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What We're Reading: NIH Trial Worries; Global Health Reversals; US Seeks Gag Rule Expansion


NIH investigates a serious side effect from a COVID-19 vaccine trial; a report says the pandemic has erased 25 years' worth of global health gains; the US seeks to extend a ban on global health aid for foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions.

NIH Investigating Serious Side Effect in COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Reported by Kaiser Health News, the NIH has launched an investigation into a serious side effect stemming from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine trial by AstraZeneca, in which a participant suffered spinal cord damage. AstraZeneca has not confirmed what the participant was afflicted with, but neurologists consider the side effect to be transverse myelitis, a disorder that produces inflammation along the spinal cord. The FDA is weighing whether to resume the halted trial.

Global Health Gains Wiped Out by Pandemic

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said the pandemic has set global health back 25 years when looking at metrics such as childhood vaccinations, rising food insecurity, and levels of poverty. The organization's annual Goalkeepers report said​ most of the 18 metrics tracked by the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals have regressed.

Trump Administration Seeks to Extend Ban on Global Abortion Aid

The Trump administration is seeking to extend a ban on global health aid for foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions, according to The Hill. Called the “global gag rule” by opponents, the ban already applies to grants and cooperative agreements between the US government and foreign organizations, but the proposed rule extension would expand the policy to contracts, where foreign groups would be required to not provide or promote abortions to maintain global health aid. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, contracts contribute approximately 40% of global health aid.

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