Women seeking help for unmet needs often overdue for cervical cancer screenings

More than half of cervical cancer cases in the United States occur in women who have not had timely Pap smears and/or HPV tests — screenings that allow for detection of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix. Encouraging low-income women in particular to participate in such screenings likely would improve cancer detection and save lives, but health-care professionals have been uncertain of how best to improve patient adherence to screenings and follow-ups involving abnormal results.

Women with low incomes sometimes skip Pap smears and other cancer prevention screenings because they are focused on more pressing needs such as housing, food and other necessary expenses. So, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis evaluated efforts to help such women obtain cervical cancer screenings.

The scientists studied a group of female callers in Missouri seeking assistance from a free and confidential phone service that helps people find basic resources. The researchers determined that many female callers were due for cervical cancer screenings but most did not schedule one, even with the support of a health navigator, an individual trained to help people access medical care. Their findings indicate a new, more involved approach is needed to achieve such screenings and, ultimately, lower the number of women treated for advanced cancer.

“Reasons for inadequate screening are many and often deeply rooted to social and structural determinants of health that drive health inequities,” said first author Lindsay Kuroki, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology. “We wanted to determine the need for cervical cancer screening among women seeking assistance with unmet basic needs and to assess different methods of encouraging callers to seek Pap screening. Connecting underserved women to cervical cancer-screening services and assisting them with barriers to access medical care can improve health equity and reduce cancer disparities.“

The findings are available online in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Participants were recruited from June 2010 through June 2012 from among callers to United Way 2-1-1 Missouri, a telephone helpline for local health and social service resources. Most callers seek help with basic needs such as food, utility bills, shelter and unexpected expenses.

Of 932 callers, 211 were referred for cervical cancer screenings. Callers were randomized to one of three conditions: phone call only; phone call and a print reminder; or a phone call and a personal navigator. The researchers looked at how many women contacted a clinic to schedule a Pap test one month after receiving a referral.

Patients in need of Pap screening had multiple cervical cancer risk factors. These women had a mean age of 48.2 years, were predominantly non-white, poor and unemployed, not married, and actively smoking. Nearly all (94.7%) female callers, regardless of their need for Pap testing, had at least one unmet basic need, with callers reporting an average of two unmet needs.

Women in the group that was assigned health navigators reported higher rates of contacting Pap services (29.6%) than those given phone calls only (15.1%), or phone calls and tailored print reminders (13.4%). Health navigators tripled the likelihood that women made contact with Pap services, and this remained true even among women with multiple unmet needs. Nevertheless, only 41 of 211 (19.4%) women who were overdue for Pap testing and received a referral contacted the referred clinic to schedule cervical cancer screenings.

The scientists said future research is necessary to understand how unmet basic needs pose barriers to cervical screening and how effective interventions to meet basic needs may lead to improved access to cancer prevention services. Some of these interventions might include immediate help such as assisting women with transportation and childcare. Other interventions might focus on redesigning health systems and influencing social policy to provide women at risk for cervical cancer with secure homes free of hunger and tobacco.

“Women contacting 2-1-1 are likely to have health needs that greatly exceed those of the general population, in addition to lacking financial resources and social support required to seek cervical cancer screening,” said senior author Matthew Kreuter, PhD, the Kahn Family Professor of Public Health at the Brown School. “Continuing this line of research is critical to improving outcomes for low-income, medically underserved populations. No woman should die from a preventable cancer.”

Source: Read Full Article

Mediterranean diet with lean beef may lower risk factors for heart disease

lean beef

Eating red meat may have a bad reputation for being bad for the heart, but new research found that lean beef may have a place in healthy diets, after all.

In a randomized controlled study, researchers found that a Mediterranean diet combined with small portions of lean beef helped lower risk factors for developing heart disease, such as LDL cholesterol.

Jennifer Fleming, assistant teaching professor of nutrition at Penn State, said the study suggests that healthy diets can include a wide variety of foods, such as red meat, and still be heart friendly.

“When you create a healthy diet built on fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, it leaves room for moderate amounts of other foods like lean beef,” Fleming said. “There are still important nutrients in beef that you can benefit from by eating lean cuts like the loin or round, or 93% lean ground beef.”

David J. Baer, research leader at the United States Department of Agriculture—Agricultural Research Service, and study co-principal investigator, added, “This study highlights the importance of including lean beef in a Mediterranean dietary pattern that can yield heart-healthy benefits.”

