CON EP 65: What do New COVID-19 Studies Show?

CON EP 65: What do New COVID-19 Studies Show?

Update on COVID-19 Looking Into facts from U.K & Israel

A largest real-world study of COVID-19 vaccine safety published by Israel’s Clalit Research Institute in The New England Journal of Medicine

  • A total of 1,736,832 persons were eligible for inclusion in the vaccination cohort
  • The median age in the eligible cohort was 43 years 

Israel was the first country on Earth to fully vaccinate a majority of its citizens against COVID-19. As of August 2020, Israel has one of the world’s highest daily infection rates — an average of nearly 7,500 confirmed cases a day, double what it was two weeks ago. Nearly one in every 150 people in Israel today has the virus.

A major study, conducted in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University, examined data on over 2 million people in Israel.

The study compared rates of 25 adverse events (within 3 weeks) between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, and separately, between unvaccinated individuals infected and not infected with coronavirus: Findings show that the vaccine is safe, while coronavirus infection is associated with numerous serious adverse events.

Few adverse events were associated with the vaccine. Myocarditis, the most serious one, was associated with an excess of 2.7 cases per 100,000 vaccinated persons. In contrast, coronavirus infection in unvaccinated individuals was associated with an excess of 11 cases of myocarditis per 100,000 infected persons.

The vaccine was found to be safe: Out of 25 potential side effects examined, 4 were found to have a strong association with the vaccine.

Other adverse events moderately associated with vaccination were swelling of the lymph nodes, a mild side effect that is part of a standard immune response to vaccination, with 78 excess cases per 100,000, appendicitis with 5 excess cases per 100,000 (potentially as a result of swelling of lymph nodes around the appendix), and herpes zoster with 16 excess cases per 100,000.

As you can see, as of August 15, 2021, 58% of COVID patients admitted to the hospital who were over the age of 50 had actually received two doses of COVID injections and 10% had received one dose. So, partially or fully “vaccinated” individuals made up 68% of hospitalizations.

Only in the 50 and younger category were a majority, 64%, of hospitalizations among the unvaccinated. Whitty, however, completely neglected to differentiate between the age groups. The same applies to deaths. Unvaccinated only make up the majority of COVID deaths in the under-50 age group. In the over-50 group, the clear majority, 70%, are either partially or fully “vaccinated.”

Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections 

*This study is still under peer review* This is a retrospective observational study.

Overall, 673,676 MHS members 16 years and older were eligible for the study group of fully vaccinated SARS-CoV-2-naïve individuals; 62,883 were eligible for the study group of unvaccinated previously infected individuals and 42,099 individuals were eligible for the study group of previously infected and single-dose vaccines.

  • The researchers evaluated four outcomes: SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptomatic disease, COVID-19-related hospitalization, and death. The follow-up period of June 1 to August 14, 2021, when the Delta variant was dominant in Israel.
  • Vaccine-induced immunity was also associated with a 27-fold increased risk for symptomatic infection (95% CI 12.7-57.5) compared with symptomatic reinfection (P<0.001)
  • In a separate analysis that compared vaccine and natural immunity regardless of the time of infection, fully vaccinated patients had a higher risk of infection (OR 5.96, 95% CI 4.85-7.33) and symptomatic disease (OR 7.13, 95% CI 5.51-9.21).
  • When allowing the infection to occur at any time before vaccination (from March 2020 to February 2021), evidence of waning natural immunity was demonstrated, though SARS-CoV-2 naïve vaccinees had a 5.96-fold (95% CI, 4.85 to 7.33) increased risk for breakthrough infection and a 7.13-fold (95% CI, 5.51 to 9.21) increased risk for symptomatic disease.
  • SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees had a 13.06-fold (95% CI, 8.08 to 21.11) increased risk for breakthrough infection with the Delta variant compared to those previously infected.
  • For comorbidities, they found a statistically significant 13.06-fold (95% CI, 8.08 to 21.11) increased risk for breakthrough infection as opposed to reinfection (P<0.001).
  • Conclusion of the study: This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer-lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease, and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 two-dose vaccine-induced immunity. 

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415v1

Disclaimer: “These studies should not be interpreted as saying, ‘if you have already been infected, don’t get vaccinated.'”

U.S DATA on COVID-19

Unfortunately, we cannot rely on U.S. data to get a clear idea of how the COVID shots are working, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has chosen not to track all breakthrough cases. As reported by ProPublica on May 1, 2021, the CDC stopped tracking and reporting all breakthrough cases, opting to log only those that result in hospitalization and/or death. It also prevents us from understanding how variants are spreading and whether those who have received the jab can still develop so-called “long-haul syndrome.” As of Today, CDC is only tracking “most severe cases”

Trends in Internal Medicine Study

  1. Bart Classen, MD. published a study in August 2021 disputing the COVID 19 shots claims. The study titled “U.S. COVID-19 Vaccines Proven to Cause More Harm than Good Based on Pivotal Clinical Trial Data Analyzed Using the Proper Scientific Endpoint, ‘All-Cause Severe Morbidity.”

