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U.N. Human Rights Chief to Make First Trip to China Since 2005

May 20, 2022

(New York Times) – Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations’ top human rights official, will next week visit China, including its troubled western region of Xinjiang, on a trip that rights activists say holds significant risks for the credibility of her office. The trip by Ms. Bachelet will be the first official visit to China by a U.N. high commissioner for human rights since 2005, after years of discussions with Beijing to arrange it. But only sketchy details have emerged about what she will do and hopes to achieve in China, which has been under fire from the West over its human rights record and has resisted outside scrutiny. (Read More)

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N. Korea’s Low Death Count Questioned Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

May 20, 2022

(ABC News) – North Korea said Friday that nearly 10% of its 26 million people have fallen ill and 65 people have died amid its first COVID-19 outbreak, as outside experts question the validity of its reported fatalities and worry about a possible humanitarian crisis. (Read More)

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Monkeypox Goes Global: Why Scientists Are on Alert

May 20, 2022

(Nature) – Called monkeypox because researchers first detected it in laboratory monkeys in 1958, the virus is thought instead to transmit from wild animals such as rodents to people — or from infected people. In an average year, a few thousand cases occur in Africa, typically in the western and central parts of the continent. But cases outside Africa have been limited to a handful that are associated with travel to Africa or with the importation of infected animals. The number of cases detected outside of Africa in the past week alone — which is all but certain to increase — has already surpassed the number detected outside the continent since 1970, when the virus was first identified as causing disease in humans. This rapid spread is what has scientists on high alert. (Read More)

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G7 Agree Pact to Better Prepare for Future Pandemics

May 20, 2022

(Associated Press) – The Group of Seven wealthy democracies announced plans Friday to strengthen epidemiological early-warning systems to detect infectious diseases with pandemic potential following the emergence of the coronavirus more than two years ago. Germany’s health minister, who hosted a two-day meeting of his G-7 counterparts in Berlin this week, said an existing World Health Organization office in Berlin would be used to gather and analyze data more quickly. (Read More)

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Latest Covid-19 Wave Expands to More of U.S.

May 20, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – The latest Covid-19 case surge is expanding beyond the Northeast, with places from the Midwest to Florida and California under rising pressure. Fueled by highly contagious versions of the Omicron variant, the tide is posing a test of how much new infections matter in a changing pandemic. Though built-up immunity in the population has kept more people out of hospitals, federal health officials on Wednesday urged people in hot spots to take precautions, from booster shots to pre-gathering tests and masks, to limit the virus’ spread. (Read More)

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It’s Too Late to Protect Your Genetic Privacy. The Math Explaining Why

May 20, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – If you’re concerned about the privacy implications of this, you might think, “Well, I would never submit my DNA to one of those sites.” Sounds reasonable? In fact, it is far too late to completely protect your genetic privacy via personal abstention. A brief exploration into the mathematics of genetics explains why it has become possible to track down killers—but also anyone—through distant relatives. (Read More)

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Mysterious Hepatitis in Children Spurs a Hunt for Answers

May 20, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – Stomach bugs, Covid-19 and a normally harmless virus are among the suspects researchers have identified as possible drivers of a mysterious rash of hepatitis cases among children. Public-health researchers in the U.S., U.K and other parts of Europe are running studies aimed at pinpointing the cause of unexplained severe hepatitis, or liver inflammation, that has sickened more than 400 children around the world in recent months, leading to at least 26 liver transplants and at least six deaths. So far, they have few concrete answers. (Read More)

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Moderna Ready to Ship Covid-19 Shots for Young Children as Early as June, CEO Says

May 20, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – The Food and Drug Administration is planning to hold a meeting of outside advisers sometime in June to consider Moderna’s request for authorization of the use of its vaccine in children 6 months to 5 years old. Mr. Bancel said he hopes the FDA’s vaccine advisory meeting will be in early June, and if the agency clears the shots after that meeting, “we’d be able to ship those products to pharmacies and pediatricians so that those parents who want to vaccinate their young child can do so.” (Read More)

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‘Operation Fly Formula’ to Import First Batch of Baby Formula Amid Shortage

May 20, 2022

(Axios) – The Department of Defense will be using its contracts with commercial air cargo to transport Nestlé S.A. formula from Switzerland to Indiana and to help speed up the import of infant formula amid a nationwide shortage, the White House said Thursday. (Read More)

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First Pig Kidneys Transplanted Into People: What Scientists Think

May 19, 2022

(Science) – Kidneys from pigs that had been genetically modified to have human-like immune systems worked successfully when transplanted into two patients who had recently died, the team that performed the experiments has reported. Although the organs seemed to function, some researchers question the value of the experiments and argue that clinical trials in living people are the only way to find out whether transplants from pigs can help to alleviate the shortage of human organs available to people who need them. (Read More)

