Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
U.S. to boost monkeypox vaccine supply with 1.8 million extra doses
The United States said on Thursday it will boost its supply of monkeypox vaccine by making available an extra 1.8 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos shot, as the number of reported cases in the country rose above 13,500. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gave the figure for reported cases as of Aug.17, which represent more than a third of the global total of 39,000, at a White House briefing.
Germany’s constitutional court upholds measles vaccine mandate for children
The German constitutional court upheld the country’s measles vaccine mandate for children on Thursday, ruling against a challenge brought by parents. In its final decision on the matter, the court in Karlsruhe said that while the mandate interfered with the rights of children and their parents, this was justified due to the high infection risk with measles and the potential for serious illness.
Bavarian Nordic signs up U.S. firm for packaging monkeypox vaccine
Danish biotech firm Bavarian Nordic said on Thursday it has signed up a U.S.-based manufacturer to package its Jynneos monkeypox vaccine and the production is expected to begin later this year. The company aims to finish the technology transfer in three months to Michigan-based Grand River Aseptic.
N.Korea’s Kim praises military medics for frontline COVID fight in the capital
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a ceremony to thank and praise military medics for spearheading the country’s fight against the coronavirus in the capital Pyongyang, state media said on Friday. Thousands of medics of the Korean People’s Army, who had been dispatched to the “emergency anti-epidemic front”, were discharged after Kim declared victory over COVID-19 and eased restrictions last week.
WHO recommends Valneva’s COVID vaccine?
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday recommended the use of French drugmaker Valneva’s COVID-19 vaccine. The UN agency also recommended the use of a second booster dose for some individuals at high risk of severe disease.
Bluebird falls on worries over $2.8 million gene therapy’s commercial success
Bluebird bio slumped nearly 15% on Thursday as investors fretted over the sales potential of its newly approved ultra-rare blood disorder gene therapy which is the most expensive treatment to date at $2.8 million. The one-time treatment, Zynteglo, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday for patients with beta-thalassemia requiring regular blood transfusions. There are about only 1,500 of them in the United States.
Abortion drug maker drops challenge to Mississippi ban
A manufacturer of the drug used in medication abortions on Thursday dropped its bid to sell mifepristone in Mississippi despite the state’s recently enacted abortion ban. GenBioPro Inc said it was voluntarily dismissing its case in a filing in federal court in Jackson. The company had argued that federal regulators’ approval of mifepristone to induce abortion at up to 10 weeks of pregnancy overrode the state’s prohibition on nearly all abortions.
Valneva: U.S. Dept of Defense ends Ixiaro vaccine supply deal
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has ended an encephalitis vaccine supply contract with Valneva, said the French drugmaker, adding that a slowdown in global travel activity, mainly affecting Asia, had led to lower demand. The development, which Valneva said had no impact on this year’s financial guidance, dragged down the company’s shares in early session trading by around 1%.
Factbox: Monkeypox cases and deaths around the world
More than 80 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, which the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency, as confirmed cases crossed 38,800 and non-endemic countries reported their first related deaths. Below are the non-endemic countries that have reported monkeypox-related deaths:
John Hancock in $26.3 million settlement with New York over canceled insurance policies
John Hancock Life & Health Insurance Co will pay $26.3 million to settle a New York probe that found it prematurely terminated long-term care policies before policyholders, many now dead, exhausted their benefits. New York’s Department of Financial Services on Thursday said Hancock, a unit of Canada’s Manulife Financial Corp, improperly ended 156 insurance policies early between 2001 and 2019.
(With inputs from agencies.)