Vaccines against COVID-19 and prior infections with the coronavirus could provide immunity against other coronaviruses, according to a new study, The study by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago was published on Friday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study could lead to a re-evaluation of a universal coronavirus vaccine, according to researcher Pablo Penaloza-MacMaster, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Grand Mosque in Mecca has lifted its social distancing measures, allowing worshipers to pray in the tight rows that used to be ubiquitous at the site when it was at full capacity. The measures were first eased on Sunday,along with the removal of markings on the floor that have guided the social distancing measures since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors must wear masks in the mosque and must show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter. THe relaxing of restrictions due to the coronavirus were eased on Sunday following a large drop in new infections and the large numbers of vaccinated people.
The United States announced that it will open its borders with Canada and Mexico beginning next month for those who are fully vaccinated. The travelers must provide proof of vaccination, according to Tuesday’s announcement. Restrictions on overseas travel to the United States due to the coronavirus are also expected to be lifted soon for fully vaccinated tourists, according to reports. The restrictions had applied to nonessential travel, including tourism or family visits. Essential travelers, including truck drivers and students, have been allowed to enter the US. Begining in January these essential travelers also will be required to present proof of vaccination.
The Brooklyn Nets announced that National Basketball Association star Kyrie Irving will not be able to train or play with the team until he is vaccinated against the coronavirus. New York City, where the team practices and plays, has imposed a vaccine mandate, requiring people entering stadiums, casinos and museums to be vaccinated. The team decided that Irving cannot play with them in games outside of the city, in addition to the 41 home games. He will lose about $380,000 per game that he does not play. Irving has not said why he has refused to take the vaccine. “Kyrie has made a personal choice and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability,” Nets General Manager Sean Marks said.
New Zealand has announced a new vaccine mandate that will require most healthcare workers and teachers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, by December and January respectively. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Monday. Ardern also announced the extension by a week of the lockdown on Auckland, the country’s largest city, after 35 new cases were reported. Auckland has been under lockdown since mid-August. Some 57% of eligible citizens have been vaccinated, with officials promising to end lockdowns once that number reaches 90%.
The US pharmaceutical company Merck has requested emergency authorization for its pill to treat less serious cases of the coronavirus. Molnupiravir is an experimental pill to treat mild-to-moderate cases of the coronavirus, and according to Merck, is shown to reduce hospitalization due to the coronavirus by 50% in early trials. Merck made the request to the US Food and Drug Administration on Monday. Merck said it would submit applications for emergency use or marketing authorization to regulatory agencies around the world. Merck says it plans to produce 10 million courses of the treatment by the end of 2021.
Johnson & Johnson has asked the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 booster shot. The company has announced on Tuesday that it asked the US drug regulators to authorize use of the boosters for people ages 18 and older who have received the company’s vaccine, a one-shot vaccine. The request comes after the FDA authorized a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for people over the age of 65, at risk for severe disease, or who are regularly exposed to the coronavirus. Johnson & Johnson submitted data from a late-stage study that found a booster given 56 days after the first dose provided 94% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 in the US and 100% protection against severe disease at least 14 days after the booster shot. It plans to submit the data to other regulators, such as the World Health Organization and National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups.
Clinical trials of Israel’s domestic vaccine, called Brilife, show that is is at least 80% effective in fighting the coronavirus, Israel’s Channel 12 reported. The vaccine, which requires two shots, was created by the governmental Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona in central Israel. Phase IIb/III trials are currently taking place in Georgia and Ukraine after first being trialed in Israel. The BriLife vaccine is a live-virus inoculation. Efforts to develop the vaccine reportedly slowed after Israel procured enough Pfizer vaccines for the country’s population. The NRx Pharmaceuticals company ios now working to fully test the vaccine and sell it commercially.
New Zealand will now require visitors to the country over the age of 17 to be fully vaccinated to enter the country, its minister for COVID-19 response announced on Sunday. In addition the country’s national airline, Air New Zealand, announced that it will require all passengers on international flights to be fully vaccinated as of February 1. Only 27 people hve died in the country of the virus, due to its closure of birders and lockdowns. The city of Auckland in New Zealand has been underlockdown for more than six weeks due to an outbreak of the delta variant.
There have been more than 700,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the United States, according to figures released by Johns Hopkins University. The figure was reached late on Friday. More than 1,000 people are still dying each day from the virus, according to the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention; this despite the fact that over 55% of the population is fully vaccinated and vaccines are available to anyone over the age of 12.