The European Union’s drug regulator, the Europe Medicines Agency (EMA), has given conditional approval to Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine.
European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said Thursday the formal authorization of the vaccine would follow shortly.
On her Twitter account, Kyriakides wrote, “This marks another key step towards ensuring that all citizens can access safe and effective vaccinations as soon as possible.” The new vaccine could help the EU speed up a slow inoculation campaign and boost its supplies of vaccines.
The COVID-19 shot is the fourth to be endorsed for use in the EU after vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Moderna.  The EMA recommended it for people 18 years of age and older.
Meanwhile, a study indicates that a variant of the coronavirus first detected in Britain is deadlier than previous versions.
The study, published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, said people infected with the B.1.1.7 variant were between 30 and 100 percent more likely to die than those infected with other variants of the coronavirus.
The B.1.1.7 variant has been detected in more than 100 countries since it was first detected in September in southeast Britain. Previous studies show the variant is far more contagious than the original version.  
Also, Brazil posted 2,286 COVID-19-related deaths Wednesday, another single-day record. The South American country is dealing with a dramatic surge of coronavirus cases driven by the new P.1 variant, discovered in November in the Amazonian regional city of Manaus.  
Researchers say the P.1 variant is 1.4 to 2.4 times more transmissible than the original version of the coronavirus, and could also reinfect people already recovering from COVID-19.
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reports Brazil has 11.2 million of the world’s 118 million total COVID-19 infections, third behind the United States and India, while its 270,656 deaths is second only to the U.S. , with 529,203 fatalities.

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