First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I'm getting.
Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don't be shy about that.
Study highlights potential role of statin drug in critical COVID-19 cases
Simvastatin (Zocor), the widely available statin drug used to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, has a 96% probability of improving outcomes for critically ill COVID-19 patients and a 92% chance of improving survival at 3 months, according to new results from the ongoing Randomized Embedded Multifactorial Adaptive Platform for Community Acquired Pneumonia (REMAP-CAP) trial.
The global trial began in March 2020 and is ongoing. The goal of the multicenter, international trial is to see how and if different known treatments, including essential medicines, could aid COVID-19 patients.
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Covid shots may slightly increase risk of stroke in older adults, particularly when administered with certain flu vaccines
Vaccines for Covid-19 and influenza may slightly increase the risk of strokes caused by blood clots in the brains of seniors, particularly when the two vaccines are given at the same time and when they are given to adults who are age 85 and older, according to a new study.
The safety signal was detected by experts at the US Food and Drug Administration who analyzed data from Medicare claims.
It is the second study to find an elevated risk of stroke for seniors after Covid-19 and flu vaccinations given together. The US CDC and FDA issued a public communication in January explaining that one of their near real-time vaccine safety monitoring studies—called the Vaccine Safety Datalink–had picked up a small and uncertain risk of stroke for older adults who received a dose of Pfizer’s bivalent Covid-19 vaccine and a high-dose or adjuvanted flu shot on the same day. That study triggered the FDA’s broader look at strokes after vaccination noted in the medical records of seniors on Medicare.
That said, the risk identified in the FDA’s study appears to be very small—roughly 3 strokes or transient ischemic attacks for every 100,000 doses given–and the study found it may be primarily driven by the high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccines, which are specially designed to rev up the immune system so it mounts a stronger response to the shot.
In additional analysis of the Medicare claims data, the FDA researchers found a very slightly increased risk of stroke in adults ages 65 and older who’d only gotten a high dose flu shot. In absolute terms, the extra risk from high-dose flu shots amounted to 1-2 strokes for every 100,000 doses.
“The absolute risk is miniscule,” said Dr. Steve Nissen, a cardiologist and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “I mean it is trivial in comparison to the risk for people over 85 of dying from Covid.”
At least five other recent studies—many launched to try to tease out this link, have not found any additional risk of stroke after vaccination for Covid-19, influenza or both.
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Israel-Hamas war sends shock waves through scientific community
Conflict has left many labs empty or in ruins
(excerpt) At Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, most of its 242 international postdoctoral students have departed, often at the insistence of their home countries, said President Daniel Chamovitz. The university is located just 41 kilometers from the Gaza border and within reach of rockets fired by Hamas and its allies. At least 50 Ben-Gurion students, staff, and faculty were killed in the Hamas attack, university officials say, including theoretical physicist Sergey Gredeskul and mathematician Viktoria Gredeskul, who were married. Others are being held hostage by Hamas.
much of Gaza’s limited scientific infrastructure is in ruins, Awartani says. Two major institutions–the Islamic University of Gaza and Al-Azhar University–have suffered extensive damage from Israeli air strikes. “It is clear that many students and faculty are dead or wounded,” Awartani says.
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Research shows small reduction in long COVID with antiviral use
in JAMA Internal Medicine researchers from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health describe a small reduction in post-COVID condition (PCC or long COVID) among US adults ages 65 and older who were treated with either the antiviral drug nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid) or molnupiravir (Lagevrio)...
Antivirals less protective in women
In a cohort of 313,262 participants, 51,658 took nirmatrelvir during acute infection, and 8,089 took molnupiravir. PCC incidence was 11.8% among patients receiving nirmatrelvir, 13.7% for molnupiravir, and 14.5% for neither. The absolute risk reduction was 2.7% for nirmatrelvir and 0.8% for molnupiravir.
The effect was smaller among females, Asian, Black, and Hispanic race, and patients with lower incomes. The hazard ratio for females compared to males was 0.89 compared to 0.84 for nirmatrelvir, and 0.95 compared to 0.88 for molnupiravir.
[note: Metformin seems more effective in reducing risk of LongCovid:
Outpatient treatment with metformin reduced long COVID incidence by about 41%, with an absolute reduction of 4·1%, compared with placebo.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(23)00299-2/fulltext - Carolyn Bramante et. al.]
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Researchers identify amino acid that may play a key role for predicting and treating long COVID
University of Alberta researchers have identified an amino acid--taurine--that may play a key role in predicting poor clinical outcomes and the treatment of long COVID.
