Health News Roundup: Korea expands ban on gatherings; emergency COVID-19 hospitals in UK and moreDevdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 02-01-2021 11:47 IST | Created: 02-01-2021 10:30 IST
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
S.Korea expands ban on small gatherings to blunt coronavirus surge
South Korea will expand a ban on private gatherings larger than four people to include the whole country, and extend unprecedented social distancing rules in Seoul and neighboring areas until Jan. 17, the health minister said on Saturday. Kwon Deok-cheol told a briefing that the measures were necessary to reduce a prolonged surge in infections that has led to a spike in deaths.
Mexico reports 11,091 new coronavirus cases, 700 deaths
Mexico's health ministry reported 11,091 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 700 additional fatalities on Friday, bringing its total to 1,437,185 infections and 126,507 deaths. The real number of infected people and deaths is likely significantly higher than the official count, the health ministry has said.
Tokyo to request new emergency declaration as COVID-19 cases climb - media
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will request the central government to declare a new state of emergency over a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Saturday. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is set to meet Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Saturday afternoon to make the request, Nikkei said, citing multiple sources.
Romney urges sweeping vaccine plan as U.S. surpasses 20 million COVID-19 cases
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney on Friday urged the U.S. government to immediately enlist veterinarians, combat medics and others in an all-out national campaign to administer coronavirus vaccinations and slow a surging rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. The Utah Republican, who ran unsuccessfully for president as his party's nominee in 2012, called for greater action as the Trump administration fell far short of its goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans with a first of two required doses by the end of 2020.
UK reactivates emergency COVID-19 hospitals, closes London primary schools
Britain reactivated emergency hospitals built at the start of the pandemic and shut primary schools in London on Friday to counter the rapid spread of a much more infectious variant of the coronavirus. With more than 50,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 for the last four days, the health service said it was preparing for an anticipated rush of patients and needed more beds.
Pfizer and BioNTech to offer COVID vaccine to volunteers who got placebo
Pfizer Inc and its partner BioNTech Se plan to give volunteers who received a placebo in its COVID-19 vaccine trial an option to receive a first dose of the vaccine by March 1, 2021, while staying within the study. The trial's Vaccine Transition Option allows all participants aged 16 or older the choice to discover whether they were given the placebo, "and for participants who learn they received the placebo, to have the option to receive the investigational vaccine while staying in the study," the companies said on their website https://www.covidvaccinestudy.com/participants for trial participants.
U.S. COVID-19 cases surpass 20 million as deaths mount
U.S. coronavirus cases crossed the 20 million mark on Friday as officials seek to speed up vaccinations and a more infectious variant surfaces in Colorado, California and Florida. The United States has seen a spike in number of daily COVID-19 fatalities since Thanksgiving with 78,000 lives lost in December. A total of 345,000 have died of COVID-19, or one out of every 950 U.S. residents, since the virus first emerged in China late in 2019.
AstraZeneca expects to supply two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine every week in UK -The Times
About two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca are set to be supplied every week by the middle of January in the United Kingdom, The Times reported. AstraZeneca expects to supply two million doses of the vaccine in total by next week, the newspaper reported, citing an unnamed member of the Oxford-AstraZeneca team. "The plan is then to build it up fairly rapidly - by the third week of January we should get to two million a week," the report added.
Different efficacy data for Chinese COVID-19 vaccine "real and valid"-media
Different efficacy results for a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine released separately in China and in United Arab Emirates are both real and valid, an executive at China National Biotec Group (CNBG) told state media. China approved its first COVID-19 vaccine for general public use on Thursday, a shot developed by an affiliate to state-backed Sinopharm, after the developer said the vaccine showed 79.34% efficacy based on an interim analysis of late-stage clinical trials.
Wisconsin pharmacist arrested on charges of sabotaging COVID vaccine doses
A Wisconsin hospital pharmacist was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of sabotaging more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine by deliberately removing them from refrigeration to spoil, police and medical authorities said. The pharmacist, an employee of Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin, at the time that 57 vials of vaccine were found left out of cold storage earlier this week, has since been fired but has not been publicly identified, officials said.
(With inputs from agencies.)