Other News

- Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said on Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19. The chief executive said in a statement that he was feeling well and is symptom free. (Reporting by Mrinmay Dey in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis)...
- Moderna Inc said on Friday it has requested U.S. authorization for use of its Omicron-targeting COVID vaccine in adolescents and children. The company is seeking emergency use authorization of its updated vaccine in two age groups - adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and children aged six to 11. The application for the bivalent vaccine for children between the ages of six months and under six years is expected to be completed later this year, the company said in a tweet. Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects COVID-19 vaccine boosters targeting circulating variants of the virus to be available for children aged 5-11 years by mid-October. Moderna's mRNA-1273.222, a bivalent booster shot, contains the dominant BA.4/BA.5 variants along with the original coronavirus strain. The updated vaccine is already authorized for adults, while rival Pfizer's bivalent vaccine is a...
By Jennifer Rigby LONDON - If rich nations think the pandemic is over, they should help lower-income countries reach that point too, a senior World Health Organization official told . In an interview, WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward warned that richer nations must not step back from tackling COVID-19 as a global problem now, ahead of future potential waves of infection. In the last few weeks, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the end of the pandemic was in sight, and U.S President Joe Biden said the pandemic was over. "When I hear them say, 'Well, we're so comfortable here,' it's like, 'Great, now you can really help us get the rest of the world done'," said Aylward. Aylward said that the group he co-ordinates, which focuses on equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests worldwide, is not yet ready to move out of the emergency phase of tackling the pandemic and that countries...
KAMPALA - Three more Ebola patients have died in Uganda, the health ministry said on Friday, bringing the total death toll to four, days after authorities confirmed an outbreak of a strain of the deadly disease for which no vaccine has yet been approved. Uganda's health ministry said it had confirmed 11 cases of Ebola in total, including the four deaths. The current outbreak, attributed to the Ebola Sudan strain, appears to have started in a small village in Mubende district around the beginning of September, authorities say. Seven other deaths are being investigated for being linked to the outbreak in Mubende, around 130 km west of the capital Kampala. The first casualty was a 24-year old man who died earlier this week. The World Health Organization says the Ebola Sudan strain is less transmissible and has shown a lower fatality rate in previous outbreaks than Ebola Zaire, a strain that killed nearly 2,300 p...
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that 4.4 million people had received updated COVID-19 booster shots, a few weeks into the government's new vaccination campaign. The United States began its rollout of the Omicron-tailored shots from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna earlier this month. A federal health agency said on Tuesday that over 25 million doses of the so-called bivalent shots had been sent out. That consisted of mostly the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as production of the Moderna vaccine ramps up. The redesigned boosters aim to tackle the BA.5 and BA.4 Omicron subvariants, which make up 84.8% and 1.8%, respectively, of all circulating variants in the United States, based on latest data. (Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)...
By Leroy Leo and Khushi Mandowara - Medical device companies and some drugmakers with manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico said they do not expect meaningful disruption from Hurricane Fiona, which knocked out power for over 3 million people and caused flooding and landslides on the island. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which worked with companies to prevent shortages of drugs and medical devices after Hurricane Maria battered the medical manufacturing hub in 2017, said it is in discussion with companies it regulates there regarding any impact on supplies. Most companies spoke to, including Baxter International, said they had initially either temporarily halted operations or were running their plants on generators since Fiona struck on Sunday. None said they expected supplies to the United States to be significantly disrupted by the storm, in part due to infrastructure changes, such as building up their generat...
COPENHAGEN - Denmark will not extend a ban on mink breeding when the current ban expires at the turn of the year, the country's agriculture ministry said in a statement on Friday. The ban was introduced after the coronavirus spread to several hundred mink farms in Denmark during the pandemic in 2020, prompting the government to order all mink in the country culled. (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Anna Ringstrom)...
By Ahmed Aboulenein WASHINGTON - U.S. President Joe Biden will announce on Friday nearly $1.5 billion to fund access to medications for opioid overdoses, sanctions against traffickers, and increased funding for law enforcement, the White House said. The Biden administration is keen to show it is taking action on a worsening nationwide opioid crisis, which according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data fueled more than 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021, a nearly 15% increase from the previous year. "Our nation is facing 108,000 overdose deaths in just 12 months. That's one life lost every five minutes around the clock," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House. "The Biden-Harris administration is announcing several key investments and actions to reduce overdose deaths, ensure public health and law enforcement officials on the front lines have the resources they ne...
PARIS - Belgium has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza on a poultry farm near the border with the Netherlands, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WAHIS) said on Friday. The outbreak of the disease, commonly called bird flu, occurred on a farm in Sint-Laureins in the province of East Flanders, the Paris-based WAHIS said, citing information from Belgian authorities. The farm had a flock of 29,919 birds but no details were given on the number of animals infected or slaughtered in the outbreak. This was the first such case reported in Belgium since late April, WAHIS added in its note. Belgium's southern neighbour France has seen a resurgence in cases after experiencing its worst-ever bird flu wave earlier this year. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Jason Neely)...
SYDNEY - The World Anti-Doping Agency will add the painkiller tramadol to the list of banned substances for athletes in competition from 2024 and has maintained its ban on cannabis after a review. The decisions were taken by WADA's executive committee after a meeting in Sydney on Friday and followed recommendations from the body's advisory group on the list of banned substances. "Tramadol abuse, with its dose-dependent risks of physical dependence, opiate addiction and overdoses in the general population, is of concern and has led to it being a controlled drug in many countries," WADA said in a news release. "Research studies funded by WADA have also confirmed the potential for tramadol to enhance physical performance." Former England soccer goalkeeper Chris Kirkland said in July he had been driven to the point of suicide by his addiction to, and abuse of, tramadol after using the opioid to treat back injuries....
HONG KONG - Hong Kong's government will hold a press conference on Friday afternoon to update on the relaxation of its controversial COVID-19 hotel quarantine policy for all arrivals, a government source told . (Reporting by Clare Jim in Hong Kong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)...
By Michael Erman NEW YORK - The United States is significantly cutting back the number of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses it will buy for donation to poorer nations this year, Pfizer said on Thursday, citing diminished demand for the shots in those countries. Pfizer said it agreed to reduce the number of doses it will deliver by year end to 600 million, down from the billion-dose commitment the U.S. government made a year ago. The United States will have an option to buy up to an additional 400 million shots for the program after this year. The drugmaker said it would have sufficient supply to deliver the full billion doses under the U.S. commitment, but "we are seeing reduced demand in some low- and lower-middle-income countries due to barriers in administration and vaccine hesitancy." The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The revised ter...
- A panel of U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers voted in favor of Ferring Pharmaceuticals' fecal transplant-based therapy to reduce recurrent infections caused by a bacteria known as C. difficile. The therapy is based on the concept of replenishing the good gut bacteria through samples of microbes distilled from faeces of healthy donors, delivered through an enema in this case. (Reporting by Manas Mishra and Raghav Mahobe in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)...
- Humana and CVS Health are among the several companies looking to buy senior-care facility operator Cano Health, according to media reports on Thursday, sending Cano's shares up about 50%. The talks are serious and a deal to purchase Cano could be struck in the next several weeks, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday citing people familiar with the matter. Healthcare companies have been expanding beyond managing health and pharmacy benefits with acquisitions of doctors groups and surgical centers in recent years. Cano operates primary-care centers in several U.S. states including California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, and New York. Hedge fund Third Point LLC, which owns 6.4% of Cano, has been pushing the Miami-based company to put itself up for sale as its stock price has tumbled since it went public with a blank check company. (https://reut.rs/3ffLswk) Cano is exploring several options...
By Kanishka Singh WASHINGTON - Fraudsters likely stole $45.6 billion from the United States' unemployment insurance program during the COVID-19 pandemic by applying tactics like using Social Security numbers of deceased individuals, a federal watchdog said on Thursday. About a year ago, nearly $16 billion in potential fraud had been identified. The report issued Thursday by the inspector general for the U.S. Labor Department identified "an increase of $29.6 billion in potentially fraudulent payments." The scammers had allegedly filed billions of dollars in unemployment claims in many states simultaneously while some of them got benefits using the identities of dead people and prisoners who were not eligible for aid. They also relied on suspicious emails that were hard to trace, the watchdog said in its report. "We determined 205,766 Social Security numbers of deceased persons were used to file claims for UI (unemployment ins...
- Advisers to the U.S Food and Drug Administration on Thursday voted against recommending Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' experimental drug to treat patients with a form of non-small cell lung cancer. (Reporting by Khushi Mandowara and Mrinalika Roy; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)...
By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO - People who had COVID-19 are at higher risk for a host of brain injuries a year later compared with people who were never infected by the coronavirus, a finding that could affect millions of Americans, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday. The year-long study, published in Nature Medicine, assessed brain health across 44 different disorders using medical records without patient identifiers from millions of U.S. veterans. Brain and other neurological disorders occurred in 7% more of those who had been infected with COVID compared with a similar group of veterans who had never been infected. That translates into roughly 6.6 million Americans who had brain impairments linked with their COVID infections, the team said. "The results show the devastating long-term effects of COVID-19," senior author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine said in a statement. Al-...
BERLIN - Pfizer said on Thursday it had submitted an application to Swissmedic for authorisation of a further bivalent COVID-19 vaccine. The ready-to-use dispersion for injection contained both messenger RNA (mRNA) from the original Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and mRNA coding for the spike protein of Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, Pfizer said. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Paul Carrel)...
- Pfizer Inc said on Thursday it would supply up to 6 million courses of its COVID-19 antiviral treatment to NGO Global Fund for low- and middle-income countries that seeks to address worldwide disparities in COVID response. The company said Paxlovid treatment courses will be available for procurement through Global Fund's COVID-19 Response Mechanism to 132 low- and middle-income countries this year, subject to local regulatory clearances. While Paxlovid is widely available in many rich countries, availability has been severely restricted in poorer ones. Pfizer said the supply agreement is part of its strategy to facilitate equitable access to oral COVID treatments. The company has made a deal with several generic drugmakers to produce its treatment at a lower price for developing countries. "This agreement with Global Fund is a critical step that will boost equitable access for high-risk patients in low-and-middle incom...
KAMPALA - Uganda has confirmed seven cases of Ebola in the country after it declared an outbreak of the disease earlier this week when a 24-year-old man showed symptoms and later died, a health ministry official said on Thursday. "As of today, we have seven confirmed cases, of whom we have one confirmed death," doctor Kyobe Henry Bbosa, Ebola Incident Commander, Ministry of Health of Uganda, told a briefing. "But also we have seven probable cases that died before the confirmation of the outbreak." (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Additional reporting by George Obulutsa; Writing by James Macharia Chege; Editing by Alex Richardson)...