Friday February 19, 2021 | Kaiser Health news

Longer Looks: Interesting Reads You May Have Missed

Each week KHN finds longer stories for you to sit down and enjoy. This week’s picks include stories on covid-19, antibodies, the Tokyo Olympics, surrogacy, food waste, Bill Gates and more.

The Atlantic: why COVID-19 cases are falling so fast

A month ago, the CDC released the results of more than 20 pandemic prediction models. Most predicted that COVID-19 cases would continue to grow until February, or at least to a plateau. Instead, COVID-19 is retreating in America. New daily cases have dropped and hospitalizations have dropped by almost 50% over the past month. This is not an artifact of infrequent testing, as the share of regional daily tests that come back positive has fallen even more than the number of cases. Some pandemic statistics are unclear, but the current decline in COVID-19 is crystal clear. What is behind the change? The good behavior of Americans over the past month has been associated with warming (mainly) weather in the northern hemisphere to slow the growth of the pandemic; at the same time, partial immunity and vaccines reduced the number of viable bodies that would allow the coronavirus to grow. But the full story is a bit more complex. (Thompson, February 17)

Los Angeles Times: Hollywood Forever Crematorium Tackles Wave of COVID-19 Death

Diego Pablo had trained the young man in the profession of burning human bodies to ashes. Inside the crematorium, Pablo, 44, watched his protégé prepare to push the rose-covered cardboard coffin into the oven’s gaping mouth. “And after?” Pablo asked, a gentle reminder to the 23-year-old – who towered over him – that something was missing. (Mejia, 2/12)

The Atlantic: the virus is evolving. But so are your antibodies

To locate some of the most overpowered cells in the world, look no further than the human immune system. The mission of these local heroes is threefold: to memorize the characteristics of the dangerous microbes which cross the barriers of the body. Launch an attack to bring them down. Then squirrel away from the information to stifle future assaults. The immune system is complete, able to fight with just about any germ that it encounters. It is an archiving, an asset to memorize the details of its victories and defeats. It might be complicated, but it’s also, quite simply, cool as hell. (Wu, 2/12)

The New York Times: The potential of new coronaviruses could be greater than known

As the coronavirus continues to evolve, science and public health have focused on new variants in which a few mutations make the virus more infectious, if not deadly. These changes in the virus are all what scientists call point mutations, the substitution of one tiny piece of genetic code for another. Coronaviruses, as a group, are not known to mutate quickly, but the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus means millions and millions of people are infected with billions and billions of viral particles, delivering countless chances for change. (Gorman, February 16)

The New York Times: Building the next pandemic together

Covid-19 arrived in Cambodia a year ago, on January 23, when a Chinese national arrived from Wuhan, the city where the disease was first detected, and quickly fell ill with a fever. A PCR test to detect the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19, came back positive. With this news, the disease had officially broken through the borders of another nation. For Cambodia, a developing country with a rudimentary health system and multiple direct flights from Wuhan, the new disease appeared to pose a particularly high risk. (Zeeberg, 02/16)

Politico: Welcome to Recovery Lab: Health

The Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis unparalleled in America for a century: a deadly global contagion combined with a deep economic downturn that has caused massive shocks throughout our society and economy. Our health care system has been grappling with the unprecedented volume of patients and the challenge of immunizing the entire population. Millions of jobs have ceased to exist and others have been completely restructured. Schools and universities have reconfigured programs and timetables. Technology has become even more integrated into the way we buy, work and learn, widening the digital divide more than ever. Daily life has been completely changed and it’s a safe bet that our economy will never be the same again. (Reynolds, 2/18)

Bloomberg: Pfizer herd immunity study blocked by Iceland’s Covid victories

Pressure from Iceland to get Pfizer Inc.’s support for a nationwide study on the ability of vaccines to rapidly create herd immunity has encountered an unexpected problem. The small island nation has done too good a job keeping Covid-19 under control. Ahead of Christmas, Kari Stefansson, head of Iceland-based DeCode Genetics, and Thorolfur Gudnason, the country’s chief epidemiologist, contacted Pfizer executives. Their pitch: If Iceland could quickly get 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine, the country could inoculate around 70% of its population by the end of March, creating the basis for a real-world study on collective immunity. Therefore. (Brown and Sigurdardottir, 2/15)

