COVID-19 Timeline: June 2021

June 2, 2022

At Bioethics.com we have kept up with the spread of COVID-19 and the related bioethical questions that this pandemic brings. The posts that follow highlights news from June 2021 and were originally posted at Bioethics.com. These posts focus on the bioethical issues that medical professionals, bioethicists, public health officials, and scientists grappled with as SARS-CoV-2 swept the globe.

June 1: “Covid-19 Prevention Measures Are Keeping Childhood Diseases Like Chickenpox at Bay” by Peter Landers and Miho Inada, The Wall Street Journal

“The disinfecting and hand-washing that became common during the Covid-19 pandemic have also served as powerful tools against a host of childhood ailments such as chickenpox, stomach viruses and strep throat, recent data suggest.”

June 1: “Covid: Zero Daily Deaths Announced in UK for First Time” by Ella Willis, BBC

The UK has announced zero daily Covid deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the first time since March 2020. The latest figures also reported another 3,165 new cases, compared with 3,383 on Monday and 2,493 one week ago. It comes amid concern over a recent small rise in cases linked to the variant first identified in India.

June 1: “Coronavirus Variants Get Greek Names—But Will Scientists Use Them?” by Ewen Callaway, Nature

When researchers in South Africa spotted a highly mutated strain of coronavirus driving the country’s second wave in late 2020, they called it variant 501Y.V2. Naming schemes developed by other scientists have called it B.1.351, 20H/501Y.V2 and GH/501Y.V2. But many media outlets — and some scientists — describe the same virus as ‘the South African variant’.

June1: “Despite Vaccines, Nursing Homes Struggle with Outbreaks” by Susan Haigh, Associated Press

COVID-19 vaccines have allowed nursing homes in the U.S. to make dramatic progress since the dark days of the pandemic, but senior care facilities are still experiencing scattered outbreaks that are largely blamed on unvaccinated staff members.

June 2: “Immunocompromised People Turn to Covid-19 Vaccine Booster Shots” by Joe Barrett, The Wall Street Journal

Some are taking a third shot to try to jar their immune systems into generating the antibodies that protect them from the virus. Others are considering modifying their immunosuppressants in consultation with their doctors in hopes another shot will be effective.

June 2: “Federal Gov’t Says Employers Can Offer Vaccine Incentives” by Rebecca Rainey, Politico

Employers can offer incentives to their employees to get the coronavirus vaccine without running afoul of federal anti-discrimination law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said on Friday.

June 2: “Texas Hospital Workers Sue Over Vaccine Mandates” by Brenda Goodman, Medscape

A group of 117 people who work at the Houston Methodist Health System has filed a lawsuit against the medical center, objecting to its policy of requiring employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.

June 3: “COVID-19 Cases Hit Lowest Point in U.S. Since Pandemic Began” by Same Baker and Andrew Witherspoon,  Axios

The official case counts haven’t been this low since Americans went into lockdown in March last year — when the pandemic was still new, no one knew how long this would go on, and inadequate testing meant that cases were undercounted.

June 3: “Alarm in Africa: Virus Surges, Vaccines Grind to ‘Near Halt’” by Gerald Imray, Associated Press

COVID-19 vaccine shipments have ground to “a near halt” in Africa while virus cases have spiked 20% over the last two weeks, the World Health Organization said Thursday, a bleak scenario for the continent on both those critical fronts.

June 3: “Developed Countries Lock Up Covid-19 Vaccines Through 2023” by Jared S. Hopkins, The Wall Street Journal

The European Union, Canada and other developed countries have signed deals to get hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines and boosters over the next two years, furthering a divide between rich and poor countries.

June 4: “Slow to Start, China Now Vaccinating at a Staggering Pace” by Huizhong Wu, Associated Press

In the span of just five days last month, China gave out 100 million shots of its COVID-19 vaccines. After a slow start, China is now doing what virtually no other country in the world can: leveraging the power and all-encompassing reach of its one-party system and a maturing domestic vaccine industry to administer shots at a staggering pace.

June 4: “Taiwan, Feuding with China, Gets Vaccines from Japan” by Huizhong Wu and Mari Yamaguchi, Medical Xpress

A flight carrying 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from Japan touched down in Taiwan on Friday to help the vaccine-starved island fight its largest outbreak since the pandemic began.

