Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Explainer: What is herd immunity and will it affect the pandemic?

The outbreak of disease caused by the new coronavirus has raised questions about a phenomenon known as "herd immunity" and whether it might play a role in how the pandemic progresses. Here are some insights from infectious disease specialists:

World's governments draft manufacturers for virus treatment arsenal

From Washington to London, Beijing to Rome, governments are drafting automakers and aerospace manufacturers to ramp up production of ventilators and other medical equipment to bolster what most experts say is an inadequate arsenal of coronavirus treatment tools. Authorities are hoping large-scale manufacturers can bring their low-cost supply chains and digital design expertise to bear, including 3D printing, and repurpose some factories in order to make up the expected shortfall in vital medical hardware.

Two generic drugs being tested in U.S. in race to find coronavirus treatments

U.S. researchers, following the lead of scientists in other countries, have launched studies to see whether widely-available, low-cost generic drugs can be used to help treat the illness caused by the new coronavirus. There are currently no vaccines or treatments for the highly-contagious COVID-19 respiratory illness, so patients can only receive supportive care for now.

Exclusive: Ferrari and Fiat look at helping Italy make ventilators in coronavirus crisis

Italian carmakers Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler are in talks with the nation's biggest ventilator manufacturer to help to boost production of the life-saving machines that are urgently needed in the coronavirus crisis, company officials said on Thursday. Italy is at the epicenter of the pandemic and its government has embarked on a big expansion of the number of intensive care beds, many of which will require ventilators to keep patients alive by taking over breathing functions.

Rich nations pump aid into battered economy as coronavirus deaths in Italy overtake China

The world's richest nations poured unprecedented aid into the global economy on Thursday as coronavirus cases ballooned in the new epicenter Europe, with the number of deaths in Italy outstripping those in mainland China, where the virus originated. With over 236,000 infections and more than 9,700 deaths, the epidemic has stunned the world and drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu.

CDC reports 10,491 coronavirus cases, 150 deaths

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday reported 10,491 cases of coronavirus, an increase of 3,404 from its previous count, and said the death toll had risen by 53 to 150, the biggest one-day jump so far. President Donald Trump earlier in the day urged health regulators to expedite potential therapies aimed at treating COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, saying it could lead to a breakthrough while a vaccine is still under development.

Bayer donates three million malaria tablets to U.S. for potential use against coronavirus

Bayer AG said on Thursday it has donated 3 million tablets of the malaria drug Resochin to the U.S. government for potential use to treat COVID-19. Resochin, made of chloroquine phosphate and an approved treatment for malaria, is being evaluated in China for its potential use against COVID-19, the disease caused by the fast-spreading coronavirus.

FDA suspends U.S. vape shop inspections as coronavirus spreads

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has halted activities such as domestic compliance checks and vape shop inspections, the health regulator said on Thursday, as its staff switch to teleworking amid the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak. The health regulator has been scaling back domestic and foreign inspections in the wake of the outbreak, which has infected more than 227,700 people across 175 countries, based on a Reuters tally.

J&J's Tylenol production at maximum capacity as coronavirus boosts demand

Johnson & Johnson is running its Tylenol manufacturing at maximum capacity in North America to meet surging demand due to the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, a top executive said on Thursday. The company said it is stepping up its manufacturing of the drug globally.

Exclusive: Potential coronavirus treatment touted by Trump already in shortage, pharmacists say

Supply of a malaria treatment that has been tried with some success against the new coronavirus is in short supply as demand surges amid the fast-spreading outbreak, according to independent pharmacies and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The ASHP, which maintains a list of drugs in shortage independent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list, plans to add the generic malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to its list of shortages later on Thursday, according to Erin Fox, senior director of drug information at University of Utah Health, who maintains the shortages list for the ASHP.