Health News Roundup: France’s COVID-19 hospitalizations up week-on-week for the second day; China reports 1,254 new COVID cases on March 26 vs 1,335 days earlier and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

France’s COVID-19 hospitalizations up week-on-week for the second day

French health authorities said the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 were down by 38 over 24 hours, at 20,616, but on a week-on-week basis, that figure was up for the second day running, after declining by that measure since early February. COVID-19 infections have been on the rise again since early March – with the seven-day moving average of new cases at a six-week high of 110,874 – and, generally, this trend inversion translates into hospital figures with a two-week delay.

China reports 1,254 new COVID cases on March 26 vs 1,335 days earlier

Mainland China reported 1,254 new confirmed coronavirus cases on March 26, the national health authority said on Sunday, down from 1,335 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 1,217 were locally transmitted, the National Health Commission said, down from 1,280 a day earlier.

Drugmakers, scientists begin the hunt for long COVID treatments

After producing vaccines and treatments for acute COVID-19 in record time, researchers and drugmakers are turning to find a cure for long COVID, a more elusive target marked by hundreds of different symptoms afflicting millions of people. Leading drugmakers, including those who have launched antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19, are having early discussions with researchers about how to target the disease, five scientists in the United States and the UK told Reuters. Companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Vir Biotechnology, and Humanigen confirmed they had spoken to researchers on trials using their current treatments against long COVID. Others including Pfizer and Roche said they are interested but would not elaborate on plans. Researchers, biotech companies, and public health experts say major pharmaceutical companies are integral to getting a proven treatment for the disease, which currently afflicts more than 100 million people, according to the World Health Organization. “When you look at the numbers for heart failure, for diabetes, etc, that is the ballpark we are talking about,” said Amitava Banerjee, a leading researcher on a long COVID trial.

Some immune system memory persists year after infection; COVID from Omicron also less severe for pregnant women

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. Immune system memory persists a year after COVID-19

Hong Kong govt to resume services on April 1 as city logs lowest infections in a month

Hong Kong will gradually resume public services from April 1, the government said on Friday, with the global financial hub posting its lowest number of daily infections in about a month. Government departments will return to normal service by April 21, it said in a statement, part of a broader easing of strict coronavirus measures which have created widespread frustration for residents and businesses.

Hong Kong reports 8,841 new daily coronavirus infections

Hong Kong reported 8,841 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, down from 10,405 on Friday, as its latest wave of infections continues to ease. There were 139 deaths reported, authorities said.

Italy reports 75,616 coronavirus cases on Friday, 146 deaths

Italy reported 75,616 COVID-19 related cases on Friday, against 81,811 the day before, the health ministry said, while the number of deaths fell to 146 from 182. Italy has registered 158,582 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world. The country has reported 14.23 million cases to date.

FDA says current dose of GSK-Vir COVID therapy unlikely to work against BA.2 variant

The U.S. health regulator said on Friday the currently authorized dose of GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology’s COVID-19 antibody therapy is unlikely to be effective against the Omicron BA.2 variant. The agency pulled its authorization for the therapy, sotrovimab, in much of the U.S. northeast where the subvariant is dominant. The extremely contagious BA.2 causes about one-in-three COVID-19 cases in the United States now, according to government data earlier this week.

Shanghai’s COVID ‘slice and grid’ model comes under pressure as cases surge

Shanghai’s bespoke approach to tackling coronavirus outbreaks is coming under strain as new cases rise in the Chinese metropolis, with authorities reluctant to impose a comprehensive lockdown as other cities have done. The city of 26 million has become a testing ground for China’s ability to control flare-ups of the more contagious but less deadly Omicron variant while keeping the economy steady in an approach it describes as “slicing and gridding”, which involves screening neighborhoods one by one.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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