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The coronavirus pandemic is clearly an acute and immediate pubic health crisis. Within the space of just a few months, almost 20 million people have had documented infections and over 700,00 have perished globally. The US alone accounts for almost 5 million cases and 162,000 deaths. In response to this public health catastrophe, the US along with the rest of the developed world (including China) have cobbled together an incredible effort to identify, test and distribute new vaccines and treatments. In addition to supporting research efforts (push incentives) many countries (especially the U.S.) have been providing market support by ordering doses (hundreds of millions) of the various vaccines currently being tested in clinical trials (subscription model of a pull incentive). There is...

I have put aside the question of how mass vaccination might work. As a child growing up in the ‘50s, I remember lining up in the school auditorium for my polio shot and a few years later for my polio “sugar cube.” With so many urgent care centers and pharmacies turn “primary” care, I am optimistic enough not to be concerned about those logistics. 

And I have mixed feelings about the survey by YahooNews/YouGov, showing only 42% would get vaccinated for COVID-19. (19-25 say they won’t get treated, the remaining 26-33 are unsure). It does move me up in the line, but I worry that those not getting vaccinated will be a pox upon my house. 

It is easy to say that priority should go to essential workers and those at risk, but those terms are a bit too vague when it actually comes...

If you have more money than sense, how about spending $129.99 every 18 days on fresh celery juice delivered to your door?

As mad as it sounds, some people are willingly handing over this amount of cash to invest in an unpleasant tasting juice that, truth be told, isn’t especially nutritious.

Marketeers know that being more expensive than the competition can give you the upper hand (because people assume  your product must be superior), but celery juice companies are taking this concept to a whole new level.

What’s more, many of the claims being made for celery juice are off-the-scale bonkers, not to mention in contravention of every food advertising regulation going.

On...

To understand healthcare policy, an area of expertise of my colleague Dr. Chuck Dinerstein, one must have a basic grasp of economics, the dismal science. One particularly important aspect is how prices (and wages) change over time.

When I was little, I remember my grandpa -- legitimately, the most interesting man in the world -- telling me about how he could buy things much more cheaply years ago. Coffee? He could get that for a nickel. (I wonder what he would think about $7 lattes.) His gripe, echoed by Old Timers everywhere, was that money wasn't worth as much as it once was. Yogi Berra summed it up best: "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."

They're...

For all the ink spilled pixels expended, on COVID-19 and the immune system, it might help in putting our response and our attempts at vaccines into perspective if we review how our immune system works. Of course, it’s complicated, and the phrase, we don’t know makes numerous appearances. One last note, it continues to use war metaphors, a linguistic hangover from the hot and cold wars of the mid 20th century when our understanding of immunology began to grow, in describing immune responses. 

“Still, “any virus that can make people sick has to have at least one good trick for evading the immune system,” Crotty says. The new coronavirus seems to rely on early stealth, somehow delaying the launch of the innate immune system,...

Dr. Katherine Seley-Radtke, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is an expert in antiviral drug discovery, and a member of the ACSH Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Seley-Radtke and I cautioned that an antiviral drug, not a vaccine, may prove to be the best way to get Covid-19 under control in our July 1st op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. 

She generously agreed to spend some time telling us what she believes to be a path forward and also explain her group's unique strategy in designing drugs that inhibit RNA virus in general and SARS-CoV-2 in particular. 

JB: Dr. Radtke,...

This article was originally published at Geopolitical Futures. The original is here.

Nationalism is all the rage these days. Following decades of globalization, the pendulum has begun to swing back the other direction, triggering fears that nationalist policies will lead to a breakdown in international cooperation and a destabilization of the world order. This, in turn, has led to much hand-wringing over “vaccine nationalism,” the notion that governments will take a “me first” approach to vaccines, further exacerbating the health crisis. The crux of the argument was elaborated in Harvard Business...

The study comes from a working paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research by authors from UCLA and Yale, seeking to understand how nursing home populations were particularly vulnerable. They found, as I had suggested in April and May, that CMS star ratings among many other variables bore no relationship to nursing home mortality. They point out that if a nursing home were completely shut off to the outside world, there would be no infections – the infections were brought, in large part, by the staff traveling from one to another facility – cross traffic....

Comprehension levels are often two or more grades below reading or education level. Comprehension drops even more when a person is under stress.

CDC's "Simply Put"

The CDC published “Simply Put A guide for creating easy-to-understand materials” several years ago, the bottom line for health topics 8th-grade readability is considered best. As someone who writes on health and science, I know first-hand that this is a tricky business; it is hard to convey nuance in complex topics simply. A group of researchers assessed the readability of 18 websites, written in English, from governments or public health agencies with more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 as of April 5th. They used a variety of well-...

I stumbled across a paper by a group of German chemists from the University of Duisburg-Essen in the journal Analytical Chemistry which left me with mixed feelings. The title is "Caffeine in Your Drink: Natural or Synthetic?"

Why mixed? The analytical chemistry is very clever and well done. But the justification for doing it is pointless and disingenuous. There is absolutely no valid reason to do this study. This can be illustrated by three theoretical studies of equal value, which I just made up.

  • If you hold a Three Musketeers Bar (1) upside down while eating it will you consume fewer calories?
  • Do people who have social security numbers ending with an even number recover...