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DAILY DOSE: Omicron-specific vaccine stumbles in testing; A lot of people trust their drug dealers more than their vaccine doctors.

Here’s some news that can be interpreted as glass half full or glass half empty. When Omicron emerged a few months ago, there was a lot of talk about tailoring current vaccines to target the new variant. As it turns out, it’s been all for naught (at least until now). Per Nature, “As the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 continues its global rampage, vaccine makers are pouring resources into clinical trials of COVID-19 shots tailored to the highly transmissible variant. But a raft of early animal studies suggest that Omicron-specific boosters offer no advantage over a third dose of current vaccines. Most of the studies involved only a small number of animals — just eight primates, in one case — and none has been peer reviewed. But they offer early hints that a single dose of a customized vaccine won’t change the game against Omicron.

COVID-19 vaccination is a hill tennis superstar Novak Djokovic is willing to die on (figuratively speaking). In the process, he is willing to jeopardize his legacy as the GOAT of his era. According to the Associated Press, “If forced to choose, Novak Djokovic said he would skip the French Open and Wimbledon, foregoing the chance to overtake Rafael Nadal’s record haul of 21 Grand Slams titles, rather than get vaccinated against COVID-19… Speaking in an interview broadcast Tuesday by the BBC, the 20-time Grand Slam champion said he is still not vaccinated, and prepared to sacrifice titles to stay that way. If need be, not defending his titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and missing other tournaments is ‘the price that I am willing to pay,’ said the 34-year-old Serb, comments likely to further boost his hero-status among some opponents of vaccination.” Silly man.

STAT has a really interesting op-ed regarding the not-so-insignificant portion of society who trust their drug dealers more than they trust medical professionals dispensing Covid-19 vaccines. According to the article, “Here’s the gist of what she told me: When she speaks to her dealer, they listen to her concerns without judgment and accept her for who she is. When she feels bad, they are attentive to her. They will not sell her drugs if they know she is in a bad place because they have known each other for a long time. They are highly accessible, often by text or phone at all hours. They deliver a tangible, immediate response to the needs she expresses. They have time for her and treat her like they would any other human.” 

Wildlife injured by humans is unacceptably high. What’s even more disturbing is the realization that the current numbers represent undercounted figures. According to the Frontiers In blog, “In a new study published in Frontiers in Conservation Science, researchers studied the impacts of wire-snares and shotgun pellets on lions and leopards in Zambia via the forensic examination of skulls and teeth. The incidence of lion and leopard injuries caused by humans in Zambia is much higher than previously thought. Using a simple forensic examination technique, researchers found that injuries from entanglement in wire snares are present in 37% of lions and 22% of leopards in Zambia, while 27% of lions had shotgun pellets embedded in their skulls. Their method provides an opportunity to better monitor and quantify the number of large carnivores sustaining non-lethal injuries due to human activities including poaching and land protection.”

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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