Health news roundup: COVID-19 hospitalizations in France increase week on week for second day; Shanghai reports new daily record for asymptomatic COVID cases and more

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Here is a summary of health news briefs.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in France increase week by week for the second day

French health authorities said the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 fell by 38 over 24 hours, to 20,616, but on a weekly basis the figure was up for the second day in a row, after falling by this measurement since the beginning of February. COVID-19 infections have been on the rise again since early March – with the seven-day rolling average of new cases at a six-week high of 110,874 – and, generally, this trend reversal is reflected in hospital figures with a two-week delay.

Shanghai reports new daily record for asymptomatic COVID cases

Shanghai reported a new daily record for asymptomatic COVID-19 cases on Sunday as China’s financial hub battled a nearly month-long outbreak as endless testing and localized lockdowns brought residents to their limits. Shanghai reported 2,631 new asymptomatic cases for March 26, accounting for nearly 60% of the total new asymptomatic cases in China that day. The metropolis separately reported 47 new cases with symptoms.

Israeli study: 2nd vaccine booster drastically reduces COVID death rate

Elderly people who received a second booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination had a 78% lower mortality rate from the disease than those who received just one, an Israeli study showed on Sunday. The country’s largest healthcare provider, Clalit Health Services, said the 40-day study included more than half a million people between the ages of 60 and 100.

Medicago’s tobacco ties jeopardize the growth of its COVID vaccine

Canadian vaccine maker Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccine, approved last month in Canada, faces limited near-term growth after the World Health Organization said it would not review the vaccine because the company is partly owned by Swiss-American tobacco company Philip Morris, health experts say. The WHO said in a briefing this month and in a follow-up statement to Reuters that it had not accepted a request for the vaccine because of its 2005 public health treaty not requiring any involvement with a company that produces or promotes tobacco products.

FDA says current dose of GSK-Vir COVID therapy unlikely to work against BA.2 variant

The US health regulator said Friday that the currently authorized dose of COVID-19 antibody therapy from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology is unlikely to be effective against the Omicron BA.2 variant. The agency withdrew its authorization for the therapy, sotrovimab, in much of the northeastern United States where the subvariant is dominant. The extremely contagious BA.2 currently causes about one in three cases of COVID-19 in the United States, according to government data earlier this week.

Hong Kong health authorities report 8,037 new COVID cases

Hong Kong reported 8,037 new COVID-19 infections and 151 deaths on Sunday, the second consecutive day below 10,000 cases, as the global financial hub gradually begins to open up, with the government announcing an easing of restrictions from of April.

(With agency contributions.)

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