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It may not be long before the world simply doesn’t have many effective antibiotics, according to a scary piece by Maryn McKenna in Wired.

The bottom line: “The drugs we have for heart disease, for depression, for cancer, the vaccine for measles—they’ll still work. But antibiotics will be crushed,” Kevin Outterson, who runs an initiative that supports antibiotic research, told Wired.

Between the lines:

  • Bacterial resistance eventually renders many antibiotics useless.
  • The big pharmaceutical companies have largely gotten out of the antibiotics business.
  • Research to develop new antibiotics is expensive and time-consuming. So small biotech companies have to hang on for decades without a product. But experts think many of those companies will instead have to go out of business — and that will leave us without much of a pipeline to replace existing drugs as they become obsolete.

McKenna suggests treating antibiotics not like other pharmaceuticals, which are developed and sold on the free market, but like infrastructure or military technology.

  • The government would define a need, solicit bids, and defray the research costs of the company that delivers, in exchange for tight control over how its products are used in the future.

Go deeper

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
1 hour ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

Obama: Broad slogans like "defund the police" lose people

Snapchat.

Former President Barack Obama told Peter Hamby on the Snapchat original political show "Good Luck America" that "snappy" slogans such as "defund the police" can alienate people, making the statements less effective than intended.

What he's saying: "You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," Obama told Hamby in an interview that will air Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. EST on Snapchat.