Health News Roundup: Japan suspends 1.6 million doses of Moderna shot after contamination reports; Illinois issues mask mandate, orders vaccines for schools and more


Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Slovenian teachers, students will have to take weekly COVID-19 tests

Students and teachers who have not been inoculated against COVID-19 or recovered from the disease will have to take weekly tests, the Slovenian government said on Thursday as infections in the country rose to their highest since May. The government, which earlier this week stopped providing free rapid tests to encourage more people to get vaccinated, said it would cover the costs of testing students.

Greek health workers protest against introduction of mandatory COVID jabs

Hundreds of Greek frontline health workers protested on Thursday against a plan to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for the care sector as infection rates remained high. Healthcare workers observed a four-hour work stoppage against new rules obliging medical staff to vaccinate against the coronavirus, and to call for more resources to public health.

Illinois issues mask mandate, orders vaccines for schools

Illinois will require all eligible students and school employees to be vaccinated and re-instituted an indoor mask mandate under an order announced by Governor J.B. Pritzker on Thursday. Pritzker, a Democrat, issued the new policy amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases spurred largely by the Delta variant of the virus and increasing reports of “breakthrough” cases in which people already vaccinated get infected.

French health minister says COVID-19 wave recedes, but calls for caution

The fourth wave of COVID-19 infections is receding in France but is not over yet, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday. Veran also told a news conference that the fourth wave had stabilised in August, but urged caution ahead of the back-to-school period.

Japan suspends 1.6 million doses of Moderna shot after contamination reports

Japan suspended the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, more than a week after the domestic distributor received reports of contaminants in some vials. Japan and Moderna said no safety or efficacy issues had been identified and the suspension was just a precaution. But the move prompted several Japanese companies to cancel worker vaccinations planned for Thursday and led to the European drugs regulator to launch an investigation into the matter.

Factbox – Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic programme plans to ship 100 million doses of Sinovac and Sinopharm COVID-19 shots by the end of next month, mostly to Africa and Asia, in its first delivery of Chinese vaccines, a WHO document showed. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

Rite Aid to offer free COVID-19 testing to students in New York

Drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp said on Thursday it would be offering free COVID-19 tests to students in public schools in New York state before or at the start of the upcoming school year. The announcement comes as students in the United States prepare to head back to classes, while the country grapples with stemming the recent surge in cases caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

WHO begins shipping Chinese vaccines despite some misgivings

The World Health Organization’s pandemic programme plans to ship 100 million doses of the Sinovac and Sinopharm COVID-19 shots by the end of next month, mostly to Africa and Asia, in its first delivery of Chinese vaccines, a WHO document shows. The Chinese shipments will help the sputtering global COVAX vaccine sharing programme which is far behind its pledge to deliver 2 billion doses this year following supply problems and export curbs imposed by major producer India.

Gilead Sciences wins reversal of $1.2 billion award in patent case with Bristol Myers

A U.S. appeals court on Thursday threw out a $1.2 billion ruling against Gilead Sciences Inc, finding a patent on a cancer therapy it was accused of infringing was invalid, in a blow to rival Bristol Myers Squibb Co. The two companies have been embroiled in a case involving accusations that Yescarta, the CAR-T cell cancer immunotherapy from Gilead’s Kite Pharma unit, infringed on a patent for a similar therapy from Bristol’s Juno Therapeutics.

EU says COVID boosters may have higher legal risks without EMA approval

European Union countries that decide to use COVID-19 vaccine booster shots may face increased legal risks because the additional dose has not yet been recommended by the EU drugs regulator, the European Commission said on Thursday. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has repeatedly said that more data is needed before it can approve the use of boosters, but eight European countries have decided to recommend the additional dose, and more than a dozen are set to make similar moves shortly.

(With inputs from agencies.)



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