Health News Roundup: Factbox-China's approved COVID treatments; Sickle cell cure will be cost-effective if health disparities considered -study finds and more – Devdiscourse

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Factbox-China’s approved COVID treatments
As China begins dismantling its tough zero-COVID controls, there is strong anecdotal evidence that cases in cities such as Beijing and Chengdu are spiking, boosting demand not only for flu and fever medication but also COVID-specific treatments. Here are some of the treatments available in China:
Sickle cell cure will be cost-effective if health disparities considered -study finds
Multimillion-dollar gene therapies being tested for sickle cell disease will be cost-effective in the United States if health disparities tied in part to decreased access to healthcare are taken into account, researchers said at a meeting of blood-disease specialists. In the United States, about one of every 365 Black babies is born with sickle cell disease – a genetic disorder in which misshapen blood cells cause strokes, organ damage, severe pain and early death – according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Xi and top Chinese leadership to hold key economic meeting as COVID spikes
Chinese President Xi Jinping, his ruling Politburo and senior government officials will meet over the next two days to plot a recovery for China’s battered economy just as the nation faces a surge in COVID-19 infections. The key annual economic policy conference takes place as virus infections spike in the capital Beijing a week after the leadership abandoned its tough “zero-COVID” controls.
Roche teams up with Pfizer on COVID-19 awareness campaign
Roche Holding has teamed up with Pfizer on a U.S. campaign to boost awareness of COVID-19 testing and treatment, the Swiss drugmaker said on Wednesday. The Pilot COVID-19 At-Home Test, distributed in the United States by Roche and made by SD Biosensor Inc, will now include a QR code that directs people to a website where they can learn more about COVID-19, including health authorities’ guidance on testing and treatment options, it said in a statement.
China to roll out second COVID vaccine booster for high-risk groups, elderly
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) will roll out the second COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for high-risk groups and elderly people over 60 years old, it said in a statement on Wednesday. The time gap between the first and second booster shots will be six months, NHC said, adding people who can take the second booster shot will include those with severe existing diseases and those with low immunity.
Medical staff in China’s hospitals say COVID-19 ripping through their ranks
A growing number of China’s doctors and nurses are catching COVID-19 and some have been asked to keep working, as people showing mostly moderate symptoms throng hospitals and clinics, according to medical staff and dozens of posts on social media. China’s health authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment on infections among medical staff.
Africa’s food crisis is the biggest yet – five reasons why
In October, Nadifa Abdi Isak brought her malnourished daughters to hospital in Mogadishu. That day, a nurse said, 42 other children had already been checked into the emergency unit, ravaged by hunger. There were 57 the day before that. Staff at the Benadir maternity and paediatric hospital said admissions of malnourished children have more than doubled their patient numbers over the past year. They are now treating over 1,000 emergency cases each month.
China stops publishing asymptomatic COVID cases, reports no deaths
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) will as of Wednesday stop reporting new asymptomatic COVID-19 infections, as many people without symptoms no longer participate in testing, making it hard to accurately tally the total count, it said. The health authority reported 2,291 new symptomatic COVID-19 infections on Dec. 13.
U.S. to pay Pfizer nearly $2 billion for more Paxlovid courses in 2023
The U.S. government agreed to pay Pfizer Inc nearly $2 billion for an additional 3.7 million courses of its COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid, the company said on Tuesday. The new purchase supplements the 20 million courses previously bought by the United States and delivery is planned by early 2023, Pfizer said in a statement.
Cytokinetics’ heart drug fails to secure FDA panel’s support
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s panel of outside experts did not lend its support to Cytokinetics Inc’s heart drug, citing insufficient data on safety and efficacy. The panel voted 8-3 against recommending use of the drug, omecamtiv mecarbil, for treating patients with a type of heart failure caused by abnormal contractions in the main pumping chamber of the heart.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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