Distancing and handwashing down before COVID-19 lockdown lifted

handwashing

Two thirds (65%) of people say they don’t always maintain the recommended distance from those not in their household or bubble, compared to half (50%) who said they did at the end of 2020, find UCL researchers as part of the COVID-19 Social Study.

Figures are especially low among those aged 18–29, with just 15% of this group currently saying they always maintain the recommended distance.

Less than half (44%) of adults say they always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser after coming into contact with others outside of their household or with surfaces that could be contaminated, compared to 55% who said they always did this at the end of 2020. Again, adults aged 18–29 report the lowest compliance, with just a third (33%) saying they always do this, compared to 46% of those aged 30–59 and 48% of those aged 60 and over.

Despite this, “majority” compliance with the rules and guidelines continues to be high and is currently at 90% overall. “Complete” compliance has, however, been decreasing since restrictions began to ease and is now being reported by just two fifths of people (40%).

Launched in the week before the first lockdown started, the ongoing UCL COVID-19 Social Study is funded by the Nuffield Foundation with additional support from Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It is the UK’s largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health with over 70,000 participants who have been followed across the last 68 weeks.

Lead author, Dr. Elise Paul (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health) said: “Our report shows that even before the lifting of restrictions on 19 July, complete compliance with guidelines was relatively low. One reason for this could be that as people knew restrictions were about to lift, they became less strict about following them. Equally, the rhetoric from the Government that despite an increase in cases, COVID-19 is no longer as big a threat as it was before a large proportion of the most vulnerable had been fully vaccinated may also have played a part.

“The lower levels of compliance among younger people could be due to this group being at a lower risk for more serious outcomes from COVID-19. It is important to emphasize that although at lower risk themselves, younger people can still transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable. Younger people have been more negatively impacted in terms of their mental health during the pandemic than other age groups and are understandably eager for things to get back to the way they were. However, the more people who do become infected, the more opportunity there is for new variants to arise, and we want to avoid this.

“Despite these falling levels of compliance, 90% of people still say they follow the rules a majority of the time, showing that even with high rates of vaccination and the approach of “Freedom Day,” the public are still concerned about catching COVID-19 and are taking steps to minimize the risk of doing so.”

Financial worries due to COVID-19 have remained relatively stable since the latest lockdown started and are comparable to their lowest levels of around 1 in 3 people over the summer of 2020. Concerns about finances remain highest amongst people with low household incomes, those with a mental health condition, people living with children, people from ethnic minority groups, and adults of working age (18–59 years).

Worries about unemployment concern a tenth (10%) of people. Unemployment stress is higher in people living with children, people with a mental health diagnosis, amongst people from ethnic minority groups, in people under the age of 60, and in urban areas.

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Scientists link frailty and neurocognitive decline in childhood cancer survivors

cancer

Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have found a link between post-cancer treatment frailty and neurocognitive decline in young adult childhood cancer survivors. A paper on this work was published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Though frailty is often associated with the elderly, 8% of young adult childhood cancer survivors meet the criteria for frailty. This study confirms that those who undergo childhood cancer treatment can experience frailty, which can create an early onset of neurocognitive decline in young adults. This study will help with further research to prevent such neurocognitive decline.

“We think this is going to put more attention on this accelerated aging phenotype in young adult survivors,” said first author AnnaLynn Williams, Ph.D., St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control. “It’s going to make it a bit easier for us to identify the survivors most at risk for neurocognitive decline.

“We can use this information, and the rest of our frailty research, to design a broad intervention that might simultaneously help us improve frailty in survivors as well as neurocognitive functioning,” Williams said.

More important than previously recognized

Cancer-related neurocognitive impairment is present in up to 35% of childhood cancer survivors. It can influence all aspects of their lives, including their physical functioning and daily activities.

Over the span of five years, researchers found that survivors who experienced treatment-related frailty had significantly greater declines in memory, attention, processing speed and other functions as compared to survivors who did not experience frailty.

