Reuters Health News Summary

·4 min read

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Asia-Pacific drug trade thrives amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Illicit drug markets in the Asia-Pacific continue to expand and diversify and appear to be largely unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak, the United Nations said on Friday. The production of methamphetamine, the most popular drug in the region, continues to hit record highs while prices fall to new lows in East and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report that compiled data from 2019 to first quarter of 2020.

Brazil and Mexico report record surge in coronavirus cases as Latin America reels

Brazil and Mexico on Thursday reported a record one-day rise in new coronavirus cases, just as leaders of both countries intensified attempts to reopen their economies even as the spread of the virus in Latin America is seemingly gathering pace. Brazilian right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro and Mexico's leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have frequently swum against the tide of scientific opinion since the crisis broke out, first by playing down the threat of the virus and more recently by focusing on reopening their economies despite rising cases.

U.S. regulator is reviewing Abbott's fast COVID test after studies raise accuracy concerns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday that Abbott Laboratories’ speedy coronavirus test, which can deliver results within minutes and is used at the White House, could potentially be inaccurate but can still be used to test patients. The regulator said in a statement that early data about the Abbott ID Now test suggested it could produce potentially inaccurate results, particularly by failing to detect people who have the illness.

U.S. gives doctors guidance on how to spot rare COVID-linked syndrome in children

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday issued guidance to doctors on how to recognize and report cases of a rare, life-threatening syndrome in children associated with the new coronavirus. The guidance follows several reports of the syndrome in France, Italy, Spain and Britain and more than 100 cases in the state of New York.

China's Wuhan says tested almost a third of residents for coronavirus since April

Wuhan, the original epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak in China, has tested over 3 million residents for the pathogen since April, and will now focus its testing efforts on the rest of its 11 million population, according to state media. Wuhan will conduct tests on everyone in the city, with the goal of getting a clear number of asymptomatic cases as businesses and schools reopen, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Thursday.

Global coronavirus death toll exceeds 300,000: Reuters tally

Global coronavirus deaths passed 300,000 on Thursday as infections approached 4.5 million, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States responsible for more than a quarter of all fatalities. The United Kingdom and Italy accounted for another 10-11% each, while France and Spain accounted for 9% each.

COVID patients given malaria drug didn't see significant improvements: studies

Patients given the malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a potential treatment for COVID-19 did not improve significantly over those who did not, according to two new studies published in the medical journal BMJ on Thursday. Neither trial was placebo controlled, generally considered the gold standard for clinical data.

U.S. issues first coronavirus workplace guidance to nursing homes

The U.S. Department of Labor issued its first workplace guidance to nursing homes on Thursday since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country and ravaged care facilities, saying residents, staff and visitors should keep 6 feet (1.83 meters) apart. The alert from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also said nursing homes should screen residents and staff for symptoms and should find alternatives to group activities.

France defends equal access to any vaccine as U.S. eyes its own plans

France said on Thursday that the world's nations would have equal access to any novel coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi, a day after the CEO suggested that Americans would likely be the first in line. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview, said he hoped that any vaccine developed would be shared worldwide.

South Korean coronavirus test maker Osang ready to ship 100 million kits to U.S.

Osang Healthcare Co, the first South Korean maker of coronavirus test kits to win preliminary approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, is ready to ship kits that can test 100 million people in the United States, an executive said on Friday. Fast-track approval, followed by a massive testing campaign and intensive contact tracing, is credited with helping South Korea slow the disease and avoid strict lockdowns, while the United States has been criticised for a slow response.