Politics, Science, and Other Assorted Musings

I love helping people understand issues and look at them from a different perspective. In this blog, I hope I can offer you some new insights—bridging the gap between basic science and your medicine chest—as I am still a practicing physician, as well as having had broad clinical research experience. I'm interested in developing new medicines and treatments, as well as caring for patients—and explaining these topics for you.

As medicine has evolved, so have my interests. I have also become increasingly interested in health disparities, social justice issues, and ethics. I invite you to join me as we explore a variety of territories. I hope that reading these posts will encourage you to learn, engage, and above all, work for the forces of good.

If there are topics you'd like to see me cover, please let me know—I welcome your input as to what you would like us to discuss in this column.

Coronavirus - COVID19

Please note that I will be posting Coronavirus Tidbits of news here. You can sign up for updates by clicking the box at the right and subscribe to Covid, Politics, and Science. All Covid posts will go here, and I will upload back issues as I have time. Please share w friends. Thanks!

I’m going to have a reference file here for articles I have found particularly worthwhile, and will update this here as we learn new information. Click on the COVID-19 Resources, below, to expand that.

If you see something terrific, please share. We’re all in this together.

Coronavirus Tidbits #113 1/17/21

By Judy Stone | January 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. NEW Post on Forbes:  News  Reinfections immune responses from past infection reduce the risk of catching the virus again by 83% for at least five months. The data suggest that repeat infections are rare — they occurred in fewer than 1% of about 6,600 participants who had already been ill with COVID-19. But the researchers also found that people who become re-infected can carry high levels of the virus in their nose and throat, even when they do not show symptoms. Such viral loads have been associated with a high risk of transmitting the virus to others, said Hopkins. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00071-6 ~ ~ ~ Health care worker shortage About 3% to 4% of health care personnel who recover from coronavirus infection are expected to become “COVID long-haulers” as they cope with debilitating symptoms 12…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #112 1/14/20

By Judy Stone | January 13, 2021 | 1 Comment

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. News  Mutations and vaccine efficacy “The mutation, identified in a variant first seen in South Africa and separately seen in another variant in Brazil, changes a part of the virus that your immune system’s antibodies get trained to recognize after you’ve been infected or vaccinated. Lab studies show that the change could make people’s antibodies less effective at neutralizing the virus. The mutation seems to help the virus disguise part of its signature appearance, so the pathogen might have an easier time slipping past immune protection. It’s not that the mutation (E484K change) will render existing vaccines useless…raise the possibility that the vaccines would be less effective, not that they won’t work at all.” The UK variant, “B.1.1.7, is not thought to have mutations that will greatly affect vaccines, the evidence so far indicates.” B.1.1.7, which…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #111 1/10/21

By Judy Stone | January 10, 2021 | 5 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. ~ ~ ~ What a week… Besides the attempted coup in DC, my husband (DH) had a problem Thursday with sudden memory loss and had to be admitted to the local hospital. We’re still not entirely sure what caused this; some docs think a small stroke and others “transient global amnesia,” which is a very weird syndrome. I wondered whether fumes or CO poisoning from his chainsaw might be a contributor. It was tough, but he is thankfully home now and fine. He is being treated as though he had a stroke, which makes sense in the short term. This has been very stressful, especially w hospitalization in time of Covid, and not being allowed in, as well as his being in a hospital I dislike. I will be updating my 2015 post…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #110 1/6/21

By Judy Stone | January 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. I had this written before yesterday’s predictable–and predicted–seditious scene at the Capitol. I did not redo it and will not rehash it, but will add two telling tweets: (no details of the methodology of this poll of 1,397 registered voters) It’s a shame this joyous occasion was overshadowed by the violence, but let’s still celebrate this historic event: I didn’t know the historical context of Ossoff’s win. This is a good lesson: https://forward.com/news/national/459739/what-a-jon-ossoff-victory-in-georgia-would-mean-for-southern-jews/ News  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Diagnostics: still an incredible, negligent lack of testing. Drugs and Vaccines: Debate continues on approach to vaccinations. Give 2 doses, as studied, or focus on getting 1 dose into more people as quickly as possible, delaying the 2nd Here’s a rational proposal to compare and study this relatively quickly: https://www.statnews.com/2021/01/04/stop-debating-first-shot-vs-set-aside-hospitals-should-compare-them/ ~ ~ ~…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #109 1/3/21

By Judy Stone | January 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. News  Much of the bad news this week is about the incompetent vaccine rollout. See “Drugs” section for more ~ ~ ~ But the “Jim Crow Caucus,” the seditious GOP, and Pence take the prize for appalling news: ~ ~ ~ Questions and answers about the Mutant Coronavirus: B.1.1.7 or VUI-202012/01 Does it spread more easily? Yes, it appears this strain is much more transmissible–and may be infecting kids more. Do people get sicker? Not that we’ve seen so far. A big problem is that our health systems are already overwhelmed, with many hospitals with full ICUs. They can’t handle a new wave of patients from this more transmissible strain. see https://www.statnews.com/2020/12/21/looming-questions-new-variant-coronavirus/ for more Another problem is that the US lags well behind other countries in sequencing virus samples to detect these mutations–so…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #108 12/31/20