June 4: “India Orders 300 Million Unapproved Covid Jabs” BBC

India has ordered 300 million doses of an unapproved coronavirus vaccine amid a devastating second wave.  The unnamed vaccine from Indian firm Biological E is in Phase 3 trials, and had showed “promising results” in the first two phases, the federal government said in a statement. The $206m order is the first India has signed for a jab that has not received emergency approval.

June 4: “COVID-19 Hospitalization Rates in Adolescents Went Up During March and April” by Nichole Wetsman, The Verge

In March and April, when COVID-19 vaccinations were starting to keep older adults out of the hospital, more and more children between 12 and 17 years old were being admitted. Many were seriously sick: around one-third of kids in this age group who were in the hospital for COVID-19 this year were in the intensive care unit, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows. None died.

June 7: “The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins” by Katherine Eban, Vanity Fair

Wuhan is also home to China’s foremost coronavirus research laboratory, housing one of the world’s largest collections of bat samples and bat-virus strains. The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli, was among the first to identify horseshoe bats as the natural reservoirs for SARS-CoV, the virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002, killing 774 people and sickening more than 8,000 globally.

June 7: “A New Type of COVID-19 Vaccine Could Debut Soon” by Joe Palca, NPR

A new kind of COVID-19 vaccine could be available as soon as this summer. It’s what’s known as a protein subunit vaccine.

June 7: “Pfizer Vaccine Protects Less Against India Variant” by Carolyn Crist, Medscape

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine produces lower levels of antibodies against the Delta variant, known as B.1.617.2 and discovered in India, according to a new study published Thursday in The Lancet.

June 7: “CDC: 2-Dose Vaccines Reduce COVID-19 Infection Risk by 91%, Limit Virus Spread” by Brian P. Dunleavy, UPI

The two-dose COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna reduce the risk for infection by 91% in those fully vaccinated, according to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moreover, fully vaccinated and even partially vaccinated people who become infected with the coronavirus are much less likely to get seriously ill, the data showed.

June 7: “Fake Covid-19 Vaccines Pose New Threat in Africa” by Alexandra Wexler, The Wall Street Journal

On a morning last November, officers from customs and an organized crime unit, backed by two K9 units, raided a small warehouse in an industrial park and seized an alarming new contraband: fake Covid-19 vaccines.

June 8: “Wisconsin Pharmacist Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Tampering with Covid Vaccines” by Ben Kesling, The Wall Street Journal

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg to three years in prison for intentionally trying to spoil hundreds of Covid-19 vaccines last year.

June 8: “Fake COVID Vaccine Cards Are Being Sold Online. Using One Is a Crime” by Jaclyn Diaz, NPR

A vendor on Amazon was discovered selling a pack of blank COVID-19 vaccination cards this week. The post has since been removed, but photos reshared online showed a 10-pack of blank cards going for $12.99.

June 8: “A ‘Landmark’ Trial to Test mRNA Vaccines Against COVID-19 in Africa Can’t Get the Coveted Shots” by Jon Cohen, Science

But a highly anticipated, $130 million clinical trial, meant to test the efficacy of the novel messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for COVID-19 against a key variant of the pandemic coronavirus as well as in people living with HIV and pregnant women, is stalled. It is ready to launch in eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa, yet neither maker of the vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, wants to participate—or even provide their vaccines.

June 8: “U.S. Report Found It Plausible Covid-19 Leaked from Wuhan Lab” by Michael R. Gordon and Warren P. Strobel, The Wall Street Journal

A report on the origins of Covid-19 by a U.S. government national laboratory concluded that the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation, according to people familiar with the classified document.

June 9: “Mixing COVID-19 Vaccines Appears to Boost Immune Responses” Science

Faced with short supplies of COVID-19 vaccines and unforeseen side effects, some countries have adopted an unproven strategy: switching shots midstream.

June 9: “AP Source: US to Buy 500M Pfizer Vaccines to Share Globally” by Zeke Miller, Associated Press

The U.S. will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to share through the global COVAX alliance for donation to 92 lower income countries and the African Union over the next year, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

June 9: “AstraZeneca Vaccine Carries Slightly Higher Risk of Bleeding Disorders, Study Shows” by Denise Grady, The New York Times

People receiving the Covid vaccine made by Oxford-AstraZeneca had a slightly increased risk of a bleeding disorder, and possibly other rare blood problems, researchers reported on Wednesday.

