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Health Highlights, Nov. 25, 2020

By HealthDay Reporter

Here are noteworthy new items compiled by HealthDay staff:

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex Reveals Miscarriage

Meghan the Duchess of Sussex had a miscarriage in July, she revealed in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old wife of Prince Harry wrote that as she was starting her day and holding her 18-month-old son, Archie, she "felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.

I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.

Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband's hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we'd heal."

The duchess wants to help break the silence around miscarriage.

"Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," she wrote. Despite the "staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning."

"In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing," the duchess wrote.

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty Over Role in U.S. Opioid Epidemic

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to three criminal charges linked to the Oxycontin maker's role in the nation's opioid epidemic.

In a virtual hearing Tuesday with a federal judge in Newark, New Jersey, Purdue admitted that it paid doctors to write more prescriptions for the company's painkillers and paid an electronic medical records company to give doctors information on patients that encouraged the prescribing of opioids, the Associated Press reported.

Under a deal with the Justice Department, the company also admitted to providing misleading information to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The deal includes $8.3 billion in penalties and forfeitures, but Purdue would pay only $225 to the federal government as long as it reaches a settlement with state and local governments and other agencies suing the company over the opioid crisis, the AP reported.

Purdue is owned by the Sackler family, who've agreed to pay $225 million to the federal government to settle civil claims. No family members face criminal charges, but their agreement doesn't prevent that from happening in the future, the AP reported.

U.S. Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution Could Begin in Mid-December

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine could start being distributed in the United States "soon after" a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meets on Dec. 10 to consider the company's application for emergency use authorization (EUA) of the vaccine, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will make a recommendation, but the final decision will be made by FDA officials, CBS News reported.

"While we cannot predict how long the FDA's review will take, the FDA will review the request as expeditiously as possible, while still doing so in a thorough and science-based manner, so that we can help make available a vaccine that the American people deserve as soon as possible," FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

The vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Nov. 18. The EUA request was submitted days later, CBS News reported.

Coronavirus Mutation May Have Made it More Infectious

A mutation that developed in the new coronavirus early in the pandemic may have made it more infectious, a number of new findings suggest.

First detected in eastern China in January, the mutation, called 614G, took over much of the world within months, displacing other variants, The New York Times reported.

There's been ongoing debate about whether the mutation made the coronavirus more infectious.

But a growing body of research suggests that this variant does infect people more easily than the original variant that emerged in Wuhan, China, the Times reported.

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