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    1. It was a landmark hearing for Ontario. Four doctors —  Rochagne Kilian, Mary O’Connor, Mark Trozzi and Patrick Phillips — had been scheduled to appear to fight legal proceedings brought by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) late last year.Trozzi, O’Connor and Kilian have been accused by the CPSO of failing to comply with investigations into allegations they issued false medical exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine. Phillips, the CPSO says, is threatening to re-release a tranche of confidential documents on Twitter.
    1. COVID-19 mRNA vaccine immunogenicity and effectiveness are well established in adolescents.1 However, the effect of vaccination on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C),2 a severe complication associated with SARS-CoV-2,3 has not yet been described. Summer 2021 in France was marked by both a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, with a peak in August 2021, and by the recommendation of the French Public Health Agency to vaccinate children aged 12 years or older. We estimated the risk of MIS-C among adolescents by COVID-19 vaccination status during September 2021 and October 2021.
    1. Objectives: The immunological and inflammatory changes following acute COVID-19 are hugely variable. Persistent clinical symptoms following resolution of initial infection, termed long COVID, are also hugely variable, but association with immunological changes has not been described. We investigate changing immunological parameters in convalescent COVID-19 and interrogate their potential relationships with persistent symptoms.Methods: We performed paired immunophenotyping at initial SARS-CoV-2 infection and convalescence (n=40, median 68 days) and validated findings in 71 further patients at median 101 days convalescence. Results were compared to 40 pre-pandemic controls. Fatigue and exercise tolerance were assessed as cardinal features of long COVID using the Chalder Fatigue Scale and 6-minute-walk test. The relationships between these clinical outcomes and convalescent immunological results were investigated.Results: We identify persistent expansion of intermediate monocytes, effector CD8+, activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and reduced naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T cells at 68 days, with activated CD8+ T cells remaining increased at 101 days. Patients >60 years also demonstrate reduced naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and expanded activated CD4+ T cells at 101 days. Ill-health, fatigue, and reduced exercise tolerance were common in this cohort. These symptoms were not associated with immune cell populations or circulating inflammatory cytokines.Conclusion: We demonstrate myeloid recovery but persistent T cell abnormalities in convalescent COVID-19 patients more than three months after initial infection. These changes are more marked with age and are independent of ongoing subjective ill-health, fatigue and reduced exercise tolerance.
    1. Researchers concluded vaccine hesitancy is associated with being less oriented toward the future, and more likely to choose a smaller reward today than wait for a better one later
    1. CDC is working with jurisdictions to provide more information on the demographic characteristics of vaccinated people. These demographic data represent the geographic areas that contributed data and might differ by populations prioritized within each jurisdiction’s vaccination phase. Therefore, these data may not be generalizable to the entire US population. Percentage displayed in the charts below represent the percent of people vaccinated within each demographic group for whom demographic information was available. The completeness of demographic information reported directly to CDC varies by sex, age group, and race/ethnicity. Detailed information on the completeness can be found in each chart.
    1. Worldwide, vaccine hesitancy is proving to be a stumbling block to securing much needed protection against the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Now, researchers from Japan have uncovered specific factors that influence attitudes about vaccines, which is valuable knowledge for combating vaccine hesitancy.
    1. El conocimiento científico en la pandemia cambia en cuestión de semanas. Algunos temas se olvidan y otros se recuperan de manera cíclica. Cinco meses después del primer estudio, ¿qué ha pasado con la hipótesis de la inmunidad cruzada? Trabajos recientes despejan dudas sobre su papel en la lucha contra la covid-19, todavía rodeado de especulaciones.
    1. ultiple sclerosis, a progressive disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure, is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. Their findings were published today online in Science.
    1. After nearly two years of pandemic, 5,000 inpatients and 1,000 deaths, the staff of one of the largest hospitals in north-west England are frustrated and exhausted
    1. Well I can't SEE any Covid particles (I'm sure they are there)...but I can see another boatload of horrid these purifiers are sucking out of rooms at school:
    1. This 4-part non-credit online course was designed with the input of NorQuest faculty to introduce students to concepts of misinformation and help them practice valuable critical thinking skills. The content is accessible, interactive and engaging. The following topics are addressed: Misinformation and it's various forms including fake news and disinformation Evaluating information using techniques such as lateral reading News literacy, science literacy and conspiracy theories The role of bias in spreading misinformation
    1. Arguments can be good or bad, and that difference is not just a matter of subjective preference. Rather, argumentation research has spent centuries identifying how and why some arguments are stronger than others. This includes understanding why some arguments (so-called ‘fallacies’) can fool the unwary into thinking they provide good reasons for believing or doing something when, in fact, they do not.
    1. Short shelf life, lack of fridges are main reasonsAbout 16 mln doses destroyed from 100 mln rejected -UNICEFNearly 700 mln delivered doses stored in poor nationsWHO's COVAX programme approaches 1 bln doses shipped
    1. A virology journal has issued an expression of concern about a paper claiming that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can damage DNA after one member of the research team raised reservations about the reported findings. 
    1. Marianna Parker, a Boston-area pediatrician, wanted to make sure she, her husband, and her toddler didn’t have Covid-19 when they developed a nasty cold around Dec. 18. Over the course of a week she used five Covid rapid tests and took three PCR tests, testing negative. Her husband tested negative on a rapid test on his second day of infection but positive on his sixth, a result that was confirmed via PCR. “If he hadn’t decided to do that random test on day 6 we would never have known,” she said. Nevertheless, she’s convinced all three of them had Covid, and that the tests simply produced the wrong results. In a Facebook post, she advised friends to remember that if they are vaccinated, their tests might only be positive for a short period of time. Parker is not alone in puzzling over how to interpret the antigen tests. Social media platforms are rife with anecdotes from people who contracted Covid but who report that rapid tests came back negative. Meantime, a small, 30-patient study this week cast doubts about rapid Covid tests’ reliability early on after infection, showing that the tests took several days after infection before detecting the virus.
    1. We spoke to Professor Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London who’s also Vice Chair of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group. We began by asking him whether he thought the measures introduced in Plan B were the right ones – given the strains on the NHS.
    1. Apparently, the often scolded silent majority in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia has had enough: More and more people are taking a stand against the demonstrators who are demonstrating against the corona protection measures with "walks", torchlight processions or candle actions: In a sample of the MDR, more than 40,000 signatures under open letters and petitions counted.
    1. A study led by researchers from the LKS Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) provides the first information on how the novel Variant of Concern (VOC) of SARS-CoV-2, the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 infect human respiratory tract. The researchers found that Omicron SARS-CoV-2 infects and multiplies 70 times faster than the Delta variant and original SARS-CoV-2 in human bronchus, which may explain why Omicron may transmit faster between humans than previous variants. Their study also showed that the Omicron infection in the lung is significantly lower than the original SARS-CoV-2, which may be an indicator of lower disease severity. This research is currently under peer review for publication.
    1. If the Covid pandemic has made one thing is clear, it is that we are interdependent in terms of risk and safety. So a collective response is required. From distancing, through ventilation, to vaccination programmes, decisions needed to be taken at the level of the whole community, society, and indeed the world. We need a coordinated response that prioritizes and supports the most urgent actions. Leadership is therefore essential. Three forms of leadership have been particularly evident over the course of the pandemic: identity leadership, coercive leadership, and laissez faire leadership. Only one of these is actually effective in enabling the collective response we need.
    1. The new variant poses a far graver threat at the collective level than the individual one—the kind of test that the U.S. has repeatedly failed.
    1. The holiday travel season in the United States this year is looking a lot more like 2019.Airlines are projected to carry 6.4 million passengers, according to travel organization AAA. That's about triple the number from last year when the pandemic significantly curtailed holiday air travel.
    1. BackgroundPronounced sex differences in the susceptibility and response to SARS-CoV-2 infection remain poorly understood. Emerging evidence has highlighted the potential importance of autoimmune activation in modulating the acute response and recovery trajectories following SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Given that immune-inflammatory activity can be sex-biased in the setting of severe COVID-19 illness, the aim of the study was to examine sex-specific autoimmune reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 in the absence of extreme clinical disease.MethodsIn this study, we assessed autoantibody (AAB) reactivity to 91 autoantigens previously linked to a range of classic autoimmune diseases in a cohort of 177 participants (65% women, 35% men, mean age of 35) with confirmed evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection based on presence of antibody to the nucleocapsid protein of SARS-CoV-2. Data were compared to 53 pre-pandemic healthy controls (49% women, 51% men). For each participant, socio-demographic data, serological analyses, SARS-CoV-2 infection status and COVID-19 related symptoms were collected by  an electronic survey of questions. The symptoms burden score was constructed based on the total number of reported symptoms (N = 21) experienced within 6 months prior to the blood draw, wherein a greater number of symptoms corresponded to a higher score and assigned as more severe burden.ResultsIn multivariable analyses, we observed sex-specific patterns of autoreactivity associated with the presence or absence (as well as timing and clustering of symptoms) associated with prior COVID-19 illness. Whereas the overall AAB response was more prominent in women following asymptomatic infection, the breadth and extent of AAB reactivity was more prominent in men following at least mildly symptomatic infection. Notably, the observed reactivity included distinct antigens with molecular homology with SARS-CoV-2.ConclusionOur results reveal that prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, even in the absence of severe clinical disease, can lead to a broad AAB response that exhibits sex-specific patterns of prevalence and antigen selectivity. Further understanding of the nature of triggered AAB activation among men and women exposed to SARS-CoV-2 will be essential for developing effective interventions against immune-mediated sequelae of COVID-19.
    1. The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the United States, with New York City experiencing more daily new cases than any previous point in the pandemic. “We’re getting up to numbers, in terms of transmissibility, that could be reaching measles,” says Dr. Peter Hotez, author of “Preventing the Next Pandemic.” “And measles is the most highly transmissible virus we know about.”
    1. Quebec's plan to put a "significant" health tax on unvaccinated people — who account for a large share of COVID-19 hospitalizations — quickly drove a rush of new appointments this week, health officials say.
    1. We need to address the needs of students—and parents, and teachers. One size does not fit all, and race complicates the challenge.
    1. NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Within weeks, the Omicron variant has fueled thousands of new COVID-19 hospitalizations among U.S. children, raising new concerns about how the many unvaccinated Americans under the age of 18 will fare in the new surge.
    1. COVID-19 vaccines have been free and broadly available to adults in all states and the District of Columbia since mid-April 2021, meaning adults in the U.S. have generally been able to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 since late May 2021 if receiving a two-dose vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. Despite the availability of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, vaccination rates have lagged, particularly in some states and among younger people. As of early December 2021, 17% of adults over the age of 18 in the U.S. remain unvaccinated for COVID-19. These COVID-19 hospitalizations are devastating for patients, their families, and health care providers. The hospitalizations are also costing taxpayer-funded public insurance programs and the workers and businesses paying health insurance premiums. Our recent analysis found that insurers are beginning to reinstate cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment, though patients still only pay a small share of the total costs.
    1. 'The greater the extent of the infringement, the higher the threshold that a government has to reach in justifying that interference' Author of the article:
    1. With a strategy that largely relies on vaccines as the magic bullet to combat the pandemic, the U.S. appears to have been blindsided again by a Covid surge. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is facing criticism and scrutiny for its new guidance on isolation for infected persons, which was both poorly conceived and poorly communicated. Laboratories are overwhelmed with Covid specimens, increasing delays returning results. And in much of the U.S., at-home rapid tests, an essential public-health tool to help prevent exposures and ensure earlier self-isolation, are in short supply or too expensive for many people to use as they are intended.
    1. At least 61,387 infections in the latest reporting period were from self-registered RAT testsCustomer Service Minister Victor Dominello said registered positive RAT results had surpassed 82,000 as of 9amMr Dominello said fines for failing to register a positive result would be "very hard to police"
    1. Population-level data on COVID-19 vaccine uptake in pregnancy and SARS-CoV-2 infection outcomes are lacking. We describe COVID-19 vaccine uptake and SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnant women in Scotland, using whole-population data from a national, prospective cohort. Between the start of a COVID-19 vaccine program in Scotland, on 8 December 2020 and 31 October 2021, 25,917 COVID-19 vaccinations were given to 18,457 pregnant women. Vaccine coverage was substantially lower in pregnant women than in the general female population of 18−44 years; 32.3% of women giving birth in October 2021 had two doses of vaccine compared to 77.4% in all women. The extended perinatal mortality rate for women who gave birth within 28 d of a COVID-19 diagnosis was 22.6 per 1,000 births (95% CI 12.9−38.5; pandemic background rate 5.6 per 1,000 births; 452 out of 80,456; 95% CI 5.1−6.2). Overall, 77.4% (3,833 out of 4,950; 95% CI 76.2−78.6) of SARS-CoV-2 infections, 90.9% (748 out of 823; 95% CI 88.7−92.7) of SARS-CoV-2 associated with hospital admission and 98% (102 out of 104; 95% CI 92.5−99.7) of SARS-CoV-2 associated with critical care admission, as well as all baby deaths, occurred in pregnant women who were unvaccinated at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis. Addressing low vaccine uptake rates in pregnant women is imperative to protect the health of women and babies in the ongoing pandemic.
