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July 29, 2022
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Timothy Johnson prepares to get the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic in a rural Hollandale, Mississippi. April 27, 2021. Spencer Platt/Getty

​​Racial and Rural Disparities Undermine COVID Fight

Several new studies underscore the deep racial and rural-to-urban disparities in COVID-19’s toll, as well as access to vaccines and care.
A study published yesterday found that in May 2021, COVID-19 vaccines were less likely to be distributed at facilities in counties with a higher Black composition, rural counties, and counties with the highest COVID-19 death rates, CIDRAP reports.
While vaccine hesitancy is a clear driver of lower uptake among minority populations—as another study pointed out—the figures suggest that access to vaccine sites is an “overlooked barrier,” the researchers wrote.
In rural counties, Black and Hispanic Americans also died at “considerably higher rates” than their white neighbors during Omicron’s peak, and died at much higher rates than their urban counterparts during the pandemic’s second year, another preprint study found, the New York Times reports.
This devastating toll makes rural minorities a particular concern amid the prospect of yet another deadly COVID winter as scarce pharmacies, vaccine hesitancy, and delays in accessing care all undermine the fight against rural COVID.

“In those communities, the Biden administration’s reassurances that every Covid death is now preventable jar with the difficulties of obtaining medical care,” writes Benjamin Mueller.


The Latest


Affordable generics of cabotegravir—a WHO-recommended HIV prevention shot—will be accessible to dozens of low- and middle-income countries as part of a deal between drugmaker ViiV Healthcare and the Medicines Patent Pool, which works to expand access to priority drugs through voluntary licensing deals. aidsmap
30 students, 1 syringe: A health official is being investigated for negligence after vaccinating dozens of students with the same syringe in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh; the incident was reported by parents taking their children to get vaccinated. BBC
25% of LGBTQ youth with high levels of trauma symptoms attempted suicide in 2021, according to a Trevor Project online survey of nearly 34K LGBTQ people ages 13–24—a population in which trauma symptoms are common, with 37% reporting high levels. Axios

Olfactory factor: A decline in a person’s sense of smell can be a harbinger of dementia, according to research that may usher in a smell-test screening for early detection of cognitive impairment. UChicago News

COVID-19 News

Hong Kong government slams ‘inaccurate’ report on city’s Covid-19 risk-exposure app by overseas cybersecurity firm – South China Morning Post

Reinfection, severe outcome more common with BA.5 variant; virus spike protein toxic to heart cells – Reuters

Factors Associated With Cancer Treatment Delay Among Patients Diagnosed With COVID-19 – JAMA Network Open

Biden Administration Plans to Offer Updated Booster Shots in September – The New York Times

Officials boost access to a drug that can protect the immunocompromised from COVID-19 – NPR

Women and young children hit harder by COVID-19 restrictions – News Medical


AIDS 2022 Visa Denials Illustrate Global Health Inequity

Many people from low- and middle-income countries most affected by HIV could not obtain visas to travel to the AIDS 2022 conference underway now in Montréal—stirring frustration and pointed critiques.
Prominent examples: Tian Johnson, an African activist and founder of the African Alliance for HIV Prevention, was blocked from boarding his plane; Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS, was nearly denied boarding as well.
“The AIDS conference has always been about inclusivity and participation from communities most affected, so to have many people denied from coming based on where they are coming from is naturally upsetting to me and an incredible loss to AIDS 2022,” says Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the International AIDS Society.
It raises a question: Should wealthy countries get to host global health conferences given the costly, time-consuming visa process for LMIC attendees?
“Right now, if you are hosting a global health conference in [the] US, UK, Canada, EU or Australia, you have decided that it’s acceptable to exclude people from the Global South,” tweeted McGill University’s Madhu Pai.
The IAS originally planned for an unnamed middle-income country in Asia to host the conference, Kamarulzaman said, but switched gears when the country threatened the conference’s programming independence.


A Related Important Read: 

A new piece in the Annals of Global Health, What Do Global Health Practitioners Think about Decolonizing Global Health?, takes stock of the literature and debate on inequities in the global health field, calls for a consensus definition, and explores how to move from rhetoric to reform.
The paper, from a CUGH Working Group on Decolonizing Global Health co-chaired by Michele Barry and Agnes Binagwaho with Madelon Finkel as lead author, also reports on a survey of CUGH and AFREhealth institutional leaders that highlights funding as a key factor in power imbalances and calls for more direct funding to LMIC institutions.



‘Virginity Tests’ Continue Despite Ban

In Mongolia, so-called virginity tests were banned last year—but that hasn’t stopped schools from performing them without girls’ consent, and without consequences.
Still performed in some 20 countries, the invasive exams are ordered by Mongolian school administrators without students’ or parents’ permission.
Girls must stand in line outside a doctors’ office and remove their clothes for a vaginal exam—and face stigma if they object.
“If you don’t do it, people think you’re pregnant,” said one girl.
School administrators claim that the goal is to keep tabs on unwanted pregnancies and abortions—but these invasive exams have no scientific or clinical basis.
PBS NewsHour/Global Press Journal


Pardon Our Parvo Error

A summary earlier this week on pediatric hepatitis cases incorrectly referred to adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV2) as a member of the adenovirus family. AAV2 is in fact a helper-dependent parvovirus. We regret the error. 

Thanks to a thoughtful reader for pointing this out!


NextDoor is NextLevel Bonkers

As all NextDoor users know, the neighborhood forum can range from useful and benign (yard sale this weekend!) to surreal and apocalyptic (who threw a potato at my head!?).
By compiling the latter, @BestofNextDoor has done the neighborly thing for the Twitterverse. NextDoor itself is not impressed, but GHN’s editors—and the account’s 530,000 followers—certainly are.
Account overlord Jenn Takahashi says it all began when she was accused of nocturnally rearranging someone’s lawn gnomes in an “absolutely delicious post” signed by said garden gnomes, AP reports.
But the most epic NextDoor nugget, bar none: “Definitely Seahawks Cannon,” she says. As its title suggests, the “legendary” thread involves football, an actual cannon … and a real-life brawl at the local library.
“Do yourself a favor and go down that rabbit hole,” she urged.

Other highlights:
  • The suggested enforcement of a neighborhood dress code (They are happy to discuss via Zoom.)
  • An offer to buy champagne for “whoever loudly dumped their boyfriend at 2am for pretty good reasons”

Thanks for the tip, Lindsay Smith Rogers—who went down the recommended rabbit hole this week!


Monkeypox Outbreak: Africa Falling Behind on Vaccines as Virus Spreads – Bloomberg

End ‘double standards’ on refugees, UN expert urges Poland – Al Jazeera

U.S. says insurers must still cover birth control after Supreme Court abortion ruling – Reuters

States With Abortion Bans Are Among Least Supportive for Mothers and Children – The New York Times

Typhoid mutated to beat antibiotics. Science is learning how to beat those strains – NPR

Hospitals report more cases of parechovirus in infants: "This is not normal" – CBS

Gun Carrying Among Youths, by Demographic Characteristics, Associated Violence Experiences, and Risk Behaviors — United States, 2017–2019 – CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

New study finds conclusive evidence that head trauma leads to CTE – Axios

Doctors should test levels of PFAS in people at high risk, report says – CNN

Cold sores traced back to kissing in Bronze Age by Cambridge research – BBC

Issue No. 2118

Global Health NOW is an initiative of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Contributors include Brian W. Simpson, MPH, Dayna Kerecman Myers, Annalies Winny, Morgan Coulson, Melissa Hartman, and Jackie Powder. Write us:, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GHN_News.

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