Combo ‘polypill’ cuts heart disease deaths, new study finds

One pill may be better than three.

A heart medication known as a “polypill” reduced the chance of a secondary adverse cardiovascular event in individuals who previously had a heart attack, according to the findings of a study announced on Friday, August 26, at the European Society of Cardiology Congress (ESC 2022) in Barcelona, Spain.

The cardiovascular mortality rate was lowered by 33%, the study found.  

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the study found that the drug, bearing the commercial name Trinomia, contains three medications: aspirin (100 mg), the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor ramipril (2.5, 5, or 10 mg) and atorvastatin (20 or 40 mg), according to a news release.

The Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) and Ferrer developed the polypill.

Currently, the polypill is not available in the United States. 

Dr. Valentin Fuster, M.D., director of Mount Sinai Heart and physician-in-chief of Mount Sinai Hospital as well as general director of CNIC, led the trial.

The study’s results demonstrate “for the first time that the polypill — which contains aspirin, ramipril and atorvastatin — achieves clinically relevant reductions in the recurrent cardiovascular events among people who have recovered from a previous heart attack,” he said in the release.

That’s “because of better adherence to this simplified approach with a simple polypill, rather than taking [pills] separately as conventional,” he went on.

Typically, after a patient recovers from a heart attack, doctors prescribe several medications, which may include an anti-platelet agent (such as aspirin), medication to control blood pressure and a lipid-reducing drug, such as a statin, the release said. 

The problem is that less than half of patients consistently adhere to their medication regimen, according to the study’s authors. 

“Although most patients initially adhere to treatment after an acute event such as an infarction, adherence drops off after the first few months,” Dr. Fuster said in the release.

He also explained, “Our goal was to have an impact right from the start, and most of the patients in the study began taking a simple polypill in the first week after having a heart attack.”

The study’s first author, Dr. José María Castellano, M.D., said in the report, “Adherence to treatment after an acute myocardial infarction is essential for effective secondary prevention.” 

Castellano also said in the release, “The polypill, [which is] a very simple strategy that combines three essential treatments for this type of patient, has proved its worth … The improved adherence means that these patients are receiving better treatment and therefore have a lower risk of recurrent cardiovascular events.”

In a previous study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), CNIC scientists showed that patients treated with the polypill showed significant improvement when it came to adhering to treatment. 

The CNIC team of researchers investigated if the improved adherence to treatment with the polypill would lead to a reduction in cardiovascular events. 

The study used an international randomized clinical trial that included 2,499 patients from seven European countries recovering from a heart attack. 

The participants were randomly assigned the CNIC polypill or standard treatment medications. Participants averaged 76 years of age — and the study included individuals with a history of hypertension (77.9%), diabetes (57.4%) and smoking tobacco (51.3%).

The team of researchers followed the patients for an average of three years.

They analyzed the occurrence of four major cardiovascular events: death from a cardiovascular cause, non-fatal stroke, non-fatal myocardial infarction and need for emergency coronary revascularization, the report said. 

They found that the patients taking the polypills had a 24% lower risk of these four cardiovascular events than patients taking the three drugs separately, according to the release.

The researchers found that there were 71 deaths in the group that received standard treatment, compared to 48 in the polypill group.  

Patients in the polypill group also had a higher level of treatment adherence than those in the control group — which may explain the benefits of the polypill, the release said.

“The 33% reduction in cardiovascular mortality demonstrates the efficacy of treatment with Trinomia compared to standard treatment” Oscar Pérez, marketing chief and business development officer at Ferrer, said in the release. 

The treatment has the “potential to reduce the risk of recurrent cardiovascular disease and death on a global scale.”

“These results ratify our purpose of making a positive impact in society and represent an important step in our mission to provide significant and differential value to people who suffer from serious health conditions.” 

The polypill could become part of a worldwide treatment strategy, said Fuster, to help prevent recurrent cardiovascular events in patients who have had a heart attack.

Fuster also said, “By simplifying treatment and improving adherence,” this approach has the “potential to reduce the risk of recurrent cardiovascular disease and death on a global scale.”

A Mount Sinai Health Systems spokesperson told Fox News Digital that Fuster plans to present the findings to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Omicron infects young children easier than other variants; loss of smell may be precursor to memory loss

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

Childrens’ noses defend less well against Omicron

The Omicron variant may be more efficient at infecting children through the nose than previous versions of the coronavirus, a small study suggests.

Earlier in the pandemic, children’s noses had been less welcoming to the virus that causes COVID-19 than adults’ noses. Studies of the original SARS-CoV-2 and some of its variants found the virus was met with stronger immune responses in the cells lining young noses than in adults’ nasal-lining cells, and it was less efficient at making copies of itself in children’s noses. But recent test-tube experiments mixing the virus with nasal cells from 23 healthy children and 15 healthy adults found the antiviral defenses in kids’ noses “was markedly less pronounced in the case of Omicron,” researchers reported on Monday in PLOS Biology. They also report that Omicron reproduced itself more efficiently in childrens’ nasal-lining cells compared to both Delta and the original virus.

“These data are consistent with the increased number of pediatric infections observed during the Omicron wave,” the researchers wrote, while calling for additional studies.

Smell problems may predict memory problems after COVID-19

Severity of smell dysfunction after infection with the coronavirus may be a better predictor of long-term cognitive impairment than overall severity of COVID-19, according to an Argentinian study.

Researchers studied a random sample of 766 people over age 60, roughly 90% of whom had been infected with the virus. Physical, cognitive and neuropsychiatric tests performed three-to-six months after infection showed some degree of memory impairment in two-thirds of the infected participants. After taking individuals’ other risk factors into account, severity of loss of smell, known as anosmia, “but not clinical status, significantly (predicted) cognitive impairment,” the researchers reported on Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2022 held online and in San Diego.

“The more insight we have into what causes or at least predicts who will experience the significant long-term cognitive impact of COVID-19 infection, the better we can track it and begin to develop methods to prevent it,” study leader Gabriela Gonzalez-Aleman of Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires said in a statement.

Vaccine mandates linked to better nursing-home staffing

In U.S. states that mandated COVID-19 vaccines for nursing home staff, the rules achieved the desired effect and did not lead to mass resignations and or staffing shortages, a study found.

In states without such mandates, however, nursing homes did experience staff shortages during the study period, researchers reported on Friday in JAMA Health Forum. Data collected from mid-June to mid-November 2021 from the National Healthcare Safety Network showed that in 12 states with COVID-19 vaccine mandates, staff vaccination coverage rates ranged from 78.7% to 95.2%. States without mandates “had consistently lower staff vaccination coverage throughout the study window” and “higher rates of reported staff shortages throughout the study period,” according to the report.

“The association of mandates with higher vaccination coverage stands in contrast with prior efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake among nursing home staff through education, outreach, and incentives,” the researchers said. They added that the data “suggests that the fear of massive staffing shortfalls owing to vaccine mandates may be unfounded.”

Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine linked to death in South Africa, health regulator reports

South Africa’s health regulator reported on Thursday a causal link between the death of an individual and Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, the first time such a direct link has been made in the country.

The person presented with rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome soon after being given J&J’s Janssen vaccine, after which the person was put on a ventilator and later died, senior scientists told a news conference.

“At the time of illness no other cause for the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) could be identified,” Professor Hannelie Meyer said.

The person’s age and other personal details were not disclosed for confidentiality reasons.

J&J said in an emailed statement that GBS was associated with the administration of various vaccines and other medicines and can also be triggered by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The company said it strongly supported raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of rare events to ensure they can be quickly identified and effectively treated.

Last July, U.S. authorities added a warning to a factsheet for J&J’s vaccine saying data suggested there was an increased risk of GBS in the six weeks after vaccination. At the time it noted 100 preliminary reports of GBS in vaccine recipients, including 95 serious cases and one reported death.

J&J said at the time of the U.S. warning it was in discussions with regulators and the rate of reported cases of GBS in Janssen vaccine recipients exceeded the background rate only slightly.

“The benefit of vaccination still far outweighs the risk,” Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, chief executive of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), told reporters.

