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Many Americans Ignore Covid Boosters as Winter, Variants Loom

October 17, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – Health authorities have said they are counting on the new Omicron-targeting boosters to protect people during the cold-weather months from hospitalizations and deaths. Yet 7.6 million people in the U.S. got the shots in the four weeks after they were cleared for use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By contrast, 13 million people got at least one dose during the first month of the U.S. Covid-19 vaccination program after authorizations in December 2021, though supplies were limited, according to the CDC. (Read More)

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Expired Drug Kills 10 Child Leukemia Patients in Yemen

October 17, 2022

(Associated Press) – At least 10 child leukemia patients in Yemen have died, and dozens more left seriously ill, after being administered expired doses of a cancer treatment in the rebel-held capital, medical officials and workers said on Friday. Yemen’s ruinous conflict, now entering its eighth year, has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and killed in excess of 150,000 people. (Read More)

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Uganda Locks Down 2 Districts in Bid to Stem Spread of Ebola

October 17, 2022

(Associated Press) – Ugandan authorities on Saturday imposed a travel lockdown on two Ebola-hit districts as part of efforts to stop the spread of the contagious disease. The measures announced by President Yoweri Museveni mean residents of the central Ugandan districts of Mubende and Kassanda can’t travel into or out of those areas by private or public means. Cargo vehicles and others transiting from Kampala, the capital, to southwestern Uganda are still allowed to operate, he said.  (Read More)

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Pregnant Women Struggle to Find Care After Pakistan’s Floods

October 17, 2022

(Associated Press) – Pregnant women are struggling to get care after Pakistan’s unprecedented flooding, which inundated a third of the country at its height and drove millions from their homes. There are at least at least 610,000 pregnant women in flood-affected areas, according to the Population Council, a U.S.-based reproductive health organization. (Read More)

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EU Regulator Recommends Clearing Takeda’s Dengue Vaccine

October 14, 2022

(Associated Press) – The European Medicines Agency on Friday recommended the authorization of a dengue vaccine made by the Japanese pharmaceutical Takeda that could provide a new tool for millions worldwide against the potentially fatal disease. The EU regulator said in a statement the vaccine should be cleared for anyone aged four and over, to prevent the four types of dengue. The viral disease causes more than 390 million infections globally every year, including up to 25,000 deaths, mostly in children. (Read More)

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Neurons in a Dish Learn to Play Pong–What’s Next?

October 14, 2022

(Nature) – Hundreds of thousands of human neurons growing in a dish coated with electrodes have been taught to play a version of the classic computer game Pong. In doing so, the cells join a growing pantheon of Pong players, including pigs taught to manipulate joysticks with their snouts and monkeys wired to control the game with their minds. (Google’s DeepMind artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithms mastered Pong many years ago and have moved on to more-sophisticated computer games such as StarCraft II.The gamer cells respond not to visual cues on a screen but to electrical signals from the electrodes in the dish. (Read More)

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Human Brain Cells Implanted in Rats Prompt Excitement–And Concern

October 14, 2022

(Nature) – Miniature human-brain-like structures transplanted into rats can send signals and respond to environmental cues picked up by the rats’ whiskers, according to a study. This demonstration that neurons grown from human stem cells can interface with nerve cells in live rodents could lead to a way to test therapies for human brain disorders. Scientists would like to use brain organoids — tiny brain-like structures grown from human stem cells — to study neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders that humans develop. But the organoids mimic human brains only so far. (Read More)

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FDA Authorizes Updated Covid-19 Boosters for Kids as Young as 5

October 13, 2022

(STAT News) – The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized updated Covid-19 boosters for kids as young as 5. Previously, the newer versions of the shots — which target both the original strain of the coronavirus as well as the dominant BA.5 form of the Omicron variant — were only available to adults and kids as young as 12. Specifically, the FDA gave the green light to Moderna’s bivalent booster, which had been authorized only for adults, for kids 6 and older. The bivalent booster from Pfizer-BioNTech will now be available to kids 5 and older. (Read More)

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Meta’s New Headset Will Track Your Eyes for Targeted Ads

October 13, 2022

(Gizmodo) – This week Meta revealed the Meta Quest Pro, a new virtual reality headset that costs about as much as a pre-inflation mortgage payment. It’s a sleek device, with upgraded hardware, advanced features—and cameras that point inward to track your eyes and face. To celebrate the $1,500 headset, Meta made some fun new additions to its privacy policy, including one titled “Eye Tracking Privacy Notice.” The company says it will use eye-tracking data to “help Meta personalise your experiences and improve Meta Quest.” The policy doesn’t literally say the company will use the data for marketing, but “personalizing your experience” is typical privacy-policy speak for targeted ads. And if you had any doubts, Meta executives have been explicit about it. (Read More)

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Iodine Pills in Short Supply After Finland Updates Guideline

October 13, 2022

(Associated Press) – Many Finnish pharmacies ran out of iodine tablets Wednesday, a day after the Nordic country’s health ministry recommended that households buy a single dose in a case of a radiation emergency amid increasing fears of a nuclear event due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. (Read More)

