Health News Roundup: World can bring pandemic under control within months – WHO chief; U.S. will boost ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories to 80% of world and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

World can bring pandemic under control within months – WHO chief

GENEVA (Reuters) – The world can bring the global COVID-19 pandemic under control in the coming months provided it distributes the necessary resources fairly, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told a news briefing on Monday. Global climate change activist Greta Thunberg, joining the briefing as a virtual guest from Sweden, took a swipe at “vaccine nationalism” and said it was unethical that rich countries were prioritising their younger citizens for vaccination ahead of vulnerable groups in developing countries.

U.S. will boost ‘Do Not Travel’ advisories to 80% of world

The U.S. State Department said on Monday it will boost its “Do Not Travel” guidance to about 80% of countries worldwide, citing “unprecedented risk to travelers” from the COVID-19 pandemic. “This update will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80% of countries worldwide,” the department said in a statement.

Spain to trial mixing COVID-19 vaccines after restricting AstraZeneca shot

Spain will study the effects of mixing different coronavirus vaccines, government researchers said on Monday, responding to shifting guidelines on the safety of the AstraZeneca’s shot. Along with several other European countries, Spain has restricted vaccines produced by the Anglo-Swedish drug maker to people over 60 after regulators linked it to a rare form of brain blood clots, mostly in younger women.

J&J COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing halted at U.S. plant that had contamination issue

Production of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine at a U.S. manufacturing plant was halted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration while the agency investigates an error that led to millions of doses being ruined last month. Emergent BioSolutions Inc, the company that owns and runs the Baltimore plant that had been making the J&J vaccine, said in a regulatory filing that the FDA requested a pause on April 16 in production of new drug substance for the shot pending completion of the inspection.

Physical inactivity tied to higher COVID-19 risk; new trial attempts to reinfect virus survivors

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. Physical inactivity tied to higher COVID-19 risks

New U.S. COVID cases fall 0.4% last week, after rising for four weeks

New cases of COVID-19 in the United States fell 0.4% last week after rising for four weeks in a row, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data. Health experts say new cases have plateaued at a high level as more infectious variants of the virus offset progress made in vaccinations. The country logged nearly 70,000 new cases per day in the week ended April 18, compared with 55,000 new cases a day in March and about 30,000 new cases this time last year.

Non-stop cremations cast doubt on India’s counting of COVID dead

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – Gas and firewood furnaces at a crematorium in the western Indian state of Gujurat have been running so long without a break during the COVID-19 pandemic that metal parts have begun to melt. “We are working around the clock at 100% capacity to cremate bodies on time,” Kamlesh Sailor, the president of the trust that runs the crematorium in the diamond-polishing city of Surat, told Reuters.

Swiss open mass vaccination centres in Geneva and Lausanne

Switzerland expanded its capacity to inoculate people against COVID-19 on Monday, opening mass vaccination centres in cities including Geneva and Lausanne. The number of cases has continued to steadily rise in the Alpine country over the past weeks. It increased by 4,905 since Friday, according to figures published on Monday, taking the total to 637,304, with 16 additional deaths.

Israel to buy millions of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses

Israel signed a deal to buy millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc through 2022, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. The new vaccinations will be suitable to protect people against different variants of the coronavirus, Netanyahu said in a statement.

J&J COVID-19 vaccine reviewed for links to additional reports of severe side effects -CDC

(Reuters) – The United States is reviewing reports of a handful of potential cases of severe side effects among people who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in addition to those that led to a pause in its use, a top U.S. public health official said on Monday. U.S. health regulators called for a pause in administering the J&J vaccine last week due to reports of serious brain blood clots in six women under age 50 who received the shot out of some 7 million vaccinated with it in the United States.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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