Dr. Classen disputes the primary endpoint “severe infections.” This, Classen says, “has been proven dangerously misleading,” and many fields of medicine have stopped using disease-specific endpoints in clinical trials and have adopted “all-cause mortality and morbidity” instead.

The reason for this is because if a person dies from the treatment or is severely injured by it, even if the treatment helped block the progression of the disease they’re being treated for, the end result is still a negative one.

To offer an extreme example of what you can do with a disease-specific endpoint, you could make the claim that shooting people in the head is a cure for cancer because no one who got the treatment — who got shot in the head — died from cancer.

When reanalyzing the clinical trial data from these COVID shots using “all-cause severe morbidity” as the primary endpoint, the data reveal they actually cause far more harm than good.

The proper endpoint was calculated by adding together all severe events reported in the trials, not just COVID-19 but also all other serious adverse events. By doing this, severe COVID-19 infection gets the same weight as other adverse events of equivalent severity. According to Classen: Scientific principles dictate that the mass immunization with COVID-19 vaccines must be halted immediately because we face a looming vaccine-induced public health catastrophe.”

“Results prove that none of the vaccines provide a health benefit and all pivotal trials show a statistically significant increase in ‘all-cause severe morbidity’ in the vaccinated group compared to the placebo group.

Janssen claims that their vaccine prevents 6 cases of severe COVID-19 requiring medical attention out of 19,630 immunized; Pfizer claims their vaccine prevents 8 cases of severe COVID-19 out of 21,720 immunized; Moderna claims its vaccine prevents 30 cases of severe COVID-19 out of 15,210 immunized.

https://www.scivisionpub.com/pdfs/us-covid19-vaccines-proven-to-cause-more-harm-than-good-based-on-pivotal-clinical-trial-data-analyzed-using-the-proper-scientific–1811.pdf

US COVID-19 Vaccines Proven to Cause More Harm than Good Based on Pivotal Clinical Trial Data Analyzed Using the Proper Scientif

Update Aug. 24, 2021: With evidence of seriously-waning immunity at the five- to the six-month mark, CDC is now recommending a third “booster” shot. In highly-vaccinated Israel, recognizing that vaccination likely does not confer protection beyond a few months, the country has reimagined its vaccine passports. They will only apply to people who have had three shots, and only be good for a six-month period of time.

A 10 year Navy Surgeon speaks out on mandates in the military. In 2020, only 20 deaths of COVID-19 in the US military. Currently, they have 80 cases of Myocarditis. 

In 31 years of the VAERS, there were 317 cases of myocarditis. This year there are 1,113 cases of myocarditis. 

Facts on myocarditis. Non-fulminant active myocarditis has a mortality rate of 25% to 56% within 3 to 10 years, owing to progressive heart failure and sudden cardiac death, especially if symptomatic heart failure manifests early. 

“When death is an adverse effect and that is viewed as selfish for not getting it. We’re being gaslighted. 

CON EP 64: Petrodollar and What Affects Gas Prices

CON EP 64: Petrodollar and What Affects Gas Prices

Petrodollar and Gas Prices

Not many people have heard of the petrodollar and just as many people don’t know what affects gas prices. Gas is one of the only necessities that we allow for such drastic price fluctuations. The petrodollar is a system that the majority of the world uses to buy crude oil. Gas prices are determined by many factors including supply and demand as well as crude oil prices. 

Petrodollar

Before we clarify what the petrodollar is we need to understand some history regarding currencies and economics. 

  • In current society, there is no gold backing of the US dollar. We have a fiat currency, money without any backing by any kind of reserves. 
  • Post-WWI with a war-torn Europe the US had the most gold and a strong currency. Roughly before WWII money was backed by gold. In 1944 a conference of 44 countries was held in New Hampshire to discuss currencies. 
  • The decision was then made to back currencies by the stable US dollar and then have the US dollar be backed by gold.
  • Imports and exports all over the world were bought and sold basically using the US dollar. Which gives the US a lot of power through sanctions. In 1971 Nixon proclaimed that the US dollar will not be backed by gold. 
  • The Vietnam war was completely financed and funded by debt. When Nixon broke away from the gold as the reserve the dollar dropped in value making it hard to pay off debt, and shooting crude oil prices from $2 a barrel to $12 over 2 years. 
  • To save the US, Nixon and his Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger came up with a plan. Treasury Secretary William Simon was sent to Saudi Arabia. 
  • Their idea was the petrodollar. 
  • This was the concept of having the US dollar be used in exchange for oil. With that agreement, Saudi Arabia would get military and economic support. 

