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What We're Reading: Llamas and Flu Vaccine; "Sexual Health" Language Targeted; VA Ratings Questioned

AJMC Staff
Using antibodies from llamas, scientists reported that they have made a huge step forward in creating a universal flu vaccine; under a draft proposal in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office, US diplomats could be prohibited from using the phrases “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education"; the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 5-star rating scale for its hospitals is a mystery to former officials at the agency and experts in healthcare metrics. 

Llama Antibodies Used to Create Universal Flu Vaccine 

Using antibodies from llamas, scientists reported that they have made a huge step forward in creating a universal flu vaccine, The Los Angeles Times reported. Llamas are unique in that they make a variety of tiny immune system antibodies that can fit into crevices on the surface of an invading virus, the paper said. When scientists tested an intranasal formulation in mice, it provided complete protection against a raft of human flu strains. Those include A viruses, such as the H1N1 “swine flu” that touched off a global pandemic in 2009, and B viruses, which occur only in humans.

 

US Diplomats Might Be Banned From Referencing "Sexual Health" 

Under a draft proposal in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office, US diplomats could be prohibited from using the phrases “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education,” Politico reported. Instead, officials would be instructed to use phrases like “reproduction and the related health services.” The proposal is being pushed by a handful of conservative political appointees at the State Department and other agencies.

 

VA's Star Ratings System Puzzles Agency Critics

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 5-star rating scale for its hospitals is a mystery to former officials at the agency and experts in healthcare metrics, The New York Times reported. When the VA released its annual ratings, a Georgia facility dropped to the bottom, even though its quality data had not changed much, and a Connecticut hospital climbed to the top despite numerous quality problems cited in an internal assessment. Critics say the system, unveiled in 2012, is so arbitrary that hospitals may gain and lose stars based only on statistical error.

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