Health Highlights: June 24, 2020

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

Cyclospora Outbreak Linked to Bagged Salad Mixes: CDC

An outbreak of cyclospora infections in the U.S. Midwest appears to be linked to bagged salad mixes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

There have been 122 cases in seven states — Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin — and 19 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

An investigation suggests that bagged salad mixes containing carrots, red cabbage, and iceberg lettuce sold at ALDI, Hy-Vee and Jewel-Osco stores in the Midwest are a likely source of the outbreak, according to the CDC.

The stores have recalled the products.


U.S. Births Could Fall by Half a Million Due to Pandemic: Researchers

Births in the United States could fall by between 300,000 and 500,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Brookings Institution researchers say.

Their conclusion is based on an analysis of data from the 2007-09 recession and the 1918 influenza pandemic, CNN reported.

Researchers at the March of Dimes reached a similar conclusion.

“When we started to do the math, we looked at the 1918 pandemic — as did Brookings — and we saw that there was about a 10% drop in fertility about nine to 10 months after peak mortality,” Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer at the March of Dimes in New York, told CNN.

“A drop in 10% or 15% or 20% in the next few years could really spell trouble,” Gupta said. “The economic and demographic implications that stem from a severe drop in pregnancies could have a tremendous impact on the next generation, which is why this is an important and very serious issue.”


J&J Ordered to Pay $2.1 Billion in Talcum Product Lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary must pay $2.1 billion in damages to women who said their ovarian cancers were caused by the company’s baby powder and other talcum products, a Missouri appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The decision reduced by more than half a record award of $4.7 billion made to the women in July 2018, The New York Times reported.

Johnson & Johnson will seek further review of the ruling by the Supreme Court of Missouri, according to company spokeswoman, who added that its talcum products are safe.

The company, which still faces thousands of similar lawsuits, said last month that baby powder made from talc would no longer be sold in North America, but will still be available in other parts of the world, the Times reported.


Sanofi Speeds Coronavirus Vaccine Efforts

French drugmaker Sanofi has shortened its timeline to get a coronavirus vaccine on the market.

Sanofi and partner GlaxoSmithKline previously said the earliest they’d have a vaccine available would be in the later half of next year, The New York Times reported.

But Sanofi, which is testing two types of coronavirus vaccines, said Tuesday that it may be able to get a vaccine approved by regulators as early as the first half of 2021.

However, “such fast-tracking and intense scale of vaccine production is totally unprecedented,” and the future is unknown, Padmini Pillai, an immunologist at MIT, told the Times.


COVID-19 Vaccine May be Available by Late 2020, Early 2021: Fauci

There could be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year or early next year, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious diseases chief at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Testifying before a House committee on Tuesday, Fauci said he’s cautiously optimistic about a vaccine being available in that timeframe, but also mentioned struggles to contain the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported.

“We’ve been hit badly,” Fauci said, adding that he’s “really quite concerned” about rising community spread in some states.

Fauci testified along with other top health officials, and none said they’d been asked to slow down testing for the new coronavirus, even though President Donald Trump has said he asked them to do so because testing was uncovering too many infections, the AP reported.

“We will be doing more testing,” Fauci told the committee.

So far, more than 27 million people in the U.S. have been tested, and 8.4% (about 2.3 million) have tested positive. About 2.3 million have become ill and about 120,000 have died, Johns Hopkins University data show, the AP reported.

“There have been a lot of unfortunate missteps in the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D) of New Jersey said during the hearing.

“As communities across the country ease social distancing guidance and reopen their economies, it is critically important that both the administration and Congress remain focused on containing the spread of the coronavirus and providing the resources and support Americans need during this time of crisis,” Pallone said.


U.S. Travelers May be Unwelcome in EU

The United States’ inability to contain the new coronavirus means that Americans could be on the list of travelers not allowed to visit the European Union, draft documents suggests.

EU officials are working to create a list of countries whose residents will be permitted to travel to the EU as of July 1, and so far Americans are excluded, The New York Times reported.

Other visitors who may be unwelcome include Russians and Brazilians.

A ban on U.S travelers to the EU would be a blow to American prestige and a comment on President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, according to The Times.

The U.S. has reported more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 122,000 deaths, more than any other country.