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Archive for the ‘Preventative Medicine’ Category

Use of Anticoagulants Within 24 Hours of Hospitalization Can Reduce Death in COVID-19 Patients – Yale News

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Blood clots, through venous thromboembolism and arterial thromboses, have been shown to be one of the causes of death in individuals with COVID-19. Medications that prevent blood clots, or anticoagulants, may be effective in treating patients with the disease. New research published in The BMJ shows that patients put on preventative doses of anticoagulants within the first 24 hours of being hospitalized with COVID-19 are about 30 percent less likely to die compared to those not put on anticoagulant medication.

Led by researchers at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Yale School of Medicine (YSM), Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the observational cohort study found that early initiation of prophylactic anticoagulation was safe and effective in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

"As we await full reporting of ongoing clinical trials, these findings provide strong real-world evidence to support guidelines recommending the use of prophylactic anticoagulation as initial therapy upon hospital admission for COVID-19 patients who do not have a contraindication to this therapy," said LSHTMs Christopher Rentsch, PhD, study co-lead author.

This study is an outstanding example of the use of electronic health record data from the national Veterans Affairs Healthcare System to rapidly address urgent problems in health care, said YSMs Amy C. Justice, MD, PhD, C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (General Medicine) and professor of Public Health (Health Policy) served as co-principal investigator of the study.

Using VA hospitalization data from March 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, the team looked at each individual with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis who was able to receive an anticoagulation medicine within 24 hours of admission to the hospital. Of the 4,297 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 during this time period, 84 percent received prophylactic anticoagulation within the first 24 hours of admission. Nearly all the patients received subcutaneous heparin or enoxaparin.

The researchers followed these patients to identify who died or experienced a serious bleeding event within 30 days after hospital admission and looked to see if there were differences in the rates of death or serious bleeding events between patients who were given prophylactic doses of anticoagulation and those who received no anticoagulation in the first 24 hours of hospital admission.

14.3 percent of patients who received prophylactic anticoagulation and 18.7 percent of patients who didnt receive the medication died within thirty days of hospital admission. This amounts to an absolute risk decrease of 4.4 percent or relative risk decrease of 27 percent. Receipt of prophylactic anticoagulation was not associated with increased risk of serious bleeding events. Additionally, researchers concluded that the benefit associated with prophylactic anticoagulation appeared to be greater among patients who were not admitted to the intensive care unit.

This was a large, well-designed study using electronic health record data and comprehensively accounted for reasons why people are given, or not given, anticoagulation. Results were also unchanged in several sensitivity analyses, suggesting that they withstand scrutiny. However, the researchers acknowledge that due to the observational nature of the study, a degree of uncertainty persists that can only be addressed through randomized trials.

Other YSM collaborators included Farah Kidwai-Khan, MS; Janet P. Tate, MPH, ScD; and Joseph T. King, Jr., MD, MSCE. The study was funded by U.S. VA Health Services Research and Development and the National Institutes of Health.

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Use of Anticoagulants Within 24 Hours of Hospitalization Can Reduce Death in COVID-19 Patients - Yale News


COVID-19 and victim-blaming has made it more difficult to care for people living with HIV/AIDS | Opinion –

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

By Perry N. Halkitis, Shobha Swaminathan and Travis Love

For the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV or AIDS, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to undermine their physical, mental, social, and economic wellbeing.

These impacts on health are exacerbated in Black and brown communities particularly Black sexual- and gender-minority men and women and Black cisgender women who are coping with the realities created by COVID-19, ongoing systemic discrimination, and a plethora of other social inequities that create additional vulnerabilities to their overall health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed our efforts to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, adding to the stigma, systems of oppression and structural racism that ultimately fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our state and country.

We know all too well that stigma is one of the reasons why patients continue to experience trauma related to their HIV diagnosis. In fact, for many people living with HIV/AIDS, reliving the trauma of isolation while simultaneously fearing for their lives should they become infected with COVID-19 has had a synergistic effect.

As a result of the ongoing stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, many people who become infected with this virus may not want to know their status, fearing rejection from family, friends, and sexual partners. In fact, for those already diagnosed, the stigma and resulting trauma can prevent many from continuing to seek adequate care, undermining their viral suppression and resulting in the progression of HIV. This can also lead to increased infectivity to sexual partners.

In the early days of HIV/AIDS, victim-blaming was common and those who developed a detectable number of antibodies in their blood were categorized as either innocent victims (i.e. children and hemophiliacs) or immoral beings who through their actions brought the disease upon themselves (i.e. gay men and injection drug users).

We believe that stigma is the driving force behind the health disparities that continue to put people at risk for HIV/AIDS. In order to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we must ensure more access to care and cultivate an ecosystem that combats systemic racism, homophobia, and transphobia.

We must call on the federal government to fund and tackle gaps in care and to prioritize care for individuals who are vulnerable to both COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS, who are too often Black and brown people.

It is very possible to envision a world free from HIV, given our current medical advances in the form of preventative medication, PrEP, and effective antiretroviral therapy (ART), which when dosed properly creates a zero probability that an HIV-positive person can infect someone else.

What we need now, is a vaccine. After 30 years of research, a new clinical study, MOSAICO, shows promise and offers hope. The Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Clinical Research Center (NJMS CRC) is currently seeking volunteers who are queer, gender non-conforming, and transgender to screen and enroll in the study. The research team also facilitates workshops to reduce vaccine hesitancy and to raise research literacy.

Yet, medications are not enough. While novel therapeutics remain key, behavioral interventions and social acceptance are essential for their success. By using a status neutral approach, we will stop the forced differentiation of HIV positive and negative people. This approach is simple: a person is ensured access to care if they are HIV positive. If a person is HIV negative, they are given access to preventative medications such as PrEP.

Practicing a status neutral approach can repair the schism that has existed for far too long between HIV-positive and HIV-negative populations. Our goal is to assure that everyone has a right to good health.

Gov. Phil Murphy has shown how deeply he understands and how passionately he cares about the structural drivers of disease. Now we must act. We cannot let the HIV/AIDS epidemic continue to take a backseat to pressing health care issues of the moment. As we continue to raise awareness, we are calling on New Jerseys Legislative leadership to enact the policies developed by Governor Murphys Statewide Task Force to End the HIV Epidemic.

We all need to raise our voices together to end this epidemic. The public can also make a difference by urging our elected officials to:

To learn more, join Rutgers School of Public Health and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School as we strive to raise awareness of a Neutral Nation with a series of engaging events from February 17 to 20.

Dr. Perry N. Halkitis is dean and director of the Center for Health, Identity Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) at the Rutgers School of Public Health. Dr. Halkitis also was a member of both the New Jersey and New York Ending the HIV Epidemic planning groups.

Dr. Shobha Swaminathan is an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the Medical Director of the infectious diseases practice at University Hospital in Newark. She was a principal investigator of Modernas COVID-19 vaccine trial in Newark.

Travis Love is a community educator who has served as a public health representative at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School since 2016.

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COVID-19 and victim-blaming has made it more difficult to care for people living with HIV/AIDS | Opinion -


What leaders say is going on at JRTC, where Fort Bragg paratroopers claim theres a COVID-19 outbreak – The Fayetteville Observer

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Rachael Riley|The Fayetteville Observer

Leaders at the Joint Readiness Training Center are addressing concerns anonymous Fort Bragg paratroopers have raised about a COVID-19 outbreak at the center.

Last week, The Fayetteville Observer was sent an anonymous letter purportedly written by a paratrooper on behalf of other paratroopers. The letter was also shared on social media, where online users commented with similar concerns.

An estimated 4,000 paratroopers are at the center for training, less than 1% of which, a spokesman previously estimated, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Among the concerns raised in the letter are questions about leadership within the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division; whether proper precautions are being taken during training during the COVID-19 pandemic; and claims that paratroopers who have since tested positive for the virus infected others during the bus ride to Louisiana.

Officials have said all paratroopers were tested before the bus ride and before leaving the Fort Bragg, and that they were given the option to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The letter and online comments also brought up concerns about how those with COVID-19 are quarantined in Louisiana, what theyre being fed and the water in Louisiana.

More: Fort Bragg paratroopers take to social media with COVID-19 outbreak concerns

Hundreds of soldiers that are being sent for the training exercise named JRTC, or Joint Readiness Training Center, are now battling a mass outbreak, the letter reads. Soldiers are having to sleep amongst those that are infected and are not provided with a place to quarantine or isolate.

Brig. Gen. David Doyle, commander of Fort Polk and the Joint Readiness Center, and Col. Jody Dugai, commander of Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital at Fort Polk, spoke to The Fayetteville Observer on Thursday.

Doyle reiterated that before leaving Fort Bragg, all paratroopers were tested for the COVID-19 virus and had their movements restricted as a precautionary requirement established by U.S. Army Forces Command.

They did a thorough screening and every paratrooper was asked if they came in contact with someone who they thought had COVID-19, Doyle said.

Doyle explained Fort Polk is set up with a north and south region, with the north region being the training area.

Military personnel in the south region are not allowed to go to the north area, unless approved, tested, cleared and screened for the virus to ensure the populations arent mixed.

Once (the paratroopers) arrived they were kept in a training bubble, Doyle said.

He said a small number of paratroopers who came to the Joint Readiness Center tested positive for the virus when arriving and that they were quickly isolated.

The brigade has been tested by Fort Polks hospital staff to allow results to come back in about three hours, Doyle said.

Additionally, Fort Polk has new barracks within their garrison where the COVID-19-positive paratroopers stay and are visited by a field officer each day.

Doyle said its across the street from the hospital, should the soldiers need further medical attention. He said none of the paratroopers who have tested positive have required hospitalization.

