Health News Roundup: New Zealand's Ardern extends lockdown as virus outbreak widens; Sydney extends COVID-19 lockdown, imposes curfew on worst-hit areas, and more
The country's fourth COVID-19 wave has shown few signs of abating six weeks after the toughest Level 4 distancing rules, which include a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m. https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/south-korea-raise-covid-19-curbs-highest-level-seoul-says-pm-2021-07-08, were imposed in the greater Seoul area. Acting FDA Chief Janet Woodcock ruled out as permanent nominee - Bloomberg News U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has ruled out nominating Janet Woodcock as the permanent head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bloomberg News reported https://bloom.bg/2WdjOqJ on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
New Zealand's Ardern extends lockdown as virus outbreak widens
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended a nationwide lockdown on Friday as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country jumped and the outbreak widened beyond its largest city, Auckland, to the capital, Wellington. New Zealanders had been living virus-free and without curbs until Ardern on Tuesday ordered a snap 3-day nationwide lockdown and seven-day shutdown in Auckland after discovering the country's first case since February.
Sydney extends COVID-19 lockdown, imposes curfew on worst-hit areas
The COVID-19 lockdown of Sydney was extended on Friday and a nightly curfew was imposed on the city's worst-affected suburbs in a last-ditch attempt to slow the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant that is spreading across New South Wales state. Australia's third wave of COVID-19 infections centered on Sydney has forced more than half the country's near 26 million people into lockdown and pushed the world's 13th-largest economy to the brink of its second recession in as many years.
U.S. probing Moderna vaccine for higher heart inflammation risk - Washington Post
U.S. health officials are investigating reports that Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine may be linked to a higher risk of a rare heart condition in younger adults than previously thought, the Washington Post reported late on Thursday, citing people familiar with the review. The report quoted a source saying it was too early for the regulators to reach a conclusion, and that additional work was needed before any recommendation was made.
S.Korea extends social distancing, allows fully vaccinated some leeway
South Korea has extended its social distancing curbs for two weeks to ward off a surge in coronavirus cases while allowing vaccinated people some latitude, its prime minister said on Friday. The country's fourth COVID-19 wave has shown few signs of abating six weeks after the toughest Level 4 distancing rules, which include a ban on gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m.were imposed in the greater Seoul area.
Acting FDA Chief Janet Woodcock ruled out as permanent nominee - Bloomberg News
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has ruled out nominating Janet Woodcock as the permanent head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. Woodcock, who has served as acting commissioner since Biden took office, has faced firm opposition on Capitol Hill for the job from lawmakers including Democrat Senator Joe Manchin, a key swing vote in the evenly divided chamber, the report said.
NYPD orders police officers to get a jab or mask up while on duty
New York City's 36,000 police officers now have a simple choice: either get vaccinated against coronavirus or wear masks at all times while on duty. The department issued the bulletin spelling out the order earlier this week, said Sergeant Edward Riley, an NYPD spokesman. The order came in response to a lagging vaccination rate among NYPD officers at a time when the Delta variant has fueled a surge of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the country.
Japan to ramp up COVID-19 tests as it battles a worst wave of infections
Japan plans to dramatically ramp up daily COVID-19 tests, borrowing from anti-contagion measures used in the recent Tokyo Olympics, as it battles its worst wave of infections, driven by the Delta variant. New infections exceeded 25,000 on Thursday for the first time, a tally by national broadcaster NHK showed, with the surge mainly among those in their 40s and 50s, most of whom are unvaccinated.
J&J says veteran Duato to replace Gorsky as chief executive
Johnson & Johnson on Thursday appointed Joaquin Duato as chief executive officer to replace veteran Alex Gorsky to steer the healthcare conglomerate through the remainder of the coronavirus pandemic. Duato, the current vice-chairman of the executive committee, will take the reins and a seat on the board from Jan. 3. Gorsky, who was at the helm for nine years, will become executive chairman.
U.S. states rush to meet deadline to join $26 billion opioid settlement
U.S. states are racing to meet a deadline to commit to a $26 billion opioid settlement with three-drug distributors and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, as some grapple with local resistance and concerns the amount isn't big enough to address the damage done by an epidemic of addiction. Fourteen state attorneys general unveiled the proposed settlement with McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc, and J&J on July 21, kicking off a months-long process for states, counties, and cities to sign on.
Scientists question evidence behind U.S. COVID-19 booster shot drive
The Biden administration's plan to provide COVID-19 vaccine boosters is based on concerns that a decrease in the vaccines' ability to protect against milder infections could also mean people will have less protection against severe illness, a premise that has yet to be proven, scientists said on Thursday. U.S. officials, citing data showing waning protection against mild and moderate illness from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines more than six months after inoculation, on Wednesday said boosters will be made widely available starting on Sept. 20.
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