Nine Latin American countries so far have approved usage of the Sputnik V vaccine — Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela. Distribution of the vaccine has also begun in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela.
The vaccine has been approved in 39 countries around the world, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which handles the marketing of the vaccine.
Millions of doses of Sputnik V are already being produced each month at the Generium Pharmaceutical plant.
Millions of doses of Sputnik V are already being produced each month at the Generium Pharmaceutical plant.
The Sputnik V vaccine has a cheaper list price and can be stored at higher temperatures than the Pfizer vaccine, which has made it appealing to Latin American countries with less-developed economies and infrastructures. It requires two doses taken 21 days apart to be effective.
Argentina became the first Latin American country to distribute the Sputnik V vaccine in late December, with the purchase of up to 25 million doses. The country has already distributed over 600,000 doses.
Since then, Venezuela and Mexico both received shipments of 100,000 and 200,000, respectively, in early February. Nicaragua began distributing the vaccine on March 2 after receiving a donation of an undisclosed amount of doses.
As Russia struggles to keep up with demand, some countries have received only very small shipments. Bolivia received 20,000 Sputnik V doses in January, though it expects enough to eventually vaccinate 2.6 million people. Paraguay announced the purchase of one million doses, but has so far only received 4,000.
A nurse Injects the Sputnik V vaccine to the first doctor as part of the vaccination plan against COVID-19 at Hospital del Norte in El Alto, Bolivia. (Photo by Gaston Brito/Getty Images)
Russia has acknowledged the production squeeze and has considered launching regional production hubs in several countries, including Brazil, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Some interest has been expressed in producing the Sputnik V vaccine locally in Latin America. The RDIF recently announced an agreement with Argentina’s Richmond Laboratories to begin producing the vaccine in the country, though it has not yet provided a timeframe for delivery.
Experts have repeatedly voiced concern over transparency around Sputnik’s testing and its accelerated authorization in Russia. However, the vaccine was found 91.6% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 and 100% effective against severe and moderate disease, in an interim analysis of the vaccine’s Phase 3 trial results published in The Lancet.
Reporting contributed by Mitchell McCluskey in Atlanta, Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota, Tatiana Arias in Atlanta and Tim Lister in Spain.
President Jair Bolsonaro has told Brazilians to “stop whining” about Covid-19, as he criticised measures to curb the virus despite a surge in cases and deaths.
His comments came a day after Brazil saw a record rise in deaths over a 24-hour period.
Brazil is facing its worst phase of the pandemic yet, leaving its health system in crisis.
In response some cities and states have imposed their own restrictions.
Brazil’s health ministry says more than 260,000 people have died with Covid-19, the second-highest pandemic death toll in the world after the US.
On Thursday, another 1,699 deaths were added to that tally, a slight decrease on Wednesday’s record 1,910. Meanwhile, a further 75,102 cases of coronavirus were reported, the second-highest daily rise on record.
The explosion of cases has been attributed to the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus thought to have originated in the Amazon city of Manaus.
Yet on Thursday Mr Bolsonaro continued to downplay the threat posed by the virus.
“Stop whining. How long are you going to keep crying about it?” Mr Bolsonaro said at an event. “How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution.”
What reaction has there been to President Bolsonaro’s comments?
The comments were met with a furious response from São Paulo’s governor, João Doria, who has been particularly scathing of Mr Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Doria called President Bolsonaro “a crazy guy” for attacking “governors and mayors who want to buy vaccines and help the country to end this pandemic”.
“How can we face the problem, seeing people die every day? The health system in Brazil is on the verge of collapse,” Mr Doria said
President Bolsonaro has consistently opposed quarantine measures introduced by governors, arguing that the collateral damage to the economy will be worse than the effects of the virus itself.
“Unfortunately, Brazil has to fight, at this moment, two viruses: the coronavirus and Bolsonaro virus. This is a sadness for the Brazilians,” Mr Doria said.
What measures are cities and states introducing?
Concerned about the strain on hospitals, mayors and state governors have taken matters into their own hands in recent days.
Rio de Janeiro is the latest city to announce a partial lockdown, placing restrictions on bars, restaurants and beaches.
The measures, which will take effect on Friday for one week, will require bars and restaurants to shut early and suspend commercial activity on the city’s famed beaches.
The measures come after São Paulo state – Brazil’s largest, with 46 million people – declared a “code red” situation, ordering non-essential businesses closed for two weeks starting Saturday.
Frustrated state governors announced on Tuesday that they would join forces to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers rather than wait for the federal government to deliver them.
Brazil, the worst-affected country by Covid in Latin America, has lagged behind in its roll-out of Covid vaccines.
The new variant, named P.1, was first detected in people who had travelled from Manaus to Japan in January. The researchers studying it think it first emerged in Manaus in early November and has been spreading there quickly since.
