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Countries limit AstraZeneca vaccine use, EU findings on J&J shot expected

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(Reuters) – Some countries are restricting use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to certain age groups, or suspending use, after European and British regulators confirmed possible links to rare blood clots.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has also been hit by concerns over blood clots. European regulators will issue findings later on Tuesday of their review into clotting issues in adults who had received the shot in the United States.

U.S. health agencies recommended pausing the single shot’s use temporarily on April 13 after reports of six cases in women under 50. A health advisory panel will meet on April 23 to discuss whether the pause should continue.

J&J has stated that no clear causal relationship has been established between the clots and its vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has so far maintained that the benefits of the AstraZeneca and J&J shots outweigh any risks.

COUNTRIES USING THE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE WITH RESTRICTIONS

AUSTRALIA

Recommended on April 8 that people under 50 should get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in preference to AstraZeneca’s.

BRITAIN

Vaccination committee has said an alternative should be given for people under 30 where possible, but that people who have received a first dose of the vaccine should get a second shot.

BULGARIA

Suspended use of vaccine on April 19 for women below 60 years who are at increased risk of thrombosis.

CANADA

Said in early April it would pause offering the vaccine to people under 55 and require a new analysis of the shot.

ESTONIA

Suspended use for people under 60 on April 7.

FRANCE

Using vaccine only for people aged 55 and over. On April 9, recommended that people under 55 who have had a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot should receive a messenger RNA vaccine for their second dose.

FINLAND

Using only for people aged 65 and over.

GEORGIA

Using only in medical centres following the death of a nurse, Russian news agency TASS reported on March 19.

GERMANY

Restricts use to those aged over 60. Recommended on April 1 that people under 60 who have had a first dose of AstraZeneca should receive a different second shot.

INDONESIA

Using the vaccine but has warned against giving it to people with a low blood platelet count.

IRELAND

Said on April 12 it was restricting use of the vaccine to those over 60.

ITALY

Recommends use only for people over 60.

MEXICO

Drug regulator Cofepris said on April 7 it did not “at this time” plan to limit the vaccine’s use but was investigating the information raised by Britain.

NETHERLANDS

Said on April 8 it would limit use of the vaccine to people over 60.

NORTH MACEDONIA

Health minister said on March 31 the vaccine would be limited to people aged over 60 as a precautionary measure.

PHILIPPINES

Said April 19 it would resume administering the vaccine to under-60s after having temporarily suspended use on April 8.

SOUTH KOREA

Resumed use of the shot for people aged 30 or older on April 12 after suspending use in under-60s on April 7.

SPAIN

From April 8, giving the vaccine only to people over 60.

SWEDEN

Using for people aged 65 and older.

COUNTRIES WHERE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE USE IS SUSPENDED

CAMEROON

Said on March 18 it was suspending administration of shots the country was due to receive via the COVAX global vaccines-sharing scheme.

DENMARK

Said on April 14 it would stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first country to do so. On April 19, Ritzau news agency reported that authorities may permit people to choose to have the vaccine.

NORWAY

The government suspended administration of the shot on March 11 and is assessing whether to follow an Institute of Public Health recommendation to end its use.

COUNTRIES WITH J&J VACCINE DELAYS AND RESTRICTIONS

EUROPEAN UNION

J&J said it would delay rollout of the vaccine to Europe after regulators said they were reviewing rare blood clots. Findings by the EMA’s safety committee are expected later on Tuesday.

Use in the EU was not yet widespread as the company only began deliveries in the week of April 12. The EMA recommended storing doses already received pending its recommendations.

BELGIUM

Delayed J&J rollout at the company’s request.

POLAND

Started administering the J&J shot on April 15, saying benefits outweigh potential risks

GREECE

Suspended rollout of J&J vaccinations on April 19, pending EMA decision.

SOUTH AFRICA

Suspended use of J&J’s vaccine on April 13.

UNITED STATES

On April 13, U.S. federal health agencies recommended pausing use of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine for at least a few days after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the shot.

On April 15, U.S. CDC advisory panel decided to delay a vote to April 23 on how best to use the J&J shot.

 

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka, Yadarisa Shabong, Manas Mishra, Vishwadha Chander, Amruta Khandekar and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751

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More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.

