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Turkey Offers Additional Pfizer-BioNTech Shots Amid Concern Over Chinese Vaccine

August 16, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Turkey said it would allow people who got Chinese-made Covid-19 shots to be fully revaccinated with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE doses, to help ease travel to countries that haven’t approved the Chinese vaccines. The Turkish government has inoculated millions using the vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. since rolling out its campaign in January. It began using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine months later, and in July started offering a booster shot to some people amid concerns over the Chinese vaccine’s effectiveness against the highly infectious Delta variant. (Read Full Article)

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Without Code for DeepMind’s Protein AI, This Lab Wrote Its Own

August 16, 2021

(Wired) – But in the seven months since CASP, another team had taken up that mantle. In June, a full month before the publication of DeepMind’s manuscript, a team led by David Baker, director of the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington, released their own model for protein structure prediction. For a month, this model, called RoseTTAFold, was the most successful protein prediction algorithm that other scientists could actually use. Though it did not reach the same peaks of performance as AlphaFold2, the team ensured the model would be accessible to even the least computationally inclined scientist by building a tool that allowed researchers to submit their amino acid sequences and get back predictions, without getting their hands dirty with computer code. A month later, on the very same day that Nature released the DeepMind early manuscript, the journal Science published the Baker lab’s paper describing RoseTTAFold. (Read Full Article)

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Boosters Take Off

August 16, 2021

(Axios) – We now know some people in the U.S. are going to get additional doses of COVID vaccines after the CDC and FDA signed off on shots for the immunocompromised last week.  The big picture: As Andrew Badley, chairman of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 research task force, put it to Axios: “It’s not the end of the story.” (Read Full Article)

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Tackling the Growing Problem of Overmedication

August 16, 2021

(Knowable Magazine) – Polypharmacy, often defined as the regular use of five or more drugs by one patient, is on the rise and is expected to grow as life expectancy increases and the global population ages. Elderly people not only take more drugs but also face a greater risk of severe side effects because their livers tend to be less efficient at metabolizing and clearing medications from the bloodstream. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that interactions between some drugs can be harmful and up to half of patients taking four or more drugs do not take them as prescribed, according to a 2020 analysis in the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology. (Read Full Article)

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Why Sports Concussions Are Worse for Women

August 16, 2021

(Nature) – Head injuries in sport have had a high profile for many years, with hundreds, if not thousands, of participants in American football, rugby, football, boxing and other sports experiencing dementia or memory loss thought to be linked to recurrent blows to the head decades earlier. Coaching protocols at all levels are changing to try to prevent injury, but these have generally neglected to include a huge cohort: women. (Read Full Article)

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New Covid-19 Hospitalizations for 30- to 39-Year-Olds at Record Rate

August 16, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Hospitalizations of Covid-19 patients in their 30s have hit a new record, U.S. government data show, a sign of the toll that the highly contagious Delta variant is taking among the unvaccinated. Thirty-somethings, who are in prime ages for work and parenting, had largely avoided hospital stays for Covid-19 during earlier phases of the pandemic because of their relative good health. (Read Full Article)

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Do Mandatory Vaccines Violate Human Rights?

August 13, 2021

(Quartz) – A wave of companies and governments are announcing new vaccine policies, requiring people to get inoculated against Covid-19 in order to keep their jobs, go to the office, dine in restaurants, or attend indoor performances. Such policies seem to be effective in persuading at least some unvaccinated people to get their shots. They’re also bound to be controversial. One of the most common arguments raised by dissenters is that vaccine mandates infringe upon unvaccinated people’s human rights and civil liberties. (Read Full Article)

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Two Flags for Poor Prognosis After Rare VITT with AstraZeneca Jab

August 13, 2021

(Medscape) – British doctors have identified two factors — very low platelet counts and brain bleeds — which they say dramatically increase the likelihood of a patient dying following the very rare but devastating side effect of vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) after the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (Oxford-AstraZeneca) vaccine. However, they believe that the surge in the VITT side effect over the past few months is probably over now, as they revealed the terrible toll following the first few hundred confirmed cases.  (Read Full Article)

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Supreme Court Rejects Request to Block Indiana University’s Vaccine Mandate for Students

August 13, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday rejected an emergency request by a group of Indiana University students who were seeking to block the school from enforcing a Covid-19 vaccine requirement for the coming semester. The school is requiring students to be vaccinated unless they are exempt for religious or medical reasons, and in those circumstances, individuals must wear masks and be tested for the virus regularly. The emergency appeal marked the first time a Covid-19 vaccine mandate reached the Supreme Court. (Read Full Article)

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EU Looking Into New Possible Side Effects of mRNA COVID-19 Shots

August 13, 2021

(Medscape) – Three new conditions reported by a small number of people after vaccination with COVID-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna are being studied to assess if they may be possible side-effects, Europe’s drugs regulator said on Wednesday. Erythema multiforme, a form of allergic skin reaction; glomerulonephritis, or kidney inflammation; and nephrotic syndrome, a renal disorder characterised by heavy urinary protein losses, are being studied by the safety committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), according to the regulator. (Read Full Article)

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CDC: More Than 1 Million Have Received Unauthorized Third Dose

