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A year ago, on January 23, 2020, China imposed an absolute lockdown in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

Nearly a year into the pandemic, the most talked about piece of apparel is an item that folks barely even thought about back in the early days of 2020.

Yes, we're talking about masks.

When the health system first collapsed in the Amazonian city of Manaus, Brazil, and COVID-19 victims were buried in mass graves, the mayor sent a desperate appeal to then-President Donald Trump and other world leaders.

"We are doing our best, but I tell you, it's still very little in [the] face of the oncoming barbarism" said Arthur Virgílio Neto in a video message. "We cannot be silent. We need all possible help."

As slow as the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been in the United States, some estimates say billions of people around the world won't be vaccinated for COVID-19 until 2022 or 2023.

Bloomberg has been publishing a map that shows the level of vaccine distribution in different countries and virtually the entire continent of Africa — more than 50 nations — is blank.

This story definitely has a yuck factor.

It's about hookworms.

When hookworm eggs land on moist, warm ground, via human feces, they develop into larvae, raise their tiny selves upward, and wave back and forth looking for bare feet to latch onto. The parasites penetrate the skin, enter the bloodstream, and eventually migrate to the small intestine — where they settle in, mature, and start sucking blood and laying eggs. When the worms and their eggs are passed in a host's stool, the cycle begins anew.

Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET

"I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization," Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday, informing the WHO's executive board that President Biden has reversed former President Donald Trump's move to leave the U.N.'s health agency.

The U.S. will also fulfill its financial obligations to the WHO, Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, said, as well as cease a drawdown of U.S. staff who work with the organization.

Back in April, COVID-19 hit the city of Manaus, Brazil, extremely hard. In fact, the outbreak there was arguably the worst in the world. One study, published in the journal Science, estimated that so many people were infected that the city could have reached herd immunity — that the outbreak there slowed down because up to 76% of the population had protection against the virus.

The devastating fall and winter wave of coronavirus infections that is causing so much misery across the U.S. appears to have finally peaked, according to several researchers who are closely tracking the virus.

While another surge remains possible, especially with new, more infectious variants on the horizon, the number of new daily infections in the current wave appears to have hit a high in the past week or two and has been steadily declining in most states since, the researchers say.

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When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was on the campaign trail in 2019, she loved entering events with the energy of a drum line.

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Many countries are betting on a vaccine from China to help them stop the coronavirus — although questions are surfacing about whether it's a smart bet.

The vaccine is made by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac. This week, Brazil began rolling out its national immunization program after granting emergency use authorization for the vaccine over the weekend. Indonesia and Turkey started their mass vaccinations with Sinovac's vaccine, called CoronaVac, last week.

But there are conflicting reports about just how well the vaccine works.

On April 12, 1955, a wave of public relief resonated across the United States as news arrived of a vaccine that could successfully prevent polio — one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. at the time, causing "more than 15,000 cases of paralysis a year," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As nations around the world scramble to start vaccinating against COVID-19, many countries are finding it difficult if not impossible to get the vaccines they want.

Case in point — Argentina. President Alberto Fernández promised to start vaccination campaigns in the South American nation before the end of 2020.

Keeping a physical distance from other humans is more critical than ever in the pandemic, with COVID-19 cases surging and more contagious variants spreading. Yet humans are not very good at it.

Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Breathe

Journalist Beth Gardiner and activist Yvette Arellano explain the long-term health effects of air pollution. Yvette lives in a Houston neighborhood near the largest petrochemical complex in the U.S.

About Beth Gardiner

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Israel's health minister announced Thursday the country would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners against COVID-19, after Israel's president said withholding vaccines was against Israel's Jewish and democratic values.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the prisoners would be vaccinated early next week, on Monday or Tuesday. The minister informed NPR of the decision before making a public announcement.

Updated at 9:35 a.m. ET

A team of 13 World Health Organization scientists have now arrived in Wuhan, China, where they will investigate the origins of the coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic. Nearly 2 million people have died due to COVID-19, with more than 92 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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In theory, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was talking to the whole world at his press conference last week. I mean, he started with a nod to every time zone.

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As India embarks this weekend on what may become the biggest national vaccination campaign in the world, some scientists have raised questions about one of the two vaccines the country of 1.4 billion people has authorized for emergency use against COVID-19.

More than 5 million vaccine vials arrived early Wednesday at hundreds of hospitals and clinics across India. Inoculations start Saturday. India aims to vaccinate 300 million people by July.

Eleven million people are under lockdown in Hebei province after a new cluster of coronavirus infections.

Since Jan. 2, Hebei has reported more than 600 new positive cases, 544 of which were from the capital city of Shijiazhuang. To identify all potential patients, health officials have completed one round of mass testing of all the city's residents, and a second one is being carried out this week.

It may seem counterintuitive, but health officials say that even after you get vaccinated against COVID-19, you still need to practice the usual pandemic precautions, at least for a while. That means steering clear of crowds, continuing to wear a good mask in public, maintaining 6 feet or more of distance from people outside your household and frequently washing your hands. We talked to infectious disease specialists to get a better understanding of why.

Why do I have to continue with precautions after I've been vaccinated?

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In the before times, this would have been a happy scene.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking Portuguese).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Speaking Portuguese).

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