According to the researchers, red meat such as beef has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in previous studies. But it has remained unclear whether red meat actually causes these effects or if they actually are caused by other diet and lifestyle choices that people engage in alongside red meat consumption.

Additionally, the researchers said many studies have combined both fresh and processed meats together when evaluating red meat consumption and health. Processed red meats have a very different nutrient profile than fresh meat—for example, processed meat products are much higher in sodium—that could explain the red meat research that has been reported.

“The Mediterranean diet is traditionally low in red meat,” Fleming said. “But, knowing that many Americans enjoy red meat, we wanted to examine how combining lean beef with the Mediterranean diet would affect cardiovascular risk markers.”

The study included 59 participants. Every participant consumed each diet for four weeks each, with a one week break between each diet period, and blood samples were drawn at the beginning of the study as well as after each diet period.

Three of the four diet periods contained different amounts of beef to a Mediterranean diet plan, which provided 41% calories from fat, 42% from carbohydrates and 17% from protein. In addition to the control average American diet, one diet provided 0.5 ounces of beef a day, which is the amount recommended in the Mediterranean diet pyramid. A second diet provided 2.5 ounces a day, which represents the amount an average American eats in a day, and the third experimental diet included 5.5 ounces a day, which previous research connected with certain heart health benefits.

All three Mediterranean diet periods included olive oil as the predominant fat source, three to six servings of fruits, and six or more servings of vegetables a day. The beef included in these diet periods was either lean or extra-lean.

Fleming said they were able to use a special technology called nuclear magnetic resonance—or NMR technology—to measure the number and size of lipoprotein particles. She said this study was one of the first randomized controlled trials of the Mediterranean diet to use the technique.

“This is important because there is growing evidence to suggest that LDL particle number is more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than total blood LDL concentrations alone,” Fleming said. “Moreover, we were able to identify changes in apolipoproteins, specifically apoB, which are also associated with increased CVD risk.”

After the data were analyzed, the researchers found that participants all had lower LDL cholesterol following the Mediterranean diet periods compared to the average American diet. But while the total numbers of LDL particles were reduced following all three Mediterranean diet periods, they were only significantly decreased when following those periods that included 0.5 or 2.5 ounces of beef a day compared to the average American diet.

Additionally, non-HDL cholesterol and apoB—a protein involved in lipid metabolism and a marker of CVD risk—were lower following all three Mediterranean diet periods compared to the average American diet.

Fleming said the study—recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition—underscores the importance of consuming healthy, well-balanced diets.

Source: Read Full Article

Thiazides may up risk for skin cancer in older adults

Thiazides may up risk for skin cancer in older adults

(HealthDay)—Higher exposure to thiazides is associated with increased rates of incident keratinocyte carcinoma and melanoma among older adults, according to a study published online April 12 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Aaron M. Drucker, M.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues conducted a population-based inception cohort study using linked administrative health data from Ontario for 1998 to 2017. Adults aged 66 years and older with a first prescription for an antihypertensive medication were matched by age and sex to two unexposed adults prescribed a nonantihypertensive medication within 30 days of the index date to examine associations with keratinocyte carcinoma and melanoma. The cohorts included 302,634 adults prescribed an antihypertensive medication and 605,268 unexposed adults.

The researchers found that increasing thiazide exposure was associated with increased rates of incident keratinocyte carcinoma, advanced keratinocyte carcinoma, and melanoma (adjusted hazard ratios [95 percent confidence intervals] per one defined annual dose unit, 1.08 [1.03 to 1.14], 1.07 [0.93 to 1.23], and 1.34 [1.01 to 1.78], respectively). No consistent evidence was found for associations between other antihypertensive classes and keratinocyte carcinoma or melanoma.

“We found consistent dose-dependent increases in skin cancer risk associated with thiazides but not with other antihypertensive classes,” the authors write. “Clinicians may consider alternatives to thiazide diuretics to treat hypertension in patients at high risk for skin cancer.”

