Nick Cannon Is Expecting His 7th Child, a Baby Boy With Alyssa Scott

Another one! Nick Cannon and Alyssa Scott have a baby boy on the way, his seventh child.

Full House! Katie Price and More Celeb Parents With Big Broods

The Wild ’N Out model, 27, posted a photo for Father’s Day of herself and Cannon, 40, at the beach. Though his head is turned away from the camera, the Masked Singer host’s tattoos make his identity clear.

Scott posed in a dark blue sundress while the comedian placed his hands on her belly. “Celebrating you today ❤️,” she wrote via her Instagram Story on Sunday, June 20.

The mother-to-be debuted her baby bump in a since-deleted January Instagram post. “Let’s all gasp together,” she captioned the photo. “SO EXCITED!!”

2021 Celebrity Pregnancy Announcements

Earlier this month, the actress shared a nude maternity shoot photo and captioned the upload with the name “Zen S. Cannon.” Before deleting the picture, she commented her “thanks” to a user congratulating her and Cannon, 40.

The All That alum is already the father of twins Moroccan and Monroe, 12, with Mariah Carey, as well as son Golden, 5, and daughter Powerful, 5 months, with Brittany Bell. He and DJ Abby De La Rosa welcomed twins Zion Mixolydian Cannon and Zillion Heir Cannon on June 14.

In April, De La Rosa, 29, announced that she and the California native were expecting twins. “Our dearest sons: my miracle babies, Thank you for choosing me to be your Mommy. I know the Lord has destined me and prepared me for the gift of not one but two little angels. I pray that God give you both the strength to walk brave and boldly in your individual truth just like your Daddy,” the DJ wrote via Instagram at the time. “That God bless you and your brother and guide you into living out your full purpose.”

The expectant star went on to write, “Your Dad and I will always be here for you both; in complete unison and support. No matter what this world may throw your way, know that forgiveness is key and what is for you — is for YOU! You both are already so loved, and we can’t wait to meet you both.”

She and the Masked Singer host previously suffered a pregnancy loss in June 2020 when De La Rosa was two months along.

Double Trouble! Celebrity Parents Who Have Welcomed Twins

“He was so sweet through it all, reassuring me that what we’ve manifested will come to fruition,” the Masked by La Rose founder wrote via Instagram in January. “Now fast forward to the morning of my birthday — October 25th, I find out that I’m pregnant!!! Then a month later, I found out it was with twins.”

Cannon posed in her maternity shoot photos and also attended De La Rosa’s Club Tummy baby shower. “I especially want to thank Nick,” she wrote alongside party pics in April. “Thank you for your constant love and support.”

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Is Honey a Good Natural Sweetener Substitute for Vegans?

Those people who wanted to lose weight and regulate their blood sugar already know the drill: as much as possible, you are to avoid eating refined sugar as well as its variants that are hidden in processed foods.

We tend to seek healthier alternatives to sweeten our foods without spiking up our blood sugar. And when we talk about natural sweeteners, the first thing that comes to mind is honey. Honey is a natural sweetener produced by bees. But the vegans are concerned on whether or not honey is good to incorporate in their strict diet regimen. Here’s what the experts have to say.

The Vegan Definition

According to the Vegan Society, the idea of veganism originated back in the 1940s where they define it as the way of living that seeks to avoid all forms of exploitation of animals for clothing, food, or any other purpose. The philosophy also extends to seeking animal-free alternatives for the benefit of the animals, environment, and humanity.

When it comes to dietary terms, it means practicing a lifestyle of dispelling all products derived from animals. So according to Jessica Cording R.D, honey should be prohibited to all vegans. However, there’s a catch to this principle.

If we’re to follow the principles of veganism, honey technically falls under the exploitation of “bees.”

According to the author of Main Street Vegan, Victoria Moran, some vegans tend to eat dairy products during the late 80s’ without eating its main animals like pork, chicken, or beef. They call themselves ovo-Lacto vegetarians who consume vegetables and dairy.

The reason behind this varied diet is because vegans need to have sources of protein. That’s why the definition of veganism has evolved for the past years, and the society leaves it to the people to decide whether or not they want to incorporate honey in their diet.

The Ethical Reasons

Bees pollinate plants to increase and spread the production of foods.

