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HealthNews RoundUp - 3rd Week of December 2021






The Omicron Experience In South Africa



The Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa and and is fast becoming most prevalent form of CoVid there.  Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurance now releases detailed information from 3.7 million participants and 211,000 CoVid test results during the first 3 weeks of their Omicron surge.


Here is what we know from their data:

  • The 2-dose Pfizer vaccination is only 33% effective in preventing any Omicron infection compared with 80% effectiveness against earlier variants.

  • The 2-dose Pfizer vaccination is 70% effective in preventing any Omicron hospitalization compared with 93% effectiveness against earlier variants.

  • Vaccination protection against hospitalization similar for those 18 through 59 years, lower at 67% for those 60-69, and 60% for those 70-79.

  • Vaccination protection against hospitalization similar for those with complicating medical conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular issues.

  • Good News: 

    • Omicron is 29% less likely to drive hospitalization in adults than the initial strain of CoVid.

    • Children 51% less likely than adults to test positive for Omicron.

    • Omicron disease is less severe in children than in adults. 

  • Bad news

    • Omicron is 20% more likely to drive a hospitalization in children than the initial strain of CoVid.

    • The risk of a CoVid reinfection due to Omicron is higher than for previous variants: 73% higher for those previously infected with original strain; 60% higher for those infected with beta variant; 40% higher for those infected with Delta variant.


#CoVid #omicron #vaccination #pfizer #hospitalization #reinfection

CoVid, omicron, vaccination, pfizer, hospitalization, reinfection



Gene Therapy Reverses Sickle Cell Disease



 A single dose of genetically-altered blood-forming stem cells can eliminate the often disastrous complications of sickle cell disease for up to 3 years.  Clinical researchers at Columbia University in collaboration with those at the NIH now announce the exciting preliminary results of their phase 1/2 trial of gene therapy in an initial cohort of 35 patients.


Blood-forming stem cells are harvested from study participants with sickle cell disease, treated with a lentiviral vector that transmits the normalized genetic material into the stem cells, and then reinjected back into the patients in a process known as a LentiGlobulin infusion.  All 35 patients receiving their genetically-mended cells back accepted them.  Of the 25 patients that could be evaluated, all enjoyed resolution of their typically severe sickle cell events.


This process is not without risks as those under treatment must undergo a course of ablative chemotherapy to first destroy the sickle-type blood stem cells populating their bone marrows.  Longer term followup and more confirmatory studies are necessary, but the fact that this process works is exciting for those patients and their families who suffer with this generally poorly controllable disease.


#sicklecelldisease #geneticengineering #lentivirus #lentigloblin

sicklecelldisease, geneticengineering, lentivirus, lentigloblin




Asthmatics Should Not Use Melatonin



Those suffering from bronchial asthma can experience a severe, sometimes fatal, exacerbation of their asthma at night.  Japanese pulmonary physiologists now report that the sleep hormone melatonin may be the culprit.


The investigators found that higher doses of melatonin trigger the MT2 receptor in airway smooth muscle that causes the bronchial channels to constrict.  They also found that melatonin can reduce the therapeutic effects of the bronchodilator medications used by asthmatics to stop their attacks.


While natural levels of melatonin produced by the body seem to cause more subtle exacerbations of asthma, higher levels of this hormone taken to induce sleep and reduce jet lag could trigger life-threatening attacks.  Asthmatics beware!


#melatonin #asthma #sleep #bronchoconstriction #bronchodilators

melatonin, asthma, sleep, bronchoconstriction, bronchodilators



Pathway To A Universal CoVid Vaccine



Unlike CoVid spike proteins that can mutate wildly, the viral polymerase protein common to many coronaviruses remains relatively stable and could be the key to developing vaccines that generate variant-independent immunity.   Molecular biologists and immunologists at UCLA have identified a CoVid RNA polymerase that can evoke an immune response and in so doing lead to its own inactivation by cellular immunity.


The investigators show that the human immune cells, the T killer cells that are capable virus killers, attack this viral polymerase protein and significantly impede the viral replication process.  This leads to viral destruction.  Since this RNA polymerase is common to not only CoVid but to other coronaviruses that cause SARS, MERS, and the common cold, this may be the route to a universal coronavirus vaccine.


It’s to soon to tell for sure, but stay tuned.


#coronavirus #vaccine #RNApolymerase #tcells

Coronavirus, vaccine, RNApolymerase, tcells



Delaying Premie Umbilical Cord Clamping Can Be Lifesaving



Waiting even a minute before clamping the umbilical cord of a just-born premature infant can reduce that child’s risk of death before the age of 2 by 30%.  Researchers at the University of Sydney now publish their followup results on some 15,310 Australian and New Zealand premies half of whom had the clamping of their umbilical cords delayed for 60 seconds and half had their cords clamped within 10 seconds of birth before 30 weeks of gestation.


Those extra seconds permit the just born baby to receive vital supplies of red and white blood cells as well as stem cells from their placentas.  This mini auto-transfusion helps the baby maintain better oxygenation levels, fight infection, and foster tissue and organ development.


Immediate cord clamping had been the norm for premies since the prevailing theory was that these frail neonates required immediate artificial respiratory support in a setting away from the delivery table.  In fact, most do not.


#prematurity #cordclamping #umbilicalcord #pediatrics #neonatology

prematurity, cordclamping, umbilicalcord, pediatrics, neonatology



CoVid Vaccine Booster Saves Lives



Receiving a third boosting dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least 5 months after the second immunizing dose reduces the risk of death from a Delta CoVid infection by 90%.  Israeli public health investigators reviewed the data from 843,208 members of the Clalit Health Services who were 50 years of age or older.


The mortality rate for those who only received the first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine was 2.98 per 100,000 persons per day.  Receiving that third dose reduced the rate by 95%  to 0.16 per 100,000 persons per day.  Projecting that lifesaving statistic to the United State population of middle aged and older adults shows that a timely booster saves 3,686 of our parents and grandparents every day or 1,345,520 of our beloved family members in a year.


The lifesaving plan is to get 2 shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines followed in 5 to 6 months by a booster of either vaccine since its ok to mix and match.  Those who are immunosuppressed should get a third immunizing shot 1 months after the second Pfizer or Moderna.  Then, they should get a boosting dose 6 months after the 3rd shot.  Those who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine should get a boosting dose 2 months later.


#CoVid #delta #booster

CoVid, delta, booster



What About The Pfizer CoVid Pill?



You’ve heard about it on TV and radio, and the headlines trumpet something like “Pfizer says its CoVid pill is near 90% effective.” Well….. let’s take a closer look at the available data


Pfizer’s Paxlovid is combination therapy including a novel protease inhibitor nirmatrelvir or PF-07321332 and an antiviral cytochrome inhibitor Ritonavir.  When these two drugs in separate pills are taken every 12 hours for 5 days beginning within the first days after symptom onset, they prevent hospitalizations and deaths for high-risk persons by 89%.  High risk would be older patients and those with complicating medical problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This according to a new analysis of 2200 participants.  An earlier study showed the Paxlovid drug combo to be 70% effective for those in a standard risk category.


This is exciting news, but there is a sketchy side.  First, all the information we see, hear, and read only comes from Pfizer press releases not from their actual submission to the FDA for the Emergency Use Authorization.  As a medical journalist with NIH research experience, I want to see the actual data.


Then there is what we don’t know about the Pfizer CoVid pill.  What will suppressing rather than preventing CoVid do regarding long CoVid?  Will the pill prevent the lingering symptoms of fatigue, fogginess, and chronic aching?  Will Paxlovid prevent CoVid from damaging your vital organs including your lungs with chronic scarring and slow suffocation, your heart with myocarditis and congestive heart failure, your brain with encephalitis, your kidneys with renal failure, your liver with cirrhosis, and your pancreas with diabetes. 


The better strategy is to avoid contracting the many variants of CoVid in the first place by maintaining immunity against CoVid by vaccination and timely boosting, by strategic and sometimes double masking, and by avoiding virus aerosols indoors and in dense crowds.


#CoVid #pfizer #proteaseinhibitor #paxlovid #bigpharma

CoVid, pfizer, proteaseinhibitor, paxlovid, bigpharma



We Americans Have Badly Mishandled CoVid



The legendary Brit prime minister Winston Churchill once remarked that Americans always do the right thing…after they’ve tried everything else.  That quote is so relevant to our continuing, wrongheaded mismanagement of CoVid.  


When the pandemic was originally raging in the winter of 2020-21, many refused to wear masks, distance, avoid indoor crowds, and flocked to outdoor super-spreader events.  As the result, CoVid patients filled our hospitals, we ran out of ventilators, and we needed refrigerator trucks to warehouse our dead parents and grandparents when undertakers, cemeteries, and cremation  facilities were overwhelmed.  We shut down our economy and operated our businesses and schools using high tech remote communications. 


Things improved this past winter and spring with the availability of 3 CoVid vaccines.  Older and sicker adults got vaccinated followed by teens and most recently younger children.  Then too, more people but not all began using appropriate masking and modified their indoor activities and outdoor gatherings.  Mass transit use resumed. 


Things were looking good through the summer.  Plans were made to reopen  schools, offices, indoor dining, theaters, and indoor sports events.


Then over the summer the more transmissible Delta variant arrived from from India. It could cause asymptomatic infection even in the vaccinated, and those infected silently spread it.  Indoor venues began to require proof of vaccination and masks, but some faked the vax cards and refused masking. 


Then studies began to show that immune protection against Delta CoVid dropped dangerously low by 5 to 6 months after  vaccination. A booster campaign began and is ongoing.   This month the super-transmissible Omicron variant arrived from South Africa, and it seems to require even higher levels of antibodies for neutralization necessitating boosters for all 


Cases are again raging, and hospitals are again filling.  Omicron isn’t helping, but it is likely not the main cause.  The cause is the false assumption that we still have vaccine protective immunity and our failure to do something about it. 


 Only about 60% of Americans are vaccinated, and we lag behind most other Western nations. The vast majority of us now have waning immunity and only 30% have been boosted.  Despite our diminishing protection,  indoor activities and outdoor mass events with sloppy or negligible masking continue.  Don’t be surprised if lockdowns, remote schooling, and virtual work again become necessary.  


Now is the time for all Americans to finally heed Winston Churchill.  Isn’t it obvious that we’ve tried everything else, and it’s high time we did the right things. 


Everyone should have 3 shots, including the boosters, of the very effective Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.  Those eligible for additional boosters as 4th or maybe 5th shots must get them. Everyone should wear 4 or 5 layer N95 or FDA certified KN95 masks indoors, on mass transit, and outdoors around others.  Indoor dining should stop, and outdoor dining huts must be ventilated and distanced with public health guidelines standardizing their construction. Indoor  theater and  indoor sports events should be postponed until CoVid cases stop rising. 


We’ve tried everything else and now we must do the right thing.  That means everyone must be vaccinated and we must have strict enforcement of masking, distancing, and ventilation.  Look…  personal choices stop when your choices expose others to a deadly disease and endanger the community.  


We will need timely changes to public health recommendations and crystal clear CDC recommendations.  Short of these changes, this life-threatening pandemic will never end, and the virus will imprison us because of our own stubbornness and avoidance of public health necessities.  The 800,000 Americans we’ve already lost will be joined by millions more.


If you haven’t yet figured it out, we’re fighting a war, and every American is on the front line.  Do your part!   Uncle Sam and we all need you.  


#CoVid #delta #omicron #vaccination #masking #immunity

CoVid, delta, omicron, vaccination, masking, immunity


We Americans Have Badly Mishandled CoVid. Part 1 of 2 #CoVid #delta #omicron #vaccination #masking #immunity


CPSC Recalls



Bullseye’s Playground Letters to Santa Metal Mailbox Recalled



The CPSC and Target are recalling Bullseye’s Playground Letters to Santa Metal Mailbox.  The mail slots on these decorative mailboxes have sharp metal edges creating a risk of lacerations.  About 174,300 of these mailboxes were sold at Target stores nationwide and online at  If you purchased one of these mailboxes, immediately stop using it.  You can return it to any Target store for a full refund in the form of a Target gift card.  Alternatively, you can contact Target by phone at 1-800-440-0680 or online at to receive a prepaid mailing label and a refund gift card.


#target #mailbox #santa, #laceration #recall

target, mailbox, santa,, laceration, recall 



Recall On Hisun 250cc Utility Vehicles



The CPSC and Hisun Motors USA are recalling Hisun 250cc Utility Vehicles.  Grass may accumulate near the exhaust pipe and create a fire hazard.  About 2500 of these vehicles were sold at Rural King stores nationwide.  Immediately discontinue using these utility vehicle and contact Hisun Motors USA by calling 1-833 364-0554 to arrange for a free consumer installable repair kit. Alternatively, you can arrange to take your vehicle to an authorized repair station for a free repair.


#hisun #utilityvehicle #exhaust #fire #recall

hisun, utilityvehicle, exhaust, fire, recall 



Harbor Breeze 52” Belleisle Bay and Honeywell 52” Rio Ceiling Fans On Recall




The CPSC and the Hong Kong China Electric Appliance Manufacture Company now recall Harbor Breeze Belleisle Bay and Honeywell Rio Ceiling Fans.  The blades may detect from the fan while in use posing an injury hazard to anyone in the fan’s vicinity.  About 77,900 of these fans were sold online at,,,,,,, and  If you have one of these fans, immediately stop using it.  Contact the Hong Kong China Electric Appliance Manufacture Company by phone at 1-888-232-9895 or via email at to confirm that you have a recalled model and to provide a photo of the fan in order to receive a free replacement model.


#ceilingfan #harborbay #honeywell #looseblades #injury #recall

ceilingfan, harborbay, honeywell, looseblades, injury, recall



Recall On Schwinn Tone Electric Scooters



The CPSC and Pacific Cycle are recalling Schwinn Tone Electric Scooters.  The recall includes Tone 1, Tone 2, and Tone 3 models.  This scooter’s handlebar grips may crack and/or loosen creating fall and injury hazards.  About 11,340 of these e-scooters were sold at bicycle stores nationwide and online at and  Immediately discontinue using these e-scooters and contact Pacific Cycles by phone at 1-877-564-2261 or online at to arrange for a free repair kit.  When you call, have your e-scooter’s serial number.  As an alternative, you can arrange to ship the scooter back to the company free of charge for the needed repair.


#schwinn #escooters #handlegrips #fall #injury #recall

schwinn, escooters, handlegrips, fall, injury, recall




FDA Recalls



Recall on Howling Cow Butter Almond Ice Cream Pints



The FDA and the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association are recalling Howling Cow Butter Almond Ice Cream Pints.  This ice cream contains undeclared soy and wheat.  The affected lots have a SELL BY date of 9/15/2022 and were sold in North and South Carolina Harris Teeter stores.  If those with allergies to soy, wheat, or both should ingest this ice cream, a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction could develop.  If you bought this ice cream, return it to the point of purchase for a refund.  For more information, call the makers at 1-800-552-1976.


#howlingcow #ice cream #soy #wheat #allergy #recall

howlingcow, ice cream, soy, wheat, allergy, recall



GODAVARI Dried Apricots On Recall



The FDA and Bokhary Foods Inc. are recalling GODAVARI Dried Apricots.  This product contains with undeclared sulfites.  Those with allergies to sulfites could develop a serious or life-threatening reaction to eating these apricots.  This product was sold in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut.  

If you purchased these apricots, do not consume them.  Instead, return them to the place of purchase.  For additional information, contact Bokhary Foods Inc. by phone at 1-508-988-5595.


#apricots #godavari #apricots #sulfites #allergy #recall

apricots, godavari, apricots, sulfites, allergy, recall



Recalled Are Minute Maid Fruit Punch Products



The Coca Cola Company announces the recall of Minute Maid Berry Punch, Strawberry Lemonade, and Fruit Punch.  These products may contain metal bolts or metal washers.  The products were sold in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Maine and New Jersey.  They have long shelf lives extending into January 2022.  If you have any of these products, return them to the point of purchase for a refund.  If you need more information, contact Coca Cola by phone at 1-800-Get-Coke or 1-800-438-2653.  


As a side note, it is interesting that the FDA is not co-sponsoring this recall.  Why, we don’t know, but some have suggested that the Coca Cola Company is getting preferential treatment from the FDA.


#cocacola #fruitpunch #foreignbodies #lacerations #recall

cocacola, fruitpunch, foreignbodies, lacerations, recall

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