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Objective:Health - The Pharma Deluge: How Much Medication is Too Much?

O:H header
Back in the good old days, people would generally take a medication, one at a time, when they were sick, and discontinue it when they were well. But we currently live in an age where it is relatively common for people, particularly the elderly, to be taking multiple medications, (often 10 or more) for years, if not a lifetime. This is known as polypharmacy: the concurrent use of multiple medications by a patient, and the problem is only growing.

In the US, 31% of older adults were taking 5 or more medications per year in 2006. Five years later, that number had increased to 36% . In a Swedish population study, 17% of adults were taking five or more drugs per day in 2006. This had increased to 19% in 2014.

To make matters worse, their are few to no studies actually looking at the effects of taking multiple drugs at a time - particularly in elderly patients. The fact is, no one knows what this is actually doing to us.

Join us on this episode of Objective:Health when we explore the question: Do we really need all these drugs?


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Running Time: 00:31:48

Download: MP3 — 29.1 MB


Microscope 1

T-cell study adds to debate over duration of COVID-19 immunity

coronavirus
A small but key UK study has found that "cellular immunity" to the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus is present after six months in people who had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 - suggesting they might have some level of protection for at least that time.

Scientists presenting the findings, from 100 non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients in Britain, said they were "reassuring" but did not mean people cannot in rare cases be infected twice with the disease.

"While our findings cause us to be cautiously optimistic about the strength and length of immunity generated after SARS-CoV-2 infection, this is just one piece of the puzzle," said Paul Moss, a professor of haematology at Britain's Birmingham University who co-led the study.

"There is still a lot for us learn before we have a full understanding of how immunity to COVID-19 works."

Experts not directly involved with the study said its findings were important and would add to a growing body of knowledge about potential protective immunity to COVID-19.

Comment: The study can be found here. See also:


Brick Wall

The ten worst Covid decision-making failures

Health Secretary Matt Hancock
© Getty images
Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Dealing with a pandemic requires a clear aim, planning, intelligence and supreme flexibility to react to the unknown. However, ever since reports broke in the West of a newly-identified virus in Wuhan in January, this has not been the case in Britain. The result? We have suffered a very high death toll, and substantial social and economic damage has been inflicted on our society. It did not need to be this way. Our Covid-19 outcome could have been very different if certain mistakes were not made. Here we list some of the major decision-making blunders made over the last eight months.

1. Lack of a clear aim

In March, Health Secretary Matt Hancock set out 'to protect the NHS by building it up and flattening the curve. And to protect life by safeguarding those who are most vulnerable.' As it became increasingly clear that the NHS wasn't overwhelmed, however, the aim became muddied.

A grown-up debate between suppression and control of the spread of Covid-19 has not been played out. Hancock considers suppressing Covid is the only way until the cavalry (a vaccine) arrives.

Comment: See also:


Syringe

South Korea reports 83 deaths among people given flu jabs amid safety concerns

Vaccine
© REUTERS/Louafi Larbi
South Korea has reported that 83 people have died after receiving flu shots, a week after Seoul said it would probe its mass vaccination program. The government continues to insist the deaths aren't linked to the jab.

The country's public health agency, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), announced on Saturday that 83 people in total have died after participating in a free vaccination initiative billed as a way to offset potential complications from Covid-19.

Most of the deaths involved the elderly, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing figures provided by the KDCA. Of the total number of fatalities, 37 people were in their 70s, followed by 34 people aged 80 or older. Four deaths involved people in their 60s, while eight individuals who passed away were under 60.

Comment: See also:


Syringe

Are vaccines really "safe and effective"?

woman with baby
Men of science have made abundant mistakes of every kind; their knowledge has improved only because of their gradual abandonment of ancient errors, poor approximations, and premature conclusions.

— George Sarton, founder, History of Science Society
The message that vaccines are safe and effective made perfect sense to my wife Lisa and me. Our beautiful boys would be fully vaccinated. I'd been vaccinated, and my wife had been vaccinated. It was the easiest decision two parents could make. You even get to kill two birds with one stone: protect your babies from infectious disease and contribute to herd immunity, and so protect others. What was the risk of something bad happening from a vaccine? The number thrown around — and still in wide use today — was "one in a million."

Losing faith in my pediatrician and ultimately the entire medical establishment triggered a massive case of cognitive dissonance for me, as it does for so many parents who trusted their pediatricians with their children's lives. Could my pediatrician be leading me astray? Could these vaccines really be harming my son? Are those crazy parents actually right? It's an alienating, disturbing, troubling path that many autism parents must walk. In many cases the parents of children with autism were the most compliant when it came to mainstream medical care — our children typically received every vaccine and medical intervention recommended to us by our trusted doctors. We're not "anti-vaxxers"; we're mostly "ex-vaxxers," the compliant parents who learned the hard way.

Beaker

Lab tests show risks of using CRISPR gene editing on embryos

lab dish containing embryos
© AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File
In this Oct. 9, 2018, file photo, a lab dish containing embryos that have been injected with Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA is seen in a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province. A lab experiment aimed at fixing defective DNA in human embryos gives a frightening look at what can go wrong with this type of “gene editing” and why leading scientists say it’s too unsafe to try. Researchers reported Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2020, that in more than half of the cases, the editing caused unintended changes, such as loss of an entire chromosome or big chunks of it.
A lab experiment aimed at fixing defective DNA in human embryos shows what can go wrong with this type of gene editing and why leading scientists say it's too unsafe to try. In more than half of the cases, the editing caused unintended changes, such as loss of an entire chromosome or big chunks of it.