According to the author of The Small Change Diet, honey should be banned from vegan consumption since it basically comes from an insect. However, it’s hard to draw the line on whether or not to consume this food due to ethical reasons.

For example, bees are natural pollinators. And most farm factories would produce bees to pollinate foods like the almonds in California or blueberries in Maine. If you follow the vegan definition, vegans shouldn’t eat blueberries and almonds too since it exploits bees. However, most vegans eat these foods so the same principle also applies when it comes to consuming honey.

Honey Alternatives

If you choose to follow a strict vegan diet and ditch honey, the health experts recommend you use these alternatives.

Natural Honey

If you want to taste natural honey, you can buy a product called Bee made of pure, organic apples. This type of honey is made from fruit without the usage of bees or any insects. What’s great about this product is that it offers several varieties according to your preferences.

Stevia

Aside from being a plant-based natural sweetener, stevia doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels.

Stevia is a natural sweetener that came from the stevia plant, so vegans can enjoy incorporating this sweetener to their diet without feeling guilty. You can use this in your dessert recipes. It’s also perfect for those who want to lose weight or are suffering from diabetes since it regulates your blood sugar levels. You can enjoy consuming this without worrying about your sugar levels. If not, you can use agave nectar or maple syrup as another healthy and vegan alternative.

The Verdict

Technically, honey isn’t a vegan food based on the experts’ explanation, but it all falls down to what you want and not want to incorporate in your diet. If you want to be lax in your vegan diet, then there’s no harm in using honey. The vegan society also won’t rally in front of your house for it. But if you want to adhere to the diet’s principles religiously, then you may opt to drop honey and use the alternatives instead.

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Drinking alcohol is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy

Drinking alcohol is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy

A study of the associations between drinking alcohol and the chances of becoming pregnant suggests that women who want to conceive should avoid heavy drinking. In the second half of menstrual cycle even moderate drinking is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy.

The study, published today in Human Reproduction, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, investigated alcohol intake and fecundability, which is defined as the probability of conceiving during a single menstrual cycle. It is the first study to look at this according to the difference phases of women’s menstrual cycles.

Researchers led by Dr. Kira Taylor, associate professor of epidemiology and population health at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences (Kentucky), analyzed data from the Mount Sinai Study of Women Office Workers. Women aged 19-41 years were recruited between 1990 and 1994 and followed for a maximum of 19 menstrual cycles. The women completed daily diaries reporting how much alcohol they drank and what type, and they provided urine samples on the first and second day of each menstrual cycle in order to check for pregnancy.

Heavy drinking was defined as more than six alcoholic drinks a week, moderate drinking was three to six drinks a week, and binge drinking was defined as four or more drinks on a single day. Each drink consisted of a third of a liter of beer (355 milliliters), a medium glass of wine (148 milliliters), or just under a double shot of spirits (44 milliliters). The researchers collected information on factors that could affect the results, such as age, medical history, smoking, obesity, use of birth control methods and intention to become pregnant. Data on 413 women were available for the current study.

Dr. Taylor said: “We found that heavy drinking during any phase of the menstrual cycle was significantly associated with a reduced probability of conception compared to non-drinkers. This is important because some women who are trying to conceive might believe it is ‘safe’ to drink during certain parts of the menstrual cycle.

“During the luteal phase, which is the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle before bleeding would start and when the process of implantation occurs, not only heavy drinking but also moderate drinking was significantly associated with a reduced probability of conception.

“At the time of ovulation, usually around day 14 of the cycle, consuming a lot of alcohol—either heavy or binge drinking—was significantly associated with reduced chances of conception.”

Compared to non-drinkers both moderate and heavy drinking during the luteal phase was linked to a reduction in the odds of conceiving by about 44%. Heavy drinking during the ovulatory part of the cycle was also associated with significant 61% reduced odds of becoming pregnant. However, the researchers stress these are all estimates and should be treated with caution.

“If we assume that a typical, healthy, non-drinking woman in the general population who is trying to conceive has approximately a 25% chance of conceiving during one menstrual cycle, then out of 100 women approximately 25 non-drinkers would conceive in a particular cycle, about 20 moderate drinkers would conceive and only about 11 heavy drinkers would conceive,” said Dr. Taylor. “But the effect of moderate drinking during the luteal phase is more pronounced and only about 16 moderate drinkers would conceive.

