single distill image banner

Future of Medicine #20

  • Diversity in vaccine trials
  • Social insects & pandemics
  • COVID survivors give plasma
  • Hepatitis and blood transfusions
Published every Wednesday


What scientists have learned so far about Covid-19 immunity

Covid-19 continues to confound us all, with a growing list of symptoms, unexpected modes of transmission, and a wide range of outcomes, from benign to severe.

Read more

Kaiser Health News

The Color of COVID: Will Vaccine Trials Reflect America’s Diversity?

When U.S. scientists launch the first large-scale clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines this summer, Antonio Cisneros wants to make sure people like him are included.

Read more


In Social Insects, Researchers Find Hints for Controlling Disease

Using organizational immunity, social insect societies change their interactions to make it harder for diseases to spread.

Read more

Editor’s Note:

In getting a handle on disease spread, it can be helpful to have analogies to the human world. Here Michael Schulson looks at social insect research and how it can help us understand pandemics.

New York Times

Blame Spreads for Nursing Home Deaths Even as N.Y. Contains Virus

ALBANY — As New York moves from coronavirus crisis to sustained recovery, there remains a heartbreaking fact that some are trying to explore and others seem to be trying to exploit: Nearly 6,500 people have died of the virus in nursing homes and other long-term facilities in the state.

Read more

Washington Examiner

Save lives with commonsense, nonpartisan organ donation reform

The coronavirus pandemic has made all of us acutely aware of the fragility of health. People in fine shape one day have died in a matter of weeks or even days, and the burden of this disease falls especially hard on racial and ethnic minorities. Even patients who survive face long-term consequences from their illness. COVID-19 has caused kidney failure in some patients and lung failure in others, and some of these patients may require a transplant to recover fully from the virus and maintain their quality of life.

Read more

The Guardian

We are entering an era of pandemics – it will only end when we protect the rainforest

In late 2013, in the village of Meliandou in rural Guinea, a group of children playing near a hollow tree disturbed a small colony of bats hiding inside. Scientists think that Emile Ouamouno, who later became the first tragic “index” case in the west African Ebola outbreak, was likely exposed to bat faeces while playing near the tree.

Read more

Editor’s Note:

Speaking of animals, COVID-19 is believed to have passed to humans from animals. Here Peter Daszak writes about what can be done to fight the emergence of diseases.

European Center for Disease Prevention and Control

Study estimates the past and present burden of viral hepatitis through blood transfusions

What is the incidence of viral hepatitis caused by blood transfusions before and after Sweden introduced screening of blood in the early 1990s? In an article published in Eurosurveillance ahead of World Hepatitis Day on 28 July, the authors also try to estimate how many people of those who were infected with hepatitis B and C through blood transfusion still live with undiagnosed hepatitis.

Read more

South China Morning Post

How two Korean Covid-19 survivors repaid medical staff – in blood

Plasma treatments for the disease can be developed from cured patients’ blood, though experts caution a cure is still some way off

Read more

Editor’s Note:

One tool that researchers could find userful in fighting COVID is blood from survivors. Here SCMP looks at more than 1,000 patients in Korea who are donating plasma.

The Hindu

Of mice and SARS-CoV-2

Science and research have always relied on using animals to understand various human diseases. The primarily reasons have been the genetic similarity between animals and humans (mice share 98% of DNA with us), and that we have developed tools to edit genes in various animals. We can edit a gene out in mice to try to understand its role in progression of human cancer. These “animal models” are supposed represent a window to further study and understand human diseases.

Read more

Harvard Business Review

Reopening the Office? Here’s How to Stymie Transmission of Covid-19.

Businesses from Bangor to Barstow have begun reopening. As they do, the safety of their employees and customers — from both real and perceived risks — have become paramount concerns. Concerns over catching and spreading the coronavirus mean that the roughly 40% of workers able to work from home likely will continue to do so. But for the majority of workers, a physical return looms in at least some capacity.

Read more