Columbia University researchers describe their work Thursday in the journal Cell. They used CRISPR-cas9, the same chemical tool that a Chinese scientist used on embryos in 2018 to help make the world's first gene-edited babies, which landed him in prison and drew international scorn.

The tool lets scientists cut DNA in a precise spot and has profound potential for good — it's already used to raise better crops and livestock, holds promise for treating diseases and earned its discoverers a Nobel Prize earlier this month.

But using it on embryos, sperm or eggs makes changes that can pass to future generations. Several international panels of scientists and ethicists have said it's too soon to know whether that can be done safely, and the new Columbia work shows the possible harm.

"If our results had been known two years ago, I doubt that anyone would have gone ahead" and tried it on embryos intended for pregnancy, said biologist Dieter Egli, who led the study.

Comment: See also:


People 2

Mutated coronavirus strain recorded first in June causing most new infections in Europe

mask london
© PA
The UK went into lockdown for the first time in March.
The majority of new COVID-19 cases in Europe stem from a mutated strain of the coronavirus that has been traced back to Spain and was spread across the continent over the summer by tourists, scientists said in a report Thursday.

The variant most likely originated in farm workers in northeastern Spain, where it was first recorded in June, they said.

The team of scientists from the University of Basel, ETH Zürich in Basel, and SeqCOVID in Spain said a suspected "superspreader" event accounted for early proliferation of the virus, which was then spread abroad by tourists and other travelers.

Comment: See also: Brain scans of Covid-19 patients show whole spectrum of strange, inexplicable neurological effects


Sherlock

Brain scans of Covid-19 patients show whole spectrum of strange, inexplicable neurological effects

brain
© (Alina Grubnyak/Unsplash)
Among the many serious symptoms of COVID-19, the strange neurological effects experienced by many patients count as perhaps the most mysterious.

A sudden loss of smell and taste was one of the first unusual symptoms reported by COVID-19 patients, but stroke, seizures, and swelling of the brain (called encephalitis) have all been described.

Some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 also experience confusion, delirium, dizziness, and have difficulty concentrating, according to case reports and reviews.

For several months, doctors have been relentlessly trying to understand this disease, and its many manifestations that seem to affect the brain in ways we can't fully explain.

Comment: For insight into why this may be, check out: Compelling Evidence That SARS-CoV-2 Was Man-Made


Bacon n Eggs

The Darwinian diet: You are what you eat

leafcutter ants
© Adrian Pingstone / Public Domain
Leaf cutter ants Atta cephalotes (Bug World, Bristol Zoo, England).
Imagine millions of leafcutter ants on parade through a tropical forest. Driven by a craving mysterious to humans, they suddenly stream up a towering tree trunk. How do they know exactly which species of leaves to cut for their underground fungus garden? The ants do not eat the leaves; they eat the fungus. Researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) in Denmark think that the choices the ants make about what to bring back to the nest may be driven by the nutritional needs of their fungus crop. They present new evidence in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution showing that fungi become more dependent on the ants to fulfill ever more specific nutritional needs as the partnerships develop. When the pilgrims landed in America, they learned from indigenous groups to plant corn with dead fish as fertilizer. Compare that system to a huge, industrial cornfield where liquid fertilizer is applied. The modern cornfield produces more corn, but it also requires industrial-scale use of specific nutrients.

"This is what we see as these ant farmers evolved," said Jonathan Shik, former post-doctoral fellow in staff scientist's Bill Wcislo's lab at STRI and now an assistant professor at UCPH. "Atta ants evolved huge agro-industrial farms. They have giant colonies with millions of workers. But they have miniscule brains and no detectable culture, so the big question is 'How do they know exactly what their crop needs?'"

Attention

The head of Operation Warp Speed & the Gates Foundation are pushing bioelectronics & vaccine patches

To understand the goals of Operation Warp Speed we must understand Dr. Moncef Slaoui and his connections to Big Pharma and the Gates Foundation.

bioelectronics
In mid-May, Donald Trump announced he was appointing Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a former executive with vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, to lead Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership launched by the Trump administration to rapidly develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Slaoui was a Professor of Immunology at the University of Mons, Belgium. Slaoui earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Immunology from the University Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium and completed postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston.

Following his education, Slaoui joined the pharmaceutical industry, serving on the board of Directors of GlaxoSmithKline between 2006 through 2015. Slaoui served in several senior research & development (R&D) roles with GlaxoSmithKline during his time with the company, including Chairman of Global Vaccines.

More recently, Slaoui sits on the boards of several pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology organizations. In 2016, Slaoui was appointed to the Board of Directors of Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company that is leading the way for messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines. Moderna is also developing one of the COVID-19 vaccines which might be administered to the public.

When Slaoui was appointed to head Operation Warp Speed critics noted the conflicts of interest related to him leading the effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine while holding stock in two of the leading vaccine manufacturers. Slaoui said he would sell his Moderna stock worth a reported $12 million and resign from the board of directors. However, in a recent interview Slaoui said he was keeping around $10 million of stock in his former company, GlaxoSmithKline, calling the shares his "retirement."

Comment: See also: