Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments in healthcare.
Mix-and-match COVID-19 booster shots
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the green light for booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines late last month. This follows shortly after the approval of Pfizer’s booster shot for those at high risk of severe disease. Along with this endorsement, the CDC also approved a mix-and-match approach to boosters, meaning eligible people can now choose whichever vaccine they wished among the three as a booster.
Health authorities have taken a hands-off approach in recommending which combination would work best, but what does the science say?
A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on 458 patients who tested combinations of Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines found that boosting with a different vaccine is safe. Preliminary data showed that boosters increased antibody levels no matter the combination:
Those who were vaccinated with Moderna and received it as their booster shot had the highest antibody levels;
The next highest were those who received two doses of Pfizer followed by a Moderna booster shot;
Scientists are awaiting data on T-cell responses, which will give a more holistic view of total immunity and the immune system’s ability to prevent major illnesses.
On the other hand, Chinese infectious disease experts have recommended holding off mixing Chinese vaccine booster shots until there is confirmed data. This is despite acknowledging that a mix-and-match strategy may be better than a third jab using the same vaccines.
Regardless of whether one chooses to mix vaccines or continue with their current vaccine type, it looks like a booster shot may be needed every year, much like the flu vaccine.
Healthcare in the Spotlight
The New York Times (Opinion): How will we live if COVID is here to stay?
Rather than debate how to end the pandemic, we need to debate how to live with it.
The New York Times: Merck will share formula for its COVID pill with poor countries
The company announced a licensing deal that will allow the drug, molnupiravir, to be made and sold cheaply in 105 developing nations.
The Straits Times: Antidepressant fluvoxamine may cut COVID-19 hospitalisation risk
Administering fluvoxamine resulted in a relative reduction in hospitalisations of 32%, making it a viable low-cost protection option for countries against severe sickness or death.
The Straits Times: Over half of the world’s hungry are Asians
Of the 418 million people undernourished in Asia, the majority are in South Asia, which accounts for 305.7 million people. South-east Asia follows with 48.8 million people, and West Asia with 42.3 million.
UC Davis: Preventing child malnutrition and promoting healthy development
Adding a small sachet of fortified food-based supplement to young children in low- and middle-income countries could lower the prevalence of stunted growth by 12% to 14%.
The New Daily: MIND diet reduces the odds of developing dementia
Study shows that adherence to the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet improves memory and thinking skills independent of Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
The Straits Times: Singapore at risk of heatwaves, more dengue outbreaks as climate change worsens health woes
Health problems caused by climate change, such as heat stress and mosquito-borne diseases, will continue to worsen unless countries do more to slash planet-warming emissions.
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