Joanne Silberner

It can be genuinely thrilling when a new drug is approved for use in the U.S. It may be a big step forward in treating folks with, say, HIV or diabetes or breast cancer.

But sometimes the very people who took part in the trials to determine if the drug is effective and safe may not be able to benefit.

That's the conclusion of a new study published in JAMA Open Network.

About 25 years ago, after a particularly bad cold, I suddenly lost my sense of smell — I could no longer sense the difference between sweaty tennis shoes and a fragrant rose. Since then, my olfactory discernment comes and goes, and most of the time it's just gone. I always figured there wasn't much I could do about that, and it hasn't been terrible. My taste buds still work, and I adore fine chocolate.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it an unprecedented explosion of scientific research. There are currently nearly 250,000 listings in the World Health Organization's global database of COVID-19 studies. The listings include preprints (the familiar "not yet published" studies often mentioned in news articles), published literature and reports, plus registries of clinical trials.

As the virus that causes COVID-19 continues its global attack, it has done what scientists predicted it would do — it has given rise to new, slightly different strains. How significant some of those strains will be to the pandemic is now under intense study. Meanwhile, demand for the currently available vaccines is outstripping the early supply, and some scientists have sparked controversy by suggesting holding off on booster shots until more people have had their initial shots.

It may seem counterintuitive, but health officials say that even after you get vaccinated against COVID-19, you still need to practice the usual pandemic precautions, at least for a while. That means steering clear of crowds, continuing to wear a good mask in public, maintaining 6 feet or more of distance from people outside your household and frequently washing your hands. We talked to infectious disease specialists to get a better understanding of why.

Why do I have to continue with precautions after I've been vaccinated?

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET, Monday, Dec. 21

Now that the Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccines to be deployed in the U.S., you may have a lot of questions about what this means for you and the people you love. Here's what we know so far:

Who specifically is eligible for the vaccine now?

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NOEL KING, HOST:

In 1969, volunteer teams of doctors and nurses from a U.S. charity called Interplast began flying to poor countries to do reconstructive surgery. They operated on children with cleft lips, cleft palates or burn scars so thick their limbs were immobilized.

It sounded like a great idea. The team members donated their time, paid for their travel and lodging and sometimes their supplies, and got to do good. They were among the first teams of Western docs to take part in fly-in missions.

The major cause of death in children aged 1 to 19 years is not cancer or other another medical condition. It's injury. And by a long shot – 61 percent, versus 9 percent for cancer.

The largest cause of injury was motor vehicle crashes, and next was firearms, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study sorts through the 20,360 deaths of U.S. children and adolescents in 2016, as counted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A new report by a commission empaneled by University College London and the Lancet medical journal offers a thorough — and often surprising — look at the medical and economic impacts of immigration.

It's a major milestone in the fight to recognize mental health and mental illness as global issues: a comprehensive report from the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health, three years in the making, released this past week at a London summit with royals Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, in attendance to show their support for the cause.

But it was not a celebratory event. Threaded throughout the 45-page report is a lament that the world is ignoring millions of suffering people.

From the front door of the glass-walled gift shop at the Alnwick Garden in the far northeast of England, the scene looks innocent enough. A sapphire green English lawn slopes gently downward, toward traditional, ornamental gardens of rose and bamboo. Across the small valley, water cascades down a terraced fountain.

But a hundred or so plantings kept behind bars in this castle's garden are more menacing — and have much to tell visitors about poison and the evolutionary roots of medicine.