Health News Digest: Box-Restrictions vs. Protections: How States Take Sides on Abortion; China says it will help key industries return to work in Shanghai and more

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Here is a summary of health news briefs.

Pfizer/BioNTech say booster dose increases protection against Omicron in children ages 5-11

A third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech produced significant protection against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in healthy children ages 5 to 11, the companies announced Thursday. Analysis of blood serum from 30 pediatric participants who received a booster dose in one study showed a 36-fold increase in Omicron neutralizing antibodies, the drugmakers said.

Factbox-Restrictions vs protections: how states take sides on abortion

This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to strike down constitutional abortion protections that have been in place since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade. Conservative states are moving quickly to adopt abortion restrictions in anticipation of the court ruling, while liberal states seek to protect and expand abortion rights. Here are a few bills that are gaining traction this year:

China says it will help key industries get back to work in locked-down Shanghai

China said on Friday it would help hundreds of companies in key sectors resume production in Shanghai, the commercial capital at the center of the country’s latest COVID-19 outbreak, as companies warn of the cost growing economic restrictions. The announcement comes as a growing number of business leaders and analysts warn that China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy is triggering economic disruptions that ripple through global supply chains for goods, from electric vehicles to iPhones.

‘Final tweaks’ to COVID IP waiver agreement – WTO chief

The head of the World Trade Organization told Reuters on Thursday that negotiations on an intellectual property agreement for COVID-19 vaccines were underway between the four parties, saying they were seeking to agree on final terms. of the proposal. Since the draft compromise first appeared in the media a month ago, pressure has grown from civil society groups for the parties – the United States, European Union, India and South Africa – withdraw from the agreement. Other public figures have also criticized him, such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, saying he focused too narrowly on vaccines.

More Chinese cities are tightening controls as Shanghai’s COVID cases rise

Shanghai reported a record number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases on Saturday and other parts of China tightened controls as the country maintained its “dynamic clearance” approach that aims to eradicate the highly transmissible variant of Omicron. Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone, a manufacturing area in central China that includes Apple Inc supplier Foxconn, announced a 14-day lockdown on Friday “to be adjusted according to the epidemic situation.”

Planned Parenthood and ACLU sue to block Kentucky abortion restrictions

On Thursday, abortion providers including Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit to block a sweeping new law in Kentucky that requires them to stop offering the procedure until they can meet certain requirements, claiming that this amounted to an unconstitutional ban on abortion. An affiliate of Planned Parenthood and a clinic represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed separate lawsuits a day after the Republican-led legislature overruled a veto by the state’s Democratic governor to enact the anti-abortion law.

Omicron-specific Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccine candidates cleared for clinical trial

Candidate COVID-19 vaccines developed by a subsidiary of Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech to target the Omicron variant have been approved for clinical trials in Hong Kong, the companies announced on Saturday. Scientists around the world are racing to study improved injections against Omicron, as data indicate that antibodies produced by vaccines based on older strains show lower activity in neutralizing the highly transmissible variant.

The fourth shot protects against serious consequences from Omicron; COVID may increase risk of rare eye blood clots

Here is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that deserves further study to corroborate the findings and that has not yet been certified by peer review. The fourth dose of vaccine protects against Omicron for at least one month

Growing disregard for COVID restrictions in China leads to wave of arrests

Sun Jian, a 37-year-old master’s student in the Chinese city of Yantai, has for months staged a solo campaign against his university’s COVID-19 prevention measures, including fierce criticism on social media. The straw that broke the camel’s back for authorities came on March 27, when Sun walked around his campus with a sign reading “lift the lockdown on Ludong.”

Nektar halts clinical trials of key cancer drug and shares plummet

Nektar Therapeutics said on Thursday it had halted all trials involving its key cancer drug following its failure in several studies, sending the drug developer’s stock down 23% in aftermarket trading. The trials that Nektar stopped included those involving a combination of its drug bempegaldesleukin with Bristol Myers Squibb Co’s cancer drug Opdivo as well as Merck & Co Inc’s cancer drug Keytruda.

(With agency contributions.)

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