Supreme Court blocks nationwide vaccine and testing mandate for large businesses, allows health care worker vaccine mandate to take effect

(CNN)The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirement aimed at large businesses, but it allowed a vaccine mandate for certain health care workers to go into effect nationwide.The decision is a huge hit to Biden’s attempts to use the power of the federal government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The President has emphasized the necessity of getting vaccinated against the virus for months and eventually decided to use the mandate on large employers as his main vehicle for convincing hesitant Americans to get their shots.

In freezing a lower court opinion that allowed the regulation to go into effect nationwide, the majority sent a clear message the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with protecting workplace safety, overstepped its authority. In contrast, the justices said that a separate agency could issue a rule to protect the health and safety of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category,” the unsigned opinion in the businesses case says.Biden issued a statement praising the ruling on health care workers but criticized the ruling on businesses that will have the much wider effect.

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” Biden said.Moving forward, Biden said “it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated.”

“When we are wise, we know not to displace the judgments of experts, acting within the sphere Congress marked out and under Presidential control, to deal with emergency conditions,” they wrote. “Today, we are not wise. In the face of a still-raging pandemic, this Court tells the agency charged with protecting worker safety that it may not do so in all the workplaces needed. As disease and death continue to mount, this Court tells the agency that it cannot respond in the most effective way possible.”The rule would impact some 80 million individuals and requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing and wear a face covering at work. There are exceptions for those with religious objections.The agency said that it had the authority to act under an emergency temporary standard meant to protect employees if they are exposed to a “grave danger.”

Travel stocks fall as Omicron spurs mass flight cancellations for fourth day

Dec 27 (Reuters) – Shares of U.S. airlines and other travel-related companies fell on Monday as rising Omicron cases and weather-related problems forced the cancellation of hundreds more flights, leaving travelers stranded across the country during the holidays.

Over 1,000 flights were canceled within, into, or out of the United States on Monday, data from flight-tracking website FlightAware.com showed. Globally, more than 2,600 flights were scrapped.

That was on top of over 3,000 U.S. flight cancellations during the Christmas holiday weekend, typically a peak time for travel for Americans.

Shares of American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O), United Airlines Holdings Inc and Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N)were down about 1% in afternoon trade. Southwest Airlines Co’s(LUV.N) shares recovered losses to trade about flat.

Most airline stocks have rallied this year on hopes of a travel boom as travelers start visiting friends and family after dealing with pandemic-related restrictions last year.

8However, staff shortages at airlines, weather-related disruptions and now the fast-spreading Omicron variant have disrupted flights frequently this year. 

As long as the Omicron variant continues to infect people who are vaccinated and quarantine restrictions remain in place, air travel is expected to be hit by staffing shortages, research firm Third Bridge Group’s Peter McNally said.

Southwest Airlines said it had canceled about 50 of the 3,600 flights scheduled Monday due to weather-related problems. United Airlines said it had called off 115 of the 4,000 flights that were scheduled, while Deltaexpects to cancel over 200 of 4,166 its scheduled flights

Some Home Remedies for Toothache.

Toothache can be painful and really disturbing especially in the night.If it happens and you cannot go to a dentist immediately, you can do this to relieve pain at home. Pregnant women and nursing mothers must call their dentist first.

1.

Salt water rinse

Rinsing the mouth with salt water is an effective first-line treatment. Salt water is a natural disinfectant, and it can help loosen food particles and debris that may be stuck in between your tmouths is

Treating a toothache with salt water can also help reduce inflammation and heal oral wounds.

To use this approach, mix 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) of salt into a glass of warm water and use it to gargle and rinse the mouth.

2.

Cold compress

You can use a cold compress to relieve any pain you’re experiencing, especially if any type of trauma has caused your toothache.

When you apply a cold compress, it causes constrictionof blood vessels and this makes pain less severe. The cold can also reduce any swelling and inflammation.

To use this approach, hold a towel-wrapped bag of ice to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time. You can repeat this every few hours.

3.

Hydrogen peroxide

A hydrogen peroxide  rinse may also help to relieve pain and inflammation. In addition to killing bacteria, hydrogen peroxide can help with gum healing and plaque reduction

Make sure you properly dilute the hydrogen peroxide. To do this, mix 3-percent hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water, and use it as a mouthwash. Don’t swallow it.

4.

Garlic

For thousands of years, garlic has been recognized and used for its medicinal properties. It also has antibacterial  properties. Not only can it kill bacteria  that cause dental plaque, but it can also act as a pain reliever.

