from the world's big
Currently, more than 100 COVID-19 vaccines are being developed worldwide.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the remarks on April 27 while speaking to CNN.
- There are currently ten COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.
- A new report warns that people who refuse to get vaccinated could jeopardize the success of a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 and herd immunity<p>But even a perfect vaccine won't do much good if people don't get vaccinated. That's because vaccines don't work on all people. For example, vaccines aren't as effective for the elderly, and people with certain pre-existing conditions can't be vaccinated. </p><p>As such, the safety of these vulnerable groups depends on the rest of society getting vaccinated, and not spreading the virus. This results in herd immunity.</p><p>A <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766370" target="_blank">new analysis</a> published in JAMA warns that society might not be able to extinguish the virus if more than 10 percent of the population refuses to get vaccinated. Noting that vaccine skeptics are likely to be a problem, the authors suggest starting public-health campaigns as early as possible. More broadly, they suggest four approaches to maximize vaccine uptake:</p><ul><li>First, a COVID-19 vaccine should rapidly be delivered to the public as soon as rigorous testing has been completed, and efficacy and safety have been established. The vaccine should be equitably and justly distributed, particularly targeting individuals at highest risk for complications and disease transmission to others if initial vaccine supply does not meet demand.</li><li>Second, the plan for a COVID-19 mass vaccination program should proactively address known potential obstacles to vaccine acceptance using linguistically and culturally competent messaging.</li><li>Third, public health officials should develop a robust COVID-19 vaccine educational campaign harnessing traditional and social media, with a particular focus on involving social influencers and targeting misinformation.</li><li>Fourth, frontline health care workers should be taught how to make strong recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination, including, if relevant, sharing their personal experiences with COVID-19 and the vaccine.</li></ul>
Google is probably wrong about your health condition.
- Thirty-six different international mobile and internet-based symptom checkers gave a correct diagnosis as the top result only 36 percent of the time.
- Web advice on when and where to seek healthcare treatment was correct 49 percent of the time.
- It's been estimated that Google's health related searches approximate to 70,000 every minute.
Troubling research findings<p>The study analyzed 36 different international mobile and internet-based symptom checkers and discovered that they gave a correct diagnosis as the number one result only 36 percent of the time, and as one of the top three results 52 percent of the time. It was also found that the web advice given on when and where to seek healthcare treatment only had a 49 percent accuracy. </p><p>Michella Hill, a ECU Masters student and the lead author of the study, warned that these findings should indicate to people to be cautious before self-diagnosing via the web. </p><p>"While it may be tempting to use these tools to find out what may be causing your symptoms, most of the time they are unreliable at best and can be dangerous at worst," she said in an <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-05/ecu-ner051320.php" target="_blank">Edith Cowan University press release</a>. </p><p>One major problem with the quality of online symptom checkers that Hill highlighted is the lack of government regulation and data assurance.</p><p>"There is no real transparency or validation around how these sites are acquiring their data," she pointed out. It was also discovered that many of the international sites didn't include ailments specific to certain regions like Australia. They also didn't list services relevant to Australia, where the study was conducted.</p>
“Cyberchondria” is on the rise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMxNjI1MC9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTIyMTA1N30.ZZ1QgfACjqIH8rTOKV4M88__Ze-65NQu1pju4kwcSPM/img.gif?width=980" id="ead99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="02b2852de5cf06021d309d2c54749ac2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>Hill noted that while we all are guilty of being <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/if-googling-your-illness-is-making-you-super-anxious-there-s-a-solution" target="_blank">'cyberchondriacs</a>' after feeling the first sign of a potential health hiccup, online symptom checkers should be used with skepticism as they lack necessary context in their health diagnosis and advice.</p><p>"The reality is these websites and apps should be viewed very cautiously as they do not look at the whole picture - they don't know your medical history or other symptoms," said Hill. "For people who lack health knowledge, they may think the advice they're given is accurate or that their condition is not serious when it may be."</p><p>While online symptom checkers like WebMD or Healthline tend to generate a questionable diagnosis, the research found that internet triage advice telling a user when and if to see a medical professional tends to be more accurate. Particularly in the case of medical emergencies. Hill noted that advice for seeking medical attention for emergency and urgent care cases was appropriate around 60 percent of the time. However, for non-emergency cases that dropped to 30 to 40 percent accuracy. </p><p>"Generally the triage advice erred on the side of caution, which in some ways is good but can lead to people going to an emergency department when they really don't need to," explained Hill. </p>
The right way to use online medical sources<p>That's not to say that online resources have no place at all in your individual healthcare. Though medical sites with online symptom checkers are never a replacement for an in-person physician, they can provide helpful information after you have received an official diagnosis from a medical professional. </p><p>"We're also seeing symptom checkers being used to good effect with the current COVID-19 pandemic," said Hill. "For example, the UK's National Health Service is using these tools to monitor symptoms and potential 'hotspot' locations for this disease on a national basis."</p><p>In other words, you can continue to Google your symptoms <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/if-googling-your-illness-is-making-you-super-anxious-there-s-a-solution" target="_blank">at your own mental health risk</a>, but odds are the first result isn't your problem.</p>
How should we think about the tension between opening the economy back up and preserving public health?
What are the major missteps the global community is making that will need to be addressed to prepare us for future pandemics? Is the US economy ready to reopen?
R is a way of measuring an infectious disease's capacity to spread.
In just a few short weeks, we've all made the collective journey from pandemic ignoramuses to budding armchair virologists with a decent grasp of once-arcane terms like personal protective equipment, social distancing and "flatten the curve".
A Cornell Health physician has blended rap and medicine to better educate kids on coronavirus guidelines.
- Dr. Clarke's rap music video "Stop Corona" aims to convey key information about COVID-19 to certain hard-to-reach youth demographics.
- Clark has created many "health-hop" songs and videos over the years with topics that address smoking to asthma to H1N1.
- Music helps us remember information better through a process called "chunking," through which we take individual pieces of information and group them together into larger units.
A doctor at Cornell Health is educating the kids on COVID-19 by meshing rap music with medicine.
John Clarke, director of occupational medicine at Cornell Health, always felt called to rap. He began writing music when he was just 8 years old and later majored in music at Columbia University. Though his talent scored him a recording deal when he was younger, he ultimately decided to take a career path toward medicine. But he never stopped writing, producing, and performing rap music. Now he regularly drops beats on health-related topics carving out a genre he calls "health-hop."
His most recent video is "Stop Corona," which he hopes will convey key information about COVID-19 to certain hard-to-reach youth communities.
"For certain demographics, something like a rap video will resonate," Clarke said to the Cornell Chronicle. "And there's a science behind why songs are effective for teaching. Rhythm and rhyme stimulate memory. Music stimulates several parts of the brain at the same time. So a lot of time it's easier to remember songs than it is to remember just facts."
Music helps us remember information better through a process called "chunking," through which we take individual pieces of information and group them together into larger units. It works like this: Our short term memory can only hold about seven units of information at a time, but we can cram more material into each of those units by putting them into bigger chunks. This allows us to store more content. By linking words and phrases in a tune, music allows us to chunk lyrics. In this way we can attach, say, medical guidelines to melody and rhythm and make it easier to recall later.
Clark's 2-minute song urges listeners "not to be a case" by being "careful who gets in your personal space" and "not to touch your eyes, your nose or your face." Real medical guidelines are rewritten into rhyme and put to a beat.
"I first researched in-depth about the disease, how it spreads and the way it presents, so my message is consistent with what I would tell a patient as a doctor," Clarke said. "In health-hop, you're limited in the scope of words you can use to rhyme. It's a challenge, but it's a challenge I enjoy."
The power of health-hop
Clark told the Chronicle that he first began creating health-hop around 20 years ago as a doctor in Jamaica, Queens.
"We had a large population of asthmatics, many of whom were young. And a lot of their parents were young as well," he said. "This was a culturally sensitive approach to delivering a health message. I created a rap song, we showed it at a high school, and it went really well. We showed that this is an effective way of appealing to that audience."
Clark has created many health-hop songs and videos over the years with topics that address smoking to asthma to H1N1, the last of which won a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sponsored contest in 2009 and became a public service announcement for swine flu safety.
Clarke said that in addition to helping educate and inform, rap music provides a creative outlet for him to balance with the more rigid, methodical field of medicine.
Clark's 14-year-old son, an aspiring rapper himself, helped write and perform "Stop Corona". Additionally his three younger children also appear in the video.
"Having someone their age be part of the message is a really good way to connect with that audience," Clarke said.
Sadly about a week after filming the video, the Cornell Chronicle reports that Clarke's wife's parents became ill with coronavirus and died a short time later. They were the first two COVID-19-related fatalities in Tompkins County, NY, where the Clark family lives and works. The "Stop Corona" video concludes with a dedication in their memory.
"I knew they would have wanted us to spread this message, and they would have been proud of their grandchildren," Clarke said. "...It's really critical that folks listen to preventive strategies – the quarantine, the handwashing, all of the things I outline in the video. Even if you're not doing it to protect yourself, do it to help protect other more vulnerable members of the community whose immune systems may not be as strong."