Yahoo News Now Special Report
Yahoo News Now Special Report
Since Seresto pet collars were introduced, the EPA has received more than 75,000 reports related to the collars, including 907 involving human harm.
The United Nations launched an appeal on Tuesday for $266 million (221 million euros) to help feed more than three million refugees and asylum seekers across East Africa, suffering extra hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Artifacts collected by Phil Collins went on display Tuesday at the Alamo after the legendary musician donated the items to the state of Texas. The “Phil Collins Collection Preview” includes a brass cannon used by the Mexican Army during the Battle of the Alamo and the original battle orders that called for the attack on the Alamo. Collins donated his collection of more than 200 artifacts to the Texas General Land Office in 2014.
Apple's 8th-generation iPad is $30 off at Amazon, bringing it down to a record-low price of $299.
The number of people expected to be cashing in on the next round of pandemic stimulus checks is likely to be pared down this week. COVID-19 updates.
Tuesday is Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss' birthday. Those two events, however, aren't as closely linked as in past years.
Data analytics firm SimilarWeb provides online search trends to clients who use it when considering travel stocks they may buy.
Death comes as president Biden voices support for labour unions
Governor Andy Beshear declared state of emergency amid severe rainfall
Researchers find 29 different tools for pounding, digging and stone-to-stone percussion
Here's a list of Engadget's favorite media to fall asleep to.
There is major to near historic river flooding in parts of the Mid-South, especially in Kentucky on Tuesday. Locally, 7 inches of rain fell over the weekend in the Mid-South helping local rivers to rise quickly and flooding entire towns. The heavy rain has ended in Mid-South but some rivers are still rising or will remain in major to moderate flooding through over the next few days.
Drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved coronavirus vaccine in an effort to expand supply more quickly, a Biden administration official confirmed Tuesday. The announcement comes as the White House looks to speed the production of the single-dose vaccine. Officials have said J&J faced unexpected production issues with its vaccine and produced only 3.9 million doses ahead of its receiving emergency use authorization on Saturday.
Many U.S. hospitals and clinics are behind when it comes to sharing information. Teera Konakan/Moment via Getty ImagesIf you got the COVID-19 shot, you likely received a little paper card that shows you’ve been vaccinated. Make sure you keep that card in a safe place. There is no coordinated way to share information about who has been vaccinated and who has not. That is just one of the glaring flaws that COVID-19 has revealed about the U.S. health care system: It does not share health information well. Coordination between public health agencies and medical providers is lacking. Technical and regulatory restrictions impede use of digital technologies. To put it bluntly, our health care delivery system is failing patients. Prolonged disputes about the Affordable Care Act and rising health care costs have done little to help; the problems go beyond insurance and access. I have spent most of my career within the domain of information technology and IT-based innovation and systems engineering. As a professor of health informatics, I have focused on health care transformation. For two years, I served on the Health Innovation Committee at HIMSS, the preeminent global health information and technology organization. In short, I have studied these problems for decades, and I can tell you that most of them aren’t about medicine or technology. Rather, they are about the inability of our delivery system to meet the evolving needs of patients. We need a high-performance system In reality, the U.S. health care sector is not a system at all. Instead, it is an underperforming conglomerate of independent entities: hospitals, clinics, community health and urgent care centers, individual practitioners, small group practices, pharmacy and retail outlets, and more, most of which compete for profits and in some cases pay sky-high salaries to executives. The U.S. transition to a high-performing health care delivery system has been a slow one. Maskot via Getty Images These entities often function in silos. Errors, gaps, duplication of services and poor patient outcomes are often the result. Here’s an example: A heart surgery patient, still on oxygen and in intensive care just two days earlier, is referred to her primary care physician for follow-up, and to a rehabilitation center for therapy. Neither her doctor nor the facility knows the patient was even hospitalized, nor do they have access to her records or medication list. Shopping for doctors For patients, this might mean a disjointed set of services that don’t offer a coordinated plan of care or even a timely or comprehensive diagnosis of their health problems. Patients with chronic conditions often see more than 10 different doctors during dozens of office