“In our context we have administered about 9 million (doses) of the Janssen vaccine, and this is the first causally linked case of GBS.”

Europe’s medicines regulator last year added GBS as a possible side-effect of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine which, like J&J’s, uses viral vector technology.

South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla told Thursday’s news conference that as of mid-July there had been just over 6,200 “adverse events” reported to SAHPRA out of the more than 37 million COVID vaccine doses administered in the country, equivalent to 0.017%.

Semete-Makokotlela said the regulator had assessed around 160 deaths since the COVID vaccination rollout started but had not seen a causal link to vaccination until now.

South Africa has been using shots from J&J and Pfizer in its COVID vaccination campaign. The rollout got off to a slow start due to difficulties securing supplies and protracted negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, but more recently it has been slowed by hesitancy.

Around 46% of its adult population of 40 million is now fully vaccinated.

Cognitive decline can be avoided with simple everyday exercises

While scientists have always recommended physical activity to keep the brain healthy, research now shows regular stretching and motion exercises can help older people with mild memory troubles. 

Researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine recruited 300 adults with mild cognitive decline to do aerobic and stretching-and-balance exercises. The groups were split up based on those two exercises, twice a week with a personal trainer, and trained two additional times a week on their own over a 12-month period. 

The study was presented on Tuesday at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego, California. All the participants had some form of mild cognitive impairment, one of the first stages of dementia, and lived sedentary lifestyles. 

Overall, both groups completed 31,000 exercise sessions, claimed the study’s author, Laura Baker. At the end of the experiment, none of the group members had experienced cognitive decline, while a control group with similar participants with mild cognitive impairment who did not work out did decline.

Baker told the Associated Press the results from the stud indicate “this is doable for everybody,” especially for seniors who have a limited physical exercise routine. Moreover, she recommends that exercise “needs to be part of the prevention strategies” for elderly citizens already at risk. 

Maria Carrillo, the chief scientist at the Alzheimer’s Association, told the AP that research in the past has indicated daily physical activity has helped reduce inflammation in the brain and increase the amount of blood flowing to it. 

Baker also noted that having a social group or a network of support was crucial for the elder participants. 

Participants were routinely given support while being active at their YMCA facilities, and regular video call sessions were set up after Covid-19 shut down the gyms, according to the Associated Press. 

Australia’s health care system strained by record number of COVID patients as Omicron surges

The number of Australians admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 hit a record of about 5,450 on Monday, official data showed, as the spread of highly contagious new Omicron subvariants strains the healthcare system nationwide.

The figure has grown since late June, as the BA.4 and BA.5 strains became dominant since they can evade immune protection, whether from vaccination or prior infection, while some experts say the latter can be as infectious as measles.

The number of those in hospitals is the highest since the emergence of the coronavirus, exceeding January’s high of 5,390 during the first wave of Omicron infections. Daily death tolls have also risen, topping 100 on Saturday for the first time.

More than 1,000 retirement homes have suffered outbreaks, the government said, as the elderly are largely affected.

With several aged care centers battling a shortage of staff, the support of defense personnel in such facilities is to be extended until the end of September, Defense Minister Richard Marles said.

“It is an extreme measure and it’s right to describe it as that,” he told ABC television. “Given the number of outbreaks that we’ve got right now, this is the right thing to do.”

Many frontline workers in hospitals are also sick or in isolation, worsening the healthcare crisis.

During a harsh winter with both COVID-19 and the flu virus circulating, authorities have recommended the use of masks indoors and urgent booster doses of vaccine, while telling businesses to allow work from home.

Australia, one of the countries most heavily vaccinated against COVID-19, has given two doses to about 95% of those older than 16, although just about 71% have had booster shots.

Still, its tally of about 9.13 million infections and 11,181 deaths was lower than many developed economies.

White House COVID Adviser addresses current Monkeypox threat level

White House COVID-19 Adviser Dr. Ashish Jha has assured Americans that monkeypox poses a “pretty small” threat to the general population even as the World Health Organization (WHO) declares an emergency. 

