Army now testing recruits for sickle cell trait

The Army has started testing recruits for sickle cell trait, or SCT, to identify at-risk Soldiers, as the service plans to screen all Soldiers within a year, according to a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command medical officer.

Earlier this month, the screening push kicked off to both give Army leaders an idea of how SCT has impacted the ranks, and to help Soldiers combat the lifelong ailment, said Maj. Sean Donohue, command surgeon at TRADOC’s Center for Initial Military Training.

“On the enlisted side, recruits [at basic combat training] are now tested as part of their initial screening exam,” Donohue said. The SCT tests are grouped in “with a variety of other blood samples as part of initial processing.”

Since Nov. 2, roughly 2% of recruits have been diagnosed with the blood disorder, he said, a number on par with the national average.

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Operation Warp Speed Makes Swift Progress

Unprecedented progress has been made recently on Operation Warp Speed — the effort by the Defense Department, Health and Human Services, other federal agencies and private industry to develop a coronavirus vaccine, an HHS official said today.

In a telephone briefing with reporters, HHS policy deputy chief of staff Paul Mango said, “We’re very, very pleased with where we are.” He was joined on the media conference call by Dr. Janet Woodcock, M.D., the director of the centers for drug evaluation research at the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mango reminded reporters that four of the six vaccine candidates are in phase III clinical trials, and added that the Food and Drug Administration continues to review vaccine safety information on the candidates.

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How a military medical team used a dive chamber to save hurricane victims

When Hurricane Laura raked Port Arthur, Texas in late August, a group of seven shrimp boat laborers found shelter in a local pool hall.

And when the Category 4 hurricane knocked out electricity, a gas generator was turned on to power the building. But the ventilation inside was far from adequate. The seven people spent all night breathing the odorless gas from the generator, causing severe carbon monoxide poisoning.

Three people were pronounced dead at the scene when police arrived on the morning of Aug. 28, and one was taken to a hospital in Houston. Three others were eventually sent into the care of a joint medical team from the Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center and the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Department at the Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston, near San Antonio.

The hyperbaric chamber operated at that installation is one of the very few on the Gulf Coast that’s open for emergencies, and its medical teams maintain a 24/7-ready status for that purpose.

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DOD Sites Selected for Phase III COVID-19 Vaccine Trials: Five Medical Treatment Facilities in National Capital Region, San Antonio, and San Diego to Participate

As part of the Operation Warp Speed (OWS) goal to deliver safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics by January 2021, five DoD locations have been identified to participate in the Phase III trial evaluating the vaccine candidate AZD1222 under development by AstraZeneca.

“The Department of Defense continues to play a key role in the development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine,” said Honorable Tom McCaffery, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. “Now that vaccines have passed the first phases of testing for safety, dosing and response, we are ready to move into the next phase where volunteers are needed to join large clinical studies. We are excited to have several sites identified to support the next steps in the vaccine development process.”   

The DoD sites selected are:

  • Naval Medical Center San Diego (Site Code: NMSD)
  • Joint Base San Antonio Brooke Army Medical Center (Site Code: BAMC)
  • Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center (San Antonio) (Site Code: WHASC)
  • Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Bethesda, MD) (Site Code: WRMC) and
  • Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (Fort Belvoir, VA) (Site Code FBCH)

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