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Biobot Wastewater Testing vs Verily
A quarter of the nation’s wastewater testing sites — one of the most dependable ways of tracking Covid surges — are shut down indefinitely over a contract dispute.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to replace the firm it has worked with since 2020 to test wastewater for Covid in order to better direct public health resources. But that firm, Massachusetts-based Biobot, has filed a protest, stymieing the transition.
Half of US states had antiviral shortages in 2022-23 flu season
Over half of US state and territorial public health preparedness directors (PHPDs) surveyed said they experienced shortages of flu antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) during the 2022-23 respiratory virus season, forcing many to turn to national or state stockpiles, according to a research letter published late last week in JAMA.
Devices and Masks:
LISTEN as highly influential Prof John Conly (upper left) of UCalgary, AHS CV19 sci advisory grp, Public Health Agency Canada, Chair WHO Infection Prevention & Control R&D Expert Grp. opposes N95 wearing citing acne harm vs @DFisman & @kprather88 precautionary principle. /1 pic.twitter.com/Do1KxLQfLj— David Elfstrom (@DavidElfstrom) April 10, 2021
Risk of viral airborne transmission peaks within five seconds of face-to-face encounters, study finds
The main transmission routes identified initially for the novel coronavirus infection were droplet and contact transmission. Airborne transmission by aerosol particles was eventually identified as one of the most likely transmission routes. Especially with the relaxation of behavioral restrictions, infections continued to prevail, making prevention and risk reduction during public transportation a major challenge.
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Childcare centers and Covid
17% of household infections resulted from children who got COVID-19 at their child care centers. - Authors call this low transmission
SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates within child care centers was low, about 2% to 3%, indicating that neither children nor caregivers were often spreading COVID-19 to others in the centers
once someone in a household had COVID-19, transmission to other household members was high, at 50% for children and 67% for adults.
[Authors minimize risk of child care centers]
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📈This graph is stunning 😬— tern (@1goodtern) October 28, 2023
📈That's the rise in workforce disability in America over the last 15 years.
🚀Look what happened when everyone was infected with Covid.
🚀A 40% rise, two and a half million more people disabled in three years.
H/T @jheighton3 pic.twitter.com/SeTMr1hsI7
Hearing loss related to Covid:
In most cases, sudden sensorineural hearing loss is not the first sign of COVID-19 infection.
Hearing tests are vital for early diagnosis.
Treatment is typically glucocorticoids (steroids), and it has the greatest potential success if the treatment is given within 2 weeks of the onset of hearing loss.
Hyperbaric oxygen or oral mesoglycan should be considered for treatment in some cases.
Bilateral sudden sensorineural hearing loss is relatively rare. This is usually a one-sided disease process.
Tips, general reading for public:
the Senate just passed a reckless amendment to ban mask mandates on public transportation for the next fiscal year. Shamefully, 10 Democrats voted in favor of a ban:
Medical exceptions to abortion bans often exclude mental health conditions
More than a dozen states now have near-total abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, with limited medical exceptions meant to protect the patient's health or life.
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Lubbock County becomes latest to approve “abortion travel ban” while Amarillo City Council balks
which would punish people through civil lawsuits for aiding pregnant women seeking abortions outside of Texas.
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Astounding: @TheLancet is set to publish a letter from 2000 medical professionals —in which these doctors DEBATED whether to demand a release of hostages, and it “was removed” based on “feedback.”— Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt (@avitalrachel) October 25, 2023
I guess primum non nocere doesn’t apply to Jews.https://t.co/Um81mJ0kXL pic.twitter.com/Fi91jdydVp
Feel good du jour:
14-year old invents soap to treat skin cancer, earns award
Fourteen-year-old Heman Bekele, a ninth grader from Annandale, Virginia, has been crowned "America's Top Young Scientist" after inventing a medicated soap that has the potential to treat skin cancer.
According to coverage in USA Today, Herman said he intends to establish a nonprofit organization to distribute his skin cancer-treating soap to communities in need.
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First malaria vaccine slashes early childhood mortality
Huge analysis of RTS,S in Africa shows it decreased toddler deaths by 13% over 4 years. It also showed a 22% reduction in severe malaria in kids young enough to receive a three-shot series.
He’s playing crocodile pic.twitter.com/c4t6psQfKM— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) October 28, 2023
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So cute 🥺pic.twitter.com/v0swbZbri2— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) October 28, 2023
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Wait for it.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/g4sBsAzr8Y— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) October 24, 2023
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Penguins going on a trip.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/P0UBSje7GN— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) October 23, 2023
Bits of beauty: