June 14: UF in the News, 6/11/21-6/14/21

Powerful new COVID-19 vaccine shows 90% efficacy, could boost world's supply — Science, 6/14/21

Novavax announced strong results today from its 30,000-person trial of its coronavirus vaccine in the United States and Mexico. The vaccine uses a protein of SARS-CoV-2, a different technology than the COVID-19 vaccines authorized so far, and delivered 90.4% overall efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 infections, and 100% protection against moderate and severe disease.

However, the vaccine trial result “doesn’t really address the lingering questions about how well the vaccine would work against ‘escape’ variants,” said UF biostatistician Natalie Dean. 

Rubio-Demings 2022 showdown could become most expensive Senate race ever — Fox News, 6/13/21

The Florida 2022 Senate race — one that could determine which party controls the chamber — could shatter the record breaking $280 million shelled out in last year's Senate race in North Carolina.

"Both parties are going to invest heavily in Florida," UF political science professor Michael McDonald told Fox. "It could be one of the most expensive U.S. Senate races in history given the trajectory that we’ve seen in increasing amount of money flowing into elections."

The real reason some people say firefly and others say lightning bug — Prevention, 6/13/21

Despite their unique names, lightning bugs and fireflies are actually the exact same thing: a family of flying beetles that communicate through bioluminescent flashes. 

“What’s actually going on is quite amazing,” said Akito Kawahara, associate professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF. Their bioluminescence comes from a chemical reaction inside their bodies, and the insects flash for two main reasons: mating and feeding. 

 

Still dangerous: Why some hurricanes stay strong after landfall — The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 6/12/21 

Hurricanes immediately weaken once they leave warm ocean waters and hit land. But in their final spasms, some hurricanes cause more destruction than others, either by lasting longer or moving faster. A team of UF researchers has been gathering data from hurricanes for the last several years to improve construction standards. The work began after a series of back-to-back hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew.

“It was a wake-up call for the structural engineering community and forced us to reevaluate how we design buildings,” said Forrest Masters, associate dean for research and facilities at UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.  

Benefits of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's last at least 15 years, study shows — VeryWell Mind, 6/11/21

New research published in the journal Neurology confirms certain people with Parkinson’s disease will likely experience long-term benefits from deep brain stimulation. 

"The study also revealed that deep brain stimulation is a symptomatic treatment, meaning that many features of the Parkinson’s disease will continue to progress, including walking, talking, and thinking issues,” said Michael Okun, chair of neurology and executive director at the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health.

As the pandemic wanes, Florida teenagers could become a reservoir for the COVID virus — The Miami Herald, 6/10/21 

As more adults have gotten vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the disease burden has shifted toward adolescents. Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi, an infectious disease expert at UF, said that the success of the adult vaccination campaign has led much of the country to be “sort of caught in a lull where we feel that kids don’t get sick with COVID.”

“When something affects kids worse, panic ensues,” Cherabuddi said. “But I think we’ve gone the other way in thinking it’s completely safe, which is not true.”

This article was also featured in the Tampa Bay Times.