Recent News

How COVID hurt the fight against other dangerous diseases

Apr 23 2021

After India went into lockdown in March 2020, the number of new tuberculosis (TB) cases detected there each day dropped by an alarming 70% in one month. “It freaked us out,” says Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, an organization in Geneva, Switzerland, that was set up to help combat TB, a disease that kills 1.4 million people a year. Ditiu was worried because the fall in India, the only country that collects real-time TB data, showed that cases were going undiagnosed and untreated as many nations diverted medical resources to tackling COVID-19. TB transmission would increase, she knew, because the disease is generally passed on through close contacts (at home or in prisons, for instance), which social distancing would be unlikely to prevent. And increased transmission would lead to more deaths.

Source: Nature

Here’s how scientists are designing vaccines that can ditch the fridge

Apr 23 2021

From the cutting-edge vaccines for COVID-19 to the decades-old ones for poliovirus, most vaccines need to be kept cold to survive the trip from factory to patient. But that poses a major hurdle to even routine immunizations in countries like Mali or Bangladesh, where up to 90% of health facilities lack adequate refrigeration. To solve this problem, some researchers are working toward a radical goal: vaccine formulations that don’t have to be kept cold. Significant hurdles remain, but many scientists are optimistic that 10 years from now vaccination campaigns won’t be quite so hampered by the heat. “I think we are at the limit of how many people we can vaccinate using [refrigerated supply chains],” says Asel Sartbaeva, a chemist at the University of Bath who is working on a molecular “cage” to make multiple vaccines temperature stable. “And this is where we come in.”

Source: Science Mag

Pfizer Identifies Fake Covid-19 Shots Abroad as Criminals Exploit Vaccine Demand

Apr 23 2021

Pfizer Inc. PFE 0.05% says it has identified in Mexico and Poland the first confirmed instances of counterfeit versions of the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech SE, the latest attempt by criminals trying to exploit the world-wide vaccination campaign. Vials seized by authorities in separate investigations were tested by the company and confirmed to contain bogus vaccine. The vials recovered in Mexico also had fraudulent labeling, while a substance inside vials in Poland was likely an antiwrinkle treatment, Pfizer said.

Source: WSJ

Obama, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley team up to urge communities of color to get coronavirus vaccine

Apr 23 2021

Former President Obama joined former NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley to encourage communities of color and young people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. "As the vaccine becomes more available, I want to make sure that our communities, particularly ones — African American, Latino, as well as young people understand that this will save lives and allow people to get their lives back to normal, and the sooner we get more people vaccinated, the better off we’re gonna be,” the former president said as part of a segment in the “Roll Up Your Sleeves” special that aired on Sunday on NBC.

Source: The Hill

Cities face barriers to vaccinating people experiencing homelessness

Apr 23 2021

Study results have shown that individuals experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and face heightened transmission risks in shelters. The CDC recommends several ways to communicate vaccination information effectively to people experiencing homelessness, including posting flyers at encampments, in shelters and on public transit, and advertising in advance of targeted vaccination events. The CDC also suggests recruiting “trusted communicators, such as people with lived experience of homelessness” and engaging them in the planning and implementation of the events.

Source: Healio

Many older teens only have access to one vaccine: The hardest one to roll out in rural America

Apr 23 2021

As states expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to allow shots for 16- and 17-year-olds, teens in rural America may have trouble getting them. Of the three vaccines authorized in the U.S., currently only one can go to that age group: the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. That vaccine comes in 1,170-dose packages at minimum and expires after five days in a fridge, meaning too many doses on too tight a deadline for many rural communities to manage. “We’re still trying to get people to accept the vaccine,” said Aurelia Jones-Taylor, CEO of Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center, which serves remote regions of the Mississippi Delta. “If we have to race to give out 1,100 doses in five days, that's untenable.”

Source: USA Today

Democrats push Twitter, Facebook to remove vaccine 'disinformation dozen'

Apr 23 2021

Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) are asking Facebook and Twitter to take action against a dozen accounts identified in a recent report as spreading the majority of anti-vaccine content on their platforms. Klobuchar and Luján wrote a letter to the two company CEOs urging them to address the “Disinformation Dozen” named in a recent report published by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). “For too long, social media platforms have failed to adequately protect Americans by not taking sufficient action to prevent the spread of vaccine disinformation online,” they wrote, according to a copy of the letter shared with The Hill on Monday.

Source: The Hill

Why Anti-Abortion Catholics Should Get Vaccinated

Apr 23 2021

America is rapidly approaching the point where demand, not supply, is the limiting factor of our vaccine rollout. Our job now is hearing out the worries of vaccine-hesitant friends and trying to assuage their concerns. My fellow Catholics are one group in need of assurance. Although the Vatican has stated clearly that the vaccines approved in the United States are “morally licit” to receive, some Catholics are reluctant because these vaccines have been developed or tested using lab-replicated cells cultured from aborted fetuses.

Source: NYT