“Our study only included a few hundred women and, while we believe the results strongly suggest that heavy and even moderate alcohol intake affects the ability to conceive, the exact percentages and numbers should be viewed as rough estimates.”

Each extra day of binge drinking was associated with an approximate 19% reduction in the odds of conceiving during the luteal phase and a 41% reduction during the ovulatory phase. The researchers found no difference in their results between different types of drinks.

The study is not able to show that drinking alcohol causes the reduction in the chances of becoming pregnant, only that it is associated with it. Possible biological mechanisms that might explain the association could be that alcohol intake affects the processes involved in ovulation so that no egg is released during the ovulatory part of the cycle, and that alcohol could affect the ability of a fertilized egg to implant in the womb.

Dr. Taylor said: “This is the first study to examine the effect of alcohol on fecundability during specific phases of the menstrual cycle, using daily data on alcohol and other important factors such as smoking and unprotected intercourse over a period of up to 19 menstrual cycles.”

Limitations of the study included the fact that not all women were trying to conceive; alcohol intake has increased since the time of the study and the women in the study were leaner, on average, than women today; the study used self-reported data and women might under-report their alcohol consumption; and the influence of drinking by male partners was not assessed.

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Lung sonography is an useful guide to lung decongestion in HD patients at high CV risk

lung

Accumulation of water in the lungs (lungcongestion) is a common condition in hemodialysis patients, particularly in those at high cardiovascular risk, like those presenting coronary artery disease and/or heart failure. This alteration can be detected in an X-ray image, but cannot be heard easily with a stethoscope. When the congestion becomes so severe that fluid floods the alveoli (‘alveolar pulmonary edema’), the sound of rattling breathing can be heard (and without a stethoscope at a later stage). Then, at the latest, pulmonary gas exchange is severely impaired, and the patients experience shortness of breath or even fear of death.

For hemodialysis patients, especially, lung congestion is a strong risk factor for mortality. Between dialysis sessions, all fluid which patients introduce is retained. Severe overhydration may ensue and this can then lead to heart decompensation. The degree of lung congestion can be assessed by ultrasound examination (sonography), and this may be used to adjust fluid removal during hemodialysis and drug therapies.

An international, multicenter study in 363 patients investigated whether such an ultrasound-based approach improves patient outcomes. The primary endpoints were mortality, heart attack and decompensated heart failure. This strategy was compared with standard care in hemodialysis patients with a high cardiovascular risk.

The ultrasound examinations were carried out by the nephrologists themselves after brief instruction via a web platform. Sonographic control examinations were also performed periodically by cardiologists (blinded, i.e. without prior knowledge of the treatment that patients were receiving). The measurement parameters were B-lines in the ultrasound image, indicating fluid accumulation in lung tissue. The target for hemodialysis management was less than 15 sonographic B-lines.

In the sonography group (n=183), the number of B-lines decreased from 15 to nine from the beginning to the end of the study; in the control group (n=180), however, the number increased from 16 to 30 (p=0.002). In the sonography group, 117 patients (78%) reached the target value (<15 B-lines), compared to 85 patients (56%) in the control group (p<0.001). In the follow-up period lasting an average of 1.49±0.72 years, the primary endpoint was reached by 62 patients (34%) from the sonography group and by 71 (39%) from the control group (HR 0.88, p=0.47). However, secondary, post-hoc analyses showed significantly less frequent episodes of decompensated heart failure (HR=0.37; p=0.04) and cardiovascular events (HR=0.63; p=0.04) for the sonography group.

“The lung ultrasound-guided treatment strategy significantly reduced individual secondary, post hoc endpoints: decompensations of heart failure occurred 63% less frequently—and severe cardiovascular events 37% less frequently,” summarizes Dr. Torino. Yet, because decompensated heart failure was not the primary end point of the study, new trials are still needed to confirm this finding. “The fact that this did not significantly affect the composite end point could be due to the fact that decongestion improved gradually during the trial reaching the maximum at the end of the trial. Therefore, there could haven’t been sufficient time for the beneficial effect of the lung ultrasound guided treatment to materialize.”

