Disease

In the past 20 months, some formerly unknown terms have become part of our vernacular, thanks to COVID. Do most non-scientists understand them? Probably not. Here is a primer that may help you better understand what you're hearing and reading.
Everything about COVID-19 is subject to scrutiny by informed and ill-informed media, by experts, by eminence. Booster shots are the latest in the communication apocalypse. Do we need them? Pick your data; there is a great deal to choose from.
How many of us have had COVID-19 or received vaccinations? The vaccination numbers are a little easier to come by, but to find all those infected, we have to test everybody—and that hasn’t happened and won’t be happening. Knowing the number of asymptomatic transmitters is helpful in both understanding who is most impacted by COVID-19 and achieving the nirvana of “herd immunity. A new study looks at a different population among us, blood donors. 
Given the abundance of readily available, free, effective (albeit imperfect) vaccines for many months, why are we seeing a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations? Let's examine the three primary factors that dictate the severity of an outbreak of a viral illness.
Both mRNA vaccines target COVID-19’s spike, involve two doses, at least currently, and have been widely effective. That hasn’t stopped inquiring minds from wondering whether there are some head-to-head differences in the real world.
Of all the organs that fail – among them the heart, lungs, and liver – treating kidney failure has produced the best results. This is due to the use of medications and dietary restrictions, but more importantly by taking over declining kidney function with dialysis and transplantation. A new study looks at the kidney availability imbalance that hinders more transplants from taking place.
Public health, in much of this country, is in crisis. Hospitals are overwhelmed and understaffed, vaccination is widely resisted, state governments present mixed messages -- and COVID-19 is out of control and headed for a 4th wave. The more-contagious Delta variant has been spreading rapidly and may challenge the efficacy of our vaccines. We address this situation with population-based statistics in two modes: progression over time and geographic variation.
Although dermatology may not automatically command the respect of other disciplines such as oncology, Drs. Henry Miller and Renata H. Mullen explain why dermatology is one of modern medicine’s most complex and fascinating specialties.
Natural immunity comes from being exposed to a microbe that causes a disease. Vaccination-mediated immunity comes from being exposed to a vaccine that is similar to but not the same as the microbe. If we understand a bit more about our immune system and its memory, it will help us navigate the information and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, the COVID variants, and the length of our immunologic memory.
 It has been sixty years since the Concert for Bangladesh; It is doubtful that this low-income country, with half the population and 1/66th the size of the US, has had as much coverage in the media as now, with a report on the efficacy of masks in fighting COVID-19. It is a well-thought-out, performed, and reported study and deserves better than the superficial reporting of the media and 280 character Tweets. Let me provide a deeper look.
A recent analysis of COVID-19 and the 2020 wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington estimated increases in COVID cases and mortality of about 20% associated with increased levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) based on satellite smoke observations. The study caught my eye for several reasons: PM2.5 is not “smoke,” the COVID-19 increases were not statistically significant, and a much simpler and transparent analysis of their data yielded different results. Here’s what I found.
COVID-19 has brought into sharp relief how little we know about the transmission of respiratory viruses. The pandemic has afforded a great opportunity to improved our knowledge and understanding. A new review summarizes the state of our wisdom.