Health News Roundup: France reports 2021 high of 5,072 people in intensive care with COVID-19; Venezuela receives doses of Russian EpiVacCorona vaccine for trials and more

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The United States and 13 other countries expressed concerns on Tuesday that the World Health Organization (WHO) report on the origins of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was delayed and lacked access to complete data, according to a joint statement. It followed WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s assertion that data was withheld from its investigators who traveled to China to research the origins of the pandemic.

Turkey logs highest new coronavirus cases since beginning of pandemic

Turkey has recorded 37,303 new coronavirus cases in the space of 24 hours, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago, health ministry data showed on Tuesday. The government had said on Monday it would tighten restrictions on movement and gatherings because of rising infections, less than a month after easing them.

Pfizer to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Canada, J&J doses due in April

Pfizer Inc has agreed to accelerate the delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada, and some doses of the Johnson & Johnson inoculation are due to arrive at the end of April, Canadian officials said on Tuesday. Canada has lagged the United States and Britain in getting its nearly 38 million citizens vaccinated, but the federal government says the vaccine ramp-up inoculations are underway.

New COVID strain detected in Israel; Pfizer vaccine purchase bid delayed

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A new coronavirus strain has been identified in Israel, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, used primarily in a swift nationwide inoculation drive, appeared to be effective against it. Separately, a bid by the Israeli government to secure 36 million more Pfizer/BioNTech doses for use as booster shots or for children once they are eligible hit a snag this week over political infighting.

France reports 2021 high of 5,072 people in intensive care with COVID-19

France’s health ministry said on Tuesday that the number of people in intensive care units (ICUs) with COVID-19 increased by 98 to 5,072 people, the highest this year. The last time France had more than 5,000 people in ICUs for coronavirus-related disease was on April 23, 2020 during the first lockdown, when the number of people in ICU peaked at 7,148 on April 8.

Venezuela receives doses of Russian EpiVacCorona vaccine for trials

Russia has supplied Venezuela with doses of EpiVacCorona to be used as part of trials of the Russian coronavirus vaccine candidate, officials said on Tuesday. Russia has said that more than 115,000 EpiVacCorona doses have been deployed in its national inoculation program, calling it “100% effective” in producing antibodies – though some trial volunteers have expressed concerns about its efficacy.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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