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The push for a better dengue vaccine grows more urgent

By Stephanie Nolan, The New York Times

Dengue fever cases are on the rise in South America. In fact, the Pan-American Health Organization has predicted that this may be the worst dengue year yet. Experts point to changing environmental conditions as an important factor in these upticks. The mosquitos that carry dengue thrive in warm, wet conditions. Unfortunately, these are also conditions that are ever-increasing due to climate change. 

Right now, there are only two vaccine options for dengue. However, one requires two shots, and the other must be given to someone who already has dengue. This is why scientists at NIH have developed a new, one-shot vaccine. The Instituto Butantan, a research center in Brazil, will produce it. However, this vaccine will only be produced in Brazil, and it won’t be developed fast enough to address current outbreaks. Similarly, the drug company Merck and Co. has been developing a new vaccine, but it is also still in the process of being developed. 

Any vaccine that is developed must also be able to protect against all four strains of dengue, as infections are worse when a patient contracts multiple strains of dengue. Dengue fever can progress to severe dengue, in which plasma starts to exit the blood vessels. If left untreated, the mortality rate for this is 15%. It is of utmost importance that the development and roll-out of a new vaccine be prioritized and cost-effective.

by Lydia King

How to give kids autonomy? ‘Anxious Generation’ author says a license to roam helps

By Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR

In The Anxious Generation, Jonathan Haidt explores two factors impacting America’s mental health crisis: Children have too much screen time and too little autonomy. The impact can be seen in 20 percent of adolescents having symptoms of anxiety and depression. Haidt’s methods to combat these issues could be seen as unconventional, such as letting your kid out of sight without having a way to reach them. However, in the modern day, it is getting hard to give children more autonomy while simultaneously delaying smartphone usage. His call to action includes changing laws to make it explicit that independence is not evidence of neglect. In addition, societal norms have to change to allow children to have this independence.

Regarding screens, Haidt recommends not giving children a phone until high school to limit screen time, which is hard when most children are getting phones earlier and earlier. Instead, he recommends using flip phones so parents can still contact their children while limiting internet usage. In an increasingly technologically dependent world, making these changes can be difficult, even if it is for the betterment of a child’s mental health. Haidt insists that changing societal norms to increase child autonomy will improve children’s mental health and wellbeing, helping end the mental health crisis plaguing the incoming generation.

by Caroline Hansen

Should Alcoholic Beverages Have Cancer Warning Labels?

By Ted Alcorn, The New York Times

Ireland will make history in 2026 by becoming one of the first countries to require cancer warning labels on all alcoholic beverages sold in the country. The requirement was signed into law last year and aims to make consumers more aware of the direct link between alcohol consumption and cancer. Policymakers first started discussing such a law in 2012 but opposition from the alcohol industry delayed its passage. These opponents claimed such an explicit warning label would restrict free trade. Supporters, on the other hand, argued consumers deserve the same transparency they get when purchasing other products. Countries such as Norway, Canada, and Thailand have introduced similar legislation, and discussions are being had about the size, location, and language of such warning labels.

by Andrew Feld

Items summarized by: Lydia King, Caroline Hansen, Andrew Feld