News for week of 2023-03-20

Make a top-level comment for a new story/topic. Discussions about the topic should be in the replies to the top-level comment. That way things stay organized and every main comment as you scroll down is a different piece of news.


  • Comments (16)

    • 6

      Candida Auris cases tripled in the US, from 476 in 2019 to 1471 in 2021. The mortality rate of this fungal infection is 30-60%.


      My takeaways:

      1) These numbers are still fairly low, so this is a potential threat rather than a current threat.

      2) That’s a very fast increase and is a bad sign for the future.

      3) Why is this data so laggy? A report in 2023 is only showing data through 2021.

    • 5

      Increasingly frequent drug shortages identified as a US national security issue. Proposed solutions include investment in domestic manufacturing, conducting supply chain risk assessments, and monitoring changes in supply/demand/exportrestrictions.


      • 2

        Thx Eric I’ve been following drug shortages 2-3 times a year.   Your link + more reading shows critical upcoming shortages of Albuterol liquid used for home and hospital nebulizer use for COPD/asthma.  There were only 2 manufacturers in USA and one, Akorn, just went bankrupt.   What to do?   Order this prescription med the first day permitted by your insurance, whether or not it is needed right now.  All forms of Albuterol have a one year shelf life (more or less) unlike many other meds that have a much longer life than 2 years.  

      • 2

        Tips for medication shortages

        I’ve used all of these tips at different times to ensure that no one in my family goes without their medications.

        1) Pick up your medications a few days early. Insurance companies typically allow you to pick up monthly medications 3 days early. If you consistently pick up medications early, you end up with a one month stockpile after 10 months of early pickups.

        2) Buy an extra month with cash. This doesn’t affect the timing for when insurance will cover your next medication, so medications purchased in cash provide a permanent stockpile. Remember to rotate, just as you do with food. I wouldn’t do this with an expensive medication or with any medication that is often abused and therefore closely monitored.

        3) If one pharmacy runs out, try another pharmacy. Some shortages affect only one pharmacy chain. Other times, you might need to find the one pharmacy out of 30 in your city that has your medication that day. When one pharmacist says they are out of stock, ask them for advice about another pharmacy that might have it. Sometimes they will call around and tell you someplace that has it. Other times you just need to drive to one pharmacy at a time and ask.

    • 6

      Clinical trial starting for Paxlovid as treatment for long COVID.


      Normally I wouldn’t consider a clinical trial newsworthy until after it delivers good results. Several reasons I think the above is worth keeping an eye on:

      1) Long COVID is hurting a lot of people right now.

      2) There seems to be little progress generally on long COVID treatments and this possibility sounds promising.

      3) Lack of long COVID treatments are a big part of why I continue to put effort into avoiding COVID.

    • 4

      This graphic from the WaPo is a great visualization of how climate change will affect us and the younger generations. From https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/03/21/climate-ipcc-report-temperatures-graphic/

      Screenshot 2023-03-22 140255

    • 6

      New flu vaccine is effective against all 20 types of flu. Just passed animal trials.




    • 5

      That panicky call from a relative? It could be a thief using a voice clone, FTC warns


      Screenshot 2023-03-22 at 5.45.35 PM

      • 3

        Yes, and now in live video calls as well.

        These kinds of attacks are easier to avoid if you use an app (like Signal) that authenticates the communication channel.

      • 3

        Situational awareness is not just out of the street.  Maybe I’m such a loner that family or circle of friends won’t call out of the blue for money.  However, if they did, chances are I’d also have their contact information and would be able to hang up, call them back and confirm they need the money and why.  Or call someone that does and call them back.  Even outside the US.

      • 2

        My partner and I used to joke about “code words” we would use in case of a kidnapping for “proof of life”.  Well it’s not a joke any more – we had a serious discussion yesterday and agreed on three code phrases we would use to verify if a phone call (or even a video!) is a legitimate call for help.  Stuff that could never be ascertained from our online activity and are not obvious answers. Could be a great way to discuss scams and fraud prevention with loved ones.  

        I think of myself as having excellent situational awareness and even I almost feel prey to a bank scam (of a different sort) last week – those people are good.  Lesson well learned: Never, EVER engage in any account activity based on an inbound phone call.

      • 2

        “even I almost feel prey to a bank scam”

        If you don’t mind sharing, I think the details of a scam that almost worked on you could be helpful for the rest of us. Most scams are obvious, so it’s too easy to get a false sense of security.

      • 4

        I am actually not comfortable sharing the whole story because it is an ongoing situation and I’ve become rather paranoid, even wondering if the scammer can track my online activity.  He (or they?) is very persistent.  

        But the key element that almost made me fall for it was that the call appeared to come from my bank.  I recognized the number.  So even if you get a call that appears to come from a legitimate source, always always always hang up and call back.  A genuine bank will not be offended if you say you have to call them back! In fact they should applaud you. 

        I wrote up a lot more but sadly I am not comfortable sharing here, and deleted it. If the scammer is lurking (and they are so good, I cannot assume they are not), I’d rather they not know what I’ve done to protect myself.  I sometimes think that if these people put as much effort into a “real” job as they do into trying to steal, they’d probably be very successful. 

        One of my family members – very smart, very aware, very “with it”, got caught at a bad moment and fell for a scam. She lost $800.  A huge sum to many, a smaller sum to others.  But it destroyed her self esteem for months. It was truly, truly sad.  The emotional cost was far higher than the financial cost.  

      • 3

        “I am actually not comfortable sharing the whole story because it is an ongoing situation and I’ve become rather paranoid, even wondering if the scammer can track my online activity… I’d rather they not know what I’ve done to protect myself.“

        Good call. And thank you for sharing what you felt was safe to share.

        “But the key element that almost made me fall for it was that the call appeared to come from my bank.  I recognized the number.  So even if you get a call that appears to come from a legitimate source, always always always hang up and call back.”

        This is called “call spoofing”. They can choose the caller name and phone number that appear on caller ID.

        I hope you can get this scammer out of your life ASAP. Here’s a TP forum post on digital security that you might find helpful.


    • 3

      South American mosquito species culex lactator taking root in Florida. Potential vector for West Nile Virus and encephalitis. Likely finding Florida more habitable than before due to warming climate.