Health News Roundup: WHO and EMA to inspect Sputnik V manufacturing in May; India sets record for new COVID cases and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Sweden registers 7,736 new COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths on Thursday
Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, registered 7,736 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, health agency statistics showed. The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 19 new deaths, taking the total to 13,882. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.
In COVID-plagued Michigan, warning signs that vaccinations are stalling
When Michigan’s St. Clair County held a walk-in COV1D-19 vaccination clinic last week with 1,600 shots at the ready, only about 800 people signed up in advance. Walk-in traffic was slow. A quarter of the available shots went unused, says Jennifer Michaluk, a county health department official. St. Clair County, which sits on the Canadian border just northeast of Detroit, is a COVID hotbed. Earlier in the month, 30% of virus tests were coming back positive. Michigan has seen the biggest case spike of any state in recent weeks.
WHO and EMA to inspect Sputnik V manufacturing in May – WHO
Technical experts from the World Health Organization are due to start the next round of their review of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 jointly with the European Medicines Agency on May 10, the WHO said on Thursday. Russia is seeking WHO emergency-use listing for the vaccine developed by Gamalaya Institute. So far COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have been listed – an endorsement of their safety and efficacy that helps guide countries’ regulatory systems.
Norway will lend (is this the right word? Suggests the doses must not be used!) 216,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine it has in stock to Sweden and Iceland, the country’s health ministry said on Thursday, enabling the two Nordic neighbors to speed up their inoculation campaigns. Norway on March 11 suspended the rollout of the vaccine after a small number of younger people were hospitalized for a combination of blood clots, bleeding and a low count of platelets, some of whom later died.
Technical experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) will review on April 26 Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine for possible emergency use listing, to be followed by the Sinovac jab on May 3, the agency said on Thursday. “We would expect a decision a couple of days later,” the WHO said in response to a Reuters query.
How South Korea turbocharged specialty syringe production for COVID-19 vaccines
It was 7:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve when Cha Jung-hoon, South Korea’s deputy minister for small businesses, got a call from his boss to make an urgent three-hour car trip to visit syringe maker Poonglim Pharmatech. The brief: work out how the government could convince and aid Poonglim, which had only about 80 employees, to rapidly scale up production of their low dead space (LDS) syringes, a type of syringe designed to minimise the amount of a drug left in the device after injection.
What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
EU preparing legal case against AstraZeneca over vaccine shortfalls – sources
The European Commission is working on legal proceedings against AstraZeneca after the drugmaker cut COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the European Union, sources familiar with the matter said. The move would mark a further step in an EU plan to sever ties with the Anglo-Swedish company after it repeatedly cut supplies to the bloc, contributing to major delays in Europe’s vaccine rollout.
Japan PM Suga plans fresh emergency curbs amid surge in COVID cases
The Japanese government plans to declare a state of emergency for the third time for Tokyo and three other prefectures following a resurgence of new COVID-19 infections, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday. Suga told reporters the government will formally declare the state of emergency after a meeting with experts to be held on Friday when asked when the decision will be made.
India sets record for new COVID cases; oxygen running out
India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday as a second wave of the pandemic raised new fears about the ability to crumble health services to cope. Health officials across northern and western India including the capital, New Delhi, said they were in crisis, with most hospitals full and running out of oxygen.
(With inputs from agencies.)