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Non-Covid Excess Deaths, 2020-21: Collateral Damage of Policy Choices – The National Bureau of Economic Research

From April 2020 through at least the end of 2021, Americans died from non-Covid causes at an average annual rate 97,000 in excess of previous trends. Hypertension and heart disease deaths combined were elevated 32,000. Diabetes or obesity, drug-induced causes, and alcohol-induced causes were each elevated 12,000 to 15,000 above previous (upward) trends. Drug deaths especially followed an alarming trend, only to significantly exceed it during the pandemic to reach 108,000 for calendar year 2021. Homicide and motor-vehicle fatalities combined were elevated almost 10,000. Various other causes combined to add 18,000. While Covid deaths overwhelmingly afflict senior citizens, absolute numbers of non-Covid excess deaths are similar for each of the 18-44, 45-64, and over-65 age groups, with essentially no aggregate excess deaths of children. Mortality from all causes during the pandemic was elevated 26 percent for working-age adults (18-64), as compared to 18 percent for the elderly. Other data on drug addictions, non-fatal shootings, weight gain, and cancer screenings point to a historic, yet largely unacknowledged, health emergency.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w30104

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Monkeypox – NHS

Monkeypox is a rare infection that’s mainly spread by wild animals in parts of west or central Africa. The risk of catching it in the UK is low.

Treatment for monkeypox aims to relieve symptoms. The illness is usually mild and most people recover in 2 to 4 weeks.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220527074847/https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/monkeypox/

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The illusion of evidence based medicine – BMJ

Evidence based medicine has been corrupted by corporate interests, failed regulation, and commercialisation of academia, argue these authors

The advent of evidence based medicine was a paradigm shift intended to provide a solid scientific foundation for medicine. The validity of this new paradigm, however, depends on reliable data from clinical trials, most of which are conducted by the pharmaceutical industry and reported in the names of senior academics. The release into the public domain of previously confidential pharmaceutical industry documents has given the medical community valuable insight into the degree to which industry sponsored clinical trials are misrepresented. Until this problem is corrected, evidence based medicine will remain an illusion.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220316191824/https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o702

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Applying behavioural and social sciences to improve population health and wellbeing in England – Public Health England

Published September 2018

The behavioural and social sciences are the future of public health. Evidence from behavioural science suggests that simple and easy ways of helping people to change their behaviour are the most effective. Whether it’s encouraging smokers to quit, increasing uptake of the NHS Health Check, making healthier food choices easier, or reducing the number of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions, this evidence can help in understanding and therefore influencing behaviour change that promotes health, prevents disease, and reduces health inequalities. We must reach and be meaningful to people in the lives that they are leading.

It is time for the public health system to advance the use of behavioural and social sciences, and for this purpose, PHE’s Behavioural Insights experts, working with many partners, have led the collaborative development of this comprehensive strategy – the first of its kind in the field.

For commentary on this document, see UK Column News, 23rd February 2022.

http://archive.today/2022.02.25-123059/https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/744672/Improving_Peoples_Health_Behavioural_Strategy.pdf

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Estimated impact of the 2020 economic downturn on under-5 mortality for 129 countries – PLOS ONE

In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), economic downturns can lead to increased child mortality by affecting dietary, environmental, and care-seeking factors. This study estimates the potential loss of life in children under five years old attributable to economic downturns in 2020. We used a multi-level, mixed effects model to estimate the relationship between gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and under-5 mortality rates (U5MRs) specific to each of 129 LMICs. Public data were retrieved from the World Bank World Development Indicators database and the United Nations World Populations Prospects estimates for the years 1990-2020. Country-specific regression coefficients on the relationship between child mortality and GDP were used to estimate the impact on U5MR of reductions in GDP per capita of 5%, 10%, and 15%. A 5% reduction in GDP per capita in 2020 was estimated to cause an additional 282,996 deaths in children under 5 in 2020. At 10% and 15%, recessions led to higher losses of under-5 lives, increasing to 585,802 and 911,026 additional deaths, respectively. Nearly half of all the potential under-5 lives lost in LMICs were estimated to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Because most of these deaths will likely be due to nutrition and environmental factors amenable to intervention, countries should ensure continued investments in food supplementation, growth monitoring, and comprehensive primary health care to mitigate potential burdens.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0263245