    1. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality globally. Since the first detection of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant belonging to the Pango lineage B.1.1.529 (Omicron variant), it has been spreading rapidly around the world. The World Health Organization classified the SARS-CoV-2 variant belonging to B.1.1.529 as a Variant of Concern (VOC) due to possible changes in viral characteristics. The Omicron variant contains a larger number of mutations in its spike protein, resulting in substantial changes in its infectivity, transmissibility and/or immune evasion capabilities and raising a serious public health concern globally. In Japan, individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 are hospitalized in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Control Law or the Quarantine Act. Since the evidence is lacking on the Omicron variant, individuals infected with the Omicron variant (Omicron cases) have different discharge criteria from those infected with non-Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 (non-Omicron cases) after November 30, 2021 in Japan. According to the criteria for discharge of Omicron cases as of January 5, 2022, they are released from medical facilities after two consecutive negative tests by nucleic acid amplification or antigen quantification methods. However, there is a concern that these discharge criteria may lead to prolonged hospitalization and increase the burden on cases, medical facilities, as well as public health centers/institutions. Therefore, it is necessary to examine the duration of virus shedding in Omicron cases in order to provide evidence to simplify the discharge criteria. Since December 3, 2021, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) and the Disease Control and Prevention Center within the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM/DCC) have jointly initiated an investigation on Omicron cases in collaboration with several medical facilities in Japan. Here, we examined the duration of infectious virus shedding in Omicron cases identified early in this investigation. A total of 83 respiratory specimens from 21 cases (19 vaccinees and 2 unvaccinated cases; 4 asymptomatic and 17 mild cases) were subjected to SARS-CoV-2 RNA quantification using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and virus isolation tests. The date of specimen collection for diagnosis or symptom onset was defined as day 0. The amount of viral RNA was highest on 3-6 days after diagnosis or 3-6 days after symptom onset, and then gradually decreased over time, with a marked decrease after 10 days since diagnosis or symptom onset (Figure). The positive virus isolation results showed a similar trend as the viral RNA amount, and no infectious virus in the respiratory samples was detected after 10 days since diagnosis or symptom onset (Table). These findings suggest that vaccinated Omicron cases are unlikely to shed infectious virus 10 days after diagnosis or symptom onset.
    1. Inactivated-virus vaccines elicit few, if any, infection-blocking antibodies — but might still protect against severe disease.
    1. In the United States, the COVID-19 vaccination rate slowed from a peak of 3.6 million vaccinations per day during the week of April 5, 2021, to fewer than 2 million vaccinations per day by the week of May 3, 2021. To boost vaccine uptake, 19 states announced large cash lotteries by July 1, 2021, that were tied to COVID-19 vaccination. For instance, on May 12, 2021, Ohio announced Vax-a-Million, a set of weekly $1 million drawings to be held over 5 weeks for Ohio residents 18 years or older who had received at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose. One recent study failed to find an association between the Ohio drawings and increased vaccinations.1 In this case-control study, we assessed if announcements of cash drawings in 19 states were associated with increased vaccine uptake by comparing vaccination trends in states that announced drawings with states that did not using a difference-in-differences framework.
    1. Background There has been an unprecedented global effort to produce safe and effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. However, production challenges, supply shortages and unequal global reach, together with an increased number of breakthrough infections due to waning of immunity and the emergence of new variants of concern (VOC), have prolonged the pandemic. To boost the immune response, several heterologous vaccination regimes have been tested and have shown increased antibody responses compared to homologous vaccination. Here we evaluated the effect of mRNA vaccine booster on immunogenicity in individuals who had been vaccinated with two doses of inactivated vaccines.Methods The levels of specific antibodies against the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein from wild-type virus and the Beta, Delta and Omicron variants were measured in healthy individuals who had received two doses of homologous inactivated (BBIBP-CorV or CoronoVac) or mRNA (BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273) vaccines, and in donors who were given an mRNA vaccine boost after two doses of either vaccine. Pre-vaccinated healthy donors, or individuals who had been infected and subsequently received the mRNA vaccine were also included as controls. In addition, specific memory B and T cell responses were measured in a subset of samples.Results A booster dose of an mRNA vaccine significantly increased the level of specific antibodies that bind to the RBD domain of the wild-type (6-fold) and VOCs including Delta (8-fold) and Omicron (14-fold), in individuals who had previously received two doses of inactivated vaccines. The level of specific antibodies in the heterologous vaccination group was furthermore similar to that in individuals receiving a third dose of homologous mRNA vaccines or boosted with mRNA vaccine after natural infection. Moreover, this heterologous vaccination regime significantly enhanced the specific memory B and T cell responses.Conclusions Heterologous prime-boost immunization with inactivated vaccine followed by an mRNA vaccine boost markedly increased the levels of specific antibodies and B and T cell responses and may thus increase protection against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants including Omicron.
    1. BERLIN, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Germany’s STIKO vaccine committee recommended on Thursday that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a COVID-19 booster shot. The committee said that the third dose should be the mRNA shot from BioNTech and Pfizer and should be given at the earliest three months after the child had their second shot. STIKO had updated its guidance in August to recommend that all children and adolescents aged 12-17 be given a COVID-19 vaccine.
    1. The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.
    1. Analysis: experts warn that viral evolution is not a one-way street and a continuing fall in virulence cannot be taken for granted
    1. BackgroundThe increasing incidence of pediatric hospitalizations associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) caused by the B.1.617.2 (delta) variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the United States has offered an opportunity to assess the real-world effectiveness of the BNT162b2 messenger RNA vaccine in adolescents between 12 and 18 years of age. MethodsWe used a case–control, test-negative design to assess vaccine effectiveness against Covid-19 resulting in hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), the use of life-supporting interventions (mechanical ventilation, vasopressors, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), or death. Between July 1 and October 25, 2021, we screened admission logs for eligible case patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 at 31 hospitals in 23 states. We estimated vaccine effectiveness by comparing the odds of antecedent full vaccination (two doses of BNT162b2) in case patients as compared with two hospital-based control groups: patients who had Covid-19–like symptoms but negative results on testing for SARS-CoV-2 (test-negative) and patients who did not have Covid-19–like symptoms (syndrome-negative). ResultsA total of 445 case patients and 777 controls were enrolled. Overall, 17 case patients (4%) and 282 controls (36%) had been fully vaccinated. Of the case patients, 180 (40%) were admitted to the ICU, and 127 (29%) required life support; only 2 patients in the ICU had been fully vaccinated. The overall effectiveness of the BNT162b2 vaccine against hospitalization for Covid-19 was 94% (95% confidence interval [CI], 90 to 96); the effectiveness was 95% (95% CI, 91 to 97) among test-negative controls and 94% (95% CI, 89 to 96) among syndrome-negative controls. The effectiveness was 98% against ICU admission and 98% against Covid-19 resulting in the receipt of life support. All 7 deaths occurred in patients who were unvaccinated. ConclusionsAmong hospitalized adolescent patients, two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine were highly effective against Covid-19–related hospitalization and ICU admission or the receipt of life support. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
    1. The covid-19 pandemic is taking a harsh toll on healthcare workers. In the Mirror newspaper on 20 January 2021: “52,000 NHS staff are off sick with covid.” [1] Over 850 UK healthcare workers are thought to have died of covid between March and December 2020; at least 3000 have died in the US. [2-3] Worldwide, the death toll and the impact on the physical and mental health of healthcare workers are staggering. The long term costs are yet to be counted. But, a number of countries, mainly in Asia, have been able to manage covid outbreaks without sustaining any healthcare worker infections at all. [4-6] The means to do so are now widely recognised. They are costly and inconvenient to implement and require an acceptance of the predominance of aerosol transmission of this virus and its application in a rigorous, safety-conscious infection control system. [7] But it can be done. 