To use garlic on a toothache, crush a garlic clove to create a paste and apply it to the affected area. You may wish to add a tiny bit of salt. Alternatively, you can slowly chew a clove of fresh garlic.

5.

Guava leaves

These leaves have antibacterial properties  that can help heal wounds.It also contains antimicrobial  activity that can aid in oral care.

To use this remedy, chew on fresh guava leaves or add crushed guava leaves to boiling water to make a mouthwash

6.

Anti- inflammatory

You can also reduce swelling and blunt pain signals by taking an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. If you do take ibuprofen, try to continue taking the medication every few hours, according to the product label. Avoid taking the medication once and then stopping when you feel relief, or the pain and inflammation is likely to return. If you don’t have ibuprofen, you can take acetaminophen instead; however, while this will help with the pain, it isn’t an anti-inflammatory medication.

AstraZeneca to take profits from Covid vaccine

The drugs giant has signed a series of for-profit agreements for next year, and expects to make a modest income from the vaccine, it said.

The company had previously said it would only start to make money from the vaccine when Covid-19 was no longer a pandemic.

Its chief executive Pascal Soriot said the disease was becoming endemic.

The jab will continue to be supplied on a not-for-profit basis to poorer countries.

Mr Soriot had said previously: “We decided to provide it at no profit, because our top priority was to protect global health.”

He told the BBC he had “absolutely no regrets” about not making a profit when competitors had been, despite having to deal with political criticism in various countries.

He said the vaccine, which was developed with the University of Oxford, had saved a million lives around the world.

“I absolutely don’t regret it,” Mr Soriot said. “We are proud as a company of the impact we have had – we’ve saved millions of hospitalisations. The [AstraZeneca] team continues to do a stellar job.”

He said that the contracts that had been signed are for next year, adding: “The virus is becoming endemic which means we have to learn to live with it.

“We started this to help, but we said we would transition [to making a profit on the vaccine],” he said. “It’s not something we see as a huge profit-earner.”

There will be tiered pricing for countries to make sure the vaccine is affordable, Mr Soriot said.

By the end of the year AstraZeneca expects to have supplied 250 million doses of its vaccine to the Covax programme for developing countries.

Other vaccine manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna have been making profits from their vaccines.

A normal profit margin in the drugs industry is about 20%, but Mr Soriot said AstraZeneca, which charges about $5 per shot for the Covid vaccine at cost price, would not be making as much profit as that.

However, Nick Dearden, director of campaign group Global Justice Now, said AstraZeneca’s decision to start profiting from the vaccine while the coronavirus pandemic was continuing “shows the utter folly of giving away publicly-funded science to big pharma”.

“This moment was always going to come – and it’s exactly why public health experts have demanded a waiver of intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines,” he said.

Covid: Virus may have killed 80k-180k health workers, WHO says

Healthcare workers must be prioritised for vaccines, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, and he criticised unfairness in the distribution of jabs.

The deaths occurred between January 2020 and May of this year.

Earlier, another senior WHO official warned a lack of jabs could see the pandemic continue well into next year.

There are an estimated 135 million healthcare workers globally.

“Data from 119 countries suggest that on average, two in five healthcare workers globally are fully vaccinated,” Dr Tedros said.

“But of course, that average masks huge differences across regions and economic groupings.”

Fewer than one in 10 healthcare workers were fully vaccinated in Africa, he said, compared with eight in 10 in high-income countries.

A failure to provide poorer countries with enough vaccines was highlighted earlier by Dr Bruce Aylward, a senior leader at the WHO, who said it meant the Covid crisis could “easily drag on deep into 2022”.

Less than 5% of Africa’s population have been vaccinated, compared with 40% on most other continents.

The vast majority of Covid vaccines overall have been used in high-income or upper middle-income countries. Africa accounts for just 2.6% of doses administered globally.

More than 50 countries missing Covid vaccine target
Covax: How many Covid vaccines have the US and the other G7 countries pledged?
Covid vaccines: How fast is progress around the world?
The original idea behind Covax, the UN-backed global programme to distribute vaccines fairly, was that all countries would be able to acquire vaccines from its pool, including wealthy ones, writes BBC Global Affairs correspondent Naomi Grimley.

But most G7 countries decided to hold back once they started making their own one-to-one deals with pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Aylward appealed to wealthy countries to give up their places in the queue for vaccines so that pharmaceutical companies can prioritise the lowest-income countries instead.

He said wealthy countries needed to “stocktake” where they were with their donation commitments made at summits such as the G7 meeting in St Ives this summer.

“I can tell you we’re not on track,” he said. “We really need to speed it up or you know what? This pandemic is going to go on for a year longer than it needs to.”

The People’s Vaccine – an alliance of charities – has released new figures suggesting just one in seven of the doses promised by pharmaceutical companies and wealthy countries are actually reaching their destinations in poorer countries.

The alliance, which includes Oxfam and UNAids, also criticised Canada and the UK for procuring vaccines for their own populations via Covax.


IMAGE SOURCE,BBC NEWS

Official figures show that earlier this year the UK received 539,370 Pfizer doses from Covax while Canada took just under a million AstraZeneca doses.

Oxfam’s Global Health Adviser, Rohit Malpani, acknowledged that Canada and the UK were technically entitled to get vaccines via this route having paid into the Covax mechanism, but he said it was still “morally indefensible” given that they had both obtained millions of doses through their own bilateral agreements. BBC

Galleri cancer test: What is it and who can get it?

It’s hoped the Galleri test can detect more than 50 types of the disease before symptoms appear.

What is the Galleri cancer test?

It’s a simple blood test that looks for the earliest signs of cancer, particularly those that are typically difficult to identify early or for which there are no NHS screening programmes – such as lung, pancreas or stomach cancers.

Developed by Californian firm Grail – and already used in the US – the test can detect subtle changes caused by cancers, when patients may have no other obvious symptoms.

It works by finding chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumours into the bloodstream.

The signal does not mean that a person definitely has cancer. It just means that they might have cancer, and that they will need to have some follow-up tests to check.

“This quick and simple blood test could mark the beginning of a revolution in cancer detection and treatment here and around the world,” says NHS England’s Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard.

Who can volunteer for the NHS-Galleri trial?

The trial aims to recruit 140,000 volunteers across England.

But only people living in these areas can take part and they must be invited:

  • Cheshire and Merseyside
  • Cumbria
  • Greater Manchester
  • the North East
  • West Midlands
  • East Midlands
  • East of England
  • Kent and Medway
  • South East London

Letters have already been sent to tens of thousands of people asking them to take part.

Those being asked are aged between 50 and 77, from a range of backgrounds and ethnicities, and must not have had a cancer diagnosis in the past three years.

How will the trial work?

Participants will be asked to give a blood sample at a locally based mobile clinic.

They will then be invited back twice – after 12 months and two years – to give further samples.

Half those taking part will have their blood screened with the Galleri test immediately.

However, others will simply have their samples stored away to be tested in the future – should they go on to be diagnosed with cancer.

This is because the trial is what’s known as a Randomised Control Trial (RCT).

It will allow scientists to see whether cancer is detected significantly earlier among people who have their blood tested straight away.

Will participants know if their blood has been tested?

People will only know they’re in the first test group if they are among the small minority whose blood test detects potential signs of cancer.

Those people will be contacted by the trial nurses by phone and referred to an NHS hospital for further tests.

Everyone taking part will be advised to continue with their standard NHS screening appointments and to still contact their GP if they notice any new or unusual symptoms.

What is the aim of the trial?

The NHS hopes the blood tests will help increase five-year survival rates for cancer, which are below the levels seen in many other high-income countries.

Developing a blood test for cancer has been keeping scientists busy for many years without much success.

Making one that’s accurate and reliable has proved incredibly complex. The danger is that a test doesn’t detect a person’s cancer when they do have it, or it indicates someone has cancer when they don’t.

“The test could be a game-changer for early cancer detection,” says Prof Peter Sasieni, one of the trial’s lead investigators. But he adds a note of caution:

“Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are more likely to be treated successfully, but not all types of screening work.”

What difference could it make to cancer patients?

Patients whose cancers are found early – known as stage one or two – typically have a broader range of treatment options available to them, which can often be less aggressive.

NHS England says a patient diagnosed at the earliest stage typically has between five and 10 times the chance of surviving compared with those found at the more advanced stage four.

Initial results from the Galleri study are expected by 2023. If successful, the NHS in England plans to extend the rollout to a further one million people in 2024 and 2025. BBC

Sydney COVID-19 cases may hit peak next week as Australia steps up vaccine rollout

SYDNEY, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Authorities in Australia’s New South Wales, the epicentre of the country’s biggest coronavirus outbreak, said on Monday daily infections were expected to peak next week, as they look to speed up immunisations ahead of easing restrictions.

