COVID-19 in the News

USA Today Oct. 6, 2021
At least 140K US children have lost caregivers to COVID-19. Children of color have taken the brunt of it.

At least 140,000 children across the U.S. have lost a primary or secondary caregiver to COVID-19, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Pediatrics. What's more, researchers found children of color account for 65 percent of children orphaned from COVID-19through June. That's more than 91,000 children of color, compared to 51,000 white children. Indigenous children also suffer unique challenges compounding the deaths, said Hopi tribe member Dr. Felina Cordova-Marks, a University of Arizona professor and health disparities expert, who founded the Southern Arizona Urban Native Indigenous COVID Relief program. "The loss of a caregiver will definitely impact mental health and all aspects of health among American Indian children, as it may compound historical trauma," she said. "As Native Indigenous people, we look at health holistically with a loss of life and loss of culture affecting all of these. Resilience is woven into us as a people as well. Culture is connected to resilience."

AFP France Sept. 24, 2021
Document from 1906 falsely shared as world's oldest vaccine certificate from Ottoman Empire

A photo of a vaccine certificate has been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok alongside a claim that it shows the "world's oldest vaccine certificate" that was issued in 1721 under the Ottoman Empire. However, the claim is false. Benjamin Fortna, professor of history and director of the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona, said the year at the bottom of the certificate corresponds to 1906 in the Gregorian calendar. "The date given at the end of the document states 27 Agustos 1322, which is given in the Rumi (Ottoman administrative solar) calendar," he told AFP, adding that he used the online calendar conversion provided by the Turkish Historical Society (Turk Tarih Kurumu). "What is clear is that the document dates from 1906," he said.

Nature Sept. 14, 2021
The tangled history of mRNA vaccines

Hundreds of scientists had worked on mRNA vaccines for decades before the coronavirus pandemic brought a breakthrough. Now, the debate over who deserves credit for pioneering the technology is heating up as awards start rolling out – and the speculation is getting more intense in advance of the Nobel prize announcements next month. But formal prizes restricted to only a few scientists will fail to recognize the many contributors to mRNA's medical development. In reality, the path to mRNA vaccines drew on the work of hundreds of researchers over more than 30 years. The story illuminates the way that many scientific discoveries become life-changing innovations: with decades of dead ends, rejections and battles over potential profits, but also generosity, curiosity and dogged persistence against skepticism and doubt. "It's a long series of steps," says Paul Krieg, a developmental biologist at the University of Arizona who made his own contribution in the mid-1980s, "and you never know what's going to be useful."

Dallas Morning News Sept. 14, 2021
COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are coming. Here's what to know

As interest grows around COVID-19 booster shots, there is still a lot of uncertainty around getting a third dose. People with weakened immune systems can already get a booster, but the benefit to everyone else is unclear. Deepta Bhattacharya, a professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, said that it's clear a booster could be beneficial. A booster, he said, might reduce the chance that a person would get infected and develop symptoms. What's less clear is how much a national booster strategy would help control the spread of the coronavirus. "It just doesn't seem like vaccinated breakthrough infections are the major source of transmission," he said.

The Wall Street Journal Sept. 13, 2021
Does everyone need a COVID-19 booster shot? Here's what scientists say.

Some people are trying to get COVID-19 booster shots. Others aren't sure if they need them. Mixed public health messages aren't making personal-health decisions any clearer. The complexity of the body's immune system makes the impact of a booster shot difficult to assess. Antibody levels from any vaccine or natural infection will decline over time, said Deepta Bhattacharya, a professor of immunobiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Yet "the ones that are left tend to be of higher quality, so it takes far fewer of them to protect against disease," he said, adding that it is difficult to tell exactly how much additional protection a booster shot would provide.