Health News Roundup: AstraZeneca to miss second-quarter EU vaccine supply; China’s bid to stop Whuan COVID-19 spread and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Exclusive: AstraZeneca to miss second-quarter EU vaccine supply target by half – EU official

AstraZeneca Plc has told the European Union it expects to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply in the second quarter, an EU official told Reuters on Tuesday. Contacted by Reuters, AstraZeneca did not deny what the official said, but a statement late in the day said the company was striving to increase productivity to deliver the promised 180 million doses.

China’s bid to stop Wuhan COVID-19 spread cut deaths elsewhere from other causes: study

The number of deaths in China – excluding the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan – fell slightly during the first three months of 2020, suggesting efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 reduced deaths from other causes, a new study showed. Researchers from the University of Oxford and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analysed official death registry data from Jan. 1 to March 31 last year for changes in overall and cause-specific deaths.

Colombia approves emergency use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Colombia has approved emergency use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, the director of the food and drug regulator INVIMA said as part of a government address on Tuesday. Colombia has secured vaccine agreements with a raft of pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization-backed COVAX program.

U.S. administers 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – CDC

The United States has administered 65,032,083 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Tuesday morning and distributed 82,114,370 doses. The tally of vaccine doses are for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the agency said.

Some Australian states ease curbs on dancing after weeks of no COVID cases

Two Australian states will loosen restrictions on dancing at indoor venues and ease other curbs from Friday after several weeks of no COVID-19 cases. In New South Wales (NSW), 30 people will be allowed to dance at weddings and as many as 30 people will be able to sing indoors together, up from five currently. Households will also be allowed to host 50 guests, up from 30.

Johnson & Johnson ready to ship nearly 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in U.S.

Johnson & Johnson expects to be able to ship nearly 4 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine upon authorization in the U.S., an executive said at a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday. The single-dose vaccine is being considered by an outside advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this week, and emergency use authorization could come shortly afterward.

FDA to allow Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be stored at higher temps: NYT

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration plans to approve Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE’s request to store their COVID-19 vaccine at standard freezer temperatures instead of in ultra-cold conditions, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The FDA is expected to announce the new guidance to the providers as early as Tuesday, modifying documents related to the emergency use authorization that was previously granted for the vaccine, the NYT report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

COVID-19 vaccine makers tell Congress U.S. supply will surge soon

COVID-19 vaccine makers told Congress on Tuesday that U.S. supplies should surge in the coming weeks due to manufacturing expansions and new vaccine authorizations. Executives from Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson – speaking at a hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives – said they would be able to supply enough vaccine to have fully inoculated 130 million people in the United States by the end of March.

South Korea hails arrival of virus vaccines as first step in ‘return to normal’

South Korea shipped its first doses of a coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, transferring AstraZeneca vaccines from a production facility in the country to a warehouse outside the capital of Seoul in preparation for this week’s inoculation drive. Healthcare workers are scheduled to receive the first batch of AstraZeneca PLC’s vaccine from Friday, as South Korea looks to protect 10 million high-risk people by July, on its way to reaching herd immunity by November.

Singapore trials Smartphone app offering mini check-ups

Each morning before work at a Singapore construction site, Gunasekar Udayakumar, 41, gets his vital signs checked, without going to a clinic, or even seeing a nurse. All he needs is his smartphone, which in just 45 seconds can tell him his heart rate, oxygen levels and even his stress levels.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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