On Monday, Aug. 30, the European Council, one of the bodies of the European Union, recommended to member nations the adoption of new restrictions for travelers coming from the United States and five other countries.
The recommendations were made because of the increase of coronavirus cases in the countries and the growing spread of the Delta variant.
The list of "European Union safe countries" is made up of nations that report a two-week infection rate of less than 75 per 100,000 and report a decreasing trend of new cases over a 14-day period.
The United States is a country that meets the first requirement, currently reporting 47 new cases per 100,000 people. But, for the second point required by the EU, the country's indicators show an increase up to 20% in new cases over the last 14 days.
The increase of the virus in the United States is mostly due to a vaccination process that has slowed significantly due to skepticism, and also because of the Delta variant has proven to be more contagious than previous mutations of COVID-19.
These new restrictions, however, would not apply to foreigners who are vaccinated with one of the EU approved vaccines, which are Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.
Delta goes up and Moderna goes down
Regarding the two-shot mRNA vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Monday, Aug. 30 that there is an increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis (both related to heart inflammation) in people who receive the vaccine, especially in men under 40 years, and even higher within the 18-24 age group.
"Post-marketing data demonstrate an increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, especially in the seven days following the second dose. The risk is higher among males younger than 40 years than among females and older males. The risk is higher in males 18 to 24 years old," the FDA said in a recent report.
Experts noted that there have been 267 reported cases of myocarditis or pericarditis among those under 30-years-old after receiving the first dose and 827 reported cases after the second dose, while there are an additional 132 cases where the number of doses received is unknown.
The occurrence is still extremely rare, especially considering the hundreds of millions of doses of mRNA vaccine that have been distributed since the start of the worldwide vaccination effort.
Vaccines in Japan
In Japan, two people died days after receiving the first dose of a batch of Moderna vaccine that had been suspended by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, due to contamination.
Foreign substances were found in some doses from a batch of 1.63 million Moderna vaccine vials on Aug. 26, and its use in Japan had to be suspended.
"Currently, no link between these deaths and the Moderna vaccine has been confirmed, but we believe it is important to conduct a formal investigation to investigate the matter," said Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, which is in charge of supplying the vaccine.
Japan's Health Ministry will conduct that investigation alongside Takeda. Moderna has its own ongoing investigation.