Checkup #10: How do booster doses of covid-19 vaccine work?

on Sundays, the TechWorld brings together some of the week’s top health news in one place. Check out last week’s highlights below.

The virus

pandemic news

Booster shots for (almost) everyone

On Tuesday (16), the Ministry of Health announced the release of booster doses of the vaccine against covid-19, a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, for all people over 18 in Brazil.

The additional dose can be received five months after the end of the first vaccination cycle (with the second dose of an immunizer). Until then, only a few groups received the boost: older people, people with compromised immune systems and health professionals. The five-month break is now valid for all groups.

According to the ministry, the new guidance is based on scientific research that indicates a drop in the immune response from the fifth month after the second dose. The phenomenon was expected by scientists, and it happens with other types of vaccine as well.

With the additional dose, studies show, protection against the disease grows—becoming greater than the protection obtained by the initial two doses.

Some states, such as São Paulo, have already started to apply the reinforcement.

The additional dose is seen with excitement by some experts, as it could increase protection and prevent a new wave of covid-19 in the country if distributed in time. Other infectious diseases, however, claim that government efforts should be focused on expanding the number of Brazilians fully vaccinated before expanding booster doses.

Countries in Europe, which are experiencing a high in cases of the disease, are already betting on the reinforcement to fight a new wave of covid. The United States extended the reinforcement to the entire adult population on Friday (19).

The Ministry of Health should also publish guidelines on boosting for those who took the Janssen vaccine (single dose) in the coming days.

How long will we need the masks?

It will take some time before the population can be safe to go everywhere without masks. A simple and non-invasive preventive measure, the use of a mask against respiratory infections has been supported by several scientific studies conducted over at least a century. This week, our columnist Bernardo Almeida, infectious disease physician and chief medical officer of health tech Hilab, further explained the use of this protection and why we still need it.

Penile cancer causes 400 deaths a year in Brazil

Penis Cancer: See a doctor as soon as symptoms appear (credits: BlurryMe/Shutterstock)

A study by researchers at the ACCamargo Cancer Center showed that between 2008 and 2018, penile cancer was responsible for more than 400 deaths per year, on average, totaling 4,191 deaths — in the same period, more than 5,500 penectomy (amputation of the penis) surgeries were performed in people with the disease as a way to avoid further complications.

“This is a type of cancer that shouldn’t exist; it is totally preventable with preventive actions”, (Éder Silveira Brazão Junior, urologist at ACCamargo Cancer Center)

In an interview with TechWorld, the urologist Éder Silveira Brazão Júnior, who participated in the research, spoke about the risks of the disease and provided guidelines for prevention.

Untreated HIV cure is extremely rare, but possible

A case of an Argentine woman shocked the world medical community this week. The patient, who had been diagnosed with HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS) got rid of the infection without undergoing any treatment.

In the article reporting the case, published by scientists in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors claim that this type of cure is extremely rare, but possible. According to the American health news portal Stat, the Argentine patient is the second person in history to have achieved such a cure.

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