Health News Roundup: Vaccine distribution concerns in Florida; supply issues to Australia and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

White House says monitoring coronavirus vaccine distribution in Florida

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday the administration will continue to ensure the coronavirus vaccine is equitably distributed in Florida amid media reports of improper distribution in the state. Psaki said the White House has been monitoring the situation and it has found 17% of Florida’s population is African-American, but less than 7% of vaccinations have gone to African-Americans.

Arkansas governor vetoes bill that would bar transgender treatments for youth

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on Monday vetoed a bill that would have made the state the first in the country to prevent doctors from providing certain types of care to transgender youth. But his veto could be overridden by a simple majority vote in the Arkansas Senate and House, which passed the bill with sizeable majorities.

Australia short of 3 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses in blow to vaccination drive

Australia on Tuesday said it had not yet received more than 3 million doses of previously promised AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses amid export curbs by the European Union, leaving a major hole in its early nationwide inoculation drive. Authorities had pledged to administer at least 4 million first doses of the vaccine by end-March, but could only vaccinate 670,000 after the European Union blocked AstraZeneca vaccine exports to Australia in the wake of the drugmaker’s failure to meet its shipment pledge to the bloc.

Japan fears COVID-19 variants are behind possible fourth wave

Japanese health authorities are concerned that variants of the coronavirus are driving a nascent fourth wave in the pandemic with just 109 days remaining until the Tokyo Olympics.

The variants appear to be more infectious and may be resistant to vaccines, which are still not widely available in Japan. The situation is worst in Osaka, where infections hit fresh records last week, prompting the regional government to start targeted lockdown measures for one month from Monday.

Novavax starts allowing participants on placebo to get COVID-19 vaccine in trials

Novavax Inc said on Monday participants in its ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials in South Africa and the UK can now receive additional shots, ensuring those who received a placebo can also get the active vaccine. Allowing volunteers to crossover to the active vaccine offers them an incentive to continue in the trials even when other authorized vaccines are available.

WHO wins dismissal of lawsuit in New York over pandemic response

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge has dismissed a lawsuit by residents of a suburban New York City county who accused the World Health Organization of gross negligence in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel on Monday said the WHO was immune under its own 1948 constitution and the International Organization Immunities Act from the proposed class-action lawsuit by the seven Westchester County plaintiffs.

Indian states seek widening of vaccinations as second surge overtakes first wave

Many Indian state leaders have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open up vaccinations to most of the country’s hundreds of millions of adults, following a second surge in infections that has eclipsed the first wave. India breached the grim milestone of 100,000 daily infections for the first time on Monday, and cases are likely to stay high again when fresh figures are released later on Tuesday.

U.S. COVID-19 cases rise for third straight week, hospitalizations also up

New cases of COVID-19 in the United States rose 5% to more than 450,000 last week, the third week in a row that infections have increased, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data. The average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals rose 4% to more than 37,000 in the week ended April 4, breaking a streak of 11 weeks of falling admissions.

UK health regulator may restrict AstraZeneca shot for younger people, Channel 4 says

Britain’s health regulator is considering a proposal to restrict the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in younger people over concerns about very rare blood clots, Channel 4 News reported on Monday. “Two senior sources have told this program that while the data is still unclear, there are growing arguments to justify offering younger people – below the age of 30 at the very least – a different vaccine,” the broadcaster reported.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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