Online comments and concerns raised in the letter claimed the 3rd Brigade Combat Team paratroopers showing symptoms of the virus are being kept in the box or training area

Dugai said if someone complains of having symptoms of COVID-19, they are placed in a holding area and tested. If results come back negative, they are either treated for their cold or other illness, or they are returned to training. If the test is positive, the soldier is transported to the isolation barracks by personnel wearing protective equipment.

We dont send them on a plane, train or bus during the 10 days of isolation or 14 days of quarantine, depending on when they tested positive, Dugai said.

If the soldiers unit has ended training during the isolation or quarantine phase, Dugai said, the COVID-19 positive soldiers will remain at Fort Polk until the quarantine ends and they test negative for the virus.

The letter also stated that quarantined soldiers are concerned for their nutrition, as soldiers have been reporting that frequently they have been receiving minuscule amounts of food or none at all.

Doyle said quarantined and isolated paratroopers are being fed the same meals served in Fort Polks dining facilities and given to all soldiers, noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers.

In one of the online comments sent to The Fayetteville Observer, a person claimed a field sanitation worker told them the water was not safe to drink, so chlorine was placed in it and their squad was getting headaches.

Doyle said water at Fort Polk is monitored by the state of Louisiana and federal regulators, and professionals from the hospitals preventative medicine department also examine it. It has been rated safe each year, he said.

The only difference is there is a higher concentration of manganese in Louisiana, which gives it a brown appearance, though Doyle said it is safe to drink and another additive that is not a health threat will soon be added to change the color.

During the early part of the pandemic last year, two rotations at the Joint Readiness Training Center were canceled.

By April, senior Army leaders finalized plans to return to collective training.

"The Army continues to need a manned, ready force," even while balancing operations and combating COVID-19," former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville said collective training is crucial, but leaders needed to ensure the right measures were in place.

Its not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution, McConville said in an Army articlein April. But were looking. But were looking at the long game. Were not waiting for COVID-19 to go away.

Lt. Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, which is over the 82nd Airborne Division, made a similar comment during a Fort Bragg town hall meeting in March.

Its a balance between risks to force, which is spreading the virus, and the risk to the mission of being able to meet those mission requirements should our nation call, Kurilla said.

Since then, there have been rotations at the center with the 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade, the 101st Airborne Division, the 25th Infantry Division and another Security Force Assistant Brigade.

More: Fort Bragg activities slowly start to resume

Training at the Joint Readiness Training Center provides soldiers with opportunities their home stations can not, Doyle said.

He said there are personnel who are intensely familiar with the training area, and their only mission is to act as aggressors toward the training soldiers to simulate any threats theyd face by an opposing force.

He said there are coaches, observers and trainers who ensure the soldiers are able to execute safe actions during dangerous situations and conduct thorough after-action reviews to better the soldiers.

Another thing every soldier and paratrooper gets here is data indicators, which tracks every individual's engagements, Doyle said. At the end of the rotation, well show them imagery and pictures… . So it allows them to see that first hand and take that back with them.

Theres training for electronic warfare, which replicates whats seen on social media or with cyber strikes.

Training scenarios are built out 270 days in advance with specific scenarios designed for each unit, such as scenarios for the 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force.

More: Fort Bragg special warfare students, instructors who tested positive for COVID-19 complete isolation

We want to ensure every single soldier who comes here can redeploy back to their home station and is prepared for whatever mission is given by their unit, Doyle said. And were doing that with a set of protocols to protect against COVID-19 and all other threats that come with high-risk training.

Training at Fort Polk is not new, starting with World War II soldiers, and training before conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

Were still doing that today and want most to have the most difficult training we can possibly render and want the hardest day for paratroopers and soldiers to be here at JRTC and Fort Polk and not be in combat, Doyle said.

Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at or 910-486-3528.

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What leaders say is going on at JRTC, where Fort Bragg paratroopers claim theres a COVID-19 outbreak - The Fayetteville Observer


Qigong Meditation: For Beginners, Techniques, Benefits, and More – Healthline

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Qigong meditation is an ancient Chinese healing practice that combines controlled breathing, gentle movement, and meditation to promote good mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Similar to tai chi, qigong meditation is believed to treat a variety of health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and leg and back pain, among others. Yet, research backing these claims is limited.

With qigong meditation growing in popularity, you may wonder whether its something you should try.

Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) meditation is an ancient Chinese healing practice that combines meditation, controlled breathing, and gentle movement.

Its roughly translated as the master of ones energy and combines two important concepts of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Qi roughly translates to vital life force, while gong means mastery or cultivation (1, 2).

This practice is meant to cultivate the energy and strength of nature into ones body to promote better mental, physical, and spiritual health (1, 2).

In TCM, poor health is the result of blocked energy that flows through the twelve meridians or sections of the body. Thus, qigong is believed to promote health by allowing your energy, or qi, to flow through the body (1, 2).

Qigong is popular in China for exercise, recreation, relaxation, preventative medicine, and physical and mental healing. Plus, its even employed in martial arts training. Despite its widespread use, research to support the theory of qi energy is lacking (2).

Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is a traditional Chinese medicine healing practice thats believed to support mental, physical, and spiritual health through gentle movement, meditation, and breathing techniques.

While there are many ways to practice qigong, there are two main categories: active (dynamic) qigong and passive qigong. Active qigong uses controlled, slow movements, while passive qigong involves stillness and calm breathing.

Qigong can also be practiced internally (by yourself) or externally (via a qigong therapist). With external qigong, a therapist provides emitted qi to promote healing. Though, for most people, qigong is a self-healing technique thats practiced without a therapist (1).

Regardless of the form of qigong, the goal is to allow energy to freely move throughout the body and reconnect with the earth for healing (1).

Active qigong also known as dong gong involves intentional, active movement and breathwork that enhances yang energy. In TCM, yang represents active energy, strength, and vibrancy, while yin depicts passive energy, calmness, and gentleness (1).

It includes repeating gentle, coordinated movements to promote blood and lymphatic drainage, balance, muscle strength and flexibility, and a greater awareness of ones body in space (known as proprioception) (3).

This type of qigong is considered exercise but shares mutual characteristics with passive qigong, such as good posture, controlled breathing, focus on relaxation, and visualization.

Passive qigong focuses on embracing yin energy through body stillness and the mental cultivation of qi energy (1).

During this form of qigong, the body is not moving externally, but the mind is actively working to cultivate and move qi energy throughout the body. This practice would be similar to traditional meditation.

The two main categories of qigong include active and passive qigong. Active qigong uses controlled, slow movements to help energy or qi flow through the meridians of the body, while passive qigong involves stillness and calm breathing.

Qigong offers many benefits. Some of them are backed by research, including improved balance and gait, as well as reduced stress levels.

Other purported benefits include a lower risk of chronic disease and improved focus.

Qigong focuses on controlled, slow movements of the body to improve your proprioception, or awareness of your body in space, which helps increase balance, muscular strength, and flexibility (3).

In a 2020 study in 95 adults ages 5196, participants that practiced weekly qigong for 12 weeks had significant improvements in balance and gait (walking) scores (4).

Interestingly, qigong can also improve balance in younger adults. One randomized pilot study in 30 people ages 1825 showed a 16.3% increase in stability scores after weekly qigong for 8 weeks. No changes were observed in the control group (5).

Considering that all age groups can safely participate in qigong, it may be an effective and enjoyable strategy to improve balance and lower the risk of falls.

Qigong involves meditation, controlled breathing, and gentle movements, all of which have all been shown to help lower stress and symptoms of anxiety (6, 7, 8, 9).

Calm, controlled breathing tells your body theres no immediate threat and activates the parasympathetic nervous system the rest and digest system. It also slows your bodys stress response system known as the hypothalamicpituitaryadrenal (HPA) axis (9, 10).

Also, incorporating qigong into ones daily or weekly practice has been linked to greater quality of life due to less stress, greater self-efficacy, and better physical health. Still, higher quality studies are needed (11, 12, 13, 14).

By incorporating qigong into your weekly or daily routine, it may help you better manage the daily stressors of life (15).

Qigong is a gentle form of exercise and emphasizes calm, meditative breathing. Together, this may reduce stress on the body, increase blood flow, and improve your overall fitness all of which can lower your risk of chronic disease (16, 17).

In particular, qigong has been shown to lower the risk and improve symptoms of type 2 diabetes and heart disease (18, 19, 20, 21).

Still, researchers urge that larger, more robust studies are needed before qigong can be recommended as a standard treatment.

That said, most people can safely practice it in addition to their current medical treatments prescribed by their healthcare provider (21, 22).

Many people struggle to focus on tasks due to the busyness of day-to-day life.

Qigong requires focus of the breath, mind, and body. Through regular practice, qigong may help improve your ability to focus and concentrate by helping you learn to regulate thoughts in a more productive manner (23).

Despite the many benefits of qigong, higher quality research studies are needed.

The benefits of qigong include improved balance, greater mental focus, lower levels of stress and anxiety, and decreased chronic disease risk. Though many people report the benefits of qigong, larger studies are needed.

There are dozens of variations of qigong. To get started, heres a basic guide for passive and active qigong. However, before beginning any new exercise routine, its best to speak with your healthcare provider.

Passive qigong is very similar to traditional meditation. Two main types of passive qigong exist: mental focusing (ru jing) and visualization (cun si).

To practice mental focusing, simply sit in a comfortable upright position, close your eyes, and breathe in and out with your belly (diaphragmatic breathing). Ideally, try to sit for at least 10 minutes or longer and focus on your breath.

Visualization involves a similar practice but with added imagination. With your eyes closed, imagine things that bring you joy or relaxation (e.g., the beach, a flower-filled valley, a mountaintop). Use these visualizations to help direct positive energy throughout your body.

You may also visualize energy going toward an organ or area in the body that requires healing. To enhance your practice, attend classes or read qigong guides to learn chants, visualizations, and other meditative techniques.