Their data – which is still preliminary – suggests that the P.1 variant could be up to twice as transmittable as the original version of the virus.
It also suggests that the new variant could evade immunity built up by having had the original version of Covid. They put the chance of reinfection at between 25% and 60%.
Manaus, in the Amazon region, was one of the hardest hit cities in the first wave of the pandemic.
The Italian government approached the European Commission last week to say that it was its intention to block the shipment.
In a statement on Thursday, the foreign ministry explained the move, saying it had received the request for authorisation on 24 February.
It said that previous requests had been given the green light as they included limited numbers of samples for scientific research, but the latest one – being much larger, for more than 250,000 doses – was rejected.
It explained the move by saying that Australia was not on a list of “vulnerable” countries, that there was a permanent shortage of vaccines in the EU and Italy, and that the number of doses was high compared with the amount given to Italy and to the EU as a whole.
What does Australia say?
“Australia has raised the issue with the European Commission through multiple channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
Australia said it had already received a shipment of 300,000 doses and planned to begin local production next month.
“Domestic production starts with 1 million [doses] per week of deliveries from late March and is on track,” Mr Hunt said.
“This [Italy] shipment was not factored into our distribution plan for coming weeks.”
Summary (Guardian (UK)
Hello to those just joining me here on the global coronavirus live blog.
Here are some of the main stories we’ve seen so far:
Australia to expand quarantine facility amid fears of Covid vaccine disruption. The Australian government has played down fears the vaccine rollout could be disrupted by Italy’s move to block exports to Australia, and has flagged plans to expand the Howard Springs quarantine facility for returning travellers by May.
WHO to scrap interim report on virus origins – report. The Wall Street Journal reports that a World Health Organization team investigating Covid’s origins is planning to scrap an interim report on its recent mission to China amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new inquiry.
Japan to extend Tokyo state of emergency. The Japanese government plans to extend a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures to combat Covid until March 21, two weeks longer than originally scheduled, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.
Australia says Italy’s block on AstraZeneca vaccine frustrating but not crucial. The Australian government on Friday expressed frustration at Italy’s decision to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, but stressed it would not affect the rollout of Australia’s inoculation program.
China pledges to develop vaccines to cope with major infectious disease, part of its flurry of efforts to boost the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector, the government said on Friday in its development plan for 2021-2025.
Clea Skopeliti’s UK Covid live blog is now up and running. You can follow that here:
Paris will not be put under weekend lockdowns, the French prime minister, Jean Castex, announced at his weekly Covid-19 round-up on Thursday evening, reports the Guardian’s Paris correspondent, Kim Willsher.
The news came as a relief to Parisians, who feared they were heading for yet another restriction after the city and surrounding areas became one of more than 20 French departments on high alert following a rise in coronavirus contaminations and deaths. City mayor Anne Hidalgo had vigorously argued against a weekend lockdown, saying it was “inhumane” not to allow residents, many of them living in small flats, to spend time outside.
Nice, in the south of France, and Dunkirk, in the north, remain under weekend lockdown, which has been extended to the department around the Channel port.
The whole of France remains under a daily 6pm to 6am curfew.
Castex also announced a speeding up of France’s much-criticised vaccine rollout with pharmacies being allowed to vaccinate from 15 March. Vaccines will even be administered at weekends, he said, in the hope of getting 30 million French people inoculated by the summer.
However, there is concern that only 40% of France’s health workers have been vaccinated, despite having been eligible for the jab for weeks. French media reported that president Emmanuel Macron had suggested it be made obligatory for health workers, but Castex and the French health minister, Olivier Véran, stopped short of this and urged those in the health sector to get vaccinated to protect “themselves, their families and the people they care for”.
Castex warned another lockdown was “not inevitable” but also not ruled out if the situation worsens.
During a council of ministers meeting on Thursday – the equivalent to a Cabinet meeting in the UK – Macron was reported to have had a dig at the sluggish pace of vaccinations in France that has seen millions of doses still unused, telling ministers: “You’re great, but as long as there are vaccines sitting in fridges, I’m not locking people down again.”
Some people with asthma have been ‘refused’ the Covid-19 vaccine
People with asthma who are eligible for a coronavirus vaccine are being refused it by some GPs against government guidance, the BBC reports:
An NHS England letter sent to GPs in mid-February says people who have “ever had an emergency asthma admission” to hospital fall into priority group six, which is currently being vaccinated.But some patients are being told a hospital admission within the past 12 months is required.
The Royal College of GPs say they look at various factors including age and ethnicity, as well as some degree of clinical judgement.
The main UK story from overnight this morning is that Cyprus will allow British tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 into the country without restrictions from 1 May.
Visitors would need to be inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the second dose of a vaccine should be administered at the latest seven days before travel. Authorities would still reserve the right to carry out random tests on arrivals.
