Health News Roundup: FDA approves Bristol Myers’ oral heart disease drug; Moderna files for U.S. authorization of COVID shot for kids under 6 and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

FDA approves Bristol Myers’ oral heart disease drug

Bristol Myers Squibb said on Thursday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its oral heart disease drug Mavacamten, making it the first cardiac myosin inhibitor to be permitted for use in the country. Mavacamten, which Bristol Myers acquired in its $13 billion buyout of MyoKardia in 2020, will be used in the treatment of adults with symptomatic New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II-III obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Moderna files for U.S. authorization of COVID shot for kids under 6

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it asked U.S. regulators to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 6, which would make it the first shot against the coronavirus available for those under 5-years-old. The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE is authorized for children 5 and older. But their trial results for 2- to 4-year-olds showed a weaker immune response than in adults, forcing the study to be extended to test the third dose. Pfizer has said that data would come in April.

WHO-backed vaccine resolution wins 24% support at Moderna

A shareholder proposal calling on Moderna Inc to study transferring production of COVID-19 vaccines to less-developed countries won 24% support from investors on Thursday after it received a rare endorsement from the World Health Organization. Proponents say production shifts could help combat the global pandemic. Moderna of Cambridge, Mass. opposed the measure, saying among other things it already maximized its manufacturing capacity with partners, and that poorer countries have declined millions of doses that Moderna was prepared to deliver.

U.S. reports its first human case of H5 bird flu

The first known human case of H5 bird flu in the United States appeared in a person in Colorado, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday. The person tested positive for avian influenza A(H5) virus and was involved in the culling of poultry presumed to have had H5N1 bird flu, the CDC said in a statement.

Beijing closes more venues as anger at Shanghai’s COVID lockdown grows

China’s capital Beijing closed more gyms, malls, cinemas, and apartment blocks on Friday, with authorities ramping up contact tracing to contain a COVID-19 outbreak, while resentment at the draconian month-long lockdown in Shanghai continued to grow. In the finance hub, fenced-in people in various districts have been protesting against the lockdown and difficulties in obtaining provisions by banging on pots and pans in the evenings, according to a Reuters witness and residents.

Oklahoma lawmakers pass legislation to outlaw nearly all abortions

The Oklahoma legislature on Thursday approved two bills that would ban virtually all abortions, and both Republican-composed laws would take effect immediately if the governor signs them as he has promised. Oklahoma would become the most restrictive U.S. state for abortions under the bill passed by the state Senate to ban them except in cases of medical emergency, rape or incest. Earlier, the state’s House of Representatives approved a separate piece of legislation to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The Senate also had previously approved that measure.

S.Korea lifts outdoor mask mandate, incoming gov’t concerned

South Korea said on Friday it will lift an outdoor face mask mandate next week in the country’s latest step to ease COVID-19 restrictions, despite opposition from the incoming government which labeled the decision “premature”. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the decision was made as the government could “no longer look away” from the inconveniences experienced by its citizens when the country’s virus situation was stabilizing.

Mental health issues in kids rose during the pandemic; awareness and use of COVID treatments is low

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. Pandemic linked with mental health issues in kids

More than 12 million in Shanghai can leave their homes as COVID risk ebbs

As many as 12.38 million Shanghai residents, nearly half the population of China’s financial hub, are now in lower-risk areas, meaning they can leave their homes, the government said on Friday. Shanghai, battling China’s biggest-ever COVID-19 outbreak, put the entire city into lockdown at the beginning of the month, though it has cautiously lifted some restrictions on residential areas that have gone two weeks without a positive case.

Merck raises 2022 forecast as COVID pill, cancer drug fuels profit beat

Merck & Co on Thursday reported quarterly profit and sales that beat estimates and raised its full-year forecasts on strong demand for top-selling cancer drug Keytruda, its Gardasil vaccine, and COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir. The U.S. drugmaker’s shares rose 1.8% to $85.90 before the opening bell as revenue rose 50% to $15.9 billion, with most of the growth coming from sales of molnupiravir, which was approved in November.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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