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Fake Covid Vaccine and Test Certificate Market Is Growing, Researchers Say

May 17, 2021

(The Guardian) – A hidden pandemic market advertising fake vaccine and test certificates for as little as £25 has grown exponentially, with more than 1,200 vendors in the UK and worldwide, researchers have found. After UK ministers announced the return of overseas holidays – with travellers required to show proof of negative tests, and vaccine passports on the horizon – the Guardian has also learned that anti-vaxxers and people arriving in Britain from poorer nations make up a significant number of those buying forged pandemic paraphernalia. (Read Full Article)

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At Illumina, the ‘Era of the Genome’ Has Arrived. But What Role Will the Company Play?

May 17, 2021

(STAT News) – But the best moment is also fresh: deSouza, 50, said he got goosebumps when he saw videos of trucks filled with mRNA vaccine on the move. Illumina’s technology was used to decipher the genetic code that went into developing these vaccines. The company’s DNA sequencing technology is also being used to track variants of the SAR-CoV-2 virus. In a sense, just as the pandemic gave drug makers a chance to show what they could do, it has also demonstrated the potential of the large-scale study of genetics, known as genomics. (Read Full Article)

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Indian States Turn to Antiparasitic Drug to Fight COVID-19 Against WHO Advice

May 17, 2021

(Medscape) – At least two Indian states have said they plan to dose their populations with the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to protect against severe COVID-19 infections as their hospitals are overrun with patients in critical condition. The move by the coastal state of Goa and northern state of Uttarakhand, come despite the World Health Organization and others warning against such measures. (Read Full Article)

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Ohio Lottery to Give 5 People $1 Million Each to Encourage Vaccination

May 14, 2021

(New York Times) – To the many propositions that governments have used to try to bolster slumping demand for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio raised the ante considerably on Wednesday, announcing that the state would give five people $1 million each in return for having been vaccinated as part of a weekly lottery program.

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Taming the Virus: US Deaths Hit Lowest Level in 10 Months

May 14, 2021

(Medscape) – COVID-19 deaths in the United States have tumbled to an average of around 600 per day — the lowest level in 10 months — with the number of lives lost dropping to single digits in well over half the states and, on some days, hitting zero. Confirmed infections have fallen to about 38,000 per day on average, their lowest mark since mid-September. While that is still cause for concern, reported cases have plummeted 85% from a daily peak of more than a quarter-million in early January.

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UPDATE 2-U.S. CDC Finds More Clotting Cases After J&J Vaccine, Sees Causal Link

May 14, 2021

(Medscape) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday it had found more cases of potentially life-threatening blood clotting among people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and sees a “plausible causal association”. The CDC said in a presentation the agency has now identified 28 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) among the more than 8.7 million people who had received the J&J vaccine. TTS involves blood clots accompanied by a low level of platelets – the cells in the blood that help it to clot.

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‘A Hell Out Here’: COVID-19 Ravages Rural India

May 14, 2021

(Medscape) – India’s coronavirus death toll crossed 250,000 on Wednesday in the deadliest 24 hours since the pandemic began, as the disease rampaged through the countryside, leaving families to weep over the dead in rural hospitals or camp in wards to tend the sick. Boosted by highly infectious variants, the second wave erupted in February to inundate hospitals and medical staff, as well as crematoriums and mortuaries. Experts still cannot say for sure when the figures will peak.

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Fully Vaccinated People Can Stop Wearing Face Masks and End Physical Distancing in Most Settings, CDC Says

May 14, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear a mask or physically distance during outdoor or indoor activities, large or small, federal health officials said, the broadest easing of pandemic recommendations so far. The fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask while traveling by plane, bus or train, and the guidance doesn’t apply to certain places such as hospitals, nursing homes and prisons, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

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More Frequent Side-Effects Reported Mixing Pfizer and Oxford Covid Jabs, Study Suggests

May 13, 2021

(The Guardian) – Administering one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine followed by one of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (or vice versa) induces a higher frequency of mild to moderate side-effects compared with standard two doses of either vaccine, initial data from a key UK trial suggests. The Oxford-led Com-Cov study is exploring the safety and efficacy of mixed-dose schedules given that they are being considered in several countries – including the UK – to fortify vaccine rollout programmes that are dependent on unstable vaccine supplies.

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How COVID Broke the Evidence Pipeline

May 13, 2021

(Nature) – As cases of COVID-19 climbed in February, Carley thought that clinicians were suddenly abandoning evidence and reaching for drugs just because they sounded biologically plausible. Early studies Carley saw being published often lacked control groups or enrolled too few people to draw firm conclusions. “We were starting to treat patients with these drugs initially just on what seemed like a good idea,” he says. He understood the desire to do whatever is possible for someone gravely ill, but he also knew how dangerous it is to assume a drug works when so many promising treatments prove to be ineffective — or even harmful — in trials. “The COVID-19 pandemic has arguably been one of the greatest challenges to evidence-based medicine since the term was coined in the last century,” Carley and his colleagues wrote of the problems they were seeing.

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CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Can Largely Ditch Masks Indoors

May 13, 2021

(Associated Press) – “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

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Scientists Race to Study Variants in India as Cases Explode

May 13, 2021

(Associated Press) – A potentially worrisome variant of the coronavirus detected in India may spread more easily. But the country is behind in doing the kind of testing needed to track it and understand it better. On Monday, the World Health Organization designated the new version of the virus a “variant of concern” based on preliminary research, alongside those that were first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil but have spread to other countries.

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Blood Expert Says He Found Why Some Covid-19 Vaccines Trigger Rare Clots

May 13, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – In Germany, one researcher thinks he has found what is triggering the clots. Andreas Greinacher, a blood expert, and his team at the University of Greifswald believe so-called viral vector vaccines—which use modified harmless cold viruses, known as adenoviruses, to convey genetic material into vaccine recipients to fight the coronavirus—could cause an autoimmune response that leads to blood clots. According to Prof. Greinacher, that reaction could be tied to stray proteins and a preservative he has found in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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West and Rights Groups Accuse China of Massive Uyghur Crimes

May 13, 2021

(Associated Press) – Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.”

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Moderna Reveals COVID Vaccine Testing Results on Kids 12-17

May 12, 2021

(WFAA) – Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine is 96% effective in children ages 12 to 17, the pharmaceutical company announced in an investor call Thursday. The news comes as the U.S. is expected next week to authorize a vaccine by Pfizer for children ages 12-15. Moderna also announced Thursday it is in Phase 2 of a study to test the vaccine on children as young as 6 months old. It’s also in Phase 3 of a study to test the vaccine on adults who have undergone kidney or liver transplants.

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C.D.C. Confirms More Cases of Rare Blood Clots Disorder Linked to J.&J. Vaccine

May 12, 2021

(New York Times) – Federal health officials have now confirmed 28 cases, including six in men, of a rare blood clotting disorder in adults who have received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, the deputy director of the immunization safety office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presented the new cases on Wednesday at a meeting of a panel of advisers to the C.D.C. The figure is an increase from the 15 confirmed cases, all of which were in women, that were reported at last month’s meeting.

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Crash, Arrest Draw More Scrutiny of Tesla Autopilot System

May 12, 2021

(Associated Press) – Federal safety regulators are sending a team to California to investigate a fatal freeway crash involving a Tesla, just after authorities near Oakland arrested a man in another Tesla rolling down a freeway with no one behind the steering wheel. Experts say both cases raise pressure on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take action on Tesla’s partially automated driving system called Autopilot, which has been involved in multiple crashes that have resulted in at least three U.S. deaths.

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Drop in Xinjiang Birthrate Largest in Recent History: Report

May 12, 2021

(Associated Press) – Xinjiang in far western China had the sharpest known decline in birthrates between 2017 and 2019 of any territory in recent history, according to a new analysis by an Australian think tank. The report from the Australian Strategy Policy Institute, obtained exclusively ahead of publication by The Associated Press, showed the 48.74% decline was concentrated in areas with many Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other largely Muslim ethnic minorities, based on Chinese government statistics over nearly a decade.

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Scientists Race to Study Variants in India as Cases

May 12, 2021

(Associated Press) – A potentially worrisome variant of the coronavirus detected in India may spread more easily. But the country is behind in doing the kind of testing needed to track it and understand it better. On Monday, the World Health Organization designated the new version of the virus a “variant of concern” based on preliminary research, alongside those that were first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil but have spread to other countries.

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US Advisers Endorse Pfizer COVID Shot for Kids 12 and Up

May 12, 2021

(Associated Press) – U.S. health advisers endorsed use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12 on Wednesday — just as planned new guidelines say it’s OK for people of any age to get a coronavirus shot at the same time as other needed vaccinations. The shots will let kids safely attend camps this summer and help assure a more normal return to classrooms next school year, concluded advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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