Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Trudeau warns Canada's hospitals could be swamped, Toronto to enter COVID-19 lockdown
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada's hospital system could be overwhelmed by a possible quadrupling of new COVID-19 cases by year end as its biggest city Toronto prepared to impose a lockdown. Trudeau implored Canadians to stay home as much as possible as a second wave of the novel coronavirus rips across the country, forcing several of the 10 provinces to reimpose curbs on movement and businesses. Cases continue to spike and authorities complain some people are being more careless about taking precautions.
New Trump Medicare drug-price rules denounced as political revenge by industry
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday announced two rules aimed at lowering drug prices for people 65 and older in the Medicare health insurance program, prompting a biotechnology industry group to accuse the president of seeking political revenge. Wall Street analysts said there was little chance the new rules would be put into place, in part because they expect legal challenges by pharmaceutical and pharmacy benefit manager trade organizations. The incoming Biden administration is unlikely to take up the rules, they said.
Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $120 million damages in New York baby powder case
Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by a New York state judge to pay $120 million in damages to a Brooklyn woman and her husband, after she blamed her cancer on asbestos exposure from using the company's baby powder. Justice Gerald Lebovits of the state supreme court in Manhattan reduced the payout from the $325 million a jury awarded Donna Olson, 67, and Robert Olson, 65, in May 2019 following a 14-week trial.
Canada grants interim authorization to Eli Lilly's COVID-19 antibody drug
Canada has granted interim authorization to Eli Lilly's antibody drug for treating COVID-19 in patients who are not hospitalized, but are at risk of serious illness because of their age or other conditions, the drugmaker said on Friday. The news comes weeks after the treatment, bamlanivimab, was given U.S. emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration for helping newly-diagnosed, high-risk patients avoid hospitalization.
Brazil coronavirus cases speed past 6 million amid fears of second wave
Brazil surpassed 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the health ministry said, as the world's third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again amid fears that a second wave is underway. The South American nation joined the United States and India as the only countries to have passed the 6 million mark. With almost 170,000 confirmed fatalities, Brazil has the world's second highest death toll.
FDA panel to discuss emergency use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on December 10
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's outside advisers will meet on Dec. 10 to discuss whether to authorize the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech for emergency use, the agency said on Friday. The move comes after Pfizer applied for the authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine earlier in the day, the first such application in a major step toward providing protection against the new coronavirus.
Europe's COVID-19 cases surpass 15 million mark: Reuters tally
The number of coronavirus cases in Europe surpassed the 15 million mark on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, as the region sees a surge in infections with the onset of winter, reporting a million new infections about every four days. Europe has so far witnessed at least 15,046,656 reported infections and 344,401 reported deaths caused by the novel coronavirus, accounting for a quarter of global infections and deaths reported.
Pfizer files COVID-19 vaccine application to U.S. FDA
Pfizer Inc applied to U.S. health regulators on Friday for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its COVID-19 vaccine, the first such application in a major step toward providing protection against the new coronavirus. The application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comes just days after Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE reported final trial results that showed the vaccine was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 with no major safety concerns.
AstraZeneca starts new COVID-19 prevention trials of antibody cocktail
AstraZeneca started late-stage trials on Saturday of an experimental long-acting monoclonal antibody combination drug it hopes could be used as a so-called prophylactic to prevent COVID-19 infection in at-risk people for up to 12 months. The Phase III international clinical trial will recruit a total of 5,000 people across countries in Europe and the United States to assess the safety and effectiveness of the antibody cocktail, known as AZD7442.
Wisconsin governor renews mask mandate despite court challenge as pandemic worsens
Wisconsin's governor on Friday extended a statewide mask mandate despite a legal challenge from conservatives, renewing an emergency health order requiring face coverings in public spaces to curb an alarming surge in COVID-19 infections. The new decree from Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, came six months after a coronavirus stay-at-home order issued last spring was invalidated by the state Supreme Court in a lawsuit that Republican lawmakers brought against the lockdown.