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Heart Inflammation More Common After COVID Than After Vaccination

August 27, 2021

(Medscape) – Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, appears to be more common after COVID-19 than after vaccination, according to a new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Based in Israel, the study showed that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is associated with an increased risk of myocarditis, with about 1 to 5 cases per 100,000 people. However, COVID-19 infection was associated with an increased risk of 11 cases per 100,000 people. (Read Full Article)

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The Dwindling Chances of Finding COVID’s Origin

August 26, 2021

(Axios) – A U.S. intelligence review into the origins of COVID-19 has reportedly proved inconclusive, even as WHO experts warn that time is running out to do further studies on the question. Why it matters: We don’t need to know how COVID-19 emerged to finally defeat the pandemic, but clearer answers will help prevent the next big outbreak — whether it comes from nature or human action. (Read Full Article)

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Wuhan COVID-19 Study Finds Some Hospitalized Patients Still Have Health Problems After One Year

August 26, 2021

(Medical Xpress) – Most symptoms of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients are resolved within 12 months, however, around one half still experience at least one persistent symptom, a study of 1,276 patients from Wuhan, China, published in The Lancet, has found. Around one in three people still experienced shortness of breath and lung impairments persisted in some patients, especially those who had experienced the most severe illness with COVID-19 (at 12 months, 35.7% patients who underwent additional lung health tests had diffusion impairments—reduced flow of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream [87/244]). Overall, COVID-19 survivors were less healthy than people from the wider community who had not been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (matched for age, sex and pre-existing conditions). (Read Full Article)

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Hospitals Closing Off-Site ERs to Buttress Central ER Staffs

August 26, 2021

(Associated Press) – Texas hospital systems are increasingly closing temporarily their off-site emergency rooms and sending their staff to their hospitals to support staff overstretched by COVID-19. The moves came as the coronavirus continues to rage throughout the state. Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston closed three suburban emergency rooms Monday in Kingwood, Spring and Sienna to help ease the burden on its hospital staffs, it said in a statement. (Read Full Article)

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Visualizing the Stark Maternal Health Inequalities in the United States

August 26, 2021

(CNN) – Black women in the United States are more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than any other demographic — and the Covid-19 pandemic may be exacerbating one of the starkest disparities in American health care. Health care practitioners and advocacy groups have raised the alarm that the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color and strained the resources of the country’s health care system, may further increase barriers to care for pregnant people. (Read Full Article)??? 

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Living with the Coronavirus Will Likely Never Be Risk-Free

August 26, 2021

(Axios) – Vaccinated Americans are facing a disheartening reality: Even after getting the shot, they’ll have to live with some level of risk from the coronavirus for the foreseeable future. State of play: A glut of data released over the past few weeks supports the idea that coronavirus vaccine effectiveness against infection begins to wane over time, although it remains effective against severe disease. (Read Full Article)

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Vaccine Penalties Are Here, And It’s Unclear Whether They’ll Work

August 26, 2021

(Axios) – Delta Air Lines’ decision to charge unvaccinated employees an extra $200 per month for health insurance signals that rewards alone aren’t doing enough to measurably increase rates of COVID-19 vaccination. Why it matters: Employers are playing a central role in getting more people vaccinated, but it’s unclear how much, or if, these types of penalties will help. (Read Full Article)

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Hackers Could Increase Medication Doses Through Infusion Pump Flaws

August 26, 2021

(Wired) – From pacemakers and insulin pumps to mammography machines, ultrasounds, and monitors, a dizzying array of medical devices have been found to contain worrying security vulnerabilities. The latest addition to that ignoble lineup is a popular infusion pump and dock, the B. Braun Infusomat Space Large Volume Pump and B. Braun SpaceStation, that a determined hacker could manipulate to administer a double dose of medication to victims. Infusion pumps automate delivery of medications and nutrients into patients’ bodies, typically from a bag of intravenous fluids. They are particularly useful for administering very small or otherwise nuanced doses of medication without errors, but that means the stakes are high when problems do arise. (Read Full Article)

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Origins of SARS-CoV-2: Window Is Closing for Key Scientific Studies

August 25, 2021

(Nature) – Our group was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in October 2020. We have been the designated independent international members of a joint WHO–China team tasked with understanding the origins of SARS-CoV-2. Our report was published this March. It was meant to be the first step in a process that has stalled. Here we summarize the scientific process so far, and call for action to fast-track the follow-up scientific work required to identify how COVID-19 emerged, which we set out in this article. The window of opportunity for conducting this crucial inquiry is closing fast: any delay will render some of the studies biologically impossible. Understanding the origins of a devastating pandemic is a global priority, grounded in science. (Read Full Article)

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Taiwan to Get BioNTech Shots Early as China Delays Approval-Source

August 25, 2021

(Reuters) – Taiwan could get its first delivery of BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccines one month ahead of schedule as a delay in regulatory approval of the shot for use in mainland China made a surplus available for the island, a source told Reuters. Taiwan’s tortured bid for the vaccine, jointly developed with Pfizer Inc, has become an issue of high political and diplomatic drama, after Taiwan accused China of blocking a deal earlier this year, which Beijing denied. China claims democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory. (Read Full Article)

