Health News Roundup: EU regulator reviews reports of rare nerve disorder after AstraZeneca; Some Americans hesitate to shed masks despite and more
But even under the eased U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules, which say people like her who are vaccinated against COVID-19 need not wear masks outside in most cases, the 70-year-old retired teacher said she would keep hers on around others as a courtesy. EU split on vaccine waiver idea, unlikely to take clear stance European Union leaders are divided over whether to follow Washington in supporting a waiver of patent rights to COVID-19 vaccines, as many argue this would take years and not address the immediate issue of making more shots to end the pandemic.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
EU regulator reviews reports of rare nerve disorder after AstraZeneca shot
Europe's medicines regulator said on Friday it was reviewing reports of a rare nerve-degenerating disorder in people who have received AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, and requested more detailed data on the cases from the company. As part of a regular review of safety reports for the vaccine, Vaxzevria, the European Medicines Agency's safety committee is analysing data provided on cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, the regulator said.
'You feel naked': Some Americans hesitate to shed masks despite eased outdoor rules
Anita Glick felt somewhat liberated as she walked her friend's dog around Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood this week, her face mask looped around a wrist thanks to U.S. health authorities' new guidance on outdoor mask wearing. But even under the eased U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules, which say people like her who are vaccinated against COVID-19 need not wear masks outside in most cases, the 70-year-old retired teacher said she would keep hers on around others as a courtesy.
EU split on vaccine waiver idea, unlikely to take clear stance
European Union leaders are divided over whether to follow Washington in supporting a waiver of patent rights to COVID-19 vaccines, as many argue this would take years and not address the immediate issue of making more shots to end the pandemic. Leaders of the 27-nation bloc will discuss the patent waiver idea at a two-day summit that starts in the Portuguese city of Porto on Friday, but are unlikely to formulate a strong united position apart from a general readiness to discuss the topic.
Canada says it's ready to discuss COVID-19 vaccine IP waiver
Canada said on Friday it was prepared to discuss an intellectual property rights (IP) waiver for COVID-19 vaccines while also stressing the importance of protecting IP and the integral role industry played in developing the medicines. U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind waiving IP rights for COVID-19 vaccines. Any such waiver would have to be negotiated through the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Gandhi warns 'explosive' COVID wave threatens India and the world
India's main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi warned on Friday that unless the deadly second COVID-19 wave sweeping the country was brought under control it would decimate India as well as threaten the rest of the world. In a letter, Gandhi implored Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prepare for another national lockdown, accelerate a country-wide vaccination programme and scientifically track the virus and its mutations.
U.S. move to loosen vaccine patents will draw drug companies to bargain: lawyers
U.S. support for waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines could be a tactic to convince drugmakers to back less drastic steps like sharing technology and expanding joint ventures to quickly boost global production, lawyers said on Thursday. "I think the end result that most players are looking for here is not IP waiver in particular, it's expanded global access to the vaccines," said Professor Lisa Ouellette of Stanford Law School.
Pfizer-BioNTech start full U.S. approval application for COVID-19 vaccine
Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SA said on Friday they have started an application process with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval of their COVID-19 vaccine, currently only authorized for emergency use. If approved, the vaccine will be the first fully approved COVID-19 shot and could help ease vaccine hesitancy due to longer-term data required for an FDA approval.
Britain labels coronavirus "variant of concern" linked to travel from India
British health officials on Friday labelled a coronavirus variant first found in India a "variant of concern" due to evidence it spreads more easily, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the situation needed careful handling. Public Health England designated variant B.1.617.2, one of three variants identified in India that has spread to Britain, a variant of concern. Surge testing was being carried out in areas where evidence indicates community spread.
UK says under-40s should be offered alternative to AstraZeneca vaccine
British officials said on Friday people under 40 should be offered an alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine where possible due to a small risk of blood clots, given the low number of cases and the availability of other shots. AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot, developed by Oxford University, has resulted in reports of rare blood clots with low platelet levels that occur more commonly in younger adults. Some countries have advised the shot be given only to older people.
Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
* A United States' proposal to discuss waiving patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines will intensify talks on the issue within the World Trade Organization, the WTO director general said. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
(With inputs from agencies.)