visits per year. The specialist may not even be aware when the patient does not return. Patient information is seldom shared; specialists are often associated with different medical systems that don’t share records. And even when they try, accurately matching patient IDs in different systems can be problematic. The challenge now is to transform the status quo into a high-performance system, a true 21st-century health care delivery system. Bringing systems engineering and information technologies to medical practice can help make that happen, but doing that requires a holistic approach. Let’s start with electronic health records. More than 20 years ago, the Institute of Medicine called for the transition from paper to digital health records. This would allow patients to easily share lab, imaging and other test results with different providers. Nearly a decade went by before action occurred on the recommendation. In 2009, the HITECH Act was passed, which provided US$30 billion of incentives for the transition. Yet now, 12 years down the road, we’re still a long way from a patient’s electronic health records becoming universally available at the point of care. Connectivity across systems and networks remains fragmented, and a lack of trust between organizations, along with anti-competitive behavior, results in an unwillingness to share patient information. Although telemedicine conferences have become popular during the pandemic, the technology is still not. up to speed for many patients. AJ_Watt/E+ via Getty Images Unsafe medical treatment One failure of the system is an inability to accurately identify and match patient records. Few standards exist for collecting patient information. With hundreds of vendors and thousands of hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies and other facilities participating in the process, variation is huge. Is John Doe at 250 Park Ridge Drive the same as John E. Doe at 250 Parkridge? In 2017, the American Hospital Association estimated 45% of large hospitals reported difficulties in correctly identifying patients across information technology systems. This means, on occasions at least, clinicians are making decisions that lead to increased chances of misdiagnosis, unsafe medical treatment and duplicate testing. During a public health emergency like COVID-19, accurate ID’s of patients is one of the most difficult operational issues that a hospital faces. Accurate COVID-19 test results are hampered when specimens, sent to public health labs, are accompanied by patient misidentification and inadequate demographic data. Results can be sent to the wrong patient, or at best, get backlogged. These mistakes also are costly. More than one-third of all denied claims result directly from inaccurate patient identification or information that’s wrong or incomplete. This costs the average U.S. health care facility $1.2 million per year. Congress needs to act For nearly two decades, the Department of Health and Human Services has been restricted from spending federal dollars to adopt a unique health identifier for patients. To remedy the problem, the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2020 unanimously adopted an amendment allowing HHS to evaluate patient identification solutions that still protect patient privacy. But the Senate chose not to address the issue. Still, many health care leaders are advocating for the new Congress to take action. Health care proponents are hopeful the new Senate majority leader will be more receptive to addressing the issue. A bright spot in all of this is that many health care systems saw the advantages of telemedicine during the pandemic. It’s convenient for patients, it saves money and it meets the needs of patients who have difficulty traveling. Telemedicine could be just the beginning; with an ever-growing array of mobile health devices, physicians can monitor a patient at home, rather than in an institution. More must be done, however. Throughout the pandemic, some patients, with a lack of broadband access or poor Wi-Fi, had something less than a rich and uninterrupted visit. Health IT advocates have long envisioned a health care system that seamlessly uses connected care to improve patient outcomes while costing less. When the pandemic subsides, the waivers and policies temporarily adopted will require not a sudden termination, but a transition to such a system. Over the past year, doctors, nurses and health care systems have learned lessons out of necessity. Instead of abandoning our new knowledge, I believe we need to double down on a modern, stable and value-based health delivery system with equity for all. And at its heart must be one certainty: that accurate and comprehensive patient records are always available at the point of care. [Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Elizabeth A. Regan, University of South Carolina. Read more:5 ways Biden can help rural America thrive and bridge the rural-urban divideHow engineering can contribute to a reimagining of the US public health system Elizabeth A. Regan receives funding from the National Science Foundation. She is affiliated with the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and its local South Carolina chapter.
Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 16, 2021. Ron Jenkins/Getty ImagesPundits and politicians have been quick to point fingers over the debacle in Texas that left millions without power or clean water during February’s deep freeze. Many have blamed the state’s deregulated electricity market, arguing that Texas prioritized cheap power over reliability. But climate extremes are wreaking increasing havoc on energy systems across the U.S., regardless of local politics or the particulars of regional grids. For example, conservatives argued that over-regulation caused widespread outages in California amid extreme heat and wildfires in the summer of 2020. As an engineering professor studying infrastructure resilience under climate change, I worry about the rising risk of climate-triggered outages nationwide. In my view, the events in Texas offer three important lessons for energy planners across the U.S. Extreme weather poses a growing threat to power systems across the U.S. Not enough attention to climate extremes Experts widely agree that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the nonprofit corporation that manages the power grid for most of the state, failed to anticipate how sharply demand would spike prior to the February cold wave. ERCOT has a record of lacking capacity to meet winter demand surges. The state grid nearly collapsed during a 2011 winter storm and experienced another close call in 2014, narrowly avoiding rolling blackouts. But grid operators elsewhere have also underestimated how climate extremes can influence electricity demand. I see many similarities between California’s summer 2020 power crisis and recent events in Texas. In both cases, extreme weather caused an unexpected increase in demand and reduced generation capacity at the same time. Because energy operators did not foresee these effects, they had to resort to rolling blackouts to avert even bigger disasters. In studies I have conducted in my research lab and in collaboration with hydroclimatologist Rohini Kumar, we have found that energy planners in many parts of the U.S. substantially underestimate how sensitive electricity demand is to climate factors. This tendency has significant implications for the security and reliability of the power systems. For example, in a study published in April 2020 we analyzed the use of artificial intelligence models for energy forecasting that accounted for the role of humidity in addition to air temperature. We found that such models could make forecasts of energy demand for air conditioning on hot days significantly more accurate across the U.S. More accurate demand forecasts help energy planners understand how much power they will need to meet peak demand during weather extremes. Grid operators can prepare more effectively for the effects of climate change on both supply and demand by using forecasting models and software that academic researchers have already developed. Many of these new solutions have been published in open-access journals. Results published in the journal Climactic Change from a model that predicts how much summertime electricity and water use in Midwest cities could increase due to climate change between 2030 and 2052. These projections only consider climate effects, not other factors such as population growth or technological shifts. Greg Simmons/Purdue University, CC BY-ND Water, electricity and natural gas are connected Electricity, water and natural gas are essential resources, and it’s hard to have any of them without the others. For example, drilling for natural gas consumes electricity and water. Many power plants burn natural gas to generate electricity. And transporting water and gas requires electricity to pump them through pipelines. Because of these tight connections, outages in one system are bound to ripple through the others and create a cascade of service disruptions. For example, during the Texas cold wave, pumps used to extract gas in West Texas could not operate because of electricity outages. This cut state gas field production in half, which in turn strained gas-fired electricity production. Power failures also hampered water pumping and treatment, potentially allowing bacteria to seep into water supplies. In a collaborative project connecting researchers at Purdue University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California-Santa Cruz, we are analyzing ways to prevent this kind of cascading outage. One promising strategy is to install distributed generation sources, such as solar panels or small wind turbines with batteries, at critical interconnection points between energy, water and natural gas systems. For their part, consumers also need to understand these connections. Taking a hot shower or running a dishwasher consumes water, along with electricity or gas to heat it. These crunch points often cause trouble during crises. For instance, recent advisories urging Texans to boil their water before using it put extra pressure on already-scarce energy supplies. Our research shows that utilities need to pay more attention to connections between natural gas and electricity, and between water and electricity. By doing so, planners can see more accurately how climate conditions will affect demand, particularly under climate change. Rampant gas shortages and electricity and water outages in Texas are a sign that infrastructure operators need to understand more clearly how tightly related these