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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Cindy Zhang


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Science

This Week in Science: Omicron variant, brain swelling linked to Alzheimer's medication, lyme disease vaccine, CDC recommendation for universal boosters

A new COVID-19 variant labeled omicron has recently emerged in several countries, including South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, and contains dozens of mutations from the original alpha variant,leading many scientists to discuss its implications for COVID-19’s future. Although the moment when omicron first started to infect people is not exactly known, infectious disease researcher Kristian Andersen hypothesizes that the variant could have emerged in September or October, indicating that it was initially slow to spread. However, this does not mean that it is less contagious than previous variants; in fact, researchers predict that the mutations associated with omicron may likely increase the virus’s resistance to the vaccine and its rate of infection, according to evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom. Because of this,researchers are suggesting that people receive a booster shot to strengthen their protection against omicron.

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Science

This Week in Science: HPV vaccine effective, new Delta strain emerges, UK approves COVID pill

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has the potential to reduce cases of cervical cancer by 87% and prevent certain cervical abnormalities by 97%, according to a British study recently published in The Lancet. Researchers examined women a decade after their HPV vaccinations and found that there was a reduction in pre-cancerous growths as well as cervical cancer. In 2006, the FDA approved the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, and since then, two other HPV vaccines have been developed and over 100 countries have incorporated the HPV vaccine into their regular inoculation schedules.

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Science

This Week in Science: Moderna boosters approved, koala chlamydia vaccine trial starts, NASA launches spaceship, leading primate center to be shut down

An FDA advisory panelunanimously voted last week to approve the use of a booster shot for the Moderna vaccine and again voted unanimously yesterday to approve a booster for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Moderna’s booster only applies to certain groups of people, such as those over the age of 65, high-risk individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 or people whose jobs put them at risk of contracting COVID-19. The individuals in all three categories should wait at least six months after their second dose to receive their Moderna booster shot. Although the FDA panel unanimously decided to approve the booster for those categories, the panel did not make any decisions on whether to recommend booster shots for low-risk adults over 18. Some members believe it is too early to make the call; they argue that as more people become eligible for the booster, it will be crucial to determine if it is effective at providing better protection against COVID-19. Additionally, some scientists say that there is not enough evidence to suggest that vaccine efficacy is decreasing, which, if true, could make a booster shot pointless.

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Science

This week in Science: FDA okays e-cig, first malaria vaccine approved, toilet bats discovered

The U.S. Food and Drug Administrationgranted market authorization to an electronic cigarette company for the first time on Tuesday, approving certain products for sale in the United States. The FDAapproved three products from R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company’s brand, Vuse, in an effort to diminish the impacts of traditional cigarettes, whose carcinogenic properties contribute to an estimated 400,000 U.S. deaths each year. The FDA concluded that the reduced morbidity and mortality among smokers outweigh the risks that approving Vuse products poses to youth. Notably, 10% of high school students who use e-cigarettes said Vuse is their usual brand.

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