Health News Roundup: U.S. rollout of new COVID boosters off to slow start; Medical device makers see little impact from Fiona on Puerto Rico operations and more
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which worked with companies to prevent shortages of drugs and medical devices after Hurricane Maria battered the medical manufacturing hub in 2017, said it is in discussion with companies it regulates there regarding any impact on supplies. Hong Kong will scrap COVID hotel quarantine from Sept.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
U.S. rollout of new COVID boosters off to slow start
Updated COVID-19 boosters have gone into 4.4 million arms in the United States since a new revaccination campaign began three weeks ago, government data shows, a slower pace for the shots targeting the Omicron variant of the coronavirus than the rollout of the first boosters last year. The government said earlier this week it has shipped 25 million of the Omicron-tailored shots, mostly from Pfizer/BioNTech.
Medical device makers see little impact from Fiona on Puerto Rico operations
Medical device companies and some drugmakers with manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico said they do not expect meaningful disruption from Hurricane Fiona, which knocked out power for over 3 million people and caused flooding and landslides on the island. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which worked with companies to prevent shortages of drugs and medical devices after Hurricane Maria battered the medical manufacturing hub in 2017, said it is in discussion with companies it regulates there regarding any impact on supplies.
Hong Kong will scrap COVID hotel quarantine from Sept. 26
Hong Kong will scrap its controversial COVID-19 hotel quarantine policy for all arrivals from Sept. 26, more than 2.5 years after it was first implemented, in a long-awaited move for many residents and businesses in the financial hub. All international arrivals will be able to return home or to the accommodation of their choice but will have to self-monitor for three days after entering the Chinese special administrative hub, the government said on Friday.
Biden to announce $1.5 billion to fight U.S. opioid crisis
U.S. President Joe Biden will announce on Friday nearly $1.5 billion to fund access to medications for opioid overdoses, sanctions against traffickers, and increased funding for law enforcement, the White House said. The Biden administration is keen to show it is taking action on a worsening nationwide opioid crisis, which according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data fueled more than 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021, a nearly 15% increase from the previous year.
Moderna seeks FDA nod for Omicron-targeted COVID shot for adolescents, younger kids
Moderna Inc said on Friday it has requested U.S. authorization for use of its Omicron-targeting COVID vaccine in adolescents and children. The company is seeking emergency use authorization for its updated vaccine in two age groups - adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and children aged six to 11.
'Blood on your hands' if world steps back on tackling COVID now - WHO official
If rich nations think the pandemic is over, they should help lower-income countries reach that point too, a senior World Health Organization official told Reuters. In an interview, WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward warned that richer nations must not step back from tackling COVID-19 as a global problem now, ahead of future potential waves of infection.
Doping-WADA outlaws tramadol use from 2024, maintains cannabis ban
The World Anti-Doping Agency will add the painkiller tramadol to the list of banned substances for athletes in competition from 2024 and has maintained its ban on cannabis after a review. The decisions were taken by WADA's executive committee after a meeting in Sydney on Friday and followed recommendations from the body's advisory group on the list of banned substances.
Uganda Ebola death toll rises to four - health ministry
Three more Ebola patients have died in Uganda, the health ministry said on Friday, bringing the total death toll to four, days after authorities confirmed an outbreak of a strain of the deadly disease for which no vaccine has yet been approved. Uganda's health ministry said it had confirmed 11 cases of Ebola in total, including the four deaths.
U.S. cutting global donations of Pfizer COVID shots as demand slows
The United States is significantly cutting back the number of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses it will buy for a donation to poorer nations this year, Pfizer said on Thursday, citing diminished demand for the shots in those countries. Pfizer said it agreed to reduce the number of doses it will deliver by year-end to 600 million, down from the billion-dose commitment the U.S. government made a year ago.
U.S. FDA panel votes against Spectrum's lung cancer drug
Advisers to the U.S Food and Drug Administration on Thursday voted against recommending Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' experimental drug for the treatment of patients with a form of non-small cell lung cancer. The FDA panel voted 9 to 4 against the oral drug, poziotinib, citing marginal efficacy, high levels of toxicities, and lack of dose optimization.
(With inputs from agencies.)