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Vaccine equity, backpack TB, and mental health on the upswing

The info hub for the hub of global health

10 countries are responsible for three-quarters of all COVID-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide, yet 69 nations have yet to administer a single shot

–Think Global Health, an initiative from the Council on Foreign Relations

And that brings us to … vaccine diplomacy

April marks the fifth month of the COVID-19 global vaccine rollout, and vaccine inequities around the world are becoming more clear. The quote above (from this article at Think Global Health) highlights the disparity and shows how countries including China, India, Russia, and Israel are emerging as key donors to close the gap

COVID university

Whether you’re vaccinated or not, some are still wondering if the shots prevent asymptomatic infection and spread of COVID-19. Fred Hutch signed up to look at more than 1M nasal swabs to get to the bottom of this question through its Prevent COVID U study. The study will vaccinate 12,000 student participants at over 20 universities across the US and track infections and onward transmission in the months following to help figure out how soon we can safely gather again.

Power to the people (and students)

Can you “hack” a COVID-19 vaccine? Two scientists at Stanford did just that, reverse-engineering the mRNA sequence for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine using remnants from previously administered shots. They posted the code on Github, an open source website for developers, hoping to help democratize vaccine equity. Students at UCLA are hoping for that and more, as they rally for health equity and call for universities and publicly funded institutions to reevaluate their role in access to medicine, especially for underrepresented groups.

Backpack TB

Since 1994, Partners in Health has been tackling tuberculosis in Peru, which has one of the highest TB incidence rates in the Americas. With the new innovative Mochila TB (or, backpack TB) tool that can test up to 80 patients per day, PIH can reach people who don’t live near city centers or close to community testing clinics. In just the past month, the tool has helped more than 3,000 people get access to testing, diagnosis, and care. Can your backpack do that?

Mental health on the upswing

The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health handed out over $10 million in grants to organizations focused on giving adolescents of color and LGBTQ+ youth across the US the tools and support they need to live full, healthy lives. Check out the impressive directory of 80+ awardees and consider sharing with a young person in your life. The Upswing Fund was seeded by Pivotal Ventures and partners with the Klarman Family Foundation; it is powered by Panorama.

Vaccination education

Thanks to a new grant from the CDC, Americares is combating vaccine hesitancy by educating staff and volunteers at free and charitable clinics across the US about the importance and safety of vaccines, and debunking myths about vaccine efficacy. We know that reluctant patients are more willing to roll up their sleeves if the message comes from a doctor or health care provider they trust—Americares is well positioned to bridge this gap and get us one step closer to herd immunity.

In other grant news

What do a speech pathologist, climate change researcher, and tribal health organization have in common? They are all recipients of the University of Washington Population Health Initiative’s pilot research grants, which encourage interdisciplinary collaborations for projects that address critical challenges to population health. This year’s awardees will explore inequities in speech-language pathology services for children with communication disorders, equitable and just climate action, community-based research to advance reproductive health equity in Inupiaq Alaska, and more.

Zoomin’ around town

  • April 8: Join WGHA’s first Communicators Roundtable of 2021, and hear from Global Health Council, Malaria No More, and Washington State University experts about global health advocacy.

  • April 8: Support the UW Department of Global Health on Husky Giving Day to elevate Global Health Excellence, Equity and Impact.

  • April 12: Sign up for Partners in Health’s webinar and learn how to ensure vaccine equity, from planning and community engagement to delivery and follow-up.

  • April 15: Don’t miss Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s Recalibrate Symposium, which will focus on bridging the gap between organizations who are simply engaged in DEI work and organizations who are committed to long-term change.

  • April 19: Do you want to boost public trust in clinical research? Register for a digital booth by the 19th for Aware for All – Northwest to share more about your work, what to expect in clinical trials, and the importance of public participation.

  • April 21: Save the date for Field Notes Live: Fireside Chat with Chris Bombardier, of the Bombardier Blood documentary, which chronicles his quest as the first person with hemophilia to climb the seven summits.

  • April 29: Register for a Cambia Grove roundtable on moving from awareness to action to reduce health inequities.

“We have the means to achieve vaccine equity, but the gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries versus COVAX is growing every single day. We appeal to countries to share COVID-19 vaccines out of self-interest, if nothing else.”

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, calling on countries and companies to ensure that by the time World Health Day arrives on April 7, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in every country.

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