Health News Roundup: Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus; Merck taps five Indian drugmakers to expand COVID-19 and more

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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Gilead to ship 450,000 remdesivir vials to India as COVID-19 cases surge

Gilead Sciences Inc said on Monday it will give India at least 450,000 vials of its antiviral drug remdesivir and help boost production, as the world’s second-most populous country reels from surging coronavirus cases. Remdesivir is approved in India for restricted emergency use to treat severe COVID-19 cases, but hospitals are facing supply shortages due to indiscriminate use and the drug is being sold at over 10 times its listed price in the black market.

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now: India’s COVID-19 deaths near 200,000

Italy judge sends Bayer, Novartis to trial in drugs fraud probe: sources

A Milan judge on Tuesday indicted the Italian units of Novartis and Bayer on charges of operating a scheme to cheat the regional public health service in Lombardy, legal and judicial sources said. The charges revolve around allegations that the companies sold drugs to hospitals at inflated prices as part of a scheme whereby the hospitals then fraudulently obtained funds from the regional government.

Rush to hospitals, big gatherings worsen India COVID crisis – WHO

People in India are rushing unnecessarily to hospital, exacerbating a crisis over surging COVID-19 infections caused by mass gatherings, more contagious variants, and low vaccination rates, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. India’s death toll is now pushing towards 200,000, and hospitals that do not have enough oxygen supplies and beds are turning away coronavirus patients.

Sweden sees slowing third pandemic wave but cases still high

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Sweden has decreased in the past week, but infections are still at a high level and it is too early to say whether the trend will continue, the Health Agency said on Tuesday. Sweden has experienced a severe third wave of the pandemic and the number of patients treated at intensive care has been the highest since spring last year, although deaths have remained low.

Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

India’s coronavirus death toll neared the bleak milestone of 200,000 with another 2,771 fatalities reported on Tuesday, while its armed forces pledged urgent medical aid to help battle the staggering spike in infections. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

China says it will help South Asian countries get COVID-19 shots

China’s State Councillor Wang Yi, who is also the country’s foreign minister, said on Tuesday Beijing will help South Asian countries get access to coronavirus vaccines. In a video conference with the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Wang also said China was willing to set up emergency supply reserves with South Asian countries in the fight against COVID-19, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Medical supplies flow into India as COVID-19 deaths near 200,000

Vital medical supplies poured into India on Tuesday as hospitals starved of life-saving oxygen and beds turned away coronavirus patients, while a surge in infections pushed the death toll towards 200,000. A shipment from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in Delhi, said Reuter’s partner ANI, while France is sending oxygen generators able to provide 250 patients with a year’s worth of the gas, its embassy said.

Some Russians get extra COVID-19 shots, Sputnik V developers say no need

Some Russians who have taken COVID-19 antibody tests and found their antibodies have fallen are having third and fourth shots of the Sputnik V vaccine, but researchers in the country suggest they are unnecessary. Revaccination in effect simulates getting the disease so that the body develops more antibodies to fight it. Researchers have said an immediate rise in antibodies seen by those getting a third or fourth shot suggests they did not need revaccination.

Merck taps five Indian drugmakers to expand COVID-19 drug production

Merck & Co Inc said on Tuesday it had partnered with five Indian generic drugmakers, including Cipla Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, to expand production and access to its experimental COVID-19 drug. The partnership will give the companies license to supply Merck’s molnupiravir to India and more than 100 low- and middle-income countries following approvals or emergency authorization by local regulatory agencies, Merck said.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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