March 22, 2023

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2 min read

As COVID-19 methods its fourth 12 months, Omicron continues to mutate and grow to be more immune-evasive, wellbeing officers say.

In December, the Environment Overall health Firm said variants descending from Omicron clearly show far more potential to escape our immune procedure.

“Omicron, the most current variant of issue, is the most transmissible variant we have observed so much, which includes all the sub-variants that are in circulation,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical guide for COVID-19, explained on Dec. 21.

Regardless of whether that is more than enough to generate new waves of bacterial infections depends on circumstances these kinds of as the sizing and timing of prior Omicron waves, the regional immune landscape and COVID-19 vaccination protection, the United Nations general public overall health agency mentioned. 

In Canada, variances in inhabitants-degree immunity and worldwide traits suggest COVID-19 conditions could maximize in the new yr, health officers claimed very last 7 days. 

But what does mutation suggest, what isn’t going to it signify and why does immune evasiveness matter? In this article are some responses based mostly on what we know at this phase in the pandemic.

What is a mutation?

A mutation is a change in the genetic code of the COVID-19 virus. Some mutations have no result. Other individuals lead to alterations in proteins, which can be practical to the virus by creating it more transmissible — the skill to go from one particular individual to an additional. Or the mutation could be damaging to the virus if your immune technique gains an advantage in excess of the pathogen.

The WHO notes that there are at this time about 540 Omicron sub-variants, but only 5 are “less than checking” for alterations these as mutations or rise in prevalence. 

The variants of worry exhibit 1 or numerous traits in comparison with the unique or ancestral version of the virus:

  • Cause far more severe sickness.
  • Evade or escape current vaccines or treatment plans.

In individual, physicians and researchers are looking at for mutations to the virus’s spike protein. That’s what the virus works by using to get on to our cells and then enter them. 

A scientist in Belgium holds an enlarged 3D design of a spike protein (blue) from the virus that results in COVID-19 related to an antibody (red) in this 2021 image. The coronavirus makes use of the spike protein to seize keep of our cells. (Bart Biesemans/Reuters)

The BQ 1.1 subvariant of Omicron is immune evasive to the level wherever an antiviral therapy does not get the job done, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s main public health and fitness officer, reported in mid December.

“We have to monitor susceptibility of the virus to these remedies,” Tam mentioned.

Genetic sequencing info also indicates the additional immune-evasive variants are rising, when BA.5 that dominated in the summertime is reducing, Tam mentioned.

At a minimum amount, it implies COVID scenarios will drop a lot more slowly with a bigger plateau of infections and hospitalizations as the respiratory virus

2 min read

Rhodiola rosea (commonly called golden root, rose root, roseroot,  Aaron’s rod, Arctic root, king’s crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose) is a perennial flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae.

Rhodiola, also known as Rhodiola rosea, is a medicinal plant that’s been used for hundreds of years to treat various ailments and promote general well-being. You can find rhodiola root tea, as well as rhodiola powder and rhodiola capsules. Modern research points to rhodiola being an effective natural remedy for depression comparable to pharmaceutical drugs. It may help counter stress, fatigue, and anxiety disorders while providing protective health benefits.

1. Helps Fight Stress and Fatigue

For occasional stress and fatigue, rhodiola may help. Rhodiola is an adaptogen, which is a type of herb that helps the body maintain homeostasis in the face of stress. In fact, it can improve the body’s resilience to stress, increase physical performance and endurance, and boost mental clarity.[1]

2. May Improve Symptoms of Anxiety

In a small study, 10 participants with generalized anxiety disorder were given 340 mg of rhodiola every day. After 10 weeks, all participants given rhodiola had lower anxiety scores than at the start of the trial.[2] As an adaptogen, rhodiola helps the nervous system stay out of “fight or flight” mode. In animal models, rhodiola has been shown to suppress the release of the stress hormone cortisol.[3] By helping keep cortisol levels under control, rhodiola may help anyone with mild stress to severe anxiety cope with their symptoms.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea grows naturally in wild Arctic regions of Europe (including Britain), Asia, and North America and can be propagated as a groundcover.

