Britain and Israel are overhauling their COVID-19 testing policies as governments seek to reduce the burden on laboratories and struggle with tight supplies of kits amid soaring infection rates fueled by the Omicron variant.

At least one person died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on December 13, the first publicly confirmed death globally from the swiftly spreading strain.

Britain on November 4 became the first country in the world to approve a potentially game-changing Covid-19 antiviral pill jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, in a boost to the fight against the pandemic.

British health authorities, as well as global experts, are closely watching a subtype of the Delta variant that appears to be rising in the UK.

Valneva SE on Oct. 18 said the company’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated efficacy “at least as good, if not better” than AstraZeneca’s shot in a late-stage trial comparing the two, with significantly fewer adverse side effects.

Several Asian nations are quickly ramping up vaccination campaigns from shaky starts to combat growing Covid-19 infections, as supply shipments roll in and people overcome hesitancy in hopes of easing curbs and freeing up travel.

A study of 614 fully vaccinated health workers in India found a “significant” drop in their Covid-fighting antibodies within four months of the first shot.

Britain’s state-run National Health Service will on Sept. 13 begin the world’s biggest trial of Grail Inc.’s flagship Galleri blood test that can be used to detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.

Novartis AG said on Sept. 1 the company agreed on a deal with Britain’s healthcare service provider for use of the drugmaker’s new anti-cholesterol product Leqvio, after the country’s healthcare cost agency NICE approved the medicine.

A British public health study found that protection from either of the two most commonly used Covid-19 vaccines against the prevalent Delta variant of the coronavirus weakens within three months.