Most of the health news in 2020 has been about the pandemic….and we all are aware how badly that is going…..but was there a possibility that there was some good news of the health front?
To answer that question….yes there was……
Ebola outbreak ends
The second biggest Ebola outbreak in history is officially over. Beginning in 2018, the virus surged in eastern Congo, infecting 3,470 people and killing about two-thirds of them (SN Online: 6/25/20). The outbreak was declared done in June thanks to an aggressive public health response involving testing, isolating sick people and contact tracing — the same measures that could slow COVID-19’s spread.
A vaccine, delivered to more than 300,000 people during the outbreak, and experimental drugs also helped. On October 14, one antibody-based treatment, Inmazeb, became the first Ebola drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (SN Online: 10/15/20). With that approval, U.S. supplies of the drug may become more readily available for Ebola patients. (The drug’s maker, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is a major donor to the Society for Science & the Public, which publishes Science News.)
HIV’s elite controllers
Most people with HIV take antiretroviral drugs to keep the virus in check. But in one rare person, the immune system seems to have wiped out the virus all on its own. Among over 1.5 billion blood cells taken from this once-infected person, not a single working copy of HIV turned up (SN: 9/26/20, p. 6). In another patient, researchers found only one functional copy of HIV in more than a billion blood cells. Learning how these people, part of a select group called elite controllers, fought off HIV may lead to better treatments for others.
Peanut allergy protection
In January, the FDA approved the first drug for curbing peanut allergies in children and teens (SN: 2/29/20, p. 16). Called Palforzia, the drug contains peanut proteins and is given in escalating amounts, so the body gradually learns that these proteins aren’t dangerous. The drug doesn’t go as far as eliminating peanut allergies, but it can help people tolerate an accidental peanut encounter.
With all the horrible news around the pandemic…..it is excellent to see that some good news is out there.
Finally, the worst idea of 2020 and it is pandemic related….
That idea was the stupidity known as the “herd immunity”…….
It’s year-end-list season. Usually, the Vox science team has some fun and compiles a year-end list of bad ideas in health and science that ought to die with the end of the year. In the past, we’ve targeted homeopathic medicine, declared it was time to end the relevance of the fatally flawed Stanford Prison Experiment, and dispelled myths about climate change. This year, though, we have only one target for intellectual demolition.
With the end of 2020, let’s leave behind the idea of using herd immunity acquired through natural infections as a means of combating the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s a lot of words to describe a simple, terrible idea: that we could end the pandemic sooner if more people — particularly young, less-at-risk people — get infected with the coronavirus and develop immunity as a result.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”