Health News Roundup: EU drugs watchdog begins review of Moderna's variant COVID vaccine; Early Omicron infection unlikely to protect against current variants and more
U.S.-based Moderna's so-called bivalent vaccine targets two strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind COVID, the original strain first identified in China, and the Omicron variant. G20 targets raising $1.5 billion for 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.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
EU drugs watchdog begins review of Moderna's variant COVID vaccine
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) started a rolling review on Friday of a variant-adapted COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna, as coronavirus cases linked to Omicron sub-variants see an uptick in the region. U.S.-based Moderna's so-called bivalent vaccine targets two strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind COVID, the original strain first identified in China, and the Omicron variant.
G20 targets raising $1.5 billion for 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.
Factbox-Global baby formula makers send products to restock U.S. shelves
Global companies that make baby formula are bringing products into the United States after the country's health regulator relaxed its import policy to address a nationwide shortage partly triggered by Abbott Laboratories' manufacturing plant in Michigan recalling some products in February. Importers include Neocate maker Danone SA, while New Zealand's dairy giants Fonterra and a2 Milk have submitted applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for supplying baby formula to the United States.
Early Omicron infection unlikely to protect against current variants
People infected with the earliest version of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, first identified in South Africa in November, may be vulnerable to reinfection with later versions of Omicron even if they have been vaccinated and boosted, new findings suggest. Vaccinated patients with Omicron BA.1 breakthrough infections developed antibodies that could neutralize that virus plus the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, but the Omicron sublineages circulating now have mutations that allow them to evade those antibodies, researchers from China reported on Friday in Nature.
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.
Iowa top court rejects right to abortion, revives waiting period law
Iowa's highest court on Friday ruled that the state's constitution does not include a "fundamental right" to abortion, reversing its own finding from four years ago and reviving a law requiring women to wait 24 hours after an initial appointment before getting an abortion. The 5-2 ruling by the Supreme Court of Iowa overturned a lower court one blocking the law, which had been challenged by a Planned Parenthood affiliate. It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected in coming weeks to issue a major ruling that could dramatically curtail abortion rights at the national level.
Chile reports first case of monkeypox
Chile confirmed on Friday the country's first case of monkeypox, the health ministry said in a statement. The statement said the person was a young man from the Metropolitan Region who had traveled to Europe. It added that he is in good health with no complications, but presenting symptoms including lesions, scabs, skin spots and lymphadenopathy.
WHO panel backs use of Omicron-adapted vaccine as booster dose
A modified coronavirus vaccine that targets the Omicron variant can be administered as a booster dose to broaden immunity, a technical advisory group set up the World Health Organization said on Friday. Such a variant-adapted vaccine may benefit those who have already received the primary series of shots, the agency's panel on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition said, citing available data.
U.S. FDA opens way to COVID vaccines for kids under 5, CDC up next
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, opening the door to vaccinating millions of the country's youngest children once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree. The FDA authorized Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 months to 4 years and Moderna Inc's shot for those 6 months to 17 years. Pfizer's is already authorized for those over the age of 5.
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 were 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.)