resources are, not only during normal operation but also during crises that can disrupt all of them at once. People with no power at their homes rest inside a Gallery Furniture store in Houston after the owner opened the business as a shelter on Feb. 16, 2021. AP Photo/David J. Phillip The future will be different Some commentaries on the Texas disaster have called it a “black swan event” that could never have been predicted – or even worse, a “meteor strike.” In fact, the state published a hazard mitigation plan in 2018 that clearly warned of the potential for severe winter weather to cause widespread outages. And it noted that such events would be far more disruptive in Texas than in other regions that experience harsher winters. In a 2016 study, several colleagues and I warned that current grid reliability metrics and standards across the U.S. were inadequate, especially with respect to climate risks. We concluded that those standards “fail to provide a sufficient incentive structure for the utilities to adequately ensure high levels of reliability for end‐users, particularly during large‐scale climate events.” As I see it, a dominant paradigm of “faster, better, cheaper” in energy planning is placing increasing pressure on our nation’s aging infrastructure. I believe it is time for energy planners to be more proactive and make smart investments in measures that will help power systems handle extreme weather events. Key steps should include leveraging predictive analytics to inform disaster planning; accounting for climate uncertainty in infrastructure management; upgrading reliability standards for power transmission and distribution systems; and diversifying the mix of fuels that all states use to generate electricity. Without such steps, frequent disruptions of critical services could become the new norm, with high costs and heavy impacts – especially on the most vulnerable Americans. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Roshanak (Roshi) Nateghi, Purdue University. Read more:How the Texas electricity system produced low-cost power but left residents out in the coldThe mental health toll of Puerto Rico’s prolonged power outages Roshanak (Roshi) Nateghi receives funding from the National Science Foundation.
In an unprecedented video message, the president urged management to back off and let workers decide.
The big question looming over QAnon: What happens after March 4? Rick Loomis/Getty ImagesThursday could be a big day. On March 4, Donald Trump will be triumphantly returned to power to help save the world from a shadowy syndicate of Satan-worshipping pedophiles – or at least that is what a small fraction of American citizens believe. But before you circle the date and dust off the MAGA hats, a note of caution: We have been here before. Adherents of the same conspiracy theory, QAnon, had previously marked Jan. 20, the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration, as the big day. As Biden ascended the steps of the Capitol to take the presidential oath of office, tens of thousands of adherents of QAnon were eagerly awaiting the imminent arrest and execution of Democratic politicians in a “storm” that would upend the social and political order. It didn’t happen. In the aftermath of this disappointment, some disillusioned QAnon followers left the fold. But as evidenced by the new date of March 4 – chosen because it was the day for presidential inaugurations until the 20th Amendment was adopted in 1933 – some hardliners claimed they had simply gotten the date wrong. When – or if – that date too passes without incident, a new date may emerge. It might be thought that enough failed predictions would eventually discredit a prophet. But as a philosopher of religion, I know history suggests a more complicated set of possibilities. Apocalyptic movements rarely simply dissolve when prophecies are seen to fail. Indeed, such crises have in the past presented believers with fertile opportunities to reinterpret prophecies. They have even strengthened movements, giving rise to new theories that attempt to explain the shortcomings of earlier ones. The Millerites This dynamic played out nearly 180 years ago with the Millerites, members of a 19th-century evangelical Christian movement who were part of an earlier “Great Awakening” in U.S. religious history. A Baptist preacher, William Miller drew on biblical texts and numerology to predict the imminent second coming of Christ. Although Miller did not initially claim to know the exact date, he and his followers offered various predictions. As each passed without incident, the Millerites redid the Biblical math to propose new dates, until finally the movement settled on Oct. 22, 1844. As the expected second advent drew near, many Millerites gave away their possessions in anticipation of Christ’s return. A caricature of a Millerite awaiting the end of the world. Library of Congress When Oct. 22 came and went without incident, the Millerites were left to reconstruct a worldview that acknowledged what came to be called the “Great Disappointment.” Miller’s followers concluded not that the Scriptures and numerology on which they had based their predictions were false, but simply that they had misunderstood their meaning. In one view, what the predictions foretold were not earthly events, but heavenly ones. Millerism did not collapse; rather, elements of it were central to the establishment of Seventh Day Adventism, a rapidly