If youre unsure where to start, there are many free meditation videos online, or you can download meditation apps on your phone.

The goal of active qigong is to continuously keep your body in flow. Unlike yoga, which generally focuses on static stretches, active qigong requires you to keep your body moving through various movement sequences.

Since qigong involves a sequence of movements, its best to start with a beginners class or online video. Ideally, active qigong is practiced in a group setting to promote connectedness and community, which TCM believes is important for health and healing.

With either passive or active qigong, remember to practice patience while you learn and enjoy the process.

When learning active qigong, its best to visit an in-person class to learn the sequences correctly and build a sense of community. You can also watch beginner videos online. For passive qigong, try adding 10 minutes of meditation per day to your routine.

Qigong is a meditation and healing practice that has been part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Benefits of qigong include lowered stress and anxiety, increased focus, and improved balance and flexibility. It may even reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases. Nevertheless, more high quality research is needed.

Most forms of qigong can be practiced by people of all age groups and conditions. However, if you have a chronic illness or injury, its best to speak with your healthcare provider before introducing any new form of exercise to your regimen.

If youre interested in calming your mind and body, you will want to give qigong a try.

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Qigong Meditation: For Beginners, Techniques, Benefits, and More - Healthline


Researchers Hope To ‘Predict and Prevent’ Future Pandemics – Agweb Powered by Farm Journal

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

While the bulk of the current research on COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is focused on its impact and transmission in humans, a group of researchers at Ohio State University is testing animals and environmental reservoirs for the virus, says Vanessa Hale, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of veterinary preventative medicine at Ohio State University.

We have an incredible team of over 20 researchers looking for the virus in all of the environments outside of humans, Hale told AgriTalk Host Chip Flory on Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the virus causing Covid-19 most likely jumped from one animal species to another before entering the human population and is highly unlikely to have leaked from a laboratory, a WHO investigative team said during a news conference in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Hale says the OSU research teams objective is to see if it can find potential reservoirs of the Covid-19 virus in water or animals and to assess the risk to animal health and potential re-entry into the human population. In addition, the team is also studying mutations.

So, we've been hearing a lot about variants the past couple of weeks and concerns about variants that may spread faster, Hale says. Were trying to understand, (will) we see this virus in animals? Is the virus changing in a way that is concerning?

The good news to date is the researchers have not detected a single positive result in more than 1,000 animal samples evaluated throughout Ohio.

Weve not seen a single SARS-CoV-2 positive in any of those animals, Hale says. That includes shelter cats, farm animals at agricultural fairs around the state and wildlife.

The testing and evaluation work has been done in partnership with hunters and trappers and also with organizations such as Ohio metro parks and the Ohio Wildlife Center.

There have been reports from other states that mink have been infected with the virus. Hale notes that mustelids, in general, are highly susceptible to the virus. They can have clinical signs, get quite ill and die from the disease, she says.

According to an article published by The Atlantic on December 8, COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in animals at 16 mink farms in four states: 12 in Utah, one in Michigan, one in Oregon, and two in Wisconsin (see

No problems in Ohio have been identified, though Hale says the OSU team plans to check for it in wild mink populations in the state.

Our goal is to see if we can find this virus anywhere else outside of humans, and then use that information to figure out how we can predict and prevent future pandemics, she says. We want to know if there is going to be a reservoir and if that reservoir is going to pose a problem to animal or human health.

The complete discussion on AgriTalk is available here:

Researchers Hope To 'Predict and Prevent' Future Pandemics - Agweb Powered by Farm Journal


Experimental Antiviral Effective at Treating and Preventing COVID-19 –

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, in collaboration with the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has found that the experimental antiviral EIDD-2901 stopped the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and prevented human cells from becoming infected. Results from the study were published in the journal Nature.

"We show that LoM allow for the in vivo study of all recently emerged human coronaviruses in a single platform," Lisa Gralinski, PhD, co-author on the study said. "Our model allows researchers to directly compare infection between human coronaviruses and the effectiveness of potential preventative and therapeutic approaches."

With cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) rising across the globe, it is paramount to find therapies that will halt its spread. Although various vaccines have been authorized for emergency use, the levels of vaccination needed will take time, as issues with manufacturing, shipping, storage and distribution are still being sorted out.

The investigators behind the study created human lung tissues models and implanted them in immune-deficient mice, which allowed the virus to replicate and infect them. Early diffuse lung damage caused by the disease presented in the mice similarly as it does in humans. Additionally, the infection induced a robust and sustained type 1 interferon and inflammatory cytokine/chemokine response. They then administered the antiviral therapy to the mice 24 or 48 hours after exposure to SARS-CoV-2, and every 12 hours after.

"We found that EIDD-2801 had a remarkable effect on virus replication after only two days of treatment - a dramatic, more than 25,000-fold reduction in the number of infectious particles in human lung tissue when treatment was initiated 24 hours post-exposure," J. Victor Garcia, senior author and professor of medicine and director of the International Center for the Advancement of Translational Science said. "Virus titers were significantly reduced by 96% when treatment was started 48 hours post-exposure."

Separate phase 2 and 3 trials are currently ongoing to evaluate EIDD-2801 safety in humans, as well as its impact on viral shedding in patients with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

"Previously, we demonstrated that EIDD-2801 is also efficacious against SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV infection in vivo and in primary human airway epithelial cultures," Ralph Baric, the William Kenan Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Medicine said. "Overall, these results indicate that EIDD-2801 may not only be efficacious in treating and preventing COVID-19, it could also prove to be highly effective against future coronavirus outbreaks as well."

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Experimental Antiviral Effective at Treating and Preventing COVID-19 -


COVID-19: Antiviral prevents and treats infection in lab tests – Medical News Today

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

A drug called molnupiravir, which scientists originally developed to treat influenza, is showing promise as a treatment for COVID-19.

A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, recently published in Nature, found that the drug dramatically reduced the number of virus particles in a mouse model of the disease.

It also protected against infection when given 12 hours before exposure to the virus and every 12 hours thereafter.

Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.

Phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials of molnupiravir are already under way, with some results expected as soon as March 2021.

In addition to testing the drugs safety and efficacy, one of the trials is also investigating its effect on viral shedding, which is the amount of virus released into the environment by people who have it. Analyzing this helps determine how likely a person is to transmit the virus.

Remdesivir, which speeds the recovery of adults hospitalized with the illness and which may reduce mortality rates, is currently the only proven antiviral treatment for COVID-19.

One potential advantage of molnupiravir is that patients can take it orally, whereas remdesivir has to be injected. This would make molnupiravir easier to give to lots of people as a preventive, or prophylactic, drug in high risk settings, such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Another, more long-term benefit of molnupiravir is that it may be effective against other emerging coronavirus infections that like SARS-CoV-2 probably originate in bats.

To test the efficacy of molnupiravir against SARS-CoV-2, the researchers created a completely new model of COVID-19 in mice that may prove useful for testing the efficacy of other antiviral drugs.

Human coronaviruses are unable to infect mouse cells unless researchers either adapt the viruses or genetically modify mice to produce receptors that allow them to invade cells.

These models also fail to reflect the diversity of cells found in human lungs, where the infection can cause life threatening damage.

To get around these limitations, the researchers implanted human lung tissue into specially bred immunodeficient mice that tolerate foreign tissue.

Virus replication in this model occurs in bona fide human lung tissue and does not require any type of adaptation of the virus or the host, the researchers write in their paper.

They demonstrated that the newly emerged human coronaviruses SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 were all able to replicate in the implanted human lung tissue.

Our model allows researchers to directly compare infection between human coronaviruses and the effectiveness of potential preventative and therapeutic approaches, says co-first author Dr. Lisa Gralinski, assistant professor of epidemiology at UNC.

When infected with SARS-CoV-2, the human lung tissue sustained damage similar to that seen in the lungs of COVID-19 patients. The infection also induced an inflammatory response reminiscent of the excess inflammation that characterizes the disease in people.

Next, the researchers treated the mice with molnupiravir, starting either 24 or 48 hours after they were exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

We found that [molnupiravir] had a remarkable effect on virus replication after only 2 days of treatment a dramatic, more than 25,000-fold reduction in the number of infectious particles in human lung tissue when treatment was initiated 24 hours post-exposure, said senior author Dr. J. Victor Garcia-Martinez, professor of medicine and director of the International Center for the Advancement of Translational Science at UNC.

When the treatment was started 48 hours after exposure to the virus, the concentration of virus particles fell by 96%.

Finally, the researchers tested the ability of molnupiravir to prevent infection.

When they gave the drug to mice 12 hours before exposure to SARS-CoV-2, and every 12 hours afterward, it reduced the concentration of virus particles by over 100,000-fold compared with untreated mice.

In previous lab-based studies by the same group, the drug showed promise against two other newly emerged coronaviruses that may have originated in bats: SARS-CoV, which causes SARS, and MERS-CoV, which causes MERS.

This suggests that molnupiravir could protect against a range of bat coronaviruses that make the leap into humans.

Overall, these results indicate that EIDD-2801 may not only be efficacious in treating and preventing COVID-19, it could also prove to be highly effective against future coronavirus outbreaks as well, said co-author Dr. Ralph Baric, the William Kenan Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC School of Medicine.

For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.

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COVID-19: Antiviral prevents and treats infection in lab tests - Medical News Today


Coalition to future Governor McKee: Tax the rich and invest in housing, economic justice and decarceration Uprise RI – Uprise RI

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

A coalition of community groups from across Rhode Island called on presumptive future Governor Daniel McKee to adopt a state budget that stimulates an economic recovery that addresses the root causes of our current crisis, and invests in the well-being of all Rhode Islanders.

