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Health Highlights: Sept. 24, 2020

United First U.S. Airline to Offer COVID-19 Testing for Passengers Chinese Company Says its Coronavirus Vaccine Should be Available in U.S. in Early 2021 Man Dies From Eating Too Much Black Licorice Children's Routine Care Plummets During Pandemic

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

United First U.S. Airline to Offer COVID-19 Testing for Passengers

The first COVID-19 testing program for airline passengers in the United States will be introduced Oct. 15 by United Airlines.

Passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii can either order an at-home testing kit or reserve a time for a rapid test at the airport, CBS News reported.

The rapid test at San Francisco International Airport -- already available to airport and airline employees -- provides results in about 20 minutes and will cost $250.

The at-home kit will cost $80 plus shipping, will be sent to a San Francisco lab for processing, and passengers will have results within 48 hours, CBS News reported.

Hawaii has had restrictions on tourists since March. But starting next month, the state will waive its two-week quarantine rule for travelers who have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arrival.

United hopes to eventually expand testing options to other U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, CBS News reported.

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Chinese Company Says its Coronavirus Vaccine Should be Available in U.S. in Early 2021

A Chinese pharmaceutical company claims its coronavirus vaccine should available by early next year for distribution in the United States and other countries.

If it passes its final round of human tests, SinoVac will apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell the CoronaVac vaccine, company CEO Yin Weidong said Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Tight rules in the U.S., European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines, but that could change, according to Yin.

"We are confident that our research of the COVI-19 vaccines can meet the standards of the U.S. and EU countries," Yin said, the AP reported.

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Man Dies From Eating Too Much Black Licorice

A Massachusetts man died from eating too much black licorice, doctors say.

The 54-year-old construction worker ate a bag and half every day for a few weeks, which led to an imbalance in his body's nutrients that caused his heart to stop, according to the case study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Associated Press reported.

"Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit," said Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was involved in the case.

Black licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which can cause dangerously low levels of potassium and imbalances in other minerals called electrolytes, the AP reported.

Consuming just 2 ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could cause a heart rhythm problem, especially for people older than 40, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Children's Routine Care Plummets During Pandemic

There's been a steep drop in routine medical care for low-income children in the United States during the pandemic, which could cause long-term problems, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says.

For example: early childhood vaccinations fell by 22%, or 1.7 million,fewer immunizations among children up to age 2; screenings for cognitive or developmental problems decreased by 44%, dentists visits plummeted by 69%, and there were 6.9 million fewer mental health visits, the Associated Press reported.

"The absence of these vital health care services may have lifelong consequences for these vulnerable children, and I call on states, pediatric providers, families and schools to ensure children catch up," CMS administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.

More recent data show an increase in childhood immunizations since May, but a huge jump is needed to make up for missed vaccinations since the spring, CMS said.

"The potential for increased outbreaks of infectious disease due to decreased vaccinations is real, and can result in decreased school attendance, decreased learning, and increased childhood illness in general," according to the agency, the AP reported.

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