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The Horn of Africa’s Historic Drought Is the Product of Cascading Failure

April 28, 2022

(Quartz) – The Horn of Africa is in the grip of one of the worst droughts in decades as it faces an unprecedented fourth consecutive failed rainy season, thought to be caused by La Nina weather patterns and climate change. The UN has warned it could tip 20 million people into extreme hunger—and at worst lead to starvation—across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has worsened the crisis, pushing food and fuel prices to a near all-time high. The region is also grappling with political instability, locust infestations, and the economic fallout of the covid-19 pandemic, undermining its ability to cope with the drought. (Read More)

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Hepatitis Cases in Kids Have Scientists Hunting for Answers

April 28, 2022

(Wired) – Cases were immediately picked up across Europe— in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Romania, and Spain—as well as in Israel and the US. On April 12, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control instructed its hepatitis network to keep an eye out for further cases fitting the description. Since then, case counts have continued growing. The UK has now reached a total of 114 cases, with 10 children requiring a liver transplant. In total, at least 190 cases have been logged in at least 12 countries. One child has died.  But experts still aren’t sure what is responsible for these cases.  (Read More)

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Moderna Seeks to Be 1st with COVID Shot for Littlest Kids

April 28, 2022

(Associated Press) – Moderna is seeking to be the first to offer COVID-19 vaccine for the youngest American children, as it asked the Food and Drug Administration Thursday to clear low-dose shots for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Frustrated families are waiting impatiently for a chance to protect the nation’s littlest kids as all around them people shed masks and other public health precautions — even though highly contagious coronavirus mutants continue to spread. Already about three-quarters of children of all ages show signs they’ve been infected at some point during the pandemic. (Read More)

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South Africa’s Latest COVID Surge Blamed on Omicron Mutant

April 28, 2022

(Associated Press) – South Africa is seeing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases driven by yet another version of the coronavirus, health experts say. Cases had been dropping in the country since February. But a new omicron subvariant that scientists call BA.4 began pushing up cases last week and they have risen rapidly since, said Salim Abdool Karim, who previously advised the government on its COVID-19 response. (Read More)

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UN: Measles Cases Surge 79% After Pandemic Disruptions

April 28, 2022

(Axios) – Measles cases jumped 79% globally in 2022 compared to the same period last year, United Nations health experts warned Wednesday. Why it matters: The rise in January and February “is a worrying sign of a heightened risk for the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases,” per a joint statement from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. (Read More)

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DR Congo Launches Vaccine Campaign Amid Deadly Ebola Outbreak

April 27, 2022

(UPI) – As the Democratic Republic of the Congo battles its 14th Ebola outbreak since 1976, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday a vaccination campaign in the Central African country to halt the deadly disease’s spread. After two people died of Ebola since Thursday — a 31-year-old Mbandaka man followed by his 25-year-old sister-in-law — inoculation has begun in the capital city of DRC’s northwestern Equateur Province.  (Read More)

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Court Says UK’s Nursing Home COVID-19 Policy Was Illegal

April 27, 2022

(Associated Press) – A British court ruled Wednesday that the Conservative government acted illegally when it discharged hospital patients into nursing homes without testing them for COVID-19 or isolating them — a policy that led to thousands of deaths early in the pandemic. Two High Court judges said the policy in March and April 2020 was unlawful because it failed to take into account the infection risk that non-symptomatic carriers of the virus posed to older or vulnerable people. (Read More)

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Beijing Has 138 Coronavirus Cases. It Musters 139,000 Workers to Test Residents.

April 27, 2022

(New York Times) – Shanghai appeared on Wednesday to be making gradual progress in bringing coronavirus outbreaks under control, while Beijing continued finding more cases as it tries to test three times over five days nearly all of the capital’s 22 million residents. Shanghai announced its lowest total for new cases in weeks: 12,309. Only 171 of those were detected among people still in the broader community. The rest were among people already in isolation as the contacts of previously infected people, and were less likely to infect others, according to municipal data. (Read More)

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The Death Rate for Children Has Dropped Dramatically. Yet There’s Cause for Alarm

April 27, 2022

(NPR) – Around the world, the death rate of children has been dropping dramatically. Where 1 in 11 children under 5 years old died in 1990, it was 1 in 27 children in 2020. The total number was 12.6 million in 1990 and 6 million in 2020, according to the World Health Organization. But a new study in The Lancet Global Health points out an underlying tragedy among the childhood deaths that do occur today. Too many are coming after children have been treated and often discharged from hospitals. (Read More)

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Can Virtual Reality Help Ease Chronic Pain?

April 27, 2022

(New York Times) – Virtual reality is emerging as an unlikely tool for solving this intractable problem. The V.R. segment in health care alone, which according to some estimates is already valued at billions of dollars, is expected to grow by multiples of that in the next few years, with researchers seeing potential for it to help with everything from anxiety and depression to rehabilitation after strokes to surgeons strategizing where they will cut and stitch. In November, the Food and Drug Administration gave authorization for the first V.R. product to be marketed for the treatment of chronic pain. (Read More)

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India’s Speedy Approvals of COVID-19 Vaccines Come Under Fire

April 27, 2022

(Science) – A COVID-19 vaccine named Corbevax looked like a triumph for India’s burgeoning drug industry. Because its U.S. developers hadn’t claimed a patent on it, an Indian manufacturer named Biological E was able to sell the two-dose protein-based vaccine to the government at the extraordinarily low price of 145 rupees ($1.90) per dose. In March, the country began to give the shots to 12- to 14-year-olds, a group for which India did not yet have a licensed COVID-19 vaccine. But the celebration was quickly drowned out by questions over whether India’s drug regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), had properly vetted the vaccine. (Read More)

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FDA Approves First COVID Treatment for Children Under 12

April 26, 2022

(Axios) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday said it expanded the approval of the COVID-19 treatment Veklury, also known as remdesivir, for children 28 days and older. Why it matters: The Omicron variant hit little kids hard, causing five times as many hospitalizations of children ages 4 and younger than during the previous COVID peak. Monday’s move makes Veklury the first approved COVID treatment for children under 12, many of whom remain unable to access vaccines. (Read More)

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Study: Guillian-Barre Risk with COVID-19 Vaccines Low, But Higher with J&J Shot

April 26, 2022

(UPI) – The risk for developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that causes severe muscle weakness, after receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine is small, but higher with the Johnson & Johnson shot, according to a study published Tuesday. Of recipients of more than 480,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 11 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome were reported, the data, published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open, showed.  (Read More)

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Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms ‘Reversed’ by Mini Implant, Trial Suggests

April 26, 2022

(BBC) – A hospital in Bristol is believed to be the first in the world to implant a device into a brain to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Southmead Hospital surgeons used a tiny deep brain stimulation (DBS) device to override abnormal brain-cell firing patterns caused by Parkinson’s. Tony Howells, the first person to receive the treatment as part of a trial, said the impact was “amazing”. Twenty-five patients have been selected for the trial that concludes next year. (Read More)

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‘We Weren’t Prepared for This’: Kyiv Area Morgues at Breaking Point

April 26, 2022

(The Guardian) – The first body arrived in late February, a few days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. The next day, two more. By the beginning of March, the morgue, on the outskirts of Kyiv, had no more space for the dead who, every day, arrived by the dozen from the cities of Bucha and Borodyanka – at the time occupied by the Russian forces. When Moscow’s withdrawal from the areas north of the capital early in April unveiled the brutality of mass graves, with hundreds of civilian corpses buried in residential districts, every morgue in the Kyiv region was already at breaking point. Today, more than two months after the war began, bodies are being piled in refrigerated trucks in front of the morgues, as authorities struggle to handle the number of dead. (Read More)

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Beijing Enforces Lockdowns, Expands COVID-19 Mass Testing

April 26, 2022

(Associated Press) – Workers put up fencing and police restricted who could leave a locked-down area in Beijing on Tuesday as authorities in the Chinese capital stepped up efforts to prevent a major COVID-19 outbreak like the one that has all but shut down the city of Shanghai. People lined up for throat swabs across much of Beijing as mass testing was expanded to 11 of the city’s 16 districts. (Read More)

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CDC Estimates 3 in 4 Kids Have Had Coronavirus Infections

April 26, 2022

(Associated Press) – Three out of every four U.S. children have been infected with the coronavirus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers estimated in a report Tuesday. The researchers examined blood samples from more than 200,000 Americans and looked for virus-fighting antibodies made from infections, not vaccines. They found that signs of past infection rose dramatically between December and February, when the more contagious omicron variant surged through the U.S. The most striking increase was in children. The percentage of those 17 and under with antibodies rose from about 45% in December to about 75% in February.  (Read More)

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Tempers Flare Over Emotion-Sensing AI

April 25, 2022

(Axios) – Software that uses machine learning to attempt to detect human emotions is emerging as the latest flashpoint in the debate over the use of artificial intelligence. Why it matters: Proponents argue that such programs, when used narrowly, can help teachers, caregivers and even salespeople do their jobs better. Critics say the science is unsound and the use of the technology dangerous. (Read More)

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Satellite Images Reveal Another Mass Grave Site Near Mariupol

April 25, 2022

(Axios) – New satellite images show the construction of another mass grave site in Vynohradne, Ukraine near Mariupol, which remains under siege, Maxar Technologies said Friday. The big picture: The discovery follows previous satellite imagery showing the construction of mass grave sites in Bucha and Manhush. (Read More)

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Adenovirus Probable Cause of Mysterious Child Hepatitis

April 25, 2022

(BBC) – Health officials say there is mounting evidence that a common virus is linked to rare cases of hepatitis that have been occurring in some young children. Globally, there have been 169 cases recorded, and one death. In the UK alone, 114 children have become ill and 10 have needed a liver transplant.  The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says a strain of adenovirus called F41 is looking like the most probable cause. (Read More)

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