The petrodollar is the agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia to sell its oil in dollars. The most valuable resource is oil. This allows the USD to be the most dominant currency and a hedge for countries.  

https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/the-hidden-costs-of-the-petrodollar 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrocurrency 

https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-petrodollar-3306358

What determines gas prices

The first thing that affects oil cost is crude oil. Starting with the quality, there are different types of oil depending on where it comes from. There is a grading system for oil. Oil supply by their largest manufacturers is regulated by OPEC. 

  • Crude oil has the biggest influence on price. Crude oil cost is determined by supply and demand. This includes the resources it takes for exploration, to remove it from the ground, and transport it to where it needs to go. Demand is higher in the summer months and lowers in the winter, the price follows demand. Some countries also store gasoline to drive demand. 
  • Tax is another influencer on gas prices, federal and state taxes are also pushed on the consumer. In July 2019, the federal, state, and local taxes on a gallon of gasoline totaled an average of 18% of the total price. Federal tax made up 18.4 cents, while state tax made up 29.66 cents. Marketing and distribution costs are also pushed on the consumer. You’re not only paying for the gas but also the cost of advertisements and everything in between.

The top five sources of U.S. total petroleum (including crude oil) imports by share of total petroleum imports in 2020 were

  1. Canada 52%
  2. Mexico 11%
  3. Russia 7%
  4. Saudi Arabia 7%
  5. Colombia 4%

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/gas-prices.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_and_diesel_usage_and_pricing 

Ep 63: Taliban Take Over Afghanistan: What We Know And What’s Next

Ep 63: Taliban Take Over Afghanistan: What We Know And What’s Next

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is located in the Middle East between Turkey and Iran. Afghanistan has been on the news because we have recently left, the US military has left. Our efforts in Afghanistan have ended.

War in Afghanistan

We officially entered Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. However, we’ve been involved in Afghanistan affairs since 1979. On December 24th, 1979 the Soviet army entered Afghanistan causing a decade-long war to keep Communism in Afghanistan. During that decade the mujahideen formed the resistance by trying to unite the Islamic people. 

The mujahideen were backed by the US, British, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. From this network, al Queda was created. In 1989 the Soviets were ousted from Afghanistan and a transitional government was put in place.

In 1996 the Taliban took control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and instituted a severe interpretation of Islamic law. They also welcomed Osama Bin Laden, who was expelled from Sudan. Their goal was to get rid of the mujahideen. 

In 1999, the United Nations condemned the Taliban as terrorists and initiated sanctions against them. 

On September 11, 2001, the attacks on the world trade center occurred along with the assassination of the mujahideen leader, Masoud on September 9th (Sought the US backing against the Taliban but was unsuccessful). When this happened Bin Laden received full backing from the Taliban. On September 26, 2001, the CIA entered Afghanistan in a covert operation to overthrow the Taliban. On October 7th the US bombing campaign against Afghanistan started.

Post 9/11

November 13, 2001, The Us and its allies reclaim the capital Kabul causing the Taliban to flee. By December 6th Kandahar the Taliban stronghold is taken.

On January 26, 2004, the new Afghan constitution is signed into law. The constitution paves the way for presidential elections in October 2004.

December 7, 2004, Afghanistan elects its president Hamid Karzai who ends up being corrupt and unable to properly lead Afghanistan.

On February 17, 2009, President Obama increases the number of troops in Afghanistan. At the peak, we had about 140,000 troops. 

May 2, 2011, ​​The leader of al-Qaeda is killed in an assault by US Navy Seals on a compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan. Bin Laden’s body is removed and buried at sea. The operation ends a 10-year hunt led by the CIA.  The confirmation that Bin Laden had been living on Pakistani soil fuels accusations in the US that Pakistan is an unreliable ally in the war on terror.

December 28, 2014, NATO ends combat operations. Focus is put on helping the Afghan people and protecting them. 

2015, there is an increase in Taliban resurgence and the increased use of suicide bombing and IEDs. 

On February 29, 2020, The Taliban and the US sign an agreement to bring peace as well as the withdrawal of troops within 14 months.

April 14, 2021, Biden Decides on Complete U.S. Withdrawal by 9/11

September 11, 2021, is the date set to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. 

The Taliban took control of Kabul as US troops and the Afghani president left the country and the Afghanistan army folded.

Interesting facts

Cost

  • Over the 20 years of war in Afghanistan, we have spent about 300 million a day. As of April, the US spent over 2 trillion on its war effort. Even with the war over the US still pays financially with the increasing interest. 
  • Estimated interest costs by 2050: Up to $6.5 trillion.

Human Cost

  • American service members killed in Afghanistan through April: 2,448
  • U.S. contractors: 3,846
  • Afghan national military and police: 66,000
  • Other allied service members, including from other NATO member states: 1,144
  • Afghan civilians: 47,245
  • Taliban and other opposition fighters: 51,191
  • Aid workers: 444
  • Journalists: 72

https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2021-08-14/costs-of-the-afghanistan-war-in-lives-and-dollars 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-47391821

https://www.britannica.com/event/Afghanistan-War

Ongoing Wars

Even though the US has left Afghanistan there are still many conflicts the US is part of. Many of these conflicts are rarely reported on and cost the US billions of dollars. 

Somalia

American-led intervention in Iraq

American-led intervention in the Syrian civil war

American intervention in Libya (2015–present)

 

CON EP 62: Nutrition Labels and Nurses Losing Their Licenses

CON EP 62: Nutrition Labels and Nurses Losing Their Licenses

FDA Changes Nutrition labels

The updated label appears on the majority of food packages. Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales were required to update their labels by January 1, 2020; manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales were required to update their labels by January 1, 2021. Manufacturers of most single-ingredient sugars, such as honey and maple syrup, and certain cranberry products have until July 1, 2021, to make the changes.

How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously 1/2 cup but is now 2/3 cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda changed from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.

New Label, What is the difference?

Goal: To make sure consumers have access to more recent and accurate nutrition information about the foods they are eating, FDA-required changes based on updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public.

  • Servings: larger, bolder type
  • Serving sized updated
  • Calories: Larger type ( Calories from fat removed) 
  • Requiring nutrients – the list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared is being updated. Vitamin D and potassium are required on the label. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Vitamins A and C are no longer required but can be included on a voluntary basis. They can voluntarily declare the gram amount for other vitamins and minerals. 

Vitamin D and potassium are nutrients Americans don’t always get enough of, according to nationwide food consumption surveys, and when lacking, are associated with increased risk of chronic disease. Vitamin D is important for its role in bone health, and potassium helps to lower blood pressure.

In the early 1990s, American diets lacked Vitamins A and C, but now Vitamins A and C deficiencies in the general population are rare. Manufacturers are still able to list these vitamins voluntarily.

  • Daily Values Updated: Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D have been updated based on newer scientific evidence from the Institute of Medicine and other reports such as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. 

For the nutrients with DVs that are going up, the %DVs may go down. For example, the DV for total fat has been updated from 65g to 78g. That means that a packaged food with 36g of total fat in one serving (previously 55% DV) now has 46% DV. See below for a side-by-side comparison of the information on the original and new Nutrition Facts labels.

For example, the DV for sodium has been updated from 2,400mg to 2,300mg. That means that a packaged food with 1,060mg of sodium in one serving (previously 44% DV) now has 46% DV.

  • New: “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, must be included on the label. There are different labeling requirements for single-ingredient sugars. Consuming too many added sugars can make it difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits. 
  • Updated: The footnote now better explains what percent Daily Value means. It reads: “*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
  • While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” was removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.

Serving sizes example: 

Originally serving size for ice cream: 1/2 Cup = 200 calories

New Serving Size for ice cream 2/3 = 270 calories

For soft drinks, 12-ounce (120 cals) and 20-ounce (200 cals) bottles will be labeled as one serving, since people are likely to drink the entire amount in either size container in one sitting. 

Nutrient Original Daily Value Updated Daily Value
Calcium 1000mg 1300mg
Dietary Fiber 25g 28g
Fat 65g 78g
Magnesium 400mg 420mg
Manganese 2mg 2.3mg
Phosphorus 1000mg 1250mg
Potassium 3500mg 4700mg

 

Total intake of Carbohydrates decreased from 300g to 275g. Protein stayed the same at 50g. Saturated Fats remained at 20g. Cholesterol remained at 300mg. 

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label#:~:text=We%20have%20made%20some%20improvements,size%E2%80%9D%20declaration%20in%20bold%20type.

Nurses losing their licenses

RaDonda Vaught, a former Vanderbilt nurse criminally indicted for accidentally killing a patient with a medication error in 2017, was stripped of her license by the Tennessee Board of Nursing in July.

She still faces a pending criminal trial, including a charge of reckless homicide and the possibility of jail time, set for next year.

Vaught could not find Versed, she overrode a cabinet safeguard that unlocked more powerful medications, then searched for “VE” in the cabinet’s search tool and chose vecuronium by mistake. Vaught then overlooked numerous warning signs that she selected the wrong drug, including a label on the medical bottle that read “WARNING: PARALYZING AGENT,” according to court records.

Statement from Vaught: “I won’t ever be the same person,” Vaught said, failing to hold back tears. “When I started being a nurse, I told myself that I wanted to take care of people the way I would want my grandmother to be taken care of. I would have never wanted something like this to happen to her, or anyone that I loved, or anyone that I don’t even know. I know the reason that this patient is no longer here is because of me.”

Reasons Nurses Lose their License

Most nurses enter the profession with the best interest in mind, sometimes things happen and the Boards of Nursing (BON) for example, many states will suspend a nurse’s license if she has been arrested or convicted of a DUI, public intoxication or diversion, which is taking drugs intended for patients. Stealing or possessing controlled substances or illegal drugs may also result in a revoked license. 

Each year 7,000 nurses have some type of discipline put on their license. When a Board disciplines a nurse, it can usually do 1 of 4 things.

  • Give the nurse a reprimand which is like a slap on the wrist.
  • Place the nurse’s license on probation.
  • Suspend the license.
  • Revoke the license.

Let’s dive deeper into the reasons why nurses can lose their licenses. 

  1. Failure to pay Child support 

    1. If a nurse fails to pay child support, the courts may temporarily suspend his or her nursing license.
    2. All 50 states have provisions that authorize the suspension or revocation of licenses for failure to pay child support, this includes professional and occupational licenses. 
    3. The state’s requirements may also include the need to comply with the court’s rulings within a set timeframe or risk permanently losing the license.
  1. Patient Abuse and Neglect

    1. Abusing patients is a serious matter and is more likely to result in revoked licenses. Elderly patient abuse is the most prevalent. 
    2. First discussed in the 1970s, abuse of older adults was for many years a largely hidden, private matter rather than an issue of social, health, or criminal concern.
    3. As of 2018, there were 52.4 million adults 65 and over in the United States. By 2040, that number is expected to climb to 80 million, comprising nearly 21% of the total population.
    4. Global estimates from a recent meta-analysis reflect that one in six elders, or 15.7%, in the community experienced past-year abuse.
  1. Sexual Misconduct

    1. Sexual misconduct may include boundary violations between nurses and patients or nurses and other healthcare workers.
    2. In most states, nurse-patient relationships are a major violation and cause for disciplinary sanctions, including the revocation of a license
    3. Sexual misconduct outside the workplace, including convictions, may also result in disciplinary action. 
  1. Drug-Related Violations

    1. It is estimated that 10% of nurses will misuse drugs or alcohol at some time during their career.
    2. Nurses report higher rates of prescription drug abuse, in part due to their access to these medications at the workplace.
    3. Along with working while impaired, nurses have lost licenses due to drug or alcohol-related convictions.
    4. Diverting drugs for personal use, sale, or distribution to other patients also provides grounds for losing a license.
    5. If you have previous offenses filed with the nursing board, you’ll be placed on probation – this can restrict your practice. If you violate those terms, your license may be revoked.  
  1. Falsifying documentation.

    1. Falsifying documentation can happen as an example when you gave your patient a little extra morphine to help him get through the night, but you didn’t record it. Whatever the case, falsifying patient records is grounds for a license being suspended.
    2. Nurses who have a suspended license may provide an employer with a fake one, thinking that once the suspension is up, it won’t matter.
  1. Breach of patient confidentiality 

    1. Patient privacy is a big deal and it’s the responsibility of nurses and other health care providers to protect that information. 

Probation 

Getting off probation scenario: (This is in the state of Indiana) to get off probation, a nurse must petition the Board and actually attend a hearing where the nurse is put under oath and the proceedings are transcribed by a court reporter.

The nurse then must present an opening statement, call witnesses, introduce evidence, cross-examine any opposing witnesses and then present a closing argument.  This is a legal proceeding and the nurse has a right to be represented by an attorney.

The nurse not only must show that she has complied with every requirement of the probation but also present that the conditions that led to her license being placed on probation are no longer present.

Revocation 

The revocation of a nurse’s license is the most serious discipline that can be imposed by a board of nursing.  The nurse immediately loses his or her license and cannot legally practice nursing.  Based on the board’s requirements, the individual can apply for a re-licensure.  Requirements include a period of time before which re-licensure is not possible (e.g., 2 years) and the retaking of the NCLEX exam, as examples. It is important to note that re-licensure is at the board’s discretion.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2021/07/23/ex-vanderbilt-nurse-radonda-vaught-loses-license-fatal-error/8069185002/

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/medical-professionals/nurses-at-a-higher-risk-for-substance-abuse

https://ncea.acl.gov/What-We-Do/Research/Statistics-and-Data.aspx

https://www.cphins.com/what-discipline-can-a-board-of-nursing-impose-against-a-nurse-licensee/

 

EP 61: First Artificial Heart Transplant & Lab Leak Hypothesis

EP 61: First Artificial Heart Transplant & Lab Leak Hypothesis

First Artificial Heart Transplant 

A surgical team at Duke University Hospital, led by Drs. Jacob Schroder and Carmelo Milano, successfully implanted a new-generation artificial heart in a 39-year-old man with heart failure, becoming the first center in North America to perform the procedure.

For the first time, a U.S. patient received an Aeson total artificial heart device implant. The device was created in 2008, initially approved in Europe in 2012, was the first total artificial heart to receive FDA approval. In July of 2021, the company also made its 1st sale in Europe. The company did have trial setbacks before, in 2014 their first transplanted patient died 75 days after the operation.

The operation lasted more than eight hours as part of a clinical trial at Duke University Hospital—beginning just after midnight and ending around 8:30 a.m.— The surgery team placed the Aeson total artificial heart created by a French medical technology company called Carmat.

Carmat designer and developer are aiming to provide a therapeutic alternative for people suffering from end-stage biventricular heart failure, today announced the first implant of its Aeson bioprosthetic artificial heart in a commercial setting. The surgeons said the biggest problem is fitting the device into the heart, which will limit the first generation of applicability like for small patients.

Heart Failure 

Heart Failure occurs when the heart can no longer carry out its essential function as a “blood pump” to provide a sufficient cardiac output to satisfy the metabolic needs. It primarily affects the left chamber of the heart, then the right chamber leading to biventricular heart failure. At this stage, vital organs such as the brain, liver, and kidneys do not receive enough nutrients and oxygen to function properly. 

Heart failure is a global pandemic affecting at least 26 million people and is increasing in prevalence. Despite significant advances in therapies and prevention, approximately 5% of this population have terminal heart failure, described as end-stage heart failure, refractory to current medical treatment.

As heart failure is a progressive disease, the prognosis is poor: less than 50% survival five years after diagnosis.

The device consists of two ventricular chambers and four biological valves ensuring that the prosthetic not only resembles the human heart but also functions like one.

The heartbeat is created by an actuator fluid that the patient carries in the bag outside the body and the heart is pumped using micropumps in response to the patient’s needs as determined by the sensors and microprocessors on the heart itself. Two outlets connect the artificial heart to the aorta, which is a major artery in the body, as well as the pulmonary artery that carries blood to the lungs to oxygenate it. 

As part of efforts to lead a near-normal life, the recipient will have to carry around almost a nine-pound (four kgs) bag that consists of a controller and two chargeable battery packs that work for approximately four hours, before requiring recharging.

The device currently has been approved for use in Europe for bridge patients who are diagnosed with Bi-ventricular failure and need a heart transplant in the next 180 days. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=46&v=xdcLKTpxr2g&feature=emb_logo

Full Youtube video on Dukes Surgeons and the implant 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAI22Y6ksjo&t=1139s

https://www.carmatsa.com/en/our_product/

 

Lab Leak Hypothesis 

The Lab Leak theory of COVID-19 Origins. Back in May, a group of scientists – shifted the debate about the origins of COVID-19, they published a letter in the journal of science saying the lab-leak theory needs to be taken more seriously by the scientific community.

Due to the previous administration and other political influencers, it was denounced as an anti-Chinese and anti-science conspiracy by almost all scientists as well as by most of the media: only right-wing outlets covered it at the time.

A few weeks ago, Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, asked Chinese officials to release the hospital records of WIV staff members. Others have asked for blood samples from WIV staff members, and access to WIV bat and virus samples, laboratory notebooks, and hard drives. 

Email to Fauci from Kristain Anderson, one of the fiercest public critics of the lab leak theory and its proponents, discussed with Fauci in February 2020 if SARS-CoV2 was “engineered“:

“The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.

“We have a good team lined up to look very critically at this, so we should know much more at the end of the weekend. I should mention that after discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike, and myself all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory“

A virus that came from nowhere 

A zoonotic origin of COVID-19, i.e directly from bats or via another intermediate animal host, is scientifically the most logical theory. Problem is, that despite all these investigations, no clues in this regard were found. The virus appeared as if from nowhere, already perfectly adapted to humans, sometime in November 2019.

All searches of Wuhan’s “wet markets” where live animals poached from the wild are sold, delivered exactly nothing. No animal host, no traces of SARS-CoV2 antibodies anywhere in the blood, animal or human, prior to November/December 2019.

Wall Street Journal cited US intelligence sources: “Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report”

Conflict of interest 

In early 2021 WHO deployed a team to China in early 2021, led by Peter Daszak, a British zoologist. Daszak had a conflict of interest about the size of a planet: his EcoHealth Alliance was for years channeling almost 40 million US funding money from NIH and Pentagon to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for the purpose of coronavirus research.

In 2019, the Daszaks team and Wuhans lab of virology (WIV) began conducting gain of function research. The gain of function research, where naturally occurring coronaviruses were manipulated in the lab to make them more pathogenic for humans, the idea is to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine. WIV was doing viral experiments like state-of-the-art genetic manipulation and virus passaging in human cell culture or in genetically manipulated (“humanized”) mice, all to make the coronaviruses more pathogenic to humans.

Beijing is seeking to counter the hypothesis

Earlier in the pandemic, the Chinese government flouted the pangolin theory, claiming to have found SARS-CoV2 antibodies in poached pangolins sold on Chinese markets. Alina Chan and her colleague proved that research was badly drawn at best: the exact same pangolin virus genome was published by various papers as independent isolations.

Per published paper: “To our knowledge, all of the published pangolin CoV genome sequences that share a nearly identical Spike receptor binding domain with SARS-CoV-2 originate from this single batch of smuggled pangolins. This raises the question of whether pangolins are truly reservoirs.”

Call it a tale of two laboratories: the Fort Detrick Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in the US, the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, and a competing narrative about the origins of Covid-19.

In August 2019, Fort Detrick’s BSL-4, or top security, lab was shut down by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention for safety violations related to the disposal of dangerous materials. It was reopened in April 2020, but the closure became the main topic in China’s tightly controlled domestic information environment.

The hashtag for Fort Detrick’s Chinese name has over 270 million hits on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, usually on themes of the US hiding bioweapons and researching deadly viruses.

From Global times in China “Combining more than 8,000 pieces of news reports related to the lab-leak theory, the Global Times found that as many as 60 percent of the coverage was from the US alone.”

Human Mistake

By 2010, researchers published it as fact: “The most famous case of a released laboratory strain is the re-emergent H1N1 influenza-A virus which was first observed in China in May of 1977 and in Russia shortly thereafter.” The virus may have escaped from a lab attempting to prepare an attenuated H1N1 vaccine in response to the U.S. swine flu pandemic alert. The virus reappeared after a 20-year absence. Genetic analysis indicated that this strain was missing decades of nucleotide sequence evolution, suggesting an accidental release of a frozen laboratory strain into the general population. 

What’s next for lab-leak investigations

The Chinese government rejected the World Health Organisation’s plan for the second phase of investigation into the origins.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3141823/china-pushing-its-own-coronavirus-lab-leak-theory-latest

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.07.07.184374v1

https://www.wsj.com/articles/intelligence-on-sick-staff-at-wuhan-lab-fuels-debate-on-covid-19-origin-11621796228

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0011184

 

EP 60: Methadone and Mental Health

EP 60: Methadone and Mental Health

Methadone and Mental Health

We live in a society where a solution is often some kind of drug. Let that be for weight loss, muscle gain, cognitive performance, and even drug addiction. People want a quick and easy fix so that is what is provided to them, unfortunately, this does not solve the root cause of certain ongoing issues. The “take a pill for this” method does not work in every situation but that is what the consumer wants, so that is what they received.  

What is Methadone?

Methadone was developed in Germany around 1937 and 1939 by Gustav Ehrhart and Max Bockmühl. 

Heroin and fentanyl are opiates that affect our brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine. When these receptors are activated, they stimulate the release of neurotransmitters that regulate pain, hormone production, and feelings of well-being throughout the body. With this in mind, heroin binds to mu-opioid receptor (MORs) which stimulates a reinforcing behavior cycle on drugs; meaning users will continually use more for their desired effects–until withdrawal symptoms start taking over where we may feel physical or mental distress until we can get another hit

  • Mu receptors play an effect on analgesia, smooth muscle tone, sedation, mood alteration, and n/v.

Methadone acts by binding to the µ-opioid receptor, but also has some affinity for the NMDA receptor.

  • mu-opioid receptors are a key molecular switch triggering brain reward systems and potentially initiating addictive behaviors.
  • This receptor, therefore, mediates therapeutic (analgesia) and addictive activities of morphine, suggesting that further development of morphine-like compounds may necessarily lead to addictive analgesics.

Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is used to treat drug addiction. Methadone binds to the same brain receptors as heroin and morphine, but methadone blocks the euphoric high caused by heroin or morphine. It has a long half-life, lasting 24 – 36 hours, making it an ideal detox agent for ongoing treatment. Methadone also decreases cravings for drugs and helps addicts stop using illegal drugs. However, in higher doses methadone can exhibit opiate-like effects, creating a state of euphoria, sedation, respiratory depression, and relaxation for users.

Methadone is the most common drug for treating heroin addicts worldwide. It has been used as a treatment since it was first discovered in Germany during WWII, and now doctors are starting to use methadone more than ever before due to its effectiveness and safety. Methadone allows people with addictions time to recover from their addiction while they assimilate back into society by working or going through school instead of being high all day every day like when using other drugs such as heroin- which can have harmful effects on one’s body if abused over long periods of time (such as liver damage). For optimal results, patients should also participate in counseling sessions where they will talk about how life affects them so that together these professionals can help the addict find ways out.

https://psychiatry.uams.edu/clinical-care/cast/what-is-methadone/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/effects-of-heroin-on-body 

The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of methadone is around $10.26, 75% off the average retail price of $41.30.

Methadone administration

A relatively low dose of methadone (eg, <30 mg per day) can lessen acute withdrawal but is often not effective in suppressing craving and blocking the effects of other opioids. Though a few patients respond to a maintenance dose of 30–60 mg per day, most patients fare better if their initial 30–40 mg per day dose is gradually raised to a maintenance level of 60–120 mg per day, which typically creates sufficient tolerance to minimize a euphoric response if patients self-administer additional opioids. 

https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/practice-support/guidelines-and-consensus-docs/asam-national-practice-guideline-supplement.pdf 

Is Methadone a good solution for opioid addiction?

Methadone is a highly addictive synthetic opiate, more addictive than Heroin and harder to withdraw from. The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) recognizes that addicts have been parked on methadone for too long, and now promotes abstinence as the treatment goal, with time limits on the duration of methadone maintenance.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/jan/10/why-methadone-drugs-dont-work 

While methadone may help reduce cravings for heroin and other dangerous narcotics, it still leaves the individual dependent on an opiate drug. Despite this, methadone use can keep addicted people safer and out of the justice system as they begin recovery.

  • Deaths from opioids (including semisynthetic opioids, natural opioids, and methadone) have increased more than 300% in the last 20 years.
  • Methadone is responsible for nearly one in four opioid-related deaths.

Study

Methadone Prescribing and Overdose and the Association with Medicaid Preferred Drug List Policies — United States, 2007–2014

  • Methadone accounted for approximately 1% of all opioids prescribed for pain but accounted for approximately 23% of all prescription opioid deaths in 2014. State drug management practices and reimbursement policies can affect methadone prescribing practices and, in turn, might reduce methadone overdose rates within a state.
  • https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6612a2.htm 

More than 70,000 Americans died from a drug-involved overdose in 2019, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids. 

In response to the escalating number of deaths related to the improper use of the prescription drug, methadone, the Illinois Department of Human Services’ (IDHS) Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is urging Illinois consumers, health care professionals and the opiate treatment clinics to be well informed on the safe use of methadone.

https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=46054 

Mental health

For some people, the feelings of anxiety and depression that emerged during this pandemic will resolve as routines resume. But others who face new or worse mental health issues may not be so lucky–a number which could very well become quite large given the magnitude of despair and disruption caused by a virus, unlike anything we have ever seen before in our lifetime. This burden would undoubtedly put an even greater strain on already strained systems for treating these conditions if they were to come into contact with one another down the road.

  • Young adults have experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences, such as closures of universities and loss of income, that may contribute to poor mental health. During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (56%). Compared to all adults, young adults are more likely to report substance use (25% vs. 13%) and suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%). Prior to the pandemic, young adults were already at high risk of poor mental health and substance use disorder, though many did not receive treatment.
  • Research from prior economic downturns shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. During the pandemic, adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of symptoms of mental illness than those with a job or income loss (53% vs. 32%).
  • Research during the pandemic points to concerns around poor mental health and well-being for children and their parents, particularly mothers, as many are experiencing challenges with school closures and lack of childcare. Women with children are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder than men with children (49% vs. 40%). In general, both prior to, and during, the pandemic, women have reported higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to men.
  • https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/ 

Drug overdose deaths spiked dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nationwide a record 93,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2020, a 29% increase over the previous year. The state of Illinois saw more than a 27% increase in deaths, while Michigan recorded a 16% increase.

While the numbers may be shocking, for some they weren’t surprising.

https://newsroom.osfhealthcare.org/covid-19-fallout-a-spike-in-drug-deaths/