Health News Roundup: WHO looks at possible ‘e-vaccination certificates’ for travel; Los Angeles mayor orders residents to stay home to avert ‘dreaded scenario’ and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Los Angeles mayor orders residents to stay home to avert ‘dreaded scenario’

The mayor of Los Angeles warned on Wednesday the city was nearing “a devastating tipping point” and ordered residents to stay in their homes and avoid social gatherings in new lockdown measures to rein in a surge in COVID-19 infections. His order limits nearly all social gatherings of people from more than a single household, mirroring a directive by county health officials last week, but exempts religious services and protests protected by the constitution.

WHO looks at possible ‘e-vaccination certificates’ for travel

The World Health Organization does not recommend countries issuing “immunity passports” for those who have recovered from COVID-19, but is investigating the prospects of using e-vaccination certificates, a WHO medical expert said on Thursday. “We are looking very closely into the use of technology in this COVID-19 response, one of them how we can work with member states toward an e-vaccination certificate,” he told a virtual briefing in Copenhagen.

Sao Paulo state gets 1 million doses of China candidate vaccine

Brazil’s Butantan Institute biomedical center on Thursday received 1 million doses of a Chinese vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech that is undergoing late-stage testing by the institute in Sao Paulo state. The consignment of CoronaVac vaccine, which will be packaged and labeled at Butantan’s facilities, arrived at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport.

Sanofi to publish COVID-19 vaccine price in development with GSK after Phase I/II trial results

French drug maker Sanofi will announce the price of the potential COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline after it has released Phase I/II results of the trials, vaccines chief Thomas Triomphe said on Thursday. The company is expected to release the results from the Phase I/II clinical trials this month.

How COVID upended life as we knew it in a matter of weeks

On Jan. 1, 2020, as the world welcomed a new decade, Chinese authorities in Wuhan shut down a seafood market in the central city of 11 million, suspecting that an outbreak of a new “viral pneumonia” affecting 27 people might be linked to the site. Early lab tests in China pointed to a new coronavirus. By Jan. 20 it had spread to three countries.

English health service looking at ways to deploy Pfizer vaccine in care homes – official

England’s National Health Service (NHS) is looking at ways to deploy Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in care homes with the medical regulator, but there is no guarantee that it will happen, deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said. Britain became the first country to approve the vaccine candidate developed by Germany’s BioNTech and Pfizer on Wednesday, jumping ahead of the rest of the world in the race to begin a crucial mass inoculation programme.

As U.S. races toward COVID-19 vaccine, Britain takes the lead

Britain leapt ahead of the United States in approving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, intensifying scrutiny on U.S. regulators as they consider whether to grant emergency use in the country that leads the world in coronavirus infections. A day after top U.S. health officials announced plans to begin vaccinating Americans as early as mid-December, British regulators granted emergency use approval to the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc along with Germany’s BioNTech SE.

English COVID tracers no longer contacting children separately, boosting figures

England’s COVID-19 test and trace system has stopped trying to contact under-18s separately to ask them to self-isolate if a parent says they will tell their child, helping to boost the proportion of contacts of cases successfully traced. After weeks near a record low of around 60% of contacts of positive cases being successfully traced, 72.5% percent of the 246,604 people identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the week to Nov 25. were reached.

IBM warns hackers targeting COVID vaccine ‘cold chain’ supply process

IBM is sounding the alarm over hackers targeting companies critical to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, a sign that digital spies are turning their attention to the complex logistical work involved in inoculating the world’s population against the novel coronavirus. The information technology company said in a blog post published on Thursday that it had uncovered “a global phishing campaign” focused on organizations associated with the COVID-19 vaccine “cold chain” – the process needed to keep vaccine doses at extremely cold temperatures as they travel from manufacturers to people’s arms.

Promise of COVID vaccines is ‘phenomenal’, WHO says

The promise of COVID-19 vaccines is “phenomenal” and “potentially game-changing”, Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, told a briefing on Thursday. Speaking from Copenhagen, he said supplies were expected to be very limited in the early stages and countries must decide who gets priority, though the WHO said there is “growing consensus” that first recipients should be older people, medical workers and people with co-morbidities.

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