The intensive chemotherapies that young adult survivors experience during their childhood years are known to contribute to health problems later in life. Frailty is just one such late effect of care.

This study and many others relied on data from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort study (St. Jude LIFE). This study brings long-term childhood cancer survivors back to St. Jude for regular health screenings throughout their adult lives. To date, more than 4,300 participants and 580 controls have undergone comprehensive health evaluations tracking a wide range of health outcomes, such as cardiac, reproductive, neuromuscular, neurocognitive and psychosocial function, among others.

“Our work has shown that childhood cancer survivors are at an increased risk of frailty,” said corresponding author Kirsten Ness, Ph.D., of St. Jude Epidemiology and Cancer Control. “Since frailty has now been shown to contribute to neurocognitive deficits among other health problems, it is increasingly apparent that addressing frailty may aid this patient population.

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COVID-19 hospitalization and mortality: Sex differences

covid patient

Males with COVID-19 had significantly higher rates of hospitalization and of transfer to the intensive care unit (ICU), according to a new study. A higher percentage of males died of COVID-19 than females, as reported in the study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Women’s Health.

Joanne Michelle Gomez, MD, Rush University Medical Center, and coauthors studied the first 8,108 positive COVID-19 patients that presented to the Rush University System from March 1-June 21, 2020. Nineteen percent of males required hospitalization, compared to 13% of females. Eight percent of males compared to 4% of females required escalation of care to the ICU. The authors also reported significantly greater need for vasopressor support and endotracheal intubation among males.

“A significant independent association was observed between male sex and in-hospital mortality when accounting for the total cohort of positive COVID-19 patients,” state the authors. “The interplay among biological, hormonal, and gendered behavioral factors is likely responsible for the worse outcomes observed in males in COVID-19 infection.”

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J&J and AZ study if modifying vaccines can reduce risk of blood clots

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are studying whether modifying their COVID-19 vaccines can reduce or eliminate the risk of rare blood clots

  • Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford have begun studying whether their COVID-19 vaccines can be modified
  • Both shots have been linked to a risk of blood clots along with a low platelet-count condition known as thrombocytopenia
  • Scientists hope to identify the causes behind the blood clots and maybe re-engineer the shots by next year
  • In the U.S., J&J’s vaccine has been linked to 0.3 cases of rare blood clots per 100,000 doses and AstraZeneca’s jab linked to 1-2 cases per 100,000
  • It comes one day after it was revealed the FDA is adding a new warning to the label of J&J’s vaccine due the risk of a rare autoimmune disorder

Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have begun studying whether or not modifying their COVID-19 vaccines can reduce or eliminate the risk of rare, deadly blood clots.

First reported by The Wall Street Journal, sources say scientists are working to  identify the causes behind the blood clots and potentially re-engineer the shots to be distributed by next year.

Both the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines have been linked to clots along with a low platelet-count condition known as thrombocytopenia, which researchers have dubbed vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).       

A J&J spokesman told The Journal that the New Jersey-based company supports ‘continued research and analysis as we work with medical experts and global health authorities’ but did not answer specific questions about the early-stage research.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson elaborated and said the firm is ‘actively working with the regulators and scientific community to understand these extremely rare blood-clotting events, including information to drive early diagnosis and intervention, and appropriate treatment.’

Although it’s unknown if the vaccines can even be modified, it might lead to changes in either ownership rights or approval by regulators, the newspaper reported.

The news comes just one day after it was revealed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is adding a new warning to the label of J&J’s vaccine due the risk of a rare autoimmune disorder. 


Johnson & Johnson (left) AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford (right) have begun studying whether their COVID-19 vaccines can be modified to lower the risk of blood clots along with a low platelet-count condition known as thrombocytopenia

Scientists hope to identify the causes behind the blood clots and maybe re-engineer the shots by next year

Both AstraZeneca’s and J&J’s immunization are known as viral vector vaccines.

