DAILY DOSE: China steps up vaccination campaign among the elderly; Whoever is in charge of naming viruses needs to be fired.


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Beijing has moved to protect a massively under-vaccinated segment of the Chinese population, the elderly. Per The Guardian,

Chinese health officials have announced a drive to accelerate vaccinations of older people against Covid-19, as police patrolled major cities to stamp out protests against the country’s strict zero-Covid policy.

The low vaccination rate among older people is one of the major hurdles to easing the zero-Covid policy, which has eroded economic growth, disrupted the lives of millions, and sparked three days of unprecedented protests.

At a regular press conference on Tuesday, officials said just 76.6% of people over 80 had received two vaccine doses, compared with more than 90% of the general population, and only 65.8% had received a booster jab.

The National Health Commission (NHC) said it would target more vaccinations at people older than 80, and reduce to three months the gap between basic vaccination and booster shots for elderly people.

Obviously, this should have happened long ago. Begs the questions, what took so long and why now? http://bit.ly/3u7h8IL

One vulcanologist’s dream is another person’s nightmare. Such is the case with the recent activity taking place with the eruption of Hawaii’s big volcano, Mauna Loa. Per the Associated Press,

Waves of orange, glowing lava and smoky ash belched and sputtered Monday from the world’s largest active volcano in its first eruption in 38 years, and officials told people living on Hawaii’s Big Island to be ready in the event of a worst-case scenario.

The eruption of Mauna Loa wasn’t immediately endangering towns, but the U.S. Geological Survey warned the roughly 200,000 people on the Big Island that an eruption “can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

Officials told residents to be ready to evacuate if lava flows start heading toward populated areas.

The eruption began late Sunday night following a series of fairly large earthquakes, said Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The areas where lava was emerging — the volcano’s summit crater and vents along the volcano’s northeast flank — are both far from homes and communities.

What would possess someone to settle so close to a volcano? Just asking for a friend. http://bit.ly/3OOvtU4

One of the more frustrating periods during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic was when the World Health Organization refused to concede that the virus could be spread through aerosols. One of the key people behind the organization’s obstinance was its chief scientist. As she is set to leave her post, she admits that she messed up. Per Science,

Last week, Indian pediatrician Soumya Swaminathan announced on Twitter that she is leaving her post as chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of this month. She plans to return to India to work on public health there.

Swaminathan, 63, joined WHO in 2017 and in March 2019 was named the agency’s first chief scientist, a position created by Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to make sure “WHO anticipates and stays on top of the latest scientific developments.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, Swaminathan became one of the faces of the agency’s global response, fielding reporters’ questions at countless press conferences. Communicating about COVID-19 science “wasn’t really considered one of the functions of the chief scientist,” she says—but she embraced the role. Her biggest regret is not acknowledging early in the pandemic that SARS-CoV-2 could be spread by aerosols.

WHO has not yet named a successor for Swaminathan, whose departure is part of a larger exodus from the agency’s top leadership. http://bit.ly/3UhPlzG

Another death has been attributed to the drug lecanemab during clinical trials. Per Science,

A 65-year-old woman who was receiving a promising experimental treatment to slow the cognitive decline caused by her early Alzheimer’s disease recently died from a massive brain hemorrhage that some researchers link to the drug. The clinical trial death, described in an unpublished case report Science has obtained, is the second thought to be associated with the antibody called lecanemab. The newly disclosed fatality intensifies questions about its safety and how widely lecanemab should be prescribed if ultimately approved by regulators.

The woman, who received infusions of the antibody as part of the trial, suffered a stroke and a type of swelling and bleeding previously seen with such antibodies, which bind to and remove forms of amyloid-beta, a protein widely theorized to cause Alzheimer’s. After the stroke was diagnosed in an emergency room at Northwestern University Medical Center in Chicago, she was given a common intervention, the powerful blood-clot busting medication tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Substantial bleeding throughout her brain’s outer layer immediately followed, and the woman died a few days later, according to the case report.

After an autopsy, it was concluded that the drug likely contributed to her brain hemorrhage after biweekly infusions of lecanemab inflamed and weakened the blood vessels. The vessels apparently burst when exposed to tPA—known to cause brain bleeds even in some conventional stroke cases. http://bit.ly/3gH2UeD

As we learned with the naming of the novel coronavirus that caused Covid-19, names matter. Keeping that in mind, the WHO decided to rename monkeypox. Per STAT News,

The World Health Organization said Monday it will phase out the name of the disease monkeypox over the next year, replacing it with the term mpox. The decision follows widespread calls for changing the name since the current international outbreak of the disease was first detected last May.

The name of the disease and even the virus itself has been deemed by many to exacerbate the stigma attached to the infection — a sentiment the WHO referenced in the statement it issued announcing the change.

“When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO,” the statement said. “In several meetings, public and private, a number of individuals and countries raised concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.

Maybe it’s just me but, mpox is pretty close to monkeypox for anyone familiar with the virus’s original name. http://bit.ly/3OPkmtN

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

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