• During the first two weeks of the new year, nearly 40,000 people in the US died from COVID-19; the CDC predicts that over 90,000 more may perish by the end of the month. Source
• BMJ publishes interim results from the Siren study, which is looking at immunity to, and reinfection with coronavirus among 20,787 healthcare workers. It reported that antibodies – which provided an 83% protection rate from reinfection- lasted for at least five months. Notably, the study cautioned that some people who are protected by antibodies still carry high levels of coronavirus – and could infect others. Source
• The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team announced that the African Union has secured 270 million coronavirus vaccine doses, from Pfizer, AstraZeneca (via India’s Serum Institute) and J & J. At least 50 million doses will be available as of April 2021. Source
• Israel’s Ministry of Health releases preliminary data on effectiveness of the first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine gathered from people who were tested for COVID-19. By two weeks after vaccination, the infection rate dropped by 50 percent among people who received a dose of vaccine. In addition, two doctors released their own preliminary figures, indicating that two weeks after the first vaccine dose, infections were reduced by 33 to 60 percent. Source https://www.timesofisrael.com/how-well-does-the-vaccine-work-israels-real-world-stats-can-be-globes-guide/
Russia announces that it plans to apply for EU approval of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in February. Source
• Human Rights Watch issues a report accusing Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, of multiple violations, including his attempts to “… sabotage efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil,” saying that he “… refused to take measures to protect himself and the people around him; disseminated misleading information; and tried to block states from imposing social distancing rules. His administration attempted to withhold Covid-19 data from the public. He fired his health minister for defending World Health Organization recommendations, and the replacement health minister quit in opposition to the president’s advocacy of an unproven drug to treat Covid-19.” Sources 1,2
• After Lebanon’s minister of health, Hamad Hasan, was hospitalized with COVID-19, the nation imposed stricter measures- including a 24-hour curfew until 25 January and groceries by delivery only – to stop a surge in coronavirus infections. Source
• China reports its first death from coronavirus in nine months. Source
• In the US, the CDC has confirmed 75 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant. Source
• Two WHO researchers traveling to China to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2 test positive for antibodies to coronavirus in Singapore, where they await further testing. Source