They combine genetic material from the new virus with the genes of the adenovirus -which causes the common cold – to induce an immune response. 

The shots were deemed game-changers because they do not need to be stored at freezing temperatures like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

What’s more, because J&J’s vaccine only requires one shot, it was expected to be used to inoculate hard-to-serve populations such as people living in rural areas and homebound seniors.

Being able to modify their vaccines to eliminate the risk of blood clots could increase confidence in the jabs. 

In April. the J&J vaccine was paused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA for 10 days after six women under the age of 50 developed Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST), a rare blood clot that forms in the venous sinuses in the brain.

The women developed CVST in combination with thrombocytopenia. 

This figure was later updated to include 28 people, including one 45-year-old woman who died. 

The pause was lifted and the FDA added a warning to J&J’s coronavirus vaccine that rare blood clotting events might occur, primarily among women under age 50.

Data from the CDC suggest the rate of clotting is about 0.3 cases per 100,000 doses of the J&J vaccine. 

Meanwhile, in April, the European Medicine Agency’s safety committee determined that blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

According to data from the UK and Europe, the rate of blood clotting with the AstraZeneca vaccine is slightly higher at about one or two per 100,000 doses. 

Several countries, including the UK, have recommended that people under age 60 be immunized with other vaccines because their risk of blood clotting is greater.

Earlier this year, German researchers at Goethe-University of Frankfurt and Ulm University, in Helmholtz, believe the the problem lies in the adenovirus vector, the common cold virus used so both vaccines can enter the body. 

They believe that in some people, the immune system sees the vaccine as a threat and over-produces antibodies to fight it. 

These lead to the formation of clumps in the blood, which can become deadly if the clots move towards vital organs and cut off supply. 

‘Progress is being rapidly pursued by the companies, and I think their desire to alter the vector or the vaccine is moving in parallel to explaining [the clots],’ Dr Mortimer Poncz, chief of the pediatric-hematology division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told The Journal.

Recently both J&J’s and AstraZeneca’a vaccine were linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, temporarily paralyzing parts of the body.   

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that the FDA is add a warning to the J&J label about the condition.

The CDC said it has received about 100 preliminary reports of Guillain-Barré following the one-dose vaccine   

Most the cases have occurred about two weeks after vaccination and mostly in men aged 50 and older – and that this has not been seen with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

And a report from the American Neurological Association in June detailed 11 cases of patients who developed Guillain-Barré after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Q&A: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COVID VACCINES AND THEIR TINY RISK OF BLOOD CLOTS

IS THERE ANY PROOF THE JAB CAUSES THE BLOOD CLOTS?

Scientists have repeatedly insisted there is no proof yet that coronavirus vaccines cause the extremely rare complication — blood clots occurring alongside low platelet levels.

But officials are still investigating the link — found in recipients of both AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson’s vaccines — and can’t rule it out completely. 

DO SCIENTISTS HAVE A THEORY FOR WHAT MAY BE THE LINK?  

Experts are stumped as to why the vaccines may be triggering blockages in very rare cases.

But researchers in Germany believe the problem lies in the adenovirus vector — a common cold virus used so both vaccines can enter the body.

Academics investigating the issue say the complication is ‘completely absent’ in mRNA vaccines like Pfizer’s and Moderna’s because they have a different delivery mechanism.

Experts at Goethe-University of Frankfurt and Ulm University, in Helmholtz, say the AstraZeneca vaccine enters the nucleus of the cell – a blob of DNA in the middle. For comparison, the Pfizer jab enters the fluid around it that acts as a protein factory.

Bits of coronavirus proteins that get inside the nucleus can break up and the unusual fragments then get expelled out into the bloodstream, where they can trigger clotting in a tiny number of people, scientists claim.

WHAT SYMPTOMS DO THEY CAUSE?

The EMA said symptoms can strike up to three weeks post-vaccination.

British regulators say the complication tends to occur four days after people first get jabbed. 

