Health News Roundup: Biogen provides free Aduhelm as U.S. clinics await Medicare payment; New Zealand’s Auckland stays in lockdown, officials report Pfizer-linked death and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Biogen provides free Aduhelm as U.S. clinics await Medicare payment

Biogen Inc is providing its controversial and expensive new Alzheimer’s drug-free of charge for some patients amid slow claim reviews by Medicare, according to sources familiar with the situation, including a doctor treating patients with the drug. The development underscores the division among doctors about whether the $56,000-a-year drug helps patients and how uncertainty about reimbursement from Medicare, the U.S. government health plan for people over age 65, has held back prescriptions and sales. Aduhelm, which is given as a monthly infusion, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June even though one of Biogen’s two large clinical trials failed to show a benefit for patients diagnosed with the incurable mind-wasting disease.

New Zealand’s Auckland stays in lockdown, officials report Pfizer-linked death

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday extended a lockdown in Auckland by two weeks, while officials reported the country’s first death linked to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. New Zealand had been largely virus-free for months, barring a small number of cases in February, until an outbreak of the Delta variant imported from Australia prompted Ardern to order a snap nationwide lockdown on Aug. 17.

Pfizer says skin disease drug superior to Regeneron rival

Pfizer Inc said on Monday its drug to treat patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis was statistically superior compared to a rival from Regeneron. Pfizer said its drug, abrocitinib, met the main goals in a late-stage study.

Coronavirus booster shots ‘not a luxury’, WHO Europe head says

A third-dose booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccination is a way to keep the most vulnerable safe and “not a luxury”, the World Health Organization said on Monday. The WHO said earlier this month data did not indicate a need for booster shots, while topping up already fully vaccinated people would further widen a vaccine-availability gap between rich and lower-income countries.

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now: Japan’s Moderna vaccine contamination woes widen

Saudi students return to school with masks and checks

Waleed Saleh grinned behind his face mask in the corridor of Riyadh’s Ibn al-Hajeb elementary school, enjoying his first chance to see all of his classmates in more than a year. “It has been a while,” the 13-year-old said as his friends headed to lessons around him, wearing white robes and leather sandals and carrying black backpacks. A sign in the courtyard outside wished them all a “warm welcome back”.

Japan’s Moderna vaccine contamination woes widen as 1 million more shots suspended

Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine contamination woes in Japan have widened with another million doses being temporarily suspended after foreign substances were found in more batches and two people died following shots from affected lots. The suspension of Moderna supplies, affecting more than 2.6 million does in total, comes as Japan battles its worst wave of COVID-19 yet, driven by the contagious Delta variant, with new daily infections exceeding 25,000 this month for the first time amid a slow vaccine rollout.

South Korean lawmakers to vote on cameras in operating rooms after surgery deaths

South Korean lawmakers will vote as early as Monday on whether to require hospitals to place surveillance cameras in operating rooms after a series of medical accidents involving unqualified staff who stood in for surgeons. If the bill is approved by parliament, South Korea will be the first developed country to require closed-circuit cameras to record surgical procedures.

A weary Australia plans reopening as COVID-19 death toll hits 1,000

As Australia’s COVID-19 deaths exceed 1,000, a grim toll but modest by global standards, a country that has used relentless lockdowns now faces perhaps its biggest health policy challenge of the pandemic – how to reopen. The highly infectious Delta variant has breached the country’s fortress-style controls and entrenched itself deep enough in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, and with a foothold in Melbourne, that authorities have dispensed with plans to eliminate it.

Explainer-What we know about Japan’s contaminated Moderna COVID-19 vaccine supplies

Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination push has been dealt a blow by widening reports of contamination in supplies of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine. Here are some key points in the issue so far.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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