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Health Highlights: May 22, 2020

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

New Coronavirus Not Spread Easily From Contaminated Surfaces: CDC

The new coronavirus spreads swiftly between people but is not easily caught from contaminated surfaces, according to updated information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Revised guidance of the CDC's website says the virus "is spreading very easily and sustainably between people," the Washington Post reported.

The updated information also outlines what isn't considered to pose a high risk of infection.

The CDC says that touching contaminated objects or surfaces, or exposure to infected animals, don't seem to be significant methods of coronavirus transmission, the Post reported.

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U.S. Offers $1.2 Billion to Drug Company for Coronavirus Vaccine Research

A grant of up to $1.2 billion will be given by the Trump administration to AstraZeneca to develop and test a potential vaccine against the new coronavirus.

That includes a phase 3 clinical trial in the United States this summer with about 30,000 volunteers, The New York Times reported.

The vaccine was developed at Oxford University in the U.K. and licensed by AstraZeneca. The grant was made public Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and is the fourth and largest vaccine research agreement announced by HHS.

In a statement, the HHS said it and AstraZeneca "are collaborating to make available at least 300 million doses," and said the first doses could be available as early as October, The Times reported.

However, many experts have said that the earliest an effective, mass-produced vaccine would be available won't be until sometime next year, and billions of doses would be needed worldwide.

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Unapproved Coronavirus Antibody Tests Targeted by FDA

Unapproved coronavirus antibody tests are being targeted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A list of more than two dozen companies that have failed to file applications for their tests or that have already taken their tests off the market was published Thursday by the FDA, the Associated Press reported.

The agency said it expects the unapproved tests "will not be marketed or distributed," but it wasn't clear if any of the companies would face further penalties.

There was a deadline earlier this week for companies to file paperwork about the effectiveness of their antibody tests. Applications have been filed or are being filed for more than 175 tests, the FDA website shows.

So far, a dozen companies have been authorized by the FDA to sell coronavirus antibody tests, the AP reported.

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U.S. Government Seeks Deal With Private Industry to Boost Supply of Medical Equipment

In an effort to prevent the United States from again struggling to have enough medical supplies in a pandemic, the federal government is seeking to make a five-year deal with U.S. manufacturers.

The agreement would invoke a rarely used provision of the Defense Production Act to protect companies from antitrust rules to ensure the country has adequate supplies of protective gear, medical equipment, medicine and vaccines, the Associated Press reported.

Large amounts of such supplies are now made overseas.

"Clearly it could have applications to what's happening now, but because it's a five-year look it's intended so we can set up this relationship with industry, have those conversations and plan for the future," Joel Doolin, a senior official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency,told the AP.

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Posted: May 2020

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