Source: Read Full Article

Master Of Flip’s Kortney Wilson Reveals Her Top Tip For Sprucing Up A Rented Apartment

If you’re renting a place and want your deposit back, it can feel like you’re just stuck staring at blank white or beige walls all day, every day. But don’t despair — there is a way to help make a rented apartment reflect your own style without having to resort to paint. And it comes recommended by the one and only Kortney Wilson of HGTV’s Masters of Flip

In an interview with 29secrets.com, Wilson revealed her recommendation for a budget-friendly and temporary way to upgrade your space: “Right now I’m really into DIY accent walls. I always say that wallpaper’s back — not our grandmother’s wallpaper, but peel-and-stick products are back with a vengeance. I’m also really into peel-and-stick barn wood — things you can actually do yourself, so you know you don’t need to hire a big company to install it where it’s thousands of dollars.” For an idea of what Wilson’s talking about, check out creative sites like Etsy, which has lots of temporary wallpaper options.

Collect second-hand frames to create a gallery wall

Making an accent wall of your own isn’t just about wallpaper treatments. You can also set up your own gallery wall with a collection of beloved images. Don’t just stick photos to the wall with blue tack like it’s a college dorm though. And don’t worry about the high cost of brand new matching frames. “I love gallery walls and I think one easy tip for people is to just get a bunch of inexpensive frames,” said Wilson, “you can go to a second-hand store, sometimes people even leave them in their trash — and you can paint them all one color.” By painting them all the same color, even if they’re wildly different styles, they will seem like they go together.

Wilson’s got another idea for how to bring things together in an accent wall once you’ve got your frames collected: “Go to the fabric store and buy some pieces of fabric, and just frame fabric.” If you’re thinking about framing fabric, Tara Reed, merchandising and marketplace manager at Spoonflower, explained what to look for in order to display fabric as art: “Think big when it comes to design scale. The larger the repeat on a pattern, the more natural it looks as art” (via Spoonflower).

Source: Read Full Article

Excellent outcomes reported for first targeted therapy for pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma

Excellent outcomes reported for first targeted therapy for pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma

Scientists are reporting results of the first frontline clinical trial to use targeted therapy to treat high-risk pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma. The study showed that the addition of brentuximab vedotin achieved excellent outcomes, reduced side effects, and allowed for reduced radiation exposures.

The study was the result of work by a multi-site consortium dedicated to pediatric Hodgkin-lymphoma. Collaborating institutions include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Maine Children’s Cancer Program and OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois.

A paper detailing the findings was published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

A new kind of therapy

Brentuximab vedotin is an anti-CD30 antibody drug conjugate. The drug, which is already approved to treat adults with Hodgkin lymphoma, is targeted specifically to Hodgkin Reed Sternberg cells (cancer cells in Hodgkin lymphoma). Brentuximab vedotin delivers the medicine directly where it is needed.

“I think of brentuximab vedotin as a smart drug,” said first and corresponding author Monika Metzger, M.D., St. Jude Departments of Oncology and Global Pediatric Medicine. “Unlike conventional chemotherapy, which can have wide-ranging effects on all cells of the body, this drug knows to go directly to the Hodgkin lymphoma cells—maximizing its effect while minimizing side effects.”

This phase 2 clinical trial replaced the chemotherapy drug vincristine with brentuximab vedotin in the frontline (first therapy given) treatment regimen. The regimen included other chemotherapy agents and radiation when needed. Vincristine is associated with neuropathy. Removing it from the regimen resulted in patients reporting a reduction in this symptom.

Overall three-year survival for the trial was 99%. Of the 77 patients enrolled in the study, 35% were spared radiation. When radiation was needed, it was precisely tailored, and doses were reduced when possible.

“We have already reduced the use of radiation for low-risk Hodgkin lymphoma patients. In this study we’ve shown that it is also possible to either omit or reduce the extent of radiation for high-risk patients, using highly focal methods such as proton beam radiation or intensity modulated radiation,” said co-senior author Matthew Krasin, M.D., St. Jude Department of Radiation Oncology.

The researchers concluded that brentuximab vedotin in the frontline treatment of pediatric high-risk Hodkgin lymphoma is tolerable, reduced radiation exposure and produced excellent outcomes. Brentuximab vedotin is currently being incorporated into other national trials for the care of pediatric patients with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Source: Read Full Article

Valneva’s COVID-19 Shot Set for Phase Three Trial This Month

PARIS (Reuters) – Valneva on Tuesday reported positive results for its COVID-19 vaccine in early stage clinical trials and said it planned to launch a Phase Three trial this month.

The French drugmaker, whose shot uses the technology behind its licensed Japanese encephalitis vaccine, tested its vaccine in 153 adults with three dose levels based on a schedule of two doses with vaccinations three weeks apart.

