Johnson & Johnson scientists on Friday refuted a report in a major medical journal that argued that the design of their coronavirus vaccine, which is similar to AstraZeneca's, may be linked to rare brain blood clotting.
Earlier this week, the United States paused the use of the J&J vaccine to review six cases of a rare brain blood clot, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).
The J&J vaccine and AstraZeneca's are so-called "adenoviral vector vaccines." They are based on a technology that uses a modified version of adenoviruses, which causes the common cold, as carriers to trigger immunity response.
J&J scientists wrote in a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine that "evidence is insufficient to establish a causal relationship between these events" and this type of vaccine.
They argued that while both jabs followed the same technology, they coded different types of protein to the cells, concluding that "the two adenoviral vector COVID-19 vaccines may have quite different biologic effects."
Their letter came in response to an earlier report published by the University of Nebraska, which stated that the rare blood clots "could be related to adenoviral vector vaccines."
Here's a roundup of some other major COVID-related stories around the world.
Germany has recorded 23,804 new coronavirus infections and 219 new deaths, the Robert Koch
Institute (RKI) for disease control reported on Saturday.
"After a temporary decline in case numbers over the Easter holidays, the strong increase in case numbers continues," the RKI said in a report late Friday, adding that the numbers had risen particularly in the younger age groups.
To curb the spread, the German city of Cologne imposed a nightly curfew for the first time since the Second World War. From Saturday, people in Cologne cannot leave their houses from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following day, except for exceptional cases.
German courts in Dresden and the Bavarian city of Kempten ordered anti-lockdown demonstrations to be canceled. Thousands of mostly COVID-deniers had planned to join protests against coronavirus restrictions in the two cities this weekend.
Italy will ease coronavirus restrictions for schools and restaurants starting April 26 in what Prime Minister Mario Draghi described as "calculated risks."
From May 1, Italy also plans to allow up to a thousand spectators at outdoor events as it eases its stadium restrictions in regions less affected by COVID.
The United States has administered 202,282,923 doses of coronavirus vaccines in the country as of Friday morning, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Brazil asked women to delay getting pregnant until the worst of the pandemic passes, citing the virus variant that is devastating the South American country.
Health Ministry official Raphael Parente said the variant appeared to have a greater effect on expectant mothers than earlier versions of coronavirus.
Despite the high infection rates, Brazil's most populous state Sao Paulo announced it would allow businesses and places of worship to reopen from Sunday, according to AFP.
The South American country has remained one of the global epicenters of the pandemic.
In Mexico, authorities said that 14 of the country's roughly 2,600 townships have refused to allow vaccination teams to administer COVID-19 jabs there, according to the Associated Press.
A convoy transporting vaccines reportedly came under an armed attack in another part of the country, the AP said.
India saw on Saturday its eighth record daily increase in the last nine days with 234,692 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, according to Reuters news agency.
India's coronavirus-related rose by 1,341 to reach a total of 175,649, India's Health Ministry reported.
The capital New Delhi led major cities into a weekend lockdown Saturday. The city of more than 20 million people now has the most daily cases in India and restaurants, malls and gyms were all closed.
Landmarks such as the historic Red Fort where tens of thousands of people would normally gather were deserted.
Australia is continuing its review of vaccination efforts after a 48-year-old woman's death was likely linked to the shot she received, Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Saturday.
The case, reported on Friday, was Australia's first fatality from blood clots in a recipient of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine.
On Friday, Australia reported the third case of the rare blood clots appearing in people who received the vaccine in the country.
Hunt said there would be no immediate change to further limit the use of the shot, but reiterated that the BioNTech-Pfizer jab remains preferable for people under the age of 50.
Qatar is seeking to have all fans attending the 2022 World Cup in the country be vaccinated as the Gulf nation faces a resurgence of cases and deaths despite progress in its vaccination program.
"Right now there are programs under development to provide vaccination to all the attendees," Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said.
"We will be able, hopefully, to host a COVID-free event. We also hope that globally the pandemic will start to go down and disappear."
As of Friday, 194,930 of Qatar's 2.75 million people have tested positive since the pandemic began, according to AFP.
fb/mm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)