“No Americans have died of monkeypox in this outbreak,” Jha said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t know globally – I think it’s a very small number –  but zero Americans have died of monkeypox, so the risk to the broader population is pretty small.”

WHO declared that the monkeypox virus is now a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged on Saturday that the level of transmission previously did not meet the criteria, but it has since continued to grow. More than 75 countries and territories have now reported over 16,000 cases, with five confirmed deaths. 

Jha said he agreed with the call since many countries do not have the necessary resources to handle an outbreak while still grappling with issues related to COVID-19, but stressed that the United States is prepared for the virus and could handle it, keeping the risk for Americans low. 

“I’m supportive of it,” he said. “I think Dr. Tedros made the right call. We are seeing monkeypox in lots of countries around the world, many of them not doing – not really being able to manage it.”

“Here in the United States, we have a little over 2,000 cases,” he continued. “We have substantially ramped up testing, we have substantially ramped up vaccinations.”

Jha also has focused over the past few days on President Biden’s COVID-19 infection, assuring the public that White House medical personnel and advisers have been transparent throughout the process – including the revelation that officials have identified and tracked 17 individuals who made contact with the president and may be infected. 

“None of them have tested positive,” Jha said. “Obviously ,all of them continue to follow CDC protocols on masking and testing but as of today, no one that I know of has tested positive.” 

Jha highlighted the fact that Biden has had two vaccine shots and two booster shots, which he said has led to him dealing with a “relatively mild” infection. 

Polio live oral vaccine: Here’s why the US stopped using it years ago

An unvaccinated Rockland County, N.Y., resident exposed to an individual who received an oral poliovirus vaccine contracted the neurological disease and is now paralyzed, according to Rockland County and New York State Health Officials on Thursday, as Fox News Digital reported earlier.

The case raises the issue of polio vaccinations — and what Americans should know to protect their health.

“Based on what we know about this case and polio in general, the Department of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated or boosted with the FDA-approved IPV [inactivated] polio vaccine as soon as possible,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a release from the N.Y. State Department of Health that was provided to Fox News Digital.

Health officials said on Thursday that the oral vaccine — which contains live strands of the poliovirus — is no longer used in the U.S.

However, it is still used in many countries, including those in Eastern Europe. The patient began experiencing symptoms about a month ago; state and county health officials began investigating and contact tracing. 

They could not confirm where the individual who received the oral polio vaccine was from or where the person who is ill encountered this person. (The patient’s identity has not been released.)

The N.Y. State Department of Health’s public health laboratory showed “revertant polio Sabin type 2 virus, according to a news release. 

“This is indicative of a transmission chain from an individual who received the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which is no longer authorized or administered in the U.S.” 

The release also said, “This suggests that the virus may have originated in a location outside the U.S. where OPV is administered, since revertant strains cannot emerge from inactivated vaccines.”  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed these findings as well, the release noted.

Officials said during the conference that the U.S. stopped using the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in 2000 — and instead uses the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), which does not contain the live virus. 

Rockland County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said during the press conference this week that the IPV “does not cause polio.” 

She said the IPV used in the U.S. is inactivated and therefore it will not change or mutate.

“So there is no risk of transmission to others,” she said.

What is polio?

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a viral disease that affects the nervous system. It can cause muscle weakness and in some cases paralysis and death, according to health experts. 

Physicians explained to Fox Digital News that the poliovirus typically is transmitted when the contaminated fecal matter of an infected person enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands containing the fecal matter. 

It can also occur through respiratory and oral-to-oral transmission through saliva. 

Rockland County experts explained during the press conference that polio is very contagious. 

A person can shed the virus — therefore infecting others — even when that person does not appear sick. 

An individual can start to show symptoms up to 30 days afterward. Those symptoms can range from mild flu-like symptoms — including vomiting, fever, headache and muscle stiffness — to more severe symptoms such as muscle weakness and even paralysis, according to health experts.

Rupert explained during the conference that children in the U.S. usually receive the inactivated polio vaccine at 2 months of age — then a second dose at 4 months and a third dose between 6 months up to 18 months of age. 

They then receive a booster between 4 and 6 years of age. It is a required vaccination prior to attending school.

