Health News Roundup: Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,378 to 248,997; U.S. coronavirus deaths projected to more than double to 410,000 by January and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. coronavirus deaths projected to more than double to 410,000 by January

U.S. deaths from the coronavirus will reach 410,000 by the end of the year, more than double the current death toll, and deaths could soar to 3,000 per day in December, the University of Washington’s health institute forecast on Friday. Deaths could be reduced by 30% if more Americans wore face masks as epidemiologists have advised, but mask-wearing is declining, the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said.

Smoking tied to COVID-19 risk; oxygen meter may help home patients

The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Smoking tied to higher levels of COVID-19-associated genes Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine showed antibody response in initial trials

Russia’s “Sputnik-V” COVID-19 vaccine produced an antibody response in all participants in early-stage trials, according to results published on Friday by The Lancet medical journal that was hailed by Moscow as an answer to its critics. The results of the two trials, conducted in June-July this year and involving 76 participants, showed 100% of participants developing antibodies to the new coronavirus and no serious side effects, The Lancet said.

Widespread COVID-19 vaccinations not expected until mid-2021, WHO says

The World Health Organization does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year, a spokeswoman said on Friday, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety. None of the candidate vaccines in advanced clinical trials so far has demonstrated a “clear signal” of efficacy at the level of at least 50% sought by the WHO, spokeswoman Margaret Harris said.

WHO’s Tedros says ‘vaccine nationalism’ would prolong pandemic

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that “vaccine nationalism” would only slow the effort to quash the pandemic and called for vaccines to be used fairly and effectively. Tedros said 78 high-income countries had now joined the “COVAX” global vaccine allocation plan, bringing the total to 170 countries, and the “number is growing”. He urged others to join by the Sept. 18 deadline for binding commitments.

Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,378 to 248,997: RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,378 to 248,997, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday. The reported death toll rose by 2 to 9,324, the tally showed.

South Korea posts fewest COVID-19 cases in three weeks after tightening distancing

South Korea recorded 168 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Friday, posting the lowest daily tally in three weeks after imposing stricter social distancing rules to blunt the second wave of infections. The total infections rose to 21,010, with 333 deaths, according to the data published by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

Australia’s virus hot spot chafes under lockdown as infection rate gradually improves

The state of Victoria reported 76 new coronavirus infections and 11 deaths on Saturday, as trends in Australia’s hot spot for the disease continued to gradually improve after nearly five weeks of a hard lockdown in the state’s capital Melbourne. State premier Daniel Andrews is due to outline plans on Sunday for easing Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions which shut large parts of the economy, required everyone to stay home except for essential business, and imposed a night-time curfew.

Exclusive: J&J seeking one-third of COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteers in hard-hit Latin America

Johnson & Johnson will seek 20,000 volunteers for late-stage human trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in hard-hit Latin America, one-third of the planned global total, one of its public health chiefs in the region said. Josue Bacaltchuk, vice president of medical affairs for Latin America for Janssen, J&J’s Belgian unit developing the vaccine prototype, said countries hosting the trials would also likely get preferential access to vaccines once ready.

COVID-19 vaccine developers prepare joint safety pledge: WSJ

Several COVID-19 vaccine developers, including Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna Inc, plan to issue a public pledge not to seek government approval until their vaccine candidates are proven to be safe and effective, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The companies would pledge to adhere to high scientific and ethical standards in the conduct of clinical studies and in their manufacturing processes, the Journal report said, citing the draft of a joint statement that is still being finalized.

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