  2. Jan 2022
    1. The United States surpassed its record for covid-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, with no end in sight to skyrocketing case loads, falling staff levels and the struggles of a medical system trying to provide care amid an unprecedented surge of the coronavirus.Tuesday’s total of 145,982 people in U.S. hospitals with covid-19, which includes 4,462 children, passed the record of 142,273 set on Jan. 14, 2021, during the previous peak of the pandemic in this country.
    1. What is already known about this topic? The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, currently authorized for persons aged ≥5 years, provides a high level of protection against severe COVID-19 in persons aged 12–18 years. Vaccine effectiveness against multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can occur 2–6 weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection, has remained uncharacterized. What is added by this report? Estimated effectiveness of 2 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against MIS-C was 91% (95% CI = 78%–97%). Among critically ill MIS-C case-patients requiring life support, all were unvaccinated. What are the implications for public health practice? Receipt of 2 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is highly effective in preventing MIS-C in persons aged 12–18 years. These findings further reinforce the COVID-19 vaccination recommendation for eligible children.
    1. In a tiny house on the outskirts of Lima, Gabriela Zarate lives with her husband and eight children. Four are her own. The other four, two girls aged seven and 15, and two boys aged nine and 12, are the children of her younger sister, Katherine.
    1. Still, the idea of vaccine mandates is no longer taboo, and many government leaders support them, even if some have yet to confront the “refuseniks” head on.“I sense that we are seeing a change in views on vaccine mandates, as more people, and politicians, appreciate the consequences for society of significant numbers remaining unvaccinated,” Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said in an interview. “Of course, there is much more to be done to encourage vaccinations, short of mandates, but there is growing evidence that they do work and those who are determined to hold out are a small minority.”
    1. Survivors of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection frequently experience lingering neurological symptoms, including impairment in attention, concentration, speed of information processing and memory. This long-COVID cognitive syndrome shares many features with the syndrome of cancer therapy-related cognitive impairment (CRCI). Neuroinflammation, particularly microglial reactivity and consequent dysregulation of hippocampal neurogenesis and oligodendrocyte lineage cells, is central to CRCI. We hypothesized that similar cellular mechanisms may contribute to the persistent neurological symptoms associated with even mild SARS-CoV-2 respiratory infection. Here, we explored neuroinflammation caused by mild respiratory SARS-CoV-2 infection, without neuroinvasion, and effects on hippocampal neurogenesis and the oligodendroglial lineage. Using a mouse model of mild respiratory SARS-CoV-2 infection induced by intranasal SARS-CoV-2 delivery, we found white matter-selective microglial reactivity, a pattern observed in CRCI. Human brain tissue from 9 individuals with COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 infection exhibits the same pattern of prominent white matter-selective microglial reactivity. In mice, pro-inflammatory CSF cytokines/chemokines were elevated for at least 7-weeks post-infection; among the chemokines demonstrating persistent elevation is CCL11, which is associated with impairments in neurogenesis and cognitive function. Humans experiencing long-COVID with cognitive symptoms (48 subjects) similarly demonstrate elevated CCL11 levels compared to those with long-COVID who lack cognitive symptoms (15 subjects). Impaired hippocampal neurogenesis, decreased oligodendrocytes and myelin loss in subcortical white matter were evident at 1 week, and persisted until at least 7 weeks, following mild respiratory SARS-CoV-2 infection in mice. Taken together, the findings presented here illustrate striking similarities between neuropathophysiology after cancer therapy and after SARS-CoV-2 infection, and elucidate cellular deficits that may contribute to lasting neurological symptoms following even mild SARS-CoV-2 infection.
    1. 2021 was supposed to be the year the pandemic ended. At least in the United States, anyway, where health officials administered roughly 500 million vaccine doses, more than any other country besides China or India. President Biden declared last spring that by summer, the country would be “closer than ever to declaring our independence from this deadly virus.” Things didn’t quite go to plan. U.S. health officials are currently reporting well over 238,000 new infections each day. The emergence of the Delta variant last summer, and the omicron variant more recently, threw a wrench into the administration’s grand plans to bring back “normal” life. As the pandemic stretches into its third year, Biden’s approval rating has slipped. And, more importantly, over 1,000 Americans continue to die from the disease each day, inching closer to the grim milestone of 1 million. In short, the White House has its work cut out for it, a year after assuming control of the U.S. coronavirus response. Below, STAT lays out the three biggest questions about the Biden administration’s COVID-19 strategy, and whether 2022 can finally be the year the pandemic fades into the background.
    1. perhaps that is the lesson. There are some people out there who might need help, some rude and threatening types who really need to look at themselves, some confused souls who need advice, and some magical, whimsical sorts who just need to carry on doing what they do. Help those who need it, block out the idiots (spam filters are great) and concentrate on the wonderful, the wacky and the profound.
    1. An unfounded theory taking root online suggests millions of people have been “hypnotized” into believing mainstream ideas about COVID-19, including steps to combat it such as testing and vaccination.In widely shared social media posts this week, efforts to combat the disease have been dismissed with just three words: “mass formation psychosis.”“I’m not a scientist but I’m pretty sure healthy people spending hours in line to get a virus test is mass formation psychosis in action,” reads one tweet that was liked more than 22,000 times.The term gained attention after it was floated by Dr. Robert Malone on “The Joe Rogan Experience” Dec. 31 podcast. Malone is a scientist who once researched mRNA technology but is now a vocal skeptic of the COVID-19 vaccines that use it.But psychology experts say the concept described by Malone is not supported by evidence, and is similar to theories that have long been discredited.
