Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

World Health Organization Urges Masks to Curb Covid Variant

 Saying that even fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, the World Health Organization’s assistant director-general made a statement regarding the highly contagious “Delta” variant of Covid-19 which is now spreading across the globe. “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission,” Dr. Mariangela Simao of WHO stated. “People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces,” and use other forms of hygiene including physical distancing.

The news comes shortly after Israel reported an outbreak of Covid-19 with most infections stemming from the Delta variant. As many as a third of those infected were vaccinated against Covid-19. Last week, about 35% of positive tests in the U.S. that were sequenced were identified as the Delta variant.

The Delta variant has also been reported to affect younger populations, who have a lower vaccination rate or, in the case of children under 12, are not yet approved for vaccination.

MRNA Vaccines May Work For Years

Scientists report that the persistent immune reaction from MRNA vaccines, such as those made by Moderna and Pfizer, may protect against coronavirus infections for years. That could mean no boosters are required for most people, assuming any variants do not evolve too far from the original virus. (New York Times)

Elective Surgeries Slow Due to Long Covid-19 Recovery Time

The lengthy symptoms and after-effects of Covid-19 infection are delaying some elective surgeries, sometimes for many months. Doctors and researchers are still feeling out the virus’s implications for safe surgery, which is complicated by its affect on multiple organs and systems, according to Kaiser Health News. Some medical organizations have gone so far as to create guidelines for timing surgeries in former Covid patients, with one requiring as much as twelve weeks pause if a patient spent time in intensive care for Covid. While hospitals are bustling with elective surgeries again, doctors may have to find a balance between the need for surgery and the potential for post-Covid complications.

Johnson & Johnson to End U.S. Opiate Sales in Settlement

With a $230 million dollar settlement and the promise to stop selling opioids in the United States, Johnson & Johnson’s legal battle with the state of New York ended before its anticipated court date. Other health care and pharmaceutical companies are engaged in negotiating an end to lawsuits with settlements worth $26 billion. States, cities, and counties throughout the U.S. have filed more than 3000 lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of opiates over the opioid crisis, accusing drug makers of downplaying the potential for addiction and encouraging physicians to overprescribe medications.