South Africa is in negotiations with the African Union (AU) for Covid-19 vaccines for at least 10 million people, a top health official said on Friday.
Reuters: Sandile Buthelezi, Department of Health director-general, said the government was seeking to conclude an agreement with the AU, Afreximbank and the Serum Institute of India over AstraZeneca vaccine doses it is selling to other African countries.
About 18 African countries would benefit from those doses, he added.7
Moldova has become the first European country to receive Covid-19 vaccines from the global Covax scheme, according to the nation’s president Maia Sandu.
France’s health minister has said the country could block overseas exports of Covid vaccines, following a similar move from Italy.
Asked by BFM TV if France could follow Italy’s move on this, Olivier Véran replied: “We could.”
On Thursday, the EU blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca’s vaccine destined for Australia after the drug manufacturer failed to meet its EU contract commitments.
But Scott Morrison insisted the blocked shipment of the AstraZeneca jabs was understandable and would not affect Australia’s vaccine programme.
“This particular shipment was not one we’d counted on for the rollout, and so we will continue unabated,” Morrison said.
issued 14 days quarantine rules for US citizens entering the US from China (mandatory if entering from the Hubei province).
issued an order to deny entry to foreigners who have traveled to China within the past two weeks.
On January 30, the novel coronavirus total case count surpassed that for SARS (which affected 8,096 people worldwide).
On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a Global Public Health Emergency.
On January 30 CDC confirmed the first US case of human to human transmission.
Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the United States have reported cases in patients who didn’t personally visit China, but contracted the virus from someone else who had visited Wuhan, China. These cases of human to human transmission are the most worrisome, according to the WHO.
Wuhan (the city where the virus originated) is the largest city in Central China, with a population of over 11 million people. The city, on January 23, shut down transport links. Following Wuhan lock down, the city of Huanggang was also placed in quarantine, and the city of Ezhou closed its train stations. This means than 18 million people have been placed in isolation. The World Health Organization (WHO) said cutting off a city as large as Wuhan is “unprecedented in public health history.” and praised China for its incredible commitment to isolate the virus and minimize the spread to other countries.
How dangerous is the virus?
There are three parameters to understand in order to assess the magnitude of the risk posed by this novel coronavirus:
The attack rate or transmissibility (how rapidly the disease spreads) of a virus is indicated by its reproductive number (Ro, pronounced R-nought or r-zero), which represents the average number of people to which a single infected person will transmit the virus.
WHO’s estimated (on Jan. 23) Ro to be between 1.4 and 2.5. 
Other studies have estimated a Ro between 3.6 and 4.0, and between 2.24 to 3.58. .
Preliminary studies had estimated Ro to be between 1.5 and 3.5.
An outbreak with a reproductive number of below 1 will gradually disappear.
For comparison, the Ro for the common flu is 1.3 and for SARS it was 2.0.
Fatality Rate (case fatality ratio or CFR) of the Wuhan Coronavirus
The novel coronavirus’ case fatality rate has been estimated at around 2%, in the WHO press conference held on January 29, 2020  . However, it noted that, without knowing how many were infected, it was too early to be able to put a percentage on the mortality rate figure.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 (estimated ranges vary from 2-10 days, 2-14 days, and 10-14 days, see details), during which the virus is contagious but the patient does not display any symptom (asymptomatic transmission).
According to early estimates by China’s National Health Commission (NHC), about 80% of those who died were over the age of 60 and 75% of them had pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
The median age of cases detected outside of China is 45 years, ranging from 2 to 74 years.
71% of cases were male.
A study of 138 hospitalized patients with NCIP found that the median age was 56 years (interquartile range, 42-68; range, 22-92 years) and 75 (54.3%) were men.
The WHO, in its Myth busters FAQs, addresses the question: “Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?” by answering that:
People of all ages can be infected by the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
Patient who died in the Philippines was a 44-year old male
The patient who died in the Philippines on February 2, in what was the first death occurring outside of China, was a 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan who was admitted on Jan. 25 after experiencing fever, cough, and sore throat, before developing severe pneumonia. In the last few days, “the patient was stable and showed signs of improvement, however, the condition of the patient deteriorated within his last 24 hours resulting in his demise.” according to the Philippine Department of Health.
Serious Cases of 30 year old patients in France
As of Jan. 29, according to French authorities, the conditions of the two earliest Paris cases had worsened and the patients were being treated in intensive care, according to French authorities. The patients have been described as a young couple aged 30 and 31 years old, both Chinese citizens from Wuhan who were asymptomatic when they arrived in Paris on January 18 .
Age and Sex of the first deaths as reported by the China National Health Commission (NHC)
The NHC reported the details of the first 17 deaths up to 24 pm on January 22, 2020. The deaths included 13 males and 4 females. The median age of the deaths was 75 (range 48-89) years.