growing Protestant denomination that continues to look forward to Christ’s return. Crisis point Looking at how the Millerites dealt with their Great Disappointment gives an insight into how believers navigate what the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre calls “epistemological crises.” These are moments when the way someone understands the world is thrown into question by events that don’t fit expectations. Epistemological crises are not unique to religion. Anyone who has experienced heartbreak in a relationship, or felt the rug pulled out from under them when unexpectedly fired by an employer, knows that they are a fact of life. Such a crisis undercuts a person’s ability to tell the kind of story about themselves that gives order and meaning to life. Left unresolved, it threatens one’s understanding of oneself and others. Yet, such crises don’t always prove insurmountable. MacIntyre writes, “When an epistemological crisis is resolved, it is by the construction of a new narrative, which enables the agent to understand both how he or she could intelligibly have held his or her original beliefs and how he or she could have been so drastically misled by them.” Sometimes the new understanding repudiates the old. Often, however, the new narrative is not a radical departure from the old one, but an improvised and more sophisticated version of it – one that incorporates what had earlier seemed like outlying data points. The Millerites, for example, survived their Great Disappointment by reaffirming their belief that God is at work in ways that humans cannot always fully anticipate. Writing in the mid-20th century, the philosopher Antony Flew suggested that over time, religious beliefs “die the death of a thousand qualifications.” That is, they are modified beyond recognition, to the point of meaninglessness. But scholars of religion have documented a pattern in which, rather than dying, fringe beliefs evolve, becoming more socially acceptable. As they are gradually disentangled from politics, they come to be thought of as more truly “religious.” Making sense of disappointment Whether or not movements like Millerism can move past great disappointments depends in part on the interpretive tools available within the group and the ingenuity of adherents in explaining away their own unfulfilled expectations. It is anyone’s guess whether QAnon will survive its current epistemological crisis. And if it does, there is no guarantee that it will emerge chastened. Some commentators have predicted that it will return even more dangerous than before, evolving into increasingly virulent strains. It may well be subsumed within a larger conspiracy theory that seeks to explain the current disappointment in the context of an even more elaborate narrative. Perhaps one day QAnon will take its place within the domesticated pantheon of American civil religion as another benign and depoliticized “faith.” Then again, it may simply sputter out, dying the death of a thousand qualifications. But if history is any guide, whether QAnon survives its Great Disappointment will depend on its adherents’ ability to successfully explain to themselves how they could have been so drastically misled. [Over 100,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletter to understand the world. Sign up today.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Richard Amesbury, Arizona State University. Read more:QAnon and the storm of the U.S. Capitol: The offline effect of online conspiracy theoriesNearly two centuries ago, a QAnon-like conspiracy theory propelled candidates to Congress Richard Amesbury does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
The pandemic's supply crunch led to more reuse and decontamination techniques that can save money and reduce waste. SDI Productions via Getty ImagesThe United States spends more on health care than any other nation. What many people don’t realize is that a large portion of this spending goes to waste. Every year, an estimated US$760 billion to $935 billion is wasted through overtreatment, poor coordination and other failures, amounting to about a quarter of total U.S. health care spending, research has shown. Medical supplies and equipment are part of that. One study estimated that nearly $1,000 in unused supplies are wasted on average during each neurosurgery procedure. With hospitals under financial pressure from COVID-19 and medical waste volumes even higher, the pandemic could finally trigger a much-needed reset in how health care organizations and hospitals think about supply-related waste. That includes how they reuse supplies, how they plan for surgeries and what they look for in prepackaged surgical supplies. Decontaminating and reusing supplies safely It’s important to recognize that not all single-use equipment and supplies are safer. Cleaning, sterilizing and reusing equipment can be safe and cost less in the long run. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration points out that surgical instruments such as clamps and forceps can be reprocessed and reused, but they are often thrown away after a single use. New sterilization methods can help. For example, N-95 masks that were sterilized and sanitized with ethylene oxide and vaporized hydrogen peroxide were able to retain their more than 95% filtration efficiency. The approvals hospitals received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to decontaminate some disposable items could become long-term safe methods to reduce waste. Operating rooms are a large source of hospital supply waste. Thierry Dosogne via Getty Images Being able to reuse personal protective equipment could not only reduce waste in landfills, lower the environmental footprint of supply production and delivery, and save money, but it could also strengthen health care organizations’ ability to be prepared for supply chain breakdowns in future pandemics. Ways to cut waste in the operating room Operating rooms are a source of large amounts of hospital supply waste. They account for over 50% of hospital revenues and 25% of their expenses. Supplies and materials in operating rooms average nearly half of operating room spending and account for 70% of the 4 billion pounds of health care waste produced in the United States annually. A big part of that waste happens when there is a mismatch between the supplies requested and those actually needed during surgery. Surgeons submit a physician preference card that lists all the supplies they believe they will need in the operating room. In one study, my colleagues and I found that more frequent updates to those preference cards before surgery can reduce unplanned costs. We estimated that the unplanned costs in operating rooms averaged about $1,800 per surgery, adding up to tens of millions of dollars. These costs include both supplies that are opened but go unused and additional supplies brought in during surgery that make it harder to manage supply use efficiently. We found that as the frequency of updating physician preference cards increased, waste and costs initially went up but then came down as surgeons were able to narrow down the supplies actually needed. This learning can translate into an annual cost reduction of millions of dollars. Just understanding how supplies are being wasted can help. When surgeons in a San Francisco hospital were given information about their supply use and an incentive to reduce it, they cut their supply waste by 6.5%. Rethinking packaging, including working with suppliers to reformulate surgical packs, could also reduce waste. Supplies used in the operating room often come in surgical packs, which include items typically needed during a procedure, but not all are used. Ramping up recycling Hospitals can also increase their recycling. A survey conducted across four Mayo Clinic locations across the United States in 2018 found that single-use plastics made up at least 20% of medical waste generated in the hospitals. Among the more than 500 hospital staff members surveyed, 57% didn’t know which items used in operating theaters could be recycled; 39% said they either sometimes or never recycled; and 48% said the greatest barrier to recycling was “lack of knowledge.” In fact, only 15% of health care wastes are hazardous. The remaining 85% include packaging materials that can be recycled and gloves. Gloves worn to inspect a noninfectious patient are not hazardous and can be reused. The pandemic-triggered awareness of supply waste in health care could provide an impetus for a fresh look at health care supply chain management. The result can benefit patients, hospitals and the environment, as well. [Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter and get expert takes on today’s news, every day.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Anand Nair, Michigan State University. Read more:Rural hospital closings reach crisis stage, leaving millions without nearby health careThe problem with health care price transparency: We don’t have cost transparency Anand Nair does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
An unidentified doctor talks with a boy who holds a lollipop reward after participating in a measles vaccine research program in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, in 1963. NASA/PhotoQuest/Getty ImagesNearly 50 million people in the U.S. had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by March 1, and millions of others have spent hours online trying to get an appointment. But soon, the demand could fall because of vaccine hesitancy. How is the government going to get people on board? From my research, I have found that an important part of a successful vaccine campaign is in the name. As a health communication scholar who studies the history of epidemics, I have been interested in the naming and public delivery of the COVID-19 government response. In many ways, this moment parallels crises of the past, as people in previous epidemics and pandemics also struggled to find ways to protect themselves against deadly disease. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaking about Zika in January 2016. Win McNamee/Getty Images Abandoning the ‘Operation Warp Speed’ name In the week leading up to the 2021 presidential inauguration, the Biden transition team announced that the White House’s national COVID-19 vaccine plan would no longer be called “Operation Warp Speed,” the name coined by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. On Jan. 21, 2021, the Biden administration released its 200-page COVID-19 plan, “The National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.” The change in names not only broadened the focus to include additional safety measures to curb transmission during the distribution process. It also signified a profound shift in the administration’s approach and consideration of the pandemic itself. Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts criticized the “Operation Warp Speed” name, arguing that it falsely conveyed a lack of scientific rigor and adherence to safety protocol in the vaccine approval process. In a May 15, 2020, press conference, Trump explained the campaign name, stating, “It’s called ‘Operation Warp Speed.’ That means big, and it means fast. A massive scientific, industrial and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.” Fauci and others believed that the name “Operation Warp Speed” could have undermined public trust in any COVID-19 vaccine to be developed, feeding into theories and misconceptions of the anti-vaccine movement. It also marked a historical deviation in the identification of vaccine campaigns for the general public. The names we Americans use broadly today, inoculation and vaccination, emerged as the names for very specific immunization procedures against a specific disease, smallpox. Smallpox: A big controversy In the past, immunization terms stemmed from the induced immunological protection against smallpox. During the Boston smallpox epidemic of 1721, for example, Puritan minister Cotton Mather and Colonial physician Dr. Zabdiel Boylston introduced the practice of inoculation in hopes of protecting the town. Onesimus, an enslaved man who was in bondage to Mather, had told Mather of the practice and how he had been inoculated as a child in Africa. The practice involved intentionally infecting people with smallpox in hopes of reducing its severity. People fiercely discussed this controversial approach in public discourse, even spurring James Franklin, older brother of Benjamin, to create the New England Courant as an outlet to oppose its practice. Many articles in The Courant, Boston Gazette and the Boston News-Letter, along with pamphlets, argued for and against the practice of inoculation. This cemented the term in 18th-century vocabulary, along with its alternative name, “variolation.” This practice, and growing public familiarity with it, set the stage for acceptance of the first vaccine, which would change the course of disease. In 1798, English physician Dr. Edward Jenner proposed that inducing a mild cowpox infection could protect against smallpox – which he called a “vaccine,” from vaccinia, meaning cowpox. Millions of people already have been vaccinated. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images Say its name Immunization campaigns for approved and established vaccines have often gone unnamed, simply listing the disease name, location and date, like the 1916 typhoid vaccine campaign in North Carolina’s Catawba County, northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina. Even sponsored vaccine programs have not necessarily taken on the name of the supporting corporation. In 1926, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. donated US$15,000 toward the eradication of diphtheria in New York. Despite this contribution, the campaign went unnamed. In the trial and development stage, vaccines were not typically named, even in the press. News articles referred to the “anti-disease” vaccine – that is, “anti-smallpox,” “anti-typhoid,” “anti-tetanus” – sometimes including the lead scientist’s last name, as with the Enders measles vaccine. For example, although polio vaccine trials in 1954 labeled the recruited child participants “polio pioneers,” the vaccine itself was called the “anti-polio” or Salk vaccine. Nicknaming vaccines can be a problem When vaccine campaigns have been named, catchy or abstract names can be problematic, especially in the experimental stages. The 1950s gamma globulin trials prompted confusion with the nickname “Operation Lollipop,” which referred to the “all-day sucker” given to children after the injection. Some people misunderstood, believing that scientists had delivered the actual polio virus in the candy to participants, prompting clarification that the name “had nothing to do with the experiment itself.” A Star Wars poster from 1977 encouraged immunization. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention More often, campaigns and slogans have been used in catch-up immunization drives after already widely distributed vaccines, as in the polio vaccine “Wellbee,” Utah’s 1967 “Muzzle Measles,” the 1977 Star Wars “Parents of Earth” message or the 1997 Dr. Seuss Immunization Awareness Campaign. These programs highlighted the importance of existing vaccines, rather than introducing new ones. As public health officials have noted, the title “Operation Warp Speed,” combined with the lack of a strategic COVID-19 response plan under the Trump administration, took away from the strict adherence to safety protocols that vaccine producers and the Food and Drug Administration have followed. In a Gallup Panel survey from Dec. 15, 2020, to Jan. 3, 2021, 65% of participants said they would get the vaccine, with divisions in age, race, education and party affiliation. The name “Operation Warp Speed” paired with coronavirus misinformation, much of it directly from Trump, likely contributed to the lack of trust in the vaccines before they were even developed. At least 75% to 80% of the population needs to become immunized – the number needed for herd immunity – to end of the pandemic, according to Fauci. Thus, I believe it will be important to develop a trustworthy campaign and a name that bolsters confidence. The Biden administration is not starting from scratch. I believe that the Biden administration’s adoption of a new direct name for its response plan is the first step toward pandemic recovery. Building confidence across various groups and communities will be critical for herd immunity to be achieved. The new campaign name, then, initiated what needs to be a straightforward, factual approach, integral to widespread COVID-19 immunization.