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Updated: 2 hours 4 min ago

Covid Evolution Wipes Out Another Antibody Treatment, Threatening the Country’s Medicine Cabinet

5 hours 5 min ago

(STAT News) – The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday ended its emergency authorization for the only remaining Covid-19 antibody therapy cleared for use, saying variants that render it ineffective are now dominant in the United States. The news about bebtelovimab makes official what has been anticipated for several weeks, as the Omicron sublineages BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 have been growing in prevalence. Still, it comes as a blow to both providers and patients who are at risk for more severe outcomes. The rapid evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus had already knocked out several other monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of Covid. (Read More)

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Malawi Starts Landmark Malaria Vaccination Drive

5 hours 7 min ago

(BBC News) – Malawi has begun vaccinating children as part of a world-first, large-scale campaign against malaria. The RTS,S vaccine – more than three decades in the making – was developed by pharmaceutical company GSK. However, early trials show just more than 30% of the five to 17-month-olds who received it were protected. But Malawi believes it will still play a key role in the fight against the disease, which killed some 2,500 infants in the country two years ago. (Read More)

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Deaths from Substance Abuse Rose Sharply Among Older Americans in 2020

5 hours 17 min ago

(New York Times) – Deaths due to substance abuse, particularly of alcohol and opioids, rose sharply among older Americans in 2020, the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, as lockdowns disrupted routines and isolation and fear spread, federal health researchers reported on Wednesday. Alcohol and opioid deaths remained far less common among older people than among those middled-aged and younger, and rates had been rising in all groups for years. But the pronounced uptick — another data point in the long list of pandemic miseries — surprised government researchers. (Read More)

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With No Exit Strategy from ‘Zero Covid’ Policy, China Could Face Tsunami in Cases, Experts Fear

5 hours 21 min ago

(STAT News) – As the world watches the rare spectacle of protesters challenging China’s authoritarian leadership over its increasingly perplexing “zero Covid” policy, people who study the disease see threats ahead for China — and beyond. The zero Covid policy, which has kept cases and deaths in China to negligible numbers throughout the pandemic, seems doomed to fail in the face of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they believe. But the Chinese leadership does not appear to be mapping a path to a safe exit ramp, leaving experts worried the country could see a tsunami of cases that would swamp its health care system if the national containment effort collapses. (Read More)

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Competition Between Respiratory Viruses May Hold Off a ‘Tripledemic’ this Winter

5 hours 24 min ago

(Science) – Triple threat. Tripledemic. A viral perfect storm. These frightening phrases have dominated recent headlines as some health officials, clinicians, and scientists forecast that SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) could surge at the same time in Northern Hemisphere locales that have relaxed masking, social distancing, and other COVID-19 precautions. But a growing body of epidemiological and laboratory evidence offers some reassurance: SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses often “interfere” with each other. (Read More)

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San Francisco’s Killer Robots Threaten the City’s Most Vulnerable

5 hours 27 min ago

(Wired) – The new administrative code requires a police chief to authorize use of deadly force involving a robot and to first consider de-escalation or an alternative use of force. But some civil liberties groups, San Francisco residents, and experts on police violence fear allowing killer robots on city streets. They say the policy change normalizes militarized policing and could lead to the intimidation or death of vulnerable people historically discriminated against by law enforcement, such as those with mental health problems, homeless people, and communities of color. (Read More)

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New Alzheimer’s Drug Faces Uncertain Regulatory Path

5 hours 43 min ago

(Axios) – Researchers have at last found a drug that can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to clinical trial data presented last night. But regulators now have to weigh its relatively modest efficacy against safety risks. What we’re watching: The FDA will soon decide whether to approve Eisai’s experimental drug lecanemab — and if so, for the general public or only certain patient populations. (Read More)

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‘Breach of the Big Silence’: Protests Stretch China’s Censorship to Its Limits

5 hours 52 min ago

(New York Times) – Internet users are also flipping videos on their side, using filters on them or recording videos of videos — creative tactics that have tripped up algorithms designed to flag the content. Adding to the challenge for Chinese censors, the protests have shown that a growing number of Chinese people are using software to gain access to sites like Twitter and Instagram, which are blocked in China. Such foreign sites are beyond the reach of China’s officials, and can act as repositories for the videos, allowing them to be re-downloaded and reposted after they are deleted from the Chinese internet. (Read More)

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China Officials Soften Tone on Covid Curbs Amid Protests

6 hours 15 sec ago

(Wall Street Journal) – Chinese health officials softened their messaging on the risks of Covid-19, urging local governments to avoid unnecessary and lengthy lockdowns, after protesters across the country denounced the strict controls. The Omicron variant has caused fewer deaths and less severe sickness than previous Covid variants, a health official said at a press conference Tuesday. (Read More)

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After Three Years in Prison, ‘CRISPR Babies’ Scientist Is Attempting a Comeback

6 hours 2 min ago

(STAT News) – He Jiankui, the Chinese biophysicist who created the first gene-edited children, had been quiet since completing a three-year prison sentence in April, leaving many to wonder whether he had plans to return to scientific research. Earlier this month, we got his answer. On Nov. 9, He posted photos to Twitter of himself sitting at a computer in a white office. “Today I moved in my new office in Beijing,” he wrote. “This is the first day for Jiankui He Lab.” (Read More)

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New York City Will Hospitalize More Mentally Ill People Involuntarily

November 29, 2022

(New York Times) – Mayor Eric Adams announced a major effort on Tuesday to remove people with severe, untreated mental illness from the city’s streets and subways, saying New York had “a moral obligation” to address “a crisis we see all around us.” The effort will involve hospitalizing people involuntarily, even if they do not pose an immediate risk of harm to others. (Read More)

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After a Stillbirth, an Autopsy Can Provide Answers. Too Few of Them Are Being Performed.

November 29, 2022

(ProPublica) – Researchers and national obstetric groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, have called on doctors and hospitals to offer a stillbirth evaluation, a systematic assessment that includes placental exams, genetic testing and autopsies. But too often they are not done, making the already complex task of determining the causes of death even more difficult. In about one-third of stillbirths, the cause of death is never determined, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. (Read More)

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Ebola in Uganda: The People Spreading Misinformation Online

November 29, 2022

(BBC) – “I think there is no Ebola in Uganda.” Those are the words of Battle Kay, as he is known online – a 28-year-old who lives in the capital, Kampala, and makes social media videos criticising the actions of the government.  But he’s also part of a new wave of people making unsubstantiated claims that the current Ebola outbreak is either exaggerated or entirely made up by the authorities. Uganda has been battling Ebola for two months now. So far, there have been 141 cases with 55 deaths – confirmed by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) – out of its 44.7 million population. Wider criticism of the government’s record has become mixed up with speculation and unfounded claims about the disease. (Read More)

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China Sends Students Home, Police Patrol to Curb Protests

November 29, 2022

(Associated Press) – Chinese universities sent students home and police fanned out in Beijing and Shanghai to prevent more protests Tuesday after crowds angered by severe anti-virus restrictions called for leader Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. Authorities have eased some controls after demonstrations in at least eight mainland cities and Hong Kong but maintained they would stick to a “zero-COVID” strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time. Security forces have detained an unknown number of people and stepped up surveillance. (Read More)

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Torture Allegations Mount in Aftermath of Kherson Occupation

November 29, 2022

(Associated Press) – More than two weeks after Russians retreated from the city, accounts such as his are helping to uncover sites where torture allegedly took place in Kherson, which Kremlin forces occupied for eight months. Five such rooms have been found in the city, along with at least four more in the wider Kherson region, where people allege that they were confined, beaten, shocked, interrogated and threatened with death, police said. Human rights experts warn that the accusations made so far are likely only the beginning. (Read More)

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We Can Now Use Cells from Dead People to Create New Life. But Who Gets to Decide?

November 29, 2022

(MIT Technology Review) – Peter Zhu was just 19 years old when he died following a skiing accident in West Point, New York. His donor card made clear he had wanted to donate his organs. But his parents wanted to collect his sperm, too. His parents told a court that they wanted to keep the possibility of using the sperm to eventually have children that would be genetically related to Peter. The court approved their wishes, and Peter’s sperm was retrieved from his body and stored in a local sperm bank. We have the technology to use sperm, and potentially eggs, from dead people to make embryos, and eventually babies. (Read More)

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Second Death Linked to Potential Antibody Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

November 29, 2022

(Science) – A 65-year-old woman who was receiving a promising experimental treatment to slow the cognitive decline caused by her early Alzheimer’s disease recently died from a massive brain hemorrhage that some researchers link to the drug. The clinical trial death, described in an unpublished case report Science has obtained, is the second thought to be associated with the antibody called lecanemab. The newly disclosed fatality intensifies questions about its safety and how widely lecanemab should be prescribed if ultimately approved by regulators. (Read More)

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Google Partners with Med Tech Company to Develop AI Breast Cancer Screening Tools

November 29, 2022

(The Verge) – Google announced today that it has licensed its AI research model for breast cancer screening to medical technology company iCAD. This is the first time Google is licensing the technology, with the hopes that it will eventually lead to more accurate breast cancer detection and risk assessment. The two companies aim to eventually deploy the technology in real-world clinical settings — targeting a “2024 release,” Google communications manager Nicole Linton told The Verge in an email. Commercial deployment, however, still depends on how successful continued research and testing are. (Read More)

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Should Older Seniors Risk Major Surgery? New Research Offers Guidance

November 28, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – Nearly 1 in 7 older adults die within a year of undergoing major surgery, according to an important new study that sheds much-needed light on the risks seniors face when having invasive procedures. Especially vulnerable are older patients with probable dementia (33% die within a year) and frailty (28%), as well as those having emergency surgeries (22%). Advanced age also amplifies risk: Patients who were 90 or older were six times as likely to die than those ages 65 to 69. (Read More)

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Polio Is Back in Indonesia, Sparking Vaccination Campaign

November 28, 2022

(Associated Press) – Children in school uniforms and toddlers with their parents lined up Monday for polio vaccinations in the Sigli town square on the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, after four children were found infected with the highly contagious disease that was declared eliminated in the country less than a decade ago. (Read More)

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