Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Canada, in a world first, proposes health warnings on individual cigarettes
Canada is proposing that written health warnings be printed on individual cigarettes, the first country in the world to do so, a federal minister said on Friday. In 2001, Canada broke new ground globally by requiring picture warnings on cigarette packages. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said the measure had become stale for the 13% of Canadians who smoke regularly.
Shanghai kicks off new round of mass COVID testing, Beijing cases jump
China’s commercial hub of Shanghai began a round of mass COVID-19 testing for nearly all of its 25 million residents on Saturday as authorities seek to contain an outbreak tied to a popular beauty salon, while Beijing reported a spike in cases. Authorities have ordered PCR testing for all residents in 15 of Shanghai’s 16 districts this weekend, with five districts barring residents from leaving their homes during the testing period.
U.S. drops COVID testing for incoming international air travelers
The United States late Friday rescinded a 17-month-old requirement that people arriving in the country by air test negative for COVID-19, a move that follows intense lobbying by airlines and the travel industry. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky issued a four-page order https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/rescission-global-testing-order-p.pdf.pdf lifting the mandate, effective at 12:01 a.m. ET (0400 GMT) Sunday, saying it is “not currently necessary.”
U.S. FDA staff says Moderna COVID vaccine effective and safe for children
U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff reviewers on Friday said Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine appears safe and effective for use in children aged 6 months to 17 years old as a committee of scientists will meet next week to vote on whether to recommend the regulator authorize the vaccine in children. The FDA’s reviewers said in briefing documents published on Friday evening that the vaccine had generated a similar immune response in the children than that observed in adults in previous trials.
Valneva working on remediation plan for COVID-19 vaccine candidate
French drugmaker Valneva said on Friday it had proposed a remediation plan after receiving the European Commission’s notice of intent to terminate the advance purchase agreement for its inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate. “Some member states have confirmed their interest in having an inactivated, adjuvanted whole-virus vaccine solution in their portfolio,” the company said in a statement.
White House says Delta to ship UK baby formula starting June 20
Delta Air Lines Inc will start transporting 3.2 million bottles of Kendamil baby formula on June 20, the White House said on Friday in announcing the sixth shipment of overseas formula to help quell a U.S. shortage. Delta will ship about 212,000 pounds of the British formula maker’s product from London to Boston and Detroit, where it will then get to retailers, the White House said in a statement.
FDA requires disclosure of suicide risk for anti-baldness drug
U.S. health regulators rejected a request to remove popular anti-baldness pill Propecia and its generic versions from the market, but for the first time required patient notification about reports of suicidal behavior in men taking the drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously approved revised Propecia labels that mentioned risks of persistent sexual dysfunction and depression but not suicide. A patient advocacy group, the Post-Finasteride Syndrome Foundation, petitioned the FDA in 2017 to order Merck & Co to either stop selling the drug or require far stronger warnings, citing several scientific studies. Finasteride is the generic name for Propecia.
Bluebird bio’s gene therapy for blood disorder gets FDA panel backing
Bluebird bio’s treatment for a rare blood disorder received backing from advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday, in a vote of confidence in gene therapies and bolstering the company beset by regulatory setbacks. The decision comes less than 24 hours after the same committee in a surprise move endorsed approval of bluebird’s other gene therapy, eli-cel, for a rare neurological disease despite concerns that the treatment may cause cancer.
U.S. expects 300,000 more Jynneos doses as monkeypox cases jump to 45
The U.S. government expects to receive an additional 300,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine against monkeypox in the next few weeks as cases across the country jumped to 45 from 25 four days ago. The United States currently holds about 72,000 doses of Jynneos in its strategic national stockpile, Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told reporters at a news briefing.
U.S. seeks to expand monkeypox testing as cases rise
U.S. health officials are working to expand capabilities to test for monkeypox beyond a narrow group of public health labs, heeding calls from infectious disease experts who say testing for the virus needs to become part of routine care. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a conference call on Friday that her agency is working with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand testing capacity to include commercial laboratories.
(With inputs from agencies.)