Health News Roundup: Brazil’s Bolsonaro says COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory; Indiana University sees ‘alarming’ spike in COVID-19 at frat and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Tiny village offers window into India’s surging COVID-19 caseload

The quaint, sugarcane-growing village of Rajewadi in India’s west did not have a single confirmed coronavirus case until mid-August. Now one in every four people there is positive for the virus, with police blaming a local religious event for the spread. Such spurts in cases in small towns and villages, where mask wearing and social distancing have nearly vanished and community gatherings are back, explain why India’s infections are now rising faster than anywhere else in the world and why the country is soon set to top 4 million cases.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro says COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory

Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has consistently downplayed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, reiterated on Thursday that COVID-19 vaccinations will not be obligatory when they become available. “Many people want the vaccine to be applied in a coercive way, but there is no law that provides for that,” Bolsonaro said in a Facebook live chat with his supporters.

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now: South Korea scrambles to add hospital beds Mexico has world’s most health worker deaths from pandemic, Amnesty International says

More health workers have died from the coronavirus in Mexico than any other country on the planet, Amnesty International said on Thursday, highlighting the high toll the pandemic was taking on frontline medical staff around the globe. At least 7,000 health workers around the world have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus, including 1,320 in Mexico, Amnesty said.

Indiana University sees ‘alarming’ spike in COVID-19 at frat, sorority houses

Indiana University at Bloomington on Thursday urged students living in fraternity and sorority houses to move out, citing an “alarming” rate of positive COVID-19 tests that marked the latest outbreak in the U.S. Midwest and at a college campus. The university said on Twitter that positive tests for coronavirus were exceeding 50% in some Greek houses, higher than in dorms, and told fraternity and sorority members to “re-evaluate their current living situation.”

UNICEF says drugmakers can produce unprecedented vaccine quantities for COVID-19

Unprecedented quantities of vaccines could be produced by 28 manufacturers in 10 countries over the next two years to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Thursday, as it announced it would help lead efforts to procure and distribute them. UNICEF’s role is part of a COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan – known as COVAX and co-led by the World Health Organization – that aims to buy and provide equitable access to the shots. So far, 76 wealthy nations committed to joining the COVAX effort.

J&J’s coronavirus vaccine candidate prevents severe disease in hamsters

Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday its experimental coronavirus vaccine prevented hamsters from getting severely ill, as the drugmaker seeks to begin large, late-stage studies in humans later this month. In the pre-clinical study, vaccinated animals lost less weight and had less virus in their lungs and other organs than unvaccinated animals.

South Korean doctors expected to end strike amid COVID cases surge

South Korean doctors agreed on Friday to end a two-week strike which has complicated efforts to curb a new wave of coronavirus infections, after overnight talks over the government’s medical reform plans. About 16,000 intern and resident doctors have been on strike since Aug. 21. Trainee doctors are the backbone of healthcare services in emergency rooms and intensive care units, and volunteer at temporary testing stations.

Tracing apps may stem COVID-19 spread even when only a few use them: study

Contact tracing apps can sharply reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus even when only a few people use them, a study published on Thursday by researchers at Google and Oxford University showed. An app used by 15% of the population together with a well-staffed contact-tracing workforce can lead to a 15% drop in infection rates and an 11% drop in COVID-19 deaths, according to statistical modeling by the Alphabet Inc unit and Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine.

COVID-19 vaccine could come in late October; White House says no pressure on timing

U.S. public health officials and Pfizer Inc said a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for distribution as soon as late October, just ahead of the November election in which the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be a major factor among voters deciding whether President Donald Trump wins a second term. Even though the stakes are high for Republican Trump, who is squaring off against former Vice President Joe Biden on Nov. 3, there is no political pressure on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve a vaccine, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday.

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