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Scientists Grow Human Brain Cells in Rats to Study Diseases

October 13, 2022

(Associated Press) – Scientists have transplanted human brain cells into the brains of baby rats, where the cells grew and formed connections. It’s part of an effort to better study human brain development and diseases affecting this most complex of organs, which makes us who we are but has long been shrouded in mystery. (Read More)

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Nearly Half of Covid Patients Haven’t Fully Recovered Months Later, Study Finds

October 13, 2022

(New York Times) – A study of tens of thousands of people in Scotland found that one in 20 people who had been sick with Covid reported not recovering at all, and another four in 10 said they had not fully recovered from their infections many months later. The authors of the study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, tried to home in on the long-term risks of Covid by comparing the frequency of symptoms in people with and without previous Covid diagnoses. (Read More)

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F.D.A. Confirms Widespread Shortages of Adderall

October 13, 2022

(New York Times) – The Food and Drug Administration has declared a nationwide shortage of Adderall, a medication used to treat A.D.H.D. that has had surging demand in recent years. The F.D.A. noted that one maker of the drug, Teva Pharmaceuticals, has had continuing manufacturing delays, and other manufacturers of generic versions or alternatives have also reported periodic problems with meeting demand. The agency recommended that patients taking Adderall talk to their doctors to find alternative treatments. (Read More)

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Can You Punish a Child’s Mental Health Problems Away?

October 13, 2022

(New York Times) – It’s known as the troubled teen industry. Spread across the country, this array of boot camps, wilderness therapy programs, therapeutic boarding schools and residential treatment centers is supposed to help children with mental health and behavioral issues, through a mix of therapy and tough love. In reality, it is harming many of the children it purports to be treating, because of a reliance on archaic tactics, a lack of oversight and regulation and a focus on maximizing profit. (Read More)

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U.S. Preventative Health Group Recommends Anxiety Screening for Kids 8 to 18

October 11, 2022

(STAT News) – An influential national panel of preventive health experts on Tuesday recommended for the first time that children and adolescents between 8 and 18 should be screened for anxiety, but said there was insufficient evidence to say that children 7 and under should be screened. The new recommendations, issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and published in JAMA, are for the screening of children and teens who are seen in primary care settings and have no symptoms. (Read More)

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Maternity Care ‘Deserts’ on the Rise Across the U.S., Report Finds

October 11, 2022

(STAT News) – A maternity care desert is defined by the organization as any county without a hospital or birth center offering obstetric care and without any obstetric providers. The latest report, which March of Dimes will publish on Wednesday, shows that the number of American counties categorized as deserts increased by 2% since the organization’s 2020 report. (Read More)

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Employers Expand Reproductive Health Benefits Amid Tight Labor Market

October 11, 2022

(Axios) – A growing number of employers are expanding health coverage to in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy and other sometimes pricey fertility services in order to compete in the tight labor market amid heightened awareness of women’s health. (Read More)

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It’s a Bleak ‘Day of the Girl’ Because of the Pandemic. But No One’s Giving Up Hope

October 11, 2022

(NPR) – Teen pregnancy — including pregnancy from rape and incest — is just one of the ways the pandemic has stalled progress for girls in many countries. “What we’re seeing is a shadow pandemic — even though I hate the term, because it makes it seem lesser,” Musho says. “In what’s being called ‘the shadow pandemic,’ the burden was falling a lot on girls.” And the world is just beginning to unpack the impact, including the pandemic newborns. (Read More)

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This Won’t Hurt a Bit: The Anesthesiologist Who Is Putting You Under May Work for a Private-Equity Firm

October 10, 2022

(NBC News) – The nonprofit, acute care hospital then formed a new anesthesiology department of its own, hiring the clinicians who had previously worked for NAPA, and, in July, filed a lawsuit against NAPA. The company’s severe understaffing put its own profits ahead of the hospital’s patients, Cooperman Barnabas alleged, adding that the company’s “entire business structure should be scrutinized, because New Jersey laws and regulations preclude corporations from exercising clinical control over health care decisions.” NAPA’s practices have drawn complaints and generated litigation from other hospitals in recent years. (Read More)

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In Gold-Standard Trial, Invitation to Colonoscopy Reduced Cancer Incidence But Not Death

October 10, 2022

(STAT News) – For decades, gastroenterologists put colonoscopies on a pedestal. If everyone would get the screening just once a decade, clinicians believed it could practically make colorectal cancer “extinct,” said Michael Bretthauer, a gastroenterologist and researcher in Norway. But new results from a clinical trial that he led throw confidence in colonoscopy’s dominance into doubt. The trial’s primary analysis found that colonoscopy only cut colon cancer risk by roughly a fifth, far below past estimates of the test’s efficacy, and didn’t provide any significant reduction in colon cancer mortality. Gastroenterologists, including Bretthauer, reacted to the trial’s results with a mixture of shock, disappointment, and even some mild disbelief. (Read More)

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