Can unauthorised treatments cause harm?

Yes, there is a risk of serious harm from “unauthorised” COVID treatments that are not officially authorised by competent regulatory authorities such as MHRA in UK or FDA in USA.

If a treatment is not authorised, it should have at least have good clinical trial evidence.

India is going to a rough patch. People with COVID are desperate for treatment. There is shortage of oxygen which is a commonly used treatment.

Apart from oxygen for respiratory support, only Two treatments have been proven to be of significant help in COVID-19 pneumonia. (1) Steroids (2) An arthritis drug called Tocilizumab

Many antivirals drugs have not shown any meaningful benefit. Various other drugs are still in trials.

It is rapidly evolving area and the BMJ has a COVID guideline which is being frequently updated during this pandemic.

This is significant risk of harm from drugs which are NOT properly assessed in clinical trials.

Anecdotally there has been lot of sudden deaths in India. Lot of unproven treatments such as Azithromycin, ivermectin, antivirals agents, chloroquine, and other agents widely used in india.

Although there is no definitive proof, One cannot help wondering whether poor outcome in at least some Indian patients is related to combinations of unproven drugs that are used widely in unregulated private healthcare sector.

BMJ. Drug treatments for covid-19: living systematic review and network meta-analysis
BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2980 (Published 30 July 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2980

BMJ. A living WHO guideline on drugs for covid-19 BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3379 (Published 04 September 2020).

BMJ COVID-19 Treatment algorithm.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

What has ‘Public health’ ever done for us ?

An apple a day might not keep the doctor away. But a good public health team can keep the doctors away for many people!

Public health is about prevention and promotion of health in the society.

Public health is largely responsible for the significant improvements in life expectancy over the last 150 years.

Providing people with clean drinking water, removal of rubbish from houses and streets, good sewage system, and vaccination has saved many millions of lives over the years.

The recent smoking ban in work-places, public places and indoor venues is a modern example of public health activity.

The one area where public health has not been hugely successful is obesity. It may be because of the reliance on nudging the individual to change rather than dealing with underlying structural problems.

Read my letter in BMJ and make your views known at the BMJ rapid response section.

Sundar S. Public health needs to go back to basics, not rely on nudge theory.

Toll-free link:
http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.n1153?ijkey=CUQNozGH9yJeK57&keytype=ref

References:

BMJ. Lifestyle and socioeconomic group on health
Public health needs to go back to basics, not rely on nudge theory
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1153 (Published 06 May 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1153

BMJ. Short term impact of smoke-free legislation in England: retrospective analysis of hospital admissions for myocardial infarction
BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2161 (Published 08 June 2010)
Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2161

BMJ. Associations of healthy lifestyle and socioeconomic status with mortality and incident cardiovascular disease: two prospective cohort studies
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n604 (Published 14 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n604

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Would COVID-19 vaccination be made compulsory for people in some jobs !

New Zealand recently fired customs and border officials after they refused vaccines.

Compulsory COVID vaccination -for people in some jobs- is not official policy in UK or USA yet.

“Italy has become the first country in Europe to make COVID vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers”

It does look like that COVID-19 vaccination would be made compulsory for people in some jobs !

Any third wave, later year, in UK may push the government in making COVID vaccination mandatory for health workers and some other key workers.

References

Guardian. New Zealand fires nine border workers who refused Covid vaccine.
Tess McClure in Christchurch
@tessairini
Mon 3 May 2021 02.32 BST

BMJ. News Analysis. Covid-19: Is the UK heading towards mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers?
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1056 (Published 21 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1056

BMJ News. Covid-19: Italy makes vaccination mandatory for healthcare workers
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n905 (Published 06 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n905

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Is it the beginning of the end ?

COVID-19 is still raging like wild fire in various parts of world particularly in India now.

But, in U.K, it does look like the “beginning of the end” for the COVID pandemic. Vaccines seem to have greatly aided this end.

On Tuesday, UK reported 1,946 new infections and only four deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

So unless there is a new variant which overcomes the protective shield of the Vaccines, there may be no more lockdowns and life may go back to some sort of normality.

References

BBC news. Another Covid lockdown unlikely, says scientist. By Hazel Shearing
BBC News

The official UK government website for data and insights on coronavirus (COVID-19).

BBC news. What is the India Covid variant and will vaccines work?
Soutik Biswas
India correspondent
Published22 April

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Outdoor face masks: is it helpful or an hindrance?

In the indoor settings, wearing masks can help to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 infection.

But in the outdoor setting, masks may not be very helpful as the risk of getting COVID-19 infection from others, in outdoor settings, is considerably smaller.

Two teams discuss the pros and cons of outdoor mask wearing in a BMJ debate.

Apart from infection prevention, I can see some additional benefits for voluntarily wearing masks in the streets.

The streets of major cities have significant air-pollution. So facial masks can help to reduce inhalation of toxic chemicals.

More and more surveillance street-cameras are now deploying facial-recognition software to deter criminals. But the cameras may also track movements of ordinary law-abiding people for marketing and advertising reasons. So face-masks may also be helpful to those with privacy concerns.

Read the article and submit your views through BMJ rapid response section.

BMJ . Coronavirus Transmission
Should masks be worn outdoors?

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1036 (Published 28 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1036

Sundar S. Voluntary outdoor mask-wearing can have incidental benefits in cities. BMJ rapid response. 2nd May 2021.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should hormone therapy be used before or after prostate radiotherpy?

Combination therapy with Hormone therapy and Radiotherapy is used with curative intent for treatment of prostate cancer.

There is some debate which treatment should be started first. At present, the hormone therapy is started first and radiotherpy is started second at a later date.

This is because many previous clinical trials, which found beneficial effects for the combination therapy, involved starting hormones first.

One advantage of starting hormone therapy immediately and delaying the start date of radiotherpy is that hormone therapy shrinks the size of prostate before radiotherpy . This greatly helps when image-guided Radiotherpy is planned later on.

A group of high Calibre researchers and authors from Canada and USA have published paper arguing in favour of radiotherpy starting first and starting hormones afterwards.

Some of the authors behind this paper in Journal of Clinical oncology have previously published seminal, practice changing, papers in field of prostate cancer.

My personal view, is that we have to wait for confirmatory evidence before changing the current practice.

I have to resort to the megaphone of a provocative headline grabbing title so that oncologists won’t uncritically accept the conclusion of the paper

Read the original paper and my published response .

