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A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal.

August 29, 2022

(New York Times) – With help from the photos, the doctor diagnosed the issue and prescribed antibiotics, which quickly cleared it up. But the episode left Mark with a much larger problem, one that would cost him more than a decade of contacts, emails and photos, and make him the target of a police investigation. Mark, who asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of potential reputational harm, had been caught in an algorithmic net designed to snare people exchanging child sexual abuse material. (Read More)

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Twitter’s Medical Information Problem

August 29, 2022

(Axios) – Twitter played an outsized role in disseminating public health information during the COVID pandemic, but it’s coming under fire for the gatekeeping role it’s played in elevating — or quieting — qualified voices. Why it matters: For better or worse, a lot of people get important information from social media, particularly since COVID-19 arrived.  (Read More)

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Moderna’s COVID Vaccine Lawsuit Looks Ahead to Future Markets

August 29, 2022

(Axios) – Moderna’s unexpected patent infringement lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech over COVID vaccine technology says more about the future market for mRNA shots than the current state of the pandemic. The big picture: With the federal government’s vaccine purchases likely to drop off, experts see top manufacturers jockeying for customers and using the technology for other conditions. (Read More)

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When Private Equity Takes Over a Nursing Home

August 29, 2022

(The New Yorker) – Since the turn of the century, private-equity investment in nursing homes has grown from five billion to a hundred billion dollars. The purpose of such investments—their so-called value proposition—is to increase efficiency. Management and administrative services can be centralized, and excess costs and staffing trimmed. In the autumn of 2019, Atul Gupta, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, set out with a team of researchers to measure how these changes affected nursing-home residents. They sifted through more than a hundred private-equity deals that took place between 2004 and 2015, and linked each deal to categories of resident outcomes, such as mobility and self-reported pain intensity. The data revealed a troubling trend: when private-equity firms acquired nursing homes, deaths among residents increased by an average of ten per cent. (Read More)

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‘So Much More to Do’: A Hospital System’s Campaign to Confront Racism–And Resistance to Change–Makes Early Strides

August 26, 2022

(STAT News) – While many health systems and hospitals are just starting to address medical racism with real action, the work at Mass General Brigham seems to be in overdrive — though it’s too early to say how impactful and enduring the changes will be. Called United Against Racism, the $40 million initiative has launched more than a dozen programs in different clinics and hospitals to provide antiracist care, and has yet more programs in development. Clinicians are looking hard at disparities among their patients — from why Black women are less likely to receive knee replacements to why Black men are more likely to be accosted by hospital security and why non-English speakers miss so many follow-up appointments — and testing sometimes surprisingly simple ways to end them. (Read More)

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Moderna Sues Pfizer and BioNTech Over Covid-19 Vaccine

August 26, 2022

(STAT News) – Moderna on Friday sued Pfizer and BioNTech, its main rivals in the mRNA Covid vaccine race, for allegedly infringing on its patents, the latest and perhaps most significant in a series of intellectual property disputes over the technology behind the world-changing and astoundingly lucrative shots. (Read More)

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WHO Approves Africa’s First Locally-Made Malaria Drug for Pregnant Women and Children

August 26, 2022

(Quartz) – Vaccine nationalism during the covid-19 pandemic resulted in advocacy for local vaccine manufacturing in Africa. Malaria—one of the leading causes of death among young children in Africais one disease that stands to benefit from advocacy efforts.  Yesterday, Kenyan drugmaker, Universal Corporation Ltd (UCL) became the first African manufacturer to be awarded World Health Organization (WHO) quality assurance certification (pre-qualification) for an antimalarial drug used to prevent infection in pregnant women and children. UCL will begin to manufacture sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, a medicine it markets as Wiwal. (Read More)

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Hospitals Cut Jobs and Services as Rising Costs Strain Budgets

August 26, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – The pandemic has intensified a long-running health care worker shortage that has hit especially hard in large, rural states like Montana, which have few candidates to replace workers who depart. Expensive stopgaps — including traveling nurses — caused hospitals’ costs to rise. Staffing shortages have also left patients with longer waits for treatment or fewer providers to care for them. In addition to Montana, hospitals in California, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, and elsewhere laid off workers and scaled back services this summer. Health systems have pointed toward low surgery volumes, high equipment prices, sicker patients, and struggling investments. Parallel to those problems, hospitals’ largest expense — payroll — skyrocketed. (Read More)

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Unraveling the Interplay of Omicron, Reinfections, and Long Covid

August 26, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – Like past covid waves, this one will leave a lingering imprint in the form of long covid, an ill-defined catchall term for a set of symptoms that can include debilitating fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and brain fog. Although omicron infections are proving milder overall than those caused by last summer’s delta variant, omicron has also proved capable of triggering long-term symptoms and organ damage. But whether omicron causes long covid symptoms as often — and as severe — as previous variants is a matter of heated study. (Read More)

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WHO: Monkeypox Cases Drop 21%, Reversing Month-Long Increase

August 26, 2022

(Associated Press) – The number of monkeypox cases reported globally dropped 21% in the last week, reversing a month-long trend of rising infections and signaling that Europe’s outbreak may be starting to decline, the World Health Organization said Thursday. (Read More)

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Gender Dysphoria Covered by Disability Law, Court Rules

August 26, 2022

(Associated Press) – A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week became the first federal appellate court in the country to find that the 1990 landmark federal law protects transgender people who experience anguish and other symptoms as a result of the disparity between their assigned sex and their gender identity. The ruling could become a powerful tool to challenge legislation restricting access to medical care and other accommodations for transgender people, including employment and government benefits, advocates said. (Read More)

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Tweaked COVID Boosters Close But How Much Will They Help?