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Katherine A. Foss, Middle Tennessee State University. Read more:How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compare to other coronavirus vaccines? 4 questions answeredCan vaccinated people still spread the coronavirus? Katherine A. Foss does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Four Americans die every year for every one person employed in the U.S. tobacco industry. Julien Fourniol/Baloulumix via Getty ImagesTobacco use killed an estimated 500,000 Americans in 2020, about the same number the pandemic killed in one year. Although education efforts by government and nonprofits have helped to curb tobacco use, 14% of American adults still smoke, even with warning labels on the packages. Tobacco deaths are so high that the World Health Organization calls smoking an epidemic. A potential solution to tobacco-related deaths is a corporate “death penalty” – otherwise known as judicial dissolution – when a judge revokes a corporation’s charter for causing significant harm to society. The legal procedure forces the corporation to dissolve; it ceases to exist. Both management and employees lose their jobs. Although legal, corporate death penalties in the U.S. have not been used in years. Yet even the threat of one can be effective. For example, simply announcing the intention to revoke the charters of two tobacco industry misinformation groups (the Council for Tobacco Research and the Tobacco Institute, Inc.) resulted in both quietly closing in 1999. I became intrigued with corporate death penalties while researching another topic – alternative energy sources. One statistic stuck with me from my own research: Replacing coal power with solar energy would save an estimated 50,000 American lives per year because of the air pollution produced by coal-fired power plants. The dead would fill the seats of the Sun Bowl. With solar already widely available and less costly than coal, and as coal companies continue to go bankrupt, there seems no reason to drag out the inevitable. I began to wonder: Is there a way to control an industry that causes unnecessary death? Cigarette smoke wreaks havoc on the body. Setting the minimum bar Building a generalized model for applying a corporate death penalty first requires the comparison of human rights to an industry’s right to existence. My model relies on three assumptions, based on the U.N.‘s Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to life. Everyone has the right to work. Human law should give corporations the right to exist if they benefit humanity. Put simply, corporations may act as a single legal entity – that is, as a person – to efficiently create jobs and generate profit for the benefit of humans. When corporations create profit and jobs, they can largely be viewed as good, unless they interfere with our right to life. That last bit is the tricky point. Essentially, it means a company or industry, at the very least, must earn its right to exist by employing more people than it kills each year. Perhaps that sounds a bit arbitrary, but let’s call that the minimum bar for an industry’s existence. (This is the absolute minimum. Most people, including myself, would agree that a single job does not equal the value of one life.) Even though warning labels have been on cigarette packs since 1966, millions of Americans still smoke. Wikimedia Industries that would be banned Imagine the corporate death penalty dealing with a new industry represented by a flagship company: “Lazy Assassins Inc.” Lazy Assassins, under aggressive corporate leadership, estimates it could employ 120,000 professional killers that would eliminate one victim per employee per quarter. That’s 480,000 lives per year. That’s almost exactly the number of Americans the tobacco industry employs, and almost exactly the number of Americans it kills each year: 124,342 jobs and 480,000 deaths, including 41,000 from secondhand smoke. To put it another way, four Americans die every year for each tobacco industry employee. Granted, with tobacco companies, this is an all-or-nothing proposition. If only a handful of companies had their corporate charters revoked, other tobacco companies would simply ramp up production to fill the demand. But if all the charters were revoked, no tobacco company would exist to fund distribution or advertising. There would be only limited access to tobacco products. They could still be produced and used, just not on an industrial scale. That way, we would still maintain the “rights” of smokers to harm themselves. We have made major changes to our economy to prevent even more COVID-19 deaths. With that in mind, isn’t it reasonable to help 124,342 people find new jobs in exchange for saving 480,000 American lives every year? [Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Joshua M. Pearce, Michigan Technological University. Read more:Cigarette smoke can reprogram cells in your airways, causing COPD to hang on after smoking endsWho’s smoking now, and why it matters Joshua M. Pearce does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.