Adjuvant Hormone Therapy After Prostate Radiation: Is This Data Torture?

, MD and , MD. Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Medical Resuscitation: the unnecessary distress due to misconception

CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a medical procedure that is often misunderstood. It causes lot of anguish and distress to patients and family unnecessarily.

It is sometimes colloquially known as “kiss of life” as “mouth to mouth resuscitation” was previously used in pre-COVID era along with “chest compressions”.

CPR may involve “electric shocks to heart” when needed if machines are available. CPR in hospital may involve “tubes pushed down the throat” to enable air get into lungs. CPR almost always involves someone “pressing hard on the chest repeatedly with both hands” so as to help air get into lungs.

Overall, it can appear a bit brutal but it can be a life saver. That’s why the work places, train stations, airports and some public parks have the automatic defibrillators.

CPR is a wonderful medical first aid, which, delivered promptly, can save lives. It is highly successful in previously fit people with a sudden cardio respiratory arrest due to a “reversible or treatable” illness.

Television serials and Hollywood movies often portray CPR as a highly successful procedure.

But, unfortunately, in routine hospital practice, the success rates are low.

In particular, success rates are very low in “terminally ill” cancer patients and in frail patients with “multiple irreversible medical conditions”.

Because many people believe CPR is hugely successful in “everyone”, patients and families understandably get very upset when the medical team talk about “do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR)“.

When CPR is NOT used appropriately, it prevents peaceful death and stops terminally ill patients from gently fading away surrounded by their loved ones.

In cancer patients, when cancer treatments are not working, death occurs after the body has been overwhelmed by cancer. Trying to re-start the heart and lungs after the organs have stopped working due to cancer is often futile. More importantly, CPR can make death more traumatic for patients and family.

Other than educating people about benefits and limitations of CPR, there is no easy way to make this misconception about resuscitation go away.

Read my BMJ letter on this topic and contribute your views on the rapid response section of BMJ.

BMJ. Misconceptions about CPR distress patients at the end of life and bereaved people.

Toll-free link:
http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.n1060?ijkey=YhH9UQOseeXaJzT&keytype=ref

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

COVID-19 pandemic: India vs Israel

The contrast between India and Israel over this weekend is astonishing. (Gloom vs Cheer).

Israel reports “no new daily Covid-19 deaths for the first time in 10 months”.

India, on the other hand, reports, a record 2,624 deaths in the 24 hours and about one million infections in last three days alone.

The new wave in India seems to have been caused by emergence of new variants, as well as mass gatherings.

It maybe that the mass rapid vaccination drive in Israel helped.

Let’s hope that UK, Europe and USA are firmly on the path towards normality in the summer as the vaccination rates go up.

References

BBC news. Covid-19: Israel records no daily deaths for the first time in 10 months.

BBC news. India Covid surge: Hospitals send SOS as record deaths registered.

Guardian. CoronavirusWhat do we know about the Indian coronavirus variant?
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample. Mon 19 Apr 2021 16.50 BST

BBC news. Covid vaccine: How many people in the UK have been vaccinated so far?
By The Visual and Data Journalism Team
BBC News

New York Times. Tracking Coronavirus Vaccinations Around the World.
By Josh HolderUpdated April 23, 2021.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can someone die due to COVID-19 infection even after having the full course of protective vaccination?

Yes, rarely it can happen.

COVID vaccines are very highly effective in preventing serious infections that would result in hospitalisation. Even a single dose of the vaccine has very good efficacy.

But vaccines are not 100% effective.

So until the pandemic is under full control, older adults, particularly those over 60 years, should be cautious even after full vaccination.

It also has to be said that the risk is dramatically small after full vaccination. Only a tiny minority of people get serious COVID-19 infection after full vaccination.

In USA, about 5800 “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections has been reported so far among the roughly 77 million people who had been fully vaccinated. That’s less than 0.008% cases.

A much more smaller minority among this minority group had serious infections. Among the 5800 cases, 396 patients were admitted to hospital and 74 patients died from COVID-19. That’s less than 0.0001% deaths.

So unless new viral mutations dramatically reduce vaccine efficacy, it looks very promising.

References:

1. BMJ News. Covid-19: Infections fell by 65% after first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, data show BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1068 (Published 23 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1068

2. BMJ news. Covid-19: US reports low rate of new infections in people already vaccinated
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1000 (Published 16 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1000

3. Sun News. DOUBLE TROUBLE ‘Concerning’ Indian Covid variant now in UK has two ‘escape mutations’ that could dodge antibodies
Vanessa Chalmers, Digital Health Reporter
12:22, 16 Apr 2021Updated: 12:25, 16 Apr 2021

4. BBC news. Coronavirus: ‘Double mutant’ Covid variant found in India. Published 25 March

5. Daily Mail. Could the Indian ‘double mutant’ coronavirus derail Britain’s roadmap out of lockdown? Experts warn variant could ‘scupper our escape plan’ and urge Boris to put country on red list. By James Robinson for MailOnline
01:49, 17 Apr 2021 , updated 11:08, 17 Apr 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are COVID-19 vaccines necessary for someone who has recovered from a COVID-19 infection ?

Yes !

If someone has recovered from a COVID-19 infection, they would have some protection against getting another COVID-19 infection.

But, even if someone has recovered very well from a previous infection, vaccination is necessary because there is still a significant risk of getting COVID-19 infection again.

A recent study published in the medical journal Lancet reports that people who had a previous infection have about one-fifth risk of getting an infection again compared to those without a previous infection.

So while there is some protection against future infections, there is still a risk and hence it is prudent get the Vaccine when it is offered.

Reference:

Lancet. SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity and subsequent infection risk in healthy young adults: a prospective cohort study. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00158-2

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should young adults avoid Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine ?

Probably Yes, because of the reports of rare cases of brain clots following vaccination.

Like everything else in medicine, risks and benefits needs to be assessed in each individual case.

For instance, a doctor won’t give toxic treatments for a self limiting flu. But, on the other hand, a doctor will try toxic chemotherapy to control advanced lung cancer.

It’s always going to be a balance between risks from a disease versus risks and benefits of a particular treatment.

No vaccine or medicine is ever going to be 100% safe.

For that matter, Life is full of risks. Getting out of bed can be risky. Not getting out of bed everyday is also risky.

Older adults who are at high of COVID related death and COVID related complications should have the vaccine during this pandemic and not worry too much about rare serious side effects.

But young adults, who are a low risk, can avoid Astra Zeneca vaccine based on the available data, if alternatives are available.

References

Official UK data. MHRA. Research and analysis. Coronavirus vaccine – weekly summary of Yellow Card reporting. Updated 8 April 2021.

BBC news. Covid-19: Seven UK blood clot deaths after AstraZeneca vaccine. By James Gallagher.
Health and science correspondent.

BBC news. AstraZeneca vaccine: How do you weigh up the risks and benefits? By Robert Cuffe. Head of statistics

BBC news. Covid: Under-30s offered alternative to Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. By Nick Triggle. Health correspondent

BMJ news. AstraZeneca vaccine: Blood clots are “extremely rare” and benefits outweigh risks, regulators conclude. BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n931 (Published 08 April 2021). Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n931

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can Vitamins and anti-oxidants increase the risk of breast cancer coming back?

Yes, Dietary supplements can be harmful.

Vitamins and Minerals are absolutely essential nutrients for a Healthy body and a Healthy mind. Anyone not eating a healthy balanced should look what nutrients they might be missing.

But on the other hand, taking too much of vitamins and minerals, when they are not needed, could be harmful to the body.

There is widespread use of dietary supplements during cancer treatment, in the hope they can reduce side effects but many do not think about the disadvantages.

An American study of Breast cancer patients undergoing Chemotherapy looked at the effect of taking dietary supplements such as anti-oxidants, iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Breast cancer patients who took the dietary supplements during chemotherapy were found be harmed by them. They had a higher chance of cancer coming back compared to people who did not take these supplements. The supplements also increased risk of death in those the supplements.

Beware supplements when used improperly, can be harmful.

Dietary Supplement Use During Chemotherapy and Survival Outcomes of Patients With Breast Cancer Enrolled in a Cooperative Group Clinical Trial (SWOG S0221)

, PhD1; , PhD2; , PhD1; 1; , PhD, RD1; , PhD3; , MD1; , PhD, EdD1; , PhD4; , MD5; , PhD3; , MD6; , MD7; , MD8; , MD9; , MD10; , MD11; , MD12; , MD6; and , MD13

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe in cancer patients having immunotherapy?

Yes, Pfizer vaccine is safe.

A recent study published in the esteemed Lancet Oncology Journal shows that the vaccine is well tolerated in patients having immunotherapy.

Unlike cancer chemotherapy, immunotherapy works differently. It works by releasing the in-built brakes holding down the immune system thereby boosting the body’s immune system against cancer.

There has been some theoretical concerns whether this might lead to COVID vaccine causing more side effects.

Reassuringly, the Vaccine side effects were NO different from those seen in people not having immunotherapy. The Vaccine also did NOT increase the immunotherapy side effects.

Immunotherapy is increasingly used widely in treatment of cancer are often better tolerated than chemotherapy.

So the study is good news for tens of thousands of patients on immunotherapy and any cancer patient who has hesitated before, should seriously consider having the vaccine now

COVID infection could be very nasty in cancer patients and all evidence points to the benefits of vaccine far outweighing any risks from the Vaccine.

References

Short-term safety of the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in patients with cancer treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors
The Lancet Oncology. Published: April 1, 2021
Barliz Waissengrin et al. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00155-8

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe in Children ?

Yes, Israel has vaccinated vulnerable children and there have been NO reports of unusual or unexpected reactions.

Pfizer has just released positive results of a study which looked at safety and efficacy of the Vaccine in 12 to 15 year olds.

Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine has shown 100% efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in 12 to 15 year olds.

The Vaccine reassuringly was well tolerated, and the side effects were no different from those observed in the group aged 16 to 25.

What about much more younger children?

A vaccine trial in the children aged 6 months to 11 years has been started recently and results should be available later this year.

References

SKY news. Wednesday 31 March 2021 14:35, UK

The Guardian. Wed 31 Mar 2021 14.20 BST

BMJ News. Covid-19: Pfizer reports 100% vaccine efficacy in children aged 12 to 15
BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n881 (Published 01 April 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n881

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How long do the COVID-19 vaccines offer protection?

Many millions of people have now been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective but the next important question is how long would the vaccines continue to protect.

Some vaccines for other viral diseases offer life long protection but others like flu vaccines need annual boosters. COVID-19 Studies are still ongoing.

A recently released Pfizer vaccine study data indicates that protection with Pfizer vaccine lasts for many months as a minimum. To be precise, so far, Pfizer vaccine was found to have 91% efficacy for up to six months. Ongoing studies would clarify whether booster vaccines are needed in future.

Guardian. Pfizer vaccine has 91% efficacy for up to six months, trial shows. Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 1 Apr 2021 17.27 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

COVID-19 is risky even after a patient recovers from it initially

COVID-19 is not a self limiting illness particularly if you have been poorly enough to be hospitalised the first time around.

Even after recovering from a COVID-19 infection, many people remain at high risk of death.

A recent UK study published in the BMJ found that “ Nearly a third of people who have been in hospital before were readmitted after discharge for further treatment in the following four months”.

“And worryingly one in ten patients died during the follow up period after hospital discharge”.

The increase in risk was not confined to the elderly. So everyone still needs to be careful as the lockdown is being gradually eased.

References:

1. BMJ. Post-covid syndrome in individuals admitted to hospital with covid-19: retrospective cohort study. BMJ 2021; 372 doi: httpst://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n693 (Published 31 March 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n693

2. Guardian. Almost third of UK Covid hospital patients readmitted within four months. Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Thu 1 Apr 2021 06.00 BST

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can Traffic pollution kill you ?

Yes, pollution from cars and lorries can kill.

A recent study published in BMJ shows increase in heart and lung related deaths due to traffic pollution.

Reference:

BMJ. Short term associations of ambient nitrogen dioxide with daily total, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality: multilocation analysis in 398 cities. BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n534 (Published 24 March 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n534

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Selenium can be harmful for Skin cancer patients

Nutritional supplements are often tried to prevent cancer. But well- designed rigorously conducted clinical trials have NOT shown any benefit in prevention of many cancers.

Selenium was suggested as a preventative supplement for skin cancer.

A clinical trial compared Selenium against placebo in United States. The results were disappointing.

Selenium supplementation was found to be ineffective at preventing Skin cancers.

To make matters worse, Selenium was found to Harmful and increased the the risk of getting some skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.

Selenium Supplementation and Secondary Prevention of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer in a Randomized Trial. Anna J. Duffield-Lillico, Elizabeth H. Slate, Mary E. Reid, Bruce W. Turnbull, Patricia A. Wilkins, Gerald F. Combs, Jr., H. Kim Park, Earl G. Gross, Gloria F. Graham, M. Suzanne Stratton… Show moreJNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 95, Issue 19, 1 October 2003, Pages 1477–1481, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djg061

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Which COVID vaccine is the best ?

All vaccines approved by the regulatory authorities are in fact good.

No need to be choosy as there is no head to head comparative data.

Pfizer is new exciting technology. (‘mRNA technology’).

Astra Zeneca is based on tried and tested, old reliable technology. (‘viral vector’ technology).

In fact, ‘anything is better than nothing’ principle applies; any of the approved Vaccines would be helpful during this dreadful pandemic .

Israel easing restrictions following vaccination proves vaccines are our way of this horrible pandemic.

References

BBC news. Coronavirus doctor’s diary: Don’t ask me which vaccine is best, please.

Daily Mail: So which Covid vaccines is Britain getting – and which one is the best? How two companies’ jabs are already being used, another is coming in March and two more could be approved within weeks. By Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline
11:58, 29 Jan 2021 , updated 02:00, 30 Jan 2021

BBC news. Israel eases restrictions following vaccine success.

Blog. Where can I find official detailed information about the three COVID vaccines (Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Moderna).

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

How long does it take for taste sensation to recover after Radiotherpy to Head and Neck region ?

Curative Radiotherpy to Tongue, Mouth , Throat and other parts of head and Neck can lead to dry mouth, sticky saliva, difficulty in swallowing solid foods, and loss of taste sensation.

Loss of taste sensation affects food intake and affects quality of life.

A group from Tel Aviv studied the effect of radiotherapy on taste sensation in head and neck cancer patients.

They found that “taste recovery started to occur 1 month after treatment completion

References:

The effect of radiotherapy on taste sensation in head and neck cancer patients – a prospective study. Michal Asif et al. Radiat Oncol. 2020. Radiat Oncol. 2020 Jun 5;15(1):144. doi: 10.1186/s13014-020-01578-4. Authors: Michal Asif, Assaf Moore, Noam Yarom, Aron Popovtzer.

Oral complications at 6 months after radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. R V Lalla et al. Oral Dis. 2017 Nov. Oral Dis. 2017 Nov;23(8):1134-1143. doi: 10.1111/odi.12710. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

Prospective assessment of taste impairment and nausea during radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Stefania Martini et al. Med Oncol. 2019 Apr 9;36(5):44. doi: 10.1007/s12032-019-1269-x.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Does Hand Washing help to prevent COVID-19 ?

Yes,

But the extent to which Hand washing helps is uncertain.

Masks, Social distancing and Vaccination seem to be more highly important than Hand Washing.

Read the very good Guardian newspaper piece on the topic of hand washing.

References

Guardian: Q&A: Does handwashing stem the transmission of Covid-19?
James Tapper
Sun 14 Feb 2021 10.00 GMT

Daily Mail: So which Covid vaccines is Britain getting – and which one is the best? How two companies’ jabs are already being used, another is coming in March and two more could be approved within weeks. By Connor Boyd Assistant Health Editor For Mailonline
11:58, 29 Jan 2021 , updated 02:00, 30 Jan 2021

Daily Mail. Pfizer’s Covid vaccine COULD stop people spreading the virus as well as preventing serious illness, Israeli doctor claims after finding antibody levels surged after second dose. By Emily Webber and Sam Blanchard Deputy Health Editor For Mailonline
12:05, 19 Jan 2021 , updated 14:06, 19 Jan 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Vitamin D reduces risk of advanced cancer in normal-weight individuals.

“An ounce of prevention better than a pound of cure” is certainly true when it comes to cancer prevention.

Vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin has been proven to reduce risk of advanced cancers an large American study.

The study presented at the ASCO ( American Society of Clinical Oncology) virtual scientific symposium in 2020,

“The VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL (VITAL) was a high quality study. The study randomly assigned patients to Vitamin D3 supplements and/or omega-3 fatty acid supplements and/or both or placebo in 25,871 men and women.

The study found that “vitamin D supplementation decreased risk of developing advanced cancers by 17% compared with placebo ”

“Omega-3 supplementation did not reduce the incidence of advanced cancer.”

Reference:

Vitamin D Reduces Incidence of Advanced Cancers in Normal-Weight Individuals. ASCO Annual Meeting 2020.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Two New Vaccines against COVID-19

More good news on the vaccine front in the fight against the coronavirus.

Two new vaccines have reported positive results.

The NOVAVAX vaccine is first Vaccine to report efficacy against the new variants. It is 95.6% effective against the original strain of coronavirus.

NOVAVAX is 86% effective at protecting against the new UK variant, which is very reassuring. But the Vaccine is only, 60% effective against South African variant of the virus. The efficacy against Brazilian variant is unknown.

The Janssen vaccine, produced by the US giant Johnson & Johnson, is a single-dose vaccine and has proved 66% effective against Covid-19. The vaccine was just 57% effective in the South African part of the trial.

The reduction in efficacy of both vaccines against new variants is a bit worrying and indicates that if further new variants emerge in future, existing vaccines could be less effective and vaccines would need to be updated.

The Janssen vaccine uses a common cold virus and uses a approach similar to the Oxford Astra Zeneca Vaccine.

Novavax vaccine differs from existing vaccines and it uses a artificially produced COVID-19 spike protein, which is then assembled into nanoparticles to make them look like coronavirus.

Bloomberg: Covid Mutations Undercut Optimism Even as More Vaccines Near
By Robert Langreth
30 January 2021, 00:04 GMT
Updated on 30 January 2021, 12:02 GMT

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Spit test for COVID

Anyone who had the COVID test would know that the swab up the nose and throat is unpleasant.

Life would be much more easier if you can just spit in a test tube and the saliva could be tested for COVID.

Early results are promising and tests so far has shown that saliva testing is as good as nose swab testing

References

BBC. Covid-19: No-swab saliva test finds symptomless cases.
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online.

JAMA January 15, 2021. Comparison of Saliva and Nasopharyngeal Swab Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing for Detection of SARS-CoV-2
A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Guillaume Butler-Laporte, MD1; Alexander Lawandi, MD, MSc2; Ian Schiller, MSc3; et al. JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 15, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.8876

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with. The authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Is social media inadvertently responsible for the spread of vaccine misinformation?

Read the excellent article in BMJ and contribute your views through the rapid response section of BMJ

Reference

Too little, too late: social media companies’ failure to tackle vaccine misinformation poses a real threat
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n26 (Published 21 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n26

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Where can you find official data and statistics on Coronavirus infection?

The official UK Government website for data and insights on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

WHO Dashboard

Worldwide data – John Hopkins university dashboard is perhaps more widely used and quoted.

https://covid19.who.int

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Why are some people falsely sceptical of COVID Vaccines?

Disclaimer: A personal view point !

“Vaccines hesitancy” is a problem in some sections of society.

A significant minority of people have an unhealthy scepticism about all vaccines in general fuelled by misinformation on social media. Some people in western world, who haven’t seen the horrors that can be wrecked by infectious diseases, have an ill-informed view about all Vaccines.

Vaccines have played a significant role in protection against various deadly infections diseases in the past century. The infectious diseases of childhood have become less prevalent even in developing countries now. But there is a risk of Vaccine Hesitancy spreading to these third world developing countries .

That is not to say that all vaccines are free of side effects. Lot of people do have mild side effects after any vaccination. But very serious side effects are rare.

The concerns of people with Vaccine Hesitancy particularly relating to COVID Vaccine is genuine. The COVID vaccines have been rapidly developed and there are no long term efficacy or toxicity data. Because it is a global emergency, countries are forced to begin COVID vaccination based on the available excellent short term efficacy and safety data. Only time can tell whether the Governments got it right over long term.

But there is no evidence to suggest secrecy or conspiracy surrounding development of various vaccines including COVID vaccines. For instance, two reports of severe allergies due to COVID vaccine was immediately brought to the attention of everyone by Regulatory authorities in UK.

It is now reported that Norway is investigating deaths after coronavirus vaccination in very frail elderly people. Any adverse report on vaccines will be investigated and made public.

Rare individual stories of serious side effects is understandably shocking. It is human nature not to risk when one personally feels well at a particular point in time.

It is very important to remember that life is full of risks. People make decisions every day based on benefits versus risks ( eg driving a car). People need to understand that the benefits from most vaccines against infections diseases significantly outweighs the risks of various vaccine side effects. While a handful have serious side effects, many millions do benefit from the all vaccines.

“Vaccines hesitancy” is also not helped Historic mistrust of government in sections of population which regrettably can make things difficult in terms of achieving good vaccine coverage at population level.

If you have concerns about vaccines –

“Do read information about Vaccines with an open mind and pay attention to high quality population level studies assessing risks versus benefits and ignore individual unsubstantiated stories”.

“Do speak to your doctor about your concerns with an open mind”.

“Do NOT always seek information that affirms your views and Worries. Do seek reliable information that challenges your views on vaccines before you make your choice”.

References

JAMA Insights Clinical Update
January 21, 2021
Allergic Reactions Including Anaphylaxis After Receipt of the First Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
Tom Shimabukuro, MD, MPH, MBA1; Narayan Nair, MD2
Author Affiliations
JAMA. Published online January 21, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.0600

BMJ. Covid-19: Norway investigates 23 deaths in frail elderly patients after vaccination
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n149 (Published 15 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n149.

Guillain-Barré syndrome after vaccination in United States: data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (1990-2005)
Nizar Souayah et al. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2009 Sep.

The Atlantic. Anti-vaxxers Think This Is Their Moment. Society’s well-being depends on how well public-health officials and average internet users combat misinformation. DECEMBER 20, 2020
Renée DiResta.
Technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

Countering Vaccine Hesitancy. Kathryn M. Edwards, Jesse M. Hackell and THE COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES, THE COMMITTEE ON PRACTICE AND AMBULATORY MEDICINE
Pediatrics September 2016, 138 (3) e20162146; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2146

Guardian. Covid vaccine: 72% of black people unlikely to have jab, UK survey finds.
Linda Geddes
Sat 16 Jan 2021 07.00 GMT

Lazarus JV, Ratzan SC, Palayew A, et al. A global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nat Med 2020 doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-1124-9

BBC. Royal Marsden’s leading cancer expert Martin Gore dies.
Published 11 January 2019

Times. Cancer pioneer Martin Gore’s sudden death from routine jab.
David Brown
Friday January 11 2019, 12.01am, The Times

The benefit of the doubt or doubts over benefits? A systematic literature review of perceived risks of vaccines in European populations
Emilie Karafillakis et al. Vaccine. 2017.

BMJ. The rush to create a covid-19 vaccine may do more harm than good. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3209 (Published 18 August 2020)Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3209

MHRA: Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Can Vaccines get us back to normal life again during autumn?

Possibly Yes, but not sooner than that.

Perhaps in later part of 2021, life can just approach some sort of normality in western countries with high uptake of vaccination.

There are many hurdles along the way.

The first problem is supply of Vaccines. There are limited initial supplies globally. It will take many months even for richer countries to get their full supply.

Secondly, Vaccines take many weeks to become very effective. In clinical trials, more than 90% effectiveness was noted for some Vaccines a few weeks after the second dose.

Millions in the UK are yet to receive the first dose. Lots of people would not get the second dose until 10-12 weeks after first dose. A UK minister predicts a September vaccination target for all adults.

So it will take time for the full Vaccine effect to kick in at both individual as well as society level.

Thirdly, there is a potential problem of “Vaccines hesitancy” in sections of the society. A significant minority of people have a unhealthy scepticism about Vaccines fuelled by misinformation on social media.

Fourthly, it has to be pointed out that “No Vaccine works perfectly”. A Vaccine does not offer 100% protection. The high efficacy rates noted in young healthy volunteers participating in various trials might not be observed in real world population, and efficacy rates might be lower in elderly people.

Finally, the most serious potential risk and hurdle would be loss of Vaccine efficacy if new variants of Coronavirus are not protected by existing Vaccines.

Keep the mask; a Vaccine won’t end the COVID-19 crisis right away !

References.