Eikon users can click  for a case tracker.

The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.

COUNTRIES AND TOTAL DEATHS CONFIRMED DEATHS PER

TERRITORIES CASES 10,000

INHABITANTS

United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9

India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94

Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55

France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04

Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38

Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62

United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21

Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51

Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95

Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36

Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56

Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06

Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78

Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34

Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43

Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67

Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02

Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79

Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09

South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52

Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11

Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7

Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69

Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14

Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78

Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11

Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03

Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56

Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91

Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53

Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18

Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71

Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75

Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24

Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52

Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96

Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9

Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83

United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69

Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05

Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52

Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58

Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66

Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12

Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48

Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38

Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34

Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55

Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83

Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05

Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials

Generated at 10:00 GMT.

 

(Editing by David Clarke)

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Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall

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Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.

Canada has administered one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

On Friday, Canada‘s public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.

The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.

Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we’ll advise people to remove,” Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.

“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States,” she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Less than 4% of Canada‘s adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised that everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by September, this week spoke of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall” without explaining what that might look like.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Delayed 2nd Pfizer/BioNTech shot boosts antibodies in elderly; COVID-19 obesity risk higher for men

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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.

Delaying second Pfizer/BioNTech dose boosts antibodies in elderly

Delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine beyond the originally recommended three-week gap used by the companies in clinical trials appears to induce a stronger antibody response in the elderly, UK researchers found. Shortly after the vaccine became available, UK health officials advised that the second dose should be given 12 weeks after the first to allow more people to get protected by a first dose early on. In a new paper seen by Reuters and expected to appear on medRxiv on Friday ahead of peer review, researchers found that among 175 people ages 80 to 99, those who got their second dose at 12 weeks had antibody responses that were 3.5 times higher than those who got it after three weeks. Antibodies are only one part of the immune system, and vaccines also generate T cells that fight infections. The peak T cell responses were higher in the group with a three-week interval between doses, and the authors cautioned against drawing conclusions on how protected individuals were based on which dosing schedule they received. (https://reut.rs/3wjPK9B)

Impact of obesity on COVID-19 risks may be greater in men

The known increased risk of severe COVID-19 and death linked to obesity may be even more pronounced for men than women, new data suggest. Researchers studied 3,530 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with an average age of 65, including 1,469 who were obese. In men, moderate obesity was associated with a significantly higher risk of developing severe disease, needing mechanical breathing assistance and dying from COVID-19. (The threshold for moderate obesity is a body mass index (BMI) of 35. In an 5-foot, five-inch tall (1.65 m) adult, that would correspond to a weight of 210 pounds (95 kg). In women, however, only a BMI of 40 or higher, indicating severe obesity, was linked with the increased risks. In a report published in European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, the researchers note that while obesity is known to be linked with body-wide inflammation, patients’ levels of inflammatory proteins did not appear to explain the association between obesity and severe illness. For now, they conclude, “particular attention should be paid” to protecting patients with obesity from the coronavirus, “with priority to vaccination access, remote work, telemedicine, and other measures given the higher risk of adverse outcomes once they are diagnosed with COVID-19.” (https://bit.ly/3eO6GiA)

COVID-19 testing rates low among symptomatic Americans

Sick Americans appear to be passing up opportunities to get tested for coronavirus and thus are likely unknowingly spreading the infection throughout their communities, new research shows. Among 37,000 adults across the United States who participated in a smartphone app survey between March and October 2020, nearly 2,700 reported at least one episode of fever and chills. But according to a report published in JAMA Network Open, only a small fraction reported receiving a COVID-19 test result within seven days of the onset of illness. At first, as tests became more accessible, the numbers improved. In early April 2020, less than 10% of survey participants reporting illness with fever received test results within a week. By late July, that proportion had increased to 24.1%. Throughout the summer and fall, as tests became easier to find, the number of sick participants who reported getting tested remained flat. By late October, only 26% reported receiving a test result within a week of febrile illness. “It’s shocking to me that when people have a fever they’re still not getting tested,” said coauthor Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco. “Tests are easy to come by. People might have coronavirus, might be spreading it to their friends and neighbors, and they’re not getting tested.” (https://bit.ly/2QUyMzf)

Open  in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

 

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid, Alistair Smout and Ronnie Cohen; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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