Health News Roundup: Omicron dampens worldwide New Year celebrations, but London throws party on TV; Novavax to submit COVID-19 vaccine EUA request to U.S. FDA next month and more
Britain is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, with record daily infections of 189,846 reported on Friday. China ends 2021 with highest weekly COVID cases since taming original epidemic China ended the final week of 2021 with its biggest tally of local COVID-19 cases for any seven-day period since it contained the country's first epidemic nearly two years ago.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
The Omicron coronavirus variant dampened New Year festivities around much of the world, as cities from Paris to Kuala Lumpur cancelled civic celebrations, but London threw a last-minute party on television and Cape Town suddenly lifted a longstanding curfew. The midnight hour passed in Paris without a planned fireworks display or DJ sets, as city officials cancelled events planned on the Champs-Elysees following the advice of a scientific panel that declared mass gatherings would be too risky.
Novavax to submit COVID-19 vaccine EUA request to U.S. FDA next month
Novavax Inc will submit a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine next month, further delaying the submission it had expected by the end of this year. The company's announcement on Friday follows the submission of final data related to the vaccine's manufacturing processes to the regulator, which is a prerequisite for the emergency use authorization application (EUA).
Omicron hospitalisation risk around one third of Delta, UK analysis shows
The risk of hospitalization with the Omicron variant of coronavirus is about one-third that of the Delta variant, according to British analysis of more than a million cases of both types in recent weeks. Britain is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, with record daily infections of 189,846 reported on Friday.
China ends 2021 with highest weekly COVID cases since taming original epidemic
China ended the final week of 2021 with its biggest tally of local COVID-19 cases for any seven-day period since it contained the country's first epidemic nearly two years ago. The National Health Commission reported on Saturday 175 new community infections with confirmed clinical symptoms for Dec. 31, bringing the total number of local symptomatic cases in mainland China in the past week to 1,151, driven mostly by an outbreak in the northwestern industrial and tech hub of Xian.
Purdue Pharma is seeking to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a judge's decision to unravel its restructuring plan that would have insulated its owners from liability in civil opioid-related cases, according to a court filing late on Thursday. The appeal came after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, extended temporary protections until Feb. 1 against opioid-related litigation for the Sackler family members who own Purdue Pharma, giving Purdue and the Sacklers time to pursue the appeal.
Canadian provinces cut COVID-19 isolation time for fully-vaccinated
Alberta and British Columbia are halving the required self-isolation period for vaccinated people with COVID-19 to five days, as the Canadian provinces adapt to workforce shortages and other challenges brought about by the Omicron coronavirus variant. Omicron, which health experts say is highly transmissible but less severe than the Delta variant, has caused an exponential rise in coronavirus cases across Canada and prompted provinces to ramp up vaccinations, impose restrictions and change isolation and testing rules.
Turkey's COVID-19 cases spike above 40,000 as Omicron spreads
Turkey logged 40,786 new coronavirus cases on Friday, its highest since April, and the health minister warned that the Omicron variant had become dominant as Turks celebrated New Year's Eve without restrictions. "Although there are no restrictions, we recommend that you act as if there are," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter in what he called a New Year's "warning".
France faces "difficult" weeks as country reported over 230,000 COVID cases - Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said the next few weeks would be difficult as the country headed into subdued New Year celebrations after registering 232,200 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, its highest-ever recorded total. "The weeks to come will be difficult, we all know that", Macron said in a broadcast New Year's Eve address.
Australia starts 2022 with record COVID cases
Australia started 2022 with a record number of new COVID-19 cases as an outbreak centered in the eastern states grew, and New South Wales eased its isolation rules for healthcare workers as the number of people hospitalized with the virus rose. New South Wales, the most populous state, and Victoria both posted daily record case numbers of 22,577 and 7,442 respectively on Saturday, health department figures showed.
Britain approves Pfizer's antiviral COVID-19 pill
Britain has approved Pfizer's COVID-19 pill for adults who have mild to moderate infection and are at high risk of their illness worsening, its second easily administered antiviral against the coronavirus. Britain is scrambling to build its defences amid a record hit daily record of new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, government data showed a surge in COVID-19 cases in the winter season as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads quickly.
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