Health Highlights: July 22, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Company That Received Federal Funding to Develop Coronavirus Vaccine Plans to Profit From It

A company that’s received $483 million from the U.S. government to help it develop a coronavirus vaccine says it plans to sell the vaccine at a profit.

At a Congressional hearing Tuesday, Dr. Stephen Hoge, the president of ModernaTherapeutics, said the company will not sell its vaccine at cost, The New York Times reported.

Two other companies — AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson — that have received U.S. government funding to help develop their coronavirus vaccines said they’d produce hundreds of millions of doses of their vaccines at no profit to themselves.

Federal funding for vaccine development should include guarantees of affordability and prevent profiteering, many Democratic lawmakers say.

At the hearing, executives from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer — which did not accept federal funds — said they’re are optimistic they could have their coronavirus vaccines ready by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, the Times reported.

All four companies are testing vaccines in human clinical trials.


No Spike in Cases of Polio-Like Condition in Children: CDC

It’s not clear if a rare polio-like illness called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) will follow its usual pattern that should see a spike of cases in 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The disease affects the spinal cord and nerves, mostly in children, and has been linked to a common cold virus called an enterovirus, CNN reported.

In an update Tuesday, the CDC said there hasn’t been a spike of AFM in the U.S. so far this year, and also said that the coronavirus pandemic could affect the chances of a spike.

That’s because social distancing and improved hand hygiene encouraged due to the pandemic may reduce the number of AFC cases, according to Dr. Janell Routh, medical officer and lead for the CDC’s AFM and Domestic Poliovirus Team, CNN reported.

The pandemic may also affect tracking of how many AFM cases there are.

In past years when there have been outbreaks of AFM, cases have typically peaked in September, CNN reported.

As of the end of June, there had been 13 confirmed AFM cases and 33 cases were under investigation, according to the CDC.


Salmonella Outbreak in 15 States Being Investigated by CDC

A salmonella outbreak that’s sickened 125 people in 15 states is being investigated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, 24 people have been hospitalized in the outbreak first identified on July 10. No deaths have been reported.

Officials are interviewing patients about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick and other possible exposures, but no specific source of the outbreak has been identified, the CDC said.

Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps 6 hours to 6 days after exposure to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment, according to the CDC.

Children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.


German Researchers Plan Concert Study to Track Spread of Viruses

Volunteers are being sought to attend a concert for 4,000 people that’s being held to learn more about how respiratory viruses spread at large events, German scientists say.

The Aug. 22 concert will take place in Leipzig and feature singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko, the Washington Post reported. Each attendee will wear a contact-tracing device to determine how many people they come into close contact with, and for how long.

They’ll also be asked to use fluorescent hand sanitizer that’s visible under ultraviolet light, which will enable the researchers to identify the surfaces the concert goers touch most often, the Post reported.

Along with learning more about how respiratory viruses spread at large gatherings, the scientists hope to identify ways to safely resume such events, the newspaper said.

Everyone who attends the concert will have to get tested for COVID-19 in the 48 hours before the event, and they’ll have to wear masks at all times. Even so, there’s a “very low” risk that the participants could become infected, the researchers told the Post.

As of July 21, nearly 900 people had signed up for the concert.


Planned Parenthood Co-Founder’s Name Removed From NYC Clinic

The name of one of Planned Parenthood’s founders will be removed from the group’s Manhattan clinic due to her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement.”

Margaret Sanger was a public health nurse who opened the first U.S. birth control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916, and has long been hailed as a reproductive-rights pioneer, The New York Times reported.

But Sanger supported eugenics, a false theory that the human race can be improved through selective breeding that excludes poor people, those with disabilities, immigrants and people of color.

“The removal of Margaret Sanger’s name from our building is both a necessary and overdue step to reckon with our legacy and acknowledge Planned Parenthood’s contributions to historical reproductive harm within communities of color,” Karen Seltzer, the chair of the New York affiliate’s board, said in a statement, The Times reported.