Health News Roundup: Indonesia finds local trader forged ingredient label in probe of cough syrup deaths; WHO maintains highest alert over COVID, but sees hope ahead and more
The Geneva meeting sets the programme for the U.N. agency this year – as well as its future budget – with the WHO facing two key challenges: a world that expects ever more from its leading health body, but which has not yet proven willing to fund it to tackle those challenges. South Korea drops indoor anti-COVID mask mandate, infection fears linger South Korea on Monday scrapped a face mask mandate for most indoor public places in a major step to loosen COVID-19 rules, but many residents opted to keep wearing coverings due to lingering concerns over infections.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Indonesia finds local trader forged ingredient label in probe of cough syrup deaths
Indonesian police said on Monday a local trader of industrial-grade chemicals sold them as pharmaceutical-grade, leading to their use in medicated syrups that authorities suspect may have caused deaths of more than 200 children across the country. Authorities have said two ingredients, ethylene glycol (EG) and diethyelene glycol (DEG), found in some syrup-based paracetamol medications are linked to acute kidney injury, which many of the children suffered.
WHO maintains highest alert over COVID, but sees hope ahead
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that COVID-19 continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern, its highest form of alert. The pandemic was likely in a "transition point" that continues to need careful management to "mitigate the potential negative consequences", the agency added in a statement.
Under-funded WHO seeks 'reinforced' role in global health at key meeting
The World Health Organization will push at its board meeting this week for an expanded role in tackling the next global health emergency after COVID-19, but is still seeking answers on how to fund it, according to health policy experts. The Geneva meeting sets the programme for the U.N. agency this year – as well as its future budget – with the WHO facing two key challenges: a world that expects ever more from its leading health body, but which has not yet proven willing to fund it to tackle those challenges.
South Korea drops indoor anti-COVID mask mandate, infection fears linger
South Korea on Monday scrapped a face mask mandate for most indoor public places in a major step to loosen COVID-19 rules, but many residents opted to keep wearing coverings due to lingering concerns over infections. The lifting of the face-covering rules in the majority of indoor locations is South Korea's latest step in easing COVID rules as new cases show signs of a slowdown. People are still required to wear the masks in public transport settings and in medical facilities.
Japan gives priority review status to Alzheimer's drug developed by Eisai, Biogen
Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co Ltd and U.S. biotech firm Biogen Inc said in a joint statement that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has granted priority review status to their Alzheimer's disease treatment. The drug, lecanemab, which was recently granted accelerated approval in the United States, is an antibody that has been shown to remove sticky deposits of a protein called amyloid beta from the brains of patients in the early stages of the mind-wasting disease.
All countries 'dangerously unprepared' for future pandemics, says IFRC
The world is "dangerously unprepared" for future pandemics, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) say in a report published on Monday, calling on countries to update their preparedness plans by year-end. In its World Disasters Report 2022, the IFRC said "all countries remain dangerously unprepared for future outbreaks" despite COVID-19 killing more people than any earthquake, drought or hurricane in history.
China approves two domestically developed COVID drugs
China has approved two domestically developed oral medicines for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, the National Medical Products Administration said on Sunday. The drugs, used for treating adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infections, have been developed by Simcere Pharmaceutical Group <2096. HK> and a unit of Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co Ltd, the administration said in a statement on its website.
Sanofi and Regeneron's Dupixent wins new European Commission approval
Healthcare companies Sanofi and Regeneron said on Monday that their Dupixent product had won approval from the European Commission to treat eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), which is a condition that damages the esophagus. "This latest approval establishes Dupixent as the only targeted medicine specifically indicated for eosinophilic esophagitis in the European Union," said George D. Yancopoulos, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Regeneron.
China says COVID situation at 'low level' after holiday
China said on Monday that the COVID-19 situation in the country was at a "low level", and that fever clinic visits due to the coronavirus during the Lunar New Year dropped about 40% from before the week-long holiday "The overall epidemic situation in the country has entered a low level, and the epidemic situation in various places has maintained a steady downward trend," National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng told a media briefing on Monday .
Paxlovid sales forecasts may change with Pfizer view on China
Clarity from Pfizer Inc this week on whether China's relaxation of its Zero-COVID policy and the surge in infections there will lead to a spike in demand for its antiviral Paxlovid could spur analysts to alter their 2023 sales forecasts for the treatment. China was an insignificant market for Paxlovid before the strict infection-control policy was lifted, but Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said the company has since distributed millions of Paxlovid treatment courses there through a deal with China's Meheco.
(With inputs from agencies.)
- READ MORE ON:
- Red Crescent Societies
- Simcere Pharmaceutical Group
- acute kidney injury
- Eisai Co Ltd
- Zero- COVID
- European Commission
- National Health Commission
- World Disasters Report
- The World Health Organization
- Mi Feng
- Regeneron's Dupixent