Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Gaza's health system days from being overwhelmed by COVID-19, advisers say
A sharp rise in coronavirus infections in the Gaza Strip could overwhelm the Palestinian enclave's meagre medical system by next week, public health advisers said on Sunday. Gaza, where the dense and poor population of 2 million is vulnerable to contagions, has logged 14,000 coronavirus cases and 65 deaths, mostly since August.
COVAX must start talks with COVID-19 vaccine makers: Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged COVAX, an initiative set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries, to start talks immediately with producers. "I am concerned that there are no negotiations," Merkel told journalists on Sunday after the G20 summit, at which leaders of the 20 biggest economies vowed to spare no effort to supply COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines to the world affordably and fairly.
G20 says it will strive for fair global access to COVID-19 vaccine
Leaders of the 20 biggest economies vowed on Sunday to spare no effort to supply COVID-19 drugs, tests and vaccines affordably and fairly to "all people", reflecting worries that the pandemic could deepen divisions between the world's rich and poor. The pandemic and prospects of an uneven and uncertain economic recovery were at the centre of a two-day online summit under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, which will hand the G20 presidency to Italy next month.
CDC reports 255,076 deaths from coronavirus
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Sunday reported 12,028,081 cases of the novel coronavirus, an increase of 184,591 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,476 to 255,076. The CDC reported its tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by a new coronavirus, as of 4 pm ET on Nov. 21 versus its previous report a day earlier. (https://bit.ly/36sYS1R)
First Americans could get COVID-19 vaccine by mid-December, top health official says
The first Americans could receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as 24 hours after the FDA grants approval, which would kick off the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history starting in mid-December. "Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses," Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the government's "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine program, told NBC's "Meet the Press."
India says local COVID-19 vaccine final trials could end within two months
India's health minister said on Sunday a locally-developed COVID-19 vaccine candidate could complete its final trials in a month or two, raising hopes for a rapid roll-out in a country with the world's second highest number of infections. The state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and privately-held Bharat Biotech this month started third-stage trials of COVAXIN, in a process that would involve 26,000 volunteers. It is the most advanced Indian experimental vaccine.
Spain to begin vaccination programme in January, Sanchez says
Spain will begin a comprehensive coronavirus vaccination programme in January and expects to have covered a substantial part of the population within six months, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday. He said Spain and Germany were the first European Union countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place.
England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland aim to ease COVID rules for Christmas
The British government said on Sunday it was working with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ease COVID-19 restrictions over Christmas to allow families to get together. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove discussed the issue with the first ministers of the devolved administrations on Saturday, the government said, and they agreed it was important for families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising it would not be a normal festive period.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine could get UK approval this week: Telegraph
Britain could give regulatory approval to Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine this week, even before the United States authorises it, the Telegraph news site reported on Sunday. Citing government sources, it said British regulators were about to start a formal appraisal of the vaccine, made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, and that the National Health Service had been told to be ready to administer it by Dec. 1.
Ice Bucket Challenge co-creator Patrick Quinn dies at age 37
Patrick Quinn, whose personal battle with ALS helped power the Ice Bucket Challenge fundraising campaign, died on Sunday at age 37, seven years after his diagnosis, supporters announced on Facebook. Quinn, who was born and grew up in Yonkers, New York, was co-founder of the campaign that raised more than $220 million for medical research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, his Facebook page said.