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Sat, 28 Nov 2020
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After reliability of trial data questioned, creators of Russia's Covid-19 vaccine send 'detailed responses' to Lancet questions

russian coronavirus vaccine laboratory lab
© Sputnik / Vladimir Pesnya
A researcher works inside a laboratory of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology where the world's first coronavirus vaccine registered in Russia was developed.
Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, which created the world's first Covid-19 vaccine, has sent "detailed responses" to the questions posed by British medical journal The Lancet, after a group of scientists criticized the Russian data.

On September 7, an open letter signed by twenty-six analysts, mainly based in Italy, cast doubt on Russia's vaccine, noting the discovery of "potential data inconsistencies" in the published research. The group claimed that the article had significant statistical anomalies. Following the letter, the journal's editorial board asked the developers of the Russian vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, to reply.

According to Alexey Kuznetsov, an assistant to Russia's Minister of Health, the vaccine's creators have sent "detailed responses to the editor of The Lancet magazine."

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Coronavirus: What do we know about the artemisia plant?

Artemisia plants Madagascar
© Getty Images
Artemisia plants being grown in Madagascar.
Madagascar attracted a lot of attention in April when the African island nation announced it was using a local plant to combat coronavirus.

A drink using artemisia plant extracts was promoted by its leader, President Andry Rajoelina.

There's no evidence so far that this plant - whose compounds do work against malaria - can combat Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

So what do we know about the plant and its properties?

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Drugs that block acetylcholine speed up cognitive decline - study

Acetylcholine pathway
© Bruce Blaus/Wikimedia Commons
Acetylcholine (ACh) pathway
Anticholinergic medications may increase Alzheimer's risk, a new study reports

Anticholinergic medications block acetylcholine (i.e., "vagusstoff") and inhibit parasympathetic nerve impulses by binding with this neurotransmitter's receptors. Over 600 medications are known to trigger some degree of anticholinergic activity (Ghossein, Kang, & Lakhkar, 2020).

Anticholinergics are a common class of drugs prescribed by doctors — or purchased over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription — for the treatment of allergies, asthma, common cold symptoms, COPD, hay fever, hypertension, overactive bladder, Parkinson's disease as well as psychiatric disorders, depression, and a host of other ailments.

What Is Acetylcholine and Why Is It Also Called "Vagusstoff"?

Acetylcholine (ACh) was the first neurotransmitter ever discovered by scientists. In 1921, a German-born psychobiologist and pharmacologist, Otto Loewi (1873-1961), identified a substance secreted by the vagus nerve that slowed heart rate. He named this stuff "vagusstoff," which is German for "vagus nerve substance." (See "How Does 'Vagusstoff' (Vagus Nerve Substance) Calm Us Down?")


COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Oxford University and AstraZeneca on hold after 'unexplained illness'

tech and vials
© Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images
In large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials, patients receive either an active vaccine or a placebo.
AstraZeneca, one of the companies racing to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, seems to have hit a stumbling block.

The company put a hold on its COVID-19 clinical trials worldwide while it investigated an adverse reaction in a trial participant in the United Kingdom.

It's not clear how long the stoppage will last. Sometimes reactions happen during a trial that are purely coincidental, but if they are serious enough, research is put on hold until they can be fully investigated.

AstraZeneca said in a statement late Tuesday that the company is testing a vaccine originally developed at Oxford University.
"We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials."

Comment: U.S. infectious disease 'expert' Anthony Fauci offers his opinion on the efficacy of rapid-testing of vaccine candidate:
Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the pause was not uncommon.

"This particular candidate from the AstraZeneca company had a serious adverse event, which means you put the rest of the enrollment of individual volunteers on hold until you can work out precisely what went on. It's really one of the safety valves that you have on clinical trials such as this, so it's unfortunate that it happened. Hopefully, they'll work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial but you don't know. They need to investigate it further."

The vaccine, which AstraZeneca is developing with the University of Oxford, has been described by the World Health Organization as probably the world's leading candidate and the most advanced in terms of development. Tuesday's move was seen as dimming prospects for an early rollout.


Low-dose electrical stimulation reduces dyslexia deficits, study finds

low dose electrical stimulation brain
Restoring normal patterns of rhythmic neural activity through non-invasive electrical stimulation of the brain alleviates sound-processing deficits and improves reading accuracy in adults with dyslexia, according to a study published September 8, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Silvia Marchesotti and Anne-Lise Giraud of the University of Geneva, and colleagues.

Dyslexia is a frequent disorder of reading acquisition that affects up to 10% of the population, and is characterized by lifelong difficulties with written material. Although several possible causes have been proposed for dyslexia, the predominant one is a phonological deficit, i.e., a difficulty in processing language sounds. The phonological deficit in dyslexia is associated with changes in rhythmic or repetitive patterns of neural activity, specifically the so-called "low-gamma" (30-Hz) oscillations, in a sound-processing region of the brain called left auditory cortex. But a causal relationship between these oscillations and the ability to process phonemes had not been established in previous studies.

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HealthPartners pauses enrollment in COVID-19 vaccine trial while AstraZeneca investigates reported illness

© Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19: A general view of AstraZeneca is seen during Prime Minister Scott Morrison's visit on August 19, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
HealthPartners is pausing enrollment in the COVID-19 vaccine trial after AstraZeneca announced it is putting its study on temporary hold to investigate if a report of patient's serious side effect is linked to the shot.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, AstraZeneca said its "standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data."

