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A summary of important health news from the past week.

Concerns Grow Over Restriction Relaxation

By: Gillian Mohney and George Citroner

Earlier this week, governors of Texas and Mississippi announced they were lifting mask mandates and allowing businesses to operate at full capacity immediately or within days. These announcements come as health experts warn the spread of more-transmissible COVID-19 variants could produce a new surge in cases. The move has caused some experts to wonder whether other states will join them, which would alter how the United States will deal with the pandemic at a crucial moment in the fight against the disease. Some local mayors and businesses continue to insist on mask use and other disease prevention measures while governors are saying those measures are no longer required. Despite declining rates of infection, experts say we should not let down our guard just yet as hospitalization rates have only declined the the rates we saw in December.

Malaria is notoriously hard to vaccinate against. A new vaccine technology might change that.

By: Kelsey Piper

Malaria kills over 400,00 people every year and is a top contender for the worst infectious disease in the world. For the past 5 years, researchers have been developing RNA vaccines, similarly to the Pfizer/ BioNTech coronavirus vaccines, to fight against malaria. Last month, a team from the Yale School of Medicine received approval for a new RNA vaccine patent. The results are exciting because malaria is notoriously difficult to vaccinate against. There is currently only one malaria vaccine which has passed rigorous testing, although it only has a 30% efficacy level. However, this new RNA vaccine approach, which has proven to be effective against COVID-19, is still a ways away and will require further work to finally defeat malaria.

A Covid Vaccine Side Effect, Enlarged Lymph Nodes, Can Be Mistaken for Cancer

By: Denise Grady

Patients who received the COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech reported symptoms regarding enlarged lymph nodes on the side of the arm in which they received the vaccine. While the side effect may be mistaken for cancer, the swelling is a normal immune system reaction to the vaccine, according to Dr. Constance D. Lehman, chief of breast imaging at the Massachussetts General Hospital and author of two scientific articles related to the subject. Her claim has also been supported by other colleagues and scientists, who have also published journal articles on the matter.

Should Your Cocktail Carry a Cancer Warning?

By: Anahad O’Connor

Alcohol consumption has surged following the pandemic. Research has found that alcohol abuse rose significantly among people who lost their jobs or who were confined to their homes due to lockdown restrictions. The pandemic has also made it easier for people to drink throughout the day with jobs being mostly remote. Alcohol consumption has long been recognized as a risk factor for various cancers. However, a survey was conducted in 2017 found that of 4,016 American adults, less than a third recognized alcohol as a risk factor for cancer. Recently, the American Cancer Society has issued new guidelines taking a very strong stance in framing alcohol as a health hazard.