Health News Roundup: AstraZeneca says early trial data indicates third dose helps against Omicron; Nigerian startups help fight scourge of fake medicines and more

Reuters | Updated: 13-01-2022 18:47 IST | Created: 13-01-2022 18:29 IST
Health News Roundup: AstraZeneca says early trial data indicates third dose helps against Omicron; Nigerian startups help fight scourge of fake medicines and more
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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

AstraZeneca says early trial data indicates third dose helps against Omicron

AstraZeneca said on Thursday that preliminary data from a trial showed that its COVID-19 shot, Vaxzevria, generated an increase in antibodies against the Omicron and other variants when given as a third booster dose. The increased response, also against the Delta variant, was seen in a blood analysis of people who were previously vaccinated with either Vaxzevria or an mRNA vaccine, the drugmaker said, adding that it would submit this data to regulators worldwide given the urgent need for boosters.

Nigerian startups help fight scourge of fake medicines

Startups in Nigeria are helping fight counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs in Africa's most populous nation, where the prevalence rate of fake drugs is higher than the global average 10% and contributes to several deaths annually. The most counterfeited are drugs for anti-malaria, pain and antibiotics, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Australia COVID-19 infections hit record amid runaway Omicron outbreak

Australia on Thursday reported its biggest pandemic caseload with a runaway Omicron outbreak driving up hospitalisation rates as the surge put severe strain on supply chains forcing authorities to ease quarantine rules for more workers. After successfully containing the virus earlier in the pandemic, Australia has reported nearly a million cases over the last two weeks as people slowly get adjusted to living with the coronavirus amid fewer restrictions. Total infections detected since the pandemic began neared 1.4 million.

China's Tianjin outbreak grows as Omicron spreads to Dalian

China's northern port city of Tianjin reported an increase in COVID-19 infections on Thursday as it stepped up efforts to rein in an outbreak that has spread the highly transmissible Omicron variant to another city. Omicron has brought new challenges for China's strategy to quickly stamp out outbreaks, which has taken on urgency ahead of the Winter Olympics set to start from Feb. 4, while the busy Lunar New Year travel season begins this month.

More than 100 million COVID-19 vaccines rejected by poorer nations in Dec - UNICEF

Poorer nations last month rejected more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the global programme COVAX, mainly due to their rapid expiry date, a UNICEF official said on Thursday. "More than a 100 million have been rejected just in December alone," Etleva Kadilli, director of Supply Division at U.N. agency UNICEF told lawmakers at the European Parliament.

India's big cities could see COVID-19 cases peak next week

New COVID-19 infections in Indian cities such as capital New Delhi and Mumbai could peak next week after rising rapidly, experts said on Thursday, as the country reported the highest number of daily cases since late May. The 247,417 new infections were more than 30 times higher daily cases from a month ago, rising as the more transmissible Omicron variant replaced Delta across the country. Total infections reached 36.32 million, behind only the United States.

Analysis-India's new COVID-19 rules aim to free up resources but carry risks

India has eased its COVID-19 rules on testing, quarantine and hospital admissions in a bid to free up resources for its neediest people, a strategy hailed by experts even though it carries the risk of a heavy undercount of infections and deaths. The moves will offer a breathing space for healthcare facilities, often overstretched in a far-flung nation of 1.4 billion, as they battle a 33-fold surge in infections over the past month from the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Africa joins race to acquire Pfizer's COVID-19 Paxlovid pills

Africa's top public health body said it was in talks with Pfizer about securing supplies of its antiviral COVID-19 pills for the continent, the latest to join the race for a drug seen as a potential game changer in fighting the virus. The Paxlovid medication was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, and data suggested it retains its effectiveness against the Omicron variant, Pfizer has said.

Spain to cap antigen test prices, expand booster programme

Spain will cap prices for rapid coronavirus tests and open up its booster shot programme to everyone over the age of 18, the Health Minister said on Thursday, a day after data showed Omicron's rampant spread might be starting to slow. Darias said that from Saturday antigen tests, which are only be available in pharmacies and not for sale in supermarkets, would sell for a maximum of 2.94 euros ($3.37) bringing prices closer in line with other European countries.

Hungary to offer fourth COVID shot as Omicron cases spike

Hungary is to make a fourth COVID-19 shot available to people who ask for it, after a consultation with a doctor, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, told a news conference on Thursday. Gulyas made the announcement just as the Central European country of 10 million expects a substantial further increase in COVID-19 cases over the coming weeks due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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