

05/27/2021 09:27 GMT — COVID-19 increases black fungus infection risk in India

Mucormycosis, or black fungus, is a rare but serious infection that requires medication or removal surgery. India is currently experiencing a significant rise in cases. In a recent article, Medical News Today looks at the links between COVID-19 and black fungus.

Read the article here.

05/26/2021 11:02 GMT — Moderna announces results of adolescent COVID-19 vaccine study

In a press release on Tuesday, Moderna announced that their mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA-1273) was safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 in adolescents aged 12–17. The company plans to submit the data to vaccine regulators in early June.

Find out more about Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine here.

05/26/2021 10:29 GMT — Report describes three cases of stroke following vaccination

Researchers in the United Kingdom present an analysis of three people who experienced a stroke after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, also called Covishield in India. Knowledge of who is likely to experience very rare side effects of this kind gives doctors a better chance to administer effective treatments, experts comment.

Read more here.

05/25/2021 15:00 GMT — CDC reports on the number of COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued their report on vaccine breakthrough infections between January 1 and April 30, 2021. 

As of April 30th, 2021, the CDC recorded a total of 10,262 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine breakthrough infections.

These infections are deemed as a breakthrough if they occur at least 14 days after people have received all their recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses. Scientists can identify a breakthrough infection by the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or antigen.

“Even though FDA-authorized vaccines are highly effective, breakthrough cases are expected, especially before population immunity reaches sufficient levels to further decrease transmission,” the report concludes.

Read the full story here.

05/25/2021 13:20 GMT — New COVID-19 cases drop to lowest levels in 11 months

New COVID-19 cases have plummeted to the lowest levels in almost a year across the United States, reports the Associated Press. The 7-day average of daily new cases has now dropped below 30,000, which is the lowest threshold since last June. 

Health officials and experts believe this is down to the nationwide vaccination efforts, whereby 60% of all U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and almost 50% have received both shots.

Read the full story here.

05/24/2021 15:02 GMT — Japan warns of hospital “system collapse” in Osaka due to COVID-19

The medical system in Osaka, one of Japan’s largest cities, is collapsing under the pressure of ever-rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, authorities have announced.

According to Yuji Tohda, the director of Kindai University Hospital in Osaka, “[t]he highly infectious British variant and slipping alertness have led to this explosive growth in the number of patients.”

The Osaka Prefecture registered 3,849 new COVID-19 positive tests last week, and hospitals cannot cope with the abrupt increase.

Only 14% of those with COVID-19 in the prefecture have been able to access hospital care.

Osaka health workers have warned that the pressure on the medical system is leading to a rapid collapse.

“Some of [the nurses] are racking up 100, 150, 200 hours of overtime, and that has been going on for a year now. […] When on duty, they sometimes go home at 1 or 2 in the morning and go to bed only to be awakened by a phone call at 3 or 4,” said Yasunori Komatsu, a union leader for community nurses.

05/24/2021 14:36 GMT — COVID-19 increases risk of new health conditions in significant number of people

A new study in the BMJ found that many people who become ill with COVID-19 may have a greater risk of developing a new health condition after their illness.

The study took into account the health records of over 200,000 participants from the United States.

Of these, 14% developed at least one new condition that required treatment after the acute phase of their COVID-19 illness.These include “cardiovascular, neurologic, kidney, respiratory, and mental health complications,” according to the study authors.

Read the story in full here.

05/21/2021 10:22 GMT — UK Prime Minister announces plan for ‘Global Pandemic Radar’

The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has announced a plan to set up a Global Pandemic Radar. This system will be designed to track new SARS-CoV-2 variants and other emerging diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) will help develop this “international pathogen surveillance network.”

According to a U.K. government press release, “The pathogen surveillance network will save lives and protect health systems by spotting diseases before they cause future pandemics and enabling the rapid development of vaccines, treatments, and tests.”

They believe that the Global Pandemic Radar will be operational by the end of 2021. According to Johnson:

“The world must never be caught unawares again by a virus spreading among us unchecked. We need to build a system of disease surveillance fit for the 21st century, with real-time data sharing and rapid genomic sequencing and response.”

Talking about the new system, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says: “The U.K. has set a strong example for pathogen surveillance and sequencing, as well as vaccine development. I am delighted that under P.M. Johnson, the U.K. will partner with WHO to contribute to stronger global surveillance and a safer world.”

05/21/2021 09:33 GMT — Japan approve Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines

As COVID-19 case numbers rise, Japanese officials have now approved the use of both the Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. The decision was announced just hours before the country rolled out extended restrictions for much of its territory. 

Read more on this story here

05/20/2021 09:36 GMT — China provides vaccines to multiple countries in Africa

The Chinese government has announced that it will provide vaccines to almost 40 African countries. According to Wu Peng, director of the foreign ministry’s Africa department, China is either providing the vaccines for free or selling them at “favorable prices.”

Read more on this story here.

05/20/2021 09:13 GMT — In Conversation: COVID-19, sleep trackers, and the immune system

For a recent article and associated podcast, Medical News Today spoke with a group of sleep experts. Among the topics covered, they discussed how COVID-19 has changed our sleep and how sleep professionals interact with their patients.

Read the article and find the podcast here.

05/19/2021 12:01 GMT — COVID-19 may reduce gray matter volume in brain, small study suggests 

Researchers found that people who required oxygen therapy for COVID-19 had lower gray matter volume in part of their brain. This was associated with agitation, suggesting grey matter reductions may underlie the mood changes that some recovered patients experience. 

However, the study was small, and scientists need to conduct more research to confirm the results.

Read our full coverage of the research here

05/19/2021 11:51 GMT — Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine: Should you worry about the side effects?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued an emergency use listing for the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine. According to its analysis, the most common side effects after vaccination were headaches, fatigue, and injection site reactions.

Read more in our dedicated COVID-19 vaccines blog here.

05/18/2021 16:00 GMT — More than 96% of UK adults develop antibodies after first vaccine dose

A yet-to-be peer reviewed study finds that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines trigger a high number of COVID-19 fighting antibodies after the first dose.

The research, which is “one of the earliest real-world vaccine studies in the U.K.,” according to its lead author Dr. Maddie Shrotri, found that 96.42% of people developed antibodies 28–34 days after receiving their first dose of either vaccine.

Find out more here.

05/18/2021 15:00 GMT — COVID-19 vaccine: What to do about side effects

A new MNT feature examines over-the-counter options and home remedies for side effects of COVID-19 vaccines. The feature also explains what ‘COVID arm’ is and recommends when to see a doctor or pharmacist.

Read it in full here.

05/17/2021 14:51 GMT — New report indicates some neurological issues are highly prevalent in COVID-19

A newly published report in JAMA Network Open suggests that people who develop COVID-19 frequently experience associated neurological issues.

According to the report, symptoms such as headaches and a loss of smell or taste are very common, but the most frequently clinically observed neurological symptom appears to be acute encephalopathy.

This refers to a disease that affects the structure or function of the brain. Acute encephalopathy occurred in 50% of the patients surveyed in this study.

Most worryingly, the report associates experiencing neurological issues due to COVID-19 with an increased risk of death during hospitalization.

Read the story in full here.

05/14/2021 13:17 GMT — B.1.617.2 variant surging in UK

As the United Kingdom begins to open up, concerns mount over the B.1.617.2 variant. According to Prof. Paul Hunter, who sits on a number of COVID-19 advisory committees for the World Health Organization (WHO), the variant is now in most regions of the U.K.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, there is “no firm evidence yet to show this variant has any greater impact on severity of disease or evades the vaccine.” However, some experts believe that it may be more transmissible.

The U.K.’s Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says that the government is considering reducing the gap between vaccine doses for people in areas where the variant is most prevalent.

As it stands, the U.K. will ease COVID-19 restrictions further on May 17 and then again on June 21. However, Prof. Hunter believes that this second easing “is in doubt.”

05/14/2021 10:12 GMT — New study investigates COVID-19 in children

Currently, there is little information about the symptoms and outcomes of children with SARS-CoV-2 infections. A study in Scientific Reports analyzed data from 12,306 children with lab-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections. It showed that only 25.1% of the children had at least one of the typical COVID-19 symptoms.

The authors found that 16.5% of the children experienced respiratory symptoms; 13.9% had gastrointestinal symptoms, which included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain; 8.1% had a rash; 4.8% experienced headache; and 18.8% had other nonspecific symptoms, such as fever, malaise, pain in the muscles or joints, and changes to their sense of smell or taste.

