person getting vaccinated

DAILY DOSE: Europeans support vaccine passports; Link between gut bacteria and autism isn’t cut and dry.

One of the major talking points among anti-Covid-19 vaccine proponents is the notion of having to show proof of immunization status. They don’t want to do it. A recent YouGov survey in Europe indicates that the nay-sayers are a minority, albeit a very vocal one. Per the Guardian, “Vaccine passports enjoy substantial support across Europe, a YouGov survey suggests, as a fourth wave of infections prompts a growing number of countries to impose tougher restrictions on people who have not been fully vaccinated.” Good to see the grown-ups are still out there.

Throughout the pandemic, public health officials have voiced concern about the disease ravaging Africa the way so many other terrible diseases such AIDS have. At this point, it appears that those fears have been unfounded as infection levels have continued to decrease even without widespread vaccinations or therapies. Per the Associated Press, “‘COVID-19 is gone, when did you last hear of anyone who has died of COVID-19?’ Ndou said. ‘The mask is to protect my pocket,’ he said. ‘The police demand bribes so I lose money if I don’t move around with a mask.’ Earlier this week, Zimbabwe recorded just 33 new COVID-19 cases and zero deaths, in line with a recent fall in the disease across the continent, where World Health Organization data show that infections have been dropping since July.” Ndou’s words says it all.

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Our microbiomes have been associated with a number of ailments you’d never have thought are connected to our guts. Depression is one of them. Researchers have dedicated a lot of time exploring the link between the microbes in our guts and autism. Things have been a lot less convincing there. Per Wired, “We don’t yet know the root cause of autism, though genetic factors are thought to be involved. But some research has hinted that the gut plays a role. Much of the evidence to support the theory has come from studies in animals; for example, when scientists put fecal samples from children with autism into mice, colonizing their stomachs with their microbes, the animals developed autism-like behaviors. These studies were thought to suggest a causal relationship between gut bacteria and the development of autism—but  are a poor proxy for the complexities of autism and the human mind. Other studies have found that children with autism tend to have a different microbiome makeup compared to children not on the spectrum. But it’s never been clear whether this divergence in gut flora is a cause or an effect. Now, a new paper in the journal Cell argues for the latter: The difference stems from the kids’ eating behaviors, and may be a consequence, not the cause, of their symptoms.”

In yet another high profile example of drug-making-ain’t-easy, Merck’s high profile HIV drug candidate has hit a fairly considerable road bump. Per FierceBiotech, “A ‘very important’ part of Merck’s HIV strategy has come off the rails. Just months after talking up the importance of MK-8507, Merck has paused development of the asset in response to midphase data that also raised questions about the backbone of all the company’s planned HIV regimens. Merck paused development of MK-8507 after seeing decreases in white blood cells in HIV patients who took the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor in combination with backbone therapy islatravir in a phase 2 clinical trial.” Like Ringo said, It ain’t easy.

Early this morning Eastern U.S. time, a major lunar eclipse took place. According to, “Skywatchers across North America got a first class view of the longest partial lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years, though for some, frigid weather threatened to ruin the experience. The Beaver Moon lunar eclipse of 2021, which saw the moon 97% covered by Earth’s shadow at its peak at 4:02 am EST (9:02 GMT), was potentially visible to millions of stargazers across North America, Central and South America, as well as parts of Australia, Europe and Asia.” Any time you can see an astronomical event with the naked eye, it’s a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Let’s be careful out there.

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