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A summary of important health news from the past week.

Pandemic Medical Innovations Leave Behind People With Disabilities

By: Lauren Weber, Kaiser Health News

Inaccessibility in a world that privileges able-bodiedness remains an ongoing struggle for people with disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it various medical accommodations and innovations–such as telemedicine and home-testing kits–all meant to make navigating the crisis a bit easier. Yet, many persons with disabilities still feel left behind. For many, the everyday struggles of living with a disability have been further exacerbated by the pandemic. In an already dire situation, these compounded accessibility barriers have put the health and lives of those living with disabilities at heightened risk. Currently, members and allies of the disabled community are calling providers, healthcare organizations, and public health authorities to act as they work to raise awareness about the issue and hopefully resolve it.

Nonhormonal Birth Control for Men Shows Promise in Early Research

By: Elizabeth Pratt, Healthline

According to preliminary research conducted in mice, researchers are one step closer to the development of an oral, nonhormonal birth control for men. This research was presented at the American Chemical Society, and the results of the study suggest it was effective in preventing pregnancy with no significant side effects. This is due to a contraceptive called YCT529, which was able to make mice sterile. These findings are significant and promising for this line of research, as the current male contraceptive options condoms, a vasectomy, or abstinence. Human trials will likely begin in late 2022.

Alcohol-Related Deaths Spiked During the Pandemic, a Study Shows

By: Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times

In an article from the New York Times, Roni Caryn Rabin reports about a study that found that the amount of Americans who died from an alcohol related disorder, like liver disease, skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic. The study’s researchers report that the number of alcohol-related deaths rose by 25% from 2019 to 2020. A possible cause of this stark increase could be that people who were in recovery from alcoholism or a related disorder relapsed with the onslaught of the pandemic. With high stress levels and reduced access to support systems, those with and without an alcohol-related disorder may have turned to drinking to cope with the unknowns of the pandemic. The number of alcohol-related deaths in 2020 outnumbered deaths from Covid-19 in 2020, the study author’s report. This is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed, experts say, especially as the virus continues to spread.

White House Officials Say U.S. Has Exhausted Funds To Buy Potential Fourth Vaccine Dose For All Americans

By: Dan Diamond, Rachel Roubein, & Yasmeen Abutaleb

Congress is at a stalemate over passing a $15 billion funding package for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. 93% of the money previously allocated to COVID-19 by congress has already been spent, and the remaining funds are not enough to cover a fourth dose of vaccines for all Americans should it become necessary. The U.S. must put their order in early to receive vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which other nations have already begun to do. Even if congress passes the new budget soon, the U.S. may be too late to receive the vaccines before COVID-19 cases spike again. Resources will first be sent to other countries who placed their orders early, potentially leaving Americans vulnerable if a new wave of the virus occurs.

3-D Printing as the Future of Personalized Medicine 

By Nick Lavars, News Atlas

In a recent article by News Atlas, Nick Lavars highlights the potential for 3-D printing to be used for personalized medicine. 3-D printing was first invented in the mid-1980s and in the past few decades, it has improved in precision and applicability. Its future in the medical world and personalized medicine lies in a manufacturing technique known as vat photopolymerization. This process takes the drug and develops a resin case for it through the light from the 3-D printer. Scientists have refined this process to produce the entire resin at once, rather than layer by layer, so it can be completed in seconds. Printing medical capsules opens a door for personalized medicine because the doses and quantities of medications can be tailored to an individual rather than only relying on mass-produced, generic medications.

Items contributed by: Zainab Molumo, India Stevenson, Lexi Rosmarin, Gabrielle Stearns, Jessica Maaskant