Australia is trying to contain a third wave of infections that has locked down its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and its capital Canberra, putting more than half its 25 million population under strict stay-at-home restrictions.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government’s modelling revealed the state would require its highest number of intensive care beds in early October, with “additional pressure on the system” in the next few weeks.

Daily cases in Sydney’s worst-affected suburbs are expected to rise to as high as 2,000 until the middle of this month, the modelling showed.

“I do want to qualify that to say that modelling depends on a number of things, a number of variables … if too many of us do the wrong thing, there are too many super-spreading events, we could see those numbers higher,” Berejiklian said during a media briefing in Sydney, the state capital.

A total of 1,071 COVID-19 cases are currently in hospitals, with 177 people in intensive care (ICU), 67 of whom require ventilation. Officials have said they had quadrupled ICU beds to about 2,000 in the state early last year to handle the pandemic.

The state detected 1,281 new cases on Monday, most of them in Sydney, down from 1,485 a day earlier. Five new deaths were recorded.

Victoria state, which includes Melbourne, reported 246 new cases on Monday, its biggest daily rise of the year.

Despite the recent outbreaks, Australia’s coronavirus numbers have remained relatively low at around 63,000 cases and 1,044 deaths.

VACCINE RUSH

Officials are trying to accelerate the vaccine rollout to help minimise deaths and hospitalisations with the government pledging more freedom of movement once 70-80% of the population aged over 16 is vaccinated.

Just over 38% of Australia’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, with the country expected to reach 70% by early November based on current rates.

Last week, Australia entered into vaccine swap deals with Britain and Singapore for a total of around 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, double this month’s supply. read more

Nearly half a million doses, the first batch of shipments, arrived overnight.

“There will be another set of flights in a couple of days, but we’ll pretty much be getting a million of the four million every week over the next four weeks,” Lieutenant General John Frewen, head of the vaccination taskforce, told broadcaster ABC.

Under the vaccine swap deals, Australia will return equivalent numbers of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Britain and Singapore later this year. Reuters

Pandemic surge causes major shortage of a drug that treats rheumatoid arthritis and severe Covid-19

(CNN)Renée Melendez is frustrated with the unvaccinated for more reasons than just the renewed spread of Covid-19, she said.The Virginia woman says she and her whole family got the vaccine as soon as it was available. She’s immunocompromised and susceptible to getting really sick if she caught Covid-19. She has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and it is these diseases that add an extra layer to her frustration and anger.

To keep her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms under control, to be able to function every day, once a month she gets an infusion of a biologic called Actemra, also known as tocilizumab. But now, because of the pandemic and the recent surge in cases, there is no Actemra available

Pandemic surge causes major shortage of a drug that treats rheumatoid arthritis and severe Covid-19

Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT) August 27, 2021

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‘Stop it’: FDA urges people to stop taking livestock drug to treat Covid-19 02:03

(CNN)Renée Melendez is frustrated with the unvaccinated for more reasons than just the renewed spread of Covid-19, she said.The Virginia woman says she and her whole family got the vaccine as soon as it was available. She’s immunocompromised and susceptible to getting really sick if she caught Covid-19. She has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and it is these diseases that add an extra layer to her frustration and anger.

Make the unvaccinated pay out for their deadly decisions

Make the unvaccinated pay out for their deadly decisionsTo keep her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms under control, to be able to function every day, once a month she gets an infusion of a biologic called Actemra, also known as tocilizumab. But now, because of the pandemic and the recent surge in cases, there is no Actemra availablenull”We did our part to preserve ourselves, our community, in trying to help battle this by getting vaccinated,” Melendez said. “It’s just unfortunate that the ignorance and laziness, for lack of better words, of other people who avoided taking the vaccine and ended up in the hospital with Covid, now has to impact me.”

Repurposing drugs to treat Covid-19

In June, the US Food and Drug Administration gave Actemra an emergency use authorization to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients. This monoclonal antibody can reduce inflammation that can make patients sicker.The antibody treatment blocks an inflammatory protein called IL-6 that causes damage in rheumatoid arthritis. That same protein plays a role in some of the serious symptoms in people with severe Covid-19 infections.

The latest surge in cases caused a global shortage. Genentech, the company that makes Actemra, doesn’t have enough for everyone who needs it. Last week, the companysaid demand for the drug went up more than 400% beyond pre-Covid levels in just two weeks.In the United States, supplies of several dose levels of this medicine have been out of stock since last Monday.

A life saver and life changer

For patients with Covid-19, the drug can be lifesaving. For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, like Melendez, it can be life-altering.

Trial suggests malaria sickness could be cut by 70%

new approach to protecting young African children from malaria could reduce deaths and illness from the disease by 70%, a study suggests.

Giving them vaccines before the worst season in addition to preventative drugs produced “very striking” results, London researchers say.

The trial followed 6,000 children aged under 17 months in Burkina Faso and Mali.

Most of the 400,000 deaths from malaria each year are in the under-fives.

And the mosquito-borne disease is still a major health issue in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Booster dose

This trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, focused on giving very young children a vaccine already in use and anti-malarial drugs at the time of year they are most vulnerable – often the rainy season (from June in Burkina Faso), when mosquitoes multiply.

“It worked better than we thought would be the case,” said Prof Brian Greenwood, a member of the research team, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which led the trial.

“Hospital admissions were less, deaths were less in both countries – and we really didn’t expect to see that.”

Over three years, the trial found three doses of the vaccine and drugs before the worst malaria season, followed by a booster dose before subsequent rainy seasons, controlled infections much better than vaccines or drugs alone – and, the researchers said, could save millions of young lives in the African Sahel.

Among the children who received vaccine doses and drugs, there were:

  • 624 cases of malaria
  • 11 children treated in hospital with severe malaria
  • three deaths from malaria

Among the same number of children who received preventative drugs alone, there were:

  • 1,661 malaria cases
  • 37 admissions to hospital
  • 11 deaths from malaria

Scientists say the combined effects of the vaccine and drugs in the trial appear to be surprisingly powerful.

The vaccine – called RTS,S and created by GlaxoSmithKline more than 20 years ago – kills parasites that multiply very quickly in the liver, while anti-malarial drugs target parasites in the body’s red blood cells.

Flu vaccines have been used seasonally, to protect people ahead of winter, for many years – but it has rarely been tried for malaria.

The World Health Organization’s global malaria programme director, Dr Pedro Alonso, said: “We welcome this innovative use of a malaria vaccine to prevent disease and death in highly seasonal areas in Africa.”

The vaccine has already reached more than 740,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, as part of routine childhood-vaccine programme.

And researchers in Mali say they look forward to “a quick policy decision” by the WHO for this new approach. BBC

U.S. FDA authorizes COVID-19 vaccine boosters for the immunocompromised

Aug 13 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N)-BioNTech and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) for people with compromised immune systems.

The amended emergency use authorization on Thursday paves the way for people who have had an organ transplant, or those with a similar level of weakened immune system, to get an extra dose. The patients may consult with their doctor to see if they are eligible, FDA spokesperson Abby Capobianco said.

“After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines,” Janet Woodcock, U.S. FDA’s acting commissioner, said in a tweet on Thursday.

“Others who are fully vaccinated are adequately protected & do not need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine at this time.”

The vulnerable group makes up less than 3% of U.S. adults, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had said before the authorization.

Supporting the move to approve an additional shot, Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said it would be important for the CDC to provide clear recommendations about who should receive it.

“Most clinicians are not going to know what an equivalent level of compromise is for solid organ transplant patients… hopefully the CDC will be more specific about that… (and) whether or not therapies can be manipulated so you can give your patient an optimal chance of having an immune response.”

A panel of advisers to the CDC will meet on Friday to discuss booster doses, and a vote later by the committee will help decide on the rollout of the extra shots.

BOOSTERS FOR YOUNG, HEALTHY

Scientists are still divided over the broad use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters among those without underlying problems as benefits of the boosters remain undetermined.

Pfizer has said the efficacy of the vaccine it developed with partner BioNTech drops over time, citing a study that showed 84% effectiveness from a peak of 96% four months after a second dose. read more

Moderna has also said it sees the eventual need for booster doses, especially since the Delta variant has caused “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people.

Reports of infections among vaccinated people and concerns about diminishing protection have galvanized wealthy nations to distribute booster shots, even as many countries struggle to access first vaccine doses.

The World Health Organization last week called for a moratorium on COVID-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September. read more

“We think other countries might also follow suite, despite WHO’s concerns for vaccine equity, due to the rising health risks posed by the Delta variant and diminishing protection of the vaccine over time,” CFRA Research analyst Sel Hardy said.

Wall Street analysts expect the authorization of a booster dose for a broad population to bolster profits of COVID-19 vaccine makers. BBC