Omicron Subvariants Driving Up Covid Around The World: WHO – Kaiser Health News

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A recent briefing from the World Health Organization places blame squarely on omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 for a surge in covid cases in more than 50 nations. The WHO is also reportedly asking Pfizer to improve access to its Paxlovid covid pill to prevent illness in poorer countries.
CIDRAP: WHO: Subvariants Fueling COVID Rises In More Than 50 Countries 
At a briefing today, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, the WHO's director-general, said the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are driving South Africa's surge, with the BA.2 subvariant dominant across the world and COVID-19 cases rising in more than 50 nations. Relatively high population immunity from vaccination or previous infection are so far keeping hospitalizations and deaths at a lower levels than previous surges. "But this is not guaranteed for places where vaccination coverage is low." (Schnirring, 5/10)
AP: WHO Calls On Pfizer To Make Its COVID Pill More Available
The head of the World Health Organization called on Pfizer to make its COVID-19 treatment more widely available in poorer countries, saying Tuesday that the pharmaceutical company’s deal allowing generic producers to make the drug was insufficient. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing that Pfizer’s treatment was still too expensive. He noted that most countries in Latin America had no access to Pfizer’s drug, Paxlovid, which has been shown to cut the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization or death by up to 90%. (5/10)
AP: Norway Discards COVID-19 Vaccines As Supplies Exceed Demand
Norwegian health authorities said Tuesday that the country has a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines and has already discarded more than 137,000 doses because there is declining demand in low-income countries. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it plans a further disposal of doses if global demand does not change. In Norway there is high vaccine coverage while globally a demand for donations has fallen. (5/10)
In news from Ukraine —
Politico: EU Plans To Help Ukraine’s Food Exports Dodge Black Sea Blockade 
Brussels is going to propose a way for some food exports to get around Russia's Black Sea blockade, by taking the overland route. The European Commission will on Wednesday unveil a plan to significantly increase the amount of food that agricultural heavyweight Ukraine can deliver to hungry nations around the world via EU roads and railways. (Wax, 5/10)
AP: Wartime Birth Amid The Air Raid Sirens In Ukraine Hospital
It’s easy to tell the delivery room from the rest of the main maternity hospital in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv, even from the outside. Its exterior wall is piled high with sandbags. In the dim basement, where heavily pregnant women must bend low to avoid the water pipes, there is a delivery table in case the baby comes amid the air raid sirens. (Brito and Anna, 5/11)
In other global developments —
Fox News: What Mysterious Illness Resulted In The Death Of 3 Americans At The Sandals Resort In The Bahamas?
Three Americans, two men and a woman, died at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort on Great Exuma island in the Bahamas, with a fourth American woman airlifted to a Florida hospital back in the United States, Bahamian Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper said in a press release this past Friday. "Police are investigating and the cause of death is still unknown. However, I am advised that foul play is not suspected. I have asked Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Michael Darville, to lead a delegation this evening to Exuma of health & wellness, environment and public works officials," Cooper said. After 9:00 a.m. this past Friday local officials were dispatched to the resort to investigate. They were first directed to one villa where they discovered an American male laying unresponsive on the ground without any signs of trauma, who was later pronounced dead by the local doctor, according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force release. (Sudhakar, 5/10)
AP: Cardinal: Pope's Wheelchair Use An Example To Older Adults 
Pope Francis’ willingness to work despite knee pain that has made walking nearly impossible shows other older adults that they have wisdom and experience to offer younger generations, a top Vatican cardinal said Tuesday. Cardinal Kevin Farrell offered the assessment as he introduced Francis’ message for World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. In the message released Tuesday, the 85-year-old pope urged older people to consider advanced age a blessing. (Winfield, 5/10)
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