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What We’re Reading: Bipartisan Gun Law Passes Senate; HIV Cases Dropped During Pandemic; COVID-19 Vaccines Save 20 Million Lives


The Senate passed a bipartisan gun law, the first major gun legislation in nearly 30 years, which now goes to the House; HIV cases dropped during the pandemic, perhaps due to lack of testing; researchers say COVID-19 vaccines have saved nearly 20 million lives but could be even more effective.

Senate Passes Bipartisan Gun Law

The Senate passed the first gun legislation since 1994, as it voted 65-33 for legislation that would tighten present gun laws, according to the New York Times. The law, which garnered support from 15 Republican senators, includes enhancing background checks for gun buyers between the ages of 18 and 21. The bill requires that juvenile records, including mental health records beginning at age 16, be checked for disqualification criteria. The bill will also tighten the federal ban on the purchase of guns by domestic abusers and strengthen laws against gun trafficking. Lastly, the bill gives hundreds of millions of dollars for mental health funds and for strengthening school security. The bill is expected to pass in the House on Friday morning.

Lack of Testing Possible Cause of HIV Case Drop

Researchers claim that a 17% drop in new HIV cases during the first year of the pandemic could be a sign of the lack of testing for the disease in that time, especially in groups who are most at-risk for the disease. Although at-home HIV testing kits are available, they likely did not entirely compensate for the lack of HIV testing access in 2020. Experts now worry that there are thousands of people that are living with undiagnosed HIV, as the CDC estimated that 13% of people with HIV were unaware of their infection prior to the pandemic.

COVID-19 Vaccines Saved About 20 Million Lives

Researchers estimate that 19.8 million lives were saved globally by a COVID-19 vaccine in the first year of their availability. The report found that vaccines prevented 4.2 million deaths in India, 1.9 million in the United States, 1 million in Brazil, 631,000 in France, and 507,000 in the United Kingdom. The researchers also found that an additional 600,000 deaths could have been prevented if 40% of the world population had been vaccinated, which was the World Health Organization’s target. The finding is based on estimates of how many more deaths occurred during the time period than usual.

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