In this study population, just 5.5% (672 children) needed hospital care. Of those, 4.1% (38 children) needed mechanical ventilation.

Dr. Julian Tang is an honorary associate professor and clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study. He was surprised at the high rate of infections in children that were not associated with a fever, cough, or shortness of breath (74.9%).

He explains that earlier studies had reported lower levels of asymptomatic cases. For instance, one conducted in South Korea “found that 22% of 91 children were asymptomatically infected.” However, the participants in this study had been mostly recruited in hospitals.

Dr. Tang observes that the “higher atypical symptomatic proportion may well be explained by the fact that community (non-hospitalized) children are also included in the study [and that these children] are more representative of the majority of otherwise healthy children that are attending school, for example.”

He continues, “More importantly, these findings also raise concerns about the spread of the virus via infected children in society, when most may not exhibit typical COVID-19 symptoms.”

05/13/2021 11:34 GMT — Sri Lanka imposes travel ban

To address the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, officials in Sri Lanka have introduced a 3-day travel ban across the country. The ban will be in place from Thursday night until Monday morning. People who work in healthcare, food supply, and power services are exempt.

Anyone who is seeking healthcare will also be exempt, as will those who are traveling to the airport for air travel. This move adds to the existing bans on public gatherings and parties, school closures, and restrictions on public transport.

With a population of almost 22 million, Sri Lanka has registered 133,527 cases of COVID-19 and 850 deaths.

05/13/2021 11:00 GMT — More side effects after mixing COVID-19 vaccines?

A new study investigated giving the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the Pfizer vaccine 4 weeks later, or vice versa. This mixed vaccine schedule led to more frequent side effects after the second dose than giving the same vaccine both times.

Read more on this story here.

5/12/2021 13:11 GMT — Independent Panel says pandemic was a ‘preventable disaster’

In a damning report, The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response points to the systemic underfunding and lack of preparation to deal with infectious threats that allowed COVID-19 to become a pandemic.

The panel, which the World Health Organization (WHO) established, presented their report today, which included that “coordinated, global leadership was absent” as COVID-19 turned into a worldwide threat.

In response to these findings, the group makes a number of recommendations to address the immediate need not only for action to curb the pandemic but also for long-term measures to stop future pandemics.

Read more here.

5/11/2021 13:10 GMT — FDA extends the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTtech vaccine for emergency use in adolescents

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just extended the emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents aged 12–15 years. 

Commenting on the decision to extend the vaccine’s EUA to adolescents, Acting Commissioner of FDA Dr. Janet Woodcock, said: “Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine [EUAs].”

Find out more here.

05/10/2021 10:24 GMT — COVID-19 anxiety syndrome may be the pandemic phenomenon to reckon with

Some researchers have argued that a new mental health phenomenon is taking hold — that of COVID-19 anxiety syndrome.

The syndrome is defined as a fear of leaving one’s house because of the infection risk — even when the risk is minimal — frequent and compulsive symptom checking, and avoiding social situations or people.

“Some of the potential reasons why [this may happen] include high levels of exposure to social media and news, disruption to routines and anchors caused by lockdowns and restrictions, and difficulties disengaging from the threatening stimuli, including [virus] variants and the situation in other countries,” psychologist Lee Chambers told Medical News Today.

Read more about this topic here.

05/07/2021 15:26 GMT — COVID-19 vaccines: Straight answers to common questions

Read more here.

05/07/2021 09:27 GMT — US government agrees to waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines

Patents mean that other companies cannot produce generic versions of a pharmaceutical company’s drugs for a set amount of time — often 20 years.” However, in a surprise move, the United States government has announced its support of waiving patents for COVID-19 vaccines. Eventually, this could help boost supplies around the world.

Read more on this story here.

05/07/2021 08:48 GMT — Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: The side effects

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which is also known as mRNA-1273, is a two-dose vaccine to prevent the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2. In a recent feature, Medical News Today investigates the possible side effects and safety recommendations associated with this mRNA vaccine.

Read the article here.

05/06/2021 09:31 GMT — COVID-19 treatment: Hepatitis C drugs may enhance remdesivir

Although vaccines are now available for most of the world, a more successful treatment for COVID-19 is still necessary. A recent study finds that drugs already approved for treating hepatitis C might boost remdesivir’s effectiveness at reducing viral replication by “as much as 10-fold.”

Read more on this research here.