Symptoms of the two blood clots can include: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swollen legs
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Severe or persistent headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Seizures 
  • Skin bruising beyond the site of injection

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Sugary drinks and increased colon cancer risk linked in study involving nurses

Colon cancer cases on the rise for people under 50, doctors say

While colon cancer isn’t often diagnosed in those under 50, doctors and oncologists say data shows a concerning trend.

Young adults who drink sugary beverages may be at an increased risk of developing colon cancer, researchers claim. The study, which involved 116,500 female nurses from 1991 to 2015, found that compared with women who drank less than one 8-ounce serving per week of sugar-sweetened beverages, those who drank two or more per day had over twice the risk of developing early-onset colorectal cancer. 

The American Cancer Society has identified several lifestyle factors considered risk factors for colorectal cancer, including alcohol use, obesity, not being active, smoking and even certain types of diets including those high in red meats and processed meats. However, there are several other factors that cannot be controlled such as getting older, personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, several inherited syndromes and family history. Type 2 diabetes has also been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. 

In the new study the research team, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found a 16% increase in risk for each 8-ounce serving of sugary drink added per day. In ages 13 to 18, each serving was linked to a 32% increased risk of eventually developing colorectal cancer before age 50. 

The team published their findings May 6 in the journal Gut, and said there should be more support for public health efforts that encourage people to reduce sugar intake. 

“Colorectal cancer in younger adults remains relatively rare, but the fact that the rates have been increasing over the past three decades – and we don’t understand why – is a major public health concern and a priority in cancer prevention,” Yin Cao, ScD, an associate professor of surgery and of medicine in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University, and senior study author, said. “Due to the increase in colorectal cancer at younger ages, the average age of colorectal cancer diagnosis has gown down from 72 to 66 years. These cancers are more advanced at diagnosis and have different characteristics compared with cancers from older populations.” 

In total, researchers found 109 diagnoses of early-onset colorectal cancer among the nearly 116,500 participants. Cao said despite the small number of cases there is “still a strong signal” to suggest that sugar intake, especially earlier in life, is playing a role in increasing cancer rates. 

“This study, combined with our past work linking obesity and metabolic conditions to a higher risk of early-onset colorectal cancer, suggests that metabolic problems, such as insulin resistance, may play an important role in the development of this cancer in younger adults,” Cao said. 

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Undiagnosed and untreated disease identified in rural South Africa

Undiagnosed and untreated disease identified in rural South Africa

A comprehensive health-screening program in rural northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, has found a high burden of undiagnosed or poorly controlled non-communicable diseases, according to a study published in The Lancet Global Health.

Researchers found that four out of five women over the age of 30 were living with a chronic health condition, and that the HIV-negative population and older people—especially those over 50—bore the higher burden of undiagnosed or poorly controlled non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

The study was co-led by Emily Wong, M.D., a resident faculty member at the Africa Health Research Institute, or AHRI, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Wong is also an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Medicine and an associate scientist in the UAB Center for AIDS Research.

“The data will give AHRI researchers and the Department of Health critical indicators for where the most urgent interventions are needed,” Wong said. “The research was done before COVID-19, but it has highlighted the urgency of diagnosing and treating people with non-communicable diseases—given that people with uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension are at higher risk of getting very ill with COVID.”

Durban lies in the worldwide epicenter for HIV-associated tuberculosis infections. Wong works there to understand the impact of HIV infection—the virus that causes AIDS—on tuberculosis pathogenesis, immunity and epidemiology. She collaborates closely with another UAB researcher who also works at AHRI, Andries “Adrie” Steyn, Ph.D., professor in the UAB Department of Microbiology.

“We are working hard to strengthen ties and collaborations between the two institutions and create a UAB-AHRI Tuberculosis Center that further facilitates multi-disciplinary collaborations,” Wong said. Wong joined UAB last year, and she will spend about 80 percent of her time at AHRI and 20 percent at UAB when travel resumes from its COVID-19 hiatus.

As background to the study, 15 years of intense public health efforts that increased access to anti-retroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa has beneficially decreased mortality from AIDS and increased life expectancy. As a result, there is an increasing priority to address other causes of disease, including tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases.

In the 18-month Lancet Global Health study, health workers screened 17,118 people age 15 years and older via mobile camps within 1 kilometer of each participant’s home in the uMkhanyakude district. They found high and overlapping burdens of HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes and hypertension among men and women.

While the HIV cases were, for the most part, well diagnosed and treated, some demographic groups, including men in their 20s and 30s, still had high rates of undiagnosed and untreated HIV. The majority of people with tuberculosis, diabetes or hypertension were either undiagnosed or not well controlled. Tuberculosis remains one of the leading causes of death in South Africa, and the high rates of undiagnosed and asymptomatic tuberculosis that health workers found is a concern.

“Our findings suggest that the massive efforts of the past 15 years to test and treat for HIV have done very well for that one disease,” Wong said. “But in that process, we may have neglected some of the other important diseases that are highly prevalent.”

The mobile camps screened for diabetes, high blood pressure, nutritional status (obesity and malnutrition), and tobacco and alcohol use, as well as HIV and tuberculosis. The tuberculosis screening component included high-quality digital chest X-rays and sputum tests for people who reported symptoms or had abnormal X-rays. Clinical information was layered onto 20 years of population data from AHRI’s health and demographic surveillance research. Through a sophisticated data system and the use of artificial intelligence to interpret the chest X-rays, AHRI’s clinical team examined the information in real time and referred people to the public health system as needed.

Researchers found that:

  • Half of the people 15 years or older had at least one active disease, and 12 percent had two or more diseases. The incidences of diabetes and high blood pressure were 8.5 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
  • One-third of the people were living with HIV, but this was mostly well diagnosed and treated. Women bore a particularly high burden of HIV, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • For tuberculosis, 1.4 percent of the people had active disease, and 22 percent had lifetime disease. About 80 percent of the undiagnosed tuberculosis was asymptomatic, and men had higher rates of active tuberculosis.

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Find relief for achy hands and wrists

wrist pain

Peripheral nerves connect your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. The peripheral nerves in your arms and hands allow you to move and to feel.

But if those nerves become injured, you might start to experience the sensation of “pins and needles” and other unpleasant symptoms.

Here are the basics of peripheral nerves injuries, including some specific details on the most common type of this injury, carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are a few types of peripheral nerve injuries:

  • Compression—This happens when you have pressure on your nerve. Some examples include carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome.
  • Trauma—This could be something like a significant cut. The sooner we can get that repaired, the sooner the nerves can start regenerating.

For trauma injuries, it’s important to be evaluated early. For example, let’s say you have a cut in your forearm that needs stitches. The nerves across the repair site are made up of little cables that have to regenerate from where it’s sewn back together all the way back to the hand. They regenerate very slowly—only an inch per month.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common peripheral nerve injuries. Typical symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Night pain—This means you wake up in the middle of the night to shake your hand because it’s gone numb.
  • Numbness in the fingers—All fingers except the pinky are affected.
  • Weakness in the hand—You might notice that you start dropping objects more frequently.

Risk factors for carpal tunnel include:

  • Having diabetes.
  • Being female, particularly during pregnancy.
  • Using vibratory tools, like jackhammers.

Although it’s a commonly held belief, using a keyboard is not actually shown to cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

What treatment options are available for carpal tunnel syndrome?

The first line of treatment is to wear braces at night. This helps keep the wrist in a neutral position. Steroid injections might also help.

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3D images and artificial intelligence are combined to diagnose degrees of Parkinson’s

Parkinson

A new tool developed by the University of Cordoba, in collaboration with the Nuclear Medicine Unit at the Hospital Reina Sofía, could allow healthcare personnel to diagnose different degrees of Parkinson’s, a disease that, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data, affects 7 million people worldwide.