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Is It All Greek to You? Coronavirus Variants Get New Names

GENEVA (Reuters) – Coronavirus variants with clunky, alphanumeric names have now been assigned the letters of the Greek Alphabet in a bid to simplify discussion and pronunciation while avoiding stigma.

The World Health Organization revealed the new names on Monday amid criticism that those given by scientists – such as the so-called South African variant which goes by multiple names including B.1.351, 501Y.V2 and 20H/501Y.V2 – were too complicated.

As such, the four coronavirus variants considered of concern by the U.N. agency and known generally by the public as the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India variants have now been given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta according to the order of their detection.

Other variants of interest continue down the alphabet (https://bit.ly/2RR216Q).

“While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting,” said the WHO, explaining the decision.

The choice of the Greek alphabet came after months of deliberations in which other possibilities such as Greek Gods and invented, pseudo-classical names were considered by experts, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen who was involved in the talks.

But many were already brands, companies or alien names.

Another idea to refer to variants of concern as VOC1, VOC2 etc. was scrapped after he pointed out it resembled an English swear word.

Historically, viruses have often been associated with the locations from which they are thought to have emerged such as Ebola which is named after the eponymous Congolese river.

But this can be damaging for the places and often inaccurate, such as with the so-called ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic of 1918 whose origins are unknown.

“No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants,” said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.

Before the new WHO scheme, some scientists had adopted their own simplified nomenclature for variants such as a February paper using bird names. However, it was criticised on the grounds that this could imperil birds and by the mother of a girl named ‘Robin’.

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What Is Craniosacral Therapy?

If you have ever been to a chiropractor or massage therapist, you may have experienced craniosacral therapy (CST). However, if this sounds alien to you, and you live with chronic migraines, neck pain, neuralgia, or even are suffering with side effects from cancer treatments, CST may be worth exploring. 

The gentle, non-invasive technique has been used as a form of healing and can be dated back to the 1800s, when Dr. Andrew Taylor founded The American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville Missouri, later known as the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (via ATSU). Although John E. Upledger, a doctor of osteopathy, is credited with developing the technique in the 1970s (via Irish Association of Craniosacral Therapists).  

Considered an alternative form of medicine, CST is often used by chiropractors, massage therapists, and osteopaths (per Medical News Today). The Cleveland Clinic describes CST as similar to massage therapy, as most sessions are accompanied by low lighting, soft music, and even aromatherapy to help you fall deeper into relaxation.

Craniosacral therapy may help with pain

During the CST session, the provider will use gentle pressure on the head, neck, and back to relieve pain caused by compression, and to help the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system to become normalized (via Healthline). Many people may benefit from three to 10 sessions of the treatment by a licensed professional. Much like chiropractic care, the theory behind CST is that the better the flow of the spinal fluid, the less pain a person will feel and the easier it will be for the body to heal.

The light touch therapy has been associated with treating both physical and psychological conditions, and, according to the Upledger Institute International, “CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease.” Craniosacral therapy has been used to treat conditions such as chronic pain, autism, central nervous system disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, PTSD, and stress (per Medical News Today).

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Is deference to supernatural beings present in infancy?

Is deference to supernatural beings present in infancy?

From shamans and mystics to cult leaders and divine kings, why have people throughout history accorded high status to people believed to have supernatural powers?

According to a study led by researchers from the University of Oxford, this tendency to attribute social dominance to such individuals is rooted in early development.

As part of the study, 48 infants aged 12 to 16 months watched a series of animated videos in which two characters competed for a reward. In each scenario, one character displayed physically counterintuitive methods of making progress across the screen—flying or teleporting in the direction of the reward; the other moved more intuitively in continuous paths sticking to the ground, thus lacking any special powers.

The children generally found the events unexpected (they looked longer at the screen) when the character using physically intuitive methods of propulsion outcompeted the one employing physically counterintuitive methods, expecting the latter to ‘win’ instead. Further experimental manipulations showed that infants’ expectations were not simply motivated by how efficiently goals were achieved, but whether supernatural capabilities were deployed in any given scenario.

