Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: July 23, 2022
Happy Caturday, Sky Dancers!!
As if we didn’t have enough bad news, we are now dealing with another global health emergency. Monkeypox is spreading rapidly around the world and here in the U.S. Cases have been reported in multiple states, including Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Washington, DC, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and California. As of two days ago, there were already nearly 2,000 reported cases in the U.S.
Apoorva Mandavilli at The New York Times: W.H.O. Declares Monkeypox Spread a Global Health Emergency.
For the second time in two years, the World Health Organization has taken the extraordinary step of declaring a global emergency. This time the cause is monkeypox, which has spread in just a few weeks to dozens of countries and infected tens of thousands of people.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general, on Saturday overruled a panel of advisers, who could not come to a consensus, and declared a “public health emergency of international concern,” a designation the W.H.O. currently uses to describe only two other diseases, Covid-19 and polio.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria” for a public health emergency, Dr. Tedros told reporters….
The W.H.O.’s declaration signals a public health risk requiring a coordinated international response. The designation can lead member countries to invest significant resources in controlling an outbreak, draw more funding to the response, and encourage nations to share vaccines, treatments and other key resources for containing the outbreak.
It is the seventh public health emergency since 2007; the Covid pandemic, of course, was the most recent.
The article discusses the controversy over how W.H.O. decides when to declare a health emergency. Some experts already think the agency waited too long on monkeypox.
Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy: Largest monkeypox study to date highlights new symptoms.
Many of the people infected in an international monkeypox outbreak experienced a single lesion or sore in their mouth or on their genitals, a departure from typical symptoms of the virus that could lead to clinicians to misdiagnose monkeypox as another sexually transmitted infection (STI).
That’s one of the main takeaways from the New England Journal of Medicine‘s (NEJM‘s) new international study of the current outbreak, which is the largest case-study on the virus.
“This truly global case series has enabled doctors from 16 countries to share their extensive clinical experience and many clinical photographs to help other doctors in places with fewer cases. We have shown that the current international case definitions need to be expanded to add symptoms that are not currently included, such as sores in the mouth, on the anal mucosa and single ulcers,” said Chloe Orkin, PhD, of the Queen Mary University of London, in a university press release.
The study included clinical observations from 528 confirmed infections at 43 sites from Apr 27 to Jun 24 of this year. The median incubation period is 7 days in this outbreak, and the median age of a case-patient was 38. No deaths occurred, but 70 patients (13%) required hospitalization.
In the study, authors share many patients are presenting to clinics and hospitals for pain management or difficulty swallowing. Single anal sores have been recorded in several cases. One in 10 people had only a single skin lesion in the genital area, and 15% had anal and/or rectal pain, a symptom not typically seen in other monkeypox outbreaks.
A total of 98% of the cases documented were in gay or bisexual men, and while monkeypox is not an STI, per se, the authors said 95% of transmissions documented occurred during sexual relations. Seventy-five percent of case patients are white, and 41% are HIV-positive.
Two cases of monkeypox have been identified in children in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
The two cases are unrelated and probably the result of household transmission, the CDC said.
One case is a toddler who is a resident of California. The other is an infant who is not a US resident. Public health officials are investigating how the children were infected.
Both have symptoms but are in good health and receiving treatment with an antiviral medication named tecovirimat or TPOXX, which the CDC recommends for children under the age of 8 because they are considered to be at higher risk from infection.
Since the monkeypox outbreak began in May, most of the cases have happened among men who have sex with men. However, anyone can catch the virus through close skin-to-skin contact. In the case of children, the agency said this could include “holding, cuddling, feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups, and utensils.”
The CDC says the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine is being made available for children through special expanded use protocols. The agency has also developed new guidance for health care providers about identifying, treating and preventing monkeypox in children and teens.
Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said Friday that the cases in children were not surprising and that the US should be ready to respond to more.
U.S. health officials are discussing whether to declare a public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak as they work to make treatments and vaccines available to more people.
The discussions come as the virus — which is endemic in West and Central Africa but unusual in the United States — continues to spread across the country. As of Thursday, there were 2,593 cases reported, up from 1,470 last week. The federal government announced Friday it has shipped over 300,000 doses of the vaccine to states and cities to control the outbreak.
“We’re looking at … what are the ways the response could be enhanced, if any, by declaring a public health emergency,” White House Covid response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters during a briefing Friday.
Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also working to make tecovirimat, the only treatment available for monkeypox (though only FDA–approved for smallpox), easier for physicians to prescribe to patients. A more streamlined process to get the antiviral is expected to be announced to providers next week.
The White House will also use a new research agenda, which was announced Thursday and consists of $140 million in ongoing projects, to study stretching limited monkeypox vaccine doses, find new testing methods and expand treatment options, three White House officials told POLITICO.
We haven’t talked much about the war in Ukraine lately, but it has caused a global food crisis. Yesterday Russian supposedly agreed to stop blocking shipments of grain, but the Ukraine and U.S. governments are skeptical that Russia will follow through.
Ukraine and Russia have signed “mirror” deals which will allow Kyiv to resume exports of grain through the Black Sea.
