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Health Highlights: Dec. 30, 2020

By HealthDay Reporter

Below are newsworthy items compiled by HealthDay staff:

U.K. Becomes First Country to Approve Covid-19 Vaccine From Oxford-AstraZeneca

Britain became the first country to give authorization to the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The British government also decided to start giving as many people as possible a first dose of vaccines, rather than keeping supplies for second shots, expanding the number of people who will be vaccinated.

Some people in clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were given the two doses several months apart. Regulators said that the first dose of the vaccine had 70% effectiveness in protecting against COVID-19 in the period between the first dose taking effect and a second shot.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca shot could become the dominant form of inoculation because at $3 to $4 a dose, it is a fraction of the cost of some other vaccines.

It can also be shipped and stored in normal refrigerators for six months, rather than in the ultracold freezers needed by vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

"This is very good news for the world -- it makes a global approach to a global pandemic much easier," Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Times.

More Dangerous Mouthwashes and Hand Sanitizers Recalled

Adding to the list of sketchy hand sanitizers and mouthwashes, a hand sanitizer has been recalled because it may contain methanol, a toxic chemical known as wood alcohol, CBS News reported Tuesday.

Also, a mouthwash is being recalled because it may be tainted with bacteria that are particularly dangerous for people with COVID-19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

Shane Erickson Inc. is recalling three brands of hand sanitizer because it may contain methanol, which can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, damage to the nervous system or death, according to the FDA.

"Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidentally ingest these products, and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning," the FDA's notice said.

Made in China, the recalled products are packaged in a white opaque or clear plastic bottle with either a blue, clear or black cap and are labeled as IMC Wash Free Hand Sanitizer, Wash Free Hand Sanitizer and Thrifty White Pharmacy Hand Sanitizer, CBS News reported.

Also, the recall of GUM Paroex Chlorhexidine Gluconate Oral Rinse is being expanded after manufacturer Sunstar Americas learned of 29 infections.

Using the contaminated mouthwash can result in "oral and, potentially, systemic infections requiring antibacterial therapy. In the most at-risk populations, the use of the defective product may result in life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia and bacteremia," the company said.

The "use of the contaminated product on patients with pre-existing respiratory conditions, including those infected with COVID-19, is particularly unsafe," the company added.

The recall covers 4-ounce and 1-pint (16-ounce) bottles, NDC Nos. 052376-021-04 and 052376-021-02, of the prescription oral rinse. The recall now includes all lots within the expiration date range from 12/31/20 to 9/30/22.

Consumers should not use any of this prescription oral rinse, which was distributed to dental offices and pharmacies nationwide, CBS News said.

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