Co-first author Dr. Xianwei Meng, of the Graduate School of Human Sciences at Osaka University, said: “Studies in developmental science have shown that from the first year of life infants are sensitive to both social dominance and to events violating intuitive understanding of the physical world. They expect characters who have relatively larger body-size, more allies, or who are located at a higher elevation to prevail in situations of conflict. They also expect objects to fall earthwards and move in continuous trajectories. Our experiments combined these existing procedural paradigms to show, for the first time, that observing an efficiently goal-directed event that violates intuitive principles of gravity and continuity triggers expectations of social dominance.”

Co-first author Dr. Yo Nakawake, of the Kochi University of Technology and also research affiliate at the University of Oxford, added: “Further research is needed to explore the inferences made by young children with regard to other properties commonly attributed to supernatural agents such as shapeshifting, omniscience or immortality. We would also want to see how infants react to counterintuitive displays from individuals who are not competing for a reward, just to understand if a supernatural act alone elicits expectations of social dominance. One other important question that remains unanswered is whether infants perceive these otherworldly figures to not only be socially dominant, but also more knowledgeable, trustworthy, competent, or prosocial.”

According to Professor Harvey Whitehouse, Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion (CSSC) at the University of Oxford and senior author on the paper: “Anthropologists have long been aware of the link between supernatural power and social dominance in cultures from all around the world. But this is the first time we have seen evidence for such a link at such an early stage in the socialization process, even before language skills are well developed, suggesting that it may be a natural consequence of the way human minds work.”

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Is there a happiness equation? Here’s how we’re trying to find out

Is there a happiness equation? Here's how we're trying to find out

Most people would like to be happier. But it isn’t always easy to know how to achieve that goal. Is there an equation for happiness? Many formulas have been suggested. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Meditate. Help others. Spend time with friends and family. On average, all of these things are linked to happiness. But they don’t work for everyone.

Happiness is really complicated. It can change quickly and it’s different for everyone in ways that scientists don’t understand. In our ongoing research, we are trying to capture this subjectivity and get a more complete view of what happiness is.

Happiness surveys can only tell us so much, summarizing with a few questions how people feel in general. We also don’t know what they were doing a few minutes earlier, even though we know it might be important for understanding their responses.

So we turned to smartphones, which billions of people are using almost constantly. People often believe that smartphones are bad for happiness, but many of us enjoy popular games including Candy Crush Saga, Fortnite and Among Us on our devices. How we feel can change quickly while we play games, providing an opportunity to gather detailed information about the complexities of happiness.

We recently launched a smartphone app, The Happiness Project, which anyone can download for free. In less than five minutes, you can play one of four games to learn about and contribute to happiness research. So far, thousands of people have played, answering the question “How happy are you right now?” over one million times.

Expectations

So far, we’ve managed to work out that expectations matter a lot. In 18,420 people playing a simple risky decision game on their phones, we showed that happiness depended not on how well they were doing, but whether they were doing better than expected.

Our research shows how high expectations can be a problem. Clearly, it’s not a good idea to tell a friend that they will love the gift you are about to give them. Lowering expectations at the last moment increases the probability of a positive surprise.

The problem with using this trick to hack your own happiness is that expectations about future events also influence happiness. If you make plans to catch up with a friend after work, you may be unhappy if they suddenly cancel. But expecting your friend to cancel won’t make you happy—you might be a little happier the whole day if you look forward to seeing them, even if there is some risk that things don’t work out.

Another reason that it’s hard to hack your happiness is that expectations are really important for decision making. If you always expect the worst, it’s difficult to make good choices. When things go better than expected, that’s information your brain can use to revise your expectations upward so you make even better choices in the future. Realistic expectations are generally best. In fact, we discovered that happiness is closely linked to learning about our environment.

There are times, such as on holiday, when lowering your expectations might not be a bad idea. After all, your expectations might be a bit unrealistic if you chose your holiday destination based on a friend’s rave review. You may enjoy yourself more if you don’t expect everything to go perfectly.

Tool versus goal

Another lesson from our smartphone games is that most events don’t affect happiness for long. This is referred to as the “hedonic treadmill.” You might think that there is something wrong with you if you don’t feel lasting happiness about a promotion, but time-limited joy is an adaptation that helps your brain adjust to your circumstances so you are ready to make your next move. In uncertain environments, including both games and real life, what happened minutes ago is often irrelevant to the task at hand.