AstraZeneca didn't reveal any information about the possible side effect except to call it "a potentially unexplained illness." The news site STAT first reported the pause in testing, saying the possible side effect occurred in the United Kingdom.

Comment: After announcing a possible side effect, they're giving the reader instructions on how to enroll in the trial. Is this what they call 'bad optics'?

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SOTT Logo Radio

Objective:Health - Gov. Response Killed More Than Covid - Interview with Denis Rancourt

O:H hearder denis rancourt
On this episode of Objective:Health we talk to Professor Denis Rancourt, author of over 100 scientific research papers in the diverse areas of physics, chemistry, geology, materials science, soil science, and environmental science. Dr. Rancourt has made fundamental scientific discoveries in the areas of environmental science, measurement science, soil science, bio-geochemistry, theoretical physics, alloy physics, magnetism, and planetary science.

Recently Dr. Rancourt has turned his attention to the science behind the Covid fiasco. He speaks to us today about his recent research and what he's been able to dig up looking into the all-cause mortality figures. His conclusions are rather stunning!

He also talks about what the research says about masks (spoiler alert: they don't work), and ties the entire Covid episode to geopolitics and the ongoing gloablist agenda. You don't want to miss this one!


'The cholesterol hypothesis is dead, dead, dead'

© Consumer Reports Org
Is there any life left in the cholesterol hypothesis (a.k.a. the lipid hypothesis)? Is there anything left for serious scientists to cling to or is time for its mouldering corpse to end up on the trash heap of medical history, alongside lobotomy, bloodletting and the theory of the four humors? I was asked this question by a reader of this blog recently, and as it happens, a systematic review was recently published in Evidence Based Medicine (my favorite medical journal, mainly because it is edited by the brilliant Dr. Carl Heneghan) that definitively answers this question, so I thought it would be interesting to go through what the evidence says together.

As many readers will be aware, the cholesterol hypothesis is the idea that cardiovascular disease is caused by high levels of cholesterol in the blood stream. The hypothesis harks back to the early part of the twentieth century, when a Russian researcher named Nikolai Anitschkow fed a cholesterol rich diet to rabbits and found that they developed atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries, the process which in the long run leads to cardiovascular disease). Of course, rabbits and humans are very different species, with very different dietary preferences. Rabbits, being herbivores, normally have very little cholesterol in their diets, while humans, being omnivores, generally consume quite a bit of cholesterol. Regardless, the data was suggestive, and led to the hypothesis being formulated.

In the 1940's and 1950's an American researcher named Ancel Keys carried out a number of studies which supposedly showed a correlation between cholesterol intake and heart disease in humans. The most famous of these was the "Seven Countries Study", which was an observational study carried out in, as the name implies, seven different countries, and which found that people in countries with a high intake of saturated fat had high blood levels of cholesterol, and were much more likely to develop heart disease than people in countries with a low intake of saturated fat. This lead to the hypothesis that saturated fat intake leads to high blood cholesterol levels which leads to atherosclerosis which leads to cardiovascular disease and premature death.

As we've discussed before, observational studies cannot draw any conclusions about causation, they can only show correlation. And there is also a question why these seven specific countries were chosen (the reader will be aware that there are in fact closer to two hundred countries) - they certainly weren't chosen at random. If the populations in a study aren't chosen at random, that creates a significant risk of cherry picking of data (and makes it impossible for the researchers carrying out a study to refute that accusation).

In spite of these limitations, the cholesterol hypothesis became heavily hyped, leading to official dietary recommendations around the world, which are still very much unchanged, that recommend low intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol, and of foods rich in these substances, such as red meat.


FDA wants to ban NAC now that it's known to combat COVID-19

n-acetyl cysteine
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has a long history of use as a first-aid remedy for acetaminophen poisoning. Emergency room physicians will administer it in cases when you've taken an overdose of Tylenol or other acetaminophen products. The way it neutralizes the toxic effects of the drug is by recharging glutathione, thereby preventing liver damage.

Interestingly, NAC may also be useful against COVID-19, as explained by pulmonologist Dr. Roger Seheult in the MedCram lecture [below]. By raising glutathione, it helps combat oxidative stress, which is a main factor in the cytokine storm associated with COVID-19.

A recent literature analysis1 linked glutathione deficiency to COVID-19 disease severity, leading the author to conclude that NAC may be useful both for prevention and treatment. NAC may also combat the abnormal blood clotting seen in many cases, and helps loosen thick mucus in the lungs.

Comment: It's rather predictable that the FDA would start to move against any supplement that might prove useful against Covid, despite the fact that they've previously ignored it. Those of us who have been hip to the effectiveness of NAC for awhile now probably have even less to worry about this innocuous virus.

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Study: Vitamin D deficiency may raise risk of getting COVID-19

vitamin d
In a retrospective study of patients tested for COVID-19, researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine found an association between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of becoming infected with the coronavirus.

"Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections," said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. "Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection."

The research team looked at 489 UChicago Medicine patients whose vitamin D level was measured within a year before being tested for COVID-19. Patients who had vitamin D deficiency (< 20ng/ml) that was not treated were almost twice as likely to test positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus compared to patients who had sufficient levels of the vitamin.

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