Health News Roundup: WHO-led programme aims to buy antiviral COVID-19 pills for $10; Dutch coronavirus cases jump 44% as hospitals feel strain and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Bulgaria makes COVID ‘health pass’ obligatory for leisure activities

Bulgaria will make a COVID-19 “Green Certificate” mandatory for indoor access to restaurants, cinemas, gyms and shopping malls, the health minister said on Tuesday, as the country struggles with a rising number of coronavirus infections. The health pass – a digital or paper certificate showing someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus – was originally conceived to ease travel among European Union states.

Moscow imposes new COVID curbs as daily deaths break record

Moscow’s mayor announced four months of stay-home restrictions for unvaccinated over-60s on Tuesday and the Russian government proposed a week-long workplace shutdown as the national death toll from COVID-19 hit yet another daily high. The moves reflected a growing sense of urgency from the authorities as they confront fast-rising cases and widespread public reluctance to get injected with the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine.

U.S. CDC considers “test-to-stay” program in schools instead of quarantine – CNN

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering a “test-to-stay” program in schools instead of quarantine, CNN reported on Tuesday. The program is for students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in school and can still attend classes in person rather than quarantine at home as long as they test negative for the disease and show no symptoms, CNN said.

Exclusive-Germany may miss COVID-19 vaccine donation goal, blames manufacturers

Germany may miss its target to donate 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year due to conditions imposed by manufacturers and delivery shortfalls, a health ministry official said in a letter to Brussels seen by Reuters. The 100 million doses account for half of the total promised by European Union member states to poorer countries this year, according to the European Commission.

Exclusive-WHO-led programme aims to buy antiviral COVID-19 pills for $10 -document

A World Health Organization-led programme to ensure poorer countries get fair access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments aims to secure antiviral drugs for patients with mild symptoms for as little as $10 per course, a draft document seen by Reuters says. Merck & Co’s experimental pill molnupiravir is likely to be one of the drugs, and other drugs to treat mild patients are being developed.

Dutch coronavirus cases jump 44% as hospitals feel strain

New coronavirus infections in the Netherlands jumped 44% in the week through Tuesday, forcing several hospitals in the country to cut back on regular care to deal with a rising number of COVID-19 cases. Infections reached their highest level since the end of July at 25,751, official data showed, rising for the third consecutive week following the easing of many social distancing measures in the Netherlands last month.

France’s COVID-19 hospitalisations up for the third day in a row

The number of people hospitalised for COVID-19 in France went up for the third day in a row on Tuesday, a trend not seen for almost two months, according to French health authorities. The number of hospitalisations rose by 15 people over 24 hours to 6,483. That is five times lower than the pandemic peak of 33,497 reported in November 2020.

UK reports 223 COVID-19 deaths, most since March

Britain on Tuesday reported 223 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for COVID-19, the highest figure since March, according to official data. A total of 43,738 new cases were also registered.

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine highly protective in 12-18 age group – U.S. CDC study

The Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine was 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations among those aged 12 to 18, according to an analysis released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday. The study was conducted between June and September, when the extremely contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus was predominant.

Biogen sales face pressure from slow uptake of Alzhiemer’s drug

Biogen Inc’s Alzheimer’s drug will be of little help to its third-quarter sales, Wall Street analysts said, as the drugmaker faces an uphill task of convincing hospitals and clinics to use the $56,000-a-year treatment and insurers to reimburse it. Aduhelm in June became the first new treatment for the memory-robbing disease in nearly 20 years, boosting hopes the treatment would cushion the blow of diving sales of Biogen’s mainstay multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, due to rising competition.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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