Health News Roundup: US reports highly lethal bird flu in Kentucky chicken farm; Novavax applies for COVID-19 vaccine approval in Switzerland and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

US reports highly lethal bird flu in Kentucky chicken farm

A commercial chicken flock in Kentucky tested positive for a highly lethal form of bird flu, officials said on Monday, widening an outbreak that threatens the US poultry industry. Infections in the chickens being raised for meat are set to trigger more restrictions on US poultry exports, after buyers like China and Korea limited purchases from Indiana last week due to an outbreak at a commercial turkey farm there.

Novavax applies for COVID-19 vaccine approval in Switzerland

Novavax Inc has submitted an application to Switzerland’s drug regulator for the authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in adults, the US vaccine maker said on Monday. The submission is based on data from two key clinical trials in the United States and Mexico as well as in the UK that showed the vaccine was 90% effective against COVID-19.

Prior COVID offers less protection vs Omicron; mRNA booster shot efficacy declines within months

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Previous COVID-19 less protective against Omicron variant

Kuwait lifts many COVID restrictions, allows travel abroad

Kuwait’s cabinet has lifted many COVID-19 restrictions including a ban on foreign travel, a move that will also apply to those who are not vaccinated, Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah said on Monday. The unvaccinated will still have to get a PCR test 72 hours before boarding a flight to the Gulf Arab state and quarantine for seven days after arrival, while those who are vaccinated would not be required to do so.

Pardes expects to start larger trial of COVID-19 antiviral pill by mid-year

Pardes Biosciences Inc said on Monday it expects to start a mid-to-late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 antiviral pill by mid-year, following promising data from early human testing. Interim data from an ongoing early-stage trial has shown that a twice daily intake of the pill, PBI-0451, can trigger potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants, Pardes said.

Johnson & Johnson talc bankruptcy attacked by cancer plaintiffs as ‘rotten’

A Johnson & Johnson subsidiary came under attack in court on Monday for attempting to use the bankruptcy process to resolve tens of thousands of claims that its baby powder and other talc-based products caused cancer. The subsidiary, LTL Management, is fighting to remain in bankruptcy, arguing that is the best way to reach an “equitable, efficient, and consensual resolution” of more than 38,000 claims alleging that J&J’s talc-based products caused cancers including mesothelioma.

Germans pin hopes on Novavax moving the needle among anti-vaxxers

Benedikt Richter, a 40-year-old teacher in the southwest German city of Kaiserslautern, long held out against getting vaccinated against COVID-19. He felt uneasy about the novelty of the mRNA technology used in two of the most commonly administered shots. He did not help that his sister-in-law was hospitalised with heart muscle inflammation a day after receiving her second shot, which doctors officially linked to her vaccine, Richter said. Regulators have acknowledged such conditions as a rare and mostly mild side-effect.

Turk sets unenviable COVID record by testing positive for 14 straight months

When Muzaffer Kayasan first caught COVID-19, he thought he was destined to die since he was already suffering from leukemia. Fourteen months and 78 straight positive tests later, he is still alive – and still battling to shake off the infection. Kayasan, 56, has Turkey’s longest recorded continuous COVID-19 infection, doctors say, possibly due to a weakened immune system from the cancer. Despite being in and out of hospital since November 2020, his spirits have been high.

Hong Kong “overwhelmed” as COVID infections hit record

The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has “overwhelmed” Hong Kong, the city’s leader said on Monday as daily cases surged by some 20 times over the past two weeks, leaving hospitals short of beds and struggling to cope. Carrie Lam, the head of the administration in the Chinese ruled city, issued a grim update for residents already subjected to tight restrictions on social gatherings as health authorities reported a record 2,071 infections on Monday, with 4,500 separate preliminary positive cases.

Canada’s Ontario to lift some pandemic measures, Alberta ends masks in schools

The Canadian province of Ontario said it will speed up its plan to remove proof-of-vaccination requirements and lift pandemic-related capacity limits for many businesses while the western province of Alberta ended its mask requirements for school children on Monday. The moves, which the provinces’ premiers attributed to a waning Omicron wave, comes as protesters opposed to pandemic measures closed three border crossings with the United States and paralyzed parts of Ottawa for three weeks.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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