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J&J Says Covid-19 Booster Prompts Strong Immune Response

August 25, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Johnson & Johnson JNJ -0.65% said Wednesday that a second dose of its Covid-19 vaccine was found in a study to generate a strong immune response, justifying a booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it expects single-dose J&J vaccine recipients would need boosters but has held off on making recommendations as it awaits more data. Wednesday’s findings are expected to inform the U.S. booster strategy set to begin in September, when the U.S. plans to begin offering boosters to people who received messenger-RNA vaccines. Later it is likely to expand the program to include J&J’s viral-vector vaccine. (Read Full Article)

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Vaccine Mandates Spread After FDA Approves COVID Vaccine

August 25, 2021

(Medscape) – While dozens of companies began mandating masks or vaccinations for workers or costumers — and sometimes both — because of the coronavirus Delta variant, many more firms and governments are joining the movement following the FDA’s decision to grant the Pfizer vaccine full approval on Monday. For them, the FDA decision removes one of the final barriers to requiring vaccinations: That the vaccine wasn’t yet fully approved. While exemptions do exist, in some cases anyone refusing to be vaccinated will have to undergo regular testing for COVID-19. (Read Full Article)

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Pfizer Vaccine Not for Off-Label Use in Young Kids: FDA

August 25, 2021

(Medscape) – Although the FDA granted full approval for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 16 and up on Monday, officials have added a note of caution to parents and doctors — the shot isn’t yet intended for use in kids. In particular, the first fully approved COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be given to ages 12 or younger through “off-label use,” when medical providers use a drug for an unapproved age group, medical condition or dosage. (Read Full Article)

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Researchers Working Toward One Antibody for Many Coronavirus Variants

August 25, 2021

(Medscape) – Two separate research teams have reported on laboratory tests of monoclonal antibodies that appear to protect against a broad range of COVID-19 virus variants. One study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, identified “high-level, broad-spectrum” antibodies in blood samples from survivors of the original SARS outbreak in 2003 who recently received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (Read Full Article)

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Israel Finds COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Significantly Lowers Infection Risk

August 25, 2021

(Medscape) – A third dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has significantly improved protection from infection and serious illness among people aged 60 and older in Israel compared with those who received two shots, findings published by the Health Ministry showed on Sunday. The data were presented at a meeting of a ministry panel of vaccination experts on Thursday and uploaded to its website on Sunday, though the full details of the study were not released. (Read full Article)

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What Does Full Approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mean?

August 24, 2021

(Associated Press) – What does full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine mean? It means Pfizer’s shot for people 16 and older has now undergone the same rigorous testing and regulatory review as dozens of other long-established vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. were initially rolled out under the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization, which allows the agency to speed the availability of medical products during public health emergencies. Under the process, the FDA waived some of its normal data requirements and procedures to make the COVID-19 vaccines available months earlier than would have been possible under normal circumstances. (Read Full Article)

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Wastewater Analysis Shows Rise in Opioid, Sedative Use During Pandemic

August 24, 2021

(UPI) – Use of easily abused prescription opioid pain medications and sedatives designed to treat anxiety spiked during the first few months of the COVID-19, a study presented Monday during the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society found. The analysis of raw sewage produced by two towns in western Kentucky and northwest Tennessee detected increased levels of the opioid pain drug hydrocodone between March and June 2020, the researchers said.  (Read Full Article)

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As Delta Spread, Covid-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Against Infection Fell from 90% to 66% in One Key Study

August 24, 2021

(STAT News) – The effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines at preventing infection fell in one study of U.S. frontline workers from roughly 90% to 66% as the Delta variant emerged and became dominant in the country, an updated report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday indicated. The study, known as HEROES-RECOVER, includes more than 4,000 health care workers, first responders, and other frontline workers in eight locations across six states, all of whom have been tested weekly for infection with SARS-CoV-2. More than 4 in 5 were vaccinated, and the vast majority of them received the mRNA vaccines from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. (Read Full Article)

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WHO Slams ‘Shocking Disparity’ in Access to Vaccines

August 24, 2021

(Medical Xpress) – The World Health Organization hit out on Tuesday at the “shocking disparity” in access to coronavirus vaccines, with only four countries in Africa able to meet their inoculation targets so far. “Globally, 140 countries have vaccinated at least 10 percent of their populations,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the opening of an online meeting of African health ministers. “But in our continent, only four countries have been able to reach that target, owing to the shocking disparity in access to vaccines.” (Read Full Article)

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Many School Districts Keep Covid-19 Closure Thresholds Flexible

August 24, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – When U.S. schools reopened for in-person learning last year, many districts had clear metrics for thresholds that would trigger school closures due to Covid-19. This year, more are taking a wait-and-see approach. As districts around the country reopen amid rising cases and hospitalizations, many haven’t developed formal contingency plans that lay out what it will take for them to close a school or quarantine students. Officials say they are wary of setting benchmarks that may repeatedly change as they did last year. The contingency plans, or lack thereof, have some parents clamoring for more transparency while others advocate for schools to remain open as much as possible. (Read Full Article)

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