Health News Roundup: Thailand eases entry rules for tourists, scraps mask policy; G20 targets raising $1.5 billion for the global pandemic fund, says host Indonesia and more
The five-member commission, including two Republican commissioners, voted to increase scrutiny of discounts that pharmaceutical middlemen seek from drug companies to ensure their products are covered by the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM). Prior infection plus 3 vaccine doses proves best vs Omicron; neurological COVID symptoms can last months The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Thailand eases entry rules for tourists, scraps mask policy
Thailand announced on Friday it would abandon its much-criticized pre-registration process for foreign visitors and no longer require face masks to be worn in public, responding to a slower COVID-19 spread. The "Thailand Pass" system, where foreign tourists must seek prior approval from Thai authorities, will be halted from July 1, Tourism Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan told reporters, removing one of the country's last remaining travel curbs.
G20 targets raising $1.5 billion for the global pandemic fund, says host Indonesia
The Group of 20 (G20) major economies aims to raise $1.5 billion this year for a fund set up to better prepare for future pandemics, the health minister of current G20 president Indonesia said on Friday. G20 countries have provisionally agreed to set up a multi-billion dollar fund that health officials have said will finance efforts like surveillance, research, and better access to vaccination for lower-to-middle income countries, among others.
N.Korea sends aid to 800 families suffering from intestinal epidemic
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other senior officials prepared aid to send to 800 families suffering from an unidentified intestinal epidemic, state media reported on Friday, as the country also battles its first COVID-19 outbreak.
North Korea revealed this week it was facing an "acute enteric epidemic" on top of a weeks-long outbreak of COVID. It did not elaborate what the disease was, but enteric refers to the gastrointestinal tract.
Beijing declares initial COVID victory as bar-linked surge eases
The city of Beijing on Thursday declared an initial victory in its latest battle with COVID-19 after testing millions of people and quarantining thousands in the past week to stem an outbreak prolonged by a sudden wave of cases linked to a bar. The flare-up at the popular Heaven Supermarket Bar known for its cheap liquor and rowdy nights emerged just days after the Chinese capital started to lift widespread curbs. Restrictions had been in place for around a month in Beijing to tackle a broader outbreak that began in late April.
U.S. FTC fires warning shot at drug middlemen over rebates, fees
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously Thursday to increase scrutiny of pharmacy benefit managers that act as middlemen between drug companies and consumers in a renewed effort to combat soaring healthcare costs and drug prices. The five-member commission, including two Republican commissioners, voted to increase scrutiny of discounts that pharmaceutical middlemen seek from drug companies to ensure their products are covered by the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM).
Prior infection plus 3 vaccine doses prove best vs Omicron; neurological COVID symptoms can last months
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. Vaccination plus prior COVID best protects against Omicron
Ecuador seeks partner to stop gas flaring as anger rises in the Amazon
Ecuador oil company Petroecuador says it is working to shut down gas flares in the Amazon to comply with a court-imposed deadline, but progress is too slow for nearby communities who allege the flares cause cancer and other illnesses. A provincial tribunal in Sucumbios province last year ordered Petroecuador and a handful of private operators to stop hundreds of flares - which burn off natural gas emitted during oil production when there is no infrastructure to capture it - in inhabited areas by March 2023.
Centene raises profit forecast betting on higher Medicaid premiums
Health insurer Centene Corp raised its forecast for full-year adjusted profit on Friday, betting on higher premiums from its government-backed Medicaid health insurance plans. The company has performed well on the federal Obamacare marketplace - where it offers insurance plans - so far in the second quarter, it said in prepared remarks for its investor day.
German health minister pushes fourth COVID shot ahead of autumn wave
There will not be another attempt to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory, said German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, while making the case for more people to get a second booster shot. Anyone who is often in contact with others and wants to protect themselves and others should consider the fourth shot, regardless of age, said Lauterbach. Some 80% of Germany's over-60s have not had their fourth COVID-19 shot, he added.
Omicron less likely to cause long COVID - UK study
The Omicron variant of coronavirus is less likely to cause long COVID than previous variants, according to the first peer-reviewed study of its kind from the United Kingdom. Researchers at King's College London, using data from the ZOE COVID Symptom study app, found the odds of developing long COVID after infection was 20% to 50% lower during the Omicron wave in the UK compared to Delta. The figure varied depending on the patient's age and the timing of their last vaccination.
(With inputs from agencies.)