Health News Roundup: WHO says seeks more data from Merck on COVID anti-viral, from Bharat on vaccine; Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Moscow locks down as Russian COVID-19 deaths surge to new highs

The Russian capital brought in its strictest COVID-19 related lockdown measures in more than a year on Thursday as nationwide one-day pandemic deaths and infections hit new highs amid slow vaccination take-up across the world’s biggest country. Moscow’s partial lockdown, in which only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets are allowed to remain open and schools and state kindergartens are shut, comes ahead of a week-long nationwide workplace shutdown from Oct. 30.

White House will keep working on prescription drug pricing after it falls out of spending bill

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday that the administration will continue working on prescription drug pricing after it did not make it into U.S. President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion signature spending plan.

WHO says seeks more data from Merck on COVID anti-viral, from Bharat on vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that it was seeking further data from Merck on its experimental new antiviral COVID-19 pill and hoped to issue guidance in coming weeks regarding its use for mild and moderate cases. “This is a drug that we are currently evaluating and we met with Merck on Friday to discuss data from their current clinical trials that are under way in other countries,” WHO expert Maria van Kerkhove told a news conference where she was asked about Merck’s molnupiravir, developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

U.S. administers 417.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – CDC

The United States has administered 417,795,537 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Thursday morning and distributed 510,735,525 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Those figures are up from the 416,154,424 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by Oct. 27 out of 507,637,305 doses delivered.

Factbox – Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

The World Health Organization and other aid groups appealed to leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies to fund a $23.4 billion plan to bring COVID-19 vaccines, tests and drugs to poorer countries in the next 12 months. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

No chocolate or ice cream ads for kids as Spain tackles obesity

Spain will ban advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks like chocolate, biscuits and ice cream aimed at children to help fight obesity in young people, the consumer affairs minister said on Thursday. “Our children are very vulnerable to advertising and it is our obligation to protect them,” Minister Alberto Garzon said on Twitter.

WHO and Norway call on G20 to commit to ending COVID-19 pandemic

The World Health Organization and Norway’s prime minister called on Thursday on G20 leaders meeting in Rome this weekend to use their financial and political power to fund the ACT Accelerator programme’s latest $23.4 billion plan to end COVID-19. “I hope and urge that the G20 will make a commitment to end the pandemic,” Jonas Gahr Stoere, prime minister of Norway, which co-chairs the ACT Accelerator’s Facilitation Council which leads fundraising, told a WHO media briefing.

UK study finds vaccinated people easily transmit Delta variant in households

The Delta coronavirus variant can transmit easily from vaccinated people to their household contacts, a British study found on Thursday, although contacts were less likely to get infected if they were vaccinated themselves. The Imperial College London study illustrates how the highly transmissible Delta variant can spread even in a vaccinated population.

India’s Optimus Pharma seeks approval to produce generic Merck COVID-19 pill

Indian bulk drugs manufacturer Optimus Pharma is seeking domestic regulatory approval to produce a generic version of Merck & Co’s oral COVID-19 treatment molnupiravir, the company’s top executive told Reuters on Thursday. If granted emergency use approval, the company could scale up production to 80 million capsules a month and is targeting a price of 40 cents per capsule, said D. Srinivasa Reddy, managing director at the Hyderabad-based company.

Exclusive: Tens of millions of J&J COVID-19 shots sit at Baltimore factory – sources

An estimated 30 million to 50 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine made early this year sits idle in Emergent BioSolutions Inc’s plant in Baltimore awaiting a green light from U.S. regulators to ship, two sources familiar with the matter said. Emergent, a contract drug manufacturer, is waiting for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve release of those doses. The agency must still inspect and authorize the plant before Emergent can ship newly manufactured drug substance, one of the sources said.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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