August 26, 2022

(Associated Press) – COVID-19 vaccines tweaked to better match today’s omicron threat are expected to roll out in a few weeks but still up in the air is how much benefit the booster shots will offer, who should get one — and how soon. Pfizer and rival Moderna both asked U.S. regulators this week to authorize modified versions of their booster vaccine — shots that are half the original recipe and half protection against BA.4 and BA.5, the newest versions of omicron. The Food and Drug Administration ordered that recipe and now is evaluating what scientists call a “bivalent vaccine,” with a decision expected soon. (Read More)

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Use of Marijuana and Psychedelics Is Soaring Among Young Adults, Study Finds

August 24, 2022

(New York Times) – Taken in its entirety, the report provides a mixed picture of substance use in the United States that experts say reflects a number of disparate trends affecting young Americans: the devastating mental health effects of the pandemic; the increased availability of legal marijuana; and the emerging therapeutic embrace of psychedelics to treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems. (Read More)

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240 Million Americans Will Likely Be Eligible for Omicron-Specific Vaccine Boosters After Labor Day

August 24, 2022

(Quartz) – Americans 12 and older may soon become eligible for yet another covid booster. Both Pfizer and Moderna have requested authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a new round of covid shots, this time targeted specifically against the omicron variant, which is now responsible for more than 90% of cases in the country. Pfizer has requested authorization for boosters for everyone age 12 or older, or about 240 million people, while Moderna’s request is for all adults ages 18 and up, or 200 million people. (Read More)

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China Says COVID Has Exacerbated Decline in Births, Marriages

August 24, 2022

(Reuters) – China’s National Health Commission said COVID-19 has contributed to the decline in the country’s marriage and birth rates that has accelerated in recent years due to the high costs of education and child-rearing. Many women are continuing to delay their plans to marry or have children, it said, adding that rapid economic and social developments have led to “profound changes”. (Read More)

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The FDA Stands by as the Vaping Industry Flouts Its Orders

August 24, 2022

(STAT News) – The Food and Drug Administration has spent more than four years trying to decide whether retailers should be able to sell products like cotton candy-flavored liquids, vapes made to look like fidget spinners, and disposables filled with more nicotine than 200 cigarettes. And so far, the agency has explicitly ordered hundreds of them off the market. But a STAT investigation found that vape companies are regularly flouting the FDA’s orders. They’re making, stocking, and selling the illicit goods. And the agency is just letting it happen. (Read More)

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Moderna Seeks FDA Approval for Updated COVID Vaccine

August 24, 2022

(Axios) – Moderna announced Tuesday that it has requested emergency approval for its updated COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration. Why it matters: Doses of the updated vaccine, which better target new coronavirus variants, will be ready to ship next month if the FDA grants clearance, according to a Moderna news release. (Read More)

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‘Magic Mushroom’ Psychedelic May Help Heavy Drinkers Quit

August 24, 2022

(Associated Press) – The compound in psychedelic mushrooms helped heavy drinkers cut back or quit entirely in the most rigorous test of psilocybin for alcoholism. More research is needed to see if the effect lasts and whether it works in a larger study. Many who took a dummy drug instead of psilocybin also succeeded in drinking less, likely because all study participants were highly motivated and received talk therapy. (Read More)

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Egg and Sperm Donors Could Be Required to Share Their Medical Records

August 23, 2022

(Wired) – While laws vary widely from country to country, the US is notable for how little it regulates its multibillion-dollar fertility industry. And the donor-conceived community—the collective of people born in the US through egg or sperm donation—is clamoring for change. “So many of us are sitting here looking at the changes happening in Europe and other parts of the world and the UK, and just wondering, when is this going to take hold in the United States?” says Tiffany Gardner, an attorney in Atlanta and vice president of communications for the US Donor Conceived Council, a nonprofit devoted to advocating for the rights and best interests of people conceived through donated sperm, eggs, and embryos. (Read More)

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At Some Colleges, the Fall of Roe Will Weaken Student Health Care

August 23, 2022

(Wired) – As a new school year begins on college campuses across the country, many students will move to states that promise them fewer rights now than when they applied to school last winter, or when they accepted enrollment offers this spring. On some of those campuses, health centers—fearing legal consequences for their staffers—will likely roll back what they can offer students, both in terms of care and information about how to access abortion services or pills elsewhere. Some health advocates worry that the chilling effect may even spread to conveying general information about birth control and sexual health. (Read More)

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