Health News Roundup: France reports 5,962 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units; EU to shortly sign world’s largest vaccine deal with Pfizer and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Lawmakers urge Biden to back ‘moral’ patent waiver to speed vaccine access

U.S. lawmakers and nonprofit groups on Friday heaped pressure on the Biden administration to back a temporary patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines to help poor countries contain the pandemic. The groups delivered a petition signed by two million people, adding to separate letters already sent to U.S. President Joe Biden by a group of senators, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, nearly 100 members of the House and 60 former heads of state and 100 Nobel Prize winners.

U.S. administers 222.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – CDC

The United States had administered 222,322,230 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Friday morning and distributed 286,095,185 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Those figures are up from the 218,947,643 vaccine doses the CDC said had been administered by April 22 out of 282,183,915 doses delivered.

France reports 5,962 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units

French health authorities reported that 5,962 people were in intensive care units with COVID-19 on Friday, 19 fewer than a day earlier, but the figure remains at a very high level as the country prepares to exit its third lockdown. The total number of people in hospital with COVID-19 fell for a fourth consecutive day, by 196 to 30,438.

EU to shortly sign world’s largest vaccine deal with Pfizer

The European Commission said it expects to seal the world’s biggest vaccine supply deal within days, securing up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for the next few years as a debate rages over unfair access to shots for the world’s poorest people. The vaccines from the U.S. drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech would be delivered over 2021-2023, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Pfizer’s vaccine plant in Puurs, Belgium.

WHO, Macron condemn global vaccine divide as COVAX scheme marks first year

Coronavirus vaccines remain out of reach in the poorest countries, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday, marking the first anniversary of the COVAX dose-sharing facility. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly denounced inequities in vaccine distribution and urged wealthier countries to share excess doses to help inoculate health workers in low-income countries.

Younger Brazilians increasingly hit by COVID-19, study finds

Younger Brazilians are increasingly being affected by COVID-19, with those in their 20s showing the greatest increase in deaths so far this year, according to a report published by government biomedical institute Fiocruz on Friday. It found that the number of COVID-19 deaths among people between the ages of 20 and 29 jumped more than 1,000% between the start of this year – before Brazil’s vaccination campaign began – and the first half of April.

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. (

Co-creator of AstraZeneca COVID shot defends safety amid clot concerns

LONDON (Reuters) – One of the Oxford scientists who co-developed AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine defended its safety on Friday and said he was not worried that some countries had opted to restrict its use amid concerns about a possible link to very rare side effects. Adrian Hill, director of the Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, said teams around the world were working to pin down any potential mechanism for what might be causing the blood clots, using real world data now that so many shots have been administered.

J&J COVID-19 vaccine pause under review as U.S. advisers weigh clot reports

(Reuters) – Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday are considering if it is safe to resume injections of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, even as senior U.S. health officials prepare for a green light. The vaccine was paused by the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week after reports of rare but serious blood clots associated with low blood platelets. Top health officials have said they hope for a return to the vaccine’s use after the panel meets.

Hospitals overrun as India’s COVID-19 infections top global record for second day

People across India scrambled for life-saving oxygen supplies on Friday and patients lay dying outside hospitals as the capital recorded the equivalent of one death from COVID-19 every five minutes. For the second day running, the country’s overnight infection total was higher than ever recorded anywhere in the world since the pandemic began last year, at 332,730.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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