The coalition expressed concerns about what kind of budget might be adopted this legislative season, saying that the budget must include policies and investments that move towards achieving racial, economic and gender equity and that cuts to programs and services that foster equity must be avoided.

The communities we serve are all too familiar with the cost of austerity, writes the coalition, and Rhode Island is no stranger to the detrimental long-term impact of budget cuts in times of economic recession.

The coalitions proposal calls for taxing high-income earners and ending the car tax rollback, while investing in programs that provide housing for those most in need. In addition, the proposal emphasizes diverting funds from prisons and policing to serve community needs, as you can read below:

Its time for the richest among us to pay their fair share, especially if we want to live in a fair society with a high standard of living, said Kinverly Dicupe, Co-Organizing Director at ReclaimRI, There should be no reason why the tax burden is on working families when we know so many of these tax benefits only help the wealthy. That has to end. We can begin righting these wrongs by taxing the rich and investing in our communities.

Funding for our reporting relies on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.

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No matter where we come from or what our color, Rhode Islanders work hard for our families. Its time we had a state budget that works hard for us too, said Zack Mezera with the RI Working Families Party. Lets invest our way out of this crisis by funding schools, jobs, and housing, and lets make sure that the wealthiest in our state pay their fair share toward this recovery.

Weve all heard it more times than any one of us can count. Preventative medicine is the best medicine,' said Leonard Jefferson, a member of the Direct Action for Rights and Equality Behind the Walls Committee. We call on our legislators to support these sage policy recommendations, which will interrupt systemic cycles of poverty and incarceration and allow our community members to thrive.

The coalition includes ReclaimRI, Demand Progress, RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty, RI Working Families Party, Economic Progress Institute, RI Center for Justice, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, Housing Network of Rhode Island, Temple Sinai, Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere, Childhood Lead Action Project, The Womxn Project and Womens Fund of Rhode Island.

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

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Coalition to future Governor McKee: Tax the rich and invest in housing, economic justice and decarceration Uprise RI - Uprise RI


Electronic Nose Market Shows Expected Trend to Guide from 2021-2027 with Growth Analysis| Alpha MOS, Odotech, E-nose Pty, The E-nose Company,…

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

CMI has added latest research report on Global Electronic Nose Market, this report helps to analyze top manufacturers, regions, revenue, price, and also covers Industry sales channel, distributors, traders, dealers, research findings, conclusion, appendix and data source.

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Electronic nose is a device that collects data from the surrounding and then processes the data with the help of sensors that are built in the device. The application area of electronic nose in healthcare sector includes diagnostics, immunology, pathology, patient recovery, pharmacology, physical therapy, physiology, preventative medicine, remote healthcare, and wound and graft healing. Electronic nose has been used in a variety of commercial agricultural-related industries, including biochemical processing, botany, cell culture, plant cultivar selections, environmental monitoring, horticulture, pesticide detection, plant physiology, and pathology.

The Electronic Nose market has witnessed growth from USD XX million to USD XX million from 2015 to 2020. With the CAGR of X.X%, this market is estimated to reach USD XX million in 2027.

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Leading Players:Alpha MOS, Odotech, E-nose Pty, The E-nose Company, Electronic Sensor Technology, Scent Science Corporation, Airsense Analytics GmbH, Scentsational Technologies, and Scensive Technology

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Electronic Nose Market Shows Expected Trend to Guide from 2021-2027 with Growth Analysis| Alpha MOS, Odotech, E-nose Pty, The E-nose Company,...


Can Vitamin D3 Be Used as a Bridge to Contain the Coronavirus ? – Our Time Press

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Dr. L. Ray Matthews is a retired trauma/critical care surgeon and director of Surgical Critical Care at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Our Time Press interview with Dr. Matthew on Vitamin D will appear later this month. Below is an interview with EUR writer Steffanie Rivers, which appeared in January.

EUR associate Steffanie Rivers interviewed Dr. Matthews about his work in preventative health maintenance and why he thinks taking the coronavirus vaccine is not the best defense against contracting COVID-19. He advocates using something else that will protect against COVID-19 and other viruses most people dont realize are just as deadly.*Pharmaceutical companies created coronavirus vaccines in record time less than ten months. Now all the states are tasked with getting vaccine shots into the arms of millions of people with the same urgency because the numbers of COVID-19 infected and deaths continue to rise daily.

Steffanie Rivers/EUR: Youre known as the premier expert in the benefits of vitamin D3. Why is vitamin D3 important to our bodies for preventative health maintenance?DR. MATTHEWS: First of all, vitamin D3 is actually a hormone that controls 3,000 out of 30,000 human genes (10% of our DNA). Hormone/vitamin D3 regulates our immune response system and inflammatory response systems. Vitamin D3 increases the white blood cell count (B-cells, T-cells, monocytes) to help the body fight off bacterial, fungicidal, and viral infections plus cancer cells. The inflammatory response system reduces inflammation by decreasing IL-6, Tumor Necrotic Factor (TNF), and C-Reactive Protein (CRP) which reduces the cytokine storm associated with corona-virus infections.

In laymans terms, vitamin D3 regulates the human immune system and controls a significant portion of our human DNA. The trouble is most people dont eat nutritious food and dont take supplements, therefore their vitamin D3 intake is low.

SR/EUR: Most Black and Brown people believe their melanin prevents them from having to worry about the need to maintain optimal vitamin D3 levels. Is that true?DR. MATTHEWS: The opposite is true. Melanin is a natural sunscreen that protects you from the sun. Melanin blocks 95% of vitamin D3 production. As a result, people of colors vitamin D3 levels tend to run 30% lower than lighter-skinned people. This alone makes people of color more susceptible to corona-virus and most chronic diseases of aging such as heart disease, strokes, higher maternal/fetal mortality rates, cancer and many more chronic diseases.

SR/EUR: What are the signs that a person is vitamin D3 deficient?DR. MATTHEWS: Signs and symptoms of vitamin D3 deficiency are fatigue, insomnia, joint pain, muscle pain, frequent fractures/broken bones, recurrent infections, brittle nails, hair loss, memory loss, lack of focus, and poor wound healing.

SR/EUR: List the ailments that can be prevented by taking vitamin D3.DR. MATTHEWS: That is a very long list. Almost all diseases of chronic aging can be slowed down with vitamin D3 such as heart disease, strokes, cancer, and many other diseases.

SR/EUR: Some people drink milk to get their vitamin D3, is that the best way? Others are lactose intolerant and need to absorb in other ways, and whats the optimal daily amount of vitamin D3 needed?DR. MATTHEWS: Ninety percent (90%) of vitamin D3 production comes from the sun striking the skin producing a chemical that goes to the liver and kidneys to make vitamin D3. Only ten percent (10%) of vitamin D3 comes from the diet. As a result, most people need sunlight (apply sunscreen after 15 minutes of exposure to avoid skin cancers) and supplements. Supplements come in liquid, chewables, soft gels, capsule, or tablet form. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) requirements for vitamin D3 is 600 international units for younger adults and 800 IU for older adults; however, in my first manuscript published on vitamin D3, we challenged that as being too low based on our present technological society. In an agricultural society fifty years ago, people spent most of their time outdoors (more sunlight) and did not have sunscreen. Today we spend most of our time indoors (less sunlight) and use sunscreen.Depending on an individuals lifestyle and what part of the country/world they live in vitamin D3 supplementation will be different. Outdoors people might need less supplementation than people who spend more time indoors or who live in colder, less sunny climates.

SR/EUR: Can a person take too much Vitamin D3?DR. MATTHEWS: Vitamin D3 toxicity is very rare. A person will have to take more than one million IU in a short period of time. Vitamin D3 deficiency is more dangerous than vitamin D3 toxicity. Vitamin D3 levels less than 18 ng/ml increases the risk of death by thirty percent (30%) from all causes including corona-virus.Since the levels of vitamin D3 decreases in the human body with age, coupled with less physical activity, low supplementation and under-nourishing diets, its no wonder the health of African-Americans have been more negatively affected by the coronavirus. Yet many African-Americans are suspicious of government-sponsored medical mandates and shy away from taking vaccines.

SR/EUR: Do you and your family and friends plan to take the vaccine, why or why not?DR. MATTHEWS: I took all the required vaccines during my 31-year medical career. I knew all the long term side effects because it took 5-20 years to make a vaccine prior to the mRNA corona-virus vaccines. The long-term side effects of the mRNA vaccines are unknown. I will stick with the vitamin D3 for now.

SR/EUR: In relation to the COVID-19 virus and the vaccine: Why do health officials (like those on the presidents health panel) rarely talk about preventative maintenance?DR. MATTHEWS: In the world of medicine, the big money is in intervention rather than prevention; however, a study found that 70% of doctors take supplements but do not tell their patients.

SR/EUR: What does your ounce of prevention look like when it comes to building ones immune system? What are some old faithful products you suggest people keep in their homes at all times?DR. MATTHEWS: A worldwide expert virologist once said that there are 1,400 viruses that have the potential to become a pandemic. Do you take 1,400 shots every year, or do you make the immune system stronger to fight off all infections? I would recommend vitamin D3, zinc, and vitamin C. These are natural supplements with minimal side effects. I worked around some of the most contagious infectious diseases on earth and did not catch any infections during my 31-year medical career.

SR/EUR: Most Black men do little in preventative healthcare maintenance. They shy away from going to doctors appointments, and they rarely take supplements. They spend more time on outward physical appearance working out at fitness centers than on caring for their bodys internal systems. Whats the best way to change that?DR. MATTHEWS: Women are usually more health-conscious than men. You have to encourage their mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters to be more proactive in their mens health. Men tend to listen to them.

