Health News Roundup: AstraZeneca says U.S. to buy additional 500,000 Evusheld doses; White House will double COVID-19 tests for schools and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

AstraZeneca says U.S. to buy additional 500,000 Evusheld doses

AstraZeneca said on Wednesday the U.S. government has agreed to purchase an additional 500,000 doses of its antibody cocktail, Evusheld, used to treat COVID-19. The company said the delivery of the doses was expected in the first quarter of 2022 and more details about the deal would be announced in the coming weeks.

FDA flags risk of dental issues from use of opioid addiction drug buprenorphine

The U.S. health regulator on Wednesday warned patients and prescribers about the risk of potential dental problems arising from the use of buprenorphine medicines to treat opioid addiction and pain. The Food and Drug Administration said the opioid addiction treatment has been reported to cause tooth decay, infection, and, in some cases, total tooth loss in patients with no history of dental issues.

White House will double COVID-19 tests for schools

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a new set of measures to keep classes open, including doubling COVID-19 testing capacity in schools with 10 million more tests, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly through the United States

The United States reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, shattering the global record for daily cases in any one country. Omicron is now estimated to account for 98.3% of total new cases circulating in the country, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) says.

Not enough Canadian children are getting COVID-19 jabs, health systems at risk – Trudeau

Not enough Canadian children are being vaccinated against COVID-19 at a time when the Omicron variant threatens to swamp healthcare systems, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday. As of Jan. 1, 87.6% of Canadians above the age of 12 had received two shots. But among those aged from 5 to 12, that number dipped to just 2%, with 45.6% having received one dose.

Pfizer study shows COVID-19 booster can be given along with pneumonia shot

Pfizer Inc said on Wednesday booster doses of its COVID-19 vaccine can be administered along with its pneumonia vaccine and produced strong safety and immune responses in people aged 65 and above in a late-stage study. The study, initiated in May, tested the company’s next-generation pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PREVNAR 20, with a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot in 570 participants.

U.S. COVID deaths rising but likely due to Delta, not Omicron, says CDC chief

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States have increased by about 33% and deaths are up by about 40% from a week earlier, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, speaking on a media call, said U.S. COVID-19 cases, driven by the fast spreading Omicron variant, are expected to peak in the coming weeks.

Germany’s Scholz urges compulsory COVID-19 jabs for all adults

Germany should make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all adults, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told parliament on Wednesday, brushing off heckling from opposition lawmakers who accused him of fomenting social divisions. Scholz’s first question-and-answer session in parliament as chancellor came the same day Germany reported a record 80,430 new infections due to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Djokovic’s Australian visa row fuels vaccination debate in Serbia

While Australia’s Serbian community turned out in force to show their support for tennis ace Novak Djokovic in his visa row, in his homeland opinions are divided on his aversion to getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. Arriving in Melbourne to take part in the Australian Open, Djokovic was held in an immigration detention for several days after his visa was cancelled by border officials who questioned his medical exemption for a requirement to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Anti-vaccine protesters try to storm Bulgaria’s parliament

Anti-vaccine protesters tried to storm the Bulgarian parliament on Wednesday and briefly scuffled with police officers during a massive rally against coronavirus restrictions in downtown Sofia. Tensions rose an hour after about 3,000 people gathered in front of the parliament building, demanding the lifting of a mandatory health pass which they said trampled on their rights and was a back-door means of forcing people to get vaccinated.

Omicron less severe than Delta but still poses danger for unvaccinated: WHO

The highly infectious Omicron coronavirus variant causes less severe disease than the Delta strain but it remains a “dangerous virus”, particularly for those who are unvaccinated, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. Speaking at a news briefing, director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more than 90 countries were yet to meet the target of vaccinating 40% of their populations and more than 85% of people in Africa were yet to receive a single dose.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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