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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Here's a tweet you wouldn't expect to see at the 76th annual session of the U.N. General Assembly:

"Why i'm like a proud mom watching this?!? I love you, BTS!!!"

After a virtual assembly in 2020, the United Nations is holding this year's event as a hybrid with in-person and online participation. On Monday, the seven members of the world's hottest supergroup strode onstage to kick off the high-level gathering.

In November 2019, we profiled a group with a bold name stating its aim: No Sex for Fish. Women in Nduru Beach, a Kenyan community on the shores of Lake Victoria, wanted to change the dynamics in the local fish business. Men did the fishing and often demanded sex with female fishmongers before giving them a supply of fish to sell at nearby markets. The practice has led to high rates of HIV.

Dr. Wahid Majrooh is acting minister of public health in Afghanistan, and he faces two looming challenges: leading the country's COVID response and maintaining health-care services in the wake of the Taliban takeover in mid-August.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In a Coronavirus FAQ last week, I reported on an encounter at an outdoor restaurant in which a stranger asked me why I was wearing a mask. "Do you think you really need it?" he wondered, even though he admitted that he was not yet fully vaccinated.

In the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to vaccinate its population, Italy is making COVID-19 health passes mandatory for all workers — becoming the first European country to do so.

In a newly approved measure introduced Thursday by the Italian government, officials said digital vaccine certificates will be mandatory for all employees across the country.

Filipino broom maker Gloria Hernandez longs for chicken and milkfish — big milkfish. She can only afford small ones now, and they don't add up to a decent meal. She eats rice with coffee twice a day so she doesn't feel hungry. Fried eggs and bread — those are the foods Nigerian clergyman Femi Oyekan Moses used to eat all the time and misses the most. Now he mainly eats beans and corn and often skips lunch.

Philip Morris International is buying British pharmaceutical firm Vectura in a deal that will see a company synonymous with Big Tobacco taking over a firm that makes asthma inhalers. The American Lung Association, Asthma UK and other health groups have spoken out against the takeover.

People applying to immigrate to the U.S. will have to show they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of a required medical exam, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says. The new policy takes effect on Oct. 1.

The requirement includes an exception for children who are too young to receive the vaccine as well as for people with medical conditions that rule them out for the shot. It also outlines a waiver process for people who refuse to be vaccinated due to religious and other reasons.

One of China's most prominent #MeToo cases has concluded with a Beijing court ruling that it could not determine whether sexual harassment occurred, a blow for gender equality advocates and for China's faltering #MeToo movement.

Last month, Dr. Simone Gold stood before a crowd at a conservative church in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and delivered a talk riddled with misinformation. She told people to avoid vaccination against the coronavirus. As an alternative, she pushed drugs that have not been proven effective at treating COVID-19 — drugs that she also offered to prescribe to the audience in exchange for $90 telehealth appointments.

In 2018, we reported on how the southern Indian state of Kerala beat back the deadly Nipah virus. Local filmmakers and musicians even made a celebratory music video about it. Three years later, the state is faced with yet a new case of Nipah — its third outbreak since 2018 — and it couldn't have come at a worse time.

On March 16, 2020, Patrick Phiri arrived in the small Dutch village of Middelstum (population 2,419) in the far north of the Netherlands. Patrick had traveled from Malawi to spend three weeks with his fiancée, Fiona, whom he'd met when they were both working for Heifer International, a nonprofit group that supports agricultural projects. He wanted to ask her parents for permission to marry their daughter. They agreed and welcomed him with open arms. A week later Patrick popped the question and Fiona said yes.

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." See an archive of our FAQs here.

Back in 2018, I interviewed Angeline Murimirwa about her remarkable journey from poverty to power. She is the executive director of CAMFED in Africa – a group that has given scholarships and additional academic support to 4.8 million girls in the five countries where it works. She herself was one of the first scholarship recipients at a time when it looked as if she'd be unable to continue her education because her family couldn't afford school fees.

In February, NPR published a story on the tolls of the pandemic on Thailand's sex workers. Before COVID-19 hit, international tourism made up 20% of the country's gross domestic product — and fueled a thriving sex industry. That collapsed in March 2020 when the country shut its borders to keep the coronavirus at bay.

India imposed a strict COVID-19 lockdown last year, and tens of millions of poor day laborers lost their jobs. In a massive exodus from megacities, migrant workers sought safety in their native villages. One of the most harrowing stories to emerge from those months was that of now-17-year-old Jyoti Kumari, whose father drove a tuk-tuk in New Delhi and was recovering from an injury. Kumari had come to care for him.

Some scientists have called it "superhuman immunity" or "bulletproof." But immunologist Shane Crotty prefers "hybrid immunity."

"Overall, hybrid immunity to SARS-CoV-2 appears to be impressively potent," Crotty wrote in commentary in Science back in June.

No matter what you call it, this type of immunity offers much-needed good news in what seems like an endless array of bad news regarding COVID-19.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Joel Charny has been a humanitarian aid worker for 40 years — but one of the first valuable lessons he learned about the job was as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970s.

At 21, he was assigned to work as a sixth grade English teacher in a remote part of the Central African Republic. The students didn't have textbooks. Some kids had to walk 5 miles to school and back. And many did their homework under a streetlamp because there was no electricity at home.

Sometimes when Shugri Said Salh is running errands in Sonoma, Calif., where she currently lives, she says she has "visions" of her former life as a young nomad in Somalia. For example, one day, while eating sushi in front of Whole Foods, she spotted a customer carrying an African-style basket and a water jug — and suddenly she was transported.

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." See an archive of our FAQs here.

BEIJING – When Tom, an American businessman, got a dream job building up a multinational company in China, he happily moved his young family there.

Then the pandemic hit.

A third dose of the Moderna vaccine — given six months after the initial two doses — significantly boosts immunity, according to data the company submitted to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday.

LONDON — Government-sanctioned memorials to the victims of COVID-19 may be years away, but in Europe, some people are making their own. One of the most striking memorials so far is in London, where volunteers have painted more than 150,000 red hearts on a wall along the south bank of the River Thames.

People stop to write the names of lost loved ones inside the hearts along with messages as a way to remember and make sense of huge loss of life in the United Kingdom.

Daniela Draghici knows firsthand what an abortion ban looks like.

In 1976, when she was a college student in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, she got pregnant after her contraception failed. Abortion was prohibited in Romania.

With the help of a friend, Draghici was taken to a woman with no medical training to end her pregnancy.

"Somebody took me during the night to some kind of house outside the city where there was this old woman," Draghici remembers. "She was boiling these metal instruments in a lot of alcohol on an ancient stove."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

All around the world, there seem to be signs that immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, doesn't last very long after you're vaccinated.

Israel is now having one of the world's worst COVID-19 surges about five months after vaccinating a majority of its population. And in the U.S., health officials are recommending a booster shot eight months after the original vaccine course.

When Chetana Madavi, 29, gets her period, she gathers a few clothes and makes her way to a kurma ghar — or menstruation hut — a few blocks from her home in a tribal community in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. It's a mud shack with a broken door and no toilet. When it rains, water leaks through the mud-tiled roof.

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