    1. Background The recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant raised concerns around potential escape from vaccine-elicited immunity. Limited data are available on real-world vaccine effectiveness (VE) of mRNA-1273 against omicron. Here, we report VE of 2 or 3 mRNA-1273 doses against infection and hospitalization with omicron and delta, including among immunocompromised individuals. Methods This test negative study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Cases were individuals aged ≥18 years testing positive by RT-PCR with specimens collected between 12/6/2021 and 12/23/2021 with variant determined by spike gene status. Randomly sampled test negative controls were 5:1 matched to cases by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and specimen collection date. Conditional logistic regression models were used to evaluate adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of vaccination with mRNA-1273 doses between cases and controls. VE(%) was calculated as (1-aOR)x100. Results 6657 test positive cases (44% delta, 56% omicron) were included. The 2-dose VE against omicron infection was 30.4% (95% CI, 5.0%-49.0%) at 14-90 days after vaccination and declined quickly thereafter. The 3-dose VE was 95.2% (93.4%-96.4%) against delta infection and 62.5% (56.2%-67.9%) against omicron infection. The 3-dose VE against omicron infection was low among immunocompromised individuals (11.5%; 0.0%-66.5%). None of the cases (delta or omicron) vaccinated with 3 doses were hospitalized compared to 53 delta and 2 omicron unvaccinated cases. Conclusions VE of 3 mRNA-1273 doses against infection with delta was high and durable, but VE against omicron infection was lower. VE against omicron infection was particularly low among immunocompromised individuals. No 3-dose recipients were hospitalized for COVID-19.
    1. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated efforts to engage critically with forest-adjacent, rural, communities who rely on wildlife. In this study, we interviewed 109 hunters of wildlife across Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos regarding the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on them individually, as well as more generally within their communities. We found that negative economic impacts such as loss of employment and constrained finances due to rising prices was an especially prevalent theme due to city-wide lockdowns, factory closures, and border closures. In Vietnam, hunting was stated to have increased as young men were forced to return to their villages to work; however, trade in wildlife was believed to have decreased due to the inability of middlemen traders to easily leave urban spaces or cross-country lines. This theme of barriers to trade was found in Cambodia and Laos as well. Our results show the importance of establishing sustainable, non-wildlife-dependent livelihoods within rural communities, to mitigate hunting and mitigate the potential for emerging infectious disease transmission. Overall, our results show the value in engaging with hunters to understand locally and spatially-specific trends, and provide direction for future avenues of research.
    1. This report presents the outcomes of a project aimed at developing and testing a prototype tool that supports and speeds-up the work of fact-checkers and de-bunkers by surfacing and ranking potentially problematic information circulated on social media with a content-agnostic approach. The tool itself is the result of a multi-year research activity carried on within the Mapping Italian News Research Program of the University of Urbino Carlo Bo to study the strategies, tactics and goals of influence operations aimed at manipulating the Italian public opinion by exploiting the vulnerabilities of the contemporary media ecosystem. This research activity led to developing original studies, public reports, new methods, maps and tools employed to study the activity of Italian nefarious social media actors aimed at amplifying the reach and impact of problematic information by coordinating their efforts. Tracking these actors proved instrumental to observe the “infodemic” unraveling during the early days of COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. Combining this existing knowledge with a range of original tools and data sources provided by Meta’s Facebook Open Research Initiative (Fort) and by The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at Poynter, the report: documents those early days by highlighting a list of widely viewed and interacted links circulated on Facebook; traces the establishment, growth and evolution of Italian covid-skeptic coordinated networks on Facebook; presents a comprehensive and updated map of the activities performed by these networks of nefarious social media actors; unveils a set of original tactics and strategies employed by these actors to adjust their operations to the mitigation efforts adopted by social media platforms to reduce the spread of problematic information; describes the circulation of three specific piece of problematic information; provides an overview of the outcomes of the testing phase (carried out in collaboration with Facta.news) of a prototype tool that surfaces and ranks potentially problematic information circulated on social media with a content-agnostic approach.
    1. This daily-updated portal aggregates mobility and case data from various sources to give a general picture of how Australians are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It is a free and public resource meant for journalists, citizens, academics, and colleagues from across the COVID-19 volunteer analysis community. Feedback, queries, and requests may be directed to Rohan Byrne at rohan.byrne@unimelb.edu.au
    1. The ability to rewire ties in communication networks is vital for large-scale human cooperation and the spread of new ideas. Especially important for knowledge dissemination is the ability to form new weak ties -- ties which act as bridges between distant parts of the social system and enable the flow of novel information. Here we show that lack of researcher co-location during the COVID-19 lockdown caused the loss of more than 4800 weak ties over 18 months in the email network of a large North American university -- the MIT campus. Furthermore, we find that the re-introduction of partial co-location through a hybrid work mode starting in September 2021 led to a partial regeneration of weak ties, especially between researchers who work in close proximity. We quantify the effect of co-location in renewing ties -- a process that we have termed nexogenesis -- through a novel model based on physical proximity, which is able to reproduce all empirical observations. Results highlight that employees who are not co-located are less likely to form ties, weakening the spread of information in the workplace. Such findings could contribute to a better understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of human communication networks -- and help organizations that are moving towards the implementation of hybrid work policies to evaluate the minimum amount of in-person interaction necessary for a healthy work life.
    1. One of the most vulnerable groups throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been the pediatric population. Reasons for this are numerous, including the fact that until recently, Covid-19 vaccinations were not available for children.
    1. The diffusion of opinions in Social Networks is a relevant process for adopting positions and attracting potential voters in political campaigns. Opinion polarization, bias, targeted diffusion, and the radicalization of postures are key elements for understanding voting dynamics. In particular, social bots are a new element that can have a pronounced effect on the formation of opinions during elections by, for instance, creating fake accounts in social networks to manipulate elections. Here we propose a voter model incorporating bots and radical or intolerant individuals in the decision-making process. The dynamics of the system occur in a multiplex network of interacting agents composed of two layers, one for the dynamics of opinions where agents choose between two possible alternatives, and the other for the tolerance dynamics, in which agents adopt one of two tolerance levels. The tolerance accounts for the likelihood to change opinion in an interaction, with tolerant (intolerant) agents switching opinion with probability 1.01.0 (γ≤1\gamma \le 1). We find that intolerance leads to a consensus of tolerant agents during an initial stage that scales as τ+∼γ−1lnN\tau^+ \sim \gamma^{-1} \ln N, who then reach an opinion consensus during the second stage in a time that scales as τ∼N\tau \sim N, where NN is the number of agents. Therefore, very intolerant agents (γ≪1\gamma \ll 1) could considerably slow down dynamics towards the final consensus state. We also find that the inclusion of a fraction σ−B\sigma_{\mathbb{B}}^- of bots breaks the symmetry between both opinions, driving the system to a consensus of intolerant agents with the bots' opinion. Thus, bots eventually impose their opinion to the entire population, in a time that scales as τ−B∼γ−1\tau_B^- \sim \gamma^{-1} for γ≪σ−B\gamma \ll \sigma_{\mathbb{B}}^- and τ−B∼1/σ−B\tau_B^- \sim 1/\sigma_{\mathbb{B}}^- for σ−B≪γ\sigma_{\mathbb{B}}^- \ll \gamma.
