Vaccinating the World

By Scott LaFee

February 10, 2021 5 min read

As frustratingly slow as the COVID-19 vaccination rollout has been in the United States, it's a lot worse in many parts of the world, especially lower-income nations. The International Rescue Committee estimates that only 20% of populations in these nations are likely to be vaccinated in 2021.

The reasons for immunizations falling behind, according to the IRC, range from shortages of COVID-19 vaccine supplies to vaccine nationalism that may exclude those from vulnerable parts of the world.

The pandemic, of course, and its aftereffects won't truly disappear until most people everywhere are vaccinated.

Body of Knowledge

We breathe roughly 25,000 times a day.

Get Me That, Stat!

Approximately 42% of American adults — nearly 80 million people — live with obesity.


42: number of the top 100 best jobs related to health care

Source: U.S. News & World Report's 2021 best jobs rankings

Stories for the Waiting Room

Alcohol consumption has gone up among Americans during the pandemic, according to a new study out of New York University. Drinking grew most among younger people but also among older adults with anxiety and depression.

"Of the 5,850 survey respondents who said that they drink, 29 percent reported increasing their alcohol use during the pandemic, while 19.8 percent reported drinking less and 51.2 percent reported no change," the study reported.

"This increase in drinking, particularly among people with anxiety and depression, is consistent with concerns that the pandemic may be triggering an epidemic of problematic alcohol use," said lead author Ariadna Capasso, a doctoral student at NYU School of Global Public Health.

The rise isn't entirely surprising. "People often drink to cope with stress and traumatic events," NYU reported. "A 2002 study found that a quarter of New Yorkers increased their alcohol consumption after the September 11 terrorist attacks."

Doc Talk

Frenulum: a small ligament between body parts that restricts movement. The easiest to see are the frenula connecting your tongue to the bottom of your mouth or your lips to your gums.

Phobia of the Week

Chionophobia: fear of snow


"Doctors are great — as long as you don't need them." — Edward E. Rosenbaum, author of "A Taste of My Own Medicine: When the Doctor is the Patient" (1988)

Medical History

This week in 1863, Dubois D. Parmelee was issued a U.S. patent for an "Improvement in Artificial Legs," which featured a custom-molded suction cup to receive the stump. Atmospheric pressure held the socket in place, eliminating the need for the usual straps. On the underside of the bucket, "a small faucet" was open as the stump was pressed into socket to create a tight-fitting seal. The faucet was then closed, and atmospheric pressure held the bucket in place until air is readmitted through the faucet.

Ig Nobel Apprised

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh and then think, a look at real science that's hard to take seriously and even harder to ignore.

In 1995, the Ig Nobel Prize in nutrition went to John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta for kopi luwak, the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luwak, a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia.

Med School

Match the three substances below with their matching purported medical treatments.

1. Ketchup

2. Shark cartilage

3. Dead mice

a) Reduced to a paste and used to ease tooth pain by ancient Egyptians

b) Believed to treat cancer, osteoarthritis, psoriasis and other conditions

c) Used as a cure for diarrhea, indigestion, jaundice and rheumatism

Answers: 1-c; 2-b; 3-a. Needless to say, none of these treatments actually worked.


"In some new brain the sleeping dust will waken" — first line on the headstone of poet John Drinkwater (1882-1937), from his poem "Amaranth"

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: whitesession at Pixabay

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