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Vaccination Against COVID ‘Does Not Mean Immunity’ for People with Organ Transplants

May 7, 2021

(NPR) – For most people, COVID-19 vaccines promise a return to something akin to normal life. But for the hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. who have a transplanted organ, it’s a different story. That includes Burns, who got a double lung transplant nearly five years ago. New research published this week in the medical journal JAMA suggests many transplant recipients may not get protection from vaccination, even after two doses.

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Persuading the Body to Regenerate Its Limbs

May 7, 2021

(The New Yorker) – Levin had been invited to present at an A.I. conference because his work is part of a broader convergence between biology and computer science. In the past half century, scientists have come to see the brain, with its trillions of neural interconnections, as a kind of computer. Levin extends this thinking to the body; he believes that mastering the code of electrical charges in its tissues will give scientists unprecedented control over how and where they grow. In his lab, he has coaxed frogs to regenerate severed legs, and tadpoles to grow new eyeballs on their stomach.

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Why Some Researchers Oppose Unrestricted Sharing of Coronavirus Genome Data

May 7, 2021

(Nature) – The debate has caught the attention of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) — which runs its own genome repository, called GenBank — and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has considered encouraging grantees to share on sites without such strong protections, Nature has learnt. But many researchers — particularly those in resource-limited countries — are pushing back. They tell Nature that they see potential for exploitation in this no-strings-attached approach — and that GISAID’s gatekeeping is one of its biggest attractions because it ensures that users who analyse sequences from GISAID acknowledge those who deposited them. The database also requests that users seek to collaborate with the depositors.

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How Many COVID Deaths Are Acceptable in a Post-Pandemic World?

May 7, 2021

(Nature) – As more people get vaccinated, scientists and health officials are pondering how societies can live with the virus, and what level of risk they are willing to absorb. In some countries, such as Australia, the threshold is low. But in some nations worn down by a year of restrictions, such as India and the United States, communities remain open even in the face of high transmission.

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Covid-19 Retreats in the West, But the Pandemic Fight Is Far From Over

May 7, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – The center of the global Covid-19 pandemic has shifted decisively to low- and middle- income countries, fueling sickness and death on a scale that trends suggest could quickly exceed the world-wide toll in 2020. Already this year, more than 1.4 million Covid-19 deaths have been reported globally as the virus has torn through Latin America and swaths of Asia, according to official tallies compiled at the University of Oxford.

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Pfizer, BioNTech to Donate Covid Vaccines to Tokyo Olympics Athletes

May 7, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Participants in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will have access to donated doses of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccines, the International Olympic Committee said Thursday, as the Games’ organizers attempt to boost the prospects of a giant global event whose status remains uncertain. The vaccines are approved for use in less than half the nations around the world, however, and some public health advocates believe they are coming too late to make a significant difference.

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The Race to Avoid a Possible “Monster” COVID Variant

May 7, 2021

(Axios) – Slow global COVID-19 vaccination rates are raising concerns that worse variants of the coronavirus could be percolating, ready to rip into the world before herd immunity can diminish their impact. Why it matters: The U.S. aims to at least partially vaccinate 70% of adults by July 4, a move expected to accelerate the current drop of new infections here. But variants are the wild card, and in a global pandemic where only about 8% of all people have received one dose, the virus will continue mutating unabated.

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Moderna Announces First Data Showing Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccine Booster in Development

May 7, 2021

(Medscape) – The Moderna SARS-CoV-2 vaccine booster developed specifically with variant B.1.351 in mind shows efficacy against that strain and the P1 variant among people already vaccinated for COVID-19, according to first results released on Wednesday. Furthermore, data from the company’s ongoing phase 2 study shows the variant-specific booster, known as mRNA-1273.351, achieved higher antibody titers against the B.1.351 variant than a booster with the original Moderna vaccine.

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DHHS: Fully Vaccinated Nebraska Woman Dies of COVID-19

May 7, 2021

(Medscape) – A south-central Nebraska woman who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 recently died of the disease, state health officials said Wednesday. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release that the woman was in her 80s and had underlying health conditions. Officials with Two Rivers Health District, based in Kearney, said the woman lived in the district and was hospitalized for more than two weeks well after receiving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

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Germany Makes AstraZeneca Vaccine Available to All Adults

May 7, 2021

(ABC News) – Germany is making the AstraZeneca vaccine available immediately to all adults in a push to get as many people inoculated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday. Millions of doses of AstraZeneca have been safely administered in Europe, but concerns linger over a rare type of blood clot seen in an extremely small number of recipients. That has prompted some people in Germany, even those in high-risk groups, to hold off on getting the shot, preferring to wait for another vaccine.

