Young woman being vaccinated

The first typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) could avert 46-74% of typhoid fever cases. In a mathematical modeling study estimating the effect of TCV introduction on the burden of antimicrobial-resistant typhoid fever in 73 countries, researchers estimated that introduction of routine immunization with TCV at age nine months with a catch-up campaign up to age 15 years could avert 46–74% of all typhoid fever cases. Vaccination was predicted to reduce the relative prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant typhoid fever by 16%.  TCV use could help avert antimicrobial resistance directly, by preventing transmission of resistant infections, and indirectly, by preventing cases of infection caused by antimicrobial susceptible S. Typhi that would otherwise be treated with antibiotics and develop resistance. [The Lancet Infectious Diseases]

The COVID-19 pandemic helped decolonize some global health partnerships. Global health partnerships have historically been led by researchers in high-income countries with scholars from low-and middle-income countries serving as ‘local’ partners. The COVID-19 pandemic response, including travel bans, along with growing debate and movements to decolonize Global Health, have spurred changes in research collaboration patterns. Online communities of practice can spur the development of more equitable, horizontal collaboration. However, flexibility in research funding and outputs remains challenging in more equal partnerships. [BMJ Global Health]

A coronavirus variant that protected pigs holds clues to possible human immunity to SARS-CoV-2. TGEV is a coronavirus that has never harmed humans but was devastating in U.S. pig farms in the mid-1900s. After spreading around the world through the 1970s, the disease caused by TGEV all but vanished when a more transmissible, less harmful variant essentially immunized pigs against the original virus. Considering TGEV’s history in pig health, while Omicron is causing too much severe disease and death to be considered innocuous, some researchers believe it, or other milder future variants could be a “natural vaccine” against more pathogenic strains of SARS-CoV-2. [Science Insider]

Investments to boost trust in public health guidance will promote preparedness for the next pandemic. Daily SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 deaths for 177 countries were analyzed in relation to various indicators, including interpersonal trust,  governmental trust and corruption, changes in mobility patterns, and COVID-19 vaccination rates. Pandemic-preparedness indices, used to measure health security capacity, were not meaningfully associated with infection rates or fatalities. However, measures of governmental and interpersonal trust, and less government corruption, had statistically significant associations with higher COVID-19 vaccine coverage and lower infection rates. [The Lancet]

Alternative sources of bacterial specialized metabolites hold potential for the development of new antibiotics A review exploring achievements in the exploration of new bacterial biodiversity and ecology for the discovery of novel specialized metabolites showed that the exploration of deeply branching groups of bacteria increases the likelihood of finding chemical and biosynthetic novelty, and ecological context is the key operator in the evolution of diverse secondary metabolite repertoires. As ecological challenges push the evolution of specialized metabolites, understanding bacterial ecology will be important to decide where to search for novel chemical scaffolds with previously unseen biological activities. [Antibiotics]

Increased plastic use during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious waste management issues. The World Health Organization estimates that between March 2020-November 2021, over 1.5 billion PPE units, 140 million test kits, 731,000 liters of chemical waste, plus 8 billion vaccine doses (equivalent to 144,000 tons of waste) were generated. These values do not include commodities procured outside the UN system or for public PPE waste. WHO has also identified shortfalls related to unsafe practices and waste management’s environmental impact. A more holistic solution is needed, including the support of waste personnel’s training in hygiene, infection prevention and control, and waste infrastructure operation and maintenance. [The Lancet]

COVID-19 mass testing can close tuberculosis testing gaps and control transmission of both diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic set back progress in tuberculosis (TB) testing and care, with global declines in newly diagnosed and treated individuals and the first increase in TB-related deaths in a decade. However, COVID-19 mass testing can support populations at risk for both diseases, particularly as COVID-19 and TB have overlapping symptoms and sociodemographic risk factors, and coinfection is associated with poor outcomes. Initial research has shown that this approach is not only feasible, but that operational workflows can work harmoniously when combined. [The Lancet Global Health]

Increased levels of gastrointestinal microbe Morganella have been linked to depression. Researchers exploring the relationship between people’s genetics, diet, and microbiome found that the human genome can influence microbial populations in the gut. Two bacteria, Morganella and Klebsiella, were found to have a causal relationship with depression. However, only Morganella was significantly increased in people who later developed depression, showing how inflammation caused by the chemicals produced by gut microbes can influence mood. [Science News]

COVID-19 is forcing an urgent reassessment of children’s mental health needs in the United States. Young people face a potential lifetime of damage if their mental health needs are not addressed. Multi-tiered, culturally responsive school support systems could act as hubs supporting children’s mental health. Expanding the children’s mental health workforce from both regional and diversity standpoints would also help, as would promoting use of 988 crisis intervention teams and a greater commitment to jail diversion programs. These approaches can improve the insufficient school-linked services, inappropriate crisis management and law enforcement responses, and the lack of coordinated mental health services for children. [JAMA Health Forum]

COVID-19 post-vaccination breakthrough infections trigger antibody levels akin to pre-infected individuals. Breakthrough infections improve immune protection against multiple COVID-19 variants, triggering high antibody levels against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Antibodies are more effective than those in non-infected vaccinated individuals, as well non-vaccinated infected individuals. Thus far, those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 four times (one infection and three vaccinations) seem to have the best antibody response – not only against COVID-19 but the SARS 2002-2004 epidemic virus. Now, with high Omicron levels circulating, it is important to compare breakthrough infections caused by different variants and understand how they will influence immunity. [Nature News]

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