food and nutrition

Background

Did the use of lead pipes for drinking water cause the collapse of the Roman Empire? Although historians no longer believe that lead poisoning caused the Roman Empire's collapse, the Romans did have an extensive plumbing system upgraded about 2,200 years ago to include lead pipes. In the U.S. in the 1800s, cast iron pipes were used, but with the growth of cities came the need for more flexible piping to connect buildings to water mains. Lead became the perfect material for this task, and by the 1900s, most of the largest cities in the U.S. installed lead piping. Amazingly, many of these pipes are still in use today.      

On March 31, President Biden released The American Jobs Plan, also known...

 

 

The bar graph shows the number of views; we assume that the views are the same as reading the entire article, for the first six months of 2019 and 2020, for three of the major journals, JAMA, NEJM, and BMJ. [1]

In 2019 they published 238 articles between March and July; the period was chosen as the pandemic's earliest days. All of the articles were unrelated to COVID-19 as the pandemic awaited. For the same period in 2020, original research unrelated to COVID-19 was featured 23% less. There were only 199 articles. Based on views, those unrelated articles still captured the same readership as in 2019. 

COVID-19 was a different tale. The total number of articles...

In a sleepy moment, I had an inspiration.

Funding a pull incentive for antibiotic R&D in the U.S. – like a market entry reward, for example – would be more attractive to our representatives in Congress if we required that all manufacturing and supply chains for the beneficiary product be physically located in this country.

Great idea, right?  Not exactly.

I raised this with two biotech CEOs. Both, politely, told me I was out of my mind.

The U.S. currently does not have a sufficient small molecule manufacturing infrastructure to either (1) provide for the entire manufacturing chain from API to finished product, or (2) have sufficient availability of raw materials here. This is an especially acute problem for the manufacture of B-lactams (like penicillins...

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released provisional mortality data[1] by cause, age, and race for 2020 that facilitates assessing “excess” mortality. Here I define percent “excess” as the ratio of COVID-19 related deaths to the non-COVID-19 deaths as obtained by subtraction. That figure for the nation was 12.8%, which seems a modest effect but represents nearly the national improvement in mortality over the last twenty years.

Males exceed females by 10%, and those with Hispanic heritage exceed those declared multi-racial by a factor of 4. 

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Imagine for a moment that you're standing in the grocery store, choosing between two identical tomatoes. The only difference between them is price because one is certified organic and thus more expensive. Before you decide to purchase the cheaper option, you say to yourself, “I want to buy this tomato, but what if it gives me cancer?” 

If this sounds like an absurd thought experiment to you, that's because it is. To the organic food champions at Natural News [1], though, this is actually a reasonable “profit/loss statement” you should  calculate because consuming “GMO foods,” while cheaper in the short run, causes cancer and ultimately results in expensive medical bills:

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"I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope. But right now. I'm scared." 

Those are the recent words of CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Much of the messaging to the public during the pandemic has used fear of the consequences to ourselves, families, or society as a “cudgel” to strongly influence our behavior. A new study looks to see if fear is the best motivator.

A Bit of Theory

There is a hypothesis, the protection motivation theory, that holds that our motivation to “comply with risk-relevant...

So, are vaccine passports legal? In a word, yes. They are legal if the various governments want them to be.  But are they ethical? That’s another story. 

The idea of health-related travel documents is not new.  The World Health Organization (WHO created the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP), known as the Carte Jaune or Yellow Card, for those coming from or traveling through areas infected by yellow fever to arrest global transmission of the diseases. It’s been around since 1933. In Europe, health passes were adopted following outbreaks of the Black Death...

Randy Weingarten, President of the AFT, sent a letter to the Director of the CDC and the Secretary of Education.  She made two arguments. Concerning the scientific basis for the CDC’s recommendations, discussed here, she noted that the schools had implemented a variety of mitigation strategies, especially around upgraded HVAC (ventilation) systems, that were not addressed and might well impact the findings. The researchers had noted this as well. Her second argument was that the studies were not conducted in high-density, poor schools, so the results might...

The survey was completed in the San Francisco Bay area, comparing about 3900 randomly selected households and 2500 healthcare workers who are agreed to bi-monthly testing for COVID-19.

While being a healthcare worker reduced vaccine hesitancy compared to the general population, the clear distinctions based upon race and ethnicity held for both groups. The, at this point, usual reasons were given, less confidence in the vaccine working, less confidence in the company manufacturing the vaccines (this was during the period when only Pfizer and Moderna were available), and less trust in the approval process.

The researchers end by...

"Over 100 fully vaccinated people contract COVID-19 in Washington state, officials say."

That ridiculous headline is from a new ABC News story. Whoever wrote it should be ashamed of him or herself. It's disgraceful journalism like this that scares people, especially those who read only the headline – probably a healthy percentage of us. 

Was ABC's article an attempt to prevent people from getting a very safe vaccine? Or was it clickbait? Who knows, but the article's accurate headline should have been:

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