June 9: “Covid-19 Delta Variant First Found in India Is Quickly Spreading Across Globe” by Brianna Abbott, The Wall Street Journal

The highly transmissible Covid-19 variant that first emerged in India is rapidly spreading around the world, health authorities say, intensifying the race to increase global vaccinations.

June 10: “Houston Methodist Hospital Suspends Workers Over Vaccine Compliance” by Brenda Goodman, Medscape

Houston Methodist Hospital has suspended almost 200 of its workers who are resisting a mandate to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

June 10: “U.S. Health Officials Report Higher-Than-Expected Heart Inflammation Cases Following Covid-19 Vaccination” by Andrew Joseph, STAT News

Federal health officials said Thursday they’re seeing rare but higher-than-expected cases of a heart issue called myocarditis among adolescents and young adults who received their second shot of one of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.

June 10: “FDA Accuses Company and Distributing Unapproved Covid Test and Using Falsified Data” by Kathleen McLaughlin, STAT News

The Food and Drug Administration announced a recall Thursday of a coronavirus rapid antigen test, accusing the company that makes the tests of distributing them without regulatory approval and using falsified data that inflates their performance.

June 11: “Covid-19 Deaths This Year Have Already Eclipsed 2020’s Toll” by Jon Kamp, Jason Douglas and Juan Forero, The Wall Street Journal

More people have died from Covid-19 already this year than in all of 2020, according to official counts, highlighting how the global pandemic is far from over even as vaccines beat back the virus in wealthy nations.

June 11: “CVST Risk Still Higher with COVID-19 Than with AZ, J&J Vaccination” by Sue Hughes, Medscape

Another study has suggested that rates of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) are much higher among patients with COVID-19 than among persons after they have been vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

June 11: “US Signs $1.2 Bln Deal for 1.7 Mln Courses of Merck’s Experimental COVID-19 Drug” Reuters

Merck & Co Inc said on Wednesday the U.S. government has agreed to pay about $1.2 billion for 1.7 million courses of its experimental COVID-19 treatment, if it is proven to work in an ongoing large trial and authorized by U.S. regulators. The oral antiviral treatment, molnupiravir, aims to stop COVID-19 from progressing and can be given early in the course of the disease, similar to Tamiflu to treat influenza.

June 11: “CDC Plans Meeting on Rare Heart Inflammation Following COVID-19 Vaccines” by Alexander Tin, CBS News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it will convene an “emergency meeting” of its advisers on June 18th to discuss rare but higher-than-expected reports of heart inflammation following doses of the mRNA-based Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

June 14: “Texas Hospital System Can Require Employees to Get Covid-19 Vaccine, Judge Rules” by Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal

A federal judge in Texas ruled that a major hospital system in Houston can require its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, dismissing a lawsuit brought by workers who claimed the mandate unlawfully forced them to be human “guinea pigs.”

June 14: “Powerful New COVID-19 Vaccine Shows 90% Efficacy, Could Boost World Supply” Science

The dark horse vaccine company Novavax announced strong results today from a pivotal, 30,000-person trial of its pandemic coronavirus vaccine in the United States and Mexico.

June 15: “Companies Push Employees to Prove They Are Vaccinated for Covid-19” by Chip Cutter and Orla McCaffrey, The Wall Street Journal

Companies are stepping up the pressure on workers to get vaccinated—not necessarily with mandates but with strong nudges.

June 15: “US COVID-19 Deaths Hit 600,000, Equal to Yearly Cancer Toll” by Janie Har and Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 600,000 on Tuesday, even as the vaccination drive has drastically brought down daily cases and fatalities and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom and look forward to summer.

June 15: “More Evidence Suggests COVID-19 Was in the US by Christmas 2019” by Mike Stobbe, Associated Press

“A new analysis of blood samples from 24,000 Americans taken early last year is the latest and largest study to suggest that the new coronavirus popped up in the U.S. in December 2019 — weeks before cases were first recognized by health officials.”

June 15: “Many Post-Covid Patients Are Experiencing New Medical Problems, Study Finds” by Pam Belluck, The New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have sought medical care for post-Covid health problems that they had not been diagnosed with before becoming infected with the coronavirus, according to the largest study to date of long-term symptoms in Covid-19 patients.

