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What we're reading

Hello BMSA readers! We love the support for the WWR series, so we’re bringing them back for the summer! Enjoy our finest selection of articles for the most pleasurable of perusing. Please email any suggestions or concerns to, so that we can make the WWR series the best it can be.

Contributor Simi Juriasingani

Since the onset of physical distancing, there has been a lot of chatter in the global media about Covid-19 vaccines. For the most part, scientists and world leaders have clearly stated that the only avenue to achieve normalcy would be a vaccine that would help build immunity against COVID-19 in a majority of the world's population. While timelines such as 12-18 months have been mentioned repeatedly, these estimates only include the time that the initial research and clinical trials take. The biggest hurdles, that haven't been discussed by most media outlets, are ensuring efficient mass production of the vaccine and securing equitable access to it across the globe. This piece highlights the logistical challenges that will be involved with producing billions of units of a COVID-10 vaccine. The author also highlights the political and financial aspects involved in ensuring that the most vulnerable populations are able to receive the vaccine. Although the task is daunting, public and private organizations across the globe are putting rivalries aside, collaborating and taking action to facilitate the development, production and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. Seeing as COVID-19 is unmatched in its severity as a global health crisis, the manner in which healthcare ethics and profits are managed in this scenario will set a precedent that will inform healthcare decision making for decades. 

Contributor Si-Cheng Dai

With over 1.8 million apps available on iOS and 2.5 million apps on Android, what your phone can do is virtually limitless. For a while now, we’ve had apps that track calories, prescribe exercises, and even regulate finances tools for self-improvement, if you will. But the latest technology that has come to fruition is that of mood tracking apps. These little widgets aim to optimize happiness and minimize sadness. Delving into it though, there are some heavier-than-expected questions that need answering. It’s great to strive for self-actualization, but is the goal to feel constantly happy really beneficial? Everything is relative; we cannot know happiness without feeling the opposite emotion. Even more so, we must think of the ethics involved. This “emotional data” can be sold to companies. These companies will then run advertisements that are tailored to elicit our emotions. Is this an act of exploitation? These concerns must soon be addressed. In the present, these technologies make the case that it is our emotions that lead us, our bodies simply trailing behind.

Contributor Sabrina Ke

Pain has played a large part in the evolution and survival of humans and animals alike. It acts as a signal to tell us when something is wrong or if a part of us needs care and attention in order to survive. Despite its role in protecting us and alerting us of dangerous situations, pain can often be a burden and affect our behaviour, mental state and quality of life. With this in mind, many of us have probably wished we could simply shut off this sensation. Despite it seeming like a far-fetched superhuman ability, researchers at Duke University have discovered a way to ‘switch off’ pain in an experiment involving mice. When the mice were in pain, certain areas of the brain were activated. By examining these activated areas, the research team found that many of them were affected by what was known as CeAga neurons. These neurons had the ability to essentially turn off pain in certain centers of the brain. After activating the CeAga neurons in the mice’s brains, they immediately stopped displaying the observed behaviours associated with agitation, such as licking or wiping their faces. The utility of these CeAga neurons could lead to further improvements in the study and development of painkillers and anesthetics.

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