Health News Roundup: Saudi Arabia to get AstraZeneca shots in about a week from India; Spain reports record 94,000 COVID-19 cases and more
Moderna vaccine protects against new variants Exclusive: U.S. goal to squeeze more COVID shots from Pfizer vials hampered by syringe production The world's largest syringe maker does not have the capacity to substantially increase U.S. supplies of specialty syringes needed to squeeze more doses from Pfizer Inc COVID-19 vaccine vials in the coming weeks, an executive said in an interview.Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 26-01-2021 02:31 IST | Created: 26-01-2021 02:27 IST
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Brazil buying as many vaccines as it can, criticism unwarranted, says economy minister
Brazil is trying to buy as many COVID-19 vaccines as possible, and accusations it has focused its efforts on only one manufacturer are unjust, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said on Monday. Speaking in an online briefing, Guedes said the government's biggest challenge this year is rolling out a nationwide vaccination program and that he has full confidence this will be accomplished.
The Italian government on Monday sent a letter of formal notice to Pfizer calling on the drug company to respect its contractual commitments over its COVID-19 vaccine deliveries, the government special commissioner said. The letter adds to tension between the European Union and the U.S. drug-maker, which announced last week a temporary slowdown in deliveries to the bloc. Anger and grief as United Kingdom's COVID-19 death toll nears 100,000
As the United Kingdom's COVID-19 death toll approaches 100,000, grief-stricken relatives of the dead expressed anger at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's handling of the worst public health crisis in a century. When the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China in 2019, slid silently across the United Kingdom in March, Johnson initially said he was confident it could be sent packing in weeks.
What is behind fears that UK coronavirus variant is more lethal?
British scientists have said the UK variant of the coronavirus that is behind a surge in COVID-19 infections there may be not only more transmissible, but also more lethal - with a mortality risk around 30% higher than other variants. The UK variant - known as B.1.1.7 - is also up to 70% more contagious than other coronavirus variants circulating in the UK and has already been detected across the world. U.S. health officials have warned it could become the dominant variant there by March.
Spain reports record 94,000 COVID-19 cases over weekend, incidence hits new high
Spain reported a record 93,822 new coronavirus infections over the weekend, while the incidence of the virus as measured over the past 14 days jumped to a new high of 885 cases per 100,000 people on Monday from 829 cases on Friday. The latest update brought Spain's tally of infections up to 2,593,382, while the death toll increased by 767 to 56,208, health ministry data showed.
Moderna says it believes vaccine will work against new variants
Moderna said on Monday it believes its COVID-19 vaccine protects against new variants found in Britain and South Africa, although it will test a new booster shot aimed at the South Africa variant after concluding that the antibody response could be diminished. The company said in a press release that it found no reduction in the antibody response against the variant found in Britain. Against the variant found in South Africa, it found a reduced response but still believed its two-dose regimen would provide protection.
EU locks horns with AstraZeneca on vaccine deliveries amid 'supply shock'
AstraZeneca is not doing enough to try to resolve a dispute over delayed COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the European Union, the bloc's top health official said on Monday, as news emerged the drugmaker is also facing supply problems elsewhere. In a sign of the EU's frustration - after Pfizer also announced a temporary slowdown in vaccine supplies earlier in January - EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides proposed forcing drugmakers to register in advance their COVID-19 vaccine exports, so the bloc can keep track of what they are doing.
Moderna shot protects against new virus variants; higher blood thinner dose keeps patients off ventilators
The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Moderna vaccine protects against new variants
The world's largest syringe maker does not have the capacity to substantially increase U.S. supplies of specialty syringes needed to squeeze more doses from Pfizer Inc COVID-19 vaccine vials in the coming weeks, an executive said in an interview. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, one of two authorized for U.S. emergency use, is shipped in vials initially indicated to hold five doses. Six doses can be drawn with special syringes, called low dead space syringes, which minimize the amount of vaccine left in the syringe after use.
The Serum Institute of India (SII) will supply Saudi Arabia with 3 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses priced at $5.25 each in about a week on behalf of the British drugmaker, its chief executive told Reuters on Monday. SII has no immediate plans, however, to divert supplies to Europe, even though AstraZeneca has come under pressure from the EU to deliver more shots after announcing a big cut in shipments due to production problems at a Belgian factory.
(With inputs from agencies.)