June 16: “Regeneron Antibody Saves Lives in Some Hospitalized Covid Patients, Study Finds” by Matthew Herper, STAT News

A monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19 developed by Regeneron saved lives among hospitalized patients who had not mounted their own immune response, a finding that could dramatically change the way that doctors will use the therapy, researchers in the United Kingdom announced Wednesday.

June 16: “Vaccine Effort Turns into Slog as Infectious Variant Spreads” by Michelle R. Smith, Associated Press

As cases tumble and states reopen, the potential final stage in the U.S. campaign to vanquish COVID-19 is turning into a slog, with a worrisome variant gaining a bigger foothold and lotteries and other prizes failing to persuade some Americans to get vaccinated.

June 17: “Covid Fades But Is Unlikely to Vanish” by Jon Kamp, The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. is entering a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic as people settle back into normal life thanks to vaccines, but public-health authorities are preparing for Americans to live with the disease lurking in the background for the long run.

June 17: “US Surpasses 4 Million COVID Cases in Children” by Richard Franki, Medscape

Even as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop, the United States reached the 4-million mark for infected children, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. The total number of children with COVID-19 was 4,008,572 as of June 10 after just under 14,500 new cases were reported over the preceding week.

June 18: “Covid Cases in England Doubling Every 11 Days as Delta Variant Takes Hold” The Guardian

Covid-19 cases are rising exponentially across England driven by younger and mostly unvaccinated age groups, according to scientists.

June 18: “What Happens Now That Emergency Orders Are Lifting” by Marisa Fernandez and Tina Reed, Axios

Soon, more than half the states will have ended their formal emergency declarations for the pandemic — which could have ripple effects across the economy.

June 21: “China, Other Asian Countries Vaccinate Against Covid-19 Faster Than Ever” by Dasl Yoon, The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 vaccine rollouts have accelerated in many Asia-Pacific countries in recent weeks, overtaking the pace of doses being administered in the U.S. and other Western nations and increasing the chances of a sooner-than-expected easing of some pandemic restrictions.

June 21: “Moderna Plans to Expand Production to Make Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters, Supply More Countries” by Peter Loftus, The Wall Street Journal

Moderna Inc. is adding two new production lines at the rebuilt former Polaroid plant where it manufactures its Covid-19 vaccine, part of a push to prepare for making booster shots and the future of the pandemic.

June 21: “US Hits Encouraging Milestones on Virus Deaths and Shots” by Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have dipped below 300 a day for the first time since the early days of the disaster in March 2020, while the drive to put shots in arms approached another encouraging milestone Monday: 150 million Americans fully vaccinated.

June 22: “Delta COVID Variant Becoming Globally Dominant, WHO Official Says” Reuters, posted on Medscape

The Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, is becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said on Friday.

June 22: “South America Is Now Covid-19 Hot Spot, with Eight Times the World’s Death Rate” by Samantha Pearson and Luciana Magalhaes, The Wall Street Journal

While Covid-19 is receding in much of the world, the pandemic is raging in South America, which has just 5% of the world’s population but now accounts for a quarter of the global death toll. Almost a million people have died across 12 countries in the region.

June 22: “Watchdog: Nursing Home Deaths Up 32% in 2020 Amid Pandemic” by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press

Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year, with two devastating spikes eight months apart, a government watchdog reported Tuesday in the most comprehensive look yet at the ravages of COVID-19 among its most vulnerable victims.

June 23: “WHO Spots Problems at Russian Vaccine Plant” Medical Xpress

The World Health Organization said Wednesday it had uncovered problems at a Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine production site that Moscow insisted had been resolved. WHO approval has been sought for the Sputnik V jab created by Russia’s Gamaleya research institute, which is already being used in 40 countries.

June 23: “The Only Way We’ll Know When We Need COVID-19 Boosters” The Atlantic

To keep our bodies from slipping back toward our immunological square one, where the virus could pummel the population again, researchers are looking to vaccine boosters—another round of shots that will buoy our defenses. Around the world, scientists have already begun to dole out these jabs on an experimental basis, tinkering with their ingredients, packaging, and dosing in the hope that they’ll be ready long before they’re needed.

June 23: “Covid-19: For Families of Patients Who Died in ICUs, the Experience Was Traumatic” Physician’s Weekly

While upending visiting policies in intensive care units (ICUs) during the Covid-19 pandemic was necessary to prevent uncontrolled viral spread, preventing families from seeing their dying loved ones proved highly traumatic, according to a qualitative study from France.