BBC. Will a vaccine give us our old lives back?
By the Visual Journalism Team.
14 January 2021

WSJ. Vaccines Are Coming but They Won’t End Covid-19 Anytime Soon. By Feliz Solomon
Dec. 13, 2020 8:00 am ET

Guardian. All adults in UK will be offered coronavirus vaccine by September.
Dominic Raab sets timescale and says ministers hope to ease lockdown restrictions in March.
Heather Stewart
Sun 17 Jan 2021 13.17 GMT

Guillain-Barré syndrome after vaccination in United States: data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (1990-2005)
Nizar Souayah et al. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2009 Sep.

Countering Vaccine Hesitancy. Kathryn M. Edwards, Jesse M. Hackell and THE COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES, THE COMMITTEE ON PRACTICE AND AMBULATORY MEDICINE
Pediatrics September 2016, 138 (3) e20162146; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2146

Guardian. Covid vaccine: 72% of black people unlikely to have jab, UK survey finds.
Linda Geddes
Sat 16 Jan 2021 07.00 GMT

CDC. New COVID-19 Variants.
Updated Jan. 15, 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Low Carb diet for Diabetes: what is the scientific evidence?

Low Carb diet is often used for weight loss.

A recent “Study of Studies” published in BMJ shows that Low-Carb-diet is beneficial for diabetes control and remission.

The beneficial effects seem quite remarkable in the first six months but there is uncertainty about the long term effect.

Before you consider the Low-Carb-diet option, do discuss it with your doctor.

What replaces the Low-Carb-Diet is also important. Long term Low-Carb-Diet with animal protein seems to be bad for health.

Do consider plant based proteins instead .

References: Efficacy and safety of low and very low carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes remission: systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished randomized trial data.
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4743 (Published 13 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:m4743

Seidelmann SB, Claggett B, Cheng S, et al. Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis. Lancet Public Health2018;3:e419-28. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30135-X pmid:30122560

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are NOT in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Covid-19: Can you catch the coronavirus while exercising outdoors?

Yes, you can.

But the risk depends on how long and how close you have been in touch with an infected person.

Momentarily passing someone while jogging is extremely unlikely to lead to an infection.

But face to face contact lasting many minutes with a friend or someone who is infected can lead to an infection.

There is a good article on how BBC website.

References:

BBC. Covid-19: Can you catch the virus outside?https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-55680305
By David Shukman. Science editor.

Mayo Clinic. Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. By Mayo Clinic Staff.

Imperial. Airborne transmission of COVID-19 carrier particles during exercise.

UK. Ministry of Housing, Communities &
Local Government. Guidance. COVID-19: Guidance for managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms. Updated 6 January 2021

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Should you avoid the Hospitals during this third wave of COVID pandemic?

Yes and No. It depends on how important your hospital visit is.

Recent news reports say that a significant number of patients acquired COVID during their hospital stay. Hospital acquired infections are a serious concern.

Yes, avoid, if you are trying to visit a family member admitted for a routine or elective medical procedure and is doing well.

Yes, avoid, if you can have a satisfactory phone or video consultation with medical team.

No, you should NOT avoid if you have any serious illness like heart attacks, stroke or cancer.

Everything in medicine depends on an assessment of risks versus benefits. For many patients with serious illness, on the whole, the benefits of proper treatment are likely to outweigh the risks of serious problems from COVID and risks can be managed.

If in doubt, ask your doctors or nurse about it. Do not take any action without discussing your concerns with your medical team.

References

Telegraph. Exclusive: Almost as many caught Covid in hospital in past month as in previous four. More than 11,000 people who went into England’s hospitals with unrelated issues contracted virus in December and early January
By Katherine Rushton and Sophie Barnes
14 January 2021 • 9:54pm

BMJ: Views And Reviews. Acute Perspective.
David Oliver: Could we do better on hospital acquired covid-19 in a future wave?
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n70 (Published 13 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n70. davidoliver372@googlemail.com
Follow David on Twitter @mancunianmedic

JAMA: Richterman A, Meyerowitz EA, Cevik M. Hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection: lessons for public health. JAMA2020;324:2155-6. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.21399. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2773128. pmid:33185657

JAMA: Rhee C, Baker M, Vaidya V, et al., CDC Prevention Epicenters Program. CDC Prevention Epicenters Program. Incidence of nosocomial covid-19 in patients hospitalized at a large US academic medical center. JAMA Netw Open2020;3:e2020498. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.20498. pmid:32902653

HSJ. Hospital acquired covid infections hit record high. By Matt Discombe11 December 2020

Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. National report charts challenges of managing COVID-19 transmission in hospitals. 29 Oct 2020. https://www.hsib.org.uk/news/national-report-charts-challenges-managing-covid-19-transmission-hospitals/.

David Oliver: Heed HSIB on covid transmission in hospital. BMJ2020;371:m4306. doi:10.1136/bmj.m4306. pmid:33177046

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice

Anything potentially good from this COVID-19 pandemic?

It might seem foolish to ask the question “Anything good from this COVID-19 pandemic?” when so many people across the world has been so badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

There is some truth in the proverb that “every dark cloud has a silver lining” and no matter how bad the current pandemic is now, human spirit and endeavour would get something positive out of it.

One possible good thing that has come out of the pandemic is the “mRNA technology”.

Of the three vaccines so far, two of them the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine are based on RNA technology.

The successful use of RNA technology for Coronavirus Vaccines would hopefully enable the versatile RNA technology to be further developed and successfully used a cancer treatment in near future.

Further clinical trials in cancer patients would be done to provide proof of their potential.

References:

Bloomberg. Technology & Ideas. mRNA Vaccines Could Vanquish Covid Today, Cancer Tomorrow.
The best news about the mRNA shots from BioNTech and Moderna is that the same technique could also defeat many other diseases.

MSKCC. In a Twist, Scientists Find Cancer Drivers Hiding in RNA, Not DNA.

Jerusalem Post Health & Science. Israeli scientists use mRNA COVID-19 vaccine technology to fight cancer. By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN NOVEMBER 24, 2020 20:08

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

A first COVID infection can make the body resistant to second infection for atleast five months

If someone had a COVID-19 Coronavirus infection and has recovered from it, then their body develops resistance to a further second infection

The protection is similar to that provided by vaccination. The UK study found that the protection lasts for atleast five months.

Caveats: It is not known how long the protection will last and the study is ongoing.

