Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
China criticizes U.S. ‘scapegoating’ over COVID origin report
China on Wednesday criticized the U.S. “politicization” of efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus, demanding without any evidence that American labs be investigated, ahead of the release of a U.S. intelligence report on the virus. The U.S. report https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-review-covids-china-origin-unlikely-solve-vexing-questions-2021-08-24 is intended to resolve disputes among intelligence agencies considering different theories about how the coronavirus emerged, including a once-dismissed theory about a Chinese laboratory accident.
Taiwan says BioNTech shots available earlier than expected
Taiwan’s government said BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccines are available earlier than expected and it is striving to obtain them in competition with other countries. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Taiwan could get its first delivery of the German-made vaccines one month ahead https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwan-get-biontech-shots-early-china-delays-approval-source-2021-08-25 of schedule as a delay in regulatory approval of the shot for use in mainland China made a surplus available for the island.
Purdue Pharma bankruptcy judge to rule Friday on opioid settlement
A U.S. judge in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy case expects to rule on Friday on the OxyContin maker’s request to approve its settlement of opioid-related litigation. During a hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, said he plans to rule at the end of the week. A trial over the plan and settlement began on Aug. 12.
S.Korea reports highest daily COVID-19 deaths for 2021, as severe cases rise
South Korea reported 20 COVID-19 deaths for Wednesday, the highest daily count this year, as the number of severe cases more than doubled since the current and worst wave of infections began in July. While total case mortality rates remain low at below 1% and no major strains on its healthcare system is reported yet, South Korean authorities have been trying to secure more ICU beds https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/skorea-considering-mandating-hospitals-provide-more-icu-beds-covid-patients-2021-08-12 for severe patients which are on the rise along with record new infections.
Moderna withholds 1.63 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in Japan due to contamination
Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it has withheld supply of about 1.63 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Japan after a report of contamination of vials with particulate matter, which it suspects involves a production line in Spain. Although Moderna said no safety or efficacy issues had been identified, the suspension is a fresh setback for the firm, whose partners had production delays last month that disrupted supplies to countries, including South Korea.
Japan hospitalizes first Paralympics participant with COVID-19 -Kyodo
A foreign participant in the Paralympic Games in Japan has been hospitalized with non-severe symptoms of COVID-19, Kyodo News said on Thursday, citing the Games’ organizing committee. It is the first hospitalization of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, which opened on Tuesday.
Sydney hospitals erect emergency tents as COVID-19 cases hit record
Australia’s new daily cases of COVID-19 topped 1,000 on Thursday for the first time since the global pandemic began, as two major hospitals in Sydney set up emergency outdoor tents to help deal with a rise in patients. Sydney, the country’s largest city and the epicenter of the current outbreak, is struggling to stamp out a surge in the fast-spreading Delta variant, with daily infections hitting record levels even after two months under lockdown.
Heart inflammation risk boosted slightly by vaccine, more by COVID-19 – study
The use of Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE’s widely used COVID-19 vaccine marginally increases the risk of heart inflammation, but the risk is higher among those infected with the coronavirus, a study published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine showed. Among every 100,000 patients who get the vaccine, 1 to 5 will likely develop myocarditis who would not otherwise have developed it, researchers reported based on data from Clalit Health Services, a large Israeli HMO.
New Zealand’s Ardern says lockdown working to limit Delta spread
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the strict nationwide lockdown enforced to stamp out COVID-19 was helping limit the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, even as the number of new cases rose on Thursday. New Zealand reported 68 new cases on Thursday taking the total number of people infected in the latest outbreak to 277. Of the total cases, 263 are in Auckland and 14 are in the capital Wellington.
Pfizer seeks U.S. approval for COVID vaccine booster
Pfizer Inc on Wednesday said a booster dose of its two-shot COVID-19 vaccine spurs a more than threefold increase in antibodies against the coronavirus, as the company seeks U.S. regulatory approval for a third injection. The drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech SE aim to complete the submission for use of booster shots in people aged 16 and over by the end of this week.