The ephemeral nature of happiness means we might be better off thinking about happiness in a different way. Happiness is a tool, not a goal in itself. It can help us better understand what we care about, what we value. It can tell us whether things are going surprisingly well, which could motivate us to keep going at key moments. When our happiness drops, it may be a sign that we should try something new.

The pandemic has had a big impact on mental health. It’s never been more important to understand happiness and well-being. We don’t know why some people stay upset for longer than others. We don’t know why uncertainty is really stressful for some people but not others.

Our games aim to find out. Each of the four games focus on something that scientists know is important for happiness: uncertainty, thinking about the future, learning, and effort. In one game, you can use information about the future to make different decisions depending on whether things look good or bad. In another, you are a fisherman deciding how much effort to spend to increase your catch. By asking about happiness as you play these games, we can figure out the factors that matter for everyone.

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COVID is surging in the world’s most vaccinated country. Why?

vaccine

The small archipelago nation of Seychelles, northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, has emerged as the world’s most vaccinated country for COVID-19.

Around 71% of people have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 62% have been fully vaccinated. Of these, 57% have received the Sinopharm vaccine, and 43% AstraZeneca.

Despite this, there has been a recent surge in cases, with 37% of new active cases and 20% of hospital cases being fully vaccinated. The country has had to reimpose some restrictions.

How can this be happening? There are several possible explanations:

What does the country’s experience teach us about variants, vaccine efficacy and herd immunity?

Let’s break this down.

Variants can escape vaccine protection

There are reports of the South African B.1.351 variant circulating in Seychelles. This variant shows the greatest ability to escape vaccine protection of all COVID variants so far.

In South Africa, one study showed AstraZeneca has 0-10% efficacy against this variant, prompting the South African government to stop using that vaccine in February.

The efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine against this variant is unknown, but lab studies show some reduction in protection, based on blood tests, but probably some protection.

However, no comprehensive surveillance exists in the country to know what proportion of cases are due to the South African variant.

The UK variant B117, which is more contagious than the original strain, became the dominant variant in the United States. But the US still achieved a dramatic reduction in COVID-19 cases through vaccination, with most people receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Israel, where the UK variant was dominant, also has a very high vaccination rate, having vaccinated nearly 60% of its population with Pfizer. It found 92% effectiveness against any infection including asymptomatic infection, and Israel has seen a large drop in new cases.

The United Kingdom has used a combination of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. More than 50% of the population have had a single dose and almost 30% are fully vaccinated. The country has also seen a significant decline in case numbers.

But there’s a current surge of cases in northwest England, with most new cases in the city of Bolton being the Indian variant. This variant is also causing outbreaks in Singapore, which had previously controlled the virus well.

Seychelles needs to conduct urgent genome sequencing and surveillance to see what contribution variants of concern are making, and whether the Indian variant is present.

If the South African variant is dominant, the country needs to use a vaccine that works well against it. Many companies are making boosters targeted to this variant, but for now, Pfizer would be an option. In Qatar, local researchers found Pfizer had 75% effectiveness against the South African variant.

We need to use high-efficacy vaccines to achieve herd immunity

The reported efficacy of Sinopharm is 79% and AstraZeneca is 62-70% from phase 3 clinical trials.

Our research at the Kirby Institute showed that, in New South Wales, Australia, using a vaccine with 90% efficacy against all infection means herd immunity could be achieved if 66% of the population was vaccinated.

However, using lower efficacy vaccines means more people need to be vaccinated. If the vaccine is 60% effective, the proportion needing to be vaccinated rises to 100%.

When you get an efficacy of less than 60%, herd immunity is not achievable.

However, these calculations were done for the regular COVID-19 caused by the D614G variant which dominated in 2020. This has a reproductive number (R0) of 2.5, meaning people infected with the virus on average infect 2.5 others.

But the B117 variant is 43-90% more contagious than D614G, so the R0 may be up to 4.75. This will require higher vaccination rates to control spread.

What’s more, the Indian variant B1617 has been estimated to be at least 50% more contagious than B117, which could take the R0 to over 7, and takes us into uncharted territory.

