Prescription Medications

Child Car Seat Safety Tip: Skip Puffy Winter Coats

DaveRat No Comments


SATURDAY, Jan. 23, 2021 — Puffy coats have their place, but it’s not inside a car seat.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a variety of tips for keeping your little ones safe and warm while traveling by car.

The first is to avoid dressing children in puffy coats or snowsuits before buckling them in, because car seat straps won’t tighten enough. That creates a danger that the fluffy padding will flatten in the force of a crash and the youngster will slip from the seat and be thrown from the car. Puffy coats are not safe in a car seat or under a seat belt for someone of any age, the AAP said.

“Parents may not recognize the potential danger of buckling up a child who is wearing a puffy coat,” said Dr. Sarah Denny, a pediatrician with expertise in injury prevention. “A car seat harness or belt needs to fit snugly enough so that you cannot pinch the straps of the car seat harness. A safer alternative is to drape a blanket or coat over the car straps.”

The AAP offers additional tips, including staying warmer by storing the carrier portion of an infant seat indoors and packing extra socks, mittens and hats. If your child likes to suck his or her thumb, choose half-gloves with open fingers.

Dress your child in thin layers. This would include close-fitting layers, such as a long-sleeved body suit and tights or leggings, a warmer top and pants and, finally, a thin fleece jacket. Long underwear is a safe layering option in very cold weather, the experts said. Infants should wear one more layer than adults, so think about what you have on when you’re planning baby’s outfit.

Use a coat or blanket over car seat straps, but never use a car seat cover or other product that puts a layer under your child’s body or between the child’s body and the harness straps. Don’t use sleeping bag inserts or stroller inserts because they haven’t been crash-tested, the AAP warned.

Be sure harness straps are tight enough. If you can pinch the straps, the car seat harness needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child’s chest.

Also be sure to leave baby’s face uncovered to avoid trapped air and re-breathing, the group advised in an AAP news release.

Pack a bag with extra blankets, dry clothing, hats, gloves and non-perishable snacks in your car in case of an emergency.

Get an early start, they suggested. This can help if the baby is uncooperative about being buckled in and can also give you extra time to get where you’re going.

“Pediatricians can help answer parents’ questions about car seats and how to properly use them,” Denny said. “Just as you would use layers of clothes to keep your child warm, you can use layers of prevention to keep your child safe.”

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

UK Prime Minister Says British COVID Variant May Be More Deadly

DaveRat No Comments


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Friday that a new, more infectious coronavirus variant first spotted in the United Kingdom late last year could also be more lethal.

The new variant, which has since been found in numerous countries including the United States, was already known to be far more infectious than the original coronavirus. Some studies have suggested it is 50% to 70% more transmissible, the Washington Post reported.

But to make matters worse, Johnson and his advisers suggested during a media briefing that the new variant may kill more people who are infected with it.

“In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant — the variant that was first identified in London and the south east [of England] — may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnson told the BBC News.

Still, Sir Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, described the data so far as “not yet strong.”

“I want to stress that there’s a lot of uncertainty around these numbers and we need more work to get a precise handle on it, but it obviously is a concern that this has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility,” Vallance told the BBC News.

He noted that the data suggest that among 1,000 men in England aged 60 or older, the original virus would kill 10, while the new variant would kill 13 or 14, the Post reported. That amounts to roughly 30% greater mortality.

U.S. federal health officials have said recently that the British variant is likely to become dominant in this country by March.

Until now, public officials have stressed that the new variant did not appear to make people sicker or increase deaths.

Despite the concerning development, Johnson and Vallance both stressed that early evidence shows existing vaccines remain effective against the original virus and new variants.

In addition to the British variant, new mutations discovered in South Africa and Brazil are also being watched closely. Just this week, a new study suggested that people who have had COVID-19 or have been vaccinated might still be able to be infected with the South African variant, which hasn’t yet been spotted in the United States.

“I think we should be alarmed,” senior study author Penny Moore, an associate professor at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, told CNN. Her team’s results were published on the preprint server BioRxiv, and have not been peer-reviewed yet.

“Based on Penny’s data, it’s likely that the vaccine is going to be somewhat less effective, but how much less effective we don’t know,” David Montefiori, a virologist at Duke University Medical Center, told CNN. “This is the first time I’ve been concerned about a variant partially evading the immune response and partially evading the vaccine.”

Both experts stressed that people should still get the vaccine. It’s extremely effective against other forms of the virus, and they think it likely will still give some level of protection against the new variants.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Further Support and Information on COVID-19

FDA Approves First Once-a-Month HIV Therapy, Cabenuva

DaveRat No Comments


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 — The first monthly shots to treat adults with HIV were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

“Currently, the standard of care for patients with HIV includes patients taking daily pills to adequately manage their condition. This approval will allow some patients the option of receiving once-monthly injections in lieu of a daily oral treatment regimen,” said Dr. John Farley, director of the Office of Infectious Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“Having this treatment available for some patients provides an alternative for managing this chronic condition,” he added in an agency news release.

One expert said the shots will likely be welcomed by HIV patients.

The shots “will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, told CBS News. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV-infected.”

Another expert agreed.

“Even people who are taking one pill once a day … reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told CBS News. She consults for ViiV Healthcare, the company behind the long-acting treatment, and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Not only that, but Deeks added that “there’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, since some patients, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems, can struggle with daily drug regimens.

Cabenuva (cabotegravir and rilpivirine), which is given as two separate shots, was approved for patients who are HIV-suppressed on a stable antiretroviral regimen, have no history of treatment failure, and don’t have known or suspected resistance to either cabotegravir or rilpivirine, the FDA said.

The FDA also approved Vocabria (cabotegravir, tablet formulation), which should be taken in combination with oral Edurant (rilpivirine) for one month before starting treatment with Cabenuva, to ensure the medications are well-tolerated by patients before they switch to the extended-release monthly injection.

The FDA’s approval of Cabenuva is based on two randomized, open-label, controlled clinical trials that included nearly 1,200 HIV-infected adults who had HIV suppression before they began treatment with Cabenuva.

The patients in both trials continued to show HIV suppression at the end of each study, according to the FDA.

The most common side effects with Cabenuva were injection-site reactions, fever, fatigue, headache, musculoskeletal pain, nausea, sleep disorders, dizziness and rash.

Cabenuva should not be given to patients with known previous hypersensitivity reaction to cabotegravir or rilpivirine, or to patients who are not virally suppressed, the FDA said.

ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward, CBS News reported. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

For Maximum Effectiveness, De-Stress and Get Healthy Before Your COVID Shot

DaveRat No Comments


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 — Not many people have had the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet.

But while you wait your turn, there are some steps you can take to give the vaccine — whichever brand you get — a boost when it’s available to you.

An Ohio State University review of 49 vaccine studies dating back 30 years examined how stress, depression and healthy behaviors, such as exercise, can affect immune response to a vaccine.

Although it’s not realistic to entirely transform your health and habits in a few weeks or months, there are some steps everyone can take — even last-minute ones — to make a difference.

Those include getting good sleep as well as exercise in the days before and after you get your shot, said the review’s senior author, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser. She is director of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, in Columbus.

“There are several things that are really reasonable and relatively easy,” she said.

Pandemic-related stress may have set people back when it comes to maintaining the behaviors that keep them healthier, the study authors noted. Recent data from around the world have revealed higher rates of depression and anxiety, more insomnia, increased alcohol sales and more overeating, according to the review.

The studies in this review looked at the effects of psychological factors and behaviors on immune response to a range of vaccines, including for influenza, hepatitis B, typhoid and pneumonia. This evidence is likely relevant to the COVID-19 vaccine, the researchers said.

“What we see is that stress can delay your antibody response to the vaccine,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “It can also enhance side effects, and it may also mean that your protection may be shorter than people or later than people who were not stressed. So, it has a lot of unpleasant consequences.”

Past research has shown a variety of ways that immune response can be hampered. This includes slower immune response, gradually diminishing response and reduced antibodies.

Additional studies in Kiecolt-Glaser’s lab found people who were depressed had more post-vaccination side effects. Having some side effects is a normal response to vaccines.

Kiecolt-Glaser and her late husband, immunologist Ronald Glaser, are known as pioneers in mind-body research, including ways stress impairs physical health, according to a news release from Ohio State.

Previous research also showed a range of helpful behaviors, including massage, expressive writing for stress management, physical activity and nutritional supplements.

Sleep really matters, Kiecolt-Glaser said. She suggested trying to get a good night’s sleep for a couple of nights before your shot and a couple of nights afterward.

“You want to maximize sleep at these times, because sleep is really important for your immune system and being short on sleep makes your immune system less functional,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Though research shows that more physically fit people are likely to have a better vaccine response, there is also evidence that even short-term physical activity in the 24 hours before you get the vaccine can be beneficial, Kiecolt-Glaser said. She recommended a vigorous workout.

Some studies suggest that even 30 or 45 minutes of exercises for the arm you’re going to be vaccinated in may be helpful, Kiecolt-Glaser said.

“Whatever your state is when you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, obviously you want to get it, but you want to maximize your response,” she said. “And these are things that could be helpful in maximizing both the initial effectiveness of the vaccine and how quickly you respond, and also in terms of the durability of your vaccine response.”

The study also suggested eating a healthy diet, quitting or reducing smoking, and managing stress through exercise and mindfulness meditation. Seek professional help if you’re struggling with depression, the authors advised.

The review is accepted for publication in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Lynn Bufka, senior director of practice transformation and quality for the American Psychological Association, said the study contains important information that people should pay attention to amid the distress of the ongoing pandemic, systemic racism and political divisiveness.

“It underscores the necessity for each of us to do what we can and as a community, as a country, to do what we can to support the health and well-being of all individuals right now,” Bufka said.

It may be that obtaining the vaccine will help many people feel less distressed, depressed and overwhelmed, because they feel like there’s a little bit of hope coming, she added.

Bufka noted that during the pandemic, she has found it helpful to check in with herself and perhaps go for a walk if she hasn’t moved much that day. She hopes the review will reinforce the importance of attending to good overall immune health.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to really look broadly at the information we know about what supports our well-being and to continue to make some adjustments,” Bufka said. “And the more that we can make those behaviors habits, the easier it is.”

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Further Support and Information on COVID-19

AHA News: Anxiety Is Linked With Smoking – But How Is Still Hazy

DaveRat No Comments


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 (American Heart Association News) — In these stressful pandemic times, health experts have more reason to circle back to the link between anxiety and smoking: Does anxiety cause people to smoke? Or does smoking cause anxiety?

Like many other aspects of mental health and addiction, there are no cut-and-dried conclusions.

“I think we’ve generated more questions on the subject than we have answers,” said Brian Hitsman, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in the U.S., affecting between 15% and 19% of the adult population and encompassing everything from phobias and panic attacks to intense fear of social situations and chronic worrying.

While U.S. smoking rates have dropped over the past 50 years, about 1 in 5 American adults – 50.6 million – still reported smoking, vaping or using other tobacco products in 2019, according to the latest data released in November from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That data also showed 45% of people with severe anxiety use tobacco. Even for those with mild anxiety, 30% use tobacco. Yet for those who report little to no anxiety, only 18% use tobacco.

Other research shows higher rates of anxiety disorders among smokers than the general population. However, a study released last year in Current Psychiatry Reports said that despite “robust evidence” linking smoking and anxiety, there are “considerable discrepancies for the precise role of anxiety in smoking onset, severity, and cessation outcomes.”

Lorra Garey, the study’s lead author, said alcohol and substance abuse could be clouding the true connection. Another complicating factor is the two-way relationship between smoking and anxiety.

“It’s this perpetual loop feeding into itself. You have anxiety contributing to smoking … and then you have people becoming addicted to nicotine and experiencing acute withdrawal with symptoms that mimic anxiety,” said Garey, a research assistant professor at the University of Houston.

“These things are so interrelated it’s hard to tease apart,” she said. “Ultimately, we need more rigorous research to really track the different factors over time to fully understand them.”

Another problem, Hitsman said, is smokers often mistakenly think having a cigarette will tamp down their anxiety.

“It’s in their head that smoking is an effective way to manage their emotional distress, but it’s probably only making them feel better because it’s helping manage their nicotine withdrawal,” he said. “Smoking actually increases your heart rate and causes changes in the body that are opposite of relaxation.”

In fact, smoking wreaks havoc on the entire cardiovascular system, releasing chemicals that damage and clog arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Whether tobacco use and anxiety rates have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult to pinpoint. But Garey suspects they’re rising.

“So many factors that contribute to anxiety – financial burden, child care issues – are making it worse. And there’s also a concern about a greater severity of smoking, and people who’ve quit restarting,” she said.

Quitting smoking can be incredibly difficult for anyone, largely because of the presence of nicotine, a highly addictive drug the U.S. surgeon general once likened to heroin and cocaine. During the pandemic, people struggling with nicotine addiction might find it harder than usual to set up doctor’s appointments or counseling sessions.

Still, there are a wide variety of methods available to help.

Daily exercise, prescription medicine and nicotine replacement products such as gum, patches or lozenges can help battle the cravings that often accompany nicotine withdrawal, Garey said. She also recommended the National Cancer Institute’s free telephone counseling line 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).

Smokers who have anxiety often benefit the most from exercising, practicing mindfulness and doing “belly” breathing exercises that use the diaphragm, she said.

“Smoking is such an automatic, time-consuming thing, so it can be so helpful to take a break, focus on the moment, and replace smoking with something healthy that you really enjoy.”

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

By Thor Christensen

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Further Support and Information on COVID-19

For Maximum Effectiveness, De-Stress and Get Healthy Before Your COVID-19 Shot

DaveRat No Comments


 

FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 — Not many people have had the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet.

But while you wait your turn, there are some steps you can take to give the vaccine — whichever brand you get — a boost when it’s available to you.

An Ohio State University review of 49 vaccine studies dating back 30 years examined how stress, depression and healthy behaviors, such as exercise, can affect immune response to a vaccine.

Although it’s not realistic to entirely transform your health and habits in a few weeks or months, there are some steps everyone can take — even last-minute ones — to make a difference.

Those include getting good sleep as well as exercise in the days before and after you get your shot, said the review’s senior author, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser. She is director of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, in Columbus.

“There are several things that are really reasonable and relatively easy,” she said.

Pandemic-related stress may have set people back when it comes to maintaining the behaviors that keep them healthier, the study authors noted. Recent data from around the world have revealed higher rates of depression and anxiety, more insomnia, increased alcohol sales and more overeating, according to the review.

The studies in this review looked at the effects of psychological factors and behaviors on immune response to a range of vaccines, including for influenza, hepatitis B, typhoid and pneumonia. This evidence is likely relevant to the COVID-19 vaccine, the researchers said.

“What we see is that stress can delay your antibody response to the vaccine,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “It can also enhance side effects, and it may also mean that your protection may be shorter than people or later than people who were not stressed. So, it has a lot of unpleasant consequences.”

Past research has shown a variety of ways that immune response can be hampered. This includes slower immune response, gradually diminishing response and reduced antibodies.

Additional studies in Kiecolt-Glaser’s lab found people who were depressed had more post-vaccination side effects. Having some side effects is a normal response to vaccines.

Kiecolt-Glaser and her late husband, immunologist Ronald Glaser, are known as pioneers in mind-body research, including ways stress impairs physical health, according to a news release from Ohio State.

Previous research also showed a range of helpful behaviors, including massage, expressive writing for stress management, physical activity and nutritional supplements.

Sleep really matters, Kiecolt-Glaser said. She suggested trying to get a good night’s sleep for a couple of nights before your shot and a couple of nights afterward.

“You want to maximize sleep at these times, because sleep is really important for your immune system and being short on sleep makes your immune system less functional,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Though research shows that more physically fit people are likely to have a better vaccine response, there is also evidence that even short-term physical activity in the 24 hours before you get the vaccine can be beneficial, Kiecolt-Glaser said. She recommended a vigorous workout.

Some studies suggest that even 30 or 45 minutes of exercises for the arm you’re going to be vaccinated in may be helpful, Kiecolt-Glaser said.

“Whatever your state is when you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, obviously you want to get it, but you want to maximize your response,” she said. “And these are things that could be helpful in maximizing both the initial effectiveness of the vaccine and how quickly you respond, and also in terms of the durability of your vaccine response.”

The study also suggested eating a healthy diet, quitting or reducing smoking, and managing stress through exercise and mindfulness meditation. Seek professional help if you’re struggling with depression, the authors advised.

The review is accepted for publication in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Lynn Bufka, senior director of practice transformation and quality for the American Psychological Association, said the study contains important information that people should pay attention to amid the distress of the ongoing pandemic, systemic racism and political divisiveness.

“It underscores the necessity for each of us to do what we can and as a community, as a country, to do what we can to support the health and well-being of all individuals right now,” Bufka said.

It may be that obtaining the vaccine will help many people feel less distressed, depressed and overwhelmed, because they feel like there’s a little bit of hope coming, she added.

Bufka noted that during the pandemic, she has found it helpful to check in with herself and perhaps go for a walk if she hasn’t moved much that day. She hopes the review will reinforce the importance of attending to good overall immune health.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to really look broadly at the information we know about what supports our well-being and to continue to make some adjustments,” Bufka said. “And the more that we can make those behaviors habits, the easier it is.”

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Further Support and Information on COVID-19

Half of Americans Still Not Wearing Masks When Out in Public: Poll

DaveRat No Comments


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 — Though masks are effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, half of Americans don’t wear them when mixing with the public.

That’s a key takeaway from the ongoing study of more than 6,000 U.S. adults by researchers at the University of Southern California Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research.

Even though 83% of American adults view wearing a mask as an effective way to protect themselves from COVID-19, their behavior is inconsistent, and often high-risk, researchers found.

Two-thirds of respondents said they were in close contact with people outside their household in early December, but only about 51% said they mostly or always wore a mask at those times.

White people were least likely to mask up — 46% said they always or most always wear a mask when with people from other households. That compared to 67% of Black respondents, 63% of Hispanics and 65% of others, the researchers found.

In rural areas, only 42% of people wore a mask always or most of the time while close to people outside their household, compared with 52% of suburbanites and 57% of people in cities.

Researchers said 21% of people who visited someone else’s home wore a mask most or all of the time.

While 14% of Americans gathered in groups of 10 or more, only 46% said they wore a mask most or all of the time during those encounters.

Most Americans did put on a mask for shopping trips. Among the 81% who shopped for groceries in early December, 90% wore a mask.

“These findings indicate a need to redouble efforts to convey consistent messages about the overall importance of wearing masks, but more than that — where and when to wear them,” said Arie Kapteyn, director of the USC Dornsife Center.

“Too many seem to lack a clear understanding of the risks posed by friends and family outside their immediate households,” he said in a university news release.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Further Support and Information on COVID-19

Biden Warns of 500,000 COVID Deaths by February

DaveRat No Comments


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 — As President Joe Biden began to enact key parts of his ambitious pandemic response plan on Thursday, he warned Americans that the coronavirus death toll in this country could top 500,000 by February.

“Let me be very clear: Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” Biden said. “And let me be equally clear: We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic.”

He tackled mask-wearing first, signing an order mandating masks in airports and on many planes, trains, ships and intercity buses, the Washington Post reported. The move follows the Wednesday signing of his first executive order, which requires masks on federal property.

That is as close to a national mask mandate as Biden’s federal powers allow, leaving it to states and municipalities to require residents to wear masks at a local level, the Post reported.

Next on the agenda: speeding up the nation’s vaccine rollout.

Biden has repeatedly promised to get 100 million COVID-19 shots into the arms of the American people by his 100th day in office. To help do so, he’s directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin constructing federally supported community vaccination centers, with the goal of having 100 centers in operation within the next month, The New York Times reported.

But averaging 1 million doses a day appears to be a goal that’s already beginning to be met. The average number of vaccines administered over the past week was about 936,000, according to a Post tally using data from state reports and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Thursday, the number was 1,057,369.

As of Friday, more than 17.5 million Americans have been vaccinated while nearly 38 million doses have been distributed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 2.4 million people have received their second shot.

Other parts of the Biden plan include the creation of a Pandemic Testing Board that can orchestrate a “surge” in the number and availability of coronavirus tests. Additional directives will foster research into new treatments for COVID-19, strengthen the collection and analysis of data to shape the government’s pandemic strategy; and direct the federal occupational safety agency to release and enforce guidelines to protect workers from getting infected, the Post reported.

The new plan also steers more money to states, which have complained they need more funding to test and vaccinate residents. And the White House will try to persuade Congress to cover the entire cost for states to vaccinate low-income residents on Medicaid, the Post said.

The Biden team said it had identified 12 “immediate supply shortfalls” that have been critical to the pandemic response, including N95 surgical masks and isolation gowns, as well as swabs, reagents and pipettes used in testing, the Times reported.

On Thursday, Biden authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine supplies. “This is a wartime undertaking,” Biden said, noting that more Americans have died of COVID-19 than in all of World War II.

But the president, who has proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package, will need the cooperation of Congress to carry out much of his ambitious plan, which also includes greatly expanding testing of asymptomatic people to reopen schools and businesses, the Times said. He also intends to direct the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to issue new guidance on how to safely reopen schools.

Last but not least, Biden will create a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to “address the disproportionate and severe impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and other underserved populations,” the Times reported.

COVID variants might lessen power of vaccines

Scientists reported this week that some new COVID-19 variants might eventually threaten the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.

Most troubling is a variant that first surfaced in South Africa but hasn’t yet been spotted in the United States. A new lab study suggests someone might be able to get infected with the South African variant even if they’ve had COVID-19 before or have been vaccinated.

“I think we should be alarmed,” senior study author Penny Moore, an associate professor at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, told CNN. Her team’s results were published on the preprint server BioRxiv, and have not been peer-reviewed yet.

“Based on Penny’s data, it’s likely that the vaccine is going to be somewhat less effective, but how much less effective we don’t know,” David Montefiori, a virologist at Duke University Medical Center, told CNN. “This is the first time I’ve been concerned about a variant partially evading the immune response and partially evading the vaccine.”

Both experts stressed that people should still get the vaccine. It’s extremely effective against other forms of the virus, and they think it likely will still give some level of protection against the new variant.

In the study, Moore and her colleagues took blood from 44 people who’d already had COVID-19. Nearly all of their cases were confirmed to have occurred prior to September, before the variant was spotted in South Africa.

The researchers then looked to see whether their antibodies would fight off the new variant.

For about half of the 44 people, their antibodies were powerless against the new variant.

“We saw a knockout,” Moore said. “It was a scary result.”

For the other half, the antibody response was weakened, but not totally knocked out.

The analysis showed that the strongest antibody response was from those who had suffered more severe cases of COVID-19. The culprits were mutations in two different parts of the spikes that sit atop the coronavirus. The vaccines work by targeting those spikes.

“It was a two-armed escape from the immune system,” Moore told CNN.

Her team is now gathering blood from people who’ve been vaccinated to see if their antibodies can fight off the new variant.

“I think the data on people with prior infection raises all kinds of red flags for the vaccines,” she said. “We have to test it to find out.”

Still, it may not be time to panic: Montefiori thinks the vaccine will likely take a hit — but probably not a huge one.

“We have to remember, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95% effective — that’s an extraordinary level of efficacy,” Montefiori said. “If it reduces to 90, 80, 70% effective, that is still very, very good and likely to have a major impact on the pandemic.”

A global scourge

By Friday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 24.6 million while the death toll passed 410,000, according to a Times tally. On Friday, the top five states for coronavirus infections were: California with over 3.1 million cases; Texas with over 2.2 million cases; Florida with over 1.6 million cases; New York with close to 1.3 million cases; and Illinois with almost 1.1 million cases.

Curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the rest of the world remains challenging.

In India, the coronavirus case count was over 10.6 million by Friday, a Johns Hopkins University tally showed. Brazil had nearly 8.7 million cases and over 214,000 deaths as of Friday, the Hopkins tally showed.

Worldwide, the number of reported infections passed 97.6 million on Friday, with nearly 2.1 million deaths recorded, according to the Hopkins tally.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Further Support and Information on COVID-19

Exercise Doesn’t Boost Health If You Stay Obese, Study Finds

DaveRat No Comments


FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 — The harmful effects of obesity on the heart can’t be undone by exercise, and it’s not possible to be “fat but healthy,” Spanish researchers warn.

“Exercise does not seem to compensate for the negative effects of excess weight,” said study author Alejandro Lucia, a professor of exercise physiology at European University in Madrid.

The study findings “refute the notion that a physically active lifestyle can completely negate the deleterious effects of overweight and obesity,” he said.

Lucia and his colleagues analyzed data from nearly 528,000 working adults in Spain. The participants’ average age was 42 and close to 7 out of 10 were men.

About 42% of these adults were normal weight; 41% were overweight, and 18% were obese. Most were inactive (63.5%); 12.3% got some but not enough exercise, and 24.2% were regularly active.

About 30% of participants had high cholesterol; 15% had high blood pressure, and 3% had diabetes.

No matter how active they were, however, overweight and obese people had a higher risk of heart disease than those whose weight was normal, according to the study, published Jan. 22 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Compared to active people of normal weight, active obese people were about twice as likely to have high cholesterol, four times more likely to have diabetes, and five times more likely to have high blood pressure.

“One cannot be ‘fat but healthy,’ ” Lucia warned in a journal news release.

But the researchers did not disregard the importance of exercise. In all weight categories, any physical activity was associated with a lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, according to the findings. And the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure fell as physical activity rose.

“This tells us that everyone, irrespective of their body weight, should be physically active to safeguard their health,” Lucia said.

“More activity is better, so walking 30 minutes per day is better than walking 15 minutes a day,” he noted.

Lucia said it’s equally important to fight obesity and inactivity. “Weight loss should remain a primary target for health policies together with promoting active lifestyles,” he concluded.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Health Highlights: Jan. 22, 2021

DaveRat No Comments


 

Dr. Anthony Fauci Feels ‘Liberated’ in Biden Administration

After nearly a year of being muzzled about the coronavirus pandemic by the Trump administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that it’s “liberating” to be part of an administration that bases its decisions on science.

“One of the new things in this administration is, if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert said during a White House briefing on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. “Just say you don’t know the answer.”

“The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know and what the science is … it is something of a liberating feeling,” Fauci told reporters. He was first on the podium at White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s daily briefing, the AP reported.

Fauci said it was difficult at times to work for Trump, who refused to acknowledge the severity of the pandemic, didn’t encourage mask-wearing, and often promoted unproven treatments for COVID-19, such as a malaria drug and injecting disinfectant.

“It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based in scientific fact,” said Fauci, who is Biden’s chief medical advisor and directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

The 80-year-old scientist added that he took “no pleasure” in having to contradict Trump, the AP reported.

Fauci was busy on Thursday, Biden’s first full day as president. His day started with a virtual meeting at 4 a.m. with World Health Organization officials in Switzerland and went past 4 p.m. with his attendance at the White House briefing.

He and the Biden administration are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic — which has killed more than 400,000 Americans — as it reaches its deadliest phase, the AP reported.

 

Florida Targets ‘Vaccine Tourism’

Florida officials are trying to put a stop to “vaccine tourism,” in which people from outside the state travel there to get vaccinated.

Healthcare workers, long-term care workers and people 65 and older who are at least part-time residents of the state are eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines in Florida, CBS News reported.

Of the 1.1 million people who’ve been vaccinated in the state, 39,000 reside outside of Florida, state health department data show.

State residents are struggling to get vaccination appointments, and some are worried that the limited vaccine supply may be going to people who don’t live in the state, CBS News reported.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis initially downplayed reports of vaccine tourism, but now says that people will need to live in the state to receive COVID-19 vaccines, CBS News reported.

 

Antibody Drug Protects Nursing Home Residents, Staff From COVID-19

An antibody drug that has emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in early-stage COVID-19 patients with symptoms prevented coronavirus infections in nursing residents and staff who were exposed to the virus, a new study shows.

It was conducted to find out if bamlanivimab — which contains laboratory-grown virus fighters called monoclonal antibodies — could protect nursing home residents and staff against infections with the new coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

In the study, mobile labs and medical workers were sent to nursing homes immediately after a single infection was detected, and temporary infusion centers were set up to administer the drug.

The study included 299 residents and 666 staff. Some received the drug and others were given a placebo. Compared to those who got a placebo, rates of symptomatic infections were 80% lower among residents and 60% lower among staff who received the drug, theTimes reported.

The preliminary results of the study conducted by drug maker Eli Lilly haven’t been peer-reviewed or published.

The company said it expects to present the results at a medical meeting and to publish them in a peer-reviewed journal, but provided no timeline, the Times reported.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: January 2021

Further Support and Information on COVID-19