To date, according to AYRNA group researcher Javier Barbero, “most diagnoses only determine whether or not the patient suffers from this disease.” The research team has developed a system that makes it possible to specify the phase it is in, distinguishing between four different ones, based on severity.

Specifically, this new methodology combines Artificial Intelligence and the use of three-dimensional images of the area of the brain in which the neuronal degeneration is occurring. To do this, the research team has analyzed, voxel by voxel (the equivalent of a 3D pixel), more than 500 photographs of the brains of people with symptoms compatible with the disease. The result is a mathematical algorithm that, after having processed all this information, is capable of estimating, once the image of the patient’s brain has been scanned, the severity of the disease, based on neuron damage.

“The new tool produces this estimate automatically, providing an initial diagnosis that, of course, then has to be confirmed by the medical staff, with the images in front of them,” explained Pedro Antonio Gutiérrez, another of the study’s authors, together with César Hervás, Antonio Durán and Julio Camacho.

The researcher explained that the algorithm is capable of determining “which scanned areas of the brain are the most important and, therefore, those on which specialized personnel should focus their attention to confirm the diagnosis.” But, why are some areas more important than others?

The answer: dopamine

Parkinson’s Disease triggers a loss of density in the proteins responsible for transporting dopamine, aneurotransmitter essential to the control of movement. These 3D images are capable of detecting the density of these proteins and ascertaining the places in the brain where they are found, which offers clues to the severity of the disease.

Thus, the project “does not seek to substitute the assessments of specialized personnel, but rather to offer support for medical decision-making,” said César Hervás, the AYRNA group’s principal investigator. In any case, determining more precisely the phase this condition is in could help to adjust the amount of medication necessary, thus leading to better treatments for a chronic disease for which there is still no cure, though its prognosis has notably improved thanks to advances in neurology and the development of new drugs.

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Heart study: Low- and regular-dose aspirin safe, effective

Heart study: Low- and regular-dose aspirin safe, effective

An unusual study that had thousands of heart disease patients enroll themselves and track their health online as they took low- or regular-strength aspirin concludes that both doses seem equally safe and effective for preventing additional heart problems and strokes.

But there’s a big caveat: People had such a strong preference for the lower dose that it’s unclear if the results can establish that the treatments are truly equivalent, some independent experts said. Half who were told to take the higher dose took the lower one instead or quit using aspirin altogether.

“Patients basically decided for themselves” what they wanted to take because they bought the aspirin on their own, said Dr. Salim Virani, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who had no role in the study.

Still, the results show there’s little reason to take the higher dose, 325 milligrams, which many doctors assumed would work better than 81-milligram “baby aspirin,” he said.

Results were published Saturday by the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at an American College of Cardiology conference.

Aspirin helps prevent blood clots, but it’s not recommended for healthy people who have not yet developed heart disease because it carries a risk of bleeding. Its benefits are clear, though, for folks who already have had a heart attack, bypass surgery or clogged arteries requiring a stent.

But the best dose isn’t known, and the study aimed to compare them in a real-world setting. The study was funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, created under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help patients make informed decisions about health care.

About 15,000 people received invitations to join through the mail, email or a phone call and enrolled on a website where they returned every three to six months for follow-up. A network of participating health centers supplied medical information on participants from their electronic records and insurance claims.

The participants were randomly assigned to take low- or regular-dose aspirin, which they bought over the counter. Nearly all were taking aspirin before the study began and 85% were already on a low dose, so “it was an uphill task right from the get-go” to get people to use the dose they were told, Virani said.

After roughly two years, about 7% of each group had died or been hospitalized for a heart attack or a stroke. Safety results also were similar—less than 1% had major bleeding requiring hospitalization and a transfusion.

Nearly 41% of those assigned to take the higher dose switched at some point to the lower one, and that high rate “could have obscured a true difference” in safety or effectiveness, Colin Baigent, a medical scientist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, wrote in a commentary in the medical journal.

