Health News Roundup: China's Hubei province revises February 19 new cases; World must act fast to contain coronavirus and more
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
China's Hubei province revises February 19 new cases tally to 775, from 349 previously
China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, on Friday revised the number of new cases it reported on Feb. 19 to 775, from 349 previously. Earlier in the day, provincial authorities said they would add back some cases to their tally of the disease after they adjusted their methodology to count only cases that were detected with genetic tests, rather than with CT scans.\
World must act fast to contain coronavirus: WHO's Tedros
The window of opportunity to contain wider international spread of the epidemic of the new coronavirus disease is closing, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday after cases were reported in Iran and Lebanon. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, asked whether the outbreak is at a "tipping point" after new cases and deaths in Iran from COVID-19, and cases in Lebanon and Canada, said that he still believed the virus spread could be stopped.
Companies in pharmaceutical supply chain develop system to track counterfeit drugs
Some of the industry's largest pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer Inc and Eli Lilly and Co, have developed a blockchain-based system to track prescription drugs across the supply chain to better halt the flow of counterfeit medicines, company officials said on Friday. Some two dozen companies in the industry including drugmakers, distributors, retailers and delivery firms created the blockchain-based MediLedger Network, which has been testing in the verification of drug returns. They said they intend to further expand the system this year.
Coronavirus spreads in China prisons as fears weigh on global markets, U.S. business
The coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in Chinese prisons, authorities said on Friday, contributing to a jump in reported cases beyond the epicenter in Hubei province, including 100 more in South Korea and a worsening outbreak in Italy. U.S. stock indexes fell after data showed U.S. business activity stalled in February, and the rise in new cases sent investors scrambling for safe havens such as gold and government bonds.
Japan govt faces questions over coronavirus, Tokyo cancels events
Japan faced growing questions about whether it was doing enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus on Friday, as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it would cancel or postpone major indoor events it has sponsored for the next three weeks. More than 400 Japanese and foreign passengers were set to disembark from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship near Tokyo after weeks aboard in quarantine, despite reports of new cases coming in from around Japan.
Study shows sharp increases in U.S. alcohol deaths, especially among women
Alcohol-related deaths in the United States rose sharply from roughly 2012 through 2016, with the biggest increases among white and Latino women, according to a new study by researchers who called the trend "an urgent public health crisis." They also said the trend appears to have continued beyond 2016, but did not offer a theory for its causes.
Virus shows plight of China's overstretched doctors
The coronavirus epidemic has shined a spotlight on another simmering crisis in China's healthcare system: a critical shortage of doctors. Rising demand for health care has far outpaced the increase in the supply of doctors. Between 2005 and 2018, the number of fully licensed doctors nearly doubled, but the number of hospital admissions nearly quadrupled, according to Chinese government data. The result is a vicious cycle, doctors and industry consultants say.
Only three U.S. states can test for coronavirus: public lab group
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still handling the bulk of testing for the coronavirus as it works out issues with test kits sent to states, and the federal agency is taking steps to prepare for local spread of the virus, agency officials said on Friday. The World Health Organization has warned that the window of opportunity to contain the international spread of the epidemic was closing after cases were reported in Iran and Lebanon. The virus has emerged in 26 countries and territories outside of mainland China.
U.S. FDA approves Esperion's cholesterol drug
The U.S Food and Drug Administration approved Esperion Therapeutics Inc's cholesterol-lowering drug as an add-on treatment to commonly used statins, the agency said on Friday. Esperion's lead drug, Nexletol, is intended for patients with high levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol who are at an increased risk of cardiovascular events.
Netflix's Stranger Things raised awareness about rare disorder
Popular TV shows can help raise awareness and public interest in rare diseases, as the Netflix series "Stranger Things" has done for a little-known bone-growth disorder, a study shows. Researchers found that with the launch of each of the show's first three seasons, there was a surge in internet searches for information on cleidocranial dysplasia, a congenital condition that causes missing or abnormal growth of teeth and collarbones.
(With inputs from agencies.)