3. Enhances Brain Function

Research studies have looked at the effect of rhodiola on the stress-impaired brain. When the body is in “fight or flight” mode, physical senses are sharpened, but cognitive functions can be compromised by high cortisol levels, causing brain fog and short-term memory loss. In a 28-day study, 576 mg of rhodiola extract per day was found to increase concentration and attention span, as well as cognitive performance.[4]

4. Lowers High Blood Pressure and Protects Heart Health

Besides lowering stress, it seems rhodiola can also help by lowering blood pressure. When blood pressure becomes too high because of arterial plaque, it can put you at risk for heart disease. While research hasn’t been conducted on human patients, rats with hypertension showed reductions in blood pressure with rhodiola intervention.[5] Rhodiola has even been shown in animal models to protect the heart against stress-induced damage.[6] Rhodiola also increases cardiac output, which is the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute.[7]

While more research is needed, data from animals suggests that rhodiola has several heart-protective benefits. These benefits could potentially benefit athletic performance, as well as play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease.

5. Promotes Metabolic Health

Research shows that rhodiola has antidiabetic effects that promote metabolic health. According to a recent publication in Scientific Reports, rhodiola has the ability to

2 min read

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities are likely door to door and having to pay persons more mature than 60 to get vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. But even as circumstances surge, 64-yr-outdated Li Liansheng explained his close friends are alarmed by tales of fevers, blood clots and other side consequences.

“When people hear about this sort of incidents, they could not be eager to just take the vaccines,” mentioned Li, who had been vaccinated in advance of he caught COVID-19. A couple of times following his 10-working day bout with the virus, Li is nursing a sore throat and cough. He reported it was like a “normal cold” with a moderate fever.

China has joined other countries in managing cases as an alternative of striving to stamp out virus transmission by dropping or easing principles on testing, quarantines and movement as it attempts to reverse an financial slump. But the shift has flooded hospitals with feverish, wheezing people.

The Countrywide Wellness Fee declared a campaign Nov. 29 to raise the vaccination charge amongst more mature Chinese, which overall health specialists say is very important to avoiding a health and fitness care crisis. It is also the most significant hurdle prior to the ruling Communist Bash can carry the very last of the world’s most stringent antivirus limits.

China saved situation figures minimal for two many years with a “zero-COVID” method that isolated metropolitan areas and confined tens of millions of men and women to their households. Now, as it backs off that method, it is dealing with the popular outbreaks that other nations have previously absent as a result of.

The wellbeing commission has recorded only six COVID-19 fatalities this thirty day period, bringing the country’s official toll to 5,241. That is even with a number of reviews by people of relations dying.

China only counts deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in its official COVID-19 toll, a overall health official reported past 7 days. That unusually slim definition excludes quite a few deaths other international locations would attribute to COVID-19.

Industry experts have forecast 1 to 2 million deaths in China by way of the stop of 2023.

Li, who was performing exercises at the leafy grounds of central Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, said he is looking at receiving a next booster thanks to the publicity marketing campaign: “As extensive as we know the vaccine won’t induce huge aspect consequences, we ought to just take it.”

Neighborhood committees that kind the cheapest level of authorities have been purchased to come across anyone 65 and older and hold track of their wellbeing. They are undertaking what state media get in touch with the “ideological work” of lobbying residents to persuade aged relations to get vaccinated.

In Beijing, the Chinese capital, the Liulidun community is promising people today more than 60 up to 500 yuan ($70) to get a two-dose vaccination system and a single booster.

The National Overall health Fee announced Dec. 23 the range of folks

2 min read


One day in July 2021, my then 15-year-old daughter Poppy stumbled and fell while walking down some stairs, grazing her knee. It wasn’t a serious wound, but over the weeks it didn’t heal.

Around the same time, her wrists and knees became sore; her ankles started rolling when she walked; her hands began shaking; her headaches and stomach aches became more frequent and intensely painful. She was always exhausted.

Before her health declined, Poppy had enjoyed horse riding and gymnastics, she’d competed in cross country races and been a fearless goalkeeper for the school hockey team.

But within a couple of months, as walking became increasingly difficult, she asked me for a walking stick. We found one that folds up and fits neatly in her school bag.

I took Poppy to doctors who conducted tests, but they couldn’t find out what was wrong with her. Then, in October, a breakthrough.