SR/EUR: Please add any information you want to include that wasnt asked.DR. MATTHEWS: If given the opportunity, I can help to bring the corona-virus pandemic under control worldwide in three months. I understand the biology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology of corona-virus and vitamin D3. I call vitamin D3 Gods miracle vitamin.(To be continued)To find out more about Dr. Matthews and his work in preventative health maintenance contact him at

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Can Vitamin D3 Be Used as a Bridge to Contain the Coronavirus ? - Our Time Press


Bolsonaro is Pushing Quack COVID Cures Instead of the Vaccine – VICE

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, pictured here in December 2020 during a government ceremony, is backing unproven COVID-19 remedies but not the vaccine. Photo by Andre Borges, NurPhoto via Getty Images).

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil- When Brazils President Jair Bolsonaro was diagnosed with COVID-19 in July last year, he appeared in a video on social media ingesting hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria pill thatis not proven to work against the coronavirus. Like former U.S. President Donald Trump, who also praised the drug, Bolsonaro said that despite the lack of scientific evidence its working for me, adding I believe in hydroxychloroquine, what about you?

Now, Bolsonaro says he is tired of being called Captain Chloroquine and in a live transmission last week announced that if the pill turns out to be a placebo then at least I didnt kill anyone. The episode is the latest in the presidents cavalier attitude towards COVID-19, which has killed more than 200,000 people in one of the worlds worst-hit nations.

The drug is part of what Bolsonaro calls the early treatment kit. It includes other medications like ivermectin and azithromycin and is marketed by the government as a treatment for patients with preliminary coronavirus symptoms. The government already spent over $16 million on medicine for the kit, even though neither the World Health Organization nor Brazils health regulatory agency, Anvisa, recognizes any of the treatments as effective against the disease.

Meanwhile, slow moving vaccination efforts have reached less than two percent of the countrys 200 million people so far. Brazil has surpassed nine million confirmed coronavirus cases. Despite this, Bolsonaro is still betting on his kit, and last month he compared using the so-called treatment to tending to a wounded soldier in a battlefield. If they waited for scientific approval, think of how many lives they would have lost, said Bolsonaro in a live transmission.

Other Brazilian politicians have been following his lead. Sebastio Melo, the newly elected mayor of the southern city of Porto Alegre, kicked off his term in January announcing that he would be securing a new shipment of 100,000 pills from Bolsonaros kit. The supplies are set to hit public pharmacies and clinics all over the city by the end of this month. Outrage from Brazils medical community prompted a group of leftist congressmen to start a civil lawsuit against the distribution of the medication.

Located in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre wasnt the only city in the region to embrace the controversial kit. Another 27 municipalities in the state are being audited for using it, and in the south western state of Mato Grosso, the local government prided itself in a public statement on having distributed over 12,000 kits at the public clinic Centro de Triagem.

The government even launched a nation-wide app that has since been taken down, with a step-by-step procedure on how to use the kit. Legal threats and ample criticism from the scientific community led the health ministry to stop recommending the use of hydroxychloroquine on their website. But without a proper campaign to warn people that the drugs in the kit arent effective, the damage has already been done, says prominent pulmonologist and health care researcher in Rio de Janeiro, Margareth Dalcolmo.

I see heaps of [patients] at the ICU whose bellies are filled with the nonsensical drugs because they buy into the illusion that if they take them, they are protected [from Covid-19], Dalcolmo said. She calls Bolsonaros kit a little bag of illusions, adding that a preventative medical treatment against COVID-19 does not currently exist.

The mixture of drugs pushed by Bolsonaro arent likely to produce severe side-effects but are causing people to pump unnecessary chemicals into their bodies, said Dalcolmo. Ivermectin, for instance, is used to treat parasite infections like lice and is also typically administered on animals by veterinarians.

I would love to say these drugs work against COVID-19, but they dont. I have to tell the truth, said Dalcolmo. This misinformation is very detrimental to the population. People fall for it because the example comes from up top, from a figure of authority.

And at the same time that Bolsonaro endorses the use of unproven treatments, he has publicly positioned himself against the vaccination campaign. Not long before Brazilians began getting vaccinated in mid-January, a maskless Bolsonaro discouraged a room full of supporters from having it. He said that pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer will not come to your aid if you turn into a crocodile or develop other side effects like a woman growing a beard or a man suddenly talking in a high-pitched voice.

In the south western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, the local government prided itself in having distributed over 12,000 early treatment kits at the public clinic Centro de Triagem, Brazil. Photo by Christiano Antonucci, provided byCentro de Triagem, Mato Grosso.

Bolsonaro has also specifically targeted a vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, in partnership with the state of So Paulo. The president and others in government have backed fake theories shared on the internet about vaccines coming from China not being effective. This stance muddied relations with China and delayed new shipments of raw materials needed to make new doses. To top it off, the government received three offers from So Paulo to secure millions of doses of the Chinese vaccine for national distribution, but never responded.

Hes created a cult-like following that has ended up dividing the country between those who fight for the early treatment and those in favor of the vaccine, said researcher Gustavo Cabral, who leads the group at the University of So Paulo that is developing Brazils own coronavirus vaccine. This pushed him to join #TeamHalo a project spearheaded by the United Nations to spread awareness about how the vaccine hopes to end the pandemic.

Doctors and scientists all over Brazil have signed on to similar campaigns to debunk mistrust around the vaccine. The country needs to react, or things could get much worse, according to Cabral.

Bolsonaro has sparked an early treatment movement online around his unproven kit that gives the anti-vaxxer movement a voice, Gustavo warns. The researcher believes Brazil's strong history of running successful vaccination efforts is at risk and that is why doctors and scientists all over the country are also joining campaigns to debunk mistrust around the vaccine. "We face the possibility that we won't vaccinate the two thirds of the population that we need to be able to control the pandemic. That is our greatest fear."

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Bolsonaro is Pushing Quack COVID Cures Instead of the Vaccine - VICE


The GP’s View: Mindfulness can help ease the pain of your migraine – The Irish News

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

SOMETIMES one of the best solutions for a problem can be the low-tech, simple one. I'm thinking about migraine.

This is a neurological disorder caused by a fault in nerve and brain function. People who have more than six to eight migraine episodes a month are usually prescribed preventative medicine.

The migraineur also needs a calm life, regular sleep, meals, exercise and minimal stresses. All this is hard, if not impossible, to achieve.

But a recent study has presented us with a new strategy one that doesn't involve medication yet has been shown to be effective: mindfulness meditation.

This is a way of focusing your attention on the present moment, while being aware of your thoughts but not engaging with them.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that mindfulness worked just as well as giving people detailed headache information' tutorials when it came to reducing the frequency of their headaches.

But only the mindfulness group experienced less pain.

The lesson here is that we must not put all our efforts into drug therapies for migraine: mindfulness, relaxation training and yoga all have their place in the management of this painful condition.

This underlines the fact that lifestyle and behaviour plays as great a part in dealing with migraine as drug therapy does.

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The GP's View: Mindfulness can help ease the pain of your migraine - The Irish News


Interferon Shot Might Keep COVID-19 Patients Out of the Hospital – HealthDay News

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

TUESDAY, Feb. 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental antiviral drug known as peginterferon lambda can speed up COVID-19 patients' ability to shed the virus and recover, scientists report.

"One of the important things about this treatment that's different from the other things that have been studied for COVID-19 is that this is working on the person, not on the virus. So it doesn't depend at all on the strain or the sequence of the virus ... we've heard all about these concerning variants that are escaping from the vaccine and escaping from monoclonal antibodies," said lead researcher Dr. Jordan Feld, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, in Canada.

"The way peginterferon lambda works is it turns on the immune system to fight the virus. It's something that the body normally does, but one of the things this virus does is it blocks your body from producing interferon, so we're sort of giving back what the body normally uses to fight off this infection," he explained.

According to the study, patients given a single injection of peginterferon lambda were over four times more likely to have cleared the infection within seven days, compared with patients given an inactive placebo.

Among patients with the highest levels of the virus, 79% were more likely to shed the infection than those given a placebo (38%). The viral levels rapidly decreased in all who received peginterferon lambda, the researchers found.

That could prevent patients with high levels of COVID-19 from becoming severely sick or giving it to others.

For the study, 30 patients were given the drug and 30 received the placebo. Among the 60 patients, five went to emergency rooms with severe respiratory symptoms. Among those, four had received placebo and only one received peginterferon lambda.

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan is director of critical care services at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y. She said, "This study is promising, but the question remains if this will mean a decrease in the severity of the symptoms of COVID. Further studies will have to be done to follow these patients to see if the course of disease is changed with this therapy."

The drug mimics an interferon produced by the body that responds to viral infections by turning on pathways to kill the virus. COVID-19 prevents the body from producing interferons, which is one way it gets past the body's immune system. Unlike other interferons, peginterferon lambda doesn't affect every cell in the body, but only cells in the lungs, liver and intestine, the places where COVID-19 replicates.

But because the drug's action is limited, it doesn't have the serious side effects associated with other forms of interferon. In this phase 2 trial, patients given peginterferon lambda had similar side effects to those given placebo.

Feld also said that it's possible that giving peginterferon lambda before someone is infected might prevent the infection and stop the spread of the virus. It's also being tested in patients with severe COVID-19 to see if it will speed recovery, he said.

The next step before the drug can be made generally available is a phase 3 trial where the drug will be tested on a larger group of people. Feld said the trial should begin soon, and if successful, approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would come in a few months.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, described the findings as "very promising" and "very exciting."

"I think the interferons as a group have a lot of potential. It's too early to say -- it's not yet ready for primetime -- we need phase 3, we need a large control group. We need to figure out where in the process this best works," he said.

Siegel added that everybody makes different amounts of interferon and giving interferon might boost the response needed to fight the virus.

"I agree with using this as a preventative, and using it early in the game makes sense," Siegel said. "You're getting around the virus' ability to trigger the inflammatory response -- that's the hope."

