Global health news round-up: Italy’s commemorative coin, Spanish minister steps down

A lot has happened in the world of health this week. From studies on the mental health of ICU staff to new remote monitoring implants for cardiac and stroke patients, it’s been a busy seven days.

But that’s just in the UK. Globally speaking, we’ve got a lot to catch up on. So, here’s our global health news round-up, featuring stories we’ve found interesting from around the world, between 22 – 28 January 2021.

Every news snippet has a link next to it, so you can locate the original source or report from official or reliable outlets…

First up, Italy has found a unique way to thank its health workers for their services during the pandemic – by dedicating a coin to them. A new €2 coin has been unveiled in Rome, featuring two frontline workers in masks.

The words “thank you” are inscribed above the characters and three million of the coins are set to be distributed later in the year. Curiously, a few thousand original copies will also be available to buy as collector’s items.  (Reuters via Yahoo! News)

Meanwhile, over in Canada, the government is planning a ‘rare-disease strategy’ it hopes will help families save money on ‘high-cost’ drugs.

Apparently one out of 12 Canadians has a ‘rare disease’. With this in mind, the Canadian public, including patients and other interested parties, are being invited to share their views and help shape the national strategy, via questionnaires and submissions. (Government of Canada)

But Canadians aren’t the only ones being encouraged to participate. On the other side of the world, New Zealand is also asking its citizens for their health views, as it continues to develop its policy on vaping.  

The New Zealand Ministry of Health is calling for public feedback on its draft vaping regulations, which it says will inform its final version under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act. The online feedback form will cover areas such as display in stores and on websites, packaging requirements and the responsibilities of manufacturers and importers. (NZ Ministry of Health)

New Zealand’s ‘neighbour’, Australia, has also been in the news. Its Therapeutic Goods Administration has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in the nation.

A statement from the Australian Department of Health said that the first priority groups would start receiving a vaccine in February. (Australia’s Department of Health).

In similar news, Reuters reports that South Africa has fast-tracked its approval of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergancy use. (Reuters)

There’s also been a flurry of news from Japan. The Japan Times reports that British company AstraZeneca will make the ‘bulk’ of the nation’s 120 million vaccine shots order in Japan itself. (Japan Times)

While the country also apparently plans to begin random mass testing as early as March, to discover the extent of COVID-19’s spread in cities. It’s expected that thousands of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests will be conducted per day in the largest metropolitan areas.

Unlike local government testing and tracking of people with symptoms or contacts, this will involve random members of the public at places such as airports and universities.

It’s rumoured that Japan’s government is also aiming to track changes in public attitudes towards the pandemic by collecting information on social media. (Japan Times)

In the latest news from Denmark, a Danish company called Lyngsoe Systems has collaborated with two US companies to develop a new ‘digitised process support’ to help with COVID-19 vaccine logistics.

The technology assists with practical handling of vaccines and includes a ‘sensor label’ that checks the content of individual capped vials. It’s said this will allow for automatic measuring and documenting of vaccine temperatures.

Its intention is to increase quality and safety by tracking temperature regulations and shelf-life, and it’s hoped it will also reduce waste and error. (Healthcare Denmark)

As for Iceland, the island nation has announced that, as of 25 January, around 4,500 people have received a second COVID-19 vaccination dose.

Iceland’s Directorate of Health is now finalising digital solutions to allow fully vaccinated people to obtain a vaccination certificate online, which it is hoped will ‘facilitate the movement of people between countries’. (Government of Iceland)

And last, but not least, is a strange story from Spain. According to reliable media outlets, including Reuters, it seems that Spain’s Health Minister, Salvador Illa has resigned. In a surprising move, the minister has left his post to apparently campaign in Catalonia’s regional elections.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has since appointed Regional Minister Carolina Darias as Illa’s replacement. (Reuters)

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