Contraceptive Failures, Future Of Combating Covid, Rapid Evolution In The Anthropocene. Nov 4, 2022, Part 1

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Why Contraceptive Failure Rates Matter In A Post-Roe America

Birth control options have improved over the decades. Oral contraceptives are now safer, with fewer side effects. Intrauterine devices can prevent pregnancy 99.6% of the time. But no prescription drug or medical device works flawlessly, and people’s use of contraception is inexact. “No one walks into my office and says, ‘I plan on missing a pill,’” said obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Mitchell Creinin. “There is no such thing as perfect use, we are all real-life users,” said Creinin, a professor at the University of California-Davis who wrote a widely used textbook that details contraceptive failure rates.

Even when the odds of contraception failure are small, the number of incidents can add up quickly. More than 47 million women of reproductive age in the United States use contraception and, depending on the birth control method, hundreds of thousands of unplanned pregnancies can occur each year. With most abortions outlawed in at least 13 states and legal battles underway in others, contraceptive failures now carry bigger stakes for tens of millions of Americans.

Read the rest at sciencefriday.com.

The Quest For New COVID-19 Solutions

As we head towards our third pandemic winter, the nation still is facing about 2,500 weekly deaths from COVID, and over 3,000 people a day entering the hospital due to the virus. Dr. William Haseltine is chair and president of ACCESS Health International, a former professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, and the founder of several biotechnology companies, including Human Genome Sciences. “This thing knows everything about our immune systems,” Haseltine says. “We have to find new drugs that it has never seen before, and new combinations of those. That’s what’s worked for HIV. That’s what we have to do now—and we’re doing a very poor job of that.”

Haseltine joins Ira to help explore the viral landscape, and where he sees viral research headed—from new vaccines to antiviral drugs and antibody cocktails.

Can Animals Evolve To Survive The Anthropocene?

When you think of evolution, you might imagine a slow process that takes millions of years. Take Tiktaalik, for example: The ancient fish, an important human ancestor, took 375 million years from climbing out of water to get to the humans you see now.Now that we’re here, we’re changing the world at an unprecedented rate. Threats like climate change, deforestation, and pollution are wiping out entire animal species in just one generation. Can evolution punch back? Or are some species fighting a losing battle?

Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton joins Ira to discuss rapid evolution in the anthropocene, and whether that’s enough to keep these species afloat.

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com.

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