Health News Roundup: UK Johnson to plot path out of lockdown; US administers 63/1 million doses of COVID-19 and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

UK’s Johnson to plot path out of lockdown on Monday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will plot a path out of COVID-19 lockdown on Monday in an effort to gradually reopen the battered $3 trillion economy, aided by one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world. With more than 120,000 fatalities, Britain has suffered the world’s fifth-highest official death toll from the pandemic and its biggest economic crash in more than 300 years.

U.S. administers 63.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines: CDC

The United States has administered 63,090,634 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Sunday morning and delivered 75,204,965 doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The tally of vaccine doses are for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, the agency said.

Over 43 million doses of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccines used globally: state media

More than 43 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s state-backed China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) have been used, including over 34 million administered in the country and the rest overseas, official media said on Sunday. China National Biotec Group Company (CNBG), a Sinopharm unit, has two COVID-19 vaccines. One of them is developed by its Beijing unit and has been approved for general public use in China and emergency use in several countries including Iraq, Pakistan and Morocco.

German teachers, nursery workers could get vaccine sooner: health minister

Primary school teachers and nursery workers in Germany could get a COVID-19 vaccine sooner than originally planned, the country’s Health Minister Jens Spahn said. In its vaccination strategy, Germany has defined three groups of the population to make sure those in need, including people aged 80 or more, get their shots first. So far, teachers and childcare workers are part of the last group.

Argentina approves Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Argentina’s drug regulator has authorized the emergency use of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine ahead an expected delivery of 1 million doses of the Chinese-made jab. The country, which was rattled in recent days by a VIP vaccine scandal that led to the resignation of the health minister, is ramping up its inoculation program, which has so far been largely built around Russia’s Sputnik V.

Belgian Catholics contest 15 at-a-time COVID rule in one of world’s biggest churches

Brussels’ cavernous basilica is one of the largest churches in the world but COVID-19 rules allow only 15 people at a time to attend mass there, the same limit applied to much smaller religious venues in Belgium. Dozens of worshippers of different religions and clergy demonstrated in the centre of the Belgian capital on Sunday calling for a change to the rules.

Australia begins mass COVID-19 vaccination program

Australia on Monday began its mass COVID-19 vaccine program with frontline healthcare staff and senior citizens getting the first doses as the country looked set to report no local cases for the third straight day. A group of 20 that included Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday received the first shots of the vaccine while the broader rollout started Monday morning with authorities expected to administer more than 60,000 doses by the end of the week.

Palestinian COVID vaccine plan faces large funding gap, World Bank says

The Palestinians’ COVID-19 vaccination plan faces a $30 million funding shortfall, even after factoring in support from a global vaccine scheme for poorer economies, the World Bank said in a report on Monday. Israel, a world leader in terms of vaccination speed, could perhaps consider donating surplus doses to the Palestinians to help accelerate a vaccine roll-out in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, the bank said.

U.S. nears 500,000 COVID-19 deaths as Biden plans commemoration

The United States faces a dark milestone this week despite a recent decline in COVID-19 cases as it prepares to mark a staggering half-million deaths, with President Joe Biden planning to memorialize the lives lost. While the number of COVID-19 cases fell for the fifth straight week and officials scrambled to inoculate the population, the nation was poised to reach 500,000 deaths from the highly infectious respiratory disease.

Japan vaccine supplies to be limited, delaying shots for elderly: minister

Japan will only receive limited doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the first months of the rollout and shots for the elderly will be distributed gradually, the country’s inoculation chief said. Pfizer Inc, the maker of Japan’s only approved COVID-19 vaccine, is ramping up production in Europe, but those increased supplies are not likely to reach Japan until May, Administrative Reform Minister Taro Kono cautioned on Sunday in an interview with national broadcaster NHK.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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