person holding test tubes

DAILY DOSE: WHO deliberates ending emergency Covid-19 status; First RSV vaccine approved in the U.S.

For a significant portion of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has faded enough that it has become something of an afterthought. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still being infected, hospitalized, and dying from the disease. Things just aren’t the same as peak pandemic days. That’s why experts at the World Health Organization are deliberating whether the time has come to end the emergency status. Per Channel News Asia,

A panel of global health experts will meet on Thursday (May 4) to decide if COVID-19 is still an emergency under the World Health Organization's (WHO) rules, a status that helps maintain international focus on the pandemic.

The WHO first gave COVID-19 its highest level of alert on Jan 30, 2020, and the panel has continued to apply the label ever since, at meetings held every three months.

However, a number of countries have recently begun lifting their domestic states of emergency, such as the United States. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said he hopes to end the international emergency this year.

There is no consensus yet on which way the panel may rule, advisors to the WHO and external experts told Reuters.

Smart money (and common sense) says they end the state of emergency.

Alzheimer’s drugs have had a patchy track record, and that’s putting it nicely. An article in the Associated Press takes a look at the latest product to hit the market,

Eli Lilly and Co. said Wednesday its experimental Alzheimer’s drug appeared to slow worsening of the mind-robbing disease in a large study.

In the 18-month trial, people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s who received infusions of donanemab showed 35% less decline in thinking skills compared to those given a dummy drug, Lilly announced in a press release.

The drug is designed to target and clear away a sticky protein called beta-amyloid that builds up into brain-clogging plaques that are one hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

A similar amyloid-targeting drug, Eisai and Biogen’s Leqembi, recently hit the market with similar evidence that it could modestly slow Alzheimer’s — and also some safety concerns, brain swelling or small brain bleeds.

Donanemab also comes with that risk. Lilly said in its study, the brain side effects caused the deaths of two participants and a third also died after a serious case.

Is the risk-reward worth it for 35% reduced decline? Alzheimer’s is such a devastating disease, it might for a lot of people.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that accompanied it resulted in a brutal and unpredictable wave of RSV infections that followed in its wake, though mostly among school aged children. As many parents discovered, there’s no RSV vaccine on the market, until now. But now there is for older adults. Per the AP,

The U.S. approved the first vaccine for RSV on Wednesday, shots to protect older adults against a respiratory virus that’s most notorious for attacking babies but endangers their grandparents, too.

The Food and Drug Administration decision makes GSK’s shot, called Arexvy, the first of several potential vaccines in the pipeline for RSV to be licensed anywhere.

The move sets the stage for adults 60 and older to get vaccinated this fall — but first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide if every senior really needs RSV protection or only those considered at high risk from the respiratory syncytial virus. CDC’s advisers will debate that question in June.

After decades of failure in the quest for an RSV vaccine, doctors are anxious to finally have something to offer — especially after a virus surge that strained hospitals last fall.

You can practically hear the stampede of parents lining up their children for an RSV jab… Only its for adults.

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

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