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4th Dose COVID mRNA Vaccines’ Immunogenicity & Efficacy Against Omicron VOC – medRxiv

RESULTS Of 1050 eligible HCW, 154 and 120 were enrolled to receive BNT162b2 and mRNA1273, respectively, and compared to 426 age-matched controls. Recipients of both vaccine types had a ∼9-10-fold increase in IgG and neutralizing titers within 2 weeks of vaccination and an 8-fold increase in live Omicron VOC neutralization, restoring titers to those measured after the third vaccine dose. Breakthrough infections were common, mostly very mild, yet, with high viral loads. Vaccine efficacy against infection was 30% (95%CI:-9% to 55%) and 11% (95%CI:-43% to +43%) for BNT162b2 and mRNA1273, respectively. Local and systemic adverse reactions were reported in 80% and 40%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS The fourth COVID-19 mRNA dose restores antibody titers to peak post-third dose titers. Low efficacy in preventing mild or asymptomatic Omicron infections and the infectious potential of breakthrough cases raise the urgency of next generation vaccine development.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.02.15.22270948v1.full-text

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Titanium dioxide particles frequently present in face masks intended for general use require regulatory control – Nature

Although titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a suspected human carcinogen when inhaled, fiber-grade TiO2 (nano)particles were demonstrated in synthetic textile fibers of face masks intended for the general public. STEM-EDX analysis on sections of a variety of single use and reusable face masks visualized agglomerated near-spherical TiO2 particles in non-woven fabrics, polyester, polyamide and bi-component fibers. Median sizes of constituent particles ranged from 89 to 184 nm, implying an important fraction of nano-sized particles (< 100 nm). The total TiO2 mass determined by ICP-OES ranged from 791 to 152,345 µg per mask. The estimated TiO2 mass at the fiber surface ranged from 17 to 4394 µg, and systematically exceeded the acceptable exposure level to TiO2 by inhalation (3.6 µg), determined based on a scenario where face masks are worn intensively. No assumptions were made about the likelihood of the release of TiO2 particles itself, since direct measurement of release and inhalation uptake when face masks are worn could not be assessed. The importance of wearing face masks against COVID-19 is unquestionable. Even so, these results urge for in depth research of (nano)technology applications in textiles to avoid possible future consequences caused by a poorly regulated use and to implement regulatory standards phasing out or limiting the amount of TiO2 particles, following the safe-by-design principle.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-06605-w

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Controlled studies ease worries of widespread long Covid in kids – STAT

These studies indicate that long Covid in children is rare and, when it does occur, is short-lived. In one study, 97% of children ages 5 to 11 with Covid-19 recovered completely within four weeks. In the small group that had bothersome symptoms after four weeks (usually loss of smell or fatigue), most had fully recovered by eight weeks.

http://archive.today/2022.02.15-210719/https://www.statnews.com/2022/02/14/controlled-studies-ease-worries-widespread-long-covid-kids/

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Long-term cardiovascular outcomes of COVID-19 – Nature

The cardiovascular complications of acute coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are well described, but the post-acute cardiovascular manifestations of COVID-19 have not yet been comprehensively characterized. Here we used national healthcare databases from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to build a cohort of 153,760 individuals with COVID-19, as well as two sets of control cohorts with 5,637,647 (contemporary controls) and 5,859,411 (historical controls) individuals, to estimate risks and 1-year burdens of a set of pre-specified incident cardiovascular outcomes. We show that, beyond the first 30 d after infection, individuals with COVID-19 are at increased risk of incident cardiovascular disease spanning several categories, including cerebrovascular disorders, dysrhythmias, ischemic and non-ischemic heart disease, pericarditis, myocarditis, heart failure and thromboembolic disease. These risks and burdens were evident even among individuals who were not hospitalized during the acute phase of the infection and increased in a graded fashion according to the care setting during the acute phase (non-hospitalized, hospitalized and admitted to intensive care). Our results provide evidence that the risk and 1-year burden of cardiovascular disease in survivors of acute COVID-19 are substantial. Care pathways of those surviving the acute episode of COVID-19 should include attention to cardiovascular health and disease.

