Study sees possible COVID link with mysterious child hepatitis cases. Fed announces biggest rate hike since 1994; another likely in July. UK’s controversial plan to deport refugees to Rwanda on hold.
Study finds possible COVID link with mysterious child hepatitis cases
A study investigating the cause of hundreds of cases of severe hepatitis in young children across the world suggests a possible link to prior COVID infection. A few weeks ago, public health officials at the WHO, in Europe, the US, and Britain had flagged hundreds of cases of childhood hepatitis that could not be linked with the viruses that cause hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. About 700 cases in children, ranging from infants to 17-year-olds, have been identified in 34 countries. Of those, 10 have died and 38 required liver transplants.
Israeli researchers conducted a very small study of 5 cases in children from 3 months to 13 years old. All of them had previously recovered from COVID and later developed severe hepatitis, and some required transplant. Researchers stress that the Israeli study is far too small to form a firm conclusion as to the cause of the mysterious child hepatitis cases. However, the findings might point the way for larger studies in future.
Of the 700 worldwide cases, only 12% had an active COVID infection at the time of their diagnosis. But, it’s possible that some of the child hepatitis cases could be linked to well-documented cases of rare multi-organ syndrome (MIS-C) in which children recover from COVID and then suffering severe inflammatory symptoms weeks or months later. Three quarters of the children also tested positive for adenovirus 41, but researchers have said this may be coincidental rather than causative. Gastroenterologist Dr. Madhu Vennikandam says the children may be experiencing “an autoimmune reaction from a viral infection causing hepatitis, where the child’s immune system attacks their own liver cells in an attempt to combat the virus”.
Fed announces biggest rate hike since 1994; another likely in July
The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark short-term interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, the largest one-time hike since 1994. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell also indicated that a similar hike was on the table for next month. Just last month, the Fed raised the rate by half a percentage point, and projected a similar rise this month. The Fed’s decision to increase the amount of the hike beyond its projection has been interpreted as a reaction to a higher-than-expected rate of inflation last month.
Earlier this week when the Fed telegraphed its decision to raise rates by three-quarters of a point rather than half a point, it sparked a sell-off on the stock market. Many American CEOs have publicly aired fears that a recession may be on the horizon. Furthermore, economists have echoed this sentiment, with some even warning of the possibility of stagflation, meaning slow growth with high inflation. With more aggressive rate hikes, the Fed is increasing the risk of a recession. Sales of homes and vehicles, for example, have already dropped off sharply in response to the previous, more modest rate hikes. But prices for commodities like gasoline, food, and clothing have continued to rise, with demand seemingly unaffected by higher interest rates.
UK’s controversial plan to deport refugees to Rwanda on hold
The European Court of Human Rights has temporarily blocked Britain’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. Minutes before the first flight containing just a handful of refugees, mostly from Middle Eastern nations, was due to take off, the ECHR ruled that the plan carried “a real risk of irreversible harm”.
Britain’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, hatched the plan as a deterrent to asylum seekers who routinely attempt to cross the busy shipping lanes of the English Channel in unseaworthy vessels. The plan required a £120 million ($150 million) upfront payment to Rwanda, a dictatorship in central Africa. Britain would send essentially warehouse its refugees in Rwanda where they would await their asylum hearings. It is in some ways similar to the Remain in Mexico policy adopted by the US. However, the asylum process foreseen in the plan would only grant asylum in Rwanda, not the UK. Immigration activists have likened the plan to human trafficking on a mass scale.
Rwanda itself has a very poor human rights record. Just recently, Rwandan police gunned down refugees who were protesting conditions in the camps. The conditions of the Rwandan camps where refugees would await the asylum process are similarly dangerous and the living conditions are poor.
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