Global Health Watch

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Delta Blues

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The U.S. is experiencing another surge of covid-19, particularly in Southern states where vaccination rates are generally lower than in other regions. But partisan fights rage on …

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Unraveling the Mysterious Mutations That Make Delta the Most Transmissible Covid Virus Yet

Upon first inspection, the mutations in the highly contagious delta covid variant don’t look that worrisome. For starters, delta has fewer genetic changes than earlier versions of the coronavirus. “When people saw that the epidemic in India was driven by delta, they did not suspect it would be so bad or overtake other variants,” said …

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Analysis: Necessary or Not, Covid Booster Shots Are Probably on the Horizon

The drugmaker Pfizer recently announced that vaccinated people are likely to need a booster shot to be effectively protected against new variants of covid-19 and that the company would apply for Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for the shot. Top government health officials immediately and emphatically announced that the booster isn’t needed right …

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Novavax’s Effort to Vaccinate the World, From Zero to Not Quite Warp Speed

On a sweltering June morning, Novavax CEO and covid vaccine maker Stanley Erck stood on a stage unmasked and did something that would have been unthinkable six months ago: He shook hands with Maryland’s governor. Erck was with Gov. Larry Hogan to announce Novavax’s global vaccine headquarters ― a campus expected to house laboratories and …

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New Research Finds J&J Vaccine Has Muscle Against Covid’s Delta Variant

In the past two weeks, many medical experts started to question whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is administered in a single dose, would be as effective as the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine in protecting against the new, highly transmissible delta variant that is poised to become the dominant strain in the U.S. …

New Research Finds J&J Vaccine Has Muscle Against Covid’s Delta Variant Read More »

Analysis: Why We’ll Likely Never Know Whether a Covid Lab Leak Happened in China

Early in this century, post-SARS, and in a period when China started allowing more students and scientists to study abroad, collaboration and exchange between American and Chinese scientists blossomed. Many of China’s top scientists today were educated in the West. These include George Gao, the head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who …

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Analysis: Mounting Pressure on China About Covid ‘Lab Leak’ Could Backfire

President Joe Biden has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to determine whether the covid virus, or a near ancestor, emerged from a cave, a live-animal market, a farm — or a secretive Chinese laboratory. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. But it’s doubtful this probe will yield definitive insights, and it could even …

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KHN Journalist Combs for Clues on Covid’s Origins

California Healthline editor Arthur Allen discussed the investigation into the origins of the coronavirus on KPBS’ “Midday Edition” on Wednesday. Click here to hear Allen on KPBS Read Allen’s “To the Bat Cave: In Search of Covid’s Origins, Scientists Reignite Polarizing Debate on Wuhan ‘Lab Leak’“ Senior Colorado correspondent Markian Hawryluk discussed Colorado’s efforts to …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Return of the Public Option

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The “public option” is back — both in Washington, D.C., and the states. President Joe Biden as a candidate supported the idea of a government-run or heavily regulated insurance …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Roe v. Wade on the Ropes

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case next term that could result in a significant modification or overturn of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide. At issue is a Mississippi law that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks of …

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To the Bat Cave: In Search of Covid’s Origins, Scientists Reignite Polarizing Debate on Wuhan ‘Lab Leak’

Once dismissed as a conspiracy theory, the idea that the covid virus escaped from a Chinese lab is gaining high-profile attention. As it does, reputations of renowned scientists are at risk — and so is their personal safety. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. At the center of the storm is Peter …

To the Bat Cave: In Search of Covid’s Origins, Scientists Reignite Polarizing Debate on Wuhan ‘Lab Leak’ Read More »

This Small Canadian Drugmaker Wants to Make J&J Vaccines for Poor Nations. It Needs More Than a Patent Waiver.

Biolyse Pharma Corp., which makes a cancer medication, was gearing up to start making generic biologic drugs, made from living organisms. Then the pandemic hit. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. Watching the covid death toll climb, the company decided its new production lines and equipment could be converted to making vaccines …

This Small Canadian Drugmaker Wants to Make J&J Vaccines for Poor Nations. It Needs More Than a Patent Waiver. Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: 100 Days of Health Policy

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. It’s been a busy 100 days for the Biden administration on health policy. The promise Joe Biden made as president-elect to get 100 million covid vaccinations in arms was doubled, healthcare.gov reopened to those without insurance, and steps were taken to undo a raft of …

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Expertos en salud pública temen que los fondos desaparezcan cuando termine la pandemia

En respuesta a la pandemia de covid-19, el Congreso ha invertido decenas de miles de millones de dólares en los departamentos de salud pública estatales y locales, pagando por máscaras, rastreadores de contactos y campañas educativas para persuadir a las personas de que se vacunen. Sus funcionarios, que han manejado presupuestos famélicos durante años, están …

