Health News Roundup: English COVID study finds record prevalence in January; Exclusive-U.S. funding to WHO fell by 25% during pandemic -document and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

English COVID study finds record prevalence in January

An English COVID-19 study reported record prevalence in January after an Omicron-fuelled spike in infections, Imperial College London said on Wednesday, adding that infections had dropped back from their peak but were now plateauing. England will on Thursday ditch mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccine passes introduced to slow the spread of Omicron. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has credited the success of Britain’s booster rollout and the lower severity of the variant as he aims to live with COVID-19.

Exclusive-U.S. funding to WHO fell by 25% during a pandemic -document

U.S. financial contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO) have fallen by 25% during the coronavirus pandemic, provisional data show, with Washington’s future support to the United Nations agency under review. The large drop in funding versus the previous two-year period arose from cuts decided by former U.S. President Donald Trump that reveal for the first time the scale of the Trump administration’s retreat from the U.N. body.

Rhode Island, in reversal, to settle opioid claims against U.S. drug distributors

Rhode Island on Tuesday reversed course and threw its support behind a $21 billion nationwide settlement it originally declined to back resolving lawsuits alleging that three large drug distributors fueled the deadly U.S. opioid epidemic. Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s announcement marked the latest instance of a holdout state opting into the settlement with the big three drug distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health Inc.

Explainer-Germany plans vaccine mandate amid qualms over rights

German lawmakers are due to debate introducing a bill making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory. The idea is facing resistance from politicians as well as ordinary Germans. Some of the main issues:

S.Korea’s daily new COVID count exceeds 13,000 for first time

South Korea’s daily new coronavirus cases exceeded 13,000 for the first time, data showed on Wednesday, while the government sought to revise its COVID-19 response to focus on the highly contagious but less-lethal Omicron variant. The record of 13,012 comes just a day after the tally topped 8,000 for the first time amid a rapid spread of Omicron despite the extension of tough social distancing rules.

COVID is less severe with Omicron than Delta, U.S. study suggests

The Omicron variant appears to result in less severe COVID-19 than seen during previous periods of high coronavirus transmission including the Delta wave, with shorter hospital stays, less need for intensive care and fewer deaths, according to a new U.S. study. However, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has led to record numbers of infections and hospitalizations, straining the U.S. healthcare system.

Cannabis compound CBD stops coronavirus in test tube, but can it treat COVID?

Early research suggesting that a popular non-psychoactive compound derived from marijuana might help prevent or treat COVID-19 warrants further investigation in rigorous clinical trials, researchers say. Several recent laboratory studies of cannabidiol, or CBD, have shown promising results, attracting media attention.

New York state mask mandate back in effect as judge grants stay in appeal

An appeals court judge on Tuesday granted a stay in an appeal over mask mandates in New York, keeping the rule in effect during the legal process, New York Attorney General Letitia James said. A day earlier, a judge had struck down the state’s mask mandate, one week before it was due to expire. The state attorney general had filed a motion to stay the ruling in an attempt to put it on hold while the state filed a formal appeal.

Fauci says ‘prudent’ to have Omicron vaccine, but may not be needed

A COVID-19 vaccine specifically targeting the Omicron variant would be “prudent” even if it ultimately may not be needed, the top U.S. infectious disease official said on Tuesday as Pfizer announced trials for such a vaccine. “It makes sense to think in terms of at least having ready an Omicron specific boost,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser and a member of the White House COVID-19 Response Team, told MSNBC.

Pfizer and BioNTech launch trial of Omicron-targeted COVID vaccine

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said on Tuesday they started a clinical trial to test a new version of their vaccine specifically designed to target the COVID-19 Omicron variant, which has eluded some of the protection provided by the original two-dose vaccine regimen. Banking on volunteers in the United States, the companies plan to test the immune response generated by the Omicron-based vaccine both as a three-shot regimen in unvaccinated people and as a booster shot for people who already received two doses of their original vaccine.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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