Thursday, October 7, 2021

Inequities. COVID-19 global crisis. Global Health NOW: Return to Normalcy or ‘National Chickenpox Party’?; Caregivers of Children with Zika Feel Forgotten; and Heat Hot Spots

Oct 6, 2021

GHN News


Pupils return to school at Copley Academy in Stalybridge, England. September 9, 2021
Image: Anthony Devlin/Getty


Return to Normalcy or ‘National Chickenpox Party’?

England has nixed school mask mandates, embracing a more laissez-faire approach even as cases and COVID-related absences soar among school-age children, The New York Times reports.

Government officials say the numbers support the decision:

  • 90% percent of the 8.4 million students in state-run schools are in class, and schools are functioning close to normally.
  • Overall, daily cases are tracking several thousands lower than when schools opened early last month—thanks largely to high vaccination coverage among adults.

But infections are rising fast among school-age children, and COVID-related school absences rose 2 thirds in the last 2 weeks of September, Reuters reports.
Critics say kids are being exposed to a “national chickenpox party” sure to result in infections, long COVID, and deaths. Others say the government is right to prioritize a return to routine, according to the Times.


UN-backed initiative reached 4.6 million children in ‘crisis within a crisis’ – UN News

Few Masks. Sick Kids. Packed ERs. How One District’s First Four Weeks of School Went Bad. – ProPublica

Alabama isn’t reporting school COVID outbreaks, contact tracing. Here’s why. –

COVID outbreaks in Michigan schools already 8 times higher than last year – Bridge Michigan

Global Health Voices





The Latest

Global Numbers

  • 235,933,077 cases
  • 4,819,542 deaths
  • 6,360,017,873 vaccine doses administered

—Source: Johns Hopkins University

Key Developments

Labs in Wuhan were buying up coronavirus testing equipment months before the first COVID-19 case was reported to the WHO in December 2019; new
cyber-security data found Wuhan labs issued 135 contracts containing PCR equipment in 2019, up from 89 in 2018 and 72 in 2017. Newsweek

In the US, massive employer demand for rapid COVID-19 tests is causing shortages and driving up costs for state and local testing efforts deemed crucial for surveillance; industry executives say ramping up production could take months. Reuters
Cause of COVID toe? A new study found that the mysterious condition, which causes chilblain-like lesions on the toes and fingers and most often affects children and teens, may be caused by the immune system going on the attack to fight the virus. BBC  
Early-pandemic research—some tobacco industry-funded—indicating smokers were somehow protected from severe COVID-19 gained traction, and it wasn’t until last month that a large UK study squashed that theory, finding that smokers were 80% more likely to be hospitalized than non-smokers. Bhekisisa


When Covid-19 first struck: Analysis of the influence of structural characteristics of countries - technocracy is strengthened by open democracy – PLOS ONE

WHO says unvaccinated people are ‘dying unnecessarily’ from Covid as hospitals fill – CNBC

Russia Reports More Than 900 Coronavirus Daily Deaths in New Record – The Moscow Times

Covid-19: Chikwe Ihekweazu: “It’s a rare privilege” to lead new pandemic hub – The BMJ

Why doctors back state COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health care – American Medical Association

COVID-19 vaccine mandates should avoid colonial and controlling pitfalls – The New Humanitarian (commentary)

J&J is asking the FDA to authorize its COVID-19 booster shots – NPR

National and State Trends in Anxiety and Depression Severity Scores Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, 2020–2021 – CDC Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report

Fauci Documentary Trailer: Don’t Shoot the Messenger – Vulture




Caregivers of Children with Zika Feel Forgotten

During Brazil’s 2016 Zika outbreak, parents of babies born with the syndrome stepped up to join studies.
Now, they feel used, accusing researchers of failing to communicate study results.
In the rush to collect data, some researchers concede they fell short on clearly explaining study limits, expectations, and results to families.
“For the researchers, the result is what is published in a well qualified scientific journal or goes into their resume,” said Soraya Fleischer, a University of Brasília anthropologist. Families, meanwhile, need answers and help, or documentation to access benefits.
Lesson Learned: Researchers leading new studies must work harder to gain the trust of wary families.
A Model: Fleischer’s team returned periodically to visit families, and created a blog summarizing findings and short stories aimed at busy parents.
Tips from Ethicists:

  • Respect caregivers’ intelligence and contributions

  • Translate findings for non-scientists

  • Make published studies publicly accessible

The Quote: “It’s like we were lab rats. They come in nicely, collect information, collect exams on the child, and in the end we don’t know of any results,” said Rochelle dos Santos, mother of a child in a Zika study.


Global Health Voices





The Consequences of Underreporting

Despite increased media coverage in recent years, fatal police violence remains underreported in the US government’s vital registration data, according to a new Lancet study that offers revised estimates and a method to remedy skewed numbers.

  • From 1980–2018: 55.5% of all deaths attributable to police violence were not reported.

  • Non-Hispanic Black people suffered the highest mortality rate due to police violence, followed by Hispanic people.

Researchers who’ve been compiling police violence data acknowledge the holes left by relying on government figures: “Our underreporting of police violence in the [Global Burden of Disease Study] was both a cause and consequence of structural racism within our institute and the field of public health, the same structural racism that influences so many U.S. institutions, including law enforcement,” they write in Think Global Health




Global Hot Spots

People in major cities are exposed to deadly temperatures 3X more often than in the 1980s—with cities in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East bearing the brunt, according to a new analysis of 13,000+ cities.
The study combines the detailed observations of weather stations with the global reach of satellites to give an unusually detailed look at how rising temperatures impact city-dwellers around the world, with an interactive map showing hot spots.
Striking: India alone makes up more than half of the global increase in urban heat exposure.
Climate change is part of the problem—but so is poverty and explosive population growth, and heat-absorbing urban concrete and pavement also play a role.




Give it Your Best Shot: A Johns Hopkins-Pulitzer Center Webinar

Nearly 1 in 4 young people feel hesitant about COVID-19 vaccination, putting them at risk for severe disease. 

  • How can public health officials reach adolescents and young people?

  • What messages in social media and elsewhere resonate with them?

  • How are journalists reaching younger audiences? 

Join the Pulitzer Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Health for a free virtual event, convening journalists from the CNN/BBC documentary Race for the Vaccine and public health experts to discuss opportunities and pitfalls in this pandemic communication challenge. 


Daily Diversion



Quick Hits


We're sleepwalking into another global health emergency…COP26 must be our wake-up call – The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (commentary)

Half of Afghanistan’s children under five expected to suffer from acute malnutrition as hunger takes root for millions – WFP

New global targets to prevent maternal deaths – WHO (news release)

WHO Ebola report: Commission set up to seek sanctions against perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse – Outbreak News Today

Sexual abuse during humanitarian operations still happens. What must be done to end it – The Conversation Africa (commentary)

What Smallpox Teaches Us About Controlling Future Pandemics – Time

The Inescapable Dilemma of Infectious Disease – Boston Review

A Brief But Spectacular take on the importance of creating a global health system – PBS NewsHour


Issue No. 1921

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, and Jackie Powder. Write us:, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GHN_News.

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