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Public Health Experts Worry About Boom-Bust Cycle of Support

Congress has poured tens of billions of dollars into state and local public health departments in response to the covid-19 pandemic, paying for masks, contact tracers and education campaigns to persuade people to get vaccinated. This story also ran on The Associated Press. It can be republished for free. Public health officials who have juggled …

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Brecha de género contra covid: se vacunan más mujeres que hombres

Mary Ann Steiner condujo dos horas y media desde su casa en University City, un suburbio de St. Louis, hasta la pequeña ciudad de Ozark, en Centerville, Missouri, para vacunarse contra covid-19. Después de poner su auto en fila en el estacionamiento de una iglesia, notó que las otras personas que esperaban tenían algo en …

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The Gender Vaccine Gap: More Women Than Men Are Getting Covid Shots

This story also ran on USA Today. It can be republished for free. Mary Ann Steiner drove 2½ hours from her home in the St. Louis suburb of University City to the tiny Ozark town of Centerville, Missouri, to get vaccinated against covid-19. After pulling into the drive-thru line in a church parking lot, she …

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Colleges and Universities Plan for Normal-ish Campus Life in the Fall

Dr. Sarah Van Orman treads carefully around the word “normal” when she describes what the fall 2021 term will look like at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and other colleges nationwide. This story also ran on U.S. News & World Report. It can be republished for free. In the era of covid, …

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Journalists Dive Deep Into Roots of Vaccine Distrust in Prisons and Covid’s Toll on Public Health

Reporter Eric Berger discussed vaccine hesitancy among inmates at a Missouri correctional center with Newsy on Thursday. Click here to watch Berger on Newsy Read Berger’s “Inmates’ Distrust of Prison Health Care Fuels Distrust of Covid Vaccines” KHN Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal discussed how the U.S. has focused on international terrorism at the expense of public …

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Battle Brews Over Neutral Zone Where Border-Crossing Parties Rendezvous, Risking Infection

BLAINE, Wash. — In the shadows of covid travel restrictions, a 42-acre park on the far western edge of the U.S.-Canadian dividing line has become a popular opening in an otherwise closed border, a place where Americans and Canadians can gather without needing permission to go through an official border crossing. Use Our Content It …

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Analysis: How the US Invested in the War on Terrorism at the Cost of Public Health

This story also ran on Los Angeles Times. It can be republished for free. Here’s one big takeaway from our country’s disastrous 2020 covid response: For 20 years, we’ve lavished attention and money on fighting human terrorism and forgot that the terrorism of nature is equally deadly, deserving equal preparation. Today, with more than 545,000 …

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‘Press 1 for English’: Vaccination Sign-Ups Prove Daunting for Speakers of Other Languages

In late February, a week after Virginia launched a centralized website and call center for covid-19 vaccine preregistration, Zowee Aquino alerted the state to a glitch that could prove fatal for non-English speakers trying to secure a shot. This story also ran on U.S. News & World Report. It can be republished for free. Callers …

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The Hype Has Faded, but Don’t Count Out Convalescent Plasma in Covid Battle

Six months after it was controversially hailed by Trump administration officials as a “breakthrough” therapy to fight the worst effects of covid-19, convalescent plasma appears to be on the ropes. This story also ran on NBC News. It can be republished for free. The treatment that infuses blood plasma from recovered covid patients into people …

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The Case for Donating US Covid Vaccines Overseas

A Senate committee grilled federal officials about the shortage of vaccines to protect Americans against a pandemic virus. Two months later, the U.S. public had lost interest in the virus, and millions of vaccines were sitting in warehouses — although poor countries still needed them. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. This …

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Landmark Covid Relief Law Pumps More Than $100 Billion Into Public Health

Acknowledging that chronic underfunding of public health contributed significantly to the nation’s fragmented response to the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats included more than $100 billion in the recently enacted relief package to address urgent needs and enhance future efforts. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. “The pandemic has given us possibly the best …

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Vaccine Altruists Find Appointments for Those Who Can’t

This story also ran on KCET. It can be republished for free. Ana Guevara was determined to get a covid vaccine for her mother, 85-year-old Adelina Coto, but she needed help. Guevara, a full-time nanny in Los Angeles, didn’t have the time or knowledge to search for appointments online. Guevara’s son, a school district employee, …

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Biden’s Criticism of Trump Team’s Vaccine Contracts Is a Stretch

“When I came into office, the prior administration had contracted for not nearly enough vaccine to cover adults in America. We rectified that.” — President Joe Biden, March 2 news conference During a March 2 news conference on the covid-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden claimed that former President Donald Trump’s administration did not ensure there …

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Coronavirus Deranges the Immune System in Complex and Deadly Ways

This story also ran on USA Today. It can be republished for free. There’s a reason soldiers go through basic training before heading into combat: Without careful instruction, green recruits armed with powerful weapons could be as dangerous to one another as to the enemy. The immune system works much the same way. Immune cells, …

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Have a Case of a Covid Variant? No One Is Going to Tell You

This story also ran on NBC News. It can be republished for free. Covid-19 infections from variant strains are quickly spreading across the U.S., but there’s one big problem: Lab officials say they can’t tell patients or their doctors whether someone has been infected by a variant. Federal rules around who can be told about …

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Covid Strikes Clergy as They Comfort Pandemic’s Sick and Dying

This story also ran on The Washington Post. It can be republished for free. The Rev. Jose Luis Garayoa survived typhoid fever, malaria, a kidnapping and the Ebola crisis as a missionary in Sierra Leone, only to die of covid-19 after tending to the people of his Texas church who were sick from the virus …

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To Vaccinate Veterans, Health Care Workers Must Cross Mountains, Plains and Tundra

This story also ran on Time. It can be republished for free. A Learjet 31 took off before daybreak from Helena Regional Airport in Montana, carrying six Veterans Affairs medical providers and 250 doses of historic cargo cradled in a plug-in cooler designed to minimize breakage. Even in a state where 80-mph speed limits are …

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Prominent Scientists Call on CDC to Better Protect Workers From Covid

A prominent group of academics is pressing the Biden administration to move faster and take stronger action to protect high-risk workers from airborne exposure to the coronavirus, urging enforceable standards to help safeguard risky workplaces including health care, food processing and prisons. The researchers say that even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention …

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As Pandemic Surged, Contact Tracing Struggled; Biden Looks to Boost It

This story also ran on U.S. News & World Report. It can be republished for free. Contact tracing, a critical part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, has fallen behind in recent months as covid-19 cases have soared. President Joe Biden had pledged to change that. Biden proposes hiring 100,000 people nationwide …

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Pandemic Sends a Couple Into Indefinite Long Distance Though Just Miles Apart

Every Sunday afternoon, Suzan Mubarak keeps an eye on her phone. That is when her boyfriend will call to let her know he’s outside her house for their weekly wave. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. Mubarak, 31, and Mitch Domier, 43, live a few miles apart in Bozeman, …

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Can the US Keep Covid Variants in Check? Here’s What It Takes

The covid-19 variants that have emerged in the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa and now Southern California are eliciting two notably distinct responses from U.S. public health officials. First, broad concern. A variant that wreaked havoc in the U.K., leading to a spike in cases and hospitalizations, is surfacing in a growing number of places …

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Estados permiten contratar profesionales de salud extranjeros por la pandemia

Cuando los hospitales de todo el país luchan contra la nueva ola de la pandemia, no son camas ni ventiladores lo que escasean. Son las personas que cuidan de los enfermos. Pero existe mano de obra altamente calificada de médicos, enfermeras y otros trabajadores de salud, con formación en el extranjero, que no se aprovecha …

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Amid Covid Health Worker Shortage, Foreign-Trained Professionals Sit on Sidelines

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. As hospitals nationwide struggle with the latest covid-19 surge, it’s not so much beds or ventilators in short supply. It’s the people to care for the sick. Yet a large, highly skilled workforce of foreign-educated doctors, nurses and other health practitioners is going largely untapped due …

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Health Workers Unions See Surge in Interest Amid Covid

This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. The nurses at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, declared on March 6 — by filing the official paperwork — that they were ready to vote on the prospect of joining a national union. At the time, they were motivated by the desire …

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Illinois, primer estado en ofrecer cobertura médica a adultos mayores indocumentados

Como jefa de enfermería en uno de los hospitales más concurridos de la red de seguridad de atención médica de Chicago, Raquel Prendkowski ha sido testigo del devastador número de víctimas que COVID-19 ha causado entre los residentes más vulnerables de la ciudad, incluyendo a personas que no tienen seguro médico por su estatus migratorio. …

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Illinois Is First in the Nation to Extend Health Coverage to Undocumented Seniors

As a nurse manager for one of Chicago’s busiest safety-net hospitals, Raquel Prendkowski has witnessed covid-19’s devastating toll on many of the city’s most vulnerable residents — including people who lack health insurance because of their immigration status. Some come in so sick they go right to intensive care. Some don’t survive. “We’re in a …

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Eureka! Two Vaccines Work — But What About the Also-Rans in the Pharma Arms Race?