    1. Key points:In December, SydPath sent out false negative COVID-19 results to around 900 peopleA staff member said some equipment in the SydPath laboratories was unworkable and not being repairedThey said staff were expected to work 14 to 16-hour shifts
    1. Perceived stress has previously been implicated in the belief of conspiracies, with some authors suggesting that stress can precipitate increased belief in conspiracy theories. This preregistered survey study aimed to replicate findings by Swami et al. (2016) showing a positive correlation between belief in conspiracy theories and perceived stress. 372 Australian and New Zealand residents participated. Beliefs in conspiracy theories were measured using 11 items drawn mainly from existing scales (α = .87). Perceived stress was measured using the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; α = .91). The average level of endorsement of conspiracy theories was relatively low (M = 1.89 on a Likert scale from 1 to 5; SD = 0.72). Supporting our hypothesis, we found a significant and positive correlation between perceived stress and belief in conspiracy theories, r(370) = .20, p = .001, 95% CI [.096, .292]. Future work could investigate the causal mechanism producing this association.
    1. With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly, the country is averaging more than 500,000 new cases a day, far more than at any previous point in the pandemic. Omicron appears to cause less severe illness than prior forms of the virus, but has contributed to upticks in hospitalizations.
    1. Two new studies, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are offering robust evidence of universal mask-wearing practices in schools reducing rates of COVID-19 outbreaks. The research conducted across July and August delivers insights into how the Delta variant can spread in children.
    1. The armed forces are being deployed to help hospitals in London deal with a surge in Covid patients because the Omicron variant is leaving so many staff sick and unable to work.
    1. Queenslanders will be required to start wearing masks indoors from Sunday as the state recorded 2,266 new cases in just 12 hours, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.
    1. Despite the resistance of Brazilian scientists, science in Brazil has been undermined by measures implemented by the federal government in the past 3 years, such as increasing budget cuts, attacks on the autonomy of universities, and a general policy of denial of science.
    1. The Editor-in-Chief has retracted this article. Following publication, concerns were raised regarding the methodology and the conclusions of this review article. Postpublication review confirmed that while the review article appropriately describes the mechanism of action of ivermectin, the cited sources do not appear to show that there is clear clinical evidence of the effect of ivermectin for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2. The Editor-in-Chief therefore no longer has confidence in the reliability of this review article. None of the authors agree to this retraction. The online version of this article contains the full text of the retracted article as Supplementary Information.
    1. Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have discovered that an RNA molecule that stimulates the body’s early antiviral defense system can protect mice from a range of emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants. The study, published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), could lead to new treatments for COVID-19 in immunocompromised patients, as well as providing an inexpensive therapeutic option for developing countries that currently lack access to vaccines.
    1. BackgroundData on pediatric coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has lagged behind adults throughout the pandemic. An understanding of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral dynamics in children would enable data-driven public health guidance.MethodsRespiratory swabs were collected from children with COVID-19. Viral load was quantified by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR); viral culture was assessed by direct observation of cytopathic effects and semiquantitative viral titers. Correlations with age, symptom duration, and disease severity were analyzed. SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequences were compared with contemporaneous sequences.ResultsOne hundred ten children with COVID-19 (median age, 10 years [range, 2 weeks–21 years]) were included in this study. Age did not impact SARS-CoV-2 viral load. Children were most infectious within the first 5 days of illness, and severe disease did not correlate with increased viral loads. Pediatric SARS-CoV-2 sequences were representative of those in the community and novel variants were identified.ConclusionsSymptomatic and asymptomatic children can carry high quantities of live, replicating SARS-CoV-2, creating a potential reservoir for transmission and evolution of genetic variants. As guidance around social distancing and masking evolves following vaccine uptake in older populations, a clear understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection dynamics in children is critical for rational development of public health policies and vaccination strategies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
    1. Substance use disorders (SUDs) are heterogenous and complex, making the development of translationally predictive rodent and non-human primate models to uncover their neurobehavioral underpinnings difficult. Neuroscience-focused outcomes have become highly prevalent, and with this, the notion that SUDs are disorders of the brain embraced as a dominant theoretical orientation to understand SUD etiology and treatment. These efforts, however, have led to few efficacious pharmacotherapies, and in some cases (as with cocaine or methamphetamine), no pharmacotherapies have translated from preclinical models for clinical use. In this review and theoretical commentary, we first describe the development of animal models of SUDs from a historical perspective. We then define and discuss three logical fallacies including 1) circular explanation, 2) affirming the consequent, and 3) reification that can apply to developed models. We then provide three case examples in which conceptual or logical issues exist in common methods (i.e., behavioral economic demand, escalation, and reinstatement). Alternative strategies to refocus behavioral models are suggested for the field in an attempt to better bridge the translational divide between animal models and the clinical condition of SUDs.
    1. Political scientists and sociologists have highlighted insecure work as a societal ill underlying individuals’ lack of social solidarity (i.e., concern about the welfare of disadvantaged others) and political disruption. In order to provide the psychological underpinnings connecting perceptions of job insecurity with societally-relevant attitudes and behaviors, we introduce the idea of perceived national job insecurity. Perceived national job insecurity reflects a person’s perception that job insecurity is more or less prevalent in his/her society (i.e., country). Across three countries (US, UK, Belgium), we find that higher perceptions of the prevalence of job insecurity in one’s country is associated with greater perceptions of government psychological contract breach and poorer perceptions of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, but at the same time is associated with greater social solidarity and compliance with COVID-19 social regulations. These findings are independent of individuals’ perceptions of threats to their own jobs.
    1. CDC clarified their protocol on yesterday: https://cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html… If you're asymptomatic, you can deisolate 5 days after the date of a positive test. Since we don't test daily, this is going to be >5 days after infectiousness for almost everyone. So far so good.
    1. What is the rationale for fourth vaccinations, and why are countries doing different things? Gareth Iacobucci investigates
    1. To understand how the pandemic is evolving, it’s crucial to know how death rates from COVID-19 are affected by vaccination status.
