Health News Roundup: Italy halts AstraZeneca vaccine for under-60s; England's COVID re-opening in doubt as Delta variant spreads and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
The Group of Seven has failed its first test, British former prime minister Gordon Brown said on Friday, describing pledges to offer poorer countries excess COVID-19 vaccine doses as more akin to "passing round the begging bowl" than a real solution. After U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to donate 500 million shots and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at least 100 million as part of a G7 aim to offer 1 billion doses, Brown told Reuters the rich nations needed to build "a comprehensive plan to vaccinate the world" rather than make piecemeal offers.
Analysis: U.S. FDA faces mounting criticism over Alzheimer's drug approval
In approving the first new Alzheimer's drug in nearly 20 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking its biggest risk yet with a strategy that allows new therapies onto the market without strong evidence that they work, regulatory and scientific experts say. The Biogen Inc drug, Aduhelm, was authorized based on evidence that it can reduce brain plaques, a likely contributor to Alzheimer's, rather than proof that it slows progression of the lethal mind-wasting disease.
EU adds another rare blood condition as side effect of AstraZeneca shot
Europe's drug regulator on Friday identified another very rare blood condition as a potential side effect of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine and said it was looking into cases of heart inflammation after inoculation with all coronavirus shots. The European Medicines Agency's (EMA) safety committee said that capillary leak syndrome (CLS) must be added as a new side effect to labelling on AstraZeneca's vaccine, known as Vaxzevria.
Italy halts AstraZeneca vaccine for under-60s
The Italian government said on Friday it was restricting the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people over the age of 60, after a teenager who had received the shot died from a rare form of blood clotting. Camilla Canepa died on Thursday aged 18 after being given the vaccine on May 25, triggering a media and political outcry over the Anglo-Swedish company's shot being used for adults of all ages despite previously-raised medical concerns.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's hopes of ending England's coronavirus lockdown on June 21 hung in the balance on Friday as data showed a further rise in cases of the rapidly spreading Delta variant. Johnson is due to announce on Monday whether the planned lifting of restrictions, which would see an end to limits on social contact, can go ahead on time.
Japan city uses tsunami lessons for COVID-19 vaccinations
Tamio Hayashi, 77, doubted he could ever navigate the internet systems set up to register for COVID-19 vaccines across most of Japan. He hated the idea of using the "troublesome" systems that have broken down and befuddled other older residents, hobbling Japan's inoculation push.
Novavax says COVID-19 vaccine candidate shows immune response against Beta variant
Novavax Inc said on Friday its COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed immune response and protection against the SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant, which was originally identified in South Africa, in three animal and human studies.
UK PM Johnson plans to delay lockdown lifting until July 19 - The Sun
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to delay lockdown lifting to July 19 after cases of the Delta variant, first identified in India, rose in the country, The Sun reported on Friday. Under plans that will be announced on Monday, a two week review will be included meaning COVID-19 restrictions could be dropped on July 5 if hospitalizations are low, the newspaper reported.
U.S. FDA asks J&J to discard millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration on Friday said Johnson & Johnson must throw away millions of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine that were manufactured at a problem-plagued Baltimore factory but also cleared millions for use. Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that the agency had cleared about 10 million doses. The New York Times said that the batches being discarded amount to around 60 million doses, citing people familiar with the matter.
'Extraordinary times, extraordinary measures': U.S. approach to vanquish pandemic
The United States will continue to press for a waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments even as it and other Group of Seven rich nations sharply expand donations of vaccines to poorer countries. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday the Biden administration was working on multiple fronts to end the pandemic.
(With inputs from agencies.)