Health News Roundup: EU seals world’s largest vaccine supply deal with Pfizer; Tedros denounces vaccine inequity as COVAX sharing scheme and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now: Indian health system staggers
EU seals world’s largest vaccine supply deal with Pfizer
The European Commission said it has sealed the world’s biggest vaccine supply deal, agreeing to buy up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for the next few years as a debate rages over inequitable access to shots for the world’s poorest people. The vaccines from the U.S. drug maker and its German partner BioNTech will be delivered over the period 2021-2023, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a briefing.
Tedros denounces vaccine inequity as COVAX sharing scheme marks first year
Coronavirus vaccines remain out of reach in the poorest countries, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report on Friday, marking the first anniversary of the COVAX dose-sharing facility. “Nearly 900 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 81% have gone to high- or upper middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.3%,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said about the ACT (Access to COVID-19 Tools) Accelerator set up a year ago.
More risks to pregnant women, their newborns from COVID-19 than known before – study
Pregnant women infected with COVID-19 and their newborn children face higher risks of complications than was previously known, a study by British scientists showed on Friday. An infection of the new coronavirus in such newborns is associated with a three-fold risk of severe medical complications, according to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Oxford. (https://bit.ly/3tNwkJ7)
Moderna CEO says world faces 2022 COVID vaccine production surplus
Manufacturers should focus on producing as many vaccines as possible this year, but the world faces a potential surplus next year in capacity, Moderna’s CEO said on Friday. Speaking at a virtual event on vaccine manufacturing, Stephane Bancel said that additional technology transfers might dent their ability to meet production targets. Moderna is on track to make up to 1 billion doses this year and 1.4 billion next year, he said.
U.S. officials hopeful as advisers meet again on J&J COVID-19 vaccine
Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet again on Friday to consider whether it is safe to resume injections of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, as senior U.S. health officials prepare for a green light. The panel last week called for more data about a possible link to rare blood clots in the brain before deciding how and whether to end a “pause” in administration of J&J vaccines called for by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration.
Germany sets no limits on use of J&J COVID-19 shot
Germany has decided not to impose limits on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, the head of the country’s vaccine regulator said on Friday, adding the expert panel that decides on its use will meet next week to evaluate new data. Europe’s drug regulator backed J&J’s vaccine this week after examining cases of a rare blood clotting issue in U.S. adults who received a dose. But it left it up to the European Union’s member states to decide how to use it.
Brazil’s COVID-19 vaccination program at risk due to 2nd dose no-shows
Brazil’s COVID-19 vaccination program is being put at risk by people failing to show up for their second shot, with 1.5 million people missing appointments for the follow-up dose needed to maximize protection, according to the Health Ministry.
Specialists say that is particularly concerning after a recent real-world study from Chile found that the Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine, which has accounted for some 80% of Brazil’s program, is just 16% effective after one shot.
Health Canada to start real-time review of Medicago COVID-19 vaccine
The Canadian health regulator has accepted Medicago’s application for a real-time review of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the drug developer said on Friday. Medicago is conducting a late-stage study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine combined with a booster from GlaxoSmithKline.
Indian coronavirus cases surge to new record as health system staggers
India reported the world’s highest daily tally of coronavirus infections for a second day on Friday, surpassing 330,000 new cases, as it struggles with a health system overwhelmed by patients and plagued by accidents. Deaths in the past 24 hours also jumped to a record 2,263, the health ministry said, while officials across northern and western India, including the capital, New Delhi, warned most hospitals were full and running out of oxygen.
(With inputs from agencies.)