Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
US FDA authorizes Pfizer’s COVID booster shot for young children
The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized the use of a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, making everyone in the country over the age of 5 eligible for a third shot. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to sign off on the shots before they can be administered.
Indonesia to drop outdoor mask mandate as COVID-19 infections drop
Indonesia will drop requirements for people to mask up outdoors and for vaccinated travelers to show negative pre-departure tests, officials said on Tuesday, as COVID-19 infections decline in the Southeast Asian country. Masks are no longer required outdoors as “the pandemic is getting more and more controlled”, President Joko Widodo said in a statement streamed online.
Orthopedic surgeons offer Gaza’s injured animals a new lifeline
Two Gaza orthopedic surgeons, having treated thousands of people with broken limbs since 2019, are now applying their skills to saving animals in a community where veterinary services focus on more basic interventions. Many of brothers Mohammad and Youssef Al-Khaldi’s human patients have been victims of Israeli army gunfire at border protesters, they say.
US says use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral up 315%
Use of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid has jumped 315% over the past four weeks, the US Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday, as health officials try to address unexpectedly light demand. Nearly 115,000 courses of the pills were dispensed during the first week of May, a senior health official said. The White House said last month it was aiming to expand access to treatments like Paxlovid by doubling the number of locations at which they are available.
In Europe’s first, Spain aims to introduce paid menstrual leave
Spain’s leftist coalition government on Tuesday approved a draft bill to reinforce abortion rights and make Spain the first country in Europe to offer state-funded paid leave for women who suffer from painful periods. The minority Socialist-led government hopes to guarantee access to abortion across Spain and destigmatise menstrual health with the new bill.
N.Korea mobilises army, steps up tracing amid COVID wave
North Korea has mobilized its military to distribute COVID medications and more than 10,000 health workers to help trace potential patients as it fights a sweeping coronavirus wave, state media outlet KCNA said on Tuesday. The isolated country is grappling with its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak, which it confirmed last week, fueling concerns over a major crisis due to a lack of vaccines and adequate medical infrastructure.
Michigan judge blocks enforcement of state’s pre-Roe v. Wade abortion ban
A Michigan judge on Tuesday granted a temporary injunction to block the enforcement of a state abortion ban, which might have taken effect if the US Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade precedent that legalized abortion nationwide. A Michigan Court of Claims judge in Lansing sided with women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood in its lawsuit against the state seeking to stop the potential enforcement of the ban, which was enacted in 1931 and declared unconstitutional in 1973.
Baby formula makers ramp up US supplies to tackle shortage
Top baby formula makers Reckitt Benckiser and Nestle have ramped up supplies to the United States to resolve a shortage that has emptied shelves and caused panic among parents. Baby formula aisles at US supermarkets have been decimated since top US manufacturer Abbott Laboratories in February recalled formulas after complaints of bacterial infections.
US Democrats unveil bill to address baby formula shortage
US House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a bill to provide $28 million in emergency funds to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help it respond to a nationwide shortage of infant formula and strengthen supervision of the industry. The funds would provide the FDA with the resources to prevent fraudulent products from being placed on shelves, a House Appropriations Committee statement said.
WHO raises alarm about ‘healthcare on a knife-edge’ in Ukraine
The World Health Organization’s Europe chief sounded the alarm on Tuesday about healthcare provision in Ukraine during the war with Russia and called for an investigation into more than 200 attacks on the healthcare system. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said every third patient had problems with access to medicines, one in five in the conflict zone needed psychological help, sexual violence was on the rise and there was a risk of cholera outbreaks.
(With inputs from agencies.)