Health News Roundup: Britain nearing vaccine deal with European Union; WHO urges countries to donate COVID-19 vaccines and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Britain nearing vaccine deal with European Union: The Times
Britain is close to striking a vaccine deal with the European Union as soon as this weekend that will remove the threat of the bloc cutting off supplies, The Times reported on Saturday. Under the agreement the EU will remove its threat to ban the export of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Britain, it added.
AstraZeneca vaccine safe to use while potential rare effects probed: WHO
The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is still recommended for use while studies continue to examine any potential link to "very rare" side effects including blood clots, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Friday. "The position stands that the benefits outweigh the risks," Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general, told a news conference. "It's being investigated, a potential link to a very rare side-event...which would happen (to) one in a million, is still being investigated by WHO and also by the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory agencies."
Czech parliament extends government's extra powers as COVID-19 slowly recedes
The Czech parliament on Friday extended a state of emergency giving the government extra powers to fight the COVID-19 epidemic until April 11. The cabinet hopes that will be enough to reduce infections to a more sustainable level and start slowly reopening schools and ease curbs on movement.
U.S. to distribute 11 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shots next week - White House
The U.S. government will distribute 11 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine next week in its continued effort to get 200 million shots in people's arms in the first 100 days of President Joe Biden's term, the White House said on Friday. The United States is still on track to deliver on its goal of making shots available to all adults by the end of May, Jeff Zients, the White House's COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters.
U.S. administers nearly 137 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines: CDC
The United States has administered 136,684,688 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and distributed 177,501,775 doses in the country as of Friday morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The tally is for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Friday, the agency said.
WHO urges countries to donate COVID-19 vaccines as supplies tighten
The World Health Organization urged countries on Friday to donate COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate the most vulnerable in 20 poorer nations after India, a key supplier to the agency's COVAX vaccine-sharing program, said it was prioritizing local needs. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the COVAX program, run with the GAVI vaccine alliance, needed 10 million doses immediately to inoculate healthcare workers and older people as a stop-gap measure.
Volunteers break rank to raise doubts in trial of Russia's second COVID-19 vaccine
Some of those who volunteered for the clinical trial of Russia's second COVID-19 vaccine have broken rank and taken part in go-it-alone "citizen experiments" which they say raise concerns about the shot's efficacy. A group including 120 former participants in the trial for the EpiVacCorona vaccine, developed by the Vector Institute in Siberia, ran commercially available antibody tests and sent frozen blood plasma samples to independent laboratories with the aim of testing the vaccine's ability to neutralize an infection.
Special Report: How a coronavirus variant tore through an English island and onto the world stage
Warm weather brings tourists to the Isle of Sheppey, a flat, marshy island near the mouth of the River Thames. Each summer, they fill Sheppey's many caravan parks or flock to villages with seaside attractions geared toward old-school British tourists: pubs and penny arcades, mini-golf, and fish and chips. Another kind of visitor stays all year round. Clustered in fields and marshes in eastern Sheppey are three prisons holding about 2,500 men. Giant wind turbines stand like sentries outside the lichen-clad walls of HMP Elmley, the largest of the three, where a 52-year-old prison officer named Paul Tottman worked.
Former CDC chief Redfield says he thinks COVID-19 originated in a Chinese lab
The former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said he believes the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 likely escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, embracing a theory rejected by many global epidemiologists that have contributed to tensions between China and the West. "I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped," Robert Redfield, who headed the CDC in the Trump administration, said in a televised interview with CNN.
More under-30 Americans report anxiety, depression during pandemic - CDC
More young adults in the United States reported feeling anxious or depressed during the past six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and fewer people reported getting the help they needed, according to a U.S. government study released on Friday. The percentage of adults under age 30 with recent symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder rose significantly about five months after the U.S. imposed COVID-19 related lockdowns, and reported rising deaths from the fast-spreading virus.
(With inputs from agencies.)