Health News Roundup: WHO maintains highest alert over COVID, but sees hope ahead; Sanofi to let go of staff at vaccine plants in India as part of review and more
The rule could help expand coverage for "tens of millions of women across the country" who have access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) said. 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.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
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.
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.
Sanofi to let go of staff at vaccine plants in India as part of review
French drugmaker Sanofi SA is reviewing operations at two of its vaccine making facilities in India and plans to let go of all employees at the plants, the company told Reuters, after it failed to win a UNICEF contract. The drugmaker is offering voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to all its employees at two sites near Hyderabad, a spokesperson for Sanofi's India unit told Reuters in an email.
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.
U.S. govt proposes expanding Obamacare coverage for birth control
The U.S. government on Monday proposed a new rule allowing women enrolled in Obamacare plans to get access to birth control even if their employer, school or health plan objects on religious grounds. The rule could help expand coverage for "tens of millions of women across the country" who have access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) said.
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.
Drugmakers prevail in dispute over U.S. discount drug program
Drug manufacturers can limit healthcare providers' use of outside pharmacies for dispensing drugs under a federal drug discount program, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia is a victory for Sanofi SA, Novo Nordisk AS and AstraZeneca PLc. The companies had sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after it ordered them to stop restricting sales of discounted drugs to so-called contract pharmacies.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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- Red Crescent Societies
- U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
- Zero- COVID
- European Commission
- National Health Commission
- World Disasters Report
- The World Health Organization
- Mi Feng
- Regeneron's Dupixent
- Novo Nordisk AS