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Health Highlights: April 9, 2020

Last Updated: April 09, 2020.

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

Coronavirus May be Reactivating in Recovered Patients

South Korean officials say the new coronavirus may be "reactivating" in people who've recovered from the illness.

About 51 patients in South Korea who were classified as having recovered have tested positive again, according to Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bloomberg News reported.

They tested positive again shortly after being released from quarantine, suggesting that the virus reactivated in them rather than being infected again, said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of the Korean CDC.

Jeong said the Korean CDC will conduct an epidemiological probe into the cases, Bloomberg News reported.

"While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this," Jeong said. "There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another."

A patient is considered fully recovered when two tests conducted with a 24-hour interval yield negative results, Bloomberg News reported.

There are also reports that some patients in China have tested positive again, with some even dying from COVID-19, after they apparently recovered.

Some experts believe that problems with test results may be the reason for these cases of coronavirus reactivation, Bloomberg News reported.

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Another Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Begins in U.S.

Another clinical trial of an experimental vaccine for the new coronavirus has been launched by U.S. researchers.

The trial of the vaccine candidate from Inovio Pharmaceuticals will test two doses of the vaccine in 40 healthy volunteers at the Kansas City research lab and the University of Pennsylvania. The company is also organizing a similar study in China, the Associated Press reported.

The experimental vaccine is given using a skin-deep shot instead of the typical deeper jab.

Another experimental vaccine for the new coronavirus that was developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health began safety testing in volunteers last month in Seattle. About two-thirds of the participants have received the first of two doses, the AP reported.

These early-stage trials are meant to determine if the experimental vaccines are safe enough to advance to larger trials to determine if they're effective against the new coronavirus.

Dozens of potential vaccines are being designed by researchers worldwide. Even if initial tests show promise, it's expected to be more than a year before any vaccine could be widely available, the AP reported.

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Mike Pence's Office Won't Let U.S. Health Officials Appear on CNN

Top U.S. health officials have been prevented from appearing on CNN in recent days to discuss the coronavirus pandemic.

The move by Vice President Mike Pence's office is an attempt to pressure the network into showing the White House's lengthy daily briefings -- which can last more than two hours -- in full, according to CNN.

The network often only broadcasts President Donald Trump's question and answer session live on-air, then switches to the studio to discuss what the President said.

Pence's office is responsible for booking health officials on networks during the pandemic. It's said it will only allow those officials to appear on CNN if the network televises the portion of the White House briefings that includes the vice president and other coronavirus task force members, CNN reported.

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Coronavirus Antibody Finger Prick Test Useless: Researchers

A home-administered finger prick test that was viewed by many as a possible coronavirus pandemic breakthrough is not accurate enough to be of any use, British researchers say.

The test was designed to detect antibodies to the new coronavirus. The presence of those antibodies would show that a person had the coronavirus in the past and had built up immunity to it, NBC News reported.

There was great optimism about the test among governments and businesses, but these new results have deflated those hopes.

"Sadly, the tests we have looked at to date have not performed well," Sir John Bell, the Oxford University professor leading the tests for the British government, wrote in a blog post Sunday, NBC News reported. "We see many false negatives ... and we also see false positives."

The British government ordered millions of the kits and now wants refunds.

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Virus Kills Girl Who Contributed to Medical Marijuana Legalization in U.S.

A 13-year-old girl whose struggles with a rare seizure disorder helped trigger medical marijuana legalization in the United States died Tuesday after she and her family became ill with an unspecified virus.

Charlotte Figi,13, had Dravet Syndrome, "a rare, drug-resistant epilepsy," according to the Epilepsy Foundation, CBS News reported.

Charlotte suffered as many as 300 grand mal seizures a week. She had to use a wheelchair, could barely speak, and had repeated cardiac arrests. While traditional seizure medications provided little help, Figi responded well to medical marijuana.

That led her parents to campaign nationwide for the legalization of medical marijuana.

"Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love," her mother, Paige Figi, wrote in a post on her Facebook page, CBS News reported.

On March 26, a Facebook post by Paige Figi said that all five family members were sick with "fevers, pains, coughs" and were "struggling to breathe," but she did not identify their illness.

A week later, her husband Matt Figi wrote on her page that most of the family had recovered "from a month of virus but our little Charlotte hasn't improved."

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, a medication made from CBD, as one of two new drugs to treat Dravet syndrome, CBS News reported.


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