Dr. Aaron Glatt, M.D., MACP, is chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau on Long Island, N.Y. 

Glatt — also the chair of the Dept. of Medicine at Mount Sinai — is not affiliated with the case in Rockland County, but spoke with Fox Digital News about live vaccines such as the OPV and the possibility of contracting polio from a person who had been given the live vaccine. 

“An unvaccinated or immunocompromised person is potentially capable of getting polio in this situation and should avoid being around a person who recently had OPV,” he said.

“Theoretically, polio virus can be shed for up to two months after receiving OPV.”

Glatt explained that in the U.S., health care professionals prefer the IPV so that children will have immunity if exposed to polio without the potential of shedding the virus to others. 

Dr. Jennifer L. Lighter, M.D., an infectious diseases specialist at NYU Langone in New York City, told Fox Digital News that the OPV is still used, since it is seen as an important tool for controlling polio around the world as it is easy to administer, is of low cost and induces mucosal immunity. 

The hospital epidemiologist was not privy to details of the Rockland County case but said that OPV can transmit to others. 

Lighter said in an email to Fox Digital News, “Rarely (about 1 case in a million), OPV can cause paralysis in children who are immune-compromised. For extremely rare effect in immune compromised children, the U.S. stopped using OPV.”

Lighter cautioned that those who are immune-compromised should speak to their doctor about the vaccinations. The infectious disease expert said that although OPV is not offered in the U.S., some other vaccines such as the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine are live attenuated immunizations. 

Lighter said that immune-compromised individuals should discuss what measures they should take in the event they need to encounter a child or individual who had any type of live vaccine. 

Vaccination against polio is important, Lighter emphasized.

“Immunization against polio represents one of humankind’s greatest achievements,” she said. “In the U.S. before the vaccine, there were about 50,000 cases of paralytic polio cases and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year from polio.”  

Health experts with whom Fox Digital News spoke said polio was almost eradicated thanks to the vaccination developed in the 1955. 

Almost all children — 99 out of 100 — who get all the recommended doses of polio vaccine will be protected from the disease, according to the CDC.

On its website, the CDC said that the U.S. has been polio-free since 1979, thanks to the widespread use of polio vaccine. The CDC also said the best way to keep the disease at bay is to maintain the population’s high immunity against polio through vaccination. 

The unvaccinated should talk to their doctors

The N.Y. State Department of Health and the Rockland County Department of Health advised medical practitioners and health care providers to monitor for additional cases.

Those who are already vaccinated are considered to be at lower risk, the officials said.

However, people who are unvaccinated — including those who are pregnant, those who have not completed their polio vaccine series previously or community members who are concerned they have might have been exposed — should consult with their physician about receiving the vaccination. 

Health officials said this week they are concerned there may be vaccine hesitancy due to the COVID pandemic. 

State and county officials are urging residents to get their polio vaccine. 

“Vaccines have protected our health against old and new viruses for decades,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said in a news release.  

“The fact is, the urgency of safe and effective vaccines has always been here, and we need New Yorkers to protect themselves against completely preventable viruses like polio.”  

Pop-up polio vaccination clinics have been established this past week and for next week as well. 

Beijing residents asked to wear monitoring bracelets to enforce COVID quarantine, prompting outcry

Some Beijing residents returning from domestic travel were asked by local authorities to wear COVID-19 monitoring bracelets, prompting widespread criticism on Chinese social media by users concerned about excessive government surveillance.

According to posts published on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning on microblogging platform Weibo, some Beijing residents returning to the capital were asked by their neighborhood committees to wear an electronic bracelet throughout the mandatory home quarantine period.

Chinese cities require those arriving from parts of China where COVID cases were found to quarantine. Authorities fit doors with movement sensors to monitor their movements but until now have not widely discussed the use of electronic bracelets.

The bracelets monitor users’ temperature and upload the data onto a phone app they had to download, the posts said.

Beijing residents who returned to the city after outside travel were required to wear electronic bracelets to ensure that they complied with mandatory home quarantines. This sparked outcry on Chinese social media platform Weibo. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

This post and others that shared pictures of the bracelets were removed by Thursday afternoon, as well as a related hashtag that had garnered over 30 million views, generating an animated discussion on the platform.