A podiatrist who was measuring Poppy for insoles to support her aching feet asked if Poppy could bend her thumb to reach her forearm. She could. Could she pull her little finger back to form a 90-degree angle with the back of her hand? She could do that, too.

“Have you heard of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?” the podiatrist asked me. I hadn’t – so as soon as I got home, I went looking on the internet.

There are 13 types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), according to research and advocacy organization The Ehlers-Danlos Society. Most types are very rare, and can be diagnosed using genetic tests. However, the genes that cause hypermobile EDS (hEDS) – the most common form, accounting for about 90% of cases – are unknown, so diagnosis is based on a checklist of symptoms. The list includes a hypermobility rating, known as the Beighton Score.

Poppy had enough symptoms to qualify for hEDS, and the diagnosis was confirmed by a doctor one year ago, on Christmas Eve. He told us that although we can do our best to alleviate some symptoms, there is no cure.

Poppy reacted to the news better than I did. She had known for some time that something was fundamentally wrong. The diagnosis was upsetting but identifying her illness also gave her a sense of relief. I felt shocked and overwhelmed, and I cried for weeks.

Reading about EDS was like a dreadful slow reveal.

I learned that it’s a genetic disorder that causes the body to make faulty connective tissue, and connective tissue is everywhere – in the tendons, ligaments, skin, heart, digestive system, eyes and gums.

Weak connective tissue leads to hypermobility, which may sound like a good thing, but some people with bendy bodies suffer a mind-boggling array of symptoms, including joint dislocations and subluxations (like a mini dislocation, when the joint partially slips out of place), soft stretchy skin, abnormal scarring, poor wound healing, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain and fatigue.

The severity of symptoms varies wildly. Patients with milder cases can lead relatively normal lives, while others

3 min read

Humans have an elegant and intricate system of internal processes that help our bodies keep time, with exposure to sunlight, caffeine and meal timing all playing a role. But that doesn’t account for “precision waking.”

Sarah Mosquera/NPR

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Sarah Mosquera/NPR

Humans have an elegant and intricate system of internal processes that help our bodies keep time, with exposure to sunlight, caffeine and meal timing all playing a role. But that doesn’t account for “precision waking.”

Sarah Mosquera/NPR

Maybe this happens to you sometimes, too:

You go to bed with some morning obligation on your mind, maybe a flight to catch or an important meeting. The next morning, you wake up on your own and discover you’ve beat your alarm clock by just a minute or two.

What’s going on here? Is it pure luck? Or perhaps you possess some uncanny ability to wake up precisely on time without help?

It turns out many people have come to Dr. Robert Stickgold over the years wondering about this phenomenon.

“This is one of those questions in the study of sleep where everybody in the field seems to agree that’s what’s obviously true couldn’t be,” says Stickgold, who’s a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Stickgold even remembers bringing it up to his mentor when he was just starting out in the field — only to be greeted with a dubious look and a far from satisfactory explanation. “I can assure you that all of us sleep researchers say ‘balderdash, that’s impossible,’ ” he says.

And yet Stickgold still believes there is something to it. “This kind of precision waking is reported by hundreds and thousands of people,'” he says, including himself. “I can wake up at 7:59 and turn off the alarm clock before my wife wakes up.” At least, sometimes.

Of course, it’s well known that humans have an elegant and intricate system of internal processes that help our bodies keep time. Somewhat shaped by our exposure to sunlight, caffeine, meals, exercise and other factors, these processes regulate our circadian rhythms throughout the roughly 24-hour cycle of day and night, and this affects when we go to bed and wake up.

If you are getting enough sleep and your lifestyle is aligned with your circadian rhythms, you should typically wake up around the same time every morning, adjusting for seasonal differences, says Philip Gehrman, a sleep scientist at the University of Pennsylvania.

But that still doesn’t adequately explain this phenomenon of waking up precisely a few minutes before your alarm, especially when it’s a time that deviates from your normal schedule.

“I hear this all the time,” he says. “I think it’s that anxiety about being late that’s contributing.”

Scientists get curious — with mixed results

Actually, some scientists have looked into this enigma over the years with, admittedly, mixed results.

For example, one tiny, 15-person study from 1979 found that, over the course of two nights, the subjects were able

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