By Judy Stone | December 31, 2020 | 2 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. News  Mutant Covid found in US now, Japan, and elsewhere. It’s more infectious–spreads more rapidly, but is NOT more fatal thus far. “A little less than a year ago, the early response to the coronavirus crisis was stifled by an inability to scale up testing to detect the virus and curb its spread. Now, once again…” we are failing by our lack of surveillance and severe lack of sequencing to detect mutations. – Helen Branswell, Stat https://www.statnews.com/2020/12/31/with-limited-surveillance-of-covid-19-variant-its-deja-vu-all-over-again/ In the meanwhile, even before the impact of the new mutation, which is more infectious, so will => much higher case rates: California hospitals are overwhelmed, understaffed, and running out of Oxygen! https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-29/oxygen-supply-shortages-bedevil-hospitals-already-overwhelmed-by-covid-19-patients ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~  ~ ~ Diagnostics: still an incredible, negligent lack of testing. Drugs: Vaccine rollout is slow, a mess,…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #107 12/27/20

By Judy Stone | December 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. News  Horrifyingly, we have reached the point where 1/1000 in the US has died of Covid. Why? Mostly failed leadership… ~ ~ ~ For a fine example of Science Communication, see Dr. Ian Mackay’s post on the evolution of the Swiss Cheese model of infection: I particularly like the addition of personal and shared responsibilities and the misinformation mouse that has been eroding the other layers. https://virologydownunder.com/the-swiss-cheese-infographic-that-went-viral/ Diagnostics: still an incredible, negligent lack of testing. Drugs: Pfizer and BioNTech today announced an agreement with federal officials to  supply 100 million more vaccine doses. expect to deliver the full order to Operation Warp Speed (OWS) by Jul 31,  2021.  Based on the original agreement announced in July, the government will pay $1.95 billion for the extra 100 million doses.  ~ ~ ~ UNC Study:…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #106 12/24/20

By Judy Stone | December 24, 2020 | 3 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. News  Mutant Covid: First, as Ian Mackay said: “This isn’t a magic virus. It’s a variant of a respiratory virus. So the measures that protected us from the earlier variants, will protect us from this one. If we weren’t taking sufficient measures before, this variant will be even more likely infect you.” Experts add that there is no immediate concern about the vaccines becoming ineffective from the mutations…but they may need to be modified, just as the influenza vaccine is modified every year. Q&A: from Daily Mail Q&A: Does the mutant strain of coronavirus make you more ill – and will the vaccine still work? WHAT IS THE NEW STRAIN – AND WHAT IS IT CALLED?A strain is a version of a virus that carries particular genetic mutations…which makes it more contagious than…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #105 12/20/20

By Judy Stone | December 20, 2020 | 2 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. News  Racial disparities in O2 monitoring More thorough explanation of pervasiveness of racial bias–even in oximeters–at: bostonreview.net/science-nature-race/amy-moran-thomas-how-popular-medical-device-encodes-racial-bias Here is the medical journal article: ~ ~ ~ Mutations A new mutation appeared in southern England. It does not appear more deadly or resistant to vaccines, but has been spreading more rapidly. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/coronavirus-mutation-britain-lockdown/2020/12/19/fd010eea-4206-11eb-b58b-1623f6267960_story.html? While the talk of mutations is somewhat disturbing, thoughts are currently that a) the vaccines are very effective but might have to have minor changes => b) so may be like the flu vaccine, which needs a slight change in formulation each year ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Fiasco with Pfizer vaccine distribution states told they would receive between 25%-40% fewer vaccine doses than originally projected. . . and Trump blamed Pfizer for not shipping the vaccine…and Pfizer said they were…

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Coronavirus Tidbits #104 12/16/20

By Judy Stone | December 16, 2020 | 2 Comments

Quick links News     Diagnostics     Drugs    Devices    Epidemiology/Infection control     Tips     Politics    Feel good du jour     Comic relief     Perspective/Poem     Bits of beauty Announcements: 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. News  Electoral College votes without incident – Joe Biden acknowledged to be President although a few naysayers remain, and Congress has to confirm. ~ ~ ~ Almost 2 billion people depend on health care facilities without basic water services Worldwide, 1 in 4 health care facilities has no water services, 1 in 3 does not have access to hand hygiene where care is provided, 1 in 10 has no sanitation services*, and 1 in 3 does not segregate waste safely. https://worldhealthorganization.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/d/45B7725D20DAD4032540EF23F30FEDED/6839E639424B8857E89F0E32AAFB68BF ~ ~ ~ FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee meets Thursday, Dec 17 to review Moderna’s EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) application Materials for this meeting will be available at the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meetings main page. and it will be streamed. https://www.fda.gov/advisory-committees/advisory-committee-calendar/vaccines-and-related-biological-products-advisory-committee-december-17-2020-meeting-announcement Diagnostics: still an incredible, negligent lack of rapid, accurate…

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