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A summary of important health news from the past week.

CDC Signs Off on Moderna, J&J Boosters, Backs Mix n’ Match Shots

By: Robin Foster

This week, the CDC approved Covid-19 booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Now, all three of the main Covid-19 vaccines in the United States have been FDA and CDC approved for normal use and for booster shots. The hope is that those who were hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine will feel more safe knowing they are approved. Additionally, the CDC approved mixing and matching vaccines. This means that if an individual received two Pfizer shots for their first series of vaccinations, they could receive a Moderna or J&J shot for their booster vaccination. Mixing and matching is thought to possibly increase acquired immunity, but there have not been enough clinical trials to confirm this. Researchers believe we become more susceptible to Covid-19 as time from our first vaccination series increases, so booster shot approval for more of the general population, such as those ages 40 and older, may be in the near future.

What You Need to Know About Merck’s New Covid Treatment Pill

By: Rebecca Robbins

In the beginning of October 2021, American-based biopharmaceutical company, Merck & Co. announced plans to seek emergency authorization from the FDA for Molnupiravir, a newly developed, orally administered antiviral that is set to be the first COVID-19 treatment approved for use in the U.S. With a commercial name inspired by Norse mythology– Mjolnir is the name given to the mystical and indestructible hammer of Norse demigod Thor–the drug is reported have reduced hospitalization and death rates among Phase 3 clinical trial participants by 50%. Given the participant pool enrolled in Merck’s clinical trials, if approved, priority access to the treatment will be given those at high-risk for COVID-19-related complications. No severe side effects have been noted as of yet, however, further study of in vivo effects of the drug are on-going as developers await the decision of FDA officials.

Here’s How You Can Safely Donate Blood and Help with the Nationwide Shortage

By: Roz Plater

The nation is currently facing a critical blood shortage. Blood banks are reporting shortages of blood supply and are at the point of offering gift cards and other incentives to encourage the donation of blood from more donors. Many things have contributed to this shortage, and the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the major factors. This is due to the fewer blood drives at businesses and schools in response to the pandemic. The American Red Cross, which supplies about 40 percent of the country’s blood supply, has recorded that its inventory is at the lowest number for this time of the year since 2015. Since the nation’s blood supply is critically low, experts fear that doctors might be faced with the decision of how to allocate blood among their sickest patients. The blood banks are asking donors to come out to donate, with the assurance that the proper COVID-19 protocols are being followed. Masks are required, and the Red Cross is following the specific guidelines that are outlined by the Center for Disease Control in terms of bed distances and avoiding overcrowding. Check the blood bank’s website for eligibility rules for blood donations to see how they vary from state to state and make your appointment online to help combat this critical shortage.

Proof in produce: Voucher program may help diabetes patients manage their health

By: Science Daily

Researchers at Penn State discovered that a voucher program, where diabetes patients receive vouchers at local farmers market vendors, can help patients manage and maintain their health. Patients were given an initial set of vouchers, valued at 2 dollars each, and more if they attended diabetes management classes. After following the patients for seven months, researchers found a significant decrease in average A1c levels, which measures blood sugar levels over the previous three months. Especially for diabetes patients, high A1c levels can lead to other diseases such as kidney and liver disease, hence it is vital that diabetes patients maintain low A1c levels. The success of the program indicates that food is a large complement to medicine, and can operate as such especially for diabetes.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine well-tolerated and produced robust immune response in children 6 to 11

By: Jamie Gumbrecht

Interim results of a phase 2 and 3 trial showed Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine was well-tolerated and generated a robust immune response in children ages 6 to 11. The trial included more than 4,700 participants between the ages of 6 and 11, and looked at two 50-microgram doses of Moderna’s vaccine given 28 days apart. This is smaller than the 100-microgram dose given to adults. The company compared the antibody response in younger children to the response in young adults in the company’s phase 3 trial, and found a “strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.” However, results have not been peer-reviewed or published. Moderna said it will submit these data to the US Food and Drug Administration, European Medicines Agency and other global regulators “in the near term.” Pfizer has already sought emergency use authorization for its vaccine for people ages 5 to 11.