Health

Did You Get the Coronavirus Vaccine, or Are You Planning To?

With approval from the Food and Drug Administration now in hand, Pfizer is shipping doses of its coronavirus vaccine this week to hospitals around the country.Health care workers have already started getting the shots, and most nursing home residents will start getting them next week. Other priority groups — likely a combination of essential workers, people 65 and older and those with high-risk medical conditions — will probably get access at some point in January.Reporters at The New York Times who are writing about the vaccine would like to hear about your experience getting it — or trying to. We would also like to know whether getting a vaccine changes your day-to-day behaviors or attitude about going out in public and interacting with others.We will not publish any part of your subm...

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Health

Why the U.K. Approved a Coronavirus Vaccine First

LONDON — The first rigorously tested coronavirus vaccine was given a green light for use on Wednesday in Britain. Doses of the vaccine, made by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and a small German company, BioNTech, will be injected starting next week, the government said.In leaping ahead of the United States to allow mass inoculations, Britain added to the pressure on American drug regulators, who were summoned to the White House on Tuesday by President Trump’s chief of staff to explain why they were not ready to do the same.Why did Britain authorize a vaccine before the U.S.?The two countries vet vaccines differently.Rather than accepting the findings of vaccine makers, American regulators painstakingly reanalyze raw data from the trials to validate the results, poring over wha...

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Health

Have a Creepy, Crawly Halloween

“Insects in the home produced more disgust in the brain than insects in the wild, especially cockroaches,” said Dr. Eric Schumacher, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Advanced Brain Imaging. “Our research suggests that we may be conditioned against pests in the home because they may be associated with contamination or illness. It’s not clear why cockroaches in particular elicit extreme disgust, although there can be many social and cultural factors that come into play that drive these emotions — familiarity, cultural norms, and so on.”“Disgust likely evolved to keep us away from sources of pathogens,” said Tom Armstrong, assistant professor of psychology at Whitman College in Washington State. “Creepy crawly insects could be repellent because they tend to live in dark, damp places w...

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Health

The Stressful Conclusion of a Clinical Trial

“What does the drug actually cost?” I finally asked him.“More than $15,000 a month.”“You’re kidding,” I said, wondering how long Medicare and I could afford to plunk down our shares of the jaw-dropping figure.Then, in mid-September, I received happy news. Though Pfizer has a legal right to charge me for the commercially available drug, the company has decided to keep me (as well as the handful of other women in my situation) on the study drug for the time being. I have no clue how long this will be; however, it feels like a dispensation, and I am grateful for it.After I got that news, I asked Pfizer to clarify the company’s policy on continuing to provide beneficial medications to patients, and the response cheered me. Steven Danehy, Pfizer’s director of global media relations, wrote in...

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Health

Are There Any Mothers Out There Like Me?

A week later, I was in the office of my OB-GYN, telling her about my plans for artificial insemination.“Congratulations,” she said, the first I’d heard. She squeezed cold goop on my belly, pushed the ultrasound wand across it and said, “Good news, your follicles look nice and plump.”“Really?” I asked.“I see one right there,” she said.When she opened the door to go, I thanked her. “You’re welcome. Honey, this is the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself,” she said.Out of her office, I looked around wildly for someone to tell, “Guess what, I’m still fertile!” Then the partnerless part sunk in. So, I called my sister and shared the good news.A few days later, I took the next step and went to my psychiatrist’s office, there to develop a titration plan to ease me off the antidepressant cock...

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Will the Hardest-Hit Communities Get the Coronavirus Vaccine?

It is an idea that may never have been tried in wide-scale vaccine distribution: Citing principles of equity and justice, experts are urging that people living in communities hardest-hit by the pandemic, which are often made up of Black and Hispanic populations, get a portion of the first, limited supply of coronavirus vaccines set aside just for them.A committee of experts advising Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is considering the idea. But as it comes into focus, its underlying concepts and execution must be further defined, and the approach may then face legal and political challenges, even as the medical system grapples with the anticipated logistical hurdles of distributing new vaccines.The group that is formulating the alloc...

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Health

How to Do School When Motivation Has Gone Missing

Should adults be cheerleaders for our teenagers? Opinion is split. Some researchers contend that praise helps to cultivate intrinsic motivation, while others say that it undermines it by introducing an extrinsic reward. There is, however, an area of consensus: the utility of praise depends on how it’s done. Specifically, praise fosters intrinsic motivation when it’s sincere, celebrates effort rather than talent (“you worked really hard,” vs. “you’re so smart”) and communicates encouragement, not pressure (“you’re doing really well,” vs. “you’re doing really well, as I hoped you would”).This is such a hard year. So long as we do it right, there’s no reason for adults to be stingy with praise.Finally, intrinsic motivation is all but impossible to muster for material that feels out of reac...

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Health

Ancient Dog DNA Shows Early Spread Around the Globe

Among the other findings, Dr. Larson said he found it particularly intriguing that once dogs had become domesticated, and even while they were sometimes breeding with wolves, no new wolf DNA entered their genomes.By contrast, pigs, for example, were brought to Europe by farmers from Anatolia. But the genes of those first domesticated pigs have been completely lost, replaced by the genes of wild European boars, even though the pigs stayed domesticated animals.While dogs do interbreed, no new wolf genes survive over the years. One possibility, Dr. Larson said, is that “wolfiness” just doesn’t fit with an animal as close to people as a dog. Pigs can be a little wild but “if you’re a dog and you’ve got a little bit of wolf in you, that’s not a good thing and those things get knocked on the ...

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Chris Pendergast, Who Fought A.L.S. Mile After Mile, Dies at 71

In addition to his wife, Christine (Martin) Pendergast, a past president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association on Long Island, he is survived by a son, Christopher, who is known as Buddy; a daughter, Melissa Scriven; and a grandson.Mr. Pendergast and his wife chronicled the family’s collaborative effort to confront A.L.S. in a book, “Blink Spoken Here: Tales From a Journey to Within,” which was published this year. The title comes from the eye-tracker computer that uses infrared light to substitute for oral speech when patients lose their voice.After retiring from teaching in 2003, Mr. Pendergast often made public appearances, including a visit to Northport High School last February, to extol the power of perseverance when confronting adversity.In 2005, when he spoke to ele...

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Health

Gilead’s Covid-19 Drug is Mediocre. It Will Be a Blockbuster Anyway.

The United States reached a milestone, of sorts, when last week the Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment for Covid-19.The drug is called Veklury, although most people know it by its scientific name, remdesivir.On Wednesday, its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, said that remdesivir, which has been authorized for emergency use since the spring, had brought in $873 million in revenues so far this year and that it was the company’s second-best-selling drug in the third quarter, behind its H.I.V. drug, Biktarvy.But the F.D.A.’s decision to grant the drug full approval — which means the company can now begin broadly marketing it to doctors and patients — has puzzled several outside experts, who say that it may not deserve the agency’s stamp of approval because it is, at bes...

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