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Communities of Color Falling Behind in America’s Vaccine Effort

January 26, 2021

(Axios) – In cities across the U.S., the neighborhoods hardest-hit by the coronavirus are being vaccinated at a slower rate than their wealthier, whiter counterparts. Why it matters: Preventing socioeconomic disparities in the vaccination process was always going to be an uphill battle, but policy changes in response to the sluggish rollout have generally prioritized speed over equity.

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In Week After 2nd Pfizer Vaccine Shot, Only 20 of 128,000 Israelis Get COVID

January 26, 2021

(The Times of Israel) – The world’s first analysis of fully vaccinated patients has indicated that the Pfizer vaccine is at least as effective as suggested by clinical trials. Israel’s Maccabi Healthcare Services revealed Monday that only 0.015 percent of people are getting infected in the week after receiving their second shot. Maccabi said it has 128,600 members who have seen seven days pass since full vaccine protection kicked in — and only 20 have caught the coronavirus after they were considered immunized. 

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CDC: One in Five People in U.S. Has a Sexually Transmitted Infection

January 25, 2021

(UPI) – One in five people in the United States has a sexually transmitted infection, according to estimates released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means nearly 68 million people are positive for STIs, including HIV, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, agency data, also published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, showed.

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Moderna’s Vaccine Is Less Potent Against One Coronavirus Variant But Still Protective, Company says

January 25, 2021

(STAT News) – Moderna is studying adding booster doses to its vaccine regimen after finding its Covid-19 vaccine was less potent against a coronavirus variant that was first identified in South Africa, the company said Monday. In lab research that involved testing whether blood from people who had received the vaccine could still fend off different coronavirus variants, scientists found that there was a sixfold reduction in the vaccine’s neutralizing power against the variant, called B.1.351, than against earlier forms of the coronavirus, Moderna reported.

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In a Major Setback, Merk to Stop Developing Its Two Covid-19 Vaccines and Focus on Therapies

January 25, 2021

(STAT News) – Merck said Monday it will stop developing both of the current formulations of the Covid-19 vaccines the company was working on, citing inadequate immune responses to the shots. Work will continue on at least one of the vaccines, which is being developed in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), to see if using a different route of administration would improve how effective it is. The announcement marks a shocking setback for one of the most storied vaccine makers, and will raise tensions around readouts expected soon from other companies, including Johnson & Johnson and the upstart NovaVax.

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Amid Covid Health Worker Shortage, Foreign-Trained Professionals Sit on Sidelines

January 25, 2021

(Kaiser Health News) – As hospitals nationwide struggle with the latest covid-19 surge, it’s not so much beds or ventilators in short supply. It’s the people to care for the sick. Yet a large, highly skilled workforce of foreign-educated doctors, nurses and other health practitioners is going largely untapped due to licensing and credentialing barriers. According to the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., some 165,000 foreign-trained immigrants in the U.S. hold degrees in health-related fields but are unemployed or underemployed in the midst of the health crisis.

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As Virus Grows Stealthier, Vaccine Makers Reconsider Battle Plans

January 25, 2021

(New York Times) – As the coronavirus assumes contagious new forms around the world, two drug makers reported on Monday that their vaccines, while still effective, offer less protection against one variant and began revising plans to turn back an evolving pathogen that has killed more than two million people. The news from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech underscored a realization by scientists that the virus is changing more quickly than once thought, and may well continue to develop in ways that help it elude the vaccines being deployed worldwide.

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Exclusive: AstraZeneca to Supply 31 Million COVID-19 Shots to EU in First Quarter, a 60% Cut–EU Source

January 25, 2021

(Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc has informed European Union officials on Friday it would cut deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc by 60% to 31 million doses in the first quarter of the year due to production problems, a senior official told Reuters. The decrease deals another blow to Europe’s COVID-19 vaccination drive after Pfizer Inc and partner BioNTech SE slowed supplies of their vaccine to the bloc this week, saying the move was needed because of work to ramp up production.

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Exclusive: U.S. Goal to Squeeze More COVID Shots from Pfizer Vials Hampered by Syringe Production

January 25, 2021

(Reuters) – The world’s largest syringe maker does not have the capacity to substantially increase U.S. supplies of specialty syringes needed to squeeze more doses from Pfizer Inc COVID-19 vaccine vials in the coming weeks, an executive said in an interview. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, one of two authorized for U.S. emergency use, is shipped in vials initially indicated to hold five doses. Six doses can be drawn with special syringes, called low dead space syringes, which minimize the amount of vaccine left in the syringe after use.