The New York Times: WHO researcher researching origins of coronavirus during trip to China

Peter Daszak, WHO team member and president of the EcoHealth Alliance in New York, is primarily interested in the animal origins of the virus. A specialist in animal diseases and their spread to humans, Dr Daszak worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a collaboration that last year prompted the Trump administration to cancel a grant to his organization. In an interview after his return to New York, he said the visit provided new clues, which all scientists, Chinese and international, most likely agreed on an animal origin in China or Southeast Asia. (Gorman, 02/14)

Philadelphia Inquirer: NFL COVID-19 Data Helped CDC Coronavirus Research

There was a lot of uncertainty along the way, but the NFL season ended last Sunday without a hitch. In a season defined by the obstacles brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it hasn’t always been easy to see the league reach the finish line in Tampa for Super Bowl LV. There have been outbreaks, postponed matches and times when the league’s interest in player safety has been called into question, but the league announced last week that the overall positivity rate among players and players has been called into question. staff members was 0.08% and NFL research on the virus was used by the government. health agencies. (Smith, 2/11)

The Wall Street Journal: Covid vaccines for the Tokyo Olympics have become a political issue

The International Olympic Committee has a complex view of whether athletes should be vaccinated for this summer’s Tokyo Games. The IOC won’t need Covid-19 vaccines for competition and doesn’t want athletes crossing the line. But he also ordered the National Olympic Committees to try to vaccinate their athletes. The conflicting signals show how the vaccine has become a touchy subject before Tokyo. Even discussing vaccines for athletes can spark hostility as a slow rollout of vaccines unfolds around the world among countries keen to turn the tide of deaths, number of cases and economic downturn. Still, sports officials from dominant Olympic nations say they are pursuing the IOC’s demand anyway. (Bachman and Radnofsky, 02/14)

Also –

The New York Times: Meet the Women Who Become Substitutes in New York

In 1995, Lisa Wippler, having recently retired from the Marines, moved with her husband and two young sons to Oceanside, Calif., And envisioned her next chapter in life. The answer came one night lying in bed, reading an article on infertility. “I had no idea how many couples needed help,” she says. Inspired, she sought out a local support group for women who had served as surrogates to help those who cannot have children in their own families. “It was this incredible circle of women,” said Ms. Wippler, who is now 49. “They all talk about their travels and their stories.” (Dodge, 2/15)

The Washington Post: Restaurants throw away a lot of food. These volunteers pick it up first and take it to hungry people.

Abigail Goody’s 8-month-old daughter Sailor contracted the coronavirus in January at her daycare in Woodbridge, Virginia. Goody, 29, and her husband, Bobby Hawkes, 28, an independent home improvement contractor, soon had covid-19 as well. They all had relatively mild symptoms, Goody said, but the couple quickly realized they had an impending problem. “We had about a week’s worth of food in the fridge,” said Goody, who works as a hairstylist at a salon that is now closed. “I was thinking of things I should do to make our meals longer.” (Free, 2/12)

The Washington Post: Bill Gates tackles climate change and Covid conspiracy theories. He’s also “ going through the biggest setback of my life. ”

Bill Gates, 65, is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur, philanthropist and technologist. He co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen and made it one of the biggest companies in the world. Together with his wife, Melinda, he now co-chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global health and development, and education in the United States. One of the largest private charities in the world, their foundation has provided more than $ 50 billion in grants in 135 countries. Gates is also involved with a number of private sector companies to encourage innovation in health and climate change. Released this month, his book “How to Avoid a Climate Catastrophe” details his own exploration of the causes and effects of climate change. In it, Gates offers a framework to avert climate catastrophe by achieving what he deems necessary to go from 51 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions released each year to net zero by 2050. Noting that The world “has never done anything so great,” Gates argues that advanced technology must play a critical role in making it happen. (Ottesen, February 16)

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