Category Archives: Health

Covid, DNA and Blood Type

I get called THE DAY I’m eligible to donate. Why? I think its because I’m O-Positive; the universal donor.

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WSJ 6/10/2020

Millions of Americans have taken personal DNA tests from companies like 23andMe to find out whether their genes put them at higher risk for diseases like breast and colon cancer. Now these tests are identifying people who are more likely to get sick with Covid-19.

23andMe on Monday published a potentially significant finding that people with the blood type O were on average 14% less likely than other blood types (A, B, AB) to get Covid and 19% less likely to be hospitalized after accounting for age, sex, comorbidities, ethnicity and body mass. Among exposed individuals, O blood types were 19% less likely to test positive. There appeared to be little difference in susceptibility among other blood types.

This preliminary finding comes from 23andMe’s analysis of 750,000 people who agreed to let their DNA be used for Covid research. Participants were also asked whether they’ve experienced cold or flu-like symptoms, been diagnosed or treated for Covid and hospitalized for the illness.

23andMe notes its finding is supported by a new pre-publication study comparing 8,582,968 gene variants from 1,610 patients in Spain and Italy who needed oxygen or mechanical ventilation. Variations at only two chromosome locations showed a significant correlation with Covid severity. One encoded blood type, A-positive, had a 45% higher risk of respiratory failure while Os had a 35% lower risk.

Studies have previously found links between blood types and infectious and chronic diseases. For instance, Os appear to have lower risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. The blood type gene is located in a stretch of DNA that regulates inflammation and blood clotting, which play a significant role in Covid-19.

The authors of the European study note that variation at the chromosome location for blood type has been associated with blood-clotting factors and interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein involved in cytokine storms that attack the respiratory system.

23andMe is sending free kits to 10,000 severely ill Covid patients in hopes of identifying more significant genetic links. These findings could help guide treatment decisions and provide another lead for scientists trying to crack the Covid-19 mystery.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-dna-and-blood-type-11591830722?mod=opinion_lead_pos4

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covid-19 Not likely on surfaces – cdc

The Epoch Times – 5/20/2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says the CCP virus doesn’t “spread easily” from contaminated surfaces, in quietly updated guidance.

For months people were told that it was possible they could get COVID-19, a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, “by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.”

“This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus,” the CDC website stated until the latest update.

The webpage in question was called “How Coronavirus Spreads” before being changed to “How COVID-19 Spreads.” Health officials created a new subhed that states: “The virus spreads easily between people” and said current information suggests it’s spreading more efficiently than the flu but “not as efficiently as measles.”

They then say the virus “does not spread easily in other ways.”

The language about touching a surface or object remains in place. Officials added two more categories of spread: from animals to people and from people to animals.

The risk of animal to people spread is considered to be low.

“It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations. CDC is aware of a small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19,” the CDC stated.

People are told that the best way to prevent contracting the virus is avoiding exposure. Steps to take include maintaining six feet from others, washing hands often with soap and water, and routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

Epoch Times Photo
A man sells face masks and disinfection wipes on a street-side table in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens in New York City, N.Y. on May 18, 2020. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through droplets from an infected person sneezing or coughing or close contact with a sick person.

But it can also be left on objects, the group said. “So if you touch something and then touch your face or another’s face, you might fall ill,” it states on its website.

U.S. researchers last month found that bleach and 70 percent isopropyl alcohol killed the virus in both wet and dried saliva on stainless steel in just 5 minutes. The study also found sunlight is effective in quickly killing the virus. They’re carrying out experiments now on shorter contact times and with other cleaning products.

The CDC last month made an update to the symptoms of the CCP virus.

Chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell were added to the three that were listed since early in the pandemic. Those were: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The page was updated again in recent weeks to state: “This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Why Walking Matters—Now More Than Ever – WSJ

I share just FYI. I have not way to verify the proposition. mrossol

Even how we walk has temporarily changed, especially for city-dwellers. It’s now more social in a peculiar way. We used to obliviously bump shoulders and perhaps mutter apologies while scrolling on smartphones; now we watch each other’s movements, slightly sashay away and smile at one another—at a safe distance. Our brains are quickly calculating where the other person is, getting ready for a passing encounter. Walking is somehow more “mindful” now.

What we probably don’t realize is that walking can be a kind of a behavioral preventive against depression. It benefits us on many levels, physical and psychological. Walking helps to produce protein molecules in muscle and brain that help repair wear and tear. These muscle and brain molecules—myokines and neurotrophic factors, respectively—have been intensively studied in recent years for their health effects. We are discovering that they act almost as a kind of fertilizer that assists in the growth of cells and regulation of metabolism. They also reduce certain types of inflammation.

These essential molecules are produced by movement and the increased brain and body activity created by movement. If you’re not moving about, placing heart and muscle under a bit of positive stress and strain, these molecules aren’t produced in sufficient quantities to perform their roles.

 

Movement through the world changes the dynamics of the brain itself.

Walking is essential to our nature. Walking upright is one thing that sets humans apart; no other animal does it, but we can’t do without it. At around a year or so of age, we make a unique transition from crawling, from being stable on all fours. We struggle upright, falling a bit, stumbling a bit and eventually walking fluidly and fluently under our own steam.

 

In our evolutionary history, walking upright set our hands free, allowing us to carry food and tools and children and also to point and gesture. Because we could point to predators and prey in the distance, we could look in the same direction, paying shared attention to what someone is pointing at—a capacity that demands an elaborate brain system.

Walking is also how we find our way around the world. It is how we created our own internal GPS maps before there was GPS. This gives the lie to how we might think we navigate—that is, by sight. People who are completely visually-impaired, even from birth, can and do navigate with purpose and direction. They can do this without sight because the experience of bodily movement itself in complicated three-dimensional space is key to creating our cognitive maps.

 

 

Those of us with normal sight are fooled by our sense of the three-dimensional world as visual, but to our brains, vision is just one sense contributing to our understanding of space. After all, we can find our way around in a suddenly darkened room. Close your eyes and point to where the door is: That’s your cognitive map at work. Moving is the thing. It silently updates your position in your GPS without your even realizing it.

Movement through the world changes the dynamics of the brain itself. Recent experiments show that walking increases the strength of the signals in parts of the brain concerned with seeing and other senses, such as touch. This is the biological reality of the phrase “on the prowl.” Walking about helps you discover things more quickly compared to merely sitting in one place.

Experiments by the psychologists Marily Opezzo and Daniel Schwartz of Stanford University have shown that walking boosts creativity. They asked people to quickly come up with alternative uses for common objects, such as a pen. They found that people whom they got to walk before coming up with alternative uses came up with almost twice as many novel ideas as those who remained seated.

 

We have designed movement out of our world and put more sitting around into it.

Before you start a creatively demanding piece of work, prime yourself by writing down a few questions about what you need to do. Then head off for a 20-minute stroll and bring a voice recorder or a notebook. You’re likely to find that you generate more ideas than you would have while sitting at your desk. A walking brain is a more active brain, and more activity in the brain can bring colliding ideas and associations at the edge of consciousness to mind—resulting in the “a-ha” moment of insight.

Granted, going for a walk acts against our in-built tendency to conserve energy. Remember, for most of our history, food was hard to come by. After a long day walking and foraging and hunting, our forebears would sit and maybe tell stories or sing songs. But we’ve largely solved the food gathering problem now; shops and restaurants and home deliveries make cheap calories easily available. We no longer walk mile after mile to gather food. Instead we can sit and eat, easily. Perhaps too easily. We have designed movement out of our world and put more sitting around into it.

Recent experiments show that as few as three or four days of inactivity reduces muscle mass in the legs, starting to replace muscle with deposits of fat. This isn’t much of a problem when you’re 30, but it is when you are 60, needing assistance to stand up from your chair. The cure? Get up, walk about and fight the frailty that can come with aging.

