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Health Highlights: Aug. 6, 2020

Last Updated: August 06, 2020.

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

Johnson & Johnson Makes $1 Billion Vaccine Deal

The U.S. government will pay Johnson & Johnson $1 billion for 100 million doses of its vaccine if it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Johnson & Johnson has said it will offer doses at a not-for-profit cost to provide global access to the vaccine.

The government can buy 200 million more doses, the Post reported.

If the vaccine is approved, the company says it will make more than 1 billion doses through 2021.

"We are scaling up production in the U.S. and worldwide to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for emergency use," Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, told the Post.

The vaccine has had promising early results. The company is now performing tests on volunteers in the United States and Belgium.

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LA to Cut Off Water, Electric to Homes Having Big Parties

Starting Friday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will cut off water and power to homes where large parties take place, CBS News reported Wednesday.

The announcement on the heels of a motion by City Councilman David Ryu to increase penalties for homeowners holding illegal house parties, which violate social distancing orders, CBS News reported.

The proposal came in reaction to a house party in the Beverly Crest neighborhood where one woman died and two were hospitalized after a shooting.

Property owners who ignore building and safety rules or city laws are violating COVID-19 public health orders and the city's party house ordinance, officials said.

Penalties can include water and power shutoff, permit violations and revocation of the certificate of occupancy.

"Despite a pandemic that has killed thousands in Los Angeles, some homeowners are choosing to put everyone at risk by renting out their homes to massive house parties," Ryu told CBS News. "This is irresponsible bordering on deadly, and it must be stopped."

"Whether it takes shutting off utilities or revoking their permits, we must do what it takes to shut these party houses down," he added.

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Moderna Charging Much More for Coronavirus Vaccine Than Others

Moderna is charging $37 a dose for its experimental vaccine, which is far more than what other companies say they plan to charge for their vaccines, CBS News reported Wednesday.

Because two doses of the vaccine are needed to immunize people from COVID-19, total costs could be $74 per person.

Moderna's vaccine is currently in phase 3 trials and the company is confident that the vaccine -- their first commercial product -- will be available by the end of the year.

Last week, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline signed a deal with the U.S. government to produce 100 million doses of a vaccine for about $10.50 each, according to calculations from analyst Mani Foroohar, of the brokerage firm SVB Leerink.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has said it will price its vaccine at $19.50 per dose.

In a conference call with analysts, Moderna executives said they have been charging between $32 and $37 for doses of the company's vaccine. That is nearly 90% more than Pfizer is charging, and triple the cost of Sanofi-GSK's vaccine, CBS reported.

"We are working with governments around the world, and ours, to ensure the vaccine is accessible regardless of our ability to pay," Moderna CEO Stephanie Basel said during the call, CBS News reported. "And we will be responsible on price, well below value, during the pandemic."

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Experimental Vaccine Shows Encouraging Results

Maryland-based Novavax said Tuesday that preliminary trials of an experimental coronavirus vaccine were promising.

In one study, 56 people made high levels of antibodies against COVID-19 with no adverse side effects. In a second study, the vaccine protected monkeys from COVID-19 infection.

It's not possible to compare the data from clinical trials of different vaccines, but John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine who was not involved in the studies, told The New York Times that these results were the most impressive he'd seen.

"This is the first one I'm looking at and saying, 'Yeah, I'd take that,'" Moore said.

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, told the Times that these were "encouraging preliminary results." But she cautioned that it's not possible to know if the vaccine is safe and effective until larger studies are done.

In its 33-year history, Novavax has never had a vaccine on the market, but it has received $1.6 billion in federal funding for vaccine development. If the vaccine is effective, the company said it can make 100 million doses by the beginning of 2021 -- enough to inoculate 50 million people with the required two doses.

This vaccine is one of more than two dozen vaccines that are now being tested, the Times reported.


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