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Swine Flu Vaccine Tied To European Narcolepsy Cases

The London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) is concerned that the Pademrix swine flu vaccine may increase the risk of narcolepsy among children and teens.

Swine Flu Vaccine Tied To European Narcolepsy Cases

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is raising serious concerns about Pandemrix, a swine flu vaccine that has been linked to several cases of narcolepsy in European countries. The cases, which involve young people under the age of 20, have been reported in France, Sweden and Norway.

Drug monitoring companies have noted several such cases involving children and teenagers. These findings have been backed up by epidemiological studies carried out in Finland and Sweden, where researchers have established a link between narcolepsy and Pandemrix, which is manufactured by the GlaxoSmithKline company.

The EMA has not noted the same correlation in adults. According to the agency, "the vaccine probably interacted with genetic or environmental factors that could increase the risk of being affected by narcolepsy. Other factors may also have been responsible."

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) launched a study in nine European countries via Vaesco, a research network. So far, the study confirms the link between the vaccine and the development of narcolepsy. GlaxoSmithKline is also conducting a retrospective study in Canada, where a similar vaccine, Arepanrix, was widely used.

For now the EMA does not plan to withdraw the Pandemrix vaccine from the market.

Read full story in French by Paul Benkimoun

Photo - Elizabeth Albert

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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