InnovationRx is your weekly digest of healthcare news. To get it in your inbox, subscribe here.
For those who enjoy turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving, you might have had some sticker shock this year–at supermarkets, the average price per pound has risen 12% compared with last year. And a big reason for that is a massive outbreak of avian flu that has hit the United States this year and which, unlike years’ past, did not slow down at the end of summer. About 8 million turkeys were killed either by avian flu or culled to prevent its spread. To give a sense of scale, about 46 million turkeys are expected to be cooked for Thanksgiving, so that flu number represents nearly 20% of that amount.
Humans don’t get spared from avian flu, either. Although it’s very rare, poultry workers can get infected from the birds they handle, and that’s happened in the United States this year already. In some outbreaks, the damage can be high: in the very first recorded human cases of avian flu in 1997, 18 people were infected and 6 of them passed away. The mortality rate for other avian flu outbreaks has also been high. Typically, human cases don’t happen and more importantly, rarely spread from person to person. But because influenza viruses can mutate quickly, there’s always a concern that an avian flu capable of transmission from person to person could evolve. And if avian flu infections among birds remain persistently high, as they are right now, the chances of that only increase.
Serious Antibiotic Resistant Infections Inching Up In England
Health officials have warned the number of antibiotic resistant infections is rising in England, following a fall over the pandemic, with about 148 new cases per day.
Read more here.
Deals Of The Week
Gene Therapy: Hemgenix, a gene therapy for hemophilia that was developed by uniQure and is distributed by CSL, was approved by the FDA this week. It’s one of the most expensive drugs ever–$3.5 million per dose. But it’s also a one-time drug, which significantly reduces the number of regular treatments needed by sufferers of the disease.
AI For Contraception: Insilico Medicine was awarded a $700,000 grant from the BIll and Melinda Gates Foundation to use its AI drug discovery platform to develop non-hormonal contraceptives for women.
AI For Insurance: Capitol, which has developed an AI platform to assist decision making by healthcare insurers, announced it has raised a $10 million seed round led by 468 Capital.
University researchers have made what might be a significant breakthrough in drug development to treat Zika Virus infections–a potent monoclonal antibody that could potentially target the disease.
People who eat or drink foods with antioxidant flavonols–like tea, kale and broccoli–could experience a slower rate of memory decline, according to a new study.
In a global survey of 9,500 primary care physicians in 10 high-income countries, more than half—including 65% in the United States—said their workload has increased since before the pandemic.
Arizona health officials reported a case of dengue fever they believe was acquired locally rather than from travel, possibly joining Florida as the only state to record local transmission of the virus this year, which is rare in the U.S. but known to cause occasional outbreaks.
It’s been found that some of the omicron variants that are currently spreading around like BA.2.75.2, BA.4.6 and BJ.1 are resistant to most monoclonal antibody treatments. These are medications that act like your own antibodies and prevent symptoms from worsening. However, the BQ.1.1 subvariant – which is currently one of the most dominant trains in the U.S. – appears to be resistant to all monoclonal antibody treatments. BQ.1.1 made up around 24% of all Covid cases reported in the last week in the U.S. and the other dominant variant, BQ.1, accounts for about 25% of cases, according to the CDC. With these variants making up nearly half of all cases, the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatments seems dim. This is of particular concern for people who are immunocompromised, for whom antibodies are one of the primary treatments for Covid.
Why Business Leaders Should Promote New Covid Booster Shots For Omicron Variant
Business executives need to take the lead on promoting the newly-updated, Omicron-specific booster shots, argues Forbes contributor Gleb Tsipursky. Doing so will help reduce the number of work sick days, minimize COVID outbreaks, reduce employee fears about returning to the office, and facilitate stakeholder capitalism.
Read more here.
Other Coronavirus News
Researchers found that counties with NFL stadiums that hosted at least 20,000 fans saw spikes in Covid cases following games.
The antibiotic amoxicillin has been in a shortage since late October. Although it can’t exactly treat Covid and other respiratory illnesses like RSV and the flu, it is used to treat bacterial infections that usually follow the infection of these illnesses.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s new bivalent Covid booster has proven to be more effective against the original Covid train and some of the Omicron subvariants. Over 35 million people have received this booster shot so far.
How Sam Bankman-Fried Sold The Bahamas An Empty Crypto Dream
How Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover Is Ruining His Own Myth — And Tesla’s Stock
The 2022 World Cup’s Highest-Paid Players