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    Rare myocarditis after COVID shots: Study rules out some common culprits / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 9 May - 22:15 · 1 minute

Heart scan.

Enlarge / Heart scan. (credit: Getty | BSIP )

The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines have proven remarkably safe and effective against the deadly pandemic. But, like all medical interventions, they have some risks. One is that a very small number of vaccinated people develop inflammation of and around their heart—conditions called myocarditis, pericarditis, or the combination of the two, myopericarditis. These side effects mostly strike males in their teens and early 20s, most often after a second vaccine dose. Luckily, the conditions are usually mild and resolve on their own.

With the rarity and mildness of these conditions, studies have concluded, and experts agree that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks—male teens and young adults should get vaccinated. In fact, they're significantly more likely to develop myocarditis or pericarditis from a COVID-19 infection than from a COVID-19 vaccination. According to a large 2022 study led by researchers at Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group at highest risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after vaccination—males aged 12 to 17—saw 35.9 cases per 100,000 (0.0359 percent) after a second vaccine dose, while the rate was nearly double after a COVID-19 infection in the same age group, with 64.9 cases per 100,000 (0.0649 percent)

Still, the conditions are a bit of a puzzle. Why do a small few get this complication after vaccination? Why does it seem to solely affect the heart? How does the damage occur? And what does it all mean for the many other mRNA-based vaccines now being developed?

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    Florida officials deleted data, stats from dubious COVID analysis: report / ArsTechnica · Friday, 7 April - 22:05

Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo speaks at a press conference.

Enlarge / Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo speaks at a press conference. (credit: Getty | Paul Hennessy )

Florida health officials deleted key data and statistics from a state analysis on the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, falsely making them appear unsafe for young men, according to draft versions of the analysis obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through public records requests .

The final analysis, which was widely criticized for its poor quality and dubious conclusions , was the basis for a statewide recommendation by Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo last October that young men, ages 18 to 39, should not receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The analysis—posted on the Florida Department of Health's website with no authors listed—claimed to find "an 84% increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination."

Ladapo, who has a history of fearmongering about COVID-19 vaccines , touted the analysis, saying in a press release at the time that "these are important findings that should be communicated to Floridians.”

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    Moderna CEO brazenly defends 400% COVID shot price hike, downplays NIH’s role / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 22 March, 2023 - 21:42 · 1 minute

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 22 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 22 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Chip Somodevilla)

In Congressional testimony Wednesday, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel unabashedly defended the company's plans to raise the US list price of its COVID-19 vaccines by more than 400 percent—despite creating the vaccine in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, receiving $1.7 billion in federal grant money for clinical development, and making roughly $36 billion from worldwide sales.

Bancel appeared this morning before the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has long railed at the pharmaceutical price gouging in the US and pushed from policy reforms. After thanking Bancel for agreeing to testify, Sanders didn't pull any punches. He accused Moderna of "profiteering" and sharing in the "unprecedented level of corporate greed" seen in the pharmaceutical industry generally.

Sanders contrasted a recent survey finding that 37 percent of Americans can't afford their prescription drugs to the billions of dollars in profits reaped by drug companies. He noted several times that Bancel became a billionaire overnight amid the pandemic. Bancel is now estimated to be worth over $4 billion, Sanders added.

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    Moderna CEO says private investors funded COVID vaccine—not billions from gov’t / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 7 March, 2023 - 23:22

Moderna pharmaceutical and biotechnology company's CEO Stephane Bancel speaks during a session of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on January 18, 2023.

Enlarge / Moderna pharmaceutical and biotechnology company's CEO Stephane Bancel speaks during a session of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on January 18, 2023. (credit: Getty | Fabrice COFFRINI )

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel on Monday pushed back on criticism of the company's plans to raise the price of its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines by 400 percent, arguing that the billions of dollars in federal funding the company received played little role in the vaccine's development.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal Health Forum , Bancel suggested that the vaccine's development is thanks to private investors and that the federal funding merely hastened development that would have occurred regardless. The comments came in response to a question of whether the company has a "moral obligation" to give back to the taxpayers who helped develop the life-saving immunization—presumably by not dramatically hiking the vaccine's price as it moves from federal distribution to the commercial market this year.