One study leader, Dr. Schuyler Jones of Duke University, said the study still provides valuable guidance. If patients are taking low-dose aspirin now, “staying on that dose instead of switching is the right choice,” he said. People doing well on 325 milligrams now may want to continue on that and should talk with their doctors if they have any concerns.

For new patients, “in general, we’re going to recommend starting the low dose,” Jones said.

Virani said people must remember that aspirin is a medicine and that even though it’s sold over the counter, patients shouldn’t make decisions on its use by themselves.

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UTSA and SA Works study San Antonio youth employment trends

UTSA and SA Works study San Antonio youth employment trends

San Antonio had an above average youth employment rate, then the pandemic struck. Among the top 50 metro areas, San Antonio youth experienced the 8th largest drop in employment in the first year of the pandemic, according to national data research organization Mathematica. What explains this decrease? The top job sectors employing high school students were the hardest hit in the pandemic’s local economic downturn, based on a new study commissioned by SA Works and conducted by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Urban Education Institute (UEI).

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly three out of four students worked for pay at some point during their high school years, according to the study, which analyzed employment trends of approximately 211,000 Bexar County high school students. The project, the first of its kind locally, was a collaboration between the Urban Education Institute and SA Works, the workforce development team within the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. Funded by The USAA Foundation, Inc., it analyzed employment patterns of Bexar County high school students across nearly two decades.

“It’s critical to have a data-driven approach to our high school internship program and this study provided insights that we will implement to continue to provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities that support youth career readiness and builds on their social capital, said Romanita Matta-Barrera, SA Works executive director. “Furthermore, the pandemic has tightened the job market in the traditional youth employment sectors and this heightens the need for paid internships.”

The top industries employing area high school students have suffered most amid the pandemic: accommodations/food services; retail sales; and arts/entertainment. Historically, 59% of high school students were employed in accommodations and food services; 32% worked in the retail trade; and 16% worked in arts/entertainment/recreation.

“We know that employment provides our youth important growth opportunities. Unfortunately, the sectors where they typically found employment were also the hardest hit by the pandemic. Now is the time redouble our efforts to expand and diversify the jobs and opportunities available to our students, either through part-time jobs, summer internships, or job-shadowing experiences,” said Mike Villarreal, UEI director and assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. “We need to get creative. Research has found that workplace learning benefits adolescents in small and big ways. The workplace is often where youth are inspired to pursue a future career and where they learn the norms that adults take for granted.”

Villarreal adds that existing local initiatives such as SA Works, that link students and local employers, should be expanded to build college and career awareness and readiness. He called on employers to build more formalized opportunities with schools and to offer paid internships and apprenticeships, as well as job shadowing and other forms of learning about the workplace.

SA Works provides support to local employers and students to ensure that internship programs are successful and that employers are able to effectively mentor, supervise and engage interns. At 9 a.m. on Wed., May 19, the organization will host a virtual Employer Training Session to share insights for structuring a successful internship program.

For the youth employment trends study, the UEI used student-level, longitudinal data collected by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission and stored at the University of Texas Education Research Center. Researchers also analyzed the Bexar County high school internship landscape as part of the collaboration. Additionally, the team conducted survey interviews with 28 SA Works Summer Internship Program alumni. Local employers also provided insights about the SA Works internship through a series of in-depth interviews.

In summary, the youth employment trend study’s top findings included:

  • Nearly 3 out of 4 high school students worked for pay at some point during their high school years.
  • The top industries employing Bexar County high school students were those hit hardest by the pandemic economic downturn: food services, retail and arts and entertainment.
  • Employment rates for Hispanic, White and Black students were statistically equivalent, but a smaller proportion of Asian students worked during high school.
  • Students with limited English proficiency and students who received special education services were employed at much lower rates, suggesting these two populations need for more support in securing workforce opportunities.
  • High school students spend more time working as they age and spend more time working during the summers at all ages.
  • No statistical difference in completing advanced high school and college preparatory coursework was found between students who worked and those who did not.

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