The report was published online Feb. 5 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

More information

For more on COVID-19, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Jordan Feld, MD, MPH, associate professor, medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Marc Siegel, MD, professor, medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; Mangala Narasimhan, DO, director, critical care services, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Feb. 5, 2021, online

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Interferon Shot Might Keep COVID-19 Patients Out of the Hospital - HealthDay News


Study reveals mutations that drive therapy-related myeloid neoplasms in children – Newswise

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Newswise Children treated for cancer with approaches such as chemotherapy can develop therapy-related myeloid neoplasms (a second type of cancer) with a dismal prognosis. Scientists at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital have characterized the genomic abnormalities of 84 such myeloid neoplasms, with potential implications for early interventions to stop the disease. A paper detailing the work was published today in Nature Communications.

The somatic (cancer) and germline (inherited) genomic alterations that drive therapy-related myeloid neoplasms in children have not been comprehensively described, until now. The researchers used a variety of sequencing techniques (whole exome, whole genome and RNA) to characterize the genomic profile of 84 pediatric therapy-related myeloid neoplasms. The data came from patients with leukemia, solid tumors or brain tumors who were treated with different types of chemotherapy and who all later developed myeloid neoplasms.

One thing that we've known for a long time is once kids develop this secondary tumor, the outcome is really poor, said co-corresponding author Jeffery Klco, M.D., Ph.D., St. Jude Pathology. The alterations that drive these tumors are different in children than they are in adults, underscoring the need to study these tumors specifically in pediatrics.

Collaboration yields new understanding

Results of the study revealed several notable mutations in the somatic setting, including changes in the Ras/MAPK pathway, alterations in RUNX1 or TP53, and rearrangements of KMT2A. Additionally, the results showed increased expression of a transcription factor called MECOM, which was associated with MECOMs abnormal proximity to an enhancer as a result of genetic rearrangements.

The research benefited from computational tools developed at St. Jude that are aimed at reducing error rates, including CleanDeepSeq and SequencErr. These approaches help to discriminate between true mutations and sequencing errors.

With these tools, the researchers could trace the mutations back as far as two years before a therapy-related myeloid neoplasm developed, when early interventions could potentially benefit patients.

This work indicates that we can detect this type of malignancy early, to study if preventative therapies could benefit patients, said co-senior author Xiaotu Ma, Ph.D., St. Jude Computational Biology.

The studys other co-corresponding author is Tanja Gruber, Stanford University School of Medicine. Co-first authors are Jason Schwartz, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Jing Ma, St. Jude; and Jennifer Kamens, Stanford University School of Medicine. Other St. Jude authors of the study are Tamara Westover, Michael Walsh, Samuel Brady, J. Robert Michael, Xiaolong Chen, Lindsey Montefiori, Guangchun Song, Gang Wu, Huiyn Wu, Ryan Hiltenbrand, Kim Nichols, Jamie Maciaszek, Yanling Liu, Priyadarshini Kumar, John Easton, Scott Newman, Jeffrey Rubnitz, Charles Mullighan, Stanley Pounds and Jinghui Zhang. Additional paper authors include Cristyn Branstetter, Arkansas Childrens Northwest Hospital; and Michael Walsh, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The research was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (1K08HL150282-01, P30CA021765, R01HL144653), Alexs Lemonade Stand Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, EvansMDS Foundation and ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization of St. Jude.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.

Study reveals mutations that drive therapy-related myeloid neoplasms in children - Newswise


Black and Hispanic Americans are most likely to miss health screenings due to COVID-19. A Penn physician is meeting the need. – WHYY

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

In the early months of the pandemic, doctors offices suspended appointments and hospitals cancelled routine procedures as they pivoted focus to managing the coronavirus. Even as those operations have slowly opened back up, the fear of contracting COVID-19 has kept thousands of Americans from getting their standard health screenings.

The numbers have been especially stark for cancer-screening rates, which according to Dr. Carmen E. Guerra dropped by 90% for colon and breast cancer at the height of the pandemic.

Guerra is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a health equity researcher who studies cancer-screening disparities in Black and immigrant communities. She said that while colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both Black men and women, colonoscopies are the only cancer test that are preventative meaning screening for colon cancer could also mitigate the risk of cancer down the line.

Its an invasive procedure and our most complicated test, said Guerra. Most people dont realize that most cancer screenings just detect cancer once its there. But [colonoscopies] remove polyps that look like they want to become dysplastic, which is a term we use for transforming itself into a high-risk lesion.

According to the American Cancer Society, Black Americans have the highest rates of colorectal cancer when compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. They are 40% more likely to die from this cancer as well. Thats largely due to lack of access to health insurance and high-quality medical care, and to being diagnosed at later stages in the disease.

Even before the pandemic, there were a whole host of structural and social barriers that prevented communities of color across the spectrum from getting screened. A cancer-screening test can be as simple as having a blood test. But for colonoscopies, your colon and rectum must be empty and clean so your doctor can see the entire lining during the test. You might hear this referred to as a bowel prep. That requires time off from work, and access to transportation to and from the procedure. In addition, colon cancer tests require sedation during the procedure, which means youll need someone to pick you up when youre finished.

Pre-pandemic, underserved communities were having a really difficult time accessing colonoscopy because they [are not] in an economic position to be able to take off work, said Guerra. Many communities dont have the luxury of having a caregiver. They are stretched, everyone in the household is working.

But then the pandemic swept in, and added another layer of barriers to an already vulnerable segment of the population. Jody Hoyos is the executive vice president of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, which in December, in collaboration with Omnibus, conducted a survey in which 1,200 Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans were asked questions about their reasons for missed cancer screenings and medical appointments during the pandemic.

Hoyos said the survey found that communities of color, across age and ethnicity, were more likely to have missed appointments during the pandemic than white Americans, with Black and Hispanic Americans about 40% more likely to have missed, postponed, or canceled a health appointment.

The volume of missed appointments is concerning, said Hoyos. We know that the five-year survival rate for cancer is over 80% [when] detected early, but that drops down to 21% if its detected in later stages.

Hoyos also noted that across all groups surveyed, fear of exposure to COVID-19 was the number one reason for missed appointments. For Black and Hispanic Americans in particular, loss of health insurance since the start of the pandemic was the most significant financial barrier this surveyed population brought up.

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Black and Hispanic Americans are most likely to miss health screenings due to COVID-19. A Penn physician is meeting the need. - WHYY


The seasons of your body: How health-tracking tech will change how we approach medicine – BBC Focus Magazine

Sunday, February 14th, 2021

Ancient Egyptians identified three seasons based on cycles of the Nile River: inundation, emergence and harvest. In tropical countries, its the rain that tends to divide the year in two: a wet and a dry season. Elsewhere the calendar demarcates four seasons: autumn, winter, spring and summer.

But now, researchers at Stanford University have found that human biology, rather than rivers, rainfall or calendars, could be used to determine the seasons. In their study, published in the journal Nature Communications in October 2020, the Stanford researchers discovered our bodies seem to set their own rhythm, splitting the year into two seasonal time periods.

Or at least thats the case if you live in California, where the study was carried out. Since every geographical location has unique environmental conditions, their approach may be used the count the seasons in other parts of the world too.

People say there are four seasons of three months each. But why four? There could be 15 or could be 2. Why dont we let biology tell us? asks Prof Michael Snyder, principal investigator of the study.

To determine the human seasons, Snyders team profiled the biology of 105 volunteers in the San Francisco Bay area over a period of four years. They regularly sampled and measured tens of thousands of molecules and microbes from the participants blood, noses and guts. This type of study is called deep longitudinal multiomics profiling.

On sample days, the researchers also collected meteorological data (such as air temperature and solar radiation) and airborne pollen counts.

This massive effort was undertaken to create a better picture of how the changing seasons might be affecting our physiology and health.

Read more about the biometrics:

When added to a molecular or microbial term, the suffix -omics refers to the comprehensive analysis of a collection of those molecules or microbes. For example, genomics is the comprehensive study of all of an organisms genes. Genomics is different from genetics, which considers single genes or their variants.

Scientists often talk informally of omics or omics groups, which may include genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, microbiomics and others.

Multiomics, which formed the basis of the study led by Snyder, is a branch of molecular biology in which researchers combine and analyse large data sets representing different omics groups. The goal of multiomics is to highlight relationships among the collections of molecules and their functions.

After four years of testing poo, taking blood samples and logging the weather, the team used powerful computational tools to try and find patterns between the volunteers biology and their environment. What they found surprised them.

There were two signals. One was a group of molecules that seemed to peak in December a season the researchers dubbed late fall/early winter. This included markers related to immune responses such as the complement system, a collection of proteins that work together to eliminate infectious microorganisms, which peaked during this time. Unsurprisingly, this correlated with the period we know viral infections are also high.

The second signal, however, did come as a surprise.

I thought the other [season] would be in June or July when its pretty hot, but that wasnt true, Snyder says. Instead, the second season peaked in late April a season they called late spring.

This seasons peak made sense in hindsight, as late April also corresponded with a time of high pollen counts at the end of Californias rainy season. The pollen caused a reaction in a large enough subset of people to contribute to the seasonal peak in the immune response.

Pollen (seen here under a scanning electron microscope) peaks in late April in California, just as some of the participants immune systems reached a second high point Getty Images

The findings added nuance to earlier understandings regarding how human biology interacts with seasonal patterns in the presence or absence of disease. For example, scientists had known that the disease risk marker HbA1c (an indicator of recent average blood glucose levels) was often higher in winter than in summer for diabetic patients.

What they didnt know was how levels varied throughout the year for non-diabetic patients. This study revealed that participants in general diabetic or not experienced peak HbA1c levels in late April. Snyder made sense of this by noting that late April is a time when people emerge from a somewhat more dormant period of not exercising as much.

