Archive for the ‘public health’ Category

Could Breathalyzers Make Covid Testing Quicker and Easier?

September 15th, 2020
A breath test would offer advantages over throat and nose swabs, but the technology is novel, and early trials with volunteers are still ongoing.

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Asbestos Removal Is a Hard Job, but Covid-19 Makes It Harder

September 12th, 2020
Getting rid of asbestos is good for public health, but it’s risky for abatement workers, whose occupational risks make them vulnerable to Covid-19 complications.

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How Does a Sturgis Motorcycle Rally-Sized Crowd Affect Covid? It’s Complicated

September 11th, 2020
That paper on the South Dakota motorcycle rally had flaws, but it's not useless. And it shows the US needs better data collection.

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Blood Centers Are Barely Meeting Convalescent Plasma Demand

September 11th, 2020
Despite a lack of scientific studies on its efficacy for Covid-19, interest in the treatment has surged alongside case numbers.

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COVID vaccine makers vow science—not Trump—will dictate release timing

September 8th, 2020
Woman receives an experimental COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA on September 04, 2020, as part of a clinical trial.

Enlarge / Woman receives an experimental COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA on September 04, 2020, as part of a clinical trial. (credit: Getty | Boston Globe)

In an extraordinary move Tuesday, nine top pharmaceutical executives made a public pledge that they will not prematurely release a COVID-19 vaccine and that they will only seek federal approval to distribute a vaccine after rigorous ethical and scientific standards are met.

The pledge was signed by the CEOs of AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, and Sanofi. All of the represented companies are working on a vaccine against COVID-19 and four—AstraZeneca, Moderna, and a joint venture between BioNTech and Pfizer—have vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials.

The vow appears to be a coordinated resistance to pressure from the Trump administration, which is pushing for a rollout of a vaccine by November 1, just before the presidential election. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told states to be ready to start distributing vaccines by November 1.

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Posted in Astrazeneca, CDC, COVID-19, fda, gsk, infectious diseases, moderna, Pfizer, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, Trump, vaccine | Comments (0)

Mental Health in the US is Suffering—Will It Go Back to Normal?

September 8th, 2020
Covid-19 has left lots of people feeling anxious and depressed. But it’s hard to untangle whether this is a normal response to a difficult situation or actual pathology.

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Trump admin halts evictions in 2020 with rarely used public health law

September 2nd, 2020
Protesters demonstrate during a 'No Evictions, No Police' national day of action protest against law enforcement who forcibly remove people from homes on September 1, 2020 in New York City.

Enlarge / Protesters demonstrate during a 'No Evictions, No Police' national day of action protest against law enforcement who forcibly remove people from homes on September 1, 2020 in New York City. (credit: Getty | Angela Weiss)

Citing the risks of COVID-19 spread, the Trump administration on Tuesday said it would halt US evictions through the end of the year, wielding a rarely used power of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the order, the CDC is halting residential evictions of people who are unable to pay full rent due to income loss and who expect to earn no more than $99,000 in income this year (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return). Renters hoping to be protected by the order must also certify, under penalty of perjury, that if they are evicted, they “would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because [they] have no other available housing options.”

The order does not offer any financial relief—either for renters or for housing providers—and it doesn’t relieve anyone from having to pay their rent in full eventually. It also doesn’t prevent housing providers from charging interest or applying fees and penalties.

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Posted in CDC, COVID-19, eviction, Infectious disease, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, Transmission | Comments (0)

The CDC has failed: Ex-health officials urge states to abandon agency

September 1st, 2020
A security guard walks on the grounds of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Enlarge / A security guard walks on the grounds of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is promoting policies that will prolong the COVID-19 pandemic and, as such, states and local leaders should disregard the agency and strike out on their own. That’s according to Harold Varmus, the Nobel-prize-winning scientist and former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Rajiv Shah, the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and current president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

The two laid out their argument against the CDC in a searing opinion piece in The New York Times Monday, titled: “It Has Come to This: Ignore the CDC.”

Varmus and Shah’s dramatic disavowal of the country’s leading public health agency was spurred by its abrupt changes last week to COVID-19 testing guidance, which now discourages testing of people who have been exposed to the pandemic coronavirus but do not have symptoms.

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Posted in asymptomatic, CDC, COVID-19, Infectious disease, NIH, public health, SARS-CoV-2, science, testing | Comments (0)

Trump advisor reportedly wants to let COVID-19 spread, repeat Sweden’s mistakes

August 31st, 2020
A serious man in a business suit sits with his hands folded in his lap.

Enlarge / Member of the coronavirus task force Scott Atlas listens to US President Donald Trump during a briefing at the White House August 10, 2020, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI )

A new advisor to President Donald Trump is reportedly advocating that the pandemic coronavirus spread largely unrestrained so that the United States can reach “herd immunity”—an idea that infectious disease experts call “absolutely absurd,” “simply wrong,” and a strategy that actually amounts to the absence of a strategy, which could leave hundreds of thousands of more Americans dead.

Still, according to reporting by The Washington Post, the idea is being pushed by Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist from Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, who began advising Trump in August. In his short tenure so far, Professor Atlas has repeatedly made statements contrary to scientific evidence, such as saying that children do not spread the virus.

Officials say Atlas was recruited to the advisory role counter the advice of Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, and Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. One senior administration official said Atlas, who has no background in infectious diseases, sees himself as the “anti-Dr. Fauci.”

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Posted in COVID-19, herd immunity, immunity, Infectious disease, public health, science, scott atlas, sweden, Trump, WHO | Comments (0)

Can People Without Symptoms Get Tested for Covid? Who Knows

August 28th, 2020
Top health officials have issued contradictory statements, and the CDC’s newest guidance limiting testing comes just as the Trump Administration invests in rapid tests.

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