The vaccine, Valneva said, was “generally safe and well tolerated across all dose groups tested, with no safety concerns identified by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board”.

Valneva said the vaccine, for which the U.S. company Dynavax supplies an adjuvant, was also “highly immunogenic”, with “more than 90% of all study participants” developing significant levels of antibodies to the coronavirus spike protein.

“Based on the data assessed, the company has decided to advance the high dose into the phase 3 clinical trial. Other trials, including booster trials, involving antigen sparing doses will also be evaluated,” Valneva said.

The company added that it was working with authorities in Britain to review plans including for potential variant vaccine development and supply.

​Valneva has signed a deal with Britain for up to 190 million doses by 2025 in a transaction potentially worth up to 1.4 billion euros ($1.65 billion). The company is also in talks with the European Union to supply it with 60 million doses.

The company said it intended to submit the vaccine for approval in Britain in the autumn of this year and said discussions with other regulatory bodies were ongoing.

($1 = 0.8472 euros)

Source: Read Full Article

Comfort care beneficial for hospitalized stroke patients, yet disparities in use persist

stroke

Receiving palliative or hospice care services was found to improve quality of life for hospitalized ischemic stroke patients, however, disparities persist in which patients are prescribed or have access to these holistic comfort care options, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, stroke ranked No. 5 among all causes of death in the U.S. Nearly 9 in 10 strokes are ischemic strokes caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that carries blood to the brain. Despite advances in acute stroke treatment and management, stroke remains a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the U.S.

“Stroke death rates have declined over the past decade, however, as more people survive stroke, many face lingering consequences including varying levels of disability,” said lead study author Farhaan S. Vahidy, Ph.D., M.B.B.S., M.P.H., FAHA, an associate professor of outcomes research and the associate director of the Center for Outcomes Research at Houston Methodist, in Houston, Texas. “Many stroke patients are candidates for comfort care, including palliative or hospice care, which can improve outcomes and quality of life. It is important that stroke patients who could benefit with better quality of life from comfort care have these options available.”

Palliative care provides holistic support to patients with stroke and other chronic conditions to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Hospice care is end-of-life care and is usually reserved for patients among whom most treatment options are no longer feasible. And like palliative care, hospice care also aims to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

To better understand comfort care use among ischemic stroke patients in the U.S., researchers examined hospital patient data from 2006 to 2015 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. They found:

  • Of the nearly 4.3 million stroke hospital discharges, 3.8% received hospice or palliative care.
  • Prescribing comfort care increased during the 10-year period. Ischemic stroke patients were almost five times more likely to receive a comfort care intervention in 2014 to 2015, compared to 2006 to 2007.
  • The increasing trend in patients’ comfort care use was evident even among patients who had acute stroke treatments, including with intravenous clot busting medications, called thrombolytic therapy, and mechanical clot removal, or endovascular thrombectomy.
  • Some hospital types, including large hospitals and urban teaching hospitals, had higher rates of comfort care.
  • The average length of hospital stays for ischemic stroke patients who received comfort care was longer than stays for patients who did not receive comfort care, yet the average hospitalization costs for patients who received comfort care were lower.
  • Although comfort care continues to be associated with higher in-hospital deaths, 10-year outcome trends among patients receiving the services showed a significant decline in in-hospital deaths and a significant increase in the proportion of patients either discharged home or transferred to long term care facilities.

Comfort care use was notably lower among people who identify with non-white racial and ethnic groups. For example, use was 41% lower among Black stroke patients compared to white patients. Other factors independently associated with higher comfort care utilization were older age, female sex, non-Medicare (private) health insurance and higher incomes.

“Disparities in the prescribing of comfort care interventions among ischemic stroke patients was an important finding that needs to be carefully examined. To our knowledge such disparities have not been previously reported,” Vahidy said. “And, while more stroke patients are getting comfort care, overall use is still low, especially among people from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.”

A limitation of the study is that the investigators examined information that did not differentiate between palliative care and hospice care usage.

Source: Read Full Article

Small cell lung cancer: Scientists identify two new approaches for therapy

Small cell lung cancer: Scientists identify two new approaches for therapy

Using samples of small cell lung tumors, a research team led by biologist Dr. Silvia von Karstedt has discovered two new ways to induce tumor cell death. One of two subsets of tumor cells can be targeted by activating ferroptosis: iron-dependent cell death caused by oxidative stress. In the second subtype, oxidative stress—and hence cell death—can also be induced in a different way. Both types of cell death must be triggered simultaneously by drugs to kill the majority of the tumor mass. The results of the study have been published in Nature Communications.

