Health News Roundup: Britain reports first death with Omicron coronavirus variant; Norway in partial lockdown as Omicron ‘changes the rules’, PM says and more


Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

U.S. Supreme Court snubs J&J’s bid to avoid Mississippi talc lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a bid by Johnson & Johnson to throw out a lawsuit brought by the state of Mississippi over allegations that the company failed to inform residents that its talc-based products increased the risks of developing ovarian cancer. The justices left in place an April ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court that let the lawsuit move forward.

Vaccines appear weak at blocking Omicron infection; shots may reduce long COVID burden

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Vaccines appear weak vs Omicron infection, better vs severe disease

Two-dose vaccines induce lower antibodies against Omicron, study finds

Two-dose COVID-19 vaccine regimens do not induce enough neutralising antibodies against the Omicron coronavirus variant, British scientists found, indicating that increased infections in those previously infected or vaccinated may be likely. Researchers from the University of Oxford published results on Monday from a study yet to be peer-reviewed, where they analysed blood samples from participants who were given doses from AstraZeneca-Oxford or Pfizer-BioNTech in a large study looking into mixing of vaccines.

Britain reports first death with Omicron coronavirus variant

At least one person has died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, the first publicly confirmed death globally from the swiftly spreading strain. Since the first Omicron cases were detected on Nov. 27 in Britain, Johnson has imposed tougher restrictions and on Sunday cautioned that the variant could overcome the immune defences of those inoculated with two shots of vaccines.

Norway in partial lockdown as Omicron ‘changes the rules’, PM says

Norway will further tighten restrictions and speed up vaccination in a bid to limit an expected surge of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said on Monday. Presenting its fourth round of measures in two weeks, the government announced a ban on serving alcohol in bars and restaurants, a closing of gyms and swimming pools to most users and stricter rules in schools, among other things.

Omicron poses ‘very high’ risk but data on severity limited

The Omicron coronavirus variant, reported in more than 60 countries, poses a “very high” global risk, with some evidence that it evades vaccine protection but clinical data on its severity is limited, the World Health Organization says. Considerable uncertainties surround Omicron, first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong, whose mutations may lead to higher transmissibility and more cases of COVID-19 disease, the WHO said in a technical brief issued on Sunday.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects religious challenge to New York vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected challenges brought by Christian doctors and nurses and a group that promotes vaccine skepticism to New York’s refusal to allow religious exemptions to the state’s mandate that healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. Acting in two cases, the justices denied emergency requests for an injunction requiring the state to allow religious exemptions while litigation over the mandate’s legality continues in lower courts. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have granted the injunction.

Canada could soon see rapid surge in COVID-19 cases as Omicron spreads locally

COVID-19 cases in Canada may rapidly rise in the coming days due to community spread of the Omicron variant, mirroring the situation in the country’s most populous province of Ontario, Canada’s top health official said on Monday. The surge of COVID-19 cases in Ontario, which accounts for almost 40% of Canada’s population of 39 million people, has prompted the provincial government to suspend easing of restrictions that were planned to be lifted ahead of the holiday season.

Exclusive-Senegal expects waste of 400,000 COVID-19 vaccines by year-end

At least 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines have expired in Senegal without being used in the past two months and another 200,000 are set to expire at the end of December because demand is too slow, the head of its immunisation programme said on Monday. African governments have been calling for more COVID-19 vaccines to help catch up with richer regions, where vaccine rollouts have been humming along for more than a year.

Nigeria to destroy one million expired COVID-19 vaccines -official

Nigeria will destroy around one million expired COVID-19 vaccines, Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said on Monday, adding his agency was working with drug regulator NAFDAC to set a date for their destruction. Nigeria’s health minister Osagie Ehanire said last week some COVID-19 doses donated by rich Western countries had a remaining shelf life of only weeks, adding to the country’s challenges in vaccinating its people. Fewer than 4% of adults in Africa’s most populous nation of over 200 million have been fully vaccinated.

(With inputs from agencies.)



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