    1. There is strong evidence for brain-related pathologies in COVID-19, some of which could be a consequence of viral neurotropism, or of neuroinflammation following viral infection. Most brain imaging studies have focused on qualitative, gross pathology in moderate to severe cases, most typically carried out on hospitalised patients. It remains unknown however whether the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection can be detected in milder cases, in a quantitative and automated manner, and whether this can reveal possible mechanisms for the spread of the disease. UK Biobank scanned over 40,000 participants before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it possible in 2021 to invite back hundreds of previously-imaged participants for a second imaging visit. Here, we studied the possible brain changes associated with the coronavirus infection using multimodal MRI data from 785 adult participants (aged 51–81) from the UK Biobank COVID-19 re-imaging study, including 401 adult participants who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection between their two scans. We used structural, diffusion and functional brain scans from before and after infection, to compare longitudinal changes between these 401 SARS-CoV-2 cases and 384 controls who had either tested negative to rapid antibody testing or had no COVID-19 medical and public health record, and who were matched to the cases for age, sex, ethnicity and interval between scans. The controls and cases did not differ in blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes diagnosis, smoking, alcohol consumption, or socio-economic status. Using both hypothesis-driven and exploratory approaches, with false discovery rate multiple comparison correction, we identified respectively 68 and 67 significant longitudinal effects associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the brain, including, on average: (i) a more pronounced reduction in grey matter thickness and contrast in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (min P=1.7×10-4, r=-0.14) and parahippocampal gyrus (min P=2.7×10-4, r=-0.13), (ii) a relative increase of diffusion indices, a marker of tissue damage, in the regions of the brain functionally-connected to the piriform cortex, anterior olfactory nucleus and olfactory tubercle (min P=2.2×10-5, r=0.16), and (iii) greater reduction in global measures of brain size and increase in cerebrospinal fluid volume suggesting an additional diffuse atrophy in the infected participants (min P=4.0×10-6, r=-0.17). When looking over the entire cortical surface, these grey matter thickness results covered the parahippocampal gyrus and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and extended to the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex, supramarginal gyrus and temporal pole. The increase of a diffusion index (mean diffusivity) meanwhile could be seen voxel-wise mainly in the medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, the anterior insula, the anterior cingulate cortex and the amygdala. These results were not altered after excluding cases who had been hospitalised. We further compared hospitalised (n=15) and non-hospitalised (n=386) infected participants, resulting in similar findings to the larger cases vs control group comparison, with, in addition, a marked reduction of grey matter thickness in fronto-parietal and temporal regions (all FDR-significant, min P=4.0×10-6). The 401 SARS-CoV-2 infected participants also showed larger cognitive decline between the two timepoints in the Trail Making Test compared with the controls (both FDR-significant, min P=1.0×10-4, r=0.17; and still FDR-significant after excluding the hospitalised patients: min P=1.0×10-4, r=0.17), with the duration taken to complete the alphanumeric trail correlating post hoc with the cognitive and olfactory-related crus II of the cerebellum (FDR-significant, P=2.0×10-3, r=-0.19), which was also found significantly atrophic in the SARS-CoV-2 participants (FDR-significant, P=6.1×10-5, r=-0.14). Our findings thus relate to longitudinal abnormalities in limbic cortical areas with direct neuronal connectivity to the primary olfactory system. Unlike in post hoc cross-sectional studies, the availability of pre- infection imaging data mitigates to some extent the issue of pre-existing risk factors or clinical conditions being misinterpreted as disease effects. We were therefore able to demonstrate that the regions of the brain that showed longitudinal differences post-infection did not already show any difference between (future) cases and controls in their initial, pre-infection scans. These brain imaging results may be the in vivo hallmarks of a degenerative spread of the disease — or of the virus itself — via olfactory pathways (a possible entry point of the virus to the central nervous system being via the olfactory mucosa), or of neuroinflammatory events due to the infection, or of the loss of sensory input due to anosmia. Whether this deleterious impact can be partially reversed, for instance after improvement of the hyposmic symptoms, or whether these are effects that will persist in the long term, remains to be investigated with additional follow up.
    1. Trust is a key component of social interaction. Older adults, however, often exhibit excessive trust relative to younger adults. One explanation is that older adults may learn to trust differently than younger adults. Here, we examine how younger (N=33) and older adults (N=30) learn to trust over time. Participants completed a classic iterative trust game with three partners. Younger and older adults shared similar amounts but differed in how they shared money. Compared to younger adults, older adults invested more with untrustworthy partners and less with trustworthy partners. As a group, older adults displayed less learning than younger adults. However, computational modeling shows that this is because older adults are more likely to forget what they have learned over time. Model-based fMRI analyses revealed several age-related differences in neural processing. Younger adults showed prediction error signals in social processing areas while older adults showed over-recruitment of several cortical areas. Collectively, these findings suggest that older adults attend to and learn from social cues differently from younger adults.
    1. Misinformation often has a continuing influence on event-related reasoning even when it is clearly and credibly corrected; this is referred to as the continued influence effect. The present work investigated whether a correction’s effectiveness can be improved by explaining how the misinformation originated. Two experiments examined whether a correction that explained misinformation as originating from intentional deception, or an unintentional error were more effective than a correction that only identified the misinformation as false. Experiment 1 found that corrections which explained the misinformation as intentionally or unintentionally misleading were as effective as a correction that was not accompanied by an explanation for how the misinformation originated. We replicated this in Experiment 2 and found substantial attenuation of the continued influence effect in a novel scenario with the same underlying structure. Overall, the results suggest that informing people that the misinformation originated from a deliberate lie or accidental error may not be an effective correction strategy over and above stating that the misinformation is false.
    1. Science can improve life around the world, but public trust in science is at risk. Understanding presumed motives of scientists and science can inform the social psychological underpinnings of public trust in science. Across five independent datasets, perceiving the motives of science and scientists as prosocial promoted public trust in science. In Studies 1 and 2, perceptions that science was more prosocially oriented was associated with greater trust in science. Studies 3 and 4a-b employed experimental methods to establish that perceiving other-oriented motives, versus self-oriented motives, enhanced public trust in science. Respondents recommend greater funding allocations for science subdomains described as prosocially-oriented vs. power-oriented. Emphasizing the prosocial aspects of science can build stronger foundations of public trust in science.