The agreement will allow millions of tonnes of grain, currently trapped in Ukraine by the war, to be exported.
The world shortage of Ukrainian grain since Russia’s 24 February invasion has left millions at risk of hunger.
However, Kyiv refused to sign a direct deal with Moscow, and warned “provocations” would be met with “an immediate military response”.
Both sides attended the signing ceremony in Istanbul but did not sit at the same table. Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu signed Moscow’s deal first, followed by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signing Kyiv’s identical agreement.
The deal – which took two months to reach – is set to last for 120 days, with a co-ordination and monitoring centre to be established in Istanbul, staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials. It can be renewed if both parties agree.
The blockade of Ukraine’s grain has caused a global food crisis with wheat-based products like bread and pasta becoming more expensive, and cooking oils and fertiliser also increasing in price.
In January 6 news, CNN’s Whitney Wild and Jeremy Herb broke a story yesterday on those missing Secret Service text messages: First on CNN: Secret Service identified potential missing text messages on phones of 10 individuals.
Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around January 6, 2021, but were not retained, two sources told CNN.
The scrutiny came after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general asked for the text records last year of 24 individuals at the Secret Service who were involved in January 6, but only one text had been produced. After the issue spilled into public view this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to go back and find out what happened to the texts that may have been deleted.
But the Secret Service’s internal investigation ground to a halt after a July 20 letter from the DHS inspector general informed the agency there was an ongoing criminal investigation, directing the Secret Service to stop its own probe.
Investigators had been working to determine whether the content of the text messages sent by the 10 personnel contained relevant information that should have been preserved, the sources said. Among the 24 Secret Service personnel under scrutiny, 10 other Secret Service personnel had no text messages, and three had only personal records, according to the sources.
The details of scrutiny of messages from 10 Secret Service personnel caps an extraordinary week of turmoil for the agency, which started with the inspector general
demanding answers about potential missing texts and led to a congressional subpoena and a criminal investigation into the matter.
There has to be a way to recover those text messages. I’m sure The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig, author of a book on the Secret Service, is working her sources to find out more.
Dakinikat covered the final January 6 Committee hearing yesterday, but here are some more follow-up articles:
The House Select January 6th committee made clear they are going to resume hearings in September.
Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., opened the final summer hearing by noting the progress the committee has made, but she added that there’s now new evidence and more witnesses to consider.
“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” Cheney said.
Already, in the buildup to Thursday’s presentation, select committee aides had hinted future hearings could be on tap.
And Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters recently that the committee could issue an initial report in September, followed by a final report later this year. The findings would be accompanied by hearings, he said.
“We’re just getting a significant amount of information,” Thompson said. And the new evidence “pushes the timetable out.” [….]
Cheney also noted in this week’s hearing that the panel will now return to its investigative mode for the next several weeks.
“Our committee will spend August pursuing emerging information on multiple fronts, before convening further hearings this September,” Cheney said….
With plans to issue their findings in the form of reports and more hearings, the committee is racing to address new evidence along the way.
For example, the panel is now looking into allegations that the Secret Service deleted text messages during a two-day period surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari has claimed the messages were erased after a request by his office, while the Secret Service has denied these allegations, saying the deletions were part of a system migration.
The select committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday was widely expected to mark the end of a crucial phase in the panel’s probe of last year’s riot, capping six weeks of publicly aired testimony — almost all of it from Republicans — aimed at pinning culpability for the rampage squarely onto Trump’s shoulders.
But every new revelation seems to turn up as many questions as answers, and the panel has altered its schedule to accommodate what it calls a wave of new information in need of perusal. The arrival of new witnesses has been accompanied by successful committee efforts to fight stonewalling in the form of executive privilege claims, and the panel has recently issued new subpoenas for even more evidence.
“The dam has begun to break,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the select committee, said Thursday night. “We have far more evidence to share with the American people — and more to gather.”
With that in mind, the committee said it intends to use Congress’s long August recess to wade through the influx of new information, with designs to hold more hearings on its findings in September when lawmakers return to Washington. How many they’ll stage remains unclear, but the investigators are leaving themselves the flexibility to determine that schedule on the fly.
“We are pursuing many additional witnesses for testimony,” said Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who participated in Thursday’s hearing remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. “We will reconvene in September to continue laying out our findings.” [….]
“We’re not done. The information continues to come in. The evidence is continuing to flow in,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told CNN heading into Thursday’s hearing. “So this is … not the end of the story.”
More interesting January 6 stories to check out, links only:
Vicky Ward on her blog yesterday: What Trump World Really Thinks About Last Night’s Jan. 6 Hearing.
Alan Feuer and Michael Schmidt at The New York Times: The Jan. 6 Panel After 8 Hearings: Where Will the Evidence Lead?
Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post: Now we know the truth on what Trump sought to obscure about Jan. 6.
David Siders at Politico: ‘His life was threatened.’ But Pence isn’t talking about it.
Isaac Stanley Becker and Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post: Hearings test Trump’s clout and GOP’s wish to ‘forget about Jan. 6’
Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: The Myth of the Good Trump Official.
That’s it for me today. I hope you’re all having a terrific weekend!