Health News Roundup: U.S. FDA to review fewer emergency use requests for COVID tests; Canada to remove all COVID travel restrictions from Oct 1 and more
That level of so-called "herd immunity" reflects partial protection imparted from both natural infection and vaccination, according to the Tokyo Foundation of Policy Research, which estimated the levels for 12 of Japan's most-populated prefectures. Pfizer/BioNTech seek FDA nod for new COVID boosters for children Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech on Monday sought the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authorization for an Omicron-tailored COVID-19 vaccine booster for children aged 5 through 11 years.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
U.S. FDA to review fewer emergency use requests for COVID tests
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it will now review only a small number of emergency use authorization requests for COVID tests that are likely to have a significant benefit to public health, including fulfilling an unmet need. The agency is revising its COVID-19 test policy in light of the current manufacturing status and number of cases, it said, adding companies seeking EUA for their COVID tests will have to now apply for the agency's traditional premarket review process.
Europe's generic drugmakers may cut output due to surging energy bills
Europe's drug makers have warned they may stop making some cheap generic medicines because of surging electricity costs and are calling for an overhaul of the way they are priced, the latest industry to seek help as the energy crisis deepens. The generic drug industry lobby group Medicines for Europe, which represents companies including Teva, Novartis's Sandoz unit and Fresenius SE's Kabi business, on Tuesday sent an open letter to European Union member states' energy and health ministers ahead of their extraordinary EU Council meeting on Friday, calling for measures to ease the cost burden.
Biden Medicare costs victory due mostly to Alzheimer's drug change
U.S. President Joe Biden claimed victory on Tuesday for a drop in costs for tens of millions of Americans covered by the Medicare health program, though it is primarily due to a decision to severely limit coverage of an expensive, new Alzheimer's drug. Biden highlighted a drop in premiums next year for the first time in over a decade for Medicare Part B, which among other things covers doctor and hospital visits as well as drugs they administer. He said the result will be a saving of more than $60 a year per beneficiary.
Canada to remove all COVID travel restrictions from Oct 1
Canada will drop all COVID-19 restrictions for travelers from Oct. 1, including vaccination and masking requirements for flights and trains, the government said on Monday. The move is likely to boost the Canadian travel industry, already booming after months of lull during the pandemic.
Valneva in talks with potential partner on second-gen COVID-19 vaccines
French drugmaker Valneva said on Monday it is in talks with a potential partner on producing an updated version of its COVID-19 vaccine that targets new variants of the disease, sending its shares up. The French company has struggled to bring its COVID-19 vaccine to market to compete with rival products from drugmakers such as AstraZeneca, Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer. Its shares have lost almost 80% since peaking at the end of 2021.
In Syria, mounting cholera cases pose threat across frontlines
A cholera outbreak that has claimed 29 lives in Syria is posing a danger across the frontlines of the country's 11-year-long war, stirring fears in crowded camps for the displaced who lack running water or sewage systems. First linked to contaminated water near the Euphrates river, the outbreak has now spread across the fractured nation, with cases reported in government- and rebel-controlled regions. In all, at least 2,000 cases have been reported so far.
Congo declares end of latest Ebola outbreak in east
Democratic Republic of Congo has declared the end of its latest Ebola virus outbreak in the eastern province of North Kivu, Health Minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani Mbanda said in a statement on Tuesday. The fifteenth outbreak in the central African country emerged when a new case of the deadly virus was confirmed in the eastern city of Beni on Aug. 22.
Nigeria's northwest faces worsening malnutrition - MSF
Nigeria faces worsening malnutrition in the northwest due to insecurity, high food prices and the impact of climate change, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) said on Tuesday, calling for the region to be included in United Nations funding plans next year. Gunmen have terrorised the northwest, killing and kidnapping people for ransom this year. Africa's most populous nation is already grappling with an Islamist insurgency that has displaced at least two million people in more than a decade.
Japan's COVID-19 herd immunity near 90% after Omicron wave -study
Japan's population level immunity to COVID-19 has reached about 90% in major population areas after a recent Omicron wave, though that level of protection is likely to diminish in a matter of months, according to a study published on Tuesday. That level of so-called "herd immunity" reflects partial protection imparted from both natural infection and vaccination, according to the Tokyo Foundation of Policy Research, which estimated the levels for 12 of Japan's most-populated prefectures.
Pfizer/BioNTech seek FDA nod for new COVID boosters for children
Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech on Monday sought the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authorization for an Omicron-tailored COVID-19 vaccine booster for children aged 5 through 11 years. The application comes just days after Moderna also applied for FDA authorization of its own Omicron-targeting shot in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and children aged six to 11.
(With inputs from agencies.)