Commentary by Dr. Clare Craig: Heart Problems After Covid Are Much Worse for the Vaccinated, Nature Study Shows – But It’s Hidden in the Appendix

http://archive.today/2022.02.08-054001/https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-01689-3

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A LITERATURE REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECTS OF LOCKDOWNS ON COVID-19 MORTALITY – Johns Hopkins University

This systematic review and meta-analysis are designed to determine whether there is empirical evidence to support the belief that “lockdowns” reduce COVID-19 mortality. Lockdowns are defined as the imposition of at least one compulsory, non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). NPIs are any government mandate that directly restrict peoples’ possibilities, such as policies that limit internal movement, close schools and businesses, and ban international travel. This study employed a systematic search and screening procedure in which 18,590 studies are identified that could potentially address the belief posed. After three levels of screening, 34 studies ultimately qualified. Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis. They were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-placeorder (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.

While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.

https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/iae/files/2022/01/A-Literature-Review-and-Meta-Analysis-of-the-Effects-of-Lockdowns-on-COVID-19-Mortality.pdf

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Covid-19 vaccines and treatments: we must have raw data, now – BMJ

In the pages of The BMJ a decade ago, in the middle of a different pandemic, it came to light that governments around the world had spent billions stockpiling antivirals for influenza that had not been shown to reduce the risk of complications, hospital admissions, or death. The majority of trials that underpinned regulatory approval and government stockpiling of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) were sponsored by the manufacturer; most were unpublished, those that were published were ghostwritten by writers paid by the manufacturer, the people listed as principal authors lacked access to the raw data, and academics who requested access to the data for independent analysis were denied.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220120011239/https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj.o102

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Citation impact and social media visibility of Great Barrington and John Snow signatories for COVID-19 strategy – BMJ

Results Among the 47 key GBD signatories, 20, 19 and 21, respectively, were top-cited authors for career impact, recent single-year (2019) impact or either. For comparison, among the 34 key JSM signatories, 11, 14 and 15, respectively, were top cited. Key signatories represented 30 different scientific fields (9 represented in both documents, 17 only in GBD and 4 only in JSM). In a random sample of n=30 scientists among the longer lists of signatories, five in GBD and three in JSM were top cited. By April 2021, only 19/47 key GBD signatories had personal Twitter accounts versus 34/34 of key JSM signatories; 3 key GBD signatories versus 10 key JSM signatories had >50 000 Twitter followers and extraordinary Kardashian K-indices (363–2569). By November 2021, four key GBD signatories versus 13 key JSM signatories had >50 000 Twitter followers.

Conclusions Both GBD and JSM include many stellar scientists, but JSM has far more powerful social media presence and this may have shaped the impression that it is the dominant narrative.

http://archive.today/2022.02.16-000944/https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/12/2/e052891

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John Lewis Partnership sick pay policy for unvaccinated staff – Andrew Murphy, Executive Director, Operations at John Lewis Partnership

We’re conscious that some businesses have changed their sick pay policy with regard to unvaccinated employees in some Covid related absence scenarios.

At the John Lewis Partnership we’re not going to make any change of this type.

We’re hugely supportive of the UK vaccination programme (we give ‘free’ time off to all Partners to get their vaccination and we’ve provided our Bracknell sports hall to the NHS as a vaccination centre since the very start of the jab roll-out, providing 160,000 jabs). We just don’t believe it’s right to create a link between a Partner’s vaccination status and the pay they receive.

Leadership teams from every business have had to work incredibly hard to navigate the Covid years. There has been no map, guidebook or training programme to help anyone find the best way through. Very often, there’s just a choice between a range of unappealing options.

We cast no judgement on the decisions of any other organisation, in fact we’ve enjoyed how united businesses – retailers especially – have been in the face of these huge corporate and societal challenges. However, when life increasingly seems to present opportunities to create division – and with hopes rising that the pandemic phase of Covid may be coming to an end – we’re confident that this is the right approach for us.

http://archive.today/2022.01.24-133419/https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6889929866620243968/

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COVID-19 total deaths – weekly summaries All data up to 4pm 19 January 2022 – NHS

Commentary from Paul Embery of UnHerd:

Fresh NHS data shows that the total number of covid-related deaths in hospitals in England involving patients under the age of 80 and with no pre-existing condition is 3,037. This covers the entire period of the pandemic.

Screenshot with comment of Table 3 – Deaths by Condition

https://england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/01/COVID-19-total-announced-deaths-20-January-2022-weekly-file.xlsx

Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20220122113121/https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/01/COVID-19-total-announced-deaths-20-January-2022-weekly-file.xlsx

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COVID-19 deaths and autopsies Feb 2020 to Dec 2021 – Office for National Statistics

An Office for National Statistics FOI request revealed 6,183 deaths recorded where COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned on the death certificate, between 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2021.

You asked

Please supply deaths caused solely by covid 19, where covid is the only cause of death listed on the death certificate, broken down by age group and gender between feb 2020 up to and including dec 2021.

Please supply the number of autopsies carried out on those where covid was the only cause stated.

We said

Thank you for your enquiry.

We have provided analysis on COVID-19 as the only cause of death by age and sex in England and Wales for your requested time period.

Table 1: Number of deaths where COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned on the death certificate, 1 February 2020 to 31 December 2021, by sex and age group, England and Wales
Age groupMalesFemales
<110
1-400
5-900
10-1401
15-1910
20-2441
25-29123
30-34247
35-394215
40-445224
45-498743
50-5413852
55-5923492
60-64254102
65-69279119
70-74357204
75-79395252
80-84492402
85-89470533
90+520971

http://archive.today/2022.01.18-223112/https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/covid19deathsandautopsiesfeb2020todec2021

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Ocado cuts sick pay for unvaccinated staff – Grocery Gazette

Ocado has announced it is cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff who must self-isolate due to exposure to Covid-19.

According to the BBC, the online grocer will continue to offer full sick pay if unvaccinated workers test positive for the virus but will reduce sick pay for exposure related isolation.

http://archive.today/2022.01.17-172326/https://www.grocerygazette.co.uk/2022/01/14/ocado-cuts-sick-pay-for-unvaccinated-staff/

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Cross-reactive memory T cells associate with protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection in COVID-19 contacts – Nature Communications

Cross-reactive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 have been observed in pre-pandemic cohorts and proposed to contribute to host protection. Here we assess 52 COVID-19 household contacts to capture immune responses at the earliest timepoints after SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Using a dual cytokine FLISpot assay on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, we enumerate the frequency of T cells specific for spike, nucleocapsid, membrane, envelope and ORF1 SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that cross-react with human endemic coronaviruses. We observe higher frequencies of cross-reactive (p = 0.0139), and nucleocapsid-specific (p = 0.0355) IL-2-secreting memory T cells in contacts who remained PCR-negative despite exposure (n = 26), when compared with those who convert to PCR-positive (n = 26); no significant difference in the frequency of responses to spike is observed, hinting at a limited protective function of spike-cross-reactive T cells. Our results are thus consistent with pre-existing non-spike cross-reactive memory T cells protecting SARS-CoV-2-naïve contacts from infection, thereby supporting the inclusion of non-spike antigens in second-generation vaccines.

http://archive.today/2022.01.10-120437/https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27674-x

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Deaths from COVID-19 with no other underlying causes – Office for National Statistics

You asked
Please can you advise on deaths purely from covid with no other underlying causes.

We said
Thank you for your request.

…Please see below for death registrations for 2020 and 2021 (provisional) that were due to COVID-19 and were recorded without any pre-existing conditions, England and Wales.

2020: 9400 (0-64: 1549 / 65 and over: 7851)

2021 Q1: 6483 (0-64: 1560/ 65 and over: 4923)

2021 Q2: 346 (0-64: 153/ 65 and over: 193)

2021 Q3: 1142 (0-64: 512/ 65 and over: 630)

https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/deathsfromcovid19withnootherunderlyingcauses

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The Supply of ITU Medicines and End of Life Care Medicines for Covid-19 Preparedness – GOV.UK

The Authority seeks to top up the Stockpile holdings of Midazolam 50mg/10ml vial (EOL) and Noradrenaline 8mg/8ml for infs Amp (ITU) medicines in preparations for further waves of Covid 19 in Winter 2021/ Spring 2022.

https://web.archive.org/web/20211211101310/https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/6e5930bd-6c46-4839-8dea-87aa770d3bf3

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Minimal cross-over between mutations associated with Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and CD8+ T cell epitopes identified in COVID-19 convalescent individuals – bioRxiv

These data suggest that virtually all individuals with existing anti-SARS-CoV-2 CD8+ T-cell responses should recognize the Omicron VOC, and that SARS-CoV-2 has not evolved extensive T-cell escape mutations at this time.

http://archive.today/2021.12.12-062920/https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.06.471446v1