Health News Roundup: Scattered, hidden COVID infection sources remain in Beijing city-official; Abortion pill provider sees spike in U.S. interest after SCOTUS leak and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Scattered, hidden COVID infection sources remain in Beijing city-official
Beijing city still has scattered and hidden sources of COVID-19 infections "at the community level", and the transmission routes are yet to be blocked entirely, a city disease and control official said on Thursday. A total 39 new locally transmitted COVID cases were found during the 24 hours ending at 3 p.m. Thursday (0700 GMT), adding the case count to 544 since April 22 in the current outbreak, Pang Xinghuo, deputy director at Beijing Municipal Health Commission, told a news briefing.
Abortion pill provider sees spike in U.S. interest after SCOTUS leak
A provider of prescription pills that are used to terminate a pregnancy at home has seen a spike in interest from U.S. women this week, following news that the Supreme Court would likely reverse a landmark 1973 decision ensuring abortion rights nationwide, nonprofit Aid Access said on Wednesday. The court confirmed that a draft opinion signaling a reversal of the Roe v. Wade ruling, published late on Monday by the news site Politico, was authentic. The court said it did not represent the justices' final decision, due by the end of June.
COVID-hit Beijing returns to work after subdued Labour Daybreak
Beijing returned to work on Thursday after a five-day Labour Day holiday devoid of the usual trips across the country or lavish family dinners, as China's capital tried to eradicate a COVID outbreak of dozens of new cases a day. The long break is usually one of the most lucrative times of the year for restaurants, hotels and other businesses in China. This year, travelers spent 43% less than in 2021, data showed on Thursday.
S.Africa's Aspen to slash COVID vaccine capacity within 6 weeks if no orders - CEO
Aspen Pharmacare will switch about half of its COVID-19 vaccine production capacity onto other products if demand doesn't pick up within six weeks, its CEO warned, as South Africa's president and health officials urged more Africans to take up the shots. Aspen completed a deal in March to package, sell and distribute Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine in what was considered a game-changing moment for an under-vaccinated continent frustrated by sluggish Western handouts.
EU citizens may sue countries for health-damaging dirty air, top court adviser says
Citizens in European Union countries may be able to sue their governments for financial compensation if illegal levels of air pollution damage their health, an adviser to Europe's top court said on Thursday. The adviser's opinion follows a string of rulings at the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the EU in recent years, with around 10 EU countries including France, Poland, Italy and Romania found guilty of illegal air pollution.
Almost three times as many died as a result of COVID than officially reported - WHO
Almost three times as many people have died as a result of COVID-19 as the official data show, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, the most comprehensive look at the true global toll of the pandemic so far. There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the U.N. body said on Thursday. The official count of deaths directly attributable to COVID-19 and reported to WHO in that period, from January 2020 to the end of December 2021, is slightly more than 5.4 million.
Novavax files for authorization of COVID-19 shot among adolescents in Britain
Novavax Inc said on Wednesday it had filed an application with Britain's drugs regulator for the authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine among adolescents aged 12 and older. Britain had in February cleared the two-dose vaccine, Nuvaxovid, for use in adults amid a spike in cases fueled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
China to fight comments, actions denying its COVID response policy -state media
China will fight any comments and actions that distort, doubt or deny the country's COVID-19 response policy, state television reported on Thursday, after a meeting of the country's highest decision-making body. Relaxing COVID controls will lead to large-scale infections, state television reported, following the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party's politburo, adding that China will step up research into and its defense against virus mutations, and will avoid one-size-fit-all policies.
Third Ebola case confirmed in northwest Congo, WHO says
Health authorities have confirmed a third Ebola case in the city of Mbandaka in the northwest Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. The 48-year-old man is a high-risk contact of the first patient, who died on April 21, said the WHO on Twitter.
Omicron as severe as previous COVID variants, large study finds
The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus is intrinsically as severe as previous variants, unlike assumptions made in previous studies that it was more transmissible but less severe, a large study in the United States has found. "We found that the risks of hospitalization and mortality were nearly identical between periods," said four scientists who conducted the study based on records of 130,000 COVID-19 patients, referring to times in the past two years when different variants were dominant across the world.
(With inputs from agencies.)