A community worker at Tiantongyuan, Beijing’s northern suburb, confirmed to state-backed news outlet Eastday that the measure was in effect in the neighborhood, though she called the practice “excessive”.

A Weibo post and a video published on the official account of was removed by Thursday afternoon.

Weibo user Dahongmao wrote on Thursday afternoon his neighborhood committee had already collected the bracelets, telling him that “there were too many complaints.”

The outcry against electronic bracelets comes at a time of growing COVID fatigue around China, with disobedience and infractions on the rise since a nationwide outbreak in March.

The Beijing government could not be immediately reached for comment after regular office hours.

Besides Beijing, several other regions and jurisdictions have introduced bracelets as a COVID control measure, or plan to do so, including Hong Kong, Henan, Inner Mongolia, and Zhejiang, according to Chinese news site Jiemian.

But data privacy concerns and the usage of COVID monitoring technology for other purposes, such setting health codes on alert to stop protesters from congregating, has left many Chinese wary of such gadgets and apps.

Here are the health risks of extreme heat

Heat affects health in a number of ways.

Heat exhaustion, which can include dizziness, headaches, shaking and thirst, can affect anyone, and is not usually serious, providing the person cools down within 30 minutes.

The more serious version is heatstroke, when the body’s core temperature goes above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a medical emergency and can lead to long-term organ damage and death. Symptoms include rapid breathing, confusion or seizures, and nausea.

Who is at Risk

Some people are more vulnerable, including young babies and older people, as well as people who have to stay active or are more exposed, such as homeless people.

Existing conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as diabetes, can also heighten risk – and be exacerbated by heat.

“When you see a hot day such as today, there is likely to be a spike in mortality in all of these disease groups,” said Shakoor Hajat, an environmental epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Globally, just under half a million deaths a year are estimated to be due to excess heat, according to a study last year in The Lancet, although data is lacking from many low-income countries. Far more die of cold, but that is forecast to change, the researchers said.

Less Obvious Risks

Air pollution also increases during heatwaves, the World Meteorological Association warned last week, with adverse health affects.

Heat also can lead to low birth weight and premature birth for pregnant women and babies, a number of studies have shown.

There are less obvious risks, too. Lawrence Wainwright, an environment lecturer at the University of Oxford, said suicide rates and mental health problems often rise during heatwaves.

Scientists said that there was no evidence yet of any impact on COVID-19 or long COVID patients.

Timing Matters

Experts say more deaths occur earlier in the summer, when people’s bodies have not had chance to acclimatize.

Location matters, too; people are at higher risk in places where they are not used to such heat, including in parts of Europe.

However, there are limits, and people all around the world are at risk in extremely hot weather caused by climate change, particularly people who have to continue to work in physical jobs, for example.

“In all of the places I’ve seen in the world that we have data, there’s an increase in mortality risk when people are exposed to high temperatures,” said Eunice Lo, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol, in western England.

What You Can Do

A number of European public health agencies have issued advice on keeping cool, including avoiding exertion where possible and staying hydrated.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

They also advise checking in on the vulnerable. In the European heatwave in 2003, when more than 20,000 people are thought to have died, many of them were older and isolated.

World Health Organization: COVID still a global health emergency

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that COVID-19 remains a global emergency, nearly 2-1/2 years after it was first declared.

The Emergency Committee, made up of independent experts, said in a statement that rising cases, ongoing viral evolution and pressure on health services in a number of countries meant that the situation was still an emergency.

Cases reported to WHO had risen by 30% in the last fortnight, although increased population immunity, largely from vaccines, had seen a “decoupling” of cases from hospitalizations and deaths, the committee’s statement said.

“COVID-19 is nowhere near over,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference from Geneva after the announcement. “As the virus pushes at us, we must push back.”

The U.N. health agency first declared the highest level of alert, known as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, for COVID-19 on Jan. 30, 2020. Such a determination can help accelerate research, funding and international public health measures to contain a disease.