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Google Pledges $150 Million Towards Vaccine Education and Equitable Distribution

January 25, 2021

(ABC News) – Google announced a series of steps it was taking to support a more equitable and efficient rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, including grants totaling $150 million, updates to its Maps software and offering the use of its office spaces to become vaccination clinics.

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Are COVID Vaccination Programs Working? Scientists Seek First Clues

January 22, 2021

(Nature) – The results from Israel are among the first to report the impact of vaccines administered to people outside clinical trials. They provide an early indication that the two-dose RNA-based vaccine developed by Pfizer–BioNTech can prevent infection or limit its duration in some vaccinated people. In a preliminary analysis of 200,000 people older than 60 who received the vaccine, compared with a matched group of 200,000 who did not, researchers found that the chances of testing positive for the virus were 33% lower two weeks after the first injection.

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Top Lebanese Hospitals Fight Exhausting Battle Against Virus

January 22, 2021

(ABC News) – In recent weeks, Lebanon has seen a dramatic increase in virus cases, following the holiday season when restrictions were eased and thousand of expatriates flew home for a visit. Now, hospitals across the country are almost completely out of beds. Oxygen tanks, ventilators and most critically, medical staff, are in extremely short supply. Doctors and nurses say they are exhausted. Facing burnout, many of their colleagues left.

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Special Report: How U.S. CDC Missed Chances to Spot COVID’s Silent Spread

January 22, 2021

(Reuters) – The federal government sought help from a team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, including Dr. James Lawler, an experienced infectious disease specialist. Lawler told Reuters he immediately asked the world-renowned U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for permission to test the quarantined group, deeming it crucial to know whether people without symptoms were infected and could spread the deadly pathogen. Agency officials worried that detained people couldn’t give proper consent because they might feel coerced into testing.

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Pfizer to Supply 40M COVID-19 Shots for Poor Countries

January 22, 2021

(Medical Xpress) – Pfizer on Friday committed to supply up to 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year to a World Health Organization-backed effort to get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries. The deal is a boost to the global program known as COVAX, as wealthy nations have snapped up most of the millions of coming shots.

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CDC Reports Rare Allergic Reactions to Moderna’s Covid-19 Vaccine

January 22, 2021

(STAT News) – The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, appears to induce rare anaphylactic reactions in a small number of people who receive the vaccine, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest. As of Jan. 19, there have been 15 confirmed cases of anaphylaxis after receipt of Moderna’s vaccine and 45 confirmed cases of anaphylaxis after receipt of the Pfizer vaccine, the CDC said in a statement to STAT. That works out to a rate of 2.1 cases per million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 6.2 cases per million doses of the Pfizer, according to the agency.

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In U.K. Hospitals, a Desperate Battle Against a Threat Many Saw Coming

January 22, 2021

(The New York Times) – As a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus pounds Britain’s overstretched National Health Service, health care workers say the government’s failure to anticipate a wintertime crush of infections has left them resorting to ever more desperate measures. Hundreds of soldiers have been dispatched to move patients and equipment around London hospitals. Organ transplant centers have stopped performing urgent operations. Doctors have trimmed back the level of oxygen being given to patients to save overloaded pipes.

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Augmented Reality Used in Knee-Replacement Surgery in a U.S. First

January 22, 2021

(The Wall Street Journal) – A surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York recently performed the first knee-replacement surgeries in the U.S. using augmented reality. Jonathan Vigdorchik, M.D. , last month replaced the knees of two patients, who suffered severe arthritis in their knee joints, while using special glasses that enabled him to review crucial surgical data while performing the operations. Dr. Vigdorchik this week examined both patients, who are in their 50s, and reported they were doing well.

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Search for Oxygen Tank Refills Routine for Peruvians

January 21, 2021

(ABC News) – In the middle of what was once a sandy desert, on the outskirts of Peru’s capital, a new routine has emerged for many of the residents of the densely populated city of Villa El Salvador. With the lives of friends or relatives at stake because of the new coronavirus, people are spending their days searching for a place to buy oxygen, preferably without having to spend their life savings.

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FDA Approves 1st Long-Acting HIV Drug Combo, Monthly Shots

January 21, 2021

(ABC News) – U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus. Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals.

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Lilly: Drug Can Prevent COVID-19 Illness in Nursing Homes

January 21, 2021

(Associated Press) – Drugmaker Eli Lilly said Thursday its antibody drug can prevent COVID-19 illness in residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care locations. It’s the first major study to show such a treatment may prevent illness in a group that has been devastated by the pandemic. Residents and staff who got the drug had up to a 57% lower risk of getting COVID-19 compared to others at the same facility who got a placebo, the drugmaker said. Among nursing home residents only, the risk was reduced by up to 80%.

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