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Reuters Health News Summary

Reuters logo Reuters 1/27/2021

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Global COVID-19 cases surpass 100 million as nations tackle vaccine shortages

Global coronavirus cases surpassed 100 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as countries around the world struggle with new virus variants and vaccine shortfalls. Almost 1.3% of the world's population has now been infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 2.1 million people have died.

Wisconsin pharmacist to plead guilty to trying to spoil COVID-19 vaccine doses

A Wisconsin pharmacist has agreed to plead guilty to purposely trying to spoil hundreds of doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in a bid to render them ineffective, the U.S. Justice Department said. Steven Brandenburg, 46, is charged with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products and with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury, according to the statement by the Justice Department.

COVAX to supply 355 million vaccine doses for Eastern Med this year - WHO official

The COVAX vaccine sharing platform expects to have 25 million coronavirus vaccine doses for the Eastern Mediterranean region in March, rising to 355 million doses by December, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Wednesday. The first doses provided for the region through COVAX will arrive in February, WHO official Yvan Hutin told reporters.

AstraZeneca to ask Japan's JCR Pharmaceutical to produce COVID-19 vaccine - Nikkei

AstraZeneca Plc will license Japanese biotechnology company JCR Pharmaceutical, to produce some 90 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to help Japan avoid shortages and delays, the Nikkei newspaper reported. The government in December agreed to buy 120 million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University with deliveries to begin in May, the Nikkei said.

UK COVID variant sufferers cough more, but smell less affected - survey

People testing positive for the new British variant of the coronavirus are more likely to report coughing, sore throat or fatigue as symptoms of COVID-19, but are less likely to lose their sense of taste or smell, a British survey has found. The variant, identified in southeast England in December, is thought to be more transmissible, and could also be associated with higher mortality, though data suggesting increased death rates are uncertain and not yet strong.

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now: Global cases surpass 100 million

Raging virus, few shots. How Brazil missed its chance to secure COVID-19 vaccines

Weeks after other Latin American countries began inoculating their citizens against coronavirus, Brazil finally administered its first shot on Jan. 17 using China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd vaccine. With efficacy of just over 50% - barely above Brazil's threshold for regulatory approval - the Chinese shot was not the government's first choice. But for now, there is little else available.

Vaccine row with AstraZeneca escalates as EU grapples with delays

The European Union is asking AstraZeneca to publish the contract it signed with the bloc on COVID-19 vaccine supplies, an EU official said on Wednesday, as frustrations over delivery delays bubble to the surface. Vaccine rollouts in the European Union have been slow compared with some other regions, especially former EU member Britain, exacerbated by AstraZeneca and Pfizer both announcing holdups in recent weeks.

British government faces pushback on mass COVID-19 testing plan - sources

Scientists and advisers are resisting British government plans to test the population for COVID-19 to boost efforts to reopen the economy because they have concerns about the widespread use of rapid tests, sources close to its testing programme said. Under growing pressure to chart a way out of England's third national lockdown and facing criticism of his handling of the pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to speed up efforts to get children back to school and revive businesses.

South Africa approves AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use

South Africa has approved AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use and is reviewing applications by rival manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, the medicines regulator said on Wednesday. "In terms of the AstraZeneca vaccine … this has been granted emergency use (approval) and there will be a press conference with the minister of health on this (later)," said Helen Rees, chairwoman of the South African Health Products board, during a media briefing.

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