June 25: “Africa Is Running Out of Oxygen” by Jason Beaubien NPR

Hospital wards across Uganda are filling with COVID-19 patients as the country faces an aggressive surge in cases. One of the biggest issues have: a serious shortage of oxygen.

June 25: “The Pandemic Led to the Biggest Drop in U.S. Life Expectancy Since WWII, Study Finds” by Allison Aubrey NPR

A new study estimates that life expectancy in the U.S. decreased by nearly two years between 2018 and 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the declines were most pronounced among minority groups, including Black and Hispanic people.

June 25: “WHO Estimates COVID-19 Boosters Needed Yearly for Most Vulnerable” by Francesco Guarascio, Reuters, posted on Medscape

The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts that people most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as the elderly, will need to get an annual vaccine booster to be protected against variants, an internal document seen by Reuters shows.

June 25: “AP Exclusive: Diplomats Say China Puts Squeeze on Ukraine” by Jamey Keaten, Associated Press

China pressured Ukraine into withdrawing its support for a call for more scrutiny of human rights in China’s western region of Xinjiang by threatening to withhold Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines destined for Ukraine unless it did so, diplomats told The Associated Press on Friday.

June 25: “Ivermectin to Be Investigated as Possible Treatment for COVID-19” by Dawn O’Shea, Mescape

The anti-parasitic drug ivermectin is being investigated in the UK as a possible treatment for COVID-19 in adults, as part of the Platform Randomised Trial of Treatments in the Community for Epidemic and Pandemic Illnesses (PRINCIPLE).

June 25: “Arthritis Drug Tocilizumab Gets FDA EUA for Severe COVID-19” by Megan Brooks, Medscape

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the arthritis drug tocilizumab (Actemra) for adults and children aged 2 years and older who are hospitalized with severe COVID-19 and are being treated with systemic corticosteroids and supplemental oxygen, noninvasive or invasive mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

June 28: “Why No One Is Sure if Delta Is Deadlier” The Atlantic

Other aspects of the virus’s unfolding bildungsroman, however, are much harder to forecast, or even get an initial read on. Researchers still don’t have a good handle on which variants might cause more cases of severe disease or death, a metric called virulence.

June 29: “Delta Variant of Covid-19 Surges Across Unvaccinated Africa” by Gabriele Steinhauser and Joe Parkinson, The Wall Street Journal

The more-transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus is surging across Africa, the continent with the least vaccines and weakest healthcare systems, feeding fears among epidemiologists and political leaders of a public-health disaster that could echo the tragedy that unfolded in India in the spring.

June 30: “Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine” by Sue Hughes, Medscape

What is believed to be the first case of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia after a messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine has been reported.

June 30: “Inside the Risky Bat-Virus Engineering that Links America to Wuhan” MIT Technology Review

What caused the covid-19 pandemic remains uncertain, and Shi says her lab never encountered the SARS-CoV-2 virus before the Wuhan outbreak. But now that US officials have said the possibility of a lab accident needs to be investigated, the spotlight has fallen on American funding of the Wuhan lab’s less safe research.

June 30: “Nearly All COVID Deaths in the US Are Now Among Unvaccinated” by Carla K. Johnson and Mike Stobbe,  Associated Press

Nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. now are in people who weren’t vaccinated, a staggering demonstration of how effective the shots have been and an indication that deaths per day — now down to under 300 — could be practically zero if everyone eligible got the vaccine.

June 30: “Kim Jong Un Warns of ‘Great Crisis’ in North Korea Over Covid-19 Response” by Timothy W. Martin, The Wall Street Journal

Kim Jong Un said North Korea’s Covid-19 situation has become grave and admonished senior officials for lapses in the fight against the disease.

June 30: “Doubts Over China Vaccines’ Effectiveness Mar Production Push” Nikkei Asia

“But among eight countries using the Sinopharm shot, new cases decreased only in Hungary. Others — like Bahrain, the Maldives and Seychelles — saw no improvement. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which both administered Sinopharm vaccines to their populations, began offering the Pfizer shot as a booster after suffering new waves of infections. Chile continues to experience widespread infections despite importing and administering large numbers of Sinovac shots.”

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