Health News Roundup: Canada signs deal with Abbott for Panbio COVID-19 Antigen tests; Pfizer CEO says won’t discuss FDA’s coronavirus vaccine and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Canada signs deal with Abbott for Panbio COVID-19 Antigen tests

Canada said on Tuesday that it had signed a deal with Abbott Rapid Diagnostics to purchase up to 20.5 million Panbio COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests. Health Canada has also authorized the test for use in the country, the government said in a statement.

Pfizer CEO says won’t discuss FDA’s coronavirus vaccine guidance with White House

Pfizer Inc’s Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said on Tuesday the company would never discuss the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines on coronavirus vaccines with the White House as it could undermine the agency’s independence. White House officials are blocking new FDA guidelines for emergency release of a coronavirus vaccine, including one that would likely ensure that no vaccine could be authorized before the Nov. 3 presidential election, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Walmart to sell Medicare plans in latest healthcare push

Walmart Inc said on Tuesday it would sell Medicare insurance plans in 50 states and Washington D.C. through its broker, marking the U.S. retailer’s latest move into the healthcare space. Walmart Insurance Services LLC, which was launched in July, will offer policies from health insurers such as Humana Inc, UnitedHealth Group and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield from Oct. 15-Dec. 7, the company said.

U.S. vaccine program head Slaoui expects Pfizer, Moderna vaccine data readouts in November-December

The chief adviser for the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 vaccine program, Moncef Slaoui, on Tuesday said efficacy data readouts are expected from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc between next month and December. Speaking at a symposium conducted by the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington, Slaoui said data readouts from leading vaccine developers are expected to come in three waves over the next several months.

White House contact tracing questioned as COVID-19 spreads in Washington

The White House contact tracing program is too haphazard to pinpoint or halt a COVID-19 outbreak that was rapidly spreading in the U.S. capital city, health experts and city officials said on Tuesday. Washington reported 105 new cases of the coronavirus for Oct 5, the mayor’s office said, the highest figure since June.

U.S. CDC reports 209,560 deaths from coronavirus

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday reported 7,436,278 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 39,548 from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 361 to 209,560. The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on Oct. 5 versus its previous report a day earlier.(

U.S. FDA safety guidelines likely push COVID-19 vaccine authorization past election

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration told coronavirus vaccine developers on Tuesday it wants at least two months of safety data from half of their trial volunteers in order to authorize emergency use, a requirement that would likely push any U.S. vaccine availability past the Nov.3 presidential election. The FDA released the guidance laying out more stringent recommendations for drugmakers hoping to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for their experimental vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccine may be ready by year-end, says WHO’s Tedros

A vaccine against COVID-19 may be ready by year-end, the head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for solidarity and political commitment by all leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines when they become available.

Mexico to make COVID-19 vaccine payments this week, finance minister says

Mexico’s government on Friday will formalize the first contracts to acquire a COVID-19 vaccine and make an initial payment, Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said in a presentation to the senate on Tuesday. Herrera did not specify which vaccine or vaccines he was referring to but said the first batches should be available in Mexico in the first quarter next year. Mexico has been in talks with companies in several countries about acquiring a vaccine.

Exclusive: Moderna vaccine trial contractors fail to enroll enough minorities, prompting slowdown

Private contractors hired by Moderna Inc to recruit volunteers for its coronavirus vaccine trial failed to enroll enough Black, Latino and Native American participants to determine how well the vaccine works in these populations, company executives and vaccine researchers told Reuters. To make up for the shortfall, Moderna slowed enrollment of its late-stage trial and instructed research centers to focus on increasing participation among minority volunteers, the company said. The effort is being bolstered by academic researchers who have longstanding relationships with organizations in Black and other minority communities.

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