March 15, 2023
Vaccines can help promote the health of our planet.
One Health Trust’s Dr. Arindam Nandi co-authored an article highlighting the essential role vaccines play as a “green tool” that can be used to protect and improve the health of our planet. Vaccines can be leveraged by preventing disease, promoting greater schooling and income attainment, and reducing rates of antimicrobial resistance to combat the effects of climate change and help achieve United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The authors also mention how COVID-19 served as a reminder of the constant potential for infectious disease outbreaks and the need for vaccines against existing and emerging pathogenic threats, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. [Science Translational Medicine]
Pandemic-related learning loss among Indian students was more pronounced in girls.
In a new study, OHT and collaborators estimated the gendered effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent literacy and schooling outcomes in India. Using data from the National Family Health Survey from June 2019 to April 2021, the researchers found that literacy rates among girls aged 15 to 17 were 1.5 to 2 percent lower following the pandemic. Girls surveyed post-COVID also had 0.05 to 0.1 fewer years of schooling than pre-COVID girls, with no difference in out-of-school rates. In contrast, male adolescents had no change in literacy or schooling years due to the pandemic. Learning loss among girls could be attributed to systemic gender discrimination in India and necessitates remedial education programs to mitigate the gendered impact of the pandemic on schooling attainment. [SSRN]
Scientists are prepared for an avian flu outbreak in humans.
An avian flu outbreak that started at the beginning of 2022 has killed over 50 million poultry birds in the US. Some poultry farmers have established vaccination routines and switched to raising bird breeds less susceptible to the H5N1 strain of avian flu. However, news of a young girl in Cambodia who died last month after contracting avian flu has sparked concern about widespread avian flu infection in humans, or worse, an avian flu pandemic. Despite its higher mortality in humans, lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of vaccines and treatment options make some scientists believe that an H5N1 pandemic would be more manageable than COVID-19. [Nature]
Age and male sex are risk factors for mortality due to COVID-19.
Researchers analyzed data from almost 700,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across 52 countries to investigate the association between demographic factors and symptoms with risk of death, intensive care unit admission, and invasive mechanical ventilation. A strong global association between age and risk of death was amplified for men compared to women of the same age. The comorbidity most significantly correlated with the risk of death was HIV, followed by tuberculosis and transplant history. [International Journal of Epidemiology]
International trade in sub-Saharan Africa helps decrease harmful emissions.
A new study exploring the environmental effects of international trade in 33 sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries between 1990 and 2020 found that trade reduces environmental pollution by approximately 0.1 and 0.8 percent in the short and long run, respectively. Specifically, a 1 percent increase in international trade was correlated with a 0.1 percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. The data further revealed that imports and exports also minimized the effects of environmental pollution in SSA in the short and long term. These results could be attributed to the access to green technologies granted by participation in international trade, which allows SSA countries to control CO2 emissions and their negative environmental impact. [Environmental Science and Pollution Research]
Antibiotic resistance trends increase immediately after antibiotic usage increases.
A new paper estimated the effect of antibiotic usage on antibiotic resistance in 26 European countries. Using antibiotic sales data from IQVIA, the researchers found an immediate increase in resistance after increased antibiotic use, followed by a persistent upward trend for at least another four years. They also observed an insignificant reduction in resistance after a decrease in usage. Furthermore, antibiotic resistance in one country increased following increased usage in neighboring countries, emphasizing the need for international cooperation against AMR. [The Journal of Antibiotics]
Private sector services in non-communicable disease management need to be regulated.
Researchers conducted a systematic review of existing frameworks to provide insight into the role of for-profit private sectors in non-communicable disease (NCD) management and control. One of the key provisions of the private sector in NCD management is healthcare: private healthcare can offer diagnostic and specialist services not readily available in the public sector. Other aspects of NCD management that the private sector contributes to include innovation, governance and policy, health education, and direct investment and financing. While the private sector remains an important stakeholder in NCD control, safeguards must be implemented to prioritize equitable public health NCD goals over profit-driven motives. [BMJ Open]
Safety concerns and socioeconomic status are barriers to maternal vaccination.
Researchers evaluated the main barriers and facilitators for hesitancy around COVID-19, influenza, and pertussis vaccination among expecting and new mothers. Concerns over the vaccine’s safety and potential side effects, particularly for the developing fetus or child, were reported as the main factors preventing mothers from getting vaccinated. Black and Hispanic ethnicity and low socioeconomic status were found to be population-level barriers for new and expecting mothers to receive a vaccine. Knowledge about vaccines and recommendations from a healthcare provider were the most common positive predictors of vaccination among mothers for all three vaccines. [PLOS One]
Wastewater E. coli isolates in Zimbabwe are as infective as clinical strains.
Isolates of E. coli collected from hospital wastewater in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, were characterized using molecular and cellular techniques. Over half of the E. coli isolates contained the virulent It gene, which causes diarrheal disease in infected individuals. The isolates showed high levels of susceptibility to ertapenem and azithromycin and high levels of resistance to ampicillin (92.6%) and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (90.4%), however, almost 85 percent of the isolates exhibited multidrug resistance. The researchers also performed an infectivity study, which revealed that the environmental E. coli isolates could colonize and infect mammalian cells even after release into the environment. Environmentally isolated cells were as infective as clinical isolates, raising concerns about the possible spread of environmental pathogens in human and animal communities. [PLOS One]
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