• GunsU.S. Gun Violence Increased 30 Percent During COVID-19 Pandemic

    Gun violence increased by more than 30 percent in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers said that stress, domestic violence, lack of social interactions and greater access to firearms might have contributed to the increase.

  • PandemicsTargeted Interventions: Containing Pandemics, Minimizing Societal Disruption

    COVID has so far infected 21 million people, with more than 4.5 of them dying. Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), such as case isolation, quarantining contacts, and the complete lockdown of entire countries, often come at the expense of economic disruption, harm to social and mental well-being, and require costly administration costs to ensure compliance.

  • MisinformationMisinformation on Stem Cell Treatments for COVID-19 Linked to Overhyped Science: Researchers

    Researchers call for stronger regulations to deter the sale of unproven cell-based products, and more responsible and accurate science communication.

  • Food SecurityNuclear War's Smoke Would Cause Climate Change, Threatening Global Food Supplies

    Nuclear war would cause many immediate fatalities, but smoke and soot from the resulting fires would also cause climate change lasting up to fifteen years, threatening worldwide food production and human health, according to a new study.

  • Chemical HazardsHelping Keep Communities Safe from Chemical Hazards During Severe Weather

    The destruction wrought by extreme weather is often spectacular in its devastation, but the quiet threat of subsequent chemical release can be just as deadly. Damage to infrastructure can lead to toxic substances like chlorine or ammonia contaminating our air and water.

  • ARGUMENT: Getting Real about MasksWhat Can Masks Do?

    Facemasks have been a contentious issue since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, and the discussion of whether or not the wearing of facemasks should be required – and who has the right, if any, to mandate the wearing of facemasks – has become thoroughly politicized. Lisa M Brosseau and colleagues write that the urgency of responding to the pandemic led to many poorly constructed studies, and the circulation of studies before they were peer-reviewed. “Endless unrealistic expectations, along with gross misinterpretation and overconfidence, have been evident, including claims that masks alone would ‘flatten the curve,’ ‘end the pandemic,’ or ‘reduce the clinical severity of COVID-19’.” They write. “Now, one and a half years into the pandemic, if masks were as effective as many believed them to be, we should have seen significant impacts. But that has not been the case anywhere on the globe.”

  • PandemicFEMA’s Initial Response to COVID-19

    During the first months of FEMA’s response to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, the United States faced a debilitating shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare personnel and ventilators for seriously ill patients in hospitals. DHS IG examined the effectiveness of FEMA’s response.

  • Truth DecayEnough with the Quackery, Pinker Says

    By Colleen Walsh

    “Another contributor [to the opposition to vaccines] is the Myside bias, probably the most powerful of all the cognitive biases, namely, if something becomes an article of faith within your own coalition, and if promoting it earns you status, that is what you believe,” says Harvard’s professor of psychology Steven Pinker, whose latest book — Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters – has just been published. “It’s somewhat arbitrary which positions get attached to which coalitions…. It used to be the tree-hugging Mr. and Ms. Naturals who were suspicious of vaccines — a romantic opposition to science and tech made vaccine resistance a leftish cause. But now it’s more attached to the right. In either case, people are more adamant about protecting the sacred beliefs of their political tribe than looking at the best evidence.”

  • VaccinesVaccination Could Have Prevented at Least 90,000 U.S. Deaths Since June: Kaiser Report

    A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that at least 90,000 COVID-19 deaths of unvaccinated adults since June could have been prevented with vaccines. Most of the preventable deaths — about 49,000 — occurred in September as the highly transmissible delta variant sparked a surge in cases.

  • BiolabsReporting All Biosafety Errors Could Improve Labs Worldwide – and Increase Public Trust in Biological Research

    By David Gillum, Kathleen Vogel, and Rebecca Moritz

    Around the world, scientists conduct many kinds of biological research experiments – from basic studies exploring how living systems operate to synthesizing novel organisms. The idea that a pathogen could escape from a laboratory and infect the entire world is the stuff of horror movies. Working with biological materials does have inherent risks, and laboratory incidents will happen – the goal is to minimize risks to laboratory personnel, the community and the environment.

  • Emerging VirusesNew, $125 Million Project Aims to Detect Emerging Viruses

    A new project, funded with $125 million from USAID, aims to detect and characterize unknown viruses which have the potential to spill over from wildlife and domestic animals to human populations. The 5-year project is expected to yield 8,000 to 12,000 novel viruses, which researchers will then screen and sequence the genomes of the ones that pose the most risk to animal and human health.

  • Pandemic & AuthoritarianismCOVID-19 Could Nudge Minds and Societies Towards Authoritarianism

    By Leor Zmigrod

    Humans have not one but two immune systems. The first, the biophysical immune system. The second is the behavioral immune system, which adapts our behavior to preemptively avoid potentially infectious people, places and things. An examination of the impact of the behavioral immune system on our attitudes towards obedience and authority shows that high rates of infectious diseases – and the disease-avoidance they promote – may fundamentally shape political opinions and social institutions.

  • Havana SyndromeRush to Stop “Havana Syndrome”

    By Christina Pazzanese

    In 2016, dozens of diplomatic staff at the U.S. and Canadian embassies in Havana began experiencing a sudden onset of health troubles with no apparent cause. It was suspected they had been exposed to a high-intensity burst of energy or sound waves. Known as Havana syndrome, today there are at least 200 CIA, State Department, and Pentagon personnel stationed overseas who have been affected. But cause, suspects unclear as scores of U.S. spies, diplomats, security staff hit by mysterious neurological injuries overseas.

  • Public HealthDEA, DOJ Warn of Lethal Fake Medication Pushed by Mexican Criminal Gangs

    Mexican criminal drug networks are mass-producing illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-laced fake pills using chemicals sourced largely from China., and are distributing these pills through U.S. criminal networks. These addictive fake pills are more lethal than ever. DEA laboratory testing reveals that today, four out of 10 fentanyl-laced fake pills contain a potentially lethal dose. DEA seizes 1.8 million fake pills and arrests 810 people nationwide in two-month effort to dismantle the drug distribution networks.

  • PandemicInsights into COVID Vaccine Hesitancy

    Two recent studies looked at COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in minority groups and opinions around less-preferred vaccines, provide clues for how officials might better encourage immunization.