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January 30, 2021 (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.


Millions Meant for Public Health Threats Were Diverted Elsewhere, Watchdog Says (MSN)

A federal watchdog has found that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which drew national attention last year when the Trump administration fired its director, has been used for the past 10 years as a “slush fund” to cover expenses unrelated to its core mission of fighting health threats like Ebola, Zika and the coronavirus.

The new mosquito bringing disease to North America (BBC)

During the night of 18 June 2019, on the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an intruder was caught in a trap…The intruder was an Aedes vittatus mosquito..., it is a new addition to the dozen or so species in North America that carry parasites or pathogens harmful to humans. Other mosquito species, like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, can transmit diseases like dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya. But unlike those others, Aedes vittatus is capable of carrying nearly all of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases, except for malaria.

Biden to activate FEMA and National Guard to vaccinate Americans (Cnet)

The President-elect said his team plans to "manage the hell out of this operation," to hit the ground running on vaccinating Americans.

Moderna announces vaccine upgrades to protect against emerging variants (NBC)

The upgrades will be designed to better protect against the different strains and could be used as a booster shot.

New study shows COVID-19 could hide in your brain and reactivate down the road (WSBTV)

A new study shows coronavirus may actually hide in the brain, where it could reactivate down the road…. When the virus reaches the brain it can cause low level inflammation and even make people more susceptible to brain diseases like auto-immune disease and Parkinson’s. Kumar emphasized how crucial it is to wear a mask and cover your nose to protect from having the virus enter there and go directly into your brain.

New China swine fever strains point to unlicensed vaccines (Reuters)  

A new form of African swine fever identified in Chinese pig farms is most likely caused by illicit vaccines, industry insiders say, a fresh blow to the world’s largest pork producer, still recovering from a devastating epidemic of the virus.

Colchicine reduces the risk of COVID-19-related complications (Univ. of Montreal Institute of Cardiology)

The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) announced today that the COLCORONA clinical trial has provided clinically persuasive results of colchicine’s efficacy to treat COVID-19. The study results have shown that colchicine has reduced by 21% the risk of death or hospitalizations in patients with COVID-19 compared to placebo. This result obtained for the global study population of 4488 patients approached statistical significance.

U.S. CDC says 41.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed, 20.5 million administered (Reuters)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had administered 20,537,990 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 41,411,550 doses.

UN: COVID-19 herd immunity unlikely in 2021 despite vaccines (ABC)

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist warned that even as numerous countries start rolling out vaccination programs to stop COVID-19, herd immunity is highly unlikely this year.

Pandemic could be WHO's Chernobyl moment for reform -review panel (Reuters)  

The COVID-19 pandemic could be the catalyst for much-needed reform of the World Health Organization just as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 forced urgent changes at the U.N. nuclear agency, an independent review panel said on Tuesday. The panel, set up to investigate the global response to the coronavirus, said the WHO is underpowered, underfunded and required fundamental reform to give it the resources it needs to respond more effectively to deadly disease outbreaks.

New COVID-19 variant defeats plasma treatment, may reduce vaccine efficacy (Reuters)

The new COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa can evade the antibodies that attack it in treatments using blood plasma from previously recovered patients, and may reduce the efficacy of the current line of vaccines, scientists said on Wednesday.


Apple issues new warning: Keep your iPhone six inches away from your pacemaker (CNN)

An important heads-up for iPhone owners: Apple is warning customers that its smartphones could interfere with medical devices, including pacemakers.

Stocks explained: What's going on with GameStop? (BBC)

There has been a lot of interest in the stock market this week after investors from the Reddit message board managed to give shares in GameStop a huge boost. Here's a look back at the story so far, with an explanation of stocks, short-selling and what has been happening with GameStop.

Is that app spying on you? Here’s how to read iPhone privacy labels. (Washington Post)

These are the basics for decoding Apple’s App Store privacy ‘nutrition labels’


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