Health News Roundup: S.Korea says third wave of coronavirus being contained; Lonza gets Swiss OK to start Moderna and more
Britain targets tens of millions of vaccinations in next three months Britain will have 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ready to administer on Monday and hopes to provide "tens of millions" of vaccinations over the next three months, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday.Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 03-01-2021 18:38 IST | Created: 03-01-2021 18:29 IST
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
S.Korea says third wave of coronavirus being contained, fewest infections in nearly 4 weeks
A South Korean health official said on Sunday that a third wave of the novel coronavirus is being contained, as it reported the lowest number of new infections in nearly four weeks with the help of tougher restrictions during the New Year holiday season. New cases for Saturday numbered 657, much lower than 824 the day before, but bringing the country's total cases to 63,244 with 962 deaths, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Swiss regulators have allowed contract manufacturer Lonza Group to start producing Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine at a plant in Switzerland, the SonntagsZeitung newspaper reported. "Important preparatory work is under way at the moment with the view to ramp up the production lines," it quoted a spokesman for Lonza's plant in Visp as saying.
U.S. distributes over 13.07 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines; 4.2 million administered -CDC
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had administered 4,225,756 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 13,071,925 doses. The tally of vaccine doses distributed and the number of people who received the first dose are for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, vaccines as of 9:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, the agency said.
India's approval of homegrown vaccine criticised over lack of data
India on Sunday granted emergency approval to Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN but faced questions after taking the step without publishing efficacy data for the homegrown coronavirus vaccine. The news, announced by the drugs controller general of India (DCGI) who did not take questions, was hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers as a success in India's self-reliance push.
Stricter lockdown restriction likely on the way, says UK PM Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that tougher lockdown restrictions were probably on the way as COVID-19 cases keep rising, but that schools were safe places and children should continue to attend where permitted. Cases of COVID-19 in Britain are at record levels and increasing, fuelled by a new and more transmissible variant of the virus. That has already forced the government to cancel the planned reopening of schools in and around London, with calls from teaching unions for wider closures.
Tokyo reports 816 new COVID-19 cases as governors push for state of emergency
Tokyo reported 816 new daily coronavirus cases on Sunday, a day after governors from the capital and neighboring prefectures called on the Japanese government to announce a state of emergency to combat a recent surge in cases. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has resisted calls for a second national state of emergency; the government first introduced that measure in April during an earlier wave of the pandemic. Suga is scheduled to speak publicly on Jan. 4.
Russia ready to trial combined AstraZeneca, Sputnik V vaccine in Ukraine
Russia is ready to conduct clinical trials in Ukraine of a COVID-19 vaccine combining its Sputnik V with a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca together with Oxford University, the head of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Saturday. Russia's sovereign RDIF, which is marketing the Sputnik V vaccine abroad, announced in December trials to test a combination of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the Sputnik V shot to see if this can boost the efficacy of the British drugmaker's vaccine.
Britain targets tens of millions of vaccinations in next three months
Britain will have 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ready to administer on Monday and hopes to provide "tens of millions" of vaccinations over the next three months, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday. "We do hope that ... we'll be able to do tens of millions in the course of the next three months," he told the BBC.
Australia's COVID-19 cases on the rise as masks made compulsory
Australia's most-populous state of New South Wales (NSW) reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while neighbouring Victoria's tally increased by three, as new measures to combat the disease kicked in. The NSW outbreak started around mid-December in Sydney's Northern Beaches area, where a quarter of a million people are in strict lockdown until Jan. 9.
Cases associated with the cluster now total 148. Germany poised to extend coronavirus lockdown
Germany is likely to extend a national lockdown beyond Jan. 10 to curb coronavirus infection rates that are still running high and putting huge strains on hospitals and health workers, politicians said at the weekend. Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional leaders are expected to agree to extend the restrictions when they convene on Tuesday. It is not yet clear how long the extension would last.
(With inputs from agencies.)