Health News Roundup: How a WHO push for global vaccines needled Europe;Cafes open in Denmark as COVID-19 restrictions loosen and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

How a WHO push for global vaccines needled Europe

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Last April, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen added Europe to a global effort to ensure equitable access to a vaccine, which she said would be deployed “to every single corner of the world.” But despite pledging billions of dollars for the scheme set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and publicly endorsing it, European Union officials and member states repeatedly made choices that undermined the campaign, internal documents seen by Reuters and interviews with EU officials and diplomats show.

Spain to donate 5%-10% of its share of COVID-19 shots to Latin America

Spain will offer between 5% and 10% of its COVID-19 vaccine shots to Latin American and Caribbean countries this year, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday. “Spain will launch this commitment as soon as it reaches the mark of 50% of the Spanish population vaccinated,” Sanchez told the Ibero-American summit in Andorra, adding that he expected Latin American nations to receive 7.5 million doses by the end of the year.

Cafes open in Denmark as COVID-19 restrictions loosen

Danes returned to cafes, restaurants, bars and museums on Wednesday for the first time in months as COVID-19 restrictions were eased thanks to a drop in infection rates. Cafes and restaurants had been shut down except for takeaway since a second wave of COVID-19 accelerated in December. It has since receded, unlike in certain other European countries that are experiencing a third wave.

Argentina COVID-19 deaths hit 60,000 in pandemic’s ‘worst moment’

Argentina is going through its “worst moment” of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health minister said on Wednesday, as deaths from the virus hit 60,000 amid a sharp second wave that has forced the country to re-impose some lockdown measures. Health Minister Carla Vizzotti warned that the South American country’s healthcare system was at risk, especially in the metropolitan area around the capital Buenos Aires, which had forced the government to restrict movement and suspend indoor activities.

Remdesivir appears safe for seriously ill children; patients may not pose highest risk to hospital staff

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. Antiviral remdesivir appears safe for children

U.S. administers 215.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – CDC

The United States has administered 215,951,909 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Wednesday morning and distributed 277,938,875 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday. Those figures are up from the 213,388,238 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by April 20 out of 272,030,795 doses delivered.

Peeling paint, unsanitary practices among issues at U.S. plant making J&J COVID-19 vaccine -FDA

A U.S. plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration. Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Brazil cases dropping but relaxing health measures could reverse gains – PAHO

Brazil is seeing a drop in COVID-19 cases including in the hard-hit Amazon region but the relaxation of measures by some municipal governments could bring reversal in that improvement, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne warned on Wednesday. Etienne said cases in the South American giant, however, remained “alarmingly high” while cases in Chile, which has had “a difficult few months,” were plateauing.

Indian COVID-19 patients die as ventilators run out of oxygen; infections surge

SATARA, India (Reuters) – At least 24 COVID-19 patients in western India died on Wednesday when the oxygen supply to their ventilators ran out, amid a nationwide shortage of the gas and a surge in infections. Maharashtra State Health Minister Rajesh Tope confirmed the deaths at a hospital in Nashik city and said the hospital’s oxygen supply ran out because a tanker refilling it suffered a leak. Oxygen was running scarce throughout the country.

EU countries ready to start using J&J shot as deliveries resume

European countries prepared on Wednesday to start using Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and speed up their vaccination campaigns after Europe’s drug regulator backed the shot and deliveries started trickling in after a week-long pause. Germany’s health ministry said it would start deliveries to federal states for use in vaccination centres shortly, and that family doctors should resume the use of the vaccine as of Wednesday, while France will receive the vaccine from week after next.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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