Friday, June 5, 2020

Global Health Now. June 5, 2020

Jun 5, 2020

GHN News

Allison Bracy hugs her daughter Brielle Bracy, 10, at a protest in Riverside, California yesterday.
Image: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty

How to Undo Racism’s Attack on Public Health

America, reeling from crises brought on by police brutality and a virus that takes disproportionate aim at people of color, must now reckon with the racism that paved the path for both.

Racism's impact on health “starts from infancy”: African-American babies die at twice the rate of white babies before their first birthday, says Lisa Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute.

The protests against racism are happening against the backdrop of a  pandemic and "the financial stresses of being poor, the social stresses of being from a marginalized group with a history of institutionalized, sanctioned mistreatment by law enforcement," says Cooper.

Here's how the public health community can help, she says:
  • Make the links between social conditions and health clear—it's not about individual behaviors

  • Set the tone for other sectors to follow—like health care, law enforcement, transportation, and housing

  • Bring some of the health equity and social justice aspects of public health into the curricular mainstream—not just in courses and concentrations
Copoer is particularly excited about her Institute's anti-racism training for bystanders that ensures racist and biased behavior doesn’t go unchecked.
"Our fates are intertwined … If we want to be healthier and have more opportunities, it’s not enough to just worry about ourselves," she says.

Dayna Kerecman Myers for Global Health NOW

Global Health Voices

covid-19 watch

The Latest

Global Numbers
  • 6,663,729 cases
  • 391,656 deaths
  • 2,890,799 recovered

Key Developments

2 major retractions: Top medical journals have pulled 2 widely publicized papers on potential COVID-19 treatments: the Lancet paper had raised doubts about the safety of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine; the New England Journal of Medicine paper examined blood pressure medication as a COVID-19 treatment. STAT

US labs will be required to include data on race, ethnicity, and other demographic data in the results of COVID-19 tests, the Trump administration announced Thursday after facing backlash for failing to collect such information earlier in the pandemic. NPR

Rohingya refugees with COVID-19 are fleeing quarantine in Bangladesh, fearful of being relocated to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal. New Straits Times

CDC chief Robert Redfield said that police violence protesters need to get tested for COVID-19 amid concern that gatherings could “seeding” events, particularly those in regions where the outbreak is not yet contained—including Minneapolis and Washington, DC. The Washington Post


Does drug touted by Trump work on COVID-19? After data debacle, we still don't know – Reuters

Coronavirus Rips Into Regions Previously Spared – The New York Times

Why scientists are struggling to show how the coronavirus passed to people – Nature

‘People are looking at me’: For many who lost jobs in the coronavirus epidemic, hunger comes with shame – The Washington Post

Egyptian girls 'tricked into FGM' with COVID-19 vaccine – Al Jazeera

COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months: The disease’s “long-haulers” have endured relentless waves of debilitating symptoms—and disbelief from doctors and friends. – The Atlantic

Coronavirus and the Flu: A Looming Double Threat – Scientific American

Pandemics from history - how they inform our response now – BMJ talk medicine

Vanessa Kerry: I treat COVID patients and work with WHO. Trump is risking our health by cutting ties. – USA Today (commentary)

Face coverings to be made compulsory on public transport in England – The Guardian

Science Alone Can’t Solve Covid-19. The Humanities Must Help. – Undark (commentary)

covid-19: vaccines

Gavi’s Shots for All Plan 

One of the biggest questions around an eventual COVID-19 vaccine: Will it be equitably deployed throughout the world?

Inspired by previous efforts around Ebola and pneumococcal vaccines,
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has launched a $2 billion funding mechanism aimed at ensuring a COVID-19 vaccine reaches the most vulnerable.

The plan—which is only the first step in a larger effort—incentivizes drug makers to ramp up production capacity by offering volume guarantees before candidates are licensed, which would speed up deployment when the vaccine arrives.

World leaders are getting behind the push, more aware than ever that global vaccine collaboration will be key to ending the pandemic, Quartz reports.

And with rising vaccine skepticism, communication will be key to convincing the public that a super-expedited approval process didn’t skimp on safety, CNN reports.


Top U.S. scientists left out of White House selection of COVID-19 vaccine shortlist – Science

Bill Gates’ bold plan for when a Covid-19 vaccine finally arrives – WIRED

COVID-19: Three Reasons Why It Is Unlikely that We Get Vaccinated before 2021 – IS Global

COVID-19 vaccine development pipeline gears up – The Lancet

In the race for a vaccine, children may be last to be vaccinated – ABC


Not-So-Nonlethal Weapons

Rubber bullets. Tear gas. Flash grenades.

Used by police since the 1880s, so-called “nonlethal” weapons have been deployed by police to quell protesters this week. Their name obscures how dangerous they can be, Popular Science reports.

The rubber bullets shot into crowds of protesters can potentially “disable, disfigure and even kill,” NBC reports. In Minneapolis, a photojournalist was blinded in one eye after being hit with one.

But not much is known about how police deploy rubber bullets‚ as they are not required to document their use. There are also no national standards for their use. 

Guidelines advise only aiming them at the lower body under of a “violent individual.” But when fired at close range, they can break bones, “explode the eyeball,” or cause traumatic brain injuries—shot from a distance, they could easily hit the wrong target.   


I Can’t Breathe: Braving Tear Gas in a Pandemic – The Atlantic 

Rubber bullets can seriously mess you up – Vox

Global Health Voices

covid-19 expert reality check

Immune-Suppressing Drugs and COVID-19

If I take immune-suppressing medication, should I stop so I'll have a better chance of avoiding COVID-19 infection?

Research into COVID-19 and patients who take immunosuppressing drugs is still scarce. However, investigations from Italy found that patients with systemic autoimmune diseases do not seem to have an increased risk of becoming infected.

Needless to say, immunosuppression impairs innate and adaptive immunity and is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 illness. While this holds true for the majority of patients, a subset of COVID-19 patients exhibit “hyper-inflammation"—an immune system activation triggered by the virus. The impact of initiating immunosuppression in these COVID-19 patients is being tested in several ongoing clinical trials.

Patients should consult with their physician on the need to take immune system-suppressing medication. Some circumstances, such as organ transplantation, require long-term intake of immunosuppressing drugs, and abrupt withdrawal poses a risk to patients to have organ failure due to rejection. This, in turn, would lead to hospitalization and the need to intensify treatment—increasing not only the chance of becoming infected but also the risk of a severe COVID-19 disease course.

Andreas Kronbichler, MD, PhD, is a researcher at the Medical University Innsbruck, specializing in glomerular diseases and autoimmunity.

Ed. Note: This insight and others are available in Global Health NOW's COVID-19 Expert Reality Check. Have a COVID-19 question? We'll try to find an expert to tackle it. Email Dayna:

your friday diversion

Got Plague? Try Powdered Toad.


If you thought injecting disinfectant to cure COVID-19 was the most asinine medical suggestion of all time, imagine trying to cure the plague with a lozenge made of powdered toad and toad vomit.

That idea wasn't Donald Trump's. It was from Isaac Newton—yes, that Isaac Newton—“the world’s greatest scientific mind.”

Newton’s musings on the matter are being auctioned off this week, hopefully not to researchers considering COVID-19 treatments.

Specifically: “the best is a toad suspended by the legs in a chimney for three days, which at last vomited up earth with various insects in it, on to a dish of yellow wax, and shortly after died.” 

But to Newton’s credit, we’ve all had to kiss a few frogs before getting it right.

The Guardian

Quick Hits

Earth’s carbon dioxide levels hit record high, despite coronavirus-related emissions drop – The Washington Post

Experts: Floyd’s health issues don’t affect homicide ruling – AP

Yemeni women will die, aid workers warn, as U.N. cuts maternity services – Reuters

Brazil’s Zika Epidemic Worsens – Zika News

A Lyme disease vaccine doesn’t exist, but a yearly antibody shot shows promise at preventing infection – The Conversation

Opioid Addiction Treatment Is More Widely Available, but Only for Adults – Columbia University Irving Medical Center

All this chaos might be giving you 'crisis fatigue' – WIRED

Missed Opportunities for Prevention of Congenital Syphilis — United States, 2018 – CDC

Telehealth wasn't designed for non-English speakers. – The Verge

Latent TB infection associated with very high alcohol use among people with HIV – Healio

'I know they aren't healthy': the energy drink craze sweeping Afghanistan – The Guardian
Issue No. 1597

Global Health NOW is an initiative of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Views and opinions expressed in this email do not necessarily reflect those of the Bloomberg School. Contributors include Brian W. Simpson, MPH, Dayna Kerecman Myers, Annalies Winny, Melissa Hartman, Lindsay Smith Rogers, and Jackie Powder. Write us:, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GHN_News.

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