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The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, October 11th

Bracing for an "unprecedented winter of viruses."


  • AstraZeneca’s nasal spray vaccine didn’t get the hoped-for results in a clinical trial. (Reuters)
  • Hair loss after COVID is relatively common, though usually temporary. (NY Times)
  • Scientists disagree with Florida’s advice against mRNA vaccination for men aged 18-39, which goes against nearly all major national health groups and is based on a study that lacks both data and clarity around its methodology. (Tampa Bay Times)

Public Health & MPX News

  • Hospitals are bracing for an “unprecedented winter of viruses.'' (NBC)
  • Avian flu is back with a vengeance as fall migrations spread the highly contagious illness among wild and commercial bird flocks. (NY Times)
  • Many Americans can’t afford health costs even with insurance. (Stateline)
  • The FDA expanded the use of the whooping cough vaccine, now allowing it for women in their third trimester to prevent the illness in infants. (Reuters)
  • An E.coli outbreak in 6 states is linked to frozen falafel sold in Aldi’s stores. Earth Grown brand falafel has been recalled. (CDC)
  • There’s a spike in respiratory illnesses in kids, and it’s not just COVID. RSV, enteroviruses and rhinoviruses are on the rise. (NPR)
  • Climate change is making allergy season longer and more intense. (NY Times)

Mental Health News:

  • Smartphones may be able help predict (and prevent) suicide. (NY Times)
  • Regular dinners with family and friends could have a big impact on mental health. (CBS)
  • Being aware of the symptoms of depression, and the difference between it and “normal” sadness, can be key for getting help. (Washington Post)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

Should we be worried about the bird flu?

The bird flu is serious business - a number of different strains are killing birds across the world. It’s hurting poultry farms and may affect the food supply chain. But we’re less worried about that than we are about the potential for a jump from birds to humans, and how that could lead to the next epidemic or pandemic for us. Right now, we’re just waiting and watching for any signs of spillover or mutation.

It seems like COVID is calming down. Can I safely plan a larger holiday gathering?

Yes, at this point we think it’s reasonably safe to have larger gatherings for the holidays. The best rule of thumb is to plan around your most vulnerable family member or guest - if someone is immunocompromised or if there’s a newborn in attendance, take more precautions than you otherwise might. COVID tests for all guests in the 24 hours beforehand is a good bet - and remind your guests to stay home if they feel sick.

How can we tell allergies from a cold from COVID?

Spring and fall can be challenging when people are dealing with allergies at a higher rate. The easiest way to tell if you have COVID or the flu, rather than allergies, is if you have fever, body aches, diarrhea or vomiting. Those almost never come with seasonal allergies. Likewise, itchy eyes are less common for viral infections. Still, the overlap can be confusing - sore throat, runny nose, and fatigue are common for allergies, colds, and COVID. It’s important to test for COVID (two tests 48 hours apart is much more accurate than one) and to stay home if you have any new symptoms until you can be sure.

Best Watch:

Melissa J. Moore: How mRNA medicine will change the world | TED Talk

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.