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Epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina publishes regular, extremely informative updates of the state of respiratory infectious diseases in the U.S.  This was the punchline of her most recent one, published on December 5:

Respiratory illnesses continue to increase due to colder temperatures, changes in human behavior (i.e., holidays), and viruses mutating, like Covid-19.

As shown in this figure, overall respiratory illness levels are high or very high in almost half the country, and we are still fairly early in the season:

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The number of deaths from COVID-19 is way down from its peak and pandemic-related restrictions and mandates have virtually disappeared, but there are hints we are in for a late summer surge in infections.

Most of us know people, first- or second-hand who have been infected recently.  The brother-in-law of a friend of mine attended a baby shower suffering from what he thought were summer allergies…and gave COVID to almost every other attendee.  In addition, two distinguished academic physicians known for dispensing advice on COVID recently had serious outcomes from their own bouts with the infection. 

In early July, Dr. Bob Wachter, the chairman of the Department...

Although most people who get COVID recover within a few days or, at most, weeks, we cannot ignore that this infection has already killed some 1.1 million Americans, and the death toll is currently about 4.000 per week. In addition, even those with only mild infections can experience the syndrome of "long COVID," which is marked by persistent, sometimes debilitating symptoms that last for months or even years following the acute infection.

According to a recent article in Nature Reviews Microbiology by Scripps Research’s Dr. Eric Topol and coworkers:

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The Wall Street Journal published a news article on January 5, “Why It Feels Like Everyone You Know Is Getting COVID-19,” which contained several worrisome observations. It cited “a seven-day average of more than 26,000 people hospitalized with COVID in late December, about double the number two months earlier,” noting that although the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths are far lower than during the previous two winters, “it remains a disruptive and rapidly spreading illness.”

Those were understatements. Within hours after the article appeared, the CDC released updated December numbers that were significantly worse. During the week from Dec 24-Dec 30, COVID hospitalizations were up 20.4% week-...

A shorter article derived from this "e-monograph" appears in the September/October 2003 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, with the title "Energy, Homeopathy, and Hypnosis in Santa Fe."

Todd Seavey is Director of Publications at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org) and Editor of HealthFactsAndFears.com. His research for this project took place under the auspices of a Phillips Foundation journalism fellowship. The opinions expressed are entirely his own.

Table of contents

Introduction: A SYMPATHETIC LOOK AT VOODOO (SERIOUSLY)

Part...

The “Social Justice Warrior Handbook,” which satirizes people who promote liberal, multicultural, anti-capitalist, anti-globalization, and politically correct views, could have had Indian activist and mountebank Vandana Shiva on the cover. She opposes the tools and practices of modern agriculture and science — and for that matter, modernity in general — and advocates regressive policies that cause widespread malnourishment, famine, and death to the very people she claims to champion. And she’s no friend of the environment, either.

It is noteworthy, then, that earlier this month, two U.S. universities – Florida International University and Boston College -- invited her to lecture. That...

DISPATCH: Hunger, Mercury, Alcohol, Smoke, and Toenails

Norman Borlaug's op-ed on the fight against hunger

ACSH trustee Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M University, co-wrote an op-ed addressing the issue of world hunger. In the article, Dr. Borlaug and Peter McPherson acknowledge that short-term solutions include emergency food aid, but they heavily emphasized that "we also need a long-term vision of growth, and integrated investments that incorporate research, human and institutional capacity building, infrastructure, sound policy, markets, and governance."

Dr. Borlaug...

Current conservation policies often clash with public health initiatives in the developing world but they get little attention. There are real harms in advocating water and energy conservation over people.

We take sanitary practices for granted in wealthier countries but hygienic practices require water in quantity and uninterrupted power to supply that water and related sewage systems. Those really help countries that need it most yet those are two things that environmental groups and governments in Europe and North America often oppose. Reports from the World Health Organization and the World Bank have found that lack of water and energy affects 800 million people around the globe. Decentralized heating and cooking in homes in the urban areas of the developing world account...

Below is the text of a letter sent to officials at London's UnHerd Club in anticipation of an appearance there on July 18 of anti-science, anti-technology, anti-innovation activist Vandana Shiva. The signatories of the letter, of whom I am one, wished to make them aware of Shiva's longstanding perfidy and mendacity and the damage she has wrought, especially to the world's poorest and most vulnerable. In addition to the link to my ACSH.org article cited in the letter, I have also written about Vandana Shiva elsewhere, including here

 

Letter regarding Dr Vandana Shiva's anti-scientific and unethical stances

Date...

How much do we really know about the origin and spread of the 1918 flu pandemic? Comparisons with other pandemics reveal patterns and lingering mysteries.

Watching the Animals

"The horses growing better, a cough and sore throat seized mankind." This was the news from Dublin toward the end of 1727, reported in Charles Creighton's monumental History of Epidemics in Britain -- Volume II -- From the Extinction of the Plague to the Present Time, Creighton's "present time" being 1894.

Matters had been much the same in 1688 as in 1727. A "short time before the general fever, a slight disease, but very universal, seized the horses too: in them it showed itself by a great defluxion of rheum from their noses." Creighton's source "was assured by a...