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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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Operating Rooms Go Under the Knife

May 5, 2021

(New York Times) – Their goal: to rethink the layout as well as plan for the future, and the South Carolina team is not alone. The problem of squeezing people and a variety of machines — not to mention robots — into surgical suites designed decades ago is forcing a change. From increasing in size to reorienting the layout, hospitals — especially those that are part of large university medical centers — are bringing together surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses with architects, engineers and administrative staff to rethink the modern operating room. But even older community hospitals, with more limited budgets, are getting creative, since surgeries are an all-important source of revenue.

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COVID ‘Doesn’t Discriminate by Age’: Serious Cases on the Rise in Younger Adults

May 5, 2021

(Medscape) – After spending much of the past year tending to elderly patients, doctors are seeing a clear demographic shift: young and middle-aged adults make up a growing share of the patients in covid-19 hospital wards. It’s both a sign of the country’s success in protecting the elderly through vaccination and an urgent reminder that younger generations will pay a heavy price if the outbreak is allowed to simmer in communities across the country

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One of the World’s Poorest Countries Has One of the World’s Lowest COVID Death Rates

May 4, 2021

(NPR) – Haiti has one of the lowest death rates from COVID-19 in the world.  As of the end of April, only 254 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in Haiti over the course of the entire pandemic. The Caribbean nation, which often struggles with infectious diseases, has a COVID-19 death rate of just 22 per million. In the U.S. the COVID-19 death rate is 1,800 per million, and in parts of Europe. the fatality rate is approaching 3,000 deaths per million.

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China’s COVID Vaccines Are Going Global–But Questions Remain

May 4, 2021

(Nature) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering approving two of China’s COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, potentially opening the door to wide distribution in lower-income nations through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative. A successful outcome in the coming weeks might boost global confidence in these vaccines, say scientists. China’s five different vaccines have not been used widely in wealthy nations, but are already sustaining immunization campaigns in the global south.

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Why Some Hospitals Lack the Oxygen to Keep Patients Alive

May 4, 2021

(New York Times) – The latest horror of the pandemic is that large numbers of people around the world are dying for lack of access to medical oxygen, especially in India. Each day, tens of thousands of people are admitted to hospitals with Covid-19, driving the demand for the oxygen far beyond the supply. Oxygen makes up 21 percent of the atmosphere. A handful of companies capture and purify it in bulk, but they sell most of it to industry. Many poorer parts of the world lack the infrastructure needed to deliver or make use of the medical grade supplies those companies sell, which are designed to be delivered via pipes to hospital rooms.

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Inside India’s COVID-19 Surge

May 4, 2021

(The New Yorker) – For Arora, as for many Indians, the apocalyptic COVID-19 surge the country now faces was unexpected. In March, cases started to rise in the western state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai. “We thought it would be like the first wave,” Arora said. “We thought things would pick up but pretty much be manageable. You always reason from your past experience.” Today, India is home to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world—a medical and humanitarian crisis on a scale not yet seen during the pandemic. Though the reported case numbers are in the hundreds of thousands, some experts estimate that millions of Indians are infected each day; thousands are dying, with more deaths going uncounted or unreported. More than one in every five coronavirus tests returns positive—a marker of insufficient testing and rampant viral spread. Hospitals are running out of oxygen, staff, and beds; makeshift funeral pyres burn through the night as crematoriums are flooded with dead bodies.

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A Crisis of Undiagnosed Cancers Is Emerging in the Pandemic’s Second Year

May 4, 2021

(ProPublica) – In the shadows of COVID-19, another crisis has emerged. With the pandemic in its second year and hope intermittently arriving along with vaccine vials, it’s as if a violent flood has begun to recede, exposing the wreckage left in its wake. Amid the damage is an untold number of cancers that went undiagnosed or untreated as patients postponed annual screenings, and as cancer clinics and hospitals suspended biopsies and chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Across the country, preventive cancer screenings plummeted by as much as 94% during the first four months of last year. At Mount Sinai, the number of mammograms dropped by 96% during that same period. By July, screenings had started to rebound, both nationally and at Mount Sinai, but still trailed pre-COVID-19 numbers. Fewer screenings led to a decline in new diagnoses, which one study found fell by more than 50% for some cancers last year. But people didn’t stop getting cancer; they stopped getting diagnosed.

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The Era of Mass Vaccination Is Ending

May 4, 2021

(The Atlantic) – The era of mass vaccinations is ending: Although these big sites were key to speeding up vaccinations after a rocky start in the winter, many are beginning to find themselves idle as the country’s daily vaccination rate falls from its mid-April peak. “We are running out of eager, enthusiastic people who will chase down the vaccine wherever we put it,” says Kelly Moore, the deputy director of the nonprofit Immunization Action Coalition. But with more than half of Americans still unvaccinated, the COVID-19 immunization campaign is far from over. It is now entering a new phase. Instead of in convention centers and arenas, shots will be distributed across a larger number of smaller sites: pharmacies, doctors’ offices, churches, mosques, factory parking lots, barbershops, bars, breweries, even individual homes.

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Europe’s Troubled Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Turns the Corner

May 4, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – A spring surge in Covid-19 cases is beginning to recede in Europe as the continent’s vaccine rollout is finally gathering pace, boosting hopes of a broad reopening of the region’s economy before the summer. Unlike the U.S., the U.K. or Israel, which brought the coronavirus somewhat under control earlier this year thanks in part to an early and rapid vaccine rollout, continental Europe faced a late-winter rebound in infections as governments there struggled to get shots to people.

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