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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

TX virologist urges residents to get new COVID vaccine

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Thursday, June 13, 2024   

The Food and Drug Administration has advised makers of the COVID-19 vaccine to formulate the next dosage to fight the JN.1 strain of the virus.

JN.1 was first discovered in the U.S. in September, and researchers said it is similar to previous strains but spreads easier and faster. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, JN.1 accounted for 3.5% of COVID cases in November and the number jumped to 85% of cases in January.

Ben Neuman, professor of biology at Texas A&M University, said getting vaccinated is still the best way to avoid getting sick.

"It would be important, I would say, to get the updated vaccine as soon as it is available," Neuman advised. "It may not prevent infection completely, but it is, very much, the best hedge against dying of COVID."

He said, on average, about 500 people a week are still dying from the virus.

Other COVID strains, known as KP.2 and KP.3, are also circulating, part of what are called the "FLiRT" variants. The FDA considered having makers formulate the new vaccine to target KP.2 and KP.3 but chose to concentrate on JN.1 because it is spreading more quickly. Symptoms of the FLiRT mutations include fever, sore throat and a runny nose. Researchers said the strains are highly immune resistant, making breakthrough cases possible.

Neuman pointed out some doctors believe a two-dose vaccine would provide more protection for the public because COVID is constantly changing.

"We have an immune system which is learning to recognize the virus and kills off all of the viruses it can recognize," Neuman explained. "This pushes the virus to change possibly a little faster than it would otherwise, if we had no immune system. So as long as there is COVID, there will be new variants."

If you have outdated COVID tests in your medicine cabinet, Neuman added they could still be used to detect portions of the strains which have not changed over the time, but he strongly suggested using updated tests because the virus continues to mutate.


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