The team also observed that PER1, a gene responsible for circadian rhythms, had a seasonal pattern, with its highest expression in spring. Furthermore, other studies have found that PER1 may play a role in the development of cancer and that incidences of localised tumours appear to be highest in the spring.

Snyders team suggests that their observation of a spring peak for PER1 provides additional evidence that the gene may contribute in some way to cancer growth.

So how could this research be useful? For a start, it will help us understand the fluctuations in the human body from patient to patient variations that cant be measured in the tests we typically get when we visit the GP.

But also, a standalone measure, such as a temperature reading, is often interpreted against a population average, without the context of the individuals normal, healthy baseline. For example, the average human temperature is 36.5C, though even that varies by gender, age and throughout the day, according to a Journal Of Internal Medicine study.

The study was carried out in the San Francisco Bay area, but the methods could be used for people in other regions Getty Images

But an individuals normal temperature may range from 36.1 to 37.2C. A patient with a low baseline who registers a temperature thats towards the high end of the normal range may indeed have a fever, even though the doctor taking that patients temperature may not realise it.

People usually go to the doctor when theyre ill. They dont often go when theyre healthy. We never take advantage of the longitudinal nature of data collecting data over time. Thats the essence of what were trying to do, Snyder says.

Besides, an individuals temperature or other health metrics may vary over a given year, even when theyre healthy. And disease markers for conditions such as arthritis, sleep disorders, and many neurological and psychiatric illnesses may also vary throughout the year. All of which raises questions about seasonal influences on health.

If your cholesterol is higher in the winter than in the summer, is that normal biological variation or is that signifying a potential health problem? asks Dr Laura Cox, professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

Read more about the future of medicine:

Until nearly the end of the 20th Century, researchers did not understand the existence or usefulness of a multiomics approach to human biology. Instead, they conducted targeted studies that looked at the influence of a single gene or a single protein on health or disease.

In recent decades, however, multiomics such as genomics and proteomics (collections of genes or proteins, respectively) have allowed researchers to gain a more integrated understanding of biological impacts on health and disease.

The genes and the proteins and the metabolites and the lipids are all talking to each other all the time, Cox explains. By quantifying tens of thousands of these measurements in a deep longitudinal multiomics profile, researchers may then determine what is, and is not, likely to be biologically important.

Snyders study offers personalised health models one for each study participant that follow and predict health trajectories. The models paint a picture of the normal biological variation in the different omics groups for the patient throughout the year, which is key in catching disease in its early stages.

Evidence supporting this approach is compelling. Snyder reports that the deep longitudinal multiomics profiles uncovered major health discoveries among nearly half of the participants, including early diagnoses of lymphoma, heart problems anda BRCA gene mutation indicating a high risk for breast cancer.

Snyder himself is a devout health logger. He even published results from his personalised omics profile in a 2012 paper in the journal Nature Reviews Genetics (he was both an author and the studys only participant).

Study leader Prof Michael Snyder is a fan of tracking his health he wears eight devices every day. Hes keen for personalised health data to be more widespread Steve Fisch/Stanford University

Today he wears eight portable devices to track his daily health, including four smartwatches, a continuous glucose monitor, a meter that measures environmental exposures, a health tracker ring, and a pulse oximeter. Recently, his smartwatch and pulse oximeter indicated that his blood oxygen level had dropped at the same time that his heart rate had increased, which turned out to be the first indication of a forthcoming diagnosis of Lyme disease.

The seasonal study that Snyder and his team have carried out is a research version of personalised health medicine that represents deep profiling, but he accepts that it will be difficult to do for the entire population.

Youre not going to do that for everybody. But we can try and figure out whats most useful and then try to put out a cheaper, higher utility, most bang-for-the-buck version, Snyder says. He also mentions that his ultimate goal is to use big data to build personalised health models depicting trajectories for every single person on the planet.

Cox, who has no connection to Snyder, calls the study a tour de force, as few others have studied as much multiomics data over such a long a period of time. Often, we see a very brief snapshot in time and infer a whole, continuous timeline based on that one brief snapshot, she says. It brings up: how much are we missing?

Its clear to see how tracking someones every bodily fluid, microbe and molecule for four years would create a higher resolution picture of their health, and allow doctors to take preventative measures protect them from disease. Sadly, however, this wont be manageable in the real world.

For a start, the culture of medicine would need to shift its focus from the current model of diagnosing and treating someone according to their symptoms, to focusing on early diagnostics and prevention. This is assuming that the high cost of comprehensively tracking everyones health metrics not to mention any privacy concerns could be addressed.

Nonetheless, in revealing that, according to their biology, northern Californians experience two seasons rather than the traditional four we associate with the calendar, this research suggests that seasonal influences should be considered when addressing human health and disease management.

Plus, the study offers a template for identifying seasonal counts and influences in other parts of the world, which may have an impact on our understanding of human health and disease management in those regions.

So how many seasons are there? Well, its difficult to say for certain, but your health likely depends on the answer. Even so, Snyder notes, I predict that there arent going to be four seasons with three months each.

Read more:
The seasons of your body: How health-tracking tech will change how we approach medicine - BBC Focus Magazine


WSU’s first class of medical students will graduate this spring – The Daily Evergreen

Friday, January 29th, 2021

Thousands of Firsts campaign celebrates students, faculties early memories of program


Weve been conceiving this idea for nearly four years now, to capture all of these firsts, all of these amazing moments that have occurred since the start of the medical school, said Christina VerHeul, director of communications, marketing and strategic operations at WSUs College of Medicine.

WSUs Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine will graduate its first class of medical students at the end of the spring 2021 semester.

In 2017, the colleges dean welcomed the first class of students, said Christina VerHeul, director of communications, marketing and strategic operations at WSUs College of Medicine. The dean shared a quote during the event: The beauty of the first time is that it leads to 1,000 firsts.

VerHeul said this inspired a campaign to capture all the thousands of firsts that will happen for the students and the school. The college has been collecting students and faculties first memories since then.

It is the largest and most expensive ad campaign the college has done. This milestone is a significant moment for the college and it needs to be celebrated, she said.

Weve been conceiving this idea for nearly four years now, to capture all of these firsts, all of these amazing moments that have occurred since the start of the medical school, VerHeul said.

This is not just about the medical school, she said. They want to share the success of the students with every Washingtonian. Everyone from the taxpayers and patients to health care professionals were involved in making this medical school a reality.

We really wanted to bring the state together, especially in this really difficult time, particularly in the health care community, VerHeul said. Theres a little bit of light out there this year that we feel is such an exciting thing.

Senior medical student Christie Kirkpatricks story is incorporated into the campaign. Her story is just one of the many firsts from the students, VerHeul said.

Christie had this incredible first where she delivered her first baby alongside the doctor who delivered her, she said.

Kirkpatrick said she realized in college that medical school was a good fit for her. It felt like a natural starting point because she had grown up in a family of medical doctors.

Working as my fathers medical scribe made me realize I wanted to pursue medicine, she said.

Kirkpatricks favorite memories include seeing her father care for patients and clue into what they really need. She said she would like to practice primary care and specialize in internal medicine.

Part of the reason I am choosing my specialty is because we get to do everything, she said. If I had to pick my favorite, I like preventative medicine and lifestyle changes, so thinking about metabolic disease.

Kirkpatrick said the COVID-19 pandemic is emotionally challenging for her, but she thinks it will make her a better doctor in the long run.

She acquired a greater appreciation for life and became more resilient. Kirkpatrick said this pandemic really showed her where the problems are within the medical system.

She said she hopes to be a pillar for her patients and to be compassionate and comforting. She is encouraging everyone to not lose hope, to keep their heads up and to know they are loved.

The campaign for the medical school can be viewed on the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine website and YouTube channel.

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WSU's first class of medical students will graduate this spring - The Daily Evergreen


Husband-and-Wife Medical Duo Confront the Deficiencies of America’s Healthcare System in New Documentary – PRNewswire

Friday, January 29th, 2021

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Medicine thought leaders,entrepreneurs and board-certified osteopathicpractitioners, Dr. Vincent Apicella and Dr. Mariaclara Bago, known asDr. A & B,areredefining the currenthealthcare system by combining the best of traditional and alternative medical strategies.

Utilizingtheir comprehensive knowledge and passion for health and wellness, the husband-and-wife duo arestarring in the documentary,The Blob Blob Fish: A Journey Through Obesity,set to be released this summer.Produced and directed by Andrew Mossop (DreamsWorks, MTV, VH1), the filmis an upliftingand thought-provokingdocumentary which highlights the flaws in our current healthcare model.

The Blob Blob Fish: A Journey Through Obesitybeautifully demonstrates Dr. A & B's methodsbyexamining the benefits of drastic lifestyle changes on weight loss. In it, three patients, including a teenage boy who is deemed the "blob blob fish" by his peers, embark on a transformative, inspiring, and heartwarming journey to improve their health, self-esteem and overallquality of life.

"I wish everyone understood that they don't need to depend upon insurance, drugs, or the government for better health," says Dr. A. "We want to show the differences people can make in their own healthcare by starting with a moreholistic approach, andthentraditional medicine second. "Or on an as-needed basis," adds Dr. B.

The mission of the film is to redefine how health is perceived in this country. With a culture stuck on the path of least resistance, thismentality has led to trillions of dollars of healthcare spending and very minimal impact on chronic diseases.

Dr. A & B practice functional medicine,a root-cause, holistic, and natural approach that addresses the body as a whole when treating specific medical problems. Their preventative method can often target and cure healthailmentsbeforetraditional medicine techniques like drugs andsurgery arerequired.

Tointerview Dr. A & B, contact EKC PR at 310-441-1000 or email -[emailprotected].

About Dr. A & B

Dr. A & B have been applying their "life changing through lifestyle altering" treatments by way of theirintegrative medicalpractice for the last 15 years, including running their own renowned health and wellness center in Wellington, FL.