    1. As information about COVID-19 safety behavior changed, people had to judge how likely others were to protect themselves through mask-wearing and vaccination seeking. In a large, campus-wide survey, we assessed whether University of Kansas students viewed others' protective behaviors as different from their own, how much students assumed others would share their beliefs and behaviors, and which individual differences were associated with those estimations. Participants in our survey (N = 1,704; 81.04% white, 64.08% female) evaluated how likely they and others were to wear masks on the University of Kansas campus, wear masks off-campus, and seek a vaccine. They also completed measures of political preference, numeracy, and preferences for risk in various contexts. We found that participants estimated that others would be less likely to engage in health safety behaviors than themselves, but that their estimations of others were widely shared. In addition, of all the individual differences we assessed, political preference displayed the most consistent associations across health behaviors. Not only was false uniqueness ubiquitous across different forms of COVID-19 safety behavior, it was indeed false - estimates of others' health behavior were lower than their actual rates. Understanding this relationship could allow for more accurate norm-setting and normalization of mask-wearing and vaccination.
    1. Intense physical activity leads to high levels of mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic in physically active persons compared to physically passive persons, both for those who are infected with Covid-19, and those who are not.
    1. NHS staff would be excused a feeling of déjà vu, as 2022 kicks off with hospitals being what Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, is absolutely, definitively, really, really sure is not “overwhelmed.”Many might not agree given the number of NHS trusts declaring a critical incident, but the prime minister has a cunning plan to prevent the NHS being “overwhelmed.” The plan? You simply never define what an “overwhelmed” NHS is, and then it simply can’t happen. Clever, eh?Unfortunately for Johnson, reality has a chronic habit of intruding on his boosterish, feel good approach to the pandemic, and is in the process of doing exactly this once again.As Johnson told the media at the start of this week at a Downing Street press briefing, “I think we've got to recognise that the pressure on our NHS, on our hospitals, is going to be considerable in the course of the next couple of weeks, and maybe more. No matter how incredibly transmissible omicron is…it is different from previous variants. It does seem pretty conclusively to be less severe than delta or alpha, and it is putting fewer people into ICU.”This is currently true: fewer patients are being put into mechanical ventilation beds compared with January 2021, but omicron is still putting a lot more people into hospital than we’ve seen since last winter.1 The latest data saw a 50% rise in acute admissions between 20 December and 28 December.1 And this extra pressure on an NHS that is already crammed with now urgent cases from the growing NHS backlog is creating some quite predictable chaos.
    1. Supermarkets say they are experiencing delivery delays, not panic buyingUp to half of logistics companies' workers are off on any given dayThe truckers' union wants the federal government to provide rapid tests to road transport workers
    1. Background: The COVID-19 pandemic might affect mental health. Data from population-representative panel surveys with multiple waves including pre-COVID data investigating risk and protective factors are still rare. Methods: In a stratified random sample of the German household population (n=6,684), we conducted survey-weighted multiple linear regressions to determine the association of various psychological risk and protective factors with changes in psychological distress (PD; measured via PHQ-4) from pre-pandemic (average of 2016 and 2019) to peri-pandemic (both 2020 and 2021) time points. Control analyses on PD change between two pre-pandemic time points (2016 and 2019) were conducted. Regularized regressions were computed to inform on which factors were statistically most influential in the multicollinear setting. Results: PHQ-4 in 2020 (M=2.45) and 2021 (M=2.21) was elevated compared to 2019 (M=1.79). Several risk factors (catastrophizing, neuroticism, asking for instrumental support) and protective factors (perceived stress recovery, positive reappraisal, optimism) were identified for the peri-pandemic outcomes. Control analyses revealed that in pre-pandemic times, neuroticism and optimism were predominantly related to PD changes. Regularized regression mostly confirmed the results and highlighted perceived stress recovery as most consistent influential protective factor across peri-pandemic outcomes. Conclusions: We identified several psychological risk and protective factors related to PD outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comparison to pre-pandemic data stress the relevance of longitudinal assessments to potentially reconcile contradictory findings. Implications and suggestions for targeted prevention and intervention programs during highly stressful times such as pandemics are discussed.
    1. Science communication is changing. It is increasingly directed not only at peers but at the public in general. Accordingly, understanding the circumstances under which audience members engage with scientific content is crucial to improving science communication. In this article, we investigate the role of affect on audience engagement with a modern form of science communication: TED talks. We examined how affect valence---a net positive or negative affect---and density---the proportion of affective words---are associated with a talk's popularity---reflecting views and likes---and polarity---reflecting dislikes and comments. We found that the valence of TED talks was associated with both popularity and polarity, with positive valence being linked to higher talk popularity and lower talk polarity. Density, on the other hand, was only associated with popularity, with higher affective density being linked to higher popularity---even more so than valence---but not polarity. Moreover, we observed that the association between affect and engagement was partially moderated by talk topic. Specifically, whereas higher density was related to higher popularity across most topics, valence seemed to particularly impact the popularity and polarity of TED talks on social topics, which regularly discuss polarizing issues such as race or political conflicts. We discuss implications of our findings for increasing the effectiveness of science communication.
    1. For computationally limited agents such as humans, perfectly rational decision-making is almost always out of reach. Instead, people may rely on computationally frugal heuristics that usually yield good outcomes. Although previous research has identified many such heuristics, discovering good heuristics and predicting when they will be used remains challenging. Here, we present a machine learning method that identifies the best heuristics to use in any given situation. To demonstrate the generalizability and accuracy of our method, we compare the strategies it discovers against those used by people across a wide range of multi-alternative risky choice environments in a behavioral experiment that is an order of magnitude larger than any previous experiments of its type. Our method rediscovered known heuristics, identifying them as rational strategies for specific environments, and discovered novel heuristics that had been previously overlooked. Our results show that people adapt their decision strategies to the structure of the environment and generally make good use of their limited cognitive resources, although they tend to collect too little information and their strategy choices do not always fully exploit the structure of the environment.
    1. Cities are typical dynamic complex systems that connect people and facilitate interactions. Revealing universal collective patterns behind spatio-temporal interactions between residents is crucial for various urban studies, of which we are still lacking a comprehensive understanding. Massive cellphone data enable us to construct interaction networks based on spatio-temporal co-occurrence of individuals. The rank-size distributions of hourly dynamic population of locations are stable, although people are almost constantly moving in cities and hotspots that attract people are changing over time in a day. A larger city is of a stronger heterogeneity as indicated by a larger scaling exponent. After aggregating spatio-temporal interaction networks over consecutive time windows, we reveal a switching behavior of cities between two states. During the "active" state, the whole city is concentrated in fewer larger communities; while in the "sleeping" state, people are scattered in more smaller communities. Above discoveries are universal over diversified cities across continents. In addition, a city sleeps less, when its population grows larger. And spatio-temporal interaction segregation can be well approximated by residential segregation in smaller cities, but not in larger ones. We propose a temporal-population-weighted-opportunity model by integrating time-dependent departure probability to make dynamic predictions on human mobility, which can reasonably well explain observed patterns of spatio-temporal interactions in cities.
  3. www.newscientist.com