While a previously infected is protected against 2nd infection, that person can still carry and transmit virus to others. PHE reports that “early evidence from the next stage of the study suggests that some of these individuals carry high levels of virus and could continue to transmit the virus to others”. So the usual COVID-19 precautions are still needed.

The study involved healthcare workers from hospitals across the UK. The study recruited mainly Young and Middle age people ; it is not known whether the study findings would apply to older age people who are the most vulnerable.

The protection is not 100%. The protective effect was noted for only 83% . So there is still a chance someone who has recovered from the 1st infection might still get a 2nd infection.

The other big concern is “the risk of reinfection from the new Covid variants spotted in the UK, South Africa and Brazil”.

The study continues and more information would be available later this year ”

References:

PHE. Press release. Past COVID-19 infection provides some immunity but people may still carry and transmit virus
Study finds past coronavirus (COVID-19) infection provides some immunity for at least 5 months, but people may still carry and transmit the virus. Published 14 January 2021. Public Health England

Guardian Newspaper. Recovering from Covid gives similar level of protection to vaccine
PHE found immunity from earlier infection provided 83% protection against reinfection for at least 20 weeks.
Ian Sample Science editor. @iansample
Thu 14 Jan 2021 06.00

Daily Mail. Previous coronavirus infection gives people immunity for five months – MORE than the Oxford vaccine, PHE study finds. By Joe Pinkstone For Mailonline
00:01, 14 Jan 2021 , updated 11:54, 14 Jan 2021

Telegraph: Brazilian Covid variant may infect people who have recovered from virus
Scientists find new coronavirus strain has mutated to be more infectious and has changes that help it evade immune system
By Sarah Knapton,
SCIENCE EDITOR
14 January 2021 • 3:00pm

SIREN – SARS-COV2 immunity and reinfection evaluation; The impact of detectable anti SARS-COV2 antibody on the incidence of COVID-19 in healthcare workers.

SIREN protocol: Impact of detectable anti-SARS-CoV-2 on the subsequent incidence of COVID-19 in 100,000 healthcare workers: do antibody positive healthcare workers have less reinfection than antibody negative healthcare workers?

BMJ: Covid-19: Past infection provides 83% protection for five months but may not stop transmission, study finds.
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n124 (Published 14 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n124

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are spirits and beers more risky than wine?

Yes, according to a recent UK biobank study.

A large study of 309,123 participants found that Spirit drinking was associated with higher risk of early death compared to red wine drinking.

Beer/cider drinkers were also found to be at a higher risk of early death.

Alcohol consumption without food was associated with higher risk of early death compared to consumption with food.

Binge drinking with Alcohol consumption over 1–2 times/week was more risky compared to drinking spread out over 3–4 times/week.

But the study doesn’t seem to have looked at teetotallers. The study specifically excluded Abstainers and infrequent alcohol consumers. It is quite possible that avoiding alcohol altogether may be more beneficial but that might not be acceptable to many people !

As usual most of studies relating to food and drink need to be taken with a dose of healthy scepticism.

References:

Daily Mail. I Drinking wine instead of beer or spirits is healthier and could cut risk of death, study suggests. By Xantha Leatham For The Daily Mail 01:49, 12 Jan 2021 , updated 01:59, 12 Jan 2021

Association between patterns of alcohol consumption (beverage type, frequency and consumption with food) and risk of adverse health outcomes: a prospective cohort study. Bhautesh Dinesh Jani1* , Ross McQueenie1, Barbara I. Nicholl1, Ryan Field2, Peter Hanlon1, Katie I. Gallacher1, Frances S. Mair1 and Jim Lewsey2. Jani et al. BMC Medicine (2021) 19:8 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01878-2

BBC. No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms. By Laurel Ives. BBC Health. Published24 August 2018

Guardian. Study finds one small alcoholic drink a day raises risk of irregular heartbeat. Researchers examined heart health and drinking habits of 108,000 people aged 24 to 97 over 14 years
The report found people who consumed equivalent to a 330ml beer, a 120ml glass of wine, or 40mls of spirits were 16% more likely than teetotallers to develop atrial fibrillation.
Ian Sample Science editor
@iansample
Wed 13 Jan 2021 06.00 GMT

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Some Good news for those who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection !

People who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection are expected to have some protection against another repeat infection by the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

The protection comes from patients own antibodies present in their blood.

Previously, there was a concern that this protection might not last very long and that the levels of protective antibody may drop off quickly and this in turn can lead to repeat infections.

Now a study from Oxford indicates that protection against repeat infection (re-infection) can last atleast 6 months.

This news indirectly might also be good news for COVID-19 vaccines .

Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking that there is a virus infection and the body then produces the protective antibodies and cells.

Based on this study, one can logically hope that the protection by vaccines can be long lasting as well. Of course, nothing is certain and further vaccine data is awaited to confirm this.

References: (1) Lumley SF, O’Donnell D, Stoesser NE, et al., Oxford University Hospitals Staff Testing Group. Antibody status and incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in health care workers. N Engl J Med2020. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2034545. pmid:33369366

(2) BMJ news: Covid-19: Antibodies protect against reinfection for at least six months, study finds. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4961 (Published 30 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4961

(3). BBC news: Covid reinfection: Man gets Covid twice and second hit ‘more severe’
By James Gallagher
Health and science correspondent

(4). Lancet Infectious diseases. Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study. Richard L Tillett, PhD, Joel R Sevinsky, PhD, Paul D Hartley, PhD, Heather Kerwin, MPH, Natalie Crawford, MD, Andrew Gorzalski, PhD, et al. Published:October 12, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30764-7

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

A third Vaccine approved for protection against COVID-19 Coronavirus infection

Pfizer Vaccine and Astra Zeneca/Oxford Vaccine were approved last month by the UK regulatory authorities.

Now the regulatory authorities have approved a third vaccine. The third vaccine from Moderna along with two other vaccines should help to bring the pandemic to an end.

The Moderna vaccine is a new technology like the Pfizer Vaccine. (based on mRNA technology).

Like the two vaccines, the short term data for Moderna vaccine is very encouraging.

Over long term, one hopes that the protective effect of all the three vaccines is long lasting and that they remain effective against any new variants of coronavirus that might emerge in the coming months.

Overall, there is certainly ‘light at end of the tunnel’ and the world can emerge out of this horrific pandemic in a short period.

