Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Exclusive-U.S. NIH research hospital delays elective surgeries as Omicron wave hits
A new wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant is forcing the U.S. National Institutes of Health to postpone elective surgeries at the largest hospital in the United States devoted to clinical research as a growing number of staff must isolate or quarantine, according to a memo reviewed by Reuters. Dr. James Gilman, the chief executive officer of NIH’s clinical center, said in an email to staff on Wednesday that beginning next week, elective surgeries would be delayed. At least 80 clinical center staff called in sick on Wednesday alone because of COVID-19 infections or exposures.
Factbox-Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 283.23 million, death toll at 5,716,761
More than 283.23 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 5,716,761 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
Fauci says Omicron likely to peak in U.S. by end-January
Top U.S. infectious disease adviser Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that the surge in the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the United States is likely to peak by the end of January. “I would imagine given the size of our country, and the diversity of vaccination versus not vaccination, that it’s likely to be more than a couple of weeks, probably by the end of January,” he said on CNBC.
U.S. authorizes German firm Siemens Healthineers’ at-home COVID-19 test
The U.S. drug regulator has granted emergency use authorization to German health technology company Siemens Healthineers’ at-home COVID-19 tests, a move that will boost the availability of tests pressured by rising infection cases. The approval comes at a time when companies such as Walmart Inc, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and CVS Health Corp have limited sales of at-home COVID-19 testing kits as demand surged owing to the swift spread of the new variants of the coronavirus in the country.
Purdue bankruptcy judge extends temporary litigation shield for Sacklers
A bankruptcy judge has extended temporary protection against opioid-related litigation for the Sackler family members who own Purdue Pharma until Feb. 1 after another judge overturned the OxyContin maker’s bankruptcy settlement this month. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, extended the litigation shield on Wednesday, giving Purdue and the Sacklers time to discuss a path forward. The judge in September had approved Purdue’s reorganization plan and underlying settlement that aimed to resolve widespread litigation accusing the company and the Sacklers of fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic through deceptive marketing.
U.S. CDC chief says hopes to decide on COVID boosters for 12-15 year-olds soon
Approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for U.S. children aged 12-15 could be days or weeks away, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told CNN in an interview on Wednesday. Asked when children in that age group could receive a booster shot, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said: “So the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is looking at that right now. Of course, the CDC will swiftly follow as soon as we hear from them, and I’m hoping to have that in the days to weeks ahead.”
World nations try to balance Omicron restrictions while keeping economies open
Global COVID-19 infections hit a record high over the past seven-day period, Reuters data showed on Wednesday, as the Omicron variant raced out of control and governments tried to contain its spread without paralyzing fragile economies. Almost 900,000 cases were detected on average each day worldwide between Dec. 22 and 28. A number of countries posted all-time highs during the previous 24 hours, including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, the United States, and many nations in Europe.
Biden inks $137 million contract to boost supply of key material for COVID tests -source
The Biden administration plans to announce on Wednesday a $137 million contract for Millipore Sigma, a unit of Germany’s Merck KGaA, to boost the production capacity of a highly constrained component of rapid coronavirus tests, a senior administration official told Reuters. The money will allow the company over three years to build a new facility to produce nitrocellulose membranes, the paper that displays test results, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That, in turn, will allow for 85 million more tests to be produced per month, the official said.
Mexico cut vaccine order with China’s CanSino by over half – sources
Mexico earlier this year slashed its COVID-19 vaccine order with CanSino Biologics by more than half when it became clear that the Chinese company would deliver far less than agreed, three people familiar with the matter said Wednesday. Mexico informed CanSino in July it would reduce its order to roughly 14.5 million doses from 35 million as it sought to ramp up supplies from other sources, according to a Mexican official with knowledge of discussions.
Xian fights biggest COVID-19 outbreak in a Chinese city this year
The Chinese city of Xian reported on Thursday another 155 local COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of cases to the highest seen in any Chinese city this year, as infections keep spreading eight days into lockdown for its 13 million people. The northwestern city reported 155 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed symptoms such as a fever on Wednesday, official data showed on Thursday, up from 151 cases a day earlier. This takes the total number of local coronavirus cases to 1,100 since the current flare-up began on Dec. 9.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort