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In today's edition:

  • Adolescents greenlit to receive Pfizer vaccine
  • Importing a roadmap to traffic safety
  • The podcast marks Mental Health Awareness month
A COVID Vaccine For Adolescents—in the US
The FDA cleared the first coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children as young as 12 earlier this week.
 
The move expands access to the Pfizer/BioNTech shot to adolescents ahead of the next school year, marking another milestone in the nation’s battle with the virus. It’s sure to be a linchpin in the country’s plan to get schools reopened full time this fall—which is “the CDC's expectation,” agency director Rochelle Walensky told a Johns Hopkins Health Policy forum last week.  
 
But greenlighting a vaccine for US kids also highlights once again the debate around who should be prioritized for vaccination. 
 
Jennifer Nuzzo tweeted in response to the news:
 
“If the handful of countries that have used 3/4ths of the world’s vaccines decide to use even more, where does that leave other countries in their efforts to use vaccines to prevent high risk adults from death?”
 
Kawsar Talaat told the Washington Post that while she’s excited for her children to be vaccinated, she’s troubled by the global inequities in high-risk front-line workers or older people who still don’t have access to vaccines in countries where the coronavirus is out of control. 
 
Instead, Rupali Limaye suggested in the New York Times last week, the US should donate excess Pfizer/BioNTech shots—and any surplus from other manufacturers—to countries lacking vaccines for higher-risk adults.
 
ICYMI: To go deeper on the vaccine equity debate, see our coverage from last week here and here
The Next Car Safety Revolution?
Reducing road deaths while improving equity
Road deaths are still a leading cause of death among young people in the US—and progress in reducing them has largely stalled since the car safety revolution that led to a sharp decline in traffic deaths from the 1960s–1990.
 
A new road safety system could be the route to changing that, according to a new report from the Safe System Consortium—a group of over two dozen leading highway engineers, scientists, and public health professionals. 
 
The “Safe System” approach was first implemented in Sweden, where it contributed to a 67% drop in road deaths from 1990–2017. The model has also reduced road deaths in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Spain.
 
If implemented in the U.S., it could improve safety and equity in historically underserved communities, explain co-authors Shannon Frattaroli and Jeffrey Michael.
 
The “Safe System” minimizes the chances for mistakes by drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists, by engineering road systems in a more intuitive manner.  
 
How it Works:
  • The approach includes greater use of roundabouts, separated bike lanes, rumble strips, and other measures to reduce head-on collisions. 
  • Designed to place a greater burden on the design of roads and vehicles—not drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists
  • Crashes may still occur using the Safe System, but roads will be designed to limit crash forces to survivable levels. 
To learn more, watch yesterday’s panel discussion about the Safe System Consortium’s recommendations, hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
 
READ THE NEWS RELEASE
READ THE REPORT
A Vintage Vaccine Reminder
Children of the ’90s, this one’s for you. Share our latest Instagram post for a cheerful reminder to get vaccinated. 
SHARE THE POST
Climate Change and Mental Health
Mental health impacts from climate change are largely thought of as acute exposures to extreme events like hurricanes and wildfires. But there are other concerns like chronic “ecological grief” and anticipated “eco-anxiety.” Jura Augustinavicius from the Center for Humanitarian Health talks with Stephanie Desmon about research at the intersection of mental and environmental health, and why something that is felt at an individual level needs to be addressed at the macro level of companies and governments.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month—learn more here.
 
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
TOMORROW ON THE PODCAST:
Nepal's Growing COVID-19 Crisis
Nepal is suffering from a growing humanitarian crisis. Less than 4% of the country is vaccinated, test positivity rates are up to 60-90% in some areas, and outside of capital Kathmandu, ICU care is extremely hard to find. Binita Adhikari, executive director of Health Foundation Nepal, and Anup Subedi, an infectious disease physician in Kathmandu, talk with Josh Sharfstein about what contributed to Nepal’s COVID-19 crisis and what the world needs to do to help.
COVID Variants May Emerge That Are Not Covered By Vaccine, Scientists Warn (Voice of America)
In a rare yet expected development, a small number of people have developed COVID-19 after they have been vaccinated. As new variants emerge around the world, scientists say it’s critical to track these rare cases. “It’s possible that more variants might emerge that are not covered by the vaccine,” says Gigi Gronvall. “That’s why it’s important that these breakthrough cases are investigated.”
 
John Hopkins expert Dr. Amita Gupta on handling COVID-19 & India’s future preparedness options (Financial Express)
The rising COVID-19 caseload has been a worry, and though mathematical modeling experts have said India will see a peak this month, each state within the country will see its own peak. Amita Gupta discusses the lessons one could learn from the different waves of COVID-19 infection and the role that targeted lockdowns can play, especially as India looks to be better prepared for a third wave of the virus. 
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