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Swiss regulator looking into bubbles in COVID booster vials

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster vaccine targeting BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants is pictured at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, US, Sept 8, 2022. (HANNAH BEIER / REUTERS)

BERLIN / NEW YORK / LOS ANGELES / STOCKHOLM / LUSAKA – Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic said on Wednesday it is examining potential risks in connection with bubbles that appeared in vials of COVID-19 vaccine boosters retooled to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Swissmedic said it had been informed by vaccination centers of the appearance of bubbles during the preparation of the updated vaccine from Pfizer, and BioNTech targeting the original version of the coronavirus and the BA.1 Omicron variant that led to a record surge in cases last winter.

"Vials of the batch concerned contained bubbles after being removed from the fridge," said Swissmedic, adding that the phenomenon seems to be accentuated when the syringes were prepared several hours in advance.

ALSO READ: Canada confirms 21,810 new COVID-19 cases in one week

Cantons and vaccination centers have been informed as a precaution, the regulator said. It added that it was looking into possible causes.

A BioNTech spokesperson said Pfizer was in charge of the supply chain and distribution in Switzerland and had no further immediate comment.

A vial of the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster vaccine. (HANNAH BEIER / REUTERS)


Moderna Inc must face a patent infringement lawsuit over its COVID-19 vaccines, a federal judge in Delaware ruled Wednesday, finding that the biotech company has not shown that the US government should have been sued instead.

US District Judge Mitchell Goldberg said he was not yet convinced that the lawsuit by Arbutus Biopharma Corp and Genevant Sciences GmbH should have been brought against the government instead of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna.

Genevant said in a statement that it was pleased the court "rejected Moderna's attempt to shift liability for its actions to US taxpayers."

A spokesperson for Moderna said the company looks forward to "proving not only that Arbutus and Genevant sued the wrong party in the wrong court, but also, at the appropriate time, that there was no patent infringement here."

The US Department of Health and Human Services and US Food and Drug Administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Moderna and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines have been subject to several patent lawsuits this year from companies that say they pioneered key technologies related to the shots. Moderna sued Pfizer for patent infringement in August.


MOSCOW – Russia registered 6,385 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 21,441,143, the official monitoring and response center said Wednesday.

The center said the nationwide death toll increased by 68 to 390,315, while the number of recoveries grew by 10,241 to 20,822,746.


Nuvaxovid, the COVID-19 vaccine created by US company Novavax, should not be given to individuals younger than 30, the Public Health Agency of Sweden said here on Wednesday.

The agency cited research conducted in Australia, which showed an increased risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart) after vaccination.

READ MORE: Authorities call for continued COVID-19 measures in Europe

"We are monitoring the situation closely and awaiting more data," Soren Andersson, head of the agency's unit for vaccination programs, said in a press release.

Around 7,000 doses of Nuvaxovid have already been administered in Sweden. The agency said that younger people who had recently been vaccinated with Nuvaxovid had no reason to worry as "the risk is very small," and they could continue with the next dose of another type of vaccine.

People make their way through Times Square, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Manhattan, New York City, US, May 7, 2021. (EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS)

United States

Almost 25,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States in the week ending Oct 27, according to the latest report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association.

Nearly 14.9 million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, according to the latest report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association 

Nearly 14.9 million children in the country have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, according to the report. Nearly 116,000 of these cases have been added in the past four weeks.

Meanwhile, an analysis about the scale of the disruption to American kids' education found the average student lost more than half a school year of learning in math and nearly a quarter of a school year in reading, with some district averages slipping by more than double those amounts, or worse, reported The Associated Press (AP) last week.

"Online learning played a major role, but students lost significant ground even where they returned quickly to schoolhouses, especially in math scores in low-income communities," said the report.

Some educators have objected to the very idea of measuring learning loss after a crisis that has killed more than 1 million Americans. Reading and math scores don't tell the entire story about what's happening with a child, but they're one of the only aspects of children's development reliably measured nationwide, according to the report.

Separately, a US appeals court panel seemed divided on Wednesday over whether a civilian Navy employee can challenge President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workers in court or must first go through an administrative process.

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit heard arguments in a bid by the worker, Jason Payne, to revive his lawsuit claiming the requirement to receive the vaccine or face termination violates federal employees' constitutional rights.

Biden last year required about 3.5 million government workers to get vaccinated if they did not qualify for a religious or medical exemption, or face discipline. The White House has said that more than 97% of federal workers complied with the mandate.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in May that because Payne's claims are related to workplace conditions, he was required to go through an administrative complaint process for federal civil servants before taking the case to court.

ALSO READ: Over 14.8m US children infected with COVID-19

Payne's lawyer, Gene Hamilton of conservative group America First Legal, said during Wednesday's arguments that in order to go through the complaint process, Payne would first have to be disciplined or fired.

Circuit Judge Judith Rogers sounded skeptical. She noted that Payne has claimed that he was humiliated for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and was unable to carry out all of his job duties, while also arguing that he had not suffered any concrete harms that would trigger an administrative complaint.


The Zambian government on Tuesday announced that the country has realized the goal of fully vaccinating 70 percent of the eligible population against COVID-19.

"We are proud to announce to the nation, and the world at large, that our joint efforts have led to over 75 percent of eligible citizens being fully vaccinated," Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said.

While attributing the achievement to the support from local people, the Zambian president warned against complacency and called for continued efforts.