This could explain the catastrophic situation in India, but also raises the stakes for vaccination, as lower efficacy vaccines will not be able to contain such highly transmissible variants effectively.

Herd immunity is still possible, but depends on the efficacy of the vaccine used and the proportion of people vaccinated.

A UK modeling study found using very low efficacy vaccines would result in the economy barely breaking even over ten years because it would fail to control transmission. On the other hand, using very high efficacy vaccines would result in much better economic outcomes.

Vaccinating the world is the only way to end the pandemic

As the pandemic continues to worsen in some parts of the world, the risk increases of more dangerous mutations that are vaccine-resistant or too contagious to control with current vaccines.

Keeping up with mutations is like whack-a-mole while the pandemic is raging.

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COVID-19: Is obesity really more of a risk factor for men than women?

COVID-19: is obesity really more of a risk factor for men than women?

A new US study has added to the evidence that obesity is a risk factor for severe COVID-19. And in this paper, a particular finding has caught the media’s attention: the apparently greater risk posed by COVID-19 to men with obesity than women. But while it’s tempting to take this information at face value, there are several reasons not to.

There are lots of different ways to look at whether and how obesity increases the risk of COVID-19. Body mass index, or BMI, is the main measure used in studies investigating whether people with obesity have worse outcomes. You can easily calculate your BMI online if you know your weight and height.

The association between worse COVID-19 outcomes and obesity was recognized early on in the pandemic. The first large study investigating this relationship was released in July 2020 and used data from more than 17 million adults in England. It showed that having a BMI of over 40—classified as “severe obesity”—almost doubled a person’s risk of dying from COVID-19. However, it didn’t provide data on people with BMIs in the lower “overweight” or “obese” ranges.

A second large British study helped fill this gap, using data from almost 7 million adults. Rather than comparing people with obesity to people without obesity, it looked at the full spectrum of weight, again using BMI. It found that the lowest risk was in those with a BMI of 23—above that, every additional increase of one BMI unit led to an approximately 4% increase in risk of dying from COVID-19. Having a BMI lower than 23 also raised this risk.

In contrast to these two community-based British studies, the new US study is based on approximately 3,500 people hospitalized with COVID-19. The scientists found that in men, “obesity class II” (a BMI ranging from 35 to 39.9) and “obesity class III” (a BMI of 40 or greater) were associated with greater risks. In women, obesity class III was also associated with greater risk, but the relationship was less clear for obesity class II.

There are a number of reasons we can’t read too much into this finding. When it comes to understanding risk factors, as a rule of thumb, the bigger the study the more certain we can be. In contrast to the British studies with data from millions of people, this US study is relatively small. That’s problematic, because with fewer people our ability to estimate risks becomes less precise. In other words, with fewer people in a study we can’t be sure if any results we find are due to genuine differences in risk or simply down to chance.

It is now well established that men are at greater risk of being hospitalized with, and dying from, COVID-19. This US study only looked at hospitalized people, so unsurprisingly included more men than women. As a result, estimates given for women with class II obesity were more uncertain than the estimates for men. Therefore, it could be that obesity class II is genuinely less of a risk factor in women, but also could just be that the results in women were less precise.

If other studies had also found that the risk from obesity was less pronounced in women than men, we might be more confident that the US study was reflecting a real phenomenon rather than chance. However, of the two large British studies, the first didn’t report whether the risk from obesity varied in men versus women, while the second found that the risks from excess body weight were the same in both men and women. Interestingly, it did find that these risks were much more pronounced in younger people.

Why this matters

Knowing who is at more risk from COVID-19 is important. It matters because it helps us target interventions, including vaccines, at those who need them most. It also matters because, where these risk factors can be changed, it helps us improve our health and resilience to COVID-19 and other infections.

For now, there is not enough data to say with any certainty that obesity is less of a COVID-19 risk factor in women than in men. What we can say for certain is that obesity is associated with an increased risk of worse COVID-19 outcomes in and of itself. It’s also a risk factor for conditions such as type 2 diabetes that can lead to worse outcomes.

We also know that eating well and being active improve health and may even reduce COVID-19 risk. But eating well and moving more is easier said than done. We need to work towards healthier environments—not just for men with obesity, or women with obesity, but for everyone.

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