The Biden administration announces how it plans to allocate 55 million vaccine doses worldwide, Gilead releases new evidence on remdesivir's effectiveness in preventing deaths from Covid-19, and more in this week's roundup of Covid-19 news.
- Ambassadors from the European Union earlier this month agreed to add more countries to the approved EU travel list, including the United States, Taiwan, Serbia, and Lebanon. Citizens, regardless of vaccination status, from countries on the list will be able to visit EU countries for non-essential travel. However, even with restrictions lifted, individual EU governments can still require travelers to quarantine or be tested. Some European countries, such as Greece and France, have already lifted restrictions for U.S. travelers (Eccles, Politico, 6/16).
- Gilead announced that new research finds the company's antiviral drug remdesivir, which is marketed under the brand name Veklury, is effective in reducing deaths in adults hospitalized with Covid-19 and shortening hospital stay duration. The research included three studies that examined 98,654 hospitalized patients. One of the studies, based on claims data, found that patients treated with the drug had a 23% lower risk of death. A second study found that the drug significantly reduced mortality risk, and the third study—a Phase 3 clinical trial—found the drug reduced mortality risk by 54% and shortened time until discharge. FDA originally authorized remdesivir for use in October 2020 (Vinlaun, MedCity News, 6/21; Adams, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/21).
- The Biden administration on June 21 specified where it would deliver the next 55 million doses of the 80 million Covid-19 vaccine doses it has promised to distribute to other nations. Around 41 million doses will be shared through the COVAX program, which aims to equitably distribute vaccines around the world, going to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Another 14 million doses will be shared outside the COVAX program to target regions with virus surges, such as Colombia, Argentina, Vietnam, Iraq, and the Philippines. However, the administration—which has already shipped out an initial 25 million doses—said it likely would fall short of its goal to deliver all 80 million doses by the end of June, largely because of regulatory and logistical issues. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said while there is enough vaccine supply, organizing and sending everything out is "a Herculean logistical challenge" (Sullivan, The Hill, 6/21; LaFraniere/Slotnik, New York Times, 6/21; AP/Modern Healthcare, 6/21; Paun, Politico, 6/21; Adams, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/21).
- A new study from the University of Miami analyzed the effect of vaccination on men's fertility. For the study, researchers analyzed the sperm volume, concentration, motility, and total sperm count of 45 healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 50 both before and after their first vaccine dose and found no significant changes. The results are in line with health experts' expectations for the Covid-19 vaccines, USA Today reports (Rodriguez, USA Today, 6/21).