Health News Roundup: Wanted: Volunteers to catch COVID in the name of science; Australia reports fewer COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations steady and more
Remaining reservoirs of virus mean patients are never truly cured of the infection. Moderna starts trial for Omicron-specific booster shot Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it had started a mid-stage study, testing a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine specifically designed to target the Omicron coronavirus variant, a day after rival Pfizer Inc launched a similar trial.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Wanted: Volunteers to catch COVID in the name of science
The world's first medical trial authorized to deliberately expose participants to the coronavirus is seeking more volunteers as it steps up efforts to help develop better vaccines. The Oxford University trial was launched last April, three months after Britain became the first country to approve what is known as challenge trials for humans involving COVID-19.
Australia reports fewer COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations steady
Australia reported fewer COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, a day after recording a pandemic high, while hospital cases remained steady, raising hopes the country's worst outbreak may have peaked. Officials reported a total of 59 deaths, down from a pandemic peak of 87 on Wednesday, with just two states still to report figures.
Most U.S. local governments opt to join $26 billion opioid settlement
U.S. cities and counties have embraced a proposed settlement worth up to $26 billion resolving lawsuits alleging three large drug distributors and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson fueled the U.S. opioid epidemic, lawyers behind the deal said on Wednesday, increasing the odds that it will move forward. About 90% of local governments nationwide that were eligible to participate in the settlement with McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc, and J&J had opted to do so by a Wednesday deadline, said Peter Mougey, a plaintiffs' lawyer involved in the negotiations.
Beijing city limits movement in more areas to curb COVID cases before Olympics
Beijing has limited the movement of people in more parts of the Chinese capital, even as it reported fewer COVID-19 cases on Thursday, in a bid to lower virus risk less than 10 days before its hosting of the Winter Olympics Games. Beijing's Fengtai district said late on Wednesday residents in more areas should not leave their residential compounds for unnecessary reasons and must have a daily COVID test.
No exit from zero-COVID: China struggles to find policy off-ramp
China's "zero-COVID" stance has put it at odds with the rest of the world and is exacting a mounting economic toll, but an exit strategy remains elusive as authorities worry about the ability of the healthcare system to cope and adapt to new strains. Chinese medical experts believed last year that higher vaccination rates would eventually allow China to relax tough rules on movement and testing as infection rates slow elsewhere.
Judge blocks South Dakota rule that hinders medication abortions
A federal judge in South Dakota temporarily blocked on Wednesday a new rule by the state's health department that makes access to a medication abortion more difficult. Planned Parenthood sought the injunction against the South Dakota measure, which was the first part of an executive order issued last September by Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican.
Early research suggests Merck cancer drug may target dormant HIV
Researchers studying Merck & Co Inc's cancer drug Keytruda for HIV patients who also have cancer say the immunotherapy may help displace the virus from human immune cells, offering an intriguing area of study for the treatment of chronic HIV infection. Antiretroviral treatments now allow many HIV patients to lead normal lives, but the drugs do not completely remove the virus from the body. The remaining reservoirs of the virus mean patients are never truly cured of the infection.
Moderna starts trial for Omicron-specific booster shot
Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it had started a mid-stage study, testing a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine specifically designed to target the Omicron coronavirus variant, a day after rival Pfizer Inc launched a similar trial. The company said while the third shot of its original coronavirus vaccine increased neutralizing antibodies against the variant at the lower dose, their levels declined six months after the booster dose was administered.
Pfizer, Moderna shots safe during in vitro fertilization; healthy gut bacteria may help prevent long COVID
The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. mRNA vaccines safe during in vitro fertilization
Denmark and Austria on Wednesday became the latest countries to ease COVID-19 restrictions, following similar moves by Britain, Ireland and the Netherlands, while other countries in Europe planned new measures to battle record numbers of infections. The European region as a whole no longer accounts for half or more than half of global deaths and infections according to Reuters COVID-19 data, but the numbers remain high, with particular concern in countries with lower vaccination rates.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)