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Fentanyl Tainted Pills Bought on Social Media Cause Youth Drug Deaths to Soar

May 19, 2022

(New York Times) – Mr. Webb’s death was one of nearly 108,000 drug fatalities in the United States last year, a record, according to preliminary numbers released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Law enforcement authorities say an alarming portion of them unfolded the same way as his: from counterfeit pills tainted with fentanyl that teenagers and young adults bought over social media. (Read More)

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Some in Shanghai Allowed Out to Shop; End of COVID Lockdown in Sight

May 19, 2022

(Reuters) – More Shanghai residents were given the freedom to go out to shop for groceries for the first time in nearly two months on Thursday as authorities set out more plans for exiting the city-wide COVID-19 lockdown more fully. The commercial hub of 25 million recorded no new infections outside quarantined areas for a fifth day in a row, further cementing its “zero COVID” status with each day. (Read More)

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Your Bosses Could Have a File on You, and They May Misinterpret It

May 19, 2022

(New York Times) – Are you an “insider threat?” The company you work for may want to know. Some corporate employers fear that employees could leak information, allow access to confidential files, contact clients inappropriately or, in the extreme, bring a gun to the office. To address these fears, some companies subject employees to semi-automated, near-constant assessments of perceived trustworthiness, at times using behavioral science tools like psychology. (Read More)

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Insiders Bemoan Culture, Data Gaps That Limit CDC in Crises

May 19, 2022

(Bloomberg) – An internal review by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has uncovered deep concerns among current and former employees and other federal health officials about its urgency, responsiveness and culture, according to interviews with more than half a dozen people involved in the process. (Read More)

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America’s COVID Apathy Stress Test

May 19, 2022

(Axios) – America’s in the midst of yet another coronavirus surge, setting up a high-stakes test of whether the country really is ready to live with the virus. Between the lines: A third of Americans say the pandemic is over, and the spike in cases hasn’t prompted much noticeable policy or behavioral change. But vaccines and therapeutics are now widely available, making the virus much less dangerous — at least for people who have access to and choose to use them. (Read More)

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North Korea’s Suspected COVID-19 Caseload Nears 2 Million

May 19, 2022

(Associated Press) – North Korea on Thursday reported 262,270 more suspected COVID-19 cases as its pandemic caseload neared 2 million — a week after the country acknowledged the outbreak and scrambled to slow infections in its unvaccinated population. (Read More)

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WHO Clears China’s CanSino COVID Vaccine for Emergency Use

May 19, 2022

(Associated Press) – The World Health Organization said Thursday that it has granted an emergency use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by China’s CanSino Biologics, the 11th such shot to receive the green light. The U.N. health agency said the single-dose CanSino vaccine was found to be about 92% effective against severe COVID-19 and 64% effective in preventing people from getting symptoms of the disease. WHO’s expert vaccine group recommended the vaccine for everyone age 18 and over. (Read More)

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CDC Advisors Urge Pfizer Booster for Children Ages 5 to 11

May 19, 2022

(Associated Press) – Kids ages 5 to 11 should get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, advisers to the U.S. government said Thursday. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, as expected, it would open a third COVID-19 shot to healthy elementary-age kids — just like what is already recommended for everybody 12 and older. (Read More)

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Captive Medic’s Bodycam Shows Firsthand Horror of Mariupol

May 19, 2022

(Associated Press) – Taira, 53, is known in Ukraine as a star athlete and the person who trained the country’s volunteer medic force. What comes across in her video and in descriptions from her friends is a big, exuberant personality with a telegenic presence, the kind of person to revel in swimming with dolphins. The video is an intimate record from Feb. 6 to March 10 of a city under siege that has now become a worldwide symbol of the Russian invasion and Ukrainian resistance. In it, Taira is a whirlwind of energy and grief, recording the death of a child and the treatment of wounded soldiers from both sides. (Read More)

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Her Baby Died in His Sleep. Her 29-Year Quest to Find Out Why Has led to a Big Breakthrough on SIDS

May 18, 2022

(Quartz) – Compared to other babies, both living and who died of other causes, infants who died of SIDS were consistently found to have lower levels of butyrylcholinesterase, an enzyme that helps provide arousal from sleep. This, the authors are careful to note, doesn’t mean that low levels of this enzyme cause SIDS, nor does it offer explanations for why they might be low to begin with. What it does, however, is move along the theory that the cause of SIDS might be a dysfunction in the area of the brain controlling sleep reflexes. It also offers some solace for parents who have lost their children to the syndrome. (Read More)

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