The US government announced funding clinical trials on three COVID-19 vaccine candidates. According to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, we're still on track for a vaccine at scale by the end of this year or early 2021. From CNN:
Phase 3 trials, which typically involve tens of thousands of people and measure whether a vaccine is safe and effective, will begin with one by Moderna in July, then an Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in August and one by Johnson & Johnson in September...
Last week, Fauci said the US should have 100 million doses of one candidate coronavirus vaccine by the beginning of 2021, but many doctors caution that is an ambitious goal. He has also said there will be "more than one winner" in the Covid-19 vaccine field on Tuesday.
Who will get first dibs? (And who wants first dibs?)
image: "Respiratory droplets produced when a man sneezes, visualised using Tyndall scattering" by James Gathany/CDC (public domain)
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In a new interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association above, Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAID), said he expects the US will have 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year. “Then, by the beginning of 2021, we hope to have a couple hundred million doses,” he said.
The vaccine in development by Moderna in partnership with the NAID will enter final clinical trials this summer and the company will start cranking out doses at scale before the testing is complete. Meanwhile, several other promising candidates have also been fast-tracked around the world.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that with the multiple candidates we have with different platforms, that we are going to have a vaccine that will make it deployable,” Fauci said.
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Fauci said he is a little more concerned about what the durability of the response will be. People develop antibodies to fight common colds caused by other strains of coronavirus, but that protection generally only lasts about a year. That might mean people would need a fresh vaccine every year, as is the case with influenza.
• The Lancet says Trump's letter contains 'factually incorrect' details. Read the rest
An array of scientific evidence suggest that in some cases, the bacteria in your gut–your microbiome–could be tied to neurological and psychological disorders and differences, from anxiety and autism to Parkinson's and schizophrenia. The journal Science published a survey of the field and the Cambridge, Massachusetts start-up Holobiome that hopes to use insight into this "psychobiome" to develop treatments for depression, insomnia, and other conditions with a neurological side to them. From Science:
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For example, many people with irritable bowel syndrome are also depressed, people on the autism spectrum tend to have digestive problems, and people with Parkinson’s are prone to constipation.
Researchers have also noticed an increase in depression in people taking antibiotics—but not antiviral or antifungal medications that leave gut bacteria unharmed. Last year, Jeroen Raes, a microbiologist at the Catholic University of Leuven, and colleagues analyzed the health records of two groups—one Belgian, one Dutch—of more then 1000 people participating in surveys of their types of gut bacteria. People with depression had deficits of the same two bacterial species, the authors reported in April 2019 in Nature Microbiology.
Researchers see ways in which gut microbes could influence the brain. Some may secrete messenger molecules that travel though the blood to the brain. Other bacteria may stimulate the vagus nerve, which runs from the base of the brain to the organs in the abdomen. Bacterial molecules might relay signals to the vagus through recently discovered “neuropod” cells that sit in the lining of the gut, sensing its biochemical milieu, including microbial compounds.
“Mark Grenon wrote to Trump saying chlorine dioxide ‘can rid the body of Covid-19’ days before the president promoted disinfectant as treatment”
Doctors say the disease caused by the novel coronavirus appears to be causing strokes in young adult patients, some who didn't even know they were infected. Read the rest
Two cats in New York are reported to have been infected with the novel coronavirus. Both had mild respiratory symptoms and are expected to make a full recovery. Read the rest
In the 1990s, Australian urologist Helen O'Connell performed the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on aroused women's clitorises. She found that the clitoris is 10 times larger than most anyone suspected. In this video, science journalist Rachel Gross, who is currently writing a book called Lady Anatomy, shares some medical history and takes us on a tour of the "clitoral complex."
"The Clitoris, Uncovered: An Intimate History" (Scientific American) Read the rest
“[U.S.] officials are seriously pursuing the possibility that a natural sample of the virus escaped a laboratory.”
The question was dismissed as a conspiracy theory in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.
