• Regulating hate speechFrench High Court: Most of New Hate Speech Bill Would Undermine Free Expression

    In what free-speech advocates hail as aa victory for the free speech rights of French citizens, France’s highest court last week struck down core provisions of a bill meant to curb hate speech, holding they would unconstitutionally sweep up legal speech.

  • Flu vaccineUniversal Flu Vaccine May Be More Challenging than Expected

    Some common strains of influenza have the potential to mutate to evade broad-acting antibodies that could be elicited by a universal flu vaccine, according to a study led by scientists at Scripps Research. The findings highlight the challenges involved in designing such a vaccine, and should be useful in guiding its development.

  • VaccinesVaccine Access and Hesitancy: The Public Health Importance of Vaccines

    By Stephanie Miceli

    While health experts say a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection is needed to return to “normal,” several polls have indicated some Americans would be reluctant to receive a vaccine, citing safety concerns. The spread of disinformation on social media has only further complicated matters.

  • ArgumentHow Conspiracy Theories Hurt Vaccination Numbers

    Near the end of 2018, data released by the CDC showed that a small, but growing, number of children in the United States were not getting recommended vaccinations. One in 77 infants born in 2017 did not receive any vaccination. Michael Stein and Sandro Galea write this is more than four times as many unvaccinated children as the United States had at the turn of the century. “Some of this may be due to lack of access to vaccines; populations without insurance, and those living in rural areas have greater rates of nonvaccination,” they write. “But part of it is also likely due to the rise of conspiracy theories and the willful dismissal of scientific evidence when it comes to vaccines.”

  • Warp SpeedDoubts greet $1.2 billion bet by United States on a coronavirus vaccine by October

    Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s bid to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine faster than any previous vaccine, is both turning heads and raising eyebrows with a major new investment that promises to shave weeks off its already ambitious timeline. Jon Cohen writes in Science that much of Warp Speed’s inner workings, including how it chooses vaccine candidates, takes place behind closed doors. But the compressed timeline and the scale of the investment—more than twice the size of commitments the United States made earlier to Johnson & Johnson and Moderna to develop other vaccine candidates—is leading to questions about both the candidate vaccine and the plans for its clinical trials. 

  • VaccinesCoronavirus Vaccine Shows Promising Early Results in China

    A vaccine developed in China appears to be safe and may protect people from the new coronavirus, researchers reported on Friday. Apoorva Mandavilli writes in the New York Times that the early-stage trial, published in The Lancet, was conducted by researchers at several laboratories and included 108 participants aged 18 to 60. Those who received a single dose of the vaccine produced certain immune cells, called T cells, within two weeks. Antibodies needed for immunity peaked at 28 days after the inoculation.

  • VaccinesCoronavirus Vaccine: This Week's Update from Moderna, Inovio and More

    Early progress has been reported on several vaccine efforts, as scientists around the world scramble to test possible ways to protect people from the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 5.1 million people globally and killed more than 300,000. Denise Chow writes for NBC News that vaccine candidates developed by pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Inovio as well as vaccines in the works from the University of Oxford in the U.K. and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in China are showing early promise. But experts continue to stress that it’s still early in the testing phase, and it’s unlikely that a viable vaccine will be available before the end of the year.

  • HydroxychloroquineNo Evidence of Benefit for Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 Patients, Study Finds

    A large observational study suggests that treatment with the antimalarial drug chloroquine or its analogue hydroxychloroquine (taken with or without the antibiotics azithromycin or clarithromycin) offers no benefit for patients with COVID-19. Prof. Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, lead author of the study, which was published in The Lancet, said: “This is the first large scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with COVID-19. Instead, our findings suggest it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death.” Writing in a linked The Lancet “Comment” article, Professor Christian Funck-Brentano, of the Sorbonne University in Paris (who was not involved in the study), said: “This well-conducted observational study adds to preliminary reports suggesting that chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, alone or with azithromycin is not useful and may be harmful in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”

  • Public health & ideologyA Majority of Vaccine Skeptics Plan to Refuse a COVID-19 Vaccine, a Study Suggests, and That Could Be a Big Problem

    By Kristin Lunz Trujillo and Matt Motta

    The availability of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus will likely play a key role in determining when Americans can return to life as usual. Whether a vaccine can end this pandemic successfully, however, depends on more than its effectiveness at providing immunity against the virus, or how quickly it can be produced in mass quantities. Americans also must choose to receive the vaccine. According to some estimates, 50 percent to 70 percent of Americans would need to develop immunity to COVID-19 – either naturally, or via a vaccine – in order to thwart the spread of the virus. Making matters more complicated is the possibility that people who hold skeptical views about vaccine safety – sometimes referred to as “anti-vaxxers” – will not opt to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

  • VaccinesBritain Starts Testing Vaccine for Coronavirus on Humans

    Britain has performed the first human trial of a coronavirus vaccine in Europe. Zlatica Hoke writes in VOA News that two volunteers were injected Thursday in the city of Oxford, where a university team developed the vaccine in less than three months. Hundreds of other volunteers will be injected with the trial vaccine, and the same number will get a vaccine for meningitis so the results can be compared. Volunteers will not know which vaccine they are getting. The trial offers new hope just as an antiviral drug – remdesivir — proved ineffective against coronavirus on patients in China.

  • ImmunizationUN Warns of Measles Spike as COVID-19 Halts Vaccination Campaigns

    Essential measles vaccination programs around the world are being postponed indefinitely for more than 100 million children as healthcare systems focus on coronavirus and countries enforce lockdowns and social distancing. The UN urges governments to keep track of unvaccinated children.

  • VaccinesU.S. Pharmaceutical Giant Says COVID Vaccine Could Be Ready for Emergency Use by Early 2021

    U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson says human testing of its experimental coronavirus vaccine will begin by September and says the vaccine could be available for emergency use by early next year.  

    The company said Monday that it has jointly committed more than $1 billion to develop and test a vaccine along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It said if human trials of the vaccine are successful, it is prepared to produce more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine. 

  • Truth decaySocial Media and Vaccine Misinformation

    People who rely on social media for information were more likely to be misinformed about vaccines than those who rely on traditional media, according to a new study of vaccine knowledge and media use. The researchers found that up to 20 percent of respondents were at least somewhat misinformed about vaccines. Such a high level of misinformation is “worrying” because misinformation undermines vaccination rates, and high vaccination rates are required to maintain community immunity, the researchers said.

  • SuperbugsAntibiotic-Resistant E coli Found in U.S. Veterinary Hospital

    Animals treated in Philadelphia veterinary hospital were found to be infected with a antibiotic-resistant strain of E coli. In the United States, the gene has been detected in only a few human bacterial infections, and never in companion animals. Only a handful of cases in dogs have been reported worldwide.

  • PerspectiveScary Fact: Vaccination Rates are Falling in Some States

    When Peter J. Hotez moved from Boston to Texas to become the Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, he was surprised to discover the how many children in Texas and other Western states are not vaccinated owing to various exemptions. “In the past year, Europe has been inundated with measles, including dozens of deaths, due to large declines in vaccine coverage. I’m concerned the U.S. could suffer a similar fate,” he writes.