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Health Highlights: Oct. 6, 2020


Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Astrophysicist Wins Nobel Prize in Physics

American astrophysicist Andrea Ghez is among three scientists awarded this year's Nobel Prize in physics.

Ghez, 55, and German astrophysicist Reinhard Genzel were honored for their discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The third recipient was British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose for his discovery that the theory of general relativity predicts the formation of black holes, the Washington Post reported.

Ghez, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, is just the fourth woman to win a physics Nobel.

"I take very seriously the responsibility of being the fourth woman to win the Nobel Prize. I hope I can inspire other young women into the field. It's a field that has so many pleasures, and if you're passionate about the science, there's so much to be done," Ghez told the Post.

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Only Half of Americans Would Try to Get COVID-19 Vaccine: Poll

Only 51% of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine while 45% wouldn't even try, a new poll finds.

About 4% of respondents had no opinion, according to the CNN poll that was released on Monday and asked participants if they'd try to get a vaccine that was widely available at low cost.

This is the lowest percentage of people so far in CNN polling to say they would try to get a vaccine. The rates were 66% in May and 56% in August. The percentage of people who said they wouldn't try to get a vaccine rose from 33% in May and 40% in August.

Health experts say that if too few people in the United States don't get a COVID-19 vaccine, the nation may not be able to achieve herd immunity against the virus, CNN reported.

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Some NYC Schools Will Close Due to COVID-19 Spread

Schools in some New York City neighborhoods will start closing on Tuesday, less than a week after they reopened.

The move, which is meant to combat the growing spread of COVID-19 in the city, was proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday and approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, CNN reported.

Schools will close in nine ZIP codes in Brooklyn and Queens that have high rates of positive coronavirus tests.

The mayor also wanted to close nonessential businesses and religious institutions in those areas, but Cuomo didn't approve that, CNN reported.

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CDC Now Acknowledges Airborne Transmission of COVID

Infection with the new coronavirus can occur through airborne transmission between people farther than 6 feet apart, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally acknowledged in an update to its website on Monday.

The agency said this is especially true in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation, the Washington Post reported.

The CDC's update comes in response to growing evidence that coronavirus infection can occur through tiny droplets and particles that float in the air for minutes, or even hours.

Last month, the agency removed a draft that referred to tiny airborne droplets as a source of transmission. The CDC said the draft was removed because it didn't go through proper review and was posted in error, the Post reported.

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Coronavirus May Have Infected 1 in 10 Worldwide: WHO

About 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the new coronavirus, which is more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases, a World Health Organization official said Monday.

Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO's head of emergencies, said there are differences between urban and rural areas, and between different groups, but the overall rate means "the vast majority of the world remains at risk," the Associated Press reported.

He spokeat a special session of the WHO's 34-member executive board focusing on COVID-19.

The pandemic will continue to evolve, but tools exist to suppress transmission and save lives, according to Ryan.

"Many deaths have been averted and many more lives can be protected," Ryan said, the AP reported.

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Three Scientists Share Nobel Prize for Hepatitis C Research

Two U.S. researchers and a British scientist have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for major contributions to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis.

Hepatitis C, which causes cirrhosis and liver cancer, causes 400,000 deaths worldwide each year, the Washington Post reported.

The three recipients are: Harvey Alter, a clinical scientist at a U.S. National Institutes of Health blood bank; Charles Rice, of the Washington University in St. Louis; and British-born virologist Michael Houghton.

The researchers' work was described by the Nobel Committee as "a landmark achievement in our battle against viral infections," the Post reported.

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