Health News Roundup: Canada approves Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine for adults; Ecuador legislature approves rules for abortion in cases of rape and more
The vote comes after the Constitutional Court gave the green light for abortion in cases of rape last April and ordered legislators to speedily regulate the procedure. WHO says quarantine can be shortened in places with high COVID cases The World Health Organization said on Thursday countries struggling with surging COVID-19 infections may shorten the recommended quarantine duration of 14 days in some situations.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
A Brazilian pharmaceutical firm said on Thursday a technology transfer would allow it to make the Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine for export to Latin American countries in a partnership touted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The vaccine, a single-dose version of the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine unveiled last year, is used as a booster in Mexico and Nicaragua and has been approved for use in Argentina, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
Canada approves Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine for adults
Canada on Thursday approved Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 18 years and older, making it the fifth such shot to be cleared for use in the country. The vaccine's safety and effectiveness in people younger than 18 years have not yet been established, Health Canada said in a statement.
Ecuador legislature approves rules for abortion in cases of rape
Ecuador's National Assembly on Thursday approved regulations to allow women and girls access to abortions in cases of rape, amid widespread debate about the issue in the mostly conservative country. The vote comes after the Constitutional Court gave the green light for abortion in cases of rape last April and ordered legislators to speedily regulate the procedure.
WHO says quarantine can be shortened in places with high COVID cases
The World Health Organization said on Thursday countries struggling with surging COVID-19 infections may shorten the recommended quarantine duration of 14 days in some situations. The U.N. agency said its new guidelines may be helpful for places where essential services are under pressure.
Moderna Inc has applied for patents in South Africa relating to its COVID-19 vaccine, prompting fears the company could eventually seek to prevent a new African vaccine manufacturing hub from making its own version of the mRNA shot. Moderna spokesperson Colleen Hussey confirmed it had filed for patents "related to both the COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna's platform technology" in South Africa and elsewhere, after a group of 60 Africa-based charities raised concerns about them, but said the move would not block vaccine distribution in Africa.
Sierra Leone's leader challenged Europeans on Thursday to remember there are "human beings on the other side" in Africa who have been left behind in the unequal global response to COVID-19. By the start of February, only 11% of Africans were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus - far fewer than in richer parts of the world where vast and expensive inoculation campaigns have reached most of their populations.
Cuba's vaccine coverage and focus on children helped beat back Omicron, experts say
Cuba's widespread COVID-19 vaccination coverage and early move to inoculate its children proved pivotal in beating back the highly infectious Omicron variant before it ever took hold on the island, local and international experts say. Omicron arrived in Cuba in December but fell far short of the pronounced spike in cases seen in many other places and infections have since fallen off by more than 80%, official data shows.
WHO calls for strengthened role as U.S. proposes new pandemic fund
Efforts to strengthen global health security will only succeed if the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) is enhanced, the agency's head said on Thursday, as its biggest donor, Washington, proposed a new global pandemic prevention fund. Speaking via video link at a G20 meeting of finance leaders, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was responding to the idea of a separate global health fund tasked with delivering emergency funds, vaccines and other medical needs.
Microsoft Corp co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates visited Pakistan on Thursday, meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan and saying polio eradication could be possible in coming years in one of the last two countries of the world where the virus is endemic. "We're not done but we're certainly in by far the best situation we've ever been in," Gates told reporters in Islamabad on the possibility of eliminating polio in Pakistan and globally.
South Africa's government said it was not planning to buy Merck's COVID-19 treatment pill molnupiravir on Thursday for cost reasons, despite the drug gaining approval from the country's health regulator. Molnupiravir and a rival antiviral pill from Pfizer called Paxlovid have demonstrated efficacy in trials of adults with COVID-19 who are at high risk of serious illness and are now both in use.
(With inputs from agencies.)