Hello Observers! Check out this week’s top stories for insight into mysterious hepatitis cases in kids, the mental health crisis in teens and progress on the COVID pill.
1. Mysterious Hepatitis
Nearly 200 children worldwide have come down with severe hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver with a range of causes, and at least one child has died. In this case, officials are investigating the possibility that an adenovirus, one of a group of common viruses, may be the culprit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a nationwide alert this month urging doctors and health officials to report similar cases after a cluster of cases in Alabama occurred between last October and February. None of the children in the U.S. died, but several developed liver failure, and two required transplants.
2. The COVID Pill
The Biden Administration is pushing antiviral pills to help people with COVID-19 stay out of the hospital. The administration is specifically focusing on Pfizer’s version, called Paxlovid, which clinical trials have found to be 85% effective at reducing hospitalizations and death. Merck’s version, called molnupiravir, has been shown to be less effective.
Both drugs were approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in December, and recently the World Health Organization backed Paxlovid, calling it the “best therapeutic choice for high-risk patients to date.” In the U.S., the drugs can be acquired at test-to-treat locations across the country through a new federal program.
3. Adolescent Blues
Teens are increasingly experiencing anxiety, mood disorders and self-harm. The cause is not solely social media, although it’s unclear how screen time plays a role. In fact, researchers don’t know exactly why issues with mental health are on the rise among adolescents. This article by The New York Times offers an enlightening, deep dive into the trend as we try to understand it.
The Mental Health Million project, a study involving 220,000 people around the world, also shows that the trend isn’t limited to the United States and explores even more possible causes. Families do, however, have resources and are having more open conversations about mental health. One resource to explore: "You-ology: A Puberty Guide for Everybody."
Stem cell transplants help treat patients with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia and other disorders. This 20-year-old student went above and beyond to donate stem cells to a person he didn’t know. Would you do the same?
When one person chooses to tend to their suffering, there is one less person in the world that is suffering. Do something nice for yourself today. – MO
By Claire Cleveland, science writer
Edited by Shannon Mullane, senior editor
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