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WHO Warns of New COVID Wave in Africa

May 6, 2021

(Medical Xpress) – The World Health Organization on Thursday warned of a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Africa due to delayed vaccine supplies, a slow rollout and new variants. The African bureau of the UN agency said the continent had to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of vaccine rollouts.

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Restrict J&J COVID Vaccine in Women Under 50?

May 6, 2021

(Medscape) – Use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should be considered as the preferable option in the US rather than Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in women under the age of 50 years, according to one group of experts. The group makes their recommendation in an editorial in JAMA published online April 30, accompanying a paper describing details of 12 case reports of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) with thrombocytopenia following the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, also known as the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine.

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India Virus Variant Identified in Two Southeast Iowa People

May 6, 2021

(Associated Press) – A third coronavirus variant that was first identified in hard-hit India has been uncovered in Iowa, state public health officials said Tuesday. The Iowa Department of Public Health said it has confirmed two cases of the variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.  Health officials are still learning about the characteristics of this strain, but it is not designated as a variant of concern, “indicating that there is not currently evidence of increased transmissibility or more severe disease caused by this variant,” the agency said in a statement, noting the recent U.S. advisory warning against travel to the South Asian nation.

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States Push Back Against Use of Facial Recognition by Police

May 5, 2021

(Associated Press) – Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have used facial recognition technology to solve homicides and bust human traffickers, but concern about its accuracy and the growing pervasiveness of video surveillance is leading some state lawmakers to hit the pause button. At least seven states and nearly two dozen cities have limited government use of the technology amid fears over civil rights violations, racial bias and invasion of privacy.

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Columbia Protests Turn Deadly Amid Covid-19 Hardships

May 5, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Eight days of protests have left 25 people dead, a major city cut off from food supplies and Colombia’s conservative government scrambling to assert control as it fights the country’s worst Covid-19 surge. The nationwide unrest was triggered by a proposed tax-collection overhaul and stringent pandemic lockdowns that have been blamed for causing mass unemployment and throwing some four million people into poverty. Colombia is experiencing its third coronavirus surge, with nearly 500 deaths a day on average over the past week, a higher per-capita rate than India’s.

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Giving 2 Doses of Different COVID-19 Vaccines Could Boost Immune Response

May 5, 2021

(NPR) – Typically, if you get a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, you should get two of the same vaccine. Two Pfizer shots, or two Moderna shots. Not one and then the other. But in the future, that could change, either by necessity or by design. This idea of using two types of vaccines isn’t a new concept. It’s known as heterologous vaccination, although there’s a more colloquial term.

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Tweaked Moderna Vaccine ‘Neutralizes Covid Variants in Trials’

May 5, 2021

(The Guardian) – The first “tweaked” vaccine against the worrying coronavirus variants that emerged in South Africa and Brazil has successfully neutralised them in laboratory trials, the US company Moderna has said. The results of the small trial suggest that boosters against the variants will be feasible and could be rolled out this year to counter the threat from variants that have appeared around the world and are feared in some cases to be more transmissible or partially vaccine-resistant.

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Anti-Vaxxers Aren’t the Cause of America’s Dropping Vaccine Rates

May 5, 2021

(Vox) – The best analogy I’ve heard to explain the trend comes from Brown University School of Public Health dean Ashish Jha: Think of what happens when a new iPhone is released. When a new model comes out, some people are so enthusiastic about it that they’ll line up overnight to get it. Those superfans aren’t the only people who ever buy iPhones, but they cause a rush of initial demand. That’s similar to many Americans who’ve gotten the vaccine so far: They got shots the moment they were eligible, even if, for some, it meant staying on hold on the phone for hours, constantly refreshing clunky, overloaded websites for days, or driving for hours out of their way to get a shot. 

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Canada Become First Country to Approve Pfizer Vaccine for Children 12-15

May 5, 2021

(The Guardian) – Canada has became the first nation in the world to authorise the use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 12 to 15, describing the move as a light at the end of the tunnel. upriya Sharma, a senior adviser at the Canadian federal health ministry, said on Wednesday that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was safe and effective in the younger age group.

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Woman from Mali Gives Birth to 9 Babies in Morocco

May 5, 2021

(Associated Press) – Yacoub Khalaf, a professor of reproductive medicine at King’s College London, said that such births would be extraordinarily unlikely without fertility treatment, and noted the dangers involved with such multiple births.

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