Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Omicron-specific COVID shots could increase protection as boosters – EMA
Coronavirus vaccines tweaked to include the Omicron variant strain can improve protection when used as a booster, the European Medicines Agency and other global health regulators said on Friday. Following a meeting on Thursday, the EMA said global regulators had agreed on key principles for updating COVID-19 shots to respond to emerging variants.
U.S. orders 2.5 million more doses of Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine for monkeypox
The U.S. government has ordered 2.5 million more doses of Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine for use against monkeypox outbreaks, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday. The shot has already been cleared for both smallpox and monkeypox in the United States, where it is called Jynneos.
Novavax expects COVID vaccine targeting Omicron in fourth quarter
Novavax Inc said on Friday it expects to provide a COVID-19 vaccine targeting Omicron in the fourth quarter as it accelerates development of shots to protect against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. The U.S. FDA on Thursday recommended COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers change the design of their booster shots beginning this fall to include components tailored to combat the currently dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Monkeypox symptoms differ from previous outbreaks – UK study
Patients with monkeypox in the UK have noticeably different symptoms from those seen in previous outbreaks, according to researchers in London, raising concerns cases are being missed. Patients reported less fever and tiredness and more skin lesions in their genital and anal areas than typically seen in monkeypox, the study of 54 patients at London sexual health clinics in May this year found.
Texas, Ohio top courts allow abortion bans to take effect
The top courts in Texas and Ohio on Friday allowed the Republican-led states to enforce restrictions and bans on abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the nationwide constitutional right to abortion. The Texas Supreme Court late on Friday allowed a nearly century-old abortion ban to take effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and erased women’s constitutional right to abortion.
North Korea blames ‘alien things’ near border with South for COVID outbreak
North Korea claimed on Friday that the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak began with patients touching “alien things” near the border with South Korea, apparently shifting blame to the neighbour for the wave of infections in the isolated country. Announcing results of an investigation, the North ordered people to “vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders,” the official KCNA news agency said.
U.S. abortion ruling ignites retail interest in women contraceptive makers – Vanda
Retail investors have flocked to small biotech firms that make women contraceptives after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized the constitutional right to abortion, Vanda Research said on Friday.
The landmark decision has turned the spotlight on contraception access and led to a temporary spike in demand for over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills.
China reports 268 new COVID cases on July 1 vs 245 day earlier
Mainland China reported 268 new COVID-19 cases for July 1, of which 72 were symptomatic and 196 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Saturday. That compares with 245 new cases a day earlier – 37 symptomatic and 208 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.
Abortion drug maker says Mississippi can’t ban pill despite Supreme Court ruling
The maker of a drug used in medication abortions has told a federal judge that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling eliminating the nationwide right to abortion does not allow Mississippi to stop it from selling the pills in the state. GenBioPro Inc, which makes a generic version of the drug mifepristone, said in a Thursday filing in Jackson, Mississippi federal court that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug should override any state ban.
Oxford Biomedica signs new deal to make AstraZeneca COVID shot
Britain’s Oxford Biomedica said on Friday it had signed a new three-year agreement to potentially make AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine beyond 2022, but no volumes were defined in an indication of waning demand for the shot. Cell and gene therapy firm Oxford Biomedica said in April that it had manufactured more than 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine since their partnership began in September 2020. Commitments under the deal are scheduled to end this year.
(With inputs from agencies.)