World news wrapup: 26 February 2021

46189991 - cough and cold medicine

Vaccine run highlights community pharmacy’s worth; BoJo lauds Sussex pharmacist; India cracks down on codeine cough syrups

Donegal, Pennsylvania: Trib Live has reported on pharmacist Ed Christofano, who drove his SUV through a winter storm to Donegal Township, bringing COVID-19 vaccines to a senior couple and their homebound daughter.

Reporter Teghan Simonton writes that western Pennsylvania has been experiencing frustration from supply issues and lack of support when it comes to the vaccine rollout, with community pharmacists running out of stock and finding allocation unreliable.

Large chain drugstores, however, have found it much easier to access the vaccine due to partnerships with the federal government.

Mr Christofano said that it was “heart-wrenching” that the US Government would leave community pharmacies, “with the proven track record” out of such partnerships.

He said that he had been contacted by the Health Department to see if he could accept an unexpected delivery of 1,170 doses.

Within 24 hours, he had administered 900.

When heavy storms caused some who were scheduled to receive the vaccine to cancel their appointments, Mr Christofano thought of his patients, the Bevins family, who have been worried about how to vaccinate their 34-year-old daughter Amanda, who is at high risk of a

Amanda is nonverbal and immobile apart from head movements, communicates via facial expression, and uses a ventilator; to have her vaccinated, her parents were facing a minimum US$1,400 (AUD$1,767) round-trip via ambulance.

Instead, their pharmacist, already wearing his PPE, drove through the storm with the last few leftover doses of vaccine before they could expire.

“This proves the importance of community independent pharmacies,” Mr Christofano said. “Your independent pharmacies are vital to the communities we serve.

“We know our population, and we’re able to act quickly and efficiently.”


London, England: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shone a spotlight on a Sussex pharmacist this week during a COVID-19 press conference.

Mr Johnson, in paying tribute to the “astonishing” efforts of all involved with the vaccination program, thanked “The GPs, the nurses, the volunteers, the army and the pharmacists like Hardik Desai who rallied local volunteers to vaccinate 3,000 people in his village hall in Ticehurst in Sussex while keeping his pharmacy open”.

The Prime Minister said that the rollout was going well, and was an “unprecedented national achievement,” reported The Argus.

However, he underlined that the UK must not relax but accelerate its vaccination efforts instead.

“Yes, it’s true, we have vaccinated more than 90% of those aged over 70, but don’t forget that 60% of hospital patients with Covid are under 70.”


Mumbai, India: Pharmacists have been warned against illegal sale of codeine-based cough syrups, with the Free Press Journal reporting that the syrups are commonly misused by people abusing drugs, as well as children and people with terminal illness.

Bottles of the syrup are reportedly sold for as little as Rs 150 (AUD$2.62).

Codeine-based cough syrups are frequently sold over the counter despite being classified as prescription only, the Journal reports.

According to the Narcotics Control Bureau, a “full-fledged” inquiry has been initiated to identify bulk supply chains of the medicines.

Pharmacists will “face the music” if they sell the medicines without a script, the Journal reports.


Cincinnati, Ohio: The Kroger Family of Companies has confirmed that a data security incident impacted its pharmacy and money services customers.

The group said in a statement that there had been a data security incident affecting Accellion, Inc, which Kroger, as well as many other companies, used for third-party secure file transfers.

“Accellion notified Kroger that an unauthorized person gained access to certain Kroger files by exploiting a vulnerability in Accellion’s file transfer service,” the group said.

“The incident was isolated to Accellion’s services and did not affect the Kroger Family of Companies’ IT systems or any grocery store systems or data.

“No credit or debit card information or customer account passwords were affected by this incident. After being informed of the incident’s effect on January 23, 2021, Kroger discontinued the use of Accellion’s services, reported the incident to federal law enforcement, and initiated its own forensic investigation to review the potential scope and impact of the incident.”

It said that less than 1% of its health and money services customers were affected.

“Protecting data is a priority for the Kroger Family of Companies and it is directly contacting all customers and associates who may have been affected to inform them of the incident,” it said.

“While Kroger has no indication of fraud or misuse of personal information as a result of this incident, out of an abundance of caution Kroger has arranged to offer credit monitoring to all affected individuals at no cost to them.”

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