BBC. Moderna becomes third Covid vaccine approved in the UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online

BBC.Covid-19: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine judged safe for use in UK
By Michelle Roberts
Health editor, BBC News online
Published2 December 2020

BBC. Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine approved for use in UK
By James Gallagher and Nick Triggle
BBC News
Published30 December 2020

MHRA. Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine approved.

MHRA. Moderna vaccine becomes third COVID-19 vaccine approved by UK regulator.

MHRA. UK medicines regulator gives approval for first UK COVID-19 vaccine.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Are takeaway deliveries risky during Coronavirus pandemic?

Possibly yes, if food is not properly handled during preparation, packaging and delivery.

It is likely the risks from properly prepared food and food packaging itself are minimal. There is more risk from interaction with the delivery person.

If you are shielding or a very old person, there is a chance the food delivery person might pass on the infection to you. Stay at safe distance, use gloves and masks, and advice the delivery to be left at door for collection. Wipe Clean outside packaging and transfer contents to your own containers.

But for young adults the risk is likely to be very small.

Most importantly, it has to pointed out that everything in life has some risks. If you are not buying a takeaway, you might have to go shops or supermarkets to buy food for cooking and eating. There is a risk of catching cornovirus from other people while shopping !

There is a good article in BBC titled “ Coronavirus: How safe are takeaways and supermarket deliveries?

A previous blog post also gives information about survival of coronavirus in artificial surfaces

References: Can you catch Coronavirus infection from Soft drink cans, Sandwich wrapper and Amazon Parcels?

Coronavirus: How safe are takeaways and supermarket deliveries? By Victoria Gill
Science correspondent, BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

New drug treatments for COVID-19

More good news in fight against COVID-19 pandemic !

Steroids were previously proven to be effective against severe Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. The steroids are believed to work by dampening the inflammation caused by coronavirus.

Dexamethasone and Prednisolone are the commonly used steroids.

Now two other drugs have been reported to work in COVID-19 infection. (yet to be published).

Both the anti-inflammatory drugs are not entirely new drugs as they are already routinely used for treatment of various arthritis.

The BBC reports: “The anti-inflammatory medications, given via a drip, save an extra life for every 12 treated, say researchers who have carried out a trial in NHS intensive care units”.

The two drugs “tocilizumab and sarilumab” may become available for treatment of severe COVID-19 shortly.

All these additional drug treatments are needed ONLY for severe Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Mild COVID-19 infections do NOT need these drug treatments.

References . BBC news. Two more life-saving Covid drugs discovered. By Michelle Roberts. Health editor, BBC News online. Published 7 Jan 2021.

BBC news. Coronavirus: Dexamethasone proves first life-saving drug. By Michelle Roberts. Health editor, BBC News online. Published 16 June 2020

BBC News. Tocilizumab: Arthritis drug may treat severe Covid. By James Gallagher. Health and science correspondent. Published 19 November 2020

BMJ. Dexamethasone in management of covid -19. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2648 (Published 03 July 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2648

BMJ. Rapid Recommendations. A living WHO guideline on drugs for covid-19. BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3379 (Published 04 September 2020). Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3379

BMJ. Covid-19: Arthritis drugs improve survival in intensive care patients, shows study
BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n61 (Published 08 January 2021)
Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n61

eMC. Sarilumab is a human monoclonal antibody selective for the interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor, produced in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells by recombinant DNA technology. (Sarilumab, administered as a subcutaneous injection is routinely used for treatment of arthritis and is not an entirely new drug).

eMC. Tocilizumab is a recombinant humanized, anti-human monoclonal antibody of the immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) sub-class directed against soluble and membrane-bound interleukin 6 receptors. (Tocilizumab, as a intravenous or subcutaneous formulation, is routinely used for treatment of various arthritis and is also not an entirely new drug).

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Why do some people falsely believe COVID-19 is a hoax ?

It is quite difficult to give a single reason why some people believe COVID-19 is a hoax.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, there has been so much anxiety, stress and severe disruption to the everyday life.

Most people like certainty with everyday life. Most people do not wake up and think that there is very very tiny chance I might die today (even though that’s true).

Thinking about bad things all the time can make you feel very stressed and exhausted . In a way, it is healthy NOT to focus on all the bad things that can happen everyday.

The daily bad news about Coronavirus pandemic can be very upsetting to some people, particularly if you cannot mentally switch off.

So some people mentally cope by believing the COVID-19 is fake news. Believing COVID-19 is a hoax helps some people to get on with their lives without being very fearful and worried everyday. It is a coping mechanism.

Unfortunately social media doesn’t help and lot of fake news sites tell people that it is no worse than a simple flu. (which is not true, COVID-19 is certainly much worse than simple flu).

It is true that only about 1% of people with COVID-19 die due to the disease. But if ten million people get infected in a country that means an extra 100,000 deaths. If the whole population of UK were to get the infection, theoretically it could mean at least an extra 500,000 deaths.

COVID-19 is particularly bad for old people . The risk of death is <1 per 10 000 for someone aged less than 30 but the risk is much higher for older age groups. For example, in men aged 80 or older, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is just over 1 in 10.

Be safe. Be aware.

Do trust the NHS website rather than a “friend of a friend” on social media.

References:

Guardian Newspaper. Doctors are our frontline against Covid. Now they lead the fight against its deniers, too
Gaby Hinsliff. Mon 4 Jan 2021 14.36 GMT

Newspaper headlines: ‘Lockdown 3′ and ‘race to vaccinate vulnerable’
By BBC News. 5 Jan 2021.

“Normal” risk and dangers of covid-19
Awareness of normal risk is not normal
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4121 (Published 29 October 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4121 https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/371/bmj.m4121.full.pdf

Spiegelhalter D. Use of “normal” risk to improve understanding of dangers of covid-19. BMJ2020;370:m3259. doi:10.1136/bmj.m3259. pmid:32907857

Comparative evaluation of clinical manifestations and risk of death in patients admitted to hospital with covid-19 and seasonal influenza: cohort study. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4677 (Published 15 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4677

Infection fatality risk for SARS-CoV-2 in community dwelling population of Spain: nationwide seroepidemiological study
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4509 (Published 27 November 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4509. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4509

Office for National statistics. Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: mid-2019.

NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19). Get the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and the authors views are not in way intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Obesity kills but is losing weight in old age also risky ?

Losing weight is a New year resolution for many people. There is no doubt that having a normal weight is healthy overall.

But there is always some degree of uncertