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Risk of ‘Brain Fog’ and Other Conditions Persists Up to Two Years After Covid Infection

August 19, 2022

(STAT News) – Among the many worrying consequences of Covid-19, neuropsychiatric conditions rank high. A year ago researchers from Oxford University reported that 1 in 3 patients experienced mood disorders, strokes, or dementia six months after Covid infection. Now the same group is back with a longer-term analysis of 1.25 million Covid patient records, including what they believe is the first large-scale look at children and at new variants. Their news is both bad and good. (Read More)

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Anywhere But Here

August 19, 2022

(Science) – Yet Chinese researchers have published a flurry of papers supporting their government’s “anywhere-but-here” position. Multiple studies report finding no signs of SARS-CoV-2–related viruses or antibodies in bats and other wild and captive animals in China. Others offer clues that the virus hitched a ride to China on imported food or its packaging. On the flip side, Chinese researchers are not pursuing—or at least not publishing—obvious efforts to trace the sources of the mammals sold at the Huanan market, which could yield clues to the virus’ origins. (Read More)

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US Offers Extra Monkeypox Vaccine Doses for Ga Pride Events

August 19, 2022

(Associated Press) – The U.S. is setting aside an extra 50,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine for places with upcoming gay pride events, health officials said Thursday.  The number of doses sent to each place will be based on factors like the size of the event, how many health workers will be available to give shots, and how many of the attendees are considered at highest risk for catching the virus. (Read More)

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Polio Was Almost Eradicated. This Year It Staged a Comeback.

August 18, 2022

(New York Times) – At the beginning of this year, there was a thrum of excitement among global health experts: Eradication of polio, a centuries-old foe that has paralyzed legions of children around the globe, seemed tantalizingly close. Pakistan, one of only two countries where wild poliovirus still circulates, had not recorded cases in more than a year. Afghanistan had reported only four. But eradication is an uncompromising goal. The virus must disappear from every part of the world and stay gone, regardless of wars, political disinterest, funding gaps or conspiracy theories. New signs of the virus in a single country can derail the effort. In polio’s case, there were several ominous setbacks. (Read More)

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Hispanic Americans’ Suicide Rates Are Rising

August 18, 2022

(Medical Xpress) – Suicide is a major public health issue for all Americans, but new research suggests it is a particularly pressing problem for Hispanics. Between 2010 and 2020, the suicide rate among Hispanic adults increased by more than 70%, while the Hispanic population in the United States only grew by about 25%, the researchers reported. Study author Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of public health sciences at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, called that a disproportionate escalation. (Read More)

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New Method Improves Speed and Cost of Birth Defect Testing

August 18, 2022

(New York Times) – After 10 years of effort, medical researchers at Columbia University have developed a very fast and cheap way to detect the extra or missing chromosomes that most often cause miscarriages or severe birth defects. The method, described Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, takes less than two hours using a palm-size device and costs $200 per use. With current testing procedures, women can end up paying $1,000 to $2,000, often out of pocket. (Read More)

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China to Discourage Abortions to Boost Low Birth Rate

August 18, 2022

(Reuters) – China will discourage abortions and take steps to make fertility treatment more accessible as part of efforts to boost one of the world’s lowest birth rates, its National Health Authority said on Tuesday. Support measures from taxation and insurance to education and housing would be improved and implemented, with local governments encouraged to boost infant care services and family friendly workplaces, according to guidelines published on the authority’s website. (Read More)

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Human Embryo Produced by Spindle Transfer Develop (Mostly) Normally

August 17, 2022

(GEN) – For women who are carriers of mitochondrial diseases, one particular in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure for having a healthy baby appears to be safe, according to new research. This option, called “spindle transfer,” involves transferring the nuclear DNA from one of the woman’s eggs into an enucleated donor egg that contains healthy mitochondria before being fertilized with sperm from a male partner. The new research uses single-cell multiomics techniques to show that this option results in embryos that are comparable to healthy controls produced by standard IVF techniques. (Read More)

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Sole Producer of Approved Monkeypox Shot “No Longer Certain” It Can Meet Demand

August 17, 2022

(Axios) – Bavarian Nordic, the manufacturer of the Jynneos vaccine for monkeypox, said Wednesday that “it’s no longer certain that we can continue to meet the demand” as cases continue to rise, Bloomberg reports. Why it matters: As cases of the virus continue to spread globally, the Danish company is the only manufacturer with an approved monkeypox vaccine.  (Read More)

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A Complicated Fall Vaccine Campaign: Updated Covid Boosters, Flu Shots, and How to Time the Jabs

August 17, 2022

(STAT News) – For the health officials who steer vaccination campaigns, it’s going to be a complicated fall. The U.S. plan to roll out updated Covid-19 boosters will not only coincide with the logistical tangle of the regular flu shot drive, but will also face questions about when people should get the new shots to provide themselves with the best protection through our third Covid winter. (Read More)

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Youth Mental Health Is In Crisis. Are Schools Doing Enough?

August 17, 2022

(Associated Press) – In some ways, this year’s back-to-school season will restore a degree of pre-pandemic normalcy: Most districts have lifted mask mandates, dropped COVID vaccine requirements and ended rules on social distancing and quarantines. But many of the pandemic’s longer-lasting impacts remain a troubling reality for schools. Among them: the harmful effects of isolation and remote learning on children’s emotional well-being. (Read More)

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UN Expert Finds Forced Labor Claims in China’s Xinjiang Credible

August 17, 2022

(Bloomberg) – A United Nations slavery expert has found claims of forced labor in Xinjiang to be “reasonable,” in one of the clearest critiques of China’s human rights practices from within the world body. Tomoya Obokata, the UN’s special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, said in a report that the involuntary nature of China’s employment programs in Xinjiang indicated forced labor, even if they did improve job opportunities for some minorities. The findings were based on an “independent assessment of available information,” including stakeholder submissions, victim testimony and government accounts. (Read More)

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2 Monkeypox Variants Will No Longer Be Named After Regions, for Ethical Reasons

August 17, 2022

(NPR) – The World Health Organization has renamed two monkeypox variants that were named after countries and regions in order to align with “current best practices,” the agency has announced. The new names, Clade I and Clade II, replace the names Congo Basin clade, or variant, and West African clade, respectively. Subsequent variants will be named using Roman numerals for the clade, and lowercase letters for the subclade. (Read More)

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The Forgotten Virus: Zika Families and Researchers Struggle for Support

August 17, 2022

(New York Times) – Most Brazilians know as soon as they see them: These are Zika babies, whose mothers were infected with the virus while pregnant during a virulent outbreak of the mosquito-borne illness in 2015 and 2016. The chief signifier at birth was microcephaly, unusually small heads that hinted at the devastating brain damage the virus caused while they were still in utero. Seven years later, they are now children, many of them nearly as big as their mothers. The sight of them visibly startles people who have not thought about them for years. After the Zika epidemic did not turn into a pandemic that swept the globe, Brazil and the rest of the world moved on. (Read More)

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Doctors Are Pioneering a Better Way to Perform Autopsies on Kids

August 16, 2022

(Wired) – But for parents, losing a child can be made even worse by fears that there was something they could have done to prevent the death. That’s where Arthurs and his team at Great Ormond Street Hospital are trying to help. They have pioneered an approach that does away with the need for a full autopsy. Through a combination of imaging techniques that reveal details of the inside of the body—including ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans—the team can determine the cause of death in a child with as much accuracy as the traditional invasive autopsy. If the imaging isn’t enough, the team can use much smaller incisions to take organ samples to be tested. (Read More)

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Polio May Have Been Spreading in New York Since April

August 16, 2022

(New York Times) – Polio may have been circulating widely for a year, and was present in New York’s wastewater as early as April, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A wastewater sample collected in April in Orange County, N.Y., tested positive for the virus, pushing back the earliest known detection in the area. Officials had previously announced that the virus had been found in wastewater samples dating back to May in neighboring Rockland County. (Read More)

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Hundreds of Somali-American Youths Held Captive in Rehab Centers; ‘They Were Torturing Me’

August 16, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – The young Americans imprisoned at Irshad Rehabilitation Centre feared the isolation room the most. When they violated some rehab-center rule, or no rule at all, they’d be locked in the room, located in a corner of an inner courtyard that was topped by electrified wire and razor coils. Abdirizak Aden Ahmed, a Somali-American teenager from Mechanicsburg, Pa., says he spent a dozen or so stints in isolation during the eight months he was confined against his will at Irshad, in Nairobi’s heavily Somali Eastleigh neighborhood. Irshad and similar facilities in Somalia and Kenya market themselves to desperate diaspora Somali parents as professional treatment for young people who are drug users, alcoholics, mentally ill, gay, disobedient, sacrilegious or simply too Westernized. (Read More)

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A Three-Parent Technique Could Help Trans Men Have Babies

August 16, 2022

(MIT Technology Review) – Fertility treatments can be undesirable for transgender men, as they involve pausing gender-affirming hormone therapy and undergoing potentially distressing procedures such as female hormone treatments and vaginal exams. New evidence suggests combining two existing techniques for the first time could help sidestep those issues. The process involves removing pieces of a transgender man’s ovary, extracting eggs from the ovary in the lab, and swapping in parts of an egg from another person before fertilizing them with sperm to create embryos. (Read More)

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Should Parents Delay Kids’ Second COVID Vaccine? Here’s What the Research Says

August 16, 2022

(Nature) – More than two years into the pandemic, the United States and Canada have become the first nations to approve two mRNA vaccines for children as young as six months. But the vaccines, made by Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna, have proven less effective against the Omicron variant. So some parents are considering extending the interval between initial doses — a trick that might make the vaccines more potent. (Read More)

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Why a Century-Old Vaccine Offers New Hope Against Pathogens

August 16, 2022

(New York Times) – In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when prevention seemed light years away, several scientists launched trials to see whether a tuberculosis vaccine developed in the early 1900s might protect people by bolstering the immune system. The Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin vaccine has long been known to have broad effects on the immune system, and is still given to infants in the developing world and in countries where TB is prevalent. Scientists observed many years ago that the vaccine seems to train the immune system to respond to a variety of infectious diseases, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, and reduces infant mortality. (Read More)

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