While the government most recently paid $26 per dose for Moderna's updated booster dose, the company is planning to raise the price of its shots to $110 to $130 per dose .

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    Poliovirus detected in NYC sewage; health officials urge vaccination / ArsTechnica · Friday, 12 August, 2022 - 18:54

Transmission electron micrograph of poliovirus type 1.

Enlarge / Transmission electron micrograph of poliovirus type 1. (credit: Getty | BSIP )

Health officials in New York are ramping up efforts to boost polio vaccination rates in local children as yet more poliovirus has surfaced in sewage sampling.

On Friday, August 12, New York state and New York City health officials announced that poliovirus had been detected for the first time in New York City sewage , suggesting local circulation of the virus.

The finding follows similar detections in sewage sampling in nearby Rockland and Orange counties during May, June, and July. On July 21 , health officials in Rockland county reported a case of paralytic polio in a young, unvaccinated male resident who had not recently traveled out of the country. The man's symptoms began in June.

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    Everything you need to know about the monkeypox health emergency / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 10 August, 2022 - 11:20 · 1 minute

A negative stain electron micrograph of a monkeypox virus virion in human vesicular fluid.

Enlarge / A negative stain electron micrograph of a monkeypox virus virion in human vesicular fluid. (credit: Getty | BSIP )

On May 7, health officials in the UK reported a case of monkeypox in a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria. The case was very rare but not necessarily alarming; a small number of travel-related cases of monkeypox pop up now and then. The UK logged seven such cases between 2018 and 2021 . But this year, the cases kept coming.

By May 16, the UK had reported six additional cases, mostly unconnected, and all unrelated to travel, suggesting domestic transmission. On May 18, Portugal reported five confirmed cases and more than 20 suspected ones. The same day, health officials in Massachusetts reported the first US case . Spain, meanwhile, issued an outbreak alert after 23 people showed signs of the unusual infection. Cases in Italy and Sweden followed .

In the past, monkeypox transmission largely fizzled out on its own. Experts did not consider the virus to be easily transmissible. Still, the cases kept coming. By May 26, the multinational outbreak had exceeded 300 cases in over 20 countries. At the time, the US had only nine cases confirmed, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it presumed domestic community transmission was already underway. In early June, the global tally exceeded 1,300 from 31 countries, including 45 cases in the US.

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    Reddit’s teach-the-controversy stance on COVID vaccines sparks wider protest / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 31 August, 2021 - 17:57

Photo illustration with a hand holding a mobile phone and a Reddit logo in the background.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images )

Over 135 subreddits have gone dark this week in protest of Reddit's refusal to ban communities that spread misinformation about the COVID pandemic and vaccines.

Subreddits that went private include two with 10 million or more subscribers, namely r/Futurology and r/TIFU. The PokemonGo community is one of 15 other subreddits with at least 1 million subscribers that went private; another 15 subreddits with at least 500,000 subscribers also went private. They're all listed in a post on " r/VaxxHappened " which has been coordinating opposition to Reddit management's stance on pandemic misinformation. More subreddits are being added as they join the protest.

"Futurology has gone private to protest Reddit's inaction on COVID-19 misinformation," a message on that subreddit says. "Reddit won't enforce their policies against misinformation, brigading, and spamming. Misinformation subreddits such as NoNewNormal and r/conspiracy must be shut down. People are dying from misinformation."

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    Reddit resists banning pandemic misinformation, allows vaccine “dissent” / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 26 August, 2021 - 16:27

The Reddit app icon on a smartphone screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Yuriko Nakao )

Reddit yesterday defended its stance on allowing pandemic misinformation after hundreds of subreddit moderators joined an open letter urging the company to "take action against the rampant Coronavirus misinformation on their website."

The open letter on r/VaxxHappened was joined by over 450 moderators and said that subreddits existing "solely to spread medical disinformation and undermine efforts to combat the global pandemic should be banned." The hundreds of subreddits that joined the open letter include 10 with over 10 million subscribers each, over 40 subreddits with 1 million to 10 million subscribers each, and about 20 others with 500,000 to 1 million subscribers.

In response, Reddit posted an explanation of its approach, saying it will continue to allow "debate" and "dissent" on vaccines and other COVID-related matters, even when there is a scientific consensus.

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