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COVID-19

Norway concerned as death toll rises to 29 from COVID vaccine 

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2021)
Norway has raised concerns about the safety of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine after reporting that 29 Norwegians died after receiving the inoculation. 
 
According to Bloomberg, it’s unclear exactly when the deaths occurred, but Norway has given at least one dose to about 42,000 people and focused on those considered most at risk if they contract the virus, including the elderly.
 
Until Friday, the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech SE was the only one available in Norway, and “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine,” the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a written response to Bloomberg on Saturday.
 
“There are 13 deaths that have been assessed, and we are aware of another 16 deaths that are currently being assessed,” the agency told Bloomberg.
 
All the reported deaths related to “elderly people with serious basic disorders,” it said. 
 
“Most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition.”
 
Bloomberg states that official reports of allergic reactions have been rare as governments rush to roll out vaccines to try to contain the global pandemic. However, US authorities reported 21 cases of severe allergic reactions from December 14 to 23 after administration of about 1.9 million initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine. 
 
The first Europe-wide safety report on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is due to be published at the end of January.

COVID-19

UAE reports spike in COVID cases amid major testing drive

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(Last Updated On: March 6, 2021)

The UAE reported 2,959 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, with a further 14 deaths.

According to The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, the UAE government, in its daily coronavirus update, said 242,159 people had been tested in one day – marking one of the biggest days for screening to date.

Weekend figures for testing are typically high, as people prepare to travel or get a weekly or fortnightly test as mandated by their employer, The National reported.

Since the start of the pandemic, the UAE has recorded a total of 1,310 death; 408,236 Covid-19 cases and 391,205 recoveries.

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COVID-19

WHO warns vaccines alone won’t curb spread of Coronavirus

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(Last Updated On: March 2, 2021)

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said governments and individuals cannot rely solely on vaccines to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

The organization said vaccines alone will not keep them ‘safe’ and that basic public health measures remain the basis of the response.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said at a media briefing that: “Vaccines will help to save lives, but if countries rely solely on vaccines, they’re making a mistake. Basic public health measures remain the foundation of the response.”

For public health authorities, that means testing, contact tracing, isolation, supported quarantine and quality care, while for individuals, it means avoiding crowds, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masks and ventilation.

”This is a global crisis that requires a consistent and coordinated global response,” he added.

In the past week, Ghebreyesus noted, the number of reported cases of Covid-19 increased for the first time in seven weeks.

”Reported cases increased in four of WHO’s six regions: the Americas, Europe, South East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean – so we don’t report increases in Africa and the Western Pacific.

”We’re working to better understand these increases in transmission. Some of it appears to be due to relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants, and people letting down their guard,” he added.

Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire started vaccinating health workers against Covid-19, becoming the first countries to start vaccination campaigns with doses supplied through COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

”A further 11 million doses will be delivered this week. Between now and the end of May, 237 million doses of vaccines will be allocated to 142 participating economies and countries in COVAX,” he said.

UAE’s Emirates SkyCargo and Etihad Cargo have signed separate agreements with UNICEF to prioritise the transport of Covid-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to help fight the pandemic, gulfbusiness reported.

According to the report the UNICEF drive convenes a number of partners capable of distributing essential supplies to more than 100 markets in support of the COVAX Facility, the global effort aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

In January 2021, Emirates SkyCargo joined hands with three other Dubai-based entities- DP World, International Humanitarian City and Dubai Airports to form an alliance for the rapid transport of Covid-19 vaccines to the developing world through the emirate, report added.

The UAE has administered a total of 6,028,417 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine till March 1.

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COVID-19

China to donate 400,000 vaccines to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

China has pledged to donate 400,000 doses of the Coronavirus vaccine to Afghanistan, officials confirmed.

Acting Public Health Minister Wahid Majrooh met with the Chinese Ambassador to Kabul Wang Yu on Sunday.

“Chinese vaccines to numerous countries fulfill the Chinese commitment from President Xi Jinping about making the vaccine a global public good,” Wang Yu said.

Wang Yu stated that the Chinese vaccine has been approved for emergency use by more than 30 countries.

“These countries trust in the Chinese vaccine as its development is in strict compliance with international standards and relevant laws and regulations,” Wang Yu tweeted.

This comes after India donated 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Afghanistan earlier this month.

The Public Health Ministry said at the time that 250,000 people – mostly health workers and Afghan security forces and media workers – would be inoculated in the first stage.

The government officially launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign last week.

The Public Health Ministry (MoPH) said that 8,206 health workers have received doses of the Indian vaccine so far.

Health officials stated, so far, no recipient has shown any signs of an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

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