August 13, 2021

(Medscape) – The estimate of 1.1 million third shots is likely an undercount, according to an internal CDC document obtained by ABC News. The number includes people who received the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and then received another dose, but it doesn’t count people who may have received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and then received a second dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Florida, Ohio, California, Illinois, and Tennessee have reported the highest number of people who received an unauthorized third shot, ABC News reported. (Read Full Article)

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How Do Vaccinated People Spread Delta? What the Science Says

August 12, 2021

(Nature) – When early field data showed that vaccinating people cuts transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, researchers were cautiously optimistic. But they warned that many of those studies, although promising, took place before the fast-spreading Delta variant proliferated worldwide. Now, reports from various countries seem to confirm what scientists feared after the variant tore through India with alarming speed in April and May: Delta is more likely than other variants to spread through vaccinated people. (Read Full Article)

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How the Pandemic Now Ends

August 12, 2021

(The Atlantic) – In September 2020, just before COVID-19 began its wintry surge through the United States, I wrote that the country was trapped in a pandemic spiral, seemingly destined to repeat the same mistakes. But after vaccines arrived in midwinter, cases in the U.S. declined and, by summer’s edge, had reached their lowest levels since the pandemic’s start. Many Americans began to hope that the country had enough escape velocity to exit its cycle of missteps and sickness. And though experts looked anxiously to the fall, few predicted that the Delta variant would begin its ascent at the start of July. Now the fourth surge is under way and the U.S. is once again looping through the pandemic spiral. Arguably, it never stopped. (Read Full Article)

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VA Health System Won’t Cover Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug

August 12, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – The Department of Veterans Affairs won’t cover Biogen Inc.’s BIIB 0.48% new Alzheimer’s drug, the latest rebuke of the controversial treatment since it was approved earlier this summer. The VA decided not add the drug, called Aduhelm, to its formulary list of available medicines because of the drug’s risk of causing serious side effects and a lack of evidence that it improves cognitive function, an agency spokeswoman said. (Read Full Article)

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Covid-19 Rise, Vaccine Hesitancy Frustrate Doctors in Hospitals Saturated by the Delta Variant

August 12, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Some healthcare workers say the latest surges in Covid-19 are adding to fatigue and burnout. But this time exhaustion is amplified by something new: frustration over the insufficient uptake of vaccines that could have prevented most Covid-19 patients from landing in their care. The Delta variant has pushed up U.S. Covid-19 infections to averages of about 100,000 a day, federal data show, levels last breached before vaccines were available to many Americans. Hospitalizations and deaths have climbed less sharply nationwide, but in some parts of the country where vaccination rates are lower, more people are hospitalized for Covid-19 than ever. (Read Full Article)

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Covid-19 Vaccine Scammers Target Authorities in Dozens of Countries Including Italy and Columbia

August 12, 2021

(Wall Street Journal) – Criminal organizations and individuals claiming access to Covid-19 vaccines have contacted authorities in dozens of countries hoping they will sign illegitimate contracts for millions of dollars, according to documents and people familiar with the attempts. Countries whose national, regional or tribal governments were approached include the Netherlands, Latvia, France, Israel, the Czech Republic, Austria, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Canada and Spain, according to the people familiar with the matter. (Read Full Article)

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The NYPD Had a Secret Fund for Surveillance Tools

August 12, 2021

(Wired) – New York City police bought a range of surveillance tools—including facial-recognition software, predictive policing software, vans equipped with x-ray machines to detect weapons, and “stingray” cell site simulators—with no public oversight, according to documents released Tuesday. In all, the documents show that the NYPD spent at least $159 million since 2007 through a little-known “Special Expenses Fund” that did not require approval by the city council or other municipal officials. The documents were made public by two civil rights groups, the Legal Aid Society and the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), which say the practice amounted to a “surveillance slush fund.” (Read Full Article)

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Hospitals Struggle to Find Nurses, Beds, Even Oxygen as Delta Surges

August 12, 2021

(Medscape) – The state of Mississippi is out of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. The University of Mississippi Medical Center — the state’s largest health system — is converting part of a parking garage into a field hospital to make more room. “Hospitals are full from Memphis to Gulfport, Natchez to Meridian. Everything’s full,” said Alan Jones, MD, the hospital’s COVID-19 response leader, in a Wednesday press briefing. (Read Full Article)

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Ambulances Wait Outside Hospitals as COVID Infections Spread

August 12, 2021

(Medscape) – COVID-19 cases have filled so many Florida hospital beds that ambulance services and fire departments are straining to respond to emergencies. In St Petersburg, some patients wait inside ambulances for up to an hour before hospitals can admit them — a process that usually takes about 15 minutes, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said. While ambulances sit outside emergency rooms, they are essentially off the grid. (Read Full Article)

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Revealed: England’s Pandemic Crisis of Child Abuse, Neglect and Poverty

August 11, 2021

(The Guardian) – A looming crisis of children suffering abuse, neglect and poverty has been exposed, with growing numbers of young people taken into care in some of England’s most deprived communities during the pandemic. A Guardian investigation into the state of children’s services in the last 18 months has revealed a sharp rise in social services referrals during lockdown, plus spiralling costs for mental health support and a bulging backlog in the family courts, with some councils buckling under the weight of the extra work brought by coronavirus. (Read Full Article)

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