Herewith three items of pandemic news you may have missed recently: Less accurate pulse oximeter readings for Black patients; the spreading mink pandemic; and a marketing name for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. Plus the accustomed frippery.
You may have missed it (I did), but two days ago BioNTech applied the marketing name Comirnaty to the Covid-19 vaccine they developed in partnership with Pfizer and Fosun Pharmaceutical.
It is pronounced kə-MEER-nə-tee. This was not obvious to me at first glance.
The European Medicines Agency is using the name in its authorization announcement for the EU. The brand name is still awaiting FDA approval in the US.
Fierce Pharma has the story of the name’s development in partnership with the Brand Institute. Comirnaty is meant to suggest “Covid-19 immunity,” with “mRNA” embedded within. There is a hint of “community” as well.
Comirnaty is paired with a non-proprietary counterpart, tozinameran, as the pharma industry often does (think Tylenol and acetaminophen). Fierce Pharma notes that “-meran” is the WHO-required suffix in such names for mRNA compounds, as “-mab” is for monoclonal antibodies.
Both the Washington Post and The Atlantic ran longish pieces on the pandemic situation with minks, which we wrote about last month. The Post concentrates on the continuing cull in Denmark, with heartbreaking photos. The Atlantic ranges over the history of minks’ uneasy relationship with Covid-19, in captivity and now in the wild. The rollcall of countries reporting infected farmed mink now includes the US, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Lithuania, Sweden, Greece, Italy, and — very recently — Canada. The Atlantic reports on China’s claim that no infected mink exist there in the wild or in any of that country’s 5 million animals on 8,000 farms.
Black skin and pulse oximeters
Medical experts have known for 15 or more years that the ubiquitous fingertip pulse oximeter is less accurate for people with darker skin. But a recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine seems to have abruptly woken up large swaths of the medical establishment to this inconvenient fact. The NY Times explains:
Your frippery today is a bouquet of versions of In the Bleak Midwinter, music composed by Gustav Holst early in the XXth century from a poem by Christina Rosetti. First: The English version performed by protean folkies Steeleye Span features vocalist Maddy Prior. Here are translations, with a hat tip to a posting on MetaFilter by Not A Thing.
- Scots: In The Bleak Midwinter (Iona Fyfe, pictured above)
- Scots Gaelic: Anns An Dubhlachd Gheamhraidh (Fiona Mackenzie)
- Danish: Midt I Hårdest Vinter (Renate & Morten Gjerløw Larsen)
- Swedish: Mitt i vintern var det (Rebecca Lennartsson)
- German: Mitten im kalten Winter (Kammerchor Perlmutt)
- Finnish: Keskitalvi synkkä (Dominante Choir & Seppo Murto)