Health News Roundup: U.S. will not immediately lift mask rules in air, public transit; Chinese firm's COVID-19 drug claims draw skepticism and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Brazil to pause production of AstraZeneca vaccine due to lack of ingredients
Brazil's Fiocruz biomedical institute said on Thursday it would interrupt the production of the AstraZeneca vaccine for certain days next week due to a lack of ingredients, until new supplies arrive on May 22. Fiocruz, a government-backed center in Rio de Janeiro, said on Twitter that production based on current supplies would allow it to continue delivering vaccines through the first week of June, with additional supplies to sustain production beyond that.
U.S. will not immediately lift mask rules in air, public transit
The Biden administration's requirements that people wear masks on U.S. airplanes, public transport, airports, and ride-hailing vehicles are not expected to be lifted anytime soon, despite an easing in the rules for mask-wearing elsewhere.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday that it was easing its guidance for fully vaccinated people, saying they do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places.
Nearly 12,000 lives saved by vaccines so far in England - analysis
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in England has prevented nearly 12,000 deaths and more than 30,000 hospitalizations in older people, an analysis by the government agency Public Health England (PHE) said on Friday. Britain has given two-thirds of its adult population at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, helping Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his efforts to reopen the economy by the summer. (Graphic on global vaccinations) https://tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta
Chinese firm's COVID-19 drug claims draw skepticism
Chinese biotech firm Kintor Pharmaceutical Limited saw its stock price jump by more than 20% the day after it announced on April 25 that it had "completed the first patient enrollment and dosing" in a late-stage U.S. clinical trial of its experimental COVID-19 treatment. It was the company's latest announcement about the progress of the drug, Proxalutamide. The Hong Kong-listed company's stock price has nearly quadrupled since March 1 as some analysts wrote about the big sales potential for a COVID-19 treatment. Kintor has seen its market capitalization soar to HK$23.4 billion ($3 billion) from HK$6.6 billion on March 1.
India reports daily rise in coronavirus cases of 343,144
India on Friday reported 343,144 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, taking its overall caseload past the 24 million mark, while deaths from COVID-19 rose by 4,000. The South Asian nation has added nearly 1.4 million cases and over 16,000 deaths this week. Its total caseload now stands at 24.05 million while total fatalities are at 262,317, according to health ministry data.
In surprise move, Japan adds 3 more prefectures to virus state of emergency
Japan will declare a state of emergency in three more prefectures hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday, in a surprise move reflecting growing concerns about the virus's spread. The rising state of emergency declarations come as Japan grapples with a surge of a more infectious strain of COVID-19 just 10 weeks before the Tokyo Olympics are due to start.
Samsung BioLogics says no decision yet on producing Moderna's COVID-19 shot
Samsung BioLogics Co Ltd said on Friday that no decision has been made yet on producing Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine in South Korea after a local newspaper reported the two companies had agreed on a contract manufacturing deal. The Chosun Ilbo reported that the biotech arm of Samsung Group has agreed to produce the Moderna vaccine in its plant in Songdo, part of which will be used for domestic vaccination, citing unnamed government and pharmaceutical industry sources.
Delayed second Pfizer COVID-19 shot produces more antibodies - study
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine generates antibody responses three-and-a-half times larger in older people when a second dose is delayed to 12 weeks after the first, a British study said. The study released on Friday is the first to directly compare immune responses of the Pfizer shot from the three-week dosing interval tested in clinical trials, and the extended 12-week interval that British officials recommend in order to give more vulnerable people at least some protection quickly.
Mainland China reports first local COVID-19 cases in more than 3 weeks
Mainland China reported seven new COVID-19 cases on May 13, including its first local transmissions in more than three weeks, the country's national health authority said on Friday. Two of the new cases were local infections in the eastern province of Anhui, the National Health Commission said in a statement. The cases were the first local transmissions since April 20, when China recorded two local infections in the southwestern province of Yunnan, where a city on the border with Myanmar reported a new cluster in late March.
Fully vaccinated people can shed their masks in most places -U.S. CDC
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, updated guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal. The CDC, which hopes the guidance will prod more Americans to get vaccinated, also said fully immunized people will not need to physically distance in most places.
(With inputs from agencies.)