But now, some intelligence experts admit they are seriously looking into the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic might have been touched off by an accident at a research facility in China, various news outlets report. Read the rest
American drug maker Johnson & Johnson said Monday it plans to begin the human testing phase of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by September 2020, with plans to make it available for emergency use in early 2021. Read the rest
British inventor James Dyson announced that his company has spent the last week designing a new ventilator for COVID-19 patients and will ship 10,000 of them early next month to support the UK's National Health Service. He's also donating 5,000 more of them to international initiatives. From CNN:
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Dyson said the company had designed and built an entirely new ventilator, called the "CoVent," since he received a call 10 days ago from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.,P"This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume," Dyson added, saying that the new ventilator has been designed to "address the specific needs" of coronavirus patients....
"The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time," he added. "The race is now on to get it into production."
With unfortunate frequency, elderly patients go to the hospital for a surgery or other treatment and quickly become confused, bewildered, and sometimes agitated or totally disoriented. This is called delirium and while it apparently affects between 10 and 50 percent of patients over 65, it's only recently been studied in depth. Sharon K. Inouye, director of Harvard's Aging Brain Center, is leading the charge to understand delirium, its impact on patients' longterm cognitive faculties, and how to prevent it. From Scientific American:
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[Delirium] is the phenomenon, sadly familiar to many families, of Grandpa never being quite the same after an operation...
The consequences of delirium, if it lasts more than a few days and especially if it is followed by cognitive decline, are enormous. “It’s a house of cards,” Inouye says. “Patients start getting treated with medications for agitation or disruptive behavior, and those medications lead to complications. Or they are very sedated, and that leads to complications.” Delirious patients may choke on their food or pills and die of aspiration pneumonia. They may wind up in bed for long periods and suffer fatal blood clots. Once up, they are prone to falling. It’s a downward spiral and a costly one. Delirium adds more than $183 billion a year to U.S. health care costs, outstripping congestive heart failure.
Fortunately, basic steps can be taken to prevent delirium or shorten its course, such as making sure the patient is well hydrated, has access to eyeglasses and hearing aids if he or she uses them, gets out of bed and walks as soon as possible, has adequate sleep, and is socially engaged by hospital staff and loved ones.
'Smallpox comes to Deadwood', a clip from the swearily beloved television series DEADWOOD, via Reddit, as pointed out by Helen Kennedy.
An instructive video for our times.
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Matt Round's Death Roulette is a game that randomly selects for you one of the many deaths recorded in 17th-century London.
In the week of July 11th, 1665 you died from
(swelling or abscess)
The use of scans of the actual records is very effective! Read up on the death searchers. Read the rest
Researchers from Texas A&M say they have found a quick, cheap, and accurate way for law enforcement agents to differentiate pot and hemp – using lasers. Read the rest
'Marijuana Moment' publisher Tom Angell tweeted today about the impact of impeached president Donald Trump's new budget on marijuana law in America. Read the rest
A new study argues that it's "ethically permissible" for dead men to "register their desire to donate their sperm after death for use by strangers." Dr. Nathan Hodson of the University of Leicester and Dr. Joshua Parker of Manchester's Wythenshawe Hospital conducted their research as a response to a shortage of sperm donors in the United Kingdom. From CNN:
"If it is morally acceptable that individuals can donate their tissues to relieve the suffering of others in 'life-enhancing transplants' for diseases, we see no reason this cannot be extended to other forms of suffering like infertility, which may or may not also be considered a disease," the study says.
The mechanics of donating, they say, are entirely feasible through either electroejaculation or surgical methods.
Sperm would be cryopreserved following collection and thawed when chosen for reproduction, the authors said...
The process would address the ongoing shortage of donor sperm in the UK, argue the authors, which has led to Britain importing commercially donated sperm to cope with demand from couples struggling to conceive.
More: "The ethical case for non-directed postmortem sperm donation" (Journal of Medical Ethics)
image: "Sperm and ovum fusing" (public domain)
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