Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Cartoon dog pitches COVID vaccines to skeptical Japanese public
As Japan gears up for a COVID-19 vaccination drive, a cheerful cartoon dog chatbot is doing its bit to reassure a notoriously vaccine-skeptical population and answer any questions they might have. Trust in vaccines in Japan is among the lowest in the world, a study by the Lancet medical journal showed. Only half the population wants to take a COVID-19 vaccine, a poll by national broadcaster NHK found last month.
Recently vaccinated people need not quarantine post-COVID-19 exposure: CDC
People who have received the full course of COVID-19 vaccines can skip the standard 14-day quarantine after exposure to someone with the infection as long as they remain asymptomatic, U.S. public health officials advised. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday the vaccines have been shown to prevent symptomatic COVID-19, thought to play a greater role in the transmission of the virus than the asymptomatic disease.
Brazil minister says Amazon coronavirus variant three times more contagious
A coronavirus variant identified in the Brazilian Amazon maybe three times more contagious but early analysis suggests vaccines are still effective against it, the country’s health minister said on Thursday, without providing evidence for the claims. Under pressure as the variant hammers the jungle city of Manaus with a devastating second wave of infections, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello sought to reassure lawmakers that the surge of recent months was unexpected but coming under control.
New Zealand plans to start COVID-19 vaccinations next week
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday the country’s COVID-19 inoculation program will likely begin on Feb. 20, brought forward by the earlier receipt of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than originally anticipated. Pressure has been mounting on Ardern to start vaccinations for the country’s 5 million people to take advantage of its rare position of having virtually eliminated the virus domestically.
EU approves all requests for COVID-19 vaccine export to UK, U.S., Japan, China
The European Commission has so far approved all requests for the export of COVID-19 vaccines, including to Britain, the United States, China, and Japan, since it set up on Jan. 30 a mechanism to monitor vaccine flows, a spokeswoman said on Thursday. The accommodating stance is expected to alleviate concerns from global partners about the EU’s willingness to allow COVID-19 vaccines to leave its territory, despite the 27-nation bloc having faced supply disruptions and a cut in vaccine deliveries.
Biden says there will not be enough COVID vaccines by end of summer to vaccinate all Americans
President Joe Biden said on Thursday the United States would not have enough coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of the summer to vaccinate all Americans. Biden made the remark during a visit to the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in a suburb of Washington.
China reports 12 new COVID-19 cases vs two a day earlier
China reported 12 new mainland COVID-19 cases on Feb. 11, official data showed on Friday, up from two cases a day earlier but there were no new locally transmitted infections as the Lunar New Year holiday began. All of the new cases were imported infections, the National Health Commission said in a statement. New asymptomatic infections, which China does not classify as confirmed COVID-19 cases, fell to eight from 16 a day earlier.
68.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines delivered, 46.4 million administered: U.S. CDC
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had administered 46,390,270 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Thursday morning and delivered 68,285,575 doses. The tally of vaccine doses are for both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, vaccines as of 6:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, the agency said.
‘Our gratitude always’: From China’s CanSino, Mexico welcomes biggest vaccine shipment yet
Mexico received its biggest COVID-19 vaccine shipment yet on Thursday, in the form of the active ingredient for 2 million doses of China’s CanSino shot, a relief for the Latin American country after slow delivery on orders from Western companies. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard recognized China’s support and thanked CanSino Biologics Inc for the “timely shipment” in a tweet.
First COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Japan from Pfizer: media
The first batch of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Japan on Friday, local media reported, with official approval for the shots expected within days as the country races to control a third wave of infections ahead of the Olympic Games. A government health panel is due to deliberate on the vaccine later on Friday, when it is expected to green-light the shots for formal approval. Kyodo News reported that approval would come on Sunday.
(With inputs from agencies.)