Despite many advances in treatment, a diagnosis of small cell lung cancer means a particularly poor prognosis. In Germany, up to 8000 new cases of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are diagnosed each year. At the time of diagnosis, cancer has already found many loopholes to escape the body’s immune system. “Traditional’ cell death mechanisms, such as regulated cell death by apoptosis, are usually already inactivated at this stage. That way, tumor cells can continue to divide and spread almost unperturbed.

A high cell division rate is characteristic of small cell lung cancer, which initially promises a good response to chemotherapy. “Unfortunately, in many cases the success of chemotherapy is short-lived because tumor cells rapidly develop resistance to therapy. In addition, a tumor consists not only of one, but of several cell types—the so-called subtypes—each of which uses unique strategies to escape lethal therapy,” said von Karstedt, research group leader at the CECAD Cluster of Excellence for Aging Research, the Department of Translational Genomics at the University of Cologne and the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC). This is where her research comes in. The biologist explores which cell death mechanisms are already inactivated in cancer cells and which ones can still be targeted by therapies to kill the tumor.

The research team used patient samples taken at the time of diagnosis, thus depicting the treatment-naïve tumor. To find out which pathways of cell death are still available, the scientists compared gene activity between patient cells taken inside and outside the tumor. Signaling pathways important for traditional cell death mechanisms were already switched off inside the tumor at this early stage, before therapy. In contrast, genes important for the activation of iron-dependent cell death by oxidative damage (ferroptosis) were strongly activated in the cancer cells.

Put in simple terms, small cell lung cancer cells can be divided into two subtypes: neuroendocrine cells and non-neuroendocrine cells. In the neuroendocrine cell subtype, more genes are active which are otherwise typically found in nerve cells that produce hormones. Cells belonging to the other subtype do not have this property and are therefore grouped as non-neuroendocrine cells. “Several experiments showed that cells of the non-neuroendocrine type can be killed using buthionine sulfoximine, which induces ferroptosis. In cells belonging to the neuroendocrine subtype, we found that they protect themselves from oxidative stress—and thus cell death—by producing antioxidants. However, by adding the antioxidant inhibitor Auranofin, we were able to kill these cells as well,” explains doctoral researcher Christina Bebber, the lead author of the paper.

Regarding a possible application of these findings to the therapy of small cell lung cancer, the biologists made an important observation: When targeting just one of the two pathways—i.e., either activating ferroptosis or inhibiting antioxidant production—in a tumor consisting of cells of both subtypes, cancer cells were able to evade the lethal therapy. They did so by adjusting their gene expression to switch to the subtype that could resist the respective single pathway-targeting treatment.

“When we applied a combination therapy, we took away this route of escape. What is also special about the study is that we used drugs that have already been tested in extensive clinical trials or even approved for the treatment of other diseases,” von Karstedt explained. Buthionine sulfoximine, which triggers ferroptosis, is already in clinical trials for cancer treatment. The gold salt Auranofin, which blocks the production of protective antioxidants in cancer cells, has been in use for decades to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Source: Read Full Article

WHO blasts Europe’s slow vaccine rollout, as France heads for new lockdown

The new measures were met with a mix of resignation and anger in France

The WHO on Thursday slammed Europe’s “unacceptably slow” vaccine rollout and warned of a “worrying” surge in cases, as France became the latest country to impose new restrictions to combat soaring coronavirus infections.

In a sign of the devastation the virus is still causing while the world races to roll out vaccines, Brazil reported the country’s death toll had spiralled last month.

Officials said more than 66,000 people had died of COVID-19 in Brazil in March—more than twice as many fatalities as the country’s second-deadliest month of the pandemic, July 2020.

“Never in Brazilian history have we seen a single event kill so many people” in one month, said doctor Miguel Nicolelis, former pandemic response coordinator for Brazil’s impoverished northeast.

With the southern hemisphere winter approaching and the virus spreading fast, Brazil is facing “a perfect storm”, he told AFP.

The surge in Brazil has overwhelmed hospitals and forced doctors to make agonising decisions over whom to give life-saving care—prioritising those most likely to survive.

The virus has killed more than 2.8 million people worldwide since it emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

And though the world is looking to vaccines to end the upheaval the virus has brought, rollouts are off to a sputtering start in many countries, notably in Europe.

“Vaccines present our best way out of this pandemic… however, the rollout of these vaccines is unacceptably slow,” the World Health Organization’s director for Europe Hans Kluge said in a statement.

‘Precious weeks of liberty’

“We must speed up the process by ramping up manufacturing, reducing barriers to administering vaccines, and using every single vial we have in stock,” he added.

The organisation said Europe’s virus situation was “more worrying than we have seen in several months” and that slow rollouts were “prolonging the pandemic”.

Five weeks ago, the number of weekly new cases in the region had dipped to under one million. But last week there were 1.6 million new cases in Europe, the WHO said.

In France alone, daily cases have doubled to around 40,000 and hospitals are overflowing in flashpoints such as Paris.

The surge forced President Emmanuel Macron to relent and reimpose nationwide restrictions he rejected in January.

“We gained precious weeks of liberty,” he said in a national address late Wednesday, but the current measures “were too limited at a time when the epidemic is accelerating”.

The limited lockdown already in place in regions, including Paris, would be extended to the whole country from Saturday night for the next four weeks, he said.

Schools will close for three or four weeks depending on age level, he added.

The measures were met with a mix of resignation and anger, despite Macron’s suggestion that France could begin envisioning a return to normalcy by mid-May.

“Lockdown, the sequel… and the end?” Le Figaro headlined its front page Thursday.

And Le Parisien said Macron was defending his strategy of “slowing without shutting down” even though “the situation has never been so dangerous or complicated”.

Travel bubble

As during the first lockdown last spring, parents are scrambling to make arrangements for another round of distance learning.

“It was absolutely necessary to close the schools, even if it will be complicated for parents, and especially young children, to manage this situation,” said Laure, a 44-year-old researcher with two young boys in Paris.

In Italy, Prime Minister Mario Draghi extended restrictions until April 30, including restaurant and business closures.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier received the first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine on Thursday, just two days after authorities there recommended use of the jab only for people aged 60 and over.

German officials have been at pains to shore up public confidence in AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been on a rollercoaster ride in Europe.

Several other countries, including France, Spain and Canada, have also imposed age limits on the AstraZeneca shot over the occurrence of rare but severe blood clots in younger people.

The European medicines regulator said that experts probing links between the vaccine and blood clots have found no specific risk factors, though they are investigating further.

In a setback for another vaccine maker, about 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine were ruined in a factory error, The New York Times reported—a blow to the US company’s efforts to quickly boost production.

Source: Read Full Article

Encouraging COVID vaccine results for children and pregnant women

vaccine

After being safely administered to millions of adults around the world, new data shows that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is effective in teenagers as well. A US trial of more than 2,000 12-15 year olds found that the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 100% and produced a strong antibody response, according to a press release from Pfizer. That’s good news, as children will eventually need to be vaccinated to prevent infection, says pediatrician James B Wood.

These results follow earlier positive results relating to the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines during and after pregnancy. A small study of pregnant and breastfeeding women who had been given the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines found they too produced a robust immune response, and that vaccinated mothers were also able to pass on immunity to their newborns. Immunologists Catherine Thornton and April Rees explain here how it works.

The Moderna and Novavax vaccines are due to arrive in the UK in the coming months, with the latter to be entirely produced and packaged domestically. This will provide hope for those who are still waiting for their first doses, say supply chain experts Liz Breen and Sarah Schiffling, and it will hopefully bolster the country’s slow emergence from lockdown.

In the US, 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been contaminated at a manufacturing site after ingredients were conflated with those destined for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The boost for UK production of COVID-19 vaccines will take some of the heat out of disputes with the EU over the export of doses manufactured within the bloc. The World Health Organization has described the EU rollout as “unacceptably slow”, and the UK has claimed it has preferential access to AstraZeneca vaccines because it negotiated a better contract with the drugmaker. But that’s not strictly true, writes EU law professor Gareth Davies.

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, reportedly hailed the lightning-fast development of COVID-19 vaccines as a victory for “greed” and “capitalism,” but the free market has not proven effective in bringing the world new vaccines in the past, writes David Whyte. The real unsung hero of the pandemic, he says, is the publicly funded research sector.

Source: Read Full Article