Reactions

Reactions

Reactions

When science hits the headlines, we seek the views of expert sources who assess the news rigorously and quickly, according to the available evidence.

Reactions: WHO declares end of international covid-19 emergency

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Committee met on 4 May to assess whether covid-19 could continue to be considered a health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The organisation's director general, Tedros Adhanom, has followed its recommendation and ended the emergency declared on 30 January 2020. "It is with great hope that I declare that covid-19 has ended as a global health emergency. However, this does not mean that covid-19 is no longer a threat to global health. Last week, it claimed one life every three minutes, and that's just the deaths we know about," he told a press conference.

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Reactions: Study attributes April's unusually high temperatures on the Iberian Peninsula to climate change

Climate change made the late April episode of record temperatures in the Iberian Peninsula, Morocco and Algeria 100 times more likely to occur, with temperatures up to 3.5°C higher than they would have been without the climate crisis. This is one of the conclusions of an attribution study conducted by World Weather Attribution.

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Reactions: healthy lifestyle reduces risk of relapse and increases survival in patients with operable breast cancer

A study published in JAMA Network Open has followed 1,340 women with high-risk operable breast cancer. Analysing their lifestyles before, during and after treatment, the researchers conclude that those who followed a healthier pattern - including physical activity, no smoking, high fruit and vegetable intake, and low consumption of meat and sugary drinks - had a 37% lower risk of relapse and a 58% higher chance of survival than those who followed a worse pattern. Although the improvements in absolute risk were much smaller, the authors conclude that "lifestyle interventions may be a safe, inexpensive and feasible adjuvant strategy to delay and prevent recurrence and death from the world's most common cancer".

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Reaction: stopping endocrine therapy to try to get pregnant after breast cancer does not worsen prognosis

A study published today in the NEJM examines the risk of relapse in breast cancer patients who decide to pause endocrine therapy to try to become pregnant. The results show that temporarily stopping treatment does not confer an increased risk in the long term, but the authors warn of the need for further follow-up.

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Reaction to an interface capable of reconstructing long sentences from brain images

A US team has developed a non-invasive language decoder: a brain-computer interface that aims to reconstruct whole sentences from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This is not the first attempt to create such a decoder; some of the existing ones are invasive - requiring neurosurgery; others are non-invasive, but only identify words or short phrases. In this case, as reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the team recorded brain responses - captured with fMRI - of three participants as they listened to 16 hours of stories. The authors used this data to train the model, which was then able to decode other fMRI data from the same person listening to new stories. The team argues that the model trained on one person's data does not decode another person's data well, suggesting that cooperation from the subject is required for the model to work properly.

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Reaction: Bacterial superinfections increase flu mortality 3.4-fold

A study by Spanish researchers coordinated by CEU San Pablo University has analyzed the factors associated with poor prognosis in case of influenza infection. After analyzing data on 48,000 patients from 135 investigations in 28 countries, they conclude that bacterial superinfections increase the risk of death 3.4 times. The authors propose to increase early diagnostic measures so that antibiotics can be administered quickly in cases where there is a higher risk of complications. The results are published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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Reactions: immunotherapy clinical trial improves prognosis of a type of leukaemia in infants

A phase 2 clinical trial has analysed the safety and efficacy of adding immunotherapy to traditional chemotherapy to treat a subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children under one year of age. This subtype of leukaemia, although rare in absolute terms, is the most common in children of this age, and its prognosis in this age group had not improved in recent years. The immunotherapy used, a bispecific antibody that binds to tumour cells on the one hand and T lymphocytes on the other, improved two-year survival from 66% to 93% in treated patients, according to The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

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Reactions to the high temperatures expected for the next few days in the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands

The State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) has reported that, from Tuesday, the progressive entry of a mass of very warm and dry air of African origin over the peninsula and the Balearic Islands will cause exceptionally high temperatures for this time of year, with values typical of summer. According to AEMET, during Thursday 27, the threshold of 30 ºC is likely to be exceeded throughout the southern half, as well as on the banks of the Ebro. On the other hand, 35 ºC is likely to extend to the Guadalquivir valley in Córdoba and Jaén. During Friday it is possible that 35 ºC will be exceeded in the banks of the Ebro in Zaragoza and other points of the southern half, in addition to the Guadalquivir valley, where the maximum temperature values could be around 38-40 ºC.

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