What We're Reading: HHS Creates Office of Climate Change, Health Equity; J&J HIV Vaccine Fails Study; Weight Gain in Children

HHS establishes the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity; Johnson & Johnson HIV vaccine fails mid-stage trial in sub-Saharan African women; prevalence of overweight and obesity increases significantly in children and adolescents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS Establishes First Office to Address Climate Change, Health Equity

HHS announced yesterday it is establishing the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, marking the first office of its kind to tackle these issues at the national level. In an accompanying press release, HHS said it is launching the office in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order on addressing the climate crisis domestically and abroad. Notably, the World Health Organization projects that at least 250,000 deaths will occur each year due to climate change, and the newly established office seeks to protect vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected by pollution and climate-related disasters.

J&J HIV Vaccine Fails Mid-Stage Study in Africa

As reported by Reuters, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) said today that its experimental vaccine against HIV failed to provide sufficient protection against the virus in at-risk young women in 5 Southern African countries, representing the latest setback in the pursuit of a vaccine to prevent against HIV and AIDS. The mid-stage trial investigated the vaccine in 2600 women from regions that accounted for more than 60% of all new HIV infections last year, with findings indicating that the vaccine had a 25.2% efficacy. J&J said it is studying the safety and efficacy of a different experimental HIV vaccine in gay men.

Weight Gain in Children Amid the Pandemic

According to research published recently in JAMA, weight gain and obesity were found to increase significantly in American children during the COVID-19 pandemic. As reported by US News, the study assessed data of 200,000 girls and boys aged 5 to 17 years derived from Kaiser Permanente Southern California electronic health records, with those aged 5 to 11 years shown to be especially affected as overweight or obesity increased in these populations from 36% to 46% amid the pandemic. Increases in overweight or obesity were also observed in those aged 12 to 15 years and those aged 16 to 17 years.