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Covid-19 Isn’t a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated Anymore

No longer pandemic of the unvaccinated

Americans received their first Covid-19 vaccine doses in December 2020, which means we are now approaching the beginning of the third year of the pandemic’s vaccine phase. And yet hundreds of Americans are still dying each day. Who are they? The data offers a straightforward answer: older adults.

Though it’s sometimes uncomfortable to say it, mortality risk has been dramatically skewed by age throughout the pandemic. The earliest reports of Covid deaths from China sketched a pattern quickly confirmed everywhere in the world: In an immunologically naïve population, the oldest were several thousand times more at risk of dying from infection than the youngest.

But the skew is actually more dramatic now — even amid mass vaccinations and reinfections — than it was at any previous point over the last three years. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people 65 and older accounted for 75 percent of all American Covid deaths. That dropped below 60 percent as recently as September 2021. But today Americans 65 and over account for 90 percent of new Covid deaths, an especially large share given that 94 percent of American seniors are vaccinated.

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Covid hospitalizations rising post-Thanksgiving after an autumn lull

Covid hospitalizations increase

A post-Thanksgiving uptick in covid-19 patients at U.S. hospitals is arriving even as health systems contend with waves of feverish, coughing people stricken with RSV and influenza infections.

Covid hospitalizations last week reached their highest level in three months, with more than 35,000 patients being treated, according to Washington Post data tracking. National hospitalizations had stagnated throughout fall but started rising in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. All but a few states reported per capita increases in the past week.

Public health authorities are concerned that the increase in the number of covid patients will worsen the strain on hospitals already under pressure from the effects of two other viral ailments, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, widely known as RSV.

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Radical new therapy for Parkinson’s will use stem cell transplants

Stem cell therapy for Parkinson's disease

Early next year, a radical new treatment for Parkinson’s disease involving tissue transplants will receive its first trial with patients – including a group from the UK.

Stem cells grown in the laboratory and transformed into nerve cells will be used to replace those destroyed by the disease. It is hoped that these will stop the spread of debilitating symptoms.

“It has taken a long time to get to this stage but hopefully results from these trials will mean that, in a few years, we might be able to offer tissue transplants as standard treatments for Parkinson’s,” said Prof Roger Barker, of Cambridge University. “It is certainly a promising approach.”

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Assisted living too often fails older, sicker residents, report says

Assistant living failing residents

Assisted-living communities too often fail to meet the needs of older people and should focus more on residents’ medical and mental health concerns, according to a recent report by a diverse panel of experts.

It’s a clarion call for change inspired by the altered profile of the population that assisted living now serves.

Residents are older, sicker and more compromised by impairments than in the past: 55 percent are 85 and older, 77 percent require help with bathing, 69 percent with walking and 49 percent with toileting, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Also, more than half of residents have high blood pressure, and a third or more have heart disease or arthritis. Thirty-one percent have been diagnosed with depression, at least 11 percent have a serious mental illness, and 42 percent have dementia or moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment.

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Advocates warily eye legal challenge to abortion pills

Advocates warily eye legal challenge to abortion pills

Reproductive rights advocates are on edge over a lawsuit to revoke the decades-old Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of mifepristone, which, if successful, would end legal access to abortion pills nationwide.

Advocates and legal experts say the suit has no merit, but they fear conservative courts will think otherwise.

Abortion pills have become one of the next major fronts in the fight over reproductive health care in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and the lawsuit is seen by both sides as the start of the battle to come.

Mifepristone, a drug that blocks hormones necessary for pregnancy, was approved by the FDA in 2000. It is used with a second drug called misoprostol, which causes contractions and essentially induces a miscarriage.

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Judge blocks Indiana abortion ban on religious freedom grounds

Judge blocks Indiana abortion banA second Indiana judge on Friday blocked the state from enforcing its law banning most abortions after Jewish, Muslim and other non-Christian women challenged it in a lawsuit.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Heather Welch issued a preliminary injunction against the Republican-backed law, which prohibits abortions with limited exceptions for rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormalities or a serious health risk to the mother. The plaintiffs have argued that the measure infringes on religious freedom protected by another state law.

The law had already been on hold, as another judge in September blocked Indiana from enforcing it while Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers challenge it in court.

Indiana became the first state to pass a new law banning abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had legalized the procedure nationwide. Other Republican-led states quickly began enforcing older bans.

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Drop in COVID alertness could create deadly new variant - WHO

WHOLapses in strategies to tackle COVID-19 this year continue to create the perfect conditions for a deadly new variant to emerge, as parts of China witness a rise in infections, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The comments by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mark a change in tone just months after he said that the world has never been in a better position to end the pandemic.

"We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over, but we're not there yet," Tedros said on Friday.

The global health agency estimates that about 90% of the world's population now has some level of immunity to SARS-COV-2 either due to prior infection or vaccination.

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