Health News Roundup: India reports 276,110 new coronavirus infections; Vietnam to set up $1.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine fund and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Vietnam to set up $1.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine fund
Vietnam plans to set up a 25.2 trillion dong ($1.1 billion) fund to acquire 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for its population, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Thursday. The ministry had submitted the plan to the government for approval, it said, adding that the fund will use the money mainly from the state budget.
Fauci expects COVID-19 vaccines for kids in late-2021, sees need for booster shot
Kids in the United States will likely be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2022, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said at an event on Wednesday. The United States earlier this month cleared the way for the use of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE in adolescents aged 12 and above.
New Bristol Myers immunotherapy combo better than Opdivo alone in melanoma study
An experimental Bristol-Myers Squibb drug from a new class of immunotherapy used in combination with its big-selling cancer medicine Opdivo significantly extended the time it took for advanced melanoma to worsen compared with Opdivo alone, according to early data from a study released on Wednesday. Patients with previously untreated melanoma that had spread or could not be removed by surgery who received relatlimab plus Opdivo on average went 10.1 months before the deadly skin cancer began to progress, a measure known as median progression-free survival (PFS). That compared with PFS of 4.6 months for those who received Opdivo alone in the study of more than 700 patients.
India reports 276,110 new coronavirus infections
India reported on Thursday 276,110 new coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,874. The South Asian nation's infection tally stands at 25.77 million, with a death toll of 287,122, health ministry data showed.
Japan likely to approve AstraZeneca, Moderna vaccines - NHK
Japan is likely to approve COVID-19 vaccines by both AstraZeneca and Moderna Inc, with an official announcement expected from the country's health minister on Friday, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday. Officials are considering limiting the recommended age group for AstraZeneca's vaccine due to worries about blood clots, the report said.
Australian doctors warn vaccine hesitancy makes citizens "sitting ducks"
Australia's peak medical body on Thursday warned the country's residents were "sitting ducks" for COVID-19, as business leaders call for the international border to be reopened faster despite a sluggish national vaccination drive. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said it was worried many Australians were delaying getting vaccinated because of the country's success in stamping out the virus and urged authorities to roll out a more effective advertising campaign.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine can be stored in refrigerator for a month, U.S. says
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized storage of Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine at standard freezer temperatures for up to one month, in an effort to make the vaccine more widely available. Unopened, thawed vials of the vaccine can be stored in a refrigerator at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for up to a month, up from a previous maximum limit of five days.
Roche aims Tecentriq at early lung cancer after data shows benefit
Immunotherapy showed for the first time it can help early-stage lung cancer patients survive longer without their disease returning, according to data released on Wednesday, a potential turning point for such drugs to be used before tumors spread. The drug, Tecentriq from Switzerland's Roche, works like other immunotherapies including Merck's Keytruda and Opdivo from Bristol Myers Squibb, helping take the brakes off the immune system so it can attack tumors.
UK plans to roll out COVID vaccines to all over-18s in June - The Telegraph
Britain's coronavirus vaccine rollout could reach those in their early-20s in the first weeks of next month, with hopes that all those over age 18 could be offered jobs in June, the Telegraph reported https://bit.ly/3bG1cUP on Wednesday. The program will move to those aged 30 and over next week in the UK, while extra supplies are being sent to areas worst hit by the Indian variant, the report added.
Texas governor signs law banning abortions as early as six weeks
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott Wednesday signed into law a "fetal heartbeat" abortion bill that bans the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy and grants citizens the right to sue doctors who perform abortions past that point. The new law is part of a wave of similar "heartbeat" abortion bans passed in Republican-led states. Lawmakers who support such legislation have said it is intended to lead to an overturn of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 landmark ruling that guaranteed a woman's right to end her pregnancy.
(With inputs from agencies.)