What We’re Reading: Kaiser Permanente Data Breach; GSK Sues Pfizer, BioNTech; HIV Infections via Cosmetic Injections


Kaiser Permanente was hit by a data breach in mid-April, impacting 13.4 million health plan members; GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) sued Pfizer and BioNTech for allegedly infringing on its messenger RNA technology patents in the companies’ COVID-19 vaccines; the CDC announced the first-known HIV cases transmitted via cosmetic injections.

Kaiser Permanente Reports Data Breach Impacting 13.4 Million Members

Kaiser Permanente recently began notifying its 13.4 million health plan members impacted by a data breach in mid-April, according to Fierce Healthcare. Although Kaiser Permanente submitted the required documentation to HHS on April 12, the notice was posted publicly on Thursday. After an investigation, it found that the data breach stemmed from tracking technology that shared patient information with third-party advertisers, including Google and Microsoft. The vendors were able to access various information, like patients’ IP addresses, names, and the ways they navigated different applications or websites; these tracking technologies have since been removed. However, Kaiser Permanente reported that it has not yet identified any misuse of those data.

GlaxoSmithKline Sues Pfizer, BioNTech Over COVID-19 Vaccine Technology

In Delaware federal court on Thursday, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) sued Pfizer and BioNTech, accusing them of infringing on its messenger RNA (mRNA) technology patents in the companies’ COVID-19 vaccines, according to Reuters. GSK said in the lawsuit that the companies’ Comirnaty vaccines violate its patent rights in mRNA-vaccine innovations, which were developed more than a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, GSK asked for an unspecified amount of monetary damages from Pfizer and BioNTech, including an ongoing patent licensing fee. This lawsuit adds to a variety of high-stakes court cases involving Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna about their patent royalties for technology used in their vaccines.

CDC Reports First Known Cases of HIV Transmitted Via Cosmetic Injections

The CDC announced in a recent report the first known HIV cases transmitted via cosmetic injections, according to NBC News. It found that 3 women were likely infected with HIV while receiving “vampire facials” at VIP Spa in Albuquerque, New Mexico; also known as platelet-rich plasma microneedling, vampire facials involve drawing someone’s blood, separating the plasma, and injecting the plasma into the face using tiny needles. The first HIV case was discovered in 2018, prompting the New Mexico Department of Health to offer free testing to anyone who received injections at the facility. The department shut the spa down at the time after finding practices that could potentially spread blood-borne infections. However, the health department reported that the most recent HIV case was in a former spa client who tested positive last year, resulting in it reopening the investigation. Overall, 59 spa clients may have been exposed to HIV. Of these, 20 clients received a vampire facial, while the rest received other injection services, like Botox. However, the investigators reported that the original HIV contamination source at the spa remains unknown.

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