Walking is the movement that we all profit from and have evolved for. Walk we must, and walk we should, to keep our mental and physical worlds open and to stop the walls from closing in.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-walking-mattersnow-more-than-ever-11587182460?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=4

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What Victory looks like

As I have said before, it is good to have alternative views to consider. And this is one.  mrossol

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WSJ  3/20/2020

A telling moment came on CNBC Thursday. A host gently shushed the learned Jim Grant, editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, saying discussion of tradeoffs was not encouraged. On TV, delivering up unpleasant choices is bad for the brand. Unfortunately policy discussion is about trade-offs, especially in the hardest of circumstances. Fortunately, the dam would break on CNBC a day later, thanks in part to an editorial in this paper.

In our coronavirus quandary, the cure may not only be worse than the disease. The cure is likely no cure at all. We might hold off an expected surge in coronavirus cases for two or three weeks with the kind of extraordinarily destructive economic lockdowns seen in California, New York and elsewhere. But unless warmer weather is coming to our rescue, Americans probably won’t accept the social devastation that would be inflicted by a five-month or 18-month campaign of virus suppression of the sort promoted, variously, by the U.K.’s Imperial College London, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute and other public-health think tanks.

Mandatory social distancing might well break down. (Look for speakeasies to re-emerge in New York and other shut-in cities.) The government might well face a choice of coercion or seeing its authority collapse. I’m not being alarmist.

This is a lesson the World Health Organization’s Bruce Aylward brought back from Wuhan. People with flulike symptoms had to be isolated in dormitories, hospitals and stadiums. Asking them to self-isolate voluntarily didn’t work. “After a couple of days people get bored, go out for a walk and go shopping and get other people infected.”

And he was talking about people who knew they were sick. We would be asking apparently healthy Americans to surrender much of what makes life interesting and meaningful for an indefinite period.

Bad decision making, as shown in research, often begins with reducing a complex problem to the single variable with the biggest emotional wallop. That’s what’s happening here. All of us sense the opprobrium and disgrace that would descend on our elites if Italy-like scenes of a health-care system meltdown played out on our TVs. But we may get the bad result anyway and worse if we overtax the willingness of Americans to isolate themselves indefinitely.

We also may be underestimating their ability to adopt effective voluntary distancing even as they proceed with their economic lives. Each of us knows our own situation in a way no top-down directive can. This is a virtue to leverage. I respect those experts who say we should suppress the virus until a vaccine arrives in 18 months or two years even at the cost of a global depression. Their job is to save lives, while the larger trade-offs are the province of voters and elected officials.

When experts predict that 70% of people will get the virus, they are estimating at what point the virus no longer finds enough uninfected people to sustain its transmission in a world where behavioral change is not restricting its access to fresh hosts.

The epidemic stops. People who aren’t yet infected but susceptible are spared (at least this time). We can make this work for us. We want three curves: a flattened curve for the elderly, a steeper one for the young, and a third curve showing the virus’s infectivity being reduced by isolating those who test positive and by encouraging everybody else to take care with their sneezes, hand-washing, etc.

Inconveniently for my argument, the U.K., a pioneer of such thinking, is now shifting to an accept-a-depression- and-wait-for-a-vaccine approach. The medical experts and their priorities are hard to resist. Resisting their wisdom doesn’t come naturally in such a situation.

Happily, I have confidence in the American people to let their leaders know when the mandatory shutdowns no longer are doing it for them. Strange to say, I have confidence in our political class to sense where the social fulcrum lies. A reader emails that Donald Trump could declare victory at the end of 15 days, say the blow on the healthcare system has been cushioned, and urge Americans, super-cautiously, to resume normal life. This idea sounds better than waiting for spontaneous mass defections from the ambitions of the epidemiologists to undermine the authority of the government.

Because—make no mistake— there are things worse than the coronavirus. You think our politics are irrational now? You haven’t seen anything. The 1918 flu was far worse medically than what we’re about to experience, slaughtering even young people with strong immune systems. Yet we can end up a far more damaged society as a result of the 2020 coronavirus. The America of 1918 won a world war and launched technological and commercial revolutions that created the modern world. We may not be saying anything as flattering about the America of 2020 if we handle this badly.

BUSINESS WORLD

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

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