Documentary photographer Ivan Agerton started experiencing psychotic symptoms in mid-December, after a mild case of Covid-19. He had trouble sleeping, bouts of paranoia, and auditory hallucinations, the New York Times reports. Agerton shared his story to raise awareness about the condition, which is rare but has affected people around the world who have no history of mental illness.

Experts hypothesize that psychosis is a brain-related effect of Covid-19 that may result from the immune response, vascular issues, or surges of disease-related inflammation. Still, as the Times notes, “Much about the condition remains mysterious.”

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A handful of coronavirus variants have become household names during the pandemic, including B.1.1.7, the so-called U.K. variant, and B.1.351, the South African variant. There are many others. Variants arise because viruses naturally mutate when they replicate, and, given the high rates of Covid-19 infection, SARS-CoV-2 has had many opportunities to do so.

Georgetown University virologist Angela Rasmussen, PhD, wants people to know that most coronavirus variants aren’t worth worrying about. As science journalist Tara Haelle reports in Elemental, scientists are monitoring only three variants of concern: the aforementioned two, plus P.1., first identified in Brazil. …

Research published in February in the science journal BMJ showed that people infected with the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, are more likely to die than people infected with the original strain. This scary news was surprising to some people, writes scientist and medical writer Shin Jie Yong, because a widely accepted evolutionary theory suggests that viruses require live hosts in order to replicate and survive. It didn’t seem to make sense that the coronavirus would evolve to become more lethal, because then it would just kill off its hosts.

“Ultimately, the…

These cards are generally meaningless

Though Facebook has promised to crack down on health misinformation, many scams still proliferate on the platform. One persistent scam is the sale of “vaccine exemption” or “mask exemption” cards claiming to provide legal evidence that a person does not have to get vaccinated or wear a mask. These cards provide no such evidence.

Some of these cards use the emblem for the U.S. Justice Department, cite a fraudulent government body named the “Freedom to Breathe Agency,” or reference the Americans with Disabilities Act. They sometimes mention a health care rule known as the “law of informed consent,” but as…

The Covid-19 crisis has caused demand for the lifesaving treatment to skyrocket

For many people with Covid-19, a respiratory illness, treatment with supplemental medical oxygen can be lifesaving. It’s usually administered when the disease causes a person’s blood oxygen level to drop — a condition known as hypoxemia. Because so many people around the world have required this treatment, the global supply of medical oxygen has reached a critical low.

As Craig Spencer MD MPH writes in Elemental, the shortage is especially pronounced in low- and middle-income nations. Medical oxygen must be produced, stored, and transported, all of which are expensive processes that many countries cannot support. …

Chronic stress can physically impact neural connections

To say that people are stressed out during the pandemic would be a gross understatement. What people are feeling isn’t acute stress — the kind that can motivate you in the best of times or force you to slow down in the worst of times — it’s chronic stress, the kind that weighs on you for weeks and months, opening the door to psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression. As senior staff writer and former brain scientist Dana G Smith writes in a terrific feature for Elemental, chronic stress can also change the brain itself.

Chronic stress causes the continuous…

Covid-19 vaccine doses are the world’s hottest commodity right now. As such, the threat of theft is very real — Interpol has even issued an orange alert warning of armed robberies of vaccine shipments. Freight companies responsible for delivering doses have had to ramp up their security to the utmost degree, as Thomas Buckley at Bloomberg reports.

Delivery trucks are being equipped with digital locks, tracking technology, and alarms that sound off at 90 decibels. At one company, drivers are being trained to respond to attacks on the shipments.

One German company says all its vaccine shipments “will be tailed…

Many Black people experience vaccine hesitancy because of the long history of racism in health care in the United States, which in many ways is still present today. This racism is important to acknowledge, and so is the fact that vaccination is critical to ending the Covid-19 pandemic and protecting your loved ones. It can be difficult to reconcile these thoughts. Writer Tony Jones, M.A. wrote in LEVEL about his own experience making the decision to get vaccinated as a Black man.

“Honestly, doubts immediately popped into my mind when presented with this opportunity, but those thoughts quickly subsided,” he…

Some states have designed strategies to give vaccine priority to people of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In California, one program gives out vaccine access codes that allow people to make appointments on the state’s scheduling website. These access codes are meant to be reserved for Black and Latinx people and distributed through community organizations.

Unfortunately, the codes are being misused by people outside of these communities.

Writing in The Bold Italic, Amanda Spiller describes her experience receiving one of these codes from a friend and using it to book an appointment, not knowing that…

The Biden administration brokered the deal between the two competitors

Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot Covid-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, but the bulk of its doses won’t be available until the end of March. Manufacturing delays have stalled production of the vaccine at the company’s plant in Baltimore.

To help speed up manufacturing, the Biden administration has brokered a deal between Johnson & Johnson and its competitor Merck, which ended its own vaccine development program in January. As Bloomberg reported today, Biden is expected to announce the “historic partnership” at the White House this afternoon.

Merck will dedicate two of its…

Coronavirus Blog Team

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