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Husband-and-Wife Medical Duo Confront the Deficiencies of America's Healthcare System in New Documentary - PRNewswire


Ask an expert: Finlay Maguire on using genomic data to better understand how COVID19 and its variants behave – Dal News

Friday, January 29th, 2021

Its not uncommon for viruses to transform during their life cycle and while understanding the process and rate at which they evolve is incredibly complex, its extremely important for developing preventative medicines and treatments that will mitigate against transmission and any serious health impacts experienced by infected individuals.

In recent months, confirmation of several more prominent variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the cause of the ongoing global pandemic), have been made in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil with two of those variants recently detected in Nova Scotia. As these new variants are believed to spread more quickly, its critical that scientists continue to study and document these mutations so that public health officials can control their spread and ensure that current COVID-19 tests are able to detect all variants of the virus and vaccines able to defend against them.

One of the ways in which scientists are able to detect and track variants of the COVID-19 virus and also other viruses, is through technology known as genome sequencing. We asked Finlay Maguire, who specializes in the fields of public health, epidemiology and bioinformatics and is the Faculty of Computer Science's Donald Hill Family Fellow, to explain how genomic data can be used to help fight against COVID-19.

What exactly is genome sequencing?

Genome sequencing is any of several methods that we use to work out the make-up of all the genetic material in an organism or virus. These methods and the analysis of the data that they produce are foundational to modern life sciences/medicine. Genome sequencing is being actively used to help understand the evolution and epidemiology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus i.e., how the virus is changing and spreading over time. Led by Jalees Nasir in Prof. Andrew McArthurs lab at McMaster University, we, along with many other groups, have done research comparing the strengths and weaknesses of different methods to sequence the genome of SARS-CoV-2. The raw data generated by genome sequencing requires a fair amount of computational processing to remove errors and identify any variants.

In an interesting bit of cross-discipline collaboration, I worked with a cosmologist from the Perimeter Institute (Prof. Kendrick Smith) to scale up the methods being used to do this in the McArthur lab. This has enabled hundreds to thousands of genomes to be processed at the same time and is now used by McMaster and the Public Health Agency of Canada for this particular type of sequencing.

How can genomic data be used to predict the evolution of SARS-CoV-2? How does this information help scientists develop vaccines that fight against current and future genetic variants of the virus?

Genomic data gives us the precise genetic fingerprint of the virus that infected the person or animal from which it was sampled. By comparing this fingerprint to the genomes of other SARS-CoV-2 viruses, we can investigate how the virus is spreading. For example, whether an outbreak is all from one source and what that source is likely to be, such as travel from a specific country or region. The pattern of variations, or differences in genetic material, across these genomes can also be used to predict things like how much SARS-CoV-2 is circulating in a population and how quickly it is being transmitted. Using genomic data to answer epidemiological questions like these is known as Genomic Epidemiology.

In terms of vaccine development, genomic data allows researchers to better understand how the virus infects human cells, how quickly specific components change over time, and thus which parts of the virus to target with a vaccine. Every single SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and vaccine candidate was developed using genomic data in some way. This link is particularly clear in the mRNA vaccines being deployed against SARS-CoV-2, as these vaccines are based on a copied portion of the viral genome. We also use genomic sequencing to monitor whether a virus has evolved to overcome the vaccine. By sequencing any person that might become infected after being vaccinated, we can determine how the virus has changed and whether the vaccine needs updating.

Given recent news that mutations of the COVID-19 virus have been found in areas like Great Britain and Canada, are researchers around the world collaborating in the study of these mutations? If so, how are they tracking sharing this information?The analysis of SARS-CoV-2 is a truly international and cross-discipline effort, with open and rapid sharing of data, tools, and preliminary findings outside of traditional (and slow) academic publishing channels. There are currently over 425,000 genomes deposited in databases such as the European Nucleotide Archive and GISAIDs EpiCoV through the work of individual research groups and national sequencing initiatives such as the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN).

However, genomes are only so useful without accompanying high-quality metadata (e.g., details about the genomes such as when/where the genome was collected). To this end, as part of the Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology, we (led by Dr. Emma Griffths at the BCCDC/Simon Fraser University) have developed international consensus standards to try and ensure that everyone is generating consistent, specific, usable metadata with their sequencing. This allows us to more easily collaborate on a global scale to study this virus.

To enable all this data to be used effectively, open-source projects such as Nextstrain develop tools and facilitate the sharing of results. These projects allow researchers and public health officials to analyse data from their area of interest and automatically sample the global data to provide context for their results. Through a collaboration with Ontarios ONCoV Genomics Rapid Response Coalition and Prof. Andrew McArthur, I currently maintain and host a continually updated evolutionary analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Canada using these tools.

How have insights gained from genome sequencing been used by governments and health officials to develop policy and protocols to manage the global pandemic and spread of the virus?

Historically, the process of sequencing and analyzing genomic data took too long to actively drive public health policy/interventions during an active outbreak. Thanks to work on improving open international standards and infrastructure through initiatives like the Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology, Nextstrain, and Canadas Integrated Rapid Infectious Disease Analysis project, it is now possible to perform genomic epidemiological analyses in essentially real-time.

This has allowed the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 to inform public health interventions throughout the pandemic at every level from the imposition of international travel restrictions to try to control the spread of new rapidly transmitting variants down to changes in cleaning and staff-screening policies within single hospitals or long-term care facilities to control outbreaks. Beyond this pandemic, genomic epidemiology is likely going to continue to become an increasingly important tool in the management of infectious diseases.

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Ask an expert: Finlay Maguire on using genomic data to better understand how COVID19 and its variants behave - Dal News


Which COVID-19 treatments are working at Louisville-area hospitals? – WLKY Louisville

Friday, January 29th, 2021


Which COVID-19 treatments are working at Louisville-area hospitals?

Updated: 6:58 PM EST Jan 28, 2021

Even with the vaccination rollout, the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. It's why every patient who leaves the hospital, or never even has to be admitted, is celebrated as a victory."We're preventing people from getting profoundly ill and they're quickly going back to their lives. That's what medicine's really all about at the end of the day," Dr. Joe Flynn, with Norton Healthcare, told WLKY.Flynn has been part of a team of researchers that has been working with monoclonal antibodies for months. Already this week, 30 COVID-19 patients were given the drugs. In recent weeks, that number was 500, and of those, only three had to be hospitalized. Flynn said it's critical to keep those numbers lower, so that hospitals and staff don't get overwhelmed.Currently, Norton reports 182 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, there are 98 at UofL Health, while Baptist Health has 74 COVID-19 hospitalizations.UofL Health, in part because of their renowned cardiac team, is finding themselves well equipped to deal with those in the ICU. ECMO, oxygenating a patient's blood to allow their lungs and heart to heal, has already saved five lives this year, according to surgeon Dr. Matthew Fox."As surgeons, we don't get to treat COVID patients as much as our critical care colleagues that see it every day, and being able to contribute in your own way is nice," Fox said.But even with advancements being made daily, doctors caution there's a long way to go. Preventative measures, like masks and social distancing, must continue."When we started in March or April, we were in the Stone Age, trying to invent the wheel now we might be driving a model T, but we've got a long way to go. Our ticket out of this is through the vaccine," Dr. Benjamin Klausing, an infectious disease specialist with Baptist Health, said.The development of multiple vaccinations signals an incredible step in the fight against COVID-19. But just as incredible as the medicine, Dr. Flynn said, is the manpower."I love science, that's what I do, but to me the thing that has been transformative is human reaction and what people have stepped up to do for others it's so uplifting to me, that's what I take from all of this," he said.Kentucky is currently in Phase 1B of the vaccination rollout. Area doctors suspect the greater population will not be vaccinated until late summer or early fall.

Even with the vaccination rollout, the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. It's why every patient who leaves the hospital, or never even has to be admitted, is celebrated as a victory.

"We're preventing people from getting profoundly ill and they're quickly going back to their lives. That's what medicine's really all about at the end of the day," Dr. Joe Flynn, with Norton Healthcare, told WLKY.

Flynn has been part of a team of researchers that has been working with monoclonal antibodies for months. Already this week, 30 COVID-19 patients were given the drugs. In recent weeks, that number was 500, and of those, only three had to be hospitalized. Flynn said it's critical to keep those numbers lower, so that hospitals and staff don't get overwhelmed.

Currently, Norton reports 182 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, there are 98 at UofL Health, while Baptist Health has 74 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

UofL Health, in part because of their renowned cardiac team, is finding themselves well equipped to deal with those in the ICU. ECMO, oxygenating a patient's blood to allow their lungs and heart to heal, has already saved five lives this year, according to surgeon Dr. Matthew Fox.

"As surgeons, we don't get to treat COVID patients as much as our critical care colleagues that see it every day, and being able to contribute in your own way is nice," Fox said.

But even with advancements being made daily, doctors caution there's a long way to go. Preventative measures, like masks and social distancing, must continue.

"When we started in March or April, we were in the Stone Age, trying to invent the wheel now we might be driving a model T, but we've got a long way to go. Our ticket out of this is through the vaccine," Dr. Benjamin Klausing, an infectious disease specialist with Baptist Health, said.

The development of multiple vaccinations signals an incredible step in the fight against COVID-19. But just as incredible as the medicine, Dr. Flynn said, is the manpower.

"I love science, that's what I do, but to me the thing that has been transformative is human reaction and what people have stepped up to do for others it's so uplifting to me, that's what I take from all of this," he said.

Kentucky is currently in Phase 1B of the vaccination rollout. Area doctors suspect the greater population will not be vaccinated until late summer or early fall.

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Which COVID-19 treatments are working at Louisville-area hospitals? - WLKY Louisville


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