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Safety News Roundup: Week of May 31 – June 4, 2021

June 4, 2021
This week, we’re counting our blessings for our health, safety and good weather.

This week, we’re counting our blessings for our health, safety and good weather.

We feel fortunate to have easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine, which we have dutifully gotten to protect ourselves and others.

We’ve been treated to some rainy, overcast and chilly weather lately. It’s been wonderful. That has us humming with anticipation for summer days and fresh produce, and this is the weather that helps us appreciate those future joys.

We’ve been consuming stories and movies about characters with far different experiences than our own. It’s humbling to see other realities and makes us thankful for some of the mundanity, banality and absurdity in our own lives. Remember, we don’t know what other people are going through, so it’s best to treat everyone with kindness.

That’s enough didacticism, so we’re stepping down from our soapbox so you can enjoy this news—and the weekend.

More Good News about the COVID-19 Vaccines

We first shared the story of Dr. Katalin Kairko in a previous Safety News Roundup. For the past 15 years, she’s worked with Dr. Drew Weissman at Penn Medicine to pioneer mRNA technology to vaccines. Their research laid the groundwork for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, which have performed even better than most of us dared to hope.  

Now, several pharmaceutical companies are studying how to use mRNA vaccines to treat a host of viruses and diseases: HIV, genital herpes, Ebola, Zika, rabies, cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), metapneumovirus, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, malaria, tuberculosis, Nipah virus and tickborne diseases such as Lyme disease.

They’re also looking at how mRNA technology can better target autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps even more amazingly, mRNA technology could be used as a treatment for cancers, including melanoma and brain tumors. BioNTech already has eight potential cancer treatments in human trials.

Weissman’s lab is now working on a universal coronavirus vaccine that would protect against rapidly mutating strains of influenzas and potentially offer people years of protection with a single shot. In other words, we wouldn’t need to get a flu shot every year.

The common thread among all these viruses and disease is their illusiveness or poor response to previous vaccine development attempts or existing treatment methods. Plus, we all know at least one person who has one of these conditions, meaning this research has the promise to improve the health and quality of life for billions of people.

The possibilities for mRNA technology, it seems, are limitless. We’re so grateful that Kairko persisted despite years of struggling for funding. Her story, which still makes our eyes moisten, serves as a reminder to keep pursuing your ideas—and that a single person can make a world of difference.

Read the full story here.

The Future of Work May Involve Slobber

For those who are currently WFH but previously worked in an office setting, the prospect of having to put on real pants (with zippers, not elastic waistbands) doesn’t make the prospect of trading the couch for a desk any easier. But maybe man’s best friend can help.

Some offices were pet friendly pre-pandemic, but a new survey found that many more will be in the future. Half of executives surveyed reported they are planning to allow employees to bring their pets to work when they return to the office, and 59% will allow more flexible schedules so employees can tend to their pets.

Among executives who are considering implementing a pet friendly policy, 59% said they’re doing so because of employee requests and 42% say they want to entice their employees back into the office. Such a policy might also help with employee retention, as workers are loyal to their canine companions. A majority of younger workers plan to ask their employers to implement pet-friendly policies once offices open, and nearly 50% of Gen Z and 33% of millennials surveyed reported they would consider looking for another job if their workplace was not pet friendly.

This survey matches other research that, in so many words, employers need to lure employees back to the office (by threat or perks) because employees like working from home in their sweatpants—and playing fetch with Fido between video conference calls.

The good news is that dogs do make employees happier. According to survey findings among executives at pet friendly workplaces, 67% saw increased socializing between employees when pets were around, 42% saw increased productivity among staff, 31% saw increased retention and 24% said employees seemed happier at work.

In short, dogs are the best—and the data proves it.

Read the full survey here.

Dreaming of a Better Reality

This piece reeled us in with a simple premise that has been the subject of movies, books and our fantasies: What would you do if you won the lottery?

Author Kevin Seldon describes how the question arose one ordinary night that continues to affect his outlook. For the sake of discussion, they agreed on three conditions:

  1. $100 million net as the winning amount
  2. to share their top five hypothetical purchases by going around in a circle one at a time for five rounds
  3. to dream big…but be realistic.

That last point, Seldon stresses, is “to be honest with regards to the true reality of your life.” He says the more realistic their dream purchases got, the more it opened their minds to future possibilities. For example, if your first priority is to pay off debt, maybe it’s time to review finances and spending habits.

“Somehow, this simple question had spawned a game that revealed some exciting options for the day the world once again fully opens its doors–and even some activities to help pass the time until it does,” he writes.

Count us in! We’re already daydreaming about our winnings as most of the EHS Today team is entered in a different kind of lottery: the Ohio Vax-a-Million, where the state is awarding five Ohioans who have received their COVID-19 vaccines $1 million. Even if we don’t become millionaires, we’re still winners because there's been an uptick in vaccinations. A post-pandemic future sounds like quite the prize to us.

Read the full essay here.

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