Medical Notes this week…

Some people in the United States who are at high risk of COVID-19 could have a vaccine available to them sometime next month. Two Covid vaccines showing a better than 90-percent effectiveness rate now have the data to seek emergency approval from the FDA. As we reported in October, that could mean enough vaccine for 20 million people in the first few weeks of availability. The second vaccine showing good results, from Moderna, will be easier to handle than the first one, from Pfizer which requires storage at nearly a hundred degrees below zero fahrenheit. 

Concussions are notoriously hard to diagnose. but a study in the journal Clinical and Translational Medicine shows that signs of concussion can be detected in a person’s saliva. Researchers say that cranial nerves appear in the mouth… and release detectably altered MRNA in the wake of a concussion. Such an objective test would avoid bias in symptom descriptions by patients who want to avoid a concussion diagnosis. 

And finally, speaking of concussions… A new study finds that deflating soccer balls just a little could cut concussion injuries in the sport. The study in the journal PLOS One shows that lowering ball inflation to the low end of the sport’s acceptable range could reduce concussions due to heading the ball by about 20 percent. The study also recommends substituting balls when they get too wet. Researchers say heading high pressure, wet soccer balls is like heading a brick.

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