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Covid pandemic — EMA approves sites for Pfizer, Moderna shots & SA youth fight vaccine hesitancy

ThePrint brings you some important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic.

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New Delhi: As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise across the world, crossing 21 crore globally, and the number of Covid related deaths having crossed 44 lakh, the focus is on vaccinations and how it’s being administered by the countries.

Though vaccinations are not a foolproof safeguard against infections, according to experts, they protect from severe illness, hospitalisations and death from Covid.

From new countries to be covered under the EU’s Covid vaccination passport gateway, to recommendations in the US for younger overweight adults to be screened for diabetes amid concerns of comorbidities, to South Africa battling vaccine hesitancy, ThePrint brings you some of the important global stories on the pandemic.

Also read: WHO Covid database has many ‘dodgy journals’, 70 papers are by Indians

EMA approves fresh sites for manufacturing vaccines

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), Europe’s medicines regulator, has approved additional manufacturing sites for the mRNA Covid vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, to boost production as the region sees an uptick in cases, Reuters reported Tuesday.

According to the report, the EMA has approved a site in France, at Saint Remy sur Avre for manufacturing of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Comirnaty, meant for those aged 12 and above. It has also approved a new manufacturing line at BioNTech’s site in Germany.

The EMA has also given a go-ahead for an additional site for the Moderna vaccine at Bloomington in Indiana, United States, and other locations for testing and packaging. The Bloomington site is operated by a contract drug manufacturer.

The medicines regulator clarified that the recommendations did not require any decision by the European Commission and therefore the sites could become operational immediately.

The European Union was trying to boost and protect supplies after a slow start to the vaccination campaign by paying more for new Covid shots and bringing facilities online.

Also read: Covid vaccine efficacy dropped to 66% as delta variant became dominant, says US CDC

Overweight adults should be screened for diabetes at 35, experts say

The US Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that overweight adults be screened for type 2 diabetes and abnormally high blood sugar levels as early as 35, according to a report in The New York Times. This is five years sooner than the age currently advised for screenings.

The US Preventive Services Task Force makes recommendations for preventive services that insurance companies should cover under the Affordable Care Act in the US.

Almost one in seven adults in the US has diabetes, which is the highest rate on record, a recent study found. This is particularly alarming considering the fact that diabetes is a comorbidity that increases the risk of a Covid infection turning serious, leading to hospitalisation, or even death.

“The Covid epidemic is really important, but we also have an epidemic of diabetes and pre-diabetes driven by the epidemic of obesity and lack of exercise,” said Dr. Michael J. Barry, the vice chair of the task force that directs the informed medical decisions programme at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In July 2021, a study by the US government found that 40 per cent of people in the United States who died due to Covid-19 had type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Chief scientist of the American Diabetes Association Dr. Robert Gabbay said the figure was sobering and should prompt more people to get vaccinated. To give a better picture he explained that two out of five people in the US who died due to Covid had diabetes.

Also read: AstraZeneca antibody cocktail prevents Covid in high-risk groups, study finds

Volunteer groups in South Africa tackle vaccine hesitancy

Youth volunteer groups in South Africa have taken on the responsibility of combatting vaccine hesitancy in the country, the main reason for low vaccination rates, reported Voice of America. According to the report, only 20 per cent of the country’s population have received the first vaccine dose.

One volunteer group which is working against the problem is the Muslim Association of South Africa, which is delivering shots at people’s doorsteps. The association has launched an at-home vaccination programme to allay concerns and remove barriers of travelling to a clinic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa applauded the country’s youth Monday for rushing to the vaccine sites.

One of the volunteers Muhammad Varaicha said, “I think it’s just a misconception, people reading on social media, people hearing from different people that is bad for you, that it’s man-made. How can we create a vaccine in a year, etc, etc. So, there’s a lot of hesitancy that we’ve come across, but we put their fears to bed.”

Also reading:

Israel’s 20% Unvaccinated Now Account for Half of All Serious Covid-19 Cases: Haaretz

Covid jab response low for some immunosuppressed people: BBC

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