This story also ran on Daily Beast. It can be republished for free. As I prepared to get my shot in mid-December as part of a covid vaccine trial run by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, I considered the escape routes. Bailing out of the trial was a very real consideration since two other vaccines, made by Moderna …

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In Fast-Moving Pandemic, Health Officials Try to Change Minds at Warp Speed

Nine months into the pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 people in the U.S., Kim Larson is still trying to convince others in her northern Montana county that COVID-19 is dangerous. As Hill County Health Department director and county health officer, Larson continues to hear people say the coronavirus is just like a bad …

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Analysis: Some Said the Vaccine Rollout Would Be a ‘Nightmare.’ They Were Right.

This story also ran on The New York Times. It can be republished for free. WASHINGTON — Even before there was a vaccine, some seasoned doctors and public health experts warned, Cassandra-like, that its distribution would be “a logistical nightmare.” After Week 1 of the rollout, “nightmare” sounds like an apt description. Dozens of states …

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Health Officials Fear Pandemic-Related Suicide Spike Among Native Youth

WOLF POINT, Mont. — Fallen pine cones covered 16-year-old Leslie Keiser’s fresh grave at the edge of Wolf Point, a small community on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation on the eastern Montana plains. Leslie, whose father is a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, is one of at least two teenagers on …

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Many US Health Experts Underestimated the Coronavirus … Until It Was Too Late

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. A year ago, while many Americans were finishing their holiday shopping and finalizing travel plans, doctors in Wuhan, China, were battling a mysterious outbreak of pneumonia with no known cause. Chinese doctors began to fear they were witnessing the return of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or …

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How to Pull Off a COVID-Era Music Festival

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — As the pandemic took hold and well-grooved music festivals canceled their mainstream events, Krista Selico saw an opening. She had been organizing the Helix Festival as an opportunity to give artists in the urban music community a chance to redefine the genre for themselves, as well as choose more racially diverse …

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Come for Your Eye Exam, Leave With a Band-Aid on Your Arm

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines rapidly heading toward approval, optometrists and dentists are pushing for the authority to immunize patients during routine eye exams and dental cleanings. Across the country, these medical professionals say their help will be needed to distribute the vaccines to millions of Americans — and they already have the know-how. “When you …

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Trump’s Lame-Duck Status Leaves Governors to Wing It on COVID

Not long after the world learned that President Donald Trump had lost his reelection bid, states began issuing a new round of crackdowns and emergency declarations against the surging coronavirus. Taking action this time were Republican governors who had resisted doing so during the spring and summer. Now they face an increasingly out-of-control virus and …

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Trump’s Anti-Abortion Zeal Shook Fragile Health Systems Around the World

In Ethiopia, health clinics for teenagers once supported by U.S. foreign aid closed down. In Kenya, a decades-long effort to integrate HIV testing and family planning unraveled. And in Nepal, intrepid government workers who once traversed the Himalayas to spread information about reproductive health were halted. Around the world, countries that depend on U.S. foreign …

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Trump Says He Saved 2 Million Lives From COVID. Really?

President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have saved 2 million lives from COVID-19 through his actions to combat the disease. Recently, he made the assertion during the NBC News town hall on Oct. 15 that replaced the second presidential debate. “But we were expected to lose, if you look at the original charts from …

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No, the WHO Didn’t Change Its Lockdown Stance or ‘Admit’ Trump Was Right

On Monday, President Donald Trump claimed that the World Health Organization (WHO) “admitted” he was correct that using lockdowns to control the spread of COVID-19 was more damaging than the illness. In a post on Twitter, Trump wrote: “The World Health Organization just admitted that I was right. Lockdowns are killing countries all over the …

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Must-Reads of the Week

Hi, I’m back with a revamped Friday Breeze, tackling a few hot health care topics of the week and some news you may have missed. Here’s what the Breeze blew in this week, in these dog days of our COVID-constrained, socially distant summer: Schools Reopen: No Easy Answers for Keeping Kids Healthy It’s back-to-school time, …

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Don’t Fall for This Video: Hydroxychloroquine Is Not a COVID-19 Cure

Millions of people, including the president of the United States, have seen or shared a video in which a doctor falsely claims there is a cure for the coronavirus, and it’s a medley starring hydroxychloroquine. The video shows several doctors in white coats giving a press conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. It persists on social media despite …

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Must-Reads of the Week From Lauren Olsen

Hiya! I’m Lauren Olsen, your new Newsletter Editor. That’s right — the totally official, no more fill-ins, always-here-for-you Newsletter Editor. As the replacement for editor extraordinaire Brianna Labuskes, I’m here to tackle all your health news needs. Why yes, you’re right — a pandemic is a heck of a time to take over this job. …

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Must-Reads Of The Week

The Friday Breeze Want to read the best and most provocative stories from the week? Welcome to the Friday Breeze, where we compile them all — so you’re set with your weekend reading. Another week has gone by, and the biggest news remains that COVID numbers aren’t looking much better as the disease spreads quickly …

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