Health Highlights: July 7, 2020

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

Company Gets $1.6 Billion From U.S. Government for Coronavirus Vaccine

Vaccine maker Novavax will receive $1.6 billion from the U.S. government to provide 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by early 2021, the Maryland-based company said Monday.

This is the largest deal announced by the Trump administration to date as part of its attempts to provide coronavirus vaccines and treatments to Americans as soon as possible, The New York Times reported.

The $1.6 billion is coming from a “collaboration” between the Health and Human Services Department and the Defense Department, according to a Novavax spokeswoman.

In May, the Trump administration said it would give up to $1.2 billion to British drugmaker AstraZeneca, which has said it could have a vaccine available by October. Federal funding has also been given to four other companies — Moderna Therapeutics, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Sanofi — for their experimental coronavirus vaccines, The Times reported.

Novavax has never brought a product to market, the Times reported.


Coronavirus Antibody Cocktail Begins Late-Stage Human Trials

Late-stage human trials to assess whether a double antibody cocktail can prevent and treat coronavirus infection have started, biotechnology company Regeneron said Monday.

A Phase 3 trial of REGN-COV2 will assess whether it can prevent coronavirus infection among uninfected people who’ve had close contact with an infected person, CNN reported.

The trial is being conducted at about 100 sites across the United States and is expected to included 2,000 people.

Phase 2/3 trials are underway to determine if the antibody cocktail can treat hospitalized and non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients, according to Regeneron. The trials, which will include 1,850 hospitalized patients and 1,050 non-hospitalized patients, are planned for 150 sites in the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Chile, CNN reported.

These aren’t the only human trials of COVID-19 antibody drugs. Eli Lilly and AbCellera started testing their antibody therapies in humans on June 1, and a number of other companies are working on antibody treatments, CNN reported.


Suspected Plague Case Reported in China

A suspected bubonic plague case in the Bayannur district of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China has been reported by local officials.

Residents were told not to hunt wild animals such as marmots and that anyone with fever or other possible signs of infection should seek treatment, CBS News reported.

Plague can be treated with antibiotics. If not treated, plague can be fatal in up to 90% of cases.

While largely eradicated in China, there are still occasional cases in the country. The last major known outbreak was in 2009 in the town of Ziketan in Qinghai province on the Tibetan Plateau, CBS News reported.


Miami-Dade County Orders Re-Closure of Some Indoor Spaces

Restaurants, gyms and certain other indoor spaces in Miami-Dade County were ordered to close again Monday after there was a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Florida’s most most populous county.

The emergency order was issued by Mayor Carlos Gimenez seven weeks after those locations were allowed to reopen, the Associated Press reported.

“We want to ensure that our hospitals continue to have the staffing necessary to save lives,” Gimenez said in a statement.

Hair salons, stores, hotel pools and summer camps in the county will remain open, and beaches will reopen on Tuesday after being closed over the weekend, the AP reported.

“But if we see crowding and people not following the public health rules, I will be forced to close the beaches again,” Giminez said.

Florida recorded an all-time high of 11,400 coronavirus cases Saturday and its positive test rate over the past two weeks has increased to more than 18%, according to the AP.

Confirmed cases are climbing in 41 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise in 39 states.