Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Texas doctor calls U.S. COVID deaths nearing 1 million ‘mindblowing’
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, pulmonologist Joseph Varon offered an opinion that made headlines around the world and went viral on social media. He was fighting two wars, he said: one against COVID and one against stupidity. As the United States nears the grim milestone of 1 million coronavirus-linked deaths, Varon, chief of critical care and COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas said only one of those battles has been won.
Half of Shanghai achieves ‘zero COVID’; city presses on with ‘unsustainable’ fight
Shanghai officials said on Wednesday that half the city had achieved “zero COVID” status, but uncompromising restrictions had to remain in place under a national policy that the head of the World Health Organization described as “unsustainable.” Data released by Shanghai, in its sixth week of a painful lockdown, showed the city recorded no cases outside areas under the strictest curbs on Tuesday for the first time since May 1.
WHO chief’s remarks on China’s COVID policy blocked on country’s social media
A United Nations Weibo post on the World Health Organization chief’s comments that China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy is not sustainable was removed from the Chinese social media platform on Wednesday morning shortly after being published. WeChat, another Chinese social media platform, disabled the sharing function of a similar post by the United Nations.
China reports 1,927 new COVID cases on May 10 vs 3,475 a day earlier
China reported 1,927 new coronavirus cases on May 10, of which 324 were symptomatic and 1,603 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday. That compares with 3,475 new cases a day earlier, consisting of 357 symptomatic and 3,118 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.
Pfizer to pay $11.6 billion for Biohaven to tap migraine market
Pfizer Inc said on Tuesday it will pay $11.6 billion to buy Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Co, making a big bet on its ability to boost sales of the top-selling pill in a new class of migraine drugs. The boards of both companies have approved the deal, they said. Biohaven shares jumped 70% to $141.31, while Pfizer was up slightly at $48.83.
Pharmacy chains should pay $878 million for opioid epidemic role, Ohio counties say
A lawyer for two Ohio counties said on Monday that CVS Health Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and Walmart Inc should fund an $878 million plan to address the opioid crisis there, as a first-of-its-kind trial got underway to determine the pharmacy chains’ contribution. A federal jury decided in November that the companies created a public nuisance by flooding Ohio’s Lake and Trumbull counties with addictive prescription pain pills that wound up on the black market, in the first trial the pharmacy chains faced over the crisis.
Inovio to discontinue COVID vaccine trial, appoints Jacqueline Shea as CEO
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc will discontinue a late-stage study of its COVID-19 vaccine, the company said on Tuesday, and appointed its operating chief as the new chief executive, sending the company’s shares down nearly 20% after the bell. The decision on the trial comes after emerging global data showed a lower incidence of severe COVID cases, which would lead to an increase in trial size and costs, the company said.
At least 3,000 have died in Ukraine for want of disease treatment -WHO
The World Health Organization’s European chief said on Tuesday that at least 3,000 people had died in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February because they had been unable to access treatments for chronic diseases. So far, the U.N. health agency has documented some 200 attacks in Ukraine on healthcare facilities, and few hospitals are currently functioning, Hans Kluge told a regional meeting of WHO’s 53 member states as well as senior agency colleagues.
U.S. gun deaths surged 35% in 2020, higher for Black people – CDC
The rate of U.S. gun deaths surged 35% in 2020 to the highest point since 1994, with especially deadly levels for young Black men, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report published on Tuesday. African Americans as a whole were at least four times more likely to be killed by a gun than the overall population, and 12 times more likely than a white person, the data showed.
WHO chief says China’s zero-COVID policy not ‘sustainable’
The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday that China’s zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy is not sustainable given what is now known of the virus, in rare public comments by the U.N. agency on a government’s handling of the pandemic. “We don’t think that it is sustainable considering the behavior of the virus and what we now anticipate in the future,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing.
(With inputs from agencies.)