Health Highlights: Feb. 4, 2021

McKinsey to Pay $573 Million Over Role in Opioid Crisis

A deal for business consulting firm McKinsey & Company to pay $573 million to settle U.S. lawsuits over its role in the nation’s opioid crisis has been reached, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement.

The global company faced legal action from the District of Columbia and dozens of states and territories for advising companies on how to “supercharge” sales of prescription opioids, the Associated Press reported.

Most of the money in the national settlement would be distributed to states in less than a year, and be used to combat the opioid overdose epidemic. Announcements about the settlement are expected Thursday.

For the past few years, state and local governments have been filing lawsuits against companies that make and sell prescription opioids for their role in the opioid crisis, but going after a consulting firm is a new tactic, the AP reported.

As of Wednesday night, the company hadn’t responded to calls or emails from the news service.

COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Is Growing Around the World: Study

People’s willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine is on the rise in a number of countries worldwide, a new survey shows.

Overall, 54% of more than 13,500 respondents in 15 countries would get a vaccine if it was offered to them, compared with 41% in November, CNN reported.

There were increases in 11 of the countries, according to the poll by the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, which surveyed respondents four times between November and mid-January.

“It is very encouraging to see that, as a number of safe and effective coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out across the world, there has been an apparent positive shift in people’s perceptions of these products,” Dr. David Nabarro, institute co-director, said in a statement, CNN reported.

Countries included in the survey were: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

People in the U.K. were most likely to strongly agree with getting a COVID-19 shot (70%), while those in France were least likely (30%).

The United States wasn’t included, but a CNN poll conducted in mid-January found that 66% of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 51% in October.

Access to COVID-19 vaccines remains a challenge. About 54% of people taking part in the survey said it would be difficult to get a vaccine. People in South Korea and Japan reported the greatest difficulties in access, while those in Norway and Denmark reported the least.

“As vaccines will play a vital role in controlling the pandemic, leaders must act now to help more people understand the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19 and make sure that no one is left behind,” Nabarro said.

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