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Health Highlights: Sept. 9, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Pandemic Threatens Gains in Reducing Preventable Childhood Deaths

The coronavirus pandemic threatens decades of progress in reducing preventable deaths in children worldwide, a new United Nations/ World Bank paper warns.

It said that preventable deaths in children under 5 fell from 12.5 million in 1990 to just over 5 million in 2019, the lowest number on record, CNN reported.

But fewer resources and fears about contracting COVID-19 during pandemic could reverse gains in child and maternal healthcare services and put millions of lives at risk, according to the paper.

A UNICEF survey of 77 countries over the summer found that 68% had disruptions in childhood checkups and vaccinations, and a WHO survey of 105 countries found that 52% had interruptions in medical services for sick kids and 51% had disruptions in malnutrition programs, CNN reported.

"We must not let the COVID-19 pandemic turn back remarkable progress for our children and future generations," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

"The global community has come too far towards eliminating preventable child deaths to allow the COVID-19 pandemic to stop us in our tracks," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a news release, CNN reported.

"When children are denied access to health services because the system is overrun, and when women are afraid to give birth at the hospital for fear of infection, they, too, may become casualties of COVID-19," she said.

"Without urgent investments to re-start disrupted health systems and services, millions of children under five, especially newborns, could die," Fore warned.


Clinical Trial of AstraZeneca Coronavirus Vaccine Paused After Illness

A "potentially unexplained" illness in a participant has led AstraZeneca to halt a late-stage clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine.

The company is investigating whether the illness may be a side effect of the vaccine, the Associated Press reported.

The pause in the study covers the United States and other countries where the vaccine is being tested.

The health news site STAT said the possible side effect occurred in the U.K., the AP reported.

"We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline," AstraZeneca said in a statement.

Large, final-stage clinical trials of two other coronavirus vaccines are underway in the United States, one from Moderna Inc. and the other from Pfizer and BioNTech. Those two vaccines work differently than the AstraZeneca vaccine, the AP reported.


New COVID-19 Test Provides Results in 15 Minutes

A new portable COVID-19 test that can provide results within 15 minutes and process up to 30 samples an hour could be available by the end of the year, according to medical diagnostics company Qiagen.

It said the test is meant for "for environments that require a high volume of fast and accurate test results," such as airports, stadiums and other locations where large numbers of people gather, CBS News reported.

The company said its test correctly diagnoses a coronavirus infection 90% of the time and a negative result 100% of the time. The test hasn't been approved by any regulator.

A 15-minute, point-of-care COVID-19 test from Abbott received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month The test accurately diagnoses infection 97.1% of the time, CBS News reported.

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