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December 31,  2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Our Health and Science Highlights provide cutting edge news that could impact your health and our future.



For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.


How the Measles Vaccine May Help Protect Against COVID-19 (Healthline)

COVID-19 tends to affect young children and adolescents less severely than older adults for reasons that healthcare professionals are not yet entirely clear on. Now, some researchers say one of those reasons may lie in something children are typically given around their first birthday — the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. In a recent study published in the journal mBio, researchers concluded that people who had lower levels of antibodies for mumps in their bloodstream appeared to experience more severe cases of COVID-19, while those with higher levels of mumps antibodies had less severe cases.

Vatican: OK to get virus vaccines using abortion cell lines (Yahoo news)

The Vatican on Monday declared that it is “morally acceptable” for Roman Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines based on research that used fetal tissue from abortions.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine causes swelling and inflammation in patients who have cosmetic facial fillers (ABC7)

The FDA advisory committee reviewing the new Moderna vaccine has noted a specific side effect involving several trial participants who have cosmetic facial fillers.Local board certified dermatologist Dr. Shirley Chi…says to not let this stop you from getting the vaccine when your turn comes up and that all the derma fillers reactions were easily treated by medical personnel.

Federal agency says employers can require workers to get COVID-19 vaccine (The Hill)

A key federal agency said this week that employers can legally require their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and prevent them from entering their workplaces if they refuse. 

Infected after 5 minutes, from 20 feet away: South Korea study shows coronavirus’ spread indoors (Los Angeles Times)

…The results of the study, for which Lee and other epidemiologists enlisted the help of an engineer who specializes in aerodynamics, were published last week in the Journal of Korean Medical Science. The conclusions raised concerns that the widely accepted standard of six feet of social distance may not be far enough to keep people safe.


Alien Hunters Discover Mysterious Signal from Proxima Centauri (Scientific American)

It’s never aliens, until it is. Today, news leaked in the British newspaper The Guardian of a mysterious signal coming from the closest star to our own, Proxima Centauri, a star too dim to see from Earth with the naked eye that is nevertheless a cosmic stone’s throw away at just 4.2 light-years.…the signal appears to emanate from the direction of our neighboring star and cannot yet be dismissed as Earth-based interference, raising the very faint prospect that it is a transmission from some form of advanced extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI)—a so-called “technosignature.” Now, speaking to Scientific American, the scientists behind the discovery caution there is still much work to be done, but admit the interest is justified.

Best space images of 2020 (BBC)

There was stunning cosmic imagery to feast on in 2020, from Hubble's 30th birthday image to footage of a daring sample grab on an asteroid. Here's our pick of the year's offerings.

With Fewer than 2,000 Butterflies Counted So Far, Western Monarch Takes an Astonishing Step Closer to Extinction (Bay Nature)

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that after a four-year assessment it has found the monarch butterfly deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act, but that listing is not a priority right now. The monarchs will not receive any protection for the moment, and the agency will review the decision again next year…Two years ago, when volunteers counted only 27,212 monarch butterflies in the Xerces Society’s annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, it meant the butterflies had crossed a threshold identified by scientists as the point past which western migratory monarchs were likely to become extinct.


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