The state of California has launched a tool designed to give residents easy access to a digital copy of their COVID-19 vaccine information. Unlike New York’s Excelsior Pass, it’s not an app people have to install on their phones. It’s a simple website where residents will have to enter their name, date of birth and the phone number or email they used when they got their vaccine. They also have to create a 4-digital PIN, which they’ll have to remember to be able to open the digital copy of their vaccine record.
In addition to a link with their information, users will also get a QR code that makes their record readable with a QR scanner. They can use that to gain entry to establishments or events that require customers or attendees to have been vaccinated beforehand. While the digital records are handy to have, the California Department of Public Health “recommends that vaccinated Californians keep their paper CDC card in a safe and secure place.” Their digital COVID-19 vaccine record is supposed to be a convenient backup they can take with them wherever they go.
The state government said the tool was built following “national standards for security and privacy,” since it will have access to people’s sensitive information. That said, it may not work perfectly at the moment. One of Engadget’s editors from California signed up and found that his information on the digital version of his record was incorrect. The initiative may be suffering from some rollout issues that’s affecting the state’s database.
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There are so many different kinds of supplements on the market. The question is, which ones are the best to take and at what time of day?
First of all, you may not need any additional supplementation of various vitamins and minerals. A good way to check to see if you could benefit from taking a multivitamin or a supplement for a specific vitamin or mineral is to get some blood work done at your next doctor’s visit. If you could benefit from a few supplements, just know that some may be best to take in the morning versus later in the day. (Related: 15 Supplements Every Woman Should Take, Say Doctors)
Let’s say your doctor recommends you take a B complex vitaminor maybe even a specific type of B vitamin such as B6 or B12. The best time to take any of these would be first thing in the morning. Why? Since these vitamins are water-soluble, it’s best to take them on an empty stomach in order to achieve maximum absorption. Of course, this works best when you drink a full glass of water.
Vitamin B12 supplementsare especially important for those who follow a vegan or even vegetarian diet to take, as the nutrient is primarily found in animal-based sources. Vitamin B6 may help with PMS and keeping your heart healthy.
Another supplement you might consider taking in the morning is vitamin C, which is also a water-soluble vitamin. However, if you’re also taking an iron supplement, know that vitamin C may help enhance the absorption of this mineral, although recent research suggests taking the two supplements together may not have that much of an impact. If you do decide to take vitamin C with an iron supplement, just make sure you do so with food, to prevent upsetting your stomach.
You’ll also want to avoid eating cheese, yogurt, eggs, milk, spinach, whole grains, at least one hour before taking your iron supplement or two hours after taking it. The same goes for beverages like tea and coffee and other supplements like antacids.
Consider waiting to take fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K until dinnertime as they dissolve best when consumed with dietary fats.
An analysis of brain scans from people once infected with COVID-19 suggested a consistent pattern in loss of grey matter over time, researchers say.
Researchers affiliated with the University of Oxford posted findings ahead of peer review this week to medRxiv, drawing on data from the U.K. Biobank. They compared brain scans taken pre-pandemic to scans taken about three years later among 394 coronavirus patientsand 388 matched controls. A further analysis included 15 hospitalized patients compared with 379 people who hadn’t been hospitalized.
“Our findings thus consistently relate to loss of grey matter in limbic cortical areas directly linked to the primary olfactory and gustatory system,” or areas in the brain related to the perception of smell and taste, authors wrote.
The initial set of scans taken before the pandemic strengthens the findings, study authors say, because they help differentiate the effects of COVID-19 disease from patients’ preexisting health conditions.
Researchers said the three areas revealing a “significant loss” in thickness and volume of grey matter among COVID-19 patients was the “parahippocampal gyrus, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and the superior insula,” later adding that the “strongest deleterious effects of COVID-19 could be seen predominantly in the left hemisphere.”
Results from the comparison of hospitalized patients “were not significant,” but authors noted “comparatively similar” findings to the larger group of coronavirus patients, “with, in addition, a greater loss of grey matter in the cingulate cortex, central nucleus of the amygdala and hippocampal cornu ammonis.”
What’s more, the researchers noted “a high number of mild cases,” writing, “there is a fundamental need for more information on the cerebral effects of the disease even in its mildest from.”
The team stopped short of pinning a causal relationship due to the study design, yet still expressed confidence in the results. The study has its limitations, like lack of a breakdown by patients by factors like oxygen saturation, due to unavailable data, while other limitations involved a “small number of participants from Asian, Black or other ethnic backgrounds other than White,” and further issues involved deriving COVID-19 status among all controls from test kits with varied accuracy.
“By using automated, objective and quantitative methods, we were able to uncover a consistent spatial pattern of loss of grey matter in limbic brain regions forming an olfactory and gustatory network. Whether these abnormal changes are the hallmark of the spread of the disease (or the virus itself) in the brain, which may prefigure a future vulnerability of the limbic system, including memory, for these patients, remains to be investigated,” the study reads.
Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that he and a group of scientists had discussed the theory that the coronavirus leaked from a lab, and the possibility that it could have been genetically engineered, during a teleconference on February 1, 2020.
“I remember it very well,” Fauci told USA Todayon Thursday. “We decided on the call the situation really needed to be looked into carefully.”
The existence of the teleconference was documented in a trove of Fauci’s emails released as part of a FOIA request by BuzzFeed. Kristian Andersen, a participant on the call and specialist in infectious disease genomics at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told Fauci in an email on January 31 that “some of the features” of coronavirus “(potentially) look engineered.”
Andersen wrote that he, virologist Edward Holmes of the University of Sydney, and other scientists agreed that they “all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory,” although “those opinions could still change.”
The teleconference “was a very productive back-and-forth conversation where some on the call felt it could possibly be an engineered virus,” Fauci said. “I always had an open mind” toward the lab-leak theory, “even though I felt then, and still do, the most likely origin was in an animal host.”
Fauci has publicly supported the theory that the coronavirus first jumped from an animal to a human, and dismissed the the lab-leak theory as the less-likely alternative.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” he said in a May 2020 interview with National Geographic. He added that proponents of the lab-leak theory were advancing a “circular argument.”
A researcher with ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology thanked Fauci in April 2020 for supporting the natural-origin hypothesis.
On February 4, three days after the conference, Andersen said in a separate email that “data conclusively show” that coronavirus was not engineered. That email was intended for scientists who were drafting a letter on the pathogen to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“The main crackpot theories going around at the moment relate to this virus being somehow engineered with intent and that is demonstrably not the case,” Andersen said in that email. “Engineering can mean many things and could be done for either basic research or nefarious reasons, but the data conclusively show that neither was done…”
Andersen did not comment to USA Today on why his position seemed to change within three days.
Public debate on whether the coronavirus leaked from a lab was rekindled after the Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019, before the first identified case of coronavirus on December 8 of that year. That report was based on a U.S. intelligence assessment, which claimed that researchers became sick “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
Alina Chan, a postdoctoral associate at Harvard University and MIT, said some scientists felt they could not speak freely about the lab-leak theory at the start of the pandemic, for fear of being associated with former President Trump.
“At the time, it was scarier to be associated with Trump and to become a tool for racists, so people didn’t want to publicly call for an investigation into lab origins,” Chan told NBC on Thursday.
Portland pediatrician Paul Norman Thomas has agreed to significant restrictions on his medical practice that prevent him from discussing vaccinations with patients, according to an “interim order” issued June 3 by the Oregon Medical Board. The Portland Business Journal first reported the board’s action.
The board had suspended Thomas’ license last December, saying he had failed to adequately vaccinate patients and had repeatedly misled patients about vaccinations. It cited a case where a nonimmunized 6-year-old boy contracted tetanus, requiring a harrowing two-month stay at OHSU Hospital.
Such severe tetanus cases are extremely rare, since there’s a vaccine to prevent the bacterial disease.
“It’s always hard to watch a child suffer,” OHSU pediatric critical-care specialist Dr. Carl Eriksson told The Oregonian/OregonLive in 2019, referring to the tetanus case. “It is harder when we know they are suffering from something that’s preventable, and obviously we do everything we can to try to avoid those situations.”
The medical board stated that Thomas had published an “alternative vaccination schedule” that “fraudulently asserts that following his vaccine schedule will prevent or decrease the incidence of autism and other developmental disorders.” This schedule, the board wrote, exposed children to “multiple potentially debilitating and life-threatening illnesses.”
In April, the board issued a notice of proposed disciplinary action against Thomas for “making false or misleading statements regarding the efficacy of the licensee’s treatments, repeated negligence and gross negligence in the practice of medicine … and failing to report an adverse action,” among other allegations.
Thomas practices medicine at Integrative Pediatrics on Southwest Barnes Road. The practice’s website promotes its “vaccine-friendly doctors,” which it defines as “those who honor the informed consent process and will allow informed patients to decide for themselves whether or not to get a vaccine for themselves or their children.” The site says Thomas is “affectionately known as ‘Dr. Paul’” and notes his “massive social media following.”
The medical board this month withdrew Thomas’ license suspension, replacing it with the interim order as it continues its investigation. The board said Thomas will “voluntarily limit his practice to acute care; refrain from engaging in consultations or directing clinic staff with respect to vaccination protocols questions, issues or recommendations; and refrain from performing any research involving patient care pending the completion of the Board’s investigation into his ability to safely and competently practice medicine.”
Eating less red meat is standard medical advice for preventing colorectal cancer, but the way it causes cells to mutate has remained unclear, and not all experts were convinced there was a strong link.
A new paper in the journal Cancer Discovery has now identified specific patterns of DNA damage triggered by diets rich in red meat — further implicating the food as a carcinogen while heralding the possibility of detecting the cancer early and designing new treatments.
Prior research establishing the connection was mainly epidemiologic, meaning that people who developed the condition were surveyed on their eating habits, and researchers spotted associations with colorectal cancer incidence.
But a lack of clarity around the biology meant that the case wasn’t quite slam dunk, and in 2019, one team of researchers made waves when they declared they only had a “low” degree of certainty that reducing consumption would prevent cancer deaths.
“When we say red meat is carcinogenic, and that it impacts incidence of cancer, there has to be some plausible way by which it does it,” Dana-Farber Cancer Institute oncologist Marios Giannakis, who led the new study, told AFP.
After all, scientists discovered long ago which chemicals in cigarette smoke are to blame for cancer, and how certain bands of UV light penetrate the skin and trigger mutations in genes that control how cells grow and divide.
To address the knowledge gap, Giannakis and his colleagues sequenced DNA data from 900 patients with colorectal cancer, who were drawn from a much larger group of 280,000 health workers participating in a years-long studies that included lifestyle surveys.
– Detective work –
The strength of this approach is that the people documenting their diet had no way of knowing of their future cancer diagnosis, rather than asking people to recall their eating habits after they became ill.
The analysis revealed a distinct mutational signature — a pattern that had never before been identified but was indicative of a type of DNA damage called “alkylation.”
Not all cells that contain these mutations will necessarily become cancerous, and the signature was present in some healthy colon samples too.
The mutation signature was significantly associated with intake of red meat, both processed and unprocessed, prior to the patient’s diagnosis of cancer, but not with the intake of poultry, fish or other lifetsyle factors that were examined.
“With red meat, there are chemicals that can cause alkylation,” explained Giannakis.
The specific compounds are nitroso compounds that can be made from heme, which is plentiful in red meat, as well as nitrates, often found in processed meat.
The mutation patterns were strongly associated with the distal colon — the lower part of the bowels that leads to the anal canal, which is where past research suggested colon cancer linked to red meat mostly occurs.
What’s more, among the genes that were most affected by the alkylation patterns were those that previous research has shown are among the most common drivers of colorectal cancer when they mutate.
Taken as a whole, the multiple lines of evidence build up a compelling argument, said Giannakis, likening the research to careful detective work.
– Moderation urged –
In this case, the suspicious mutation signature has a lot to answer for: patients whose tumors had the highest levels of alkylation damage had a 47 percent greater risk of colorectal cancer-specific death, compared to patients with lower levels of damage.
But Giannakis, also a practicing doctor, said it was important to focus on how the research can be used to help patients.
Future work might help physicians identify which patients are genetically predisposed to accumulating alkylation damage, then counsel them to limit their red meat intake.
Identifying patients who have already started to accrue the mutational signature could help identify who’s at greater risk of developing cancer, or catch the disease at an earlier stage.
And because the amount of alkylation damage appears to be a biomarker of patient survival, it could possibly be used to tell patients about their prognosis.
Finally, understanding the biological pathway through which colorectal cancer occurs paves the way for medicines that interrupt or reverse the process, preventing the disease.
Giannakis stressed the takeaway message is not that people should totally abstain from red meat: “My recommendation would be that moderation and a balanced diet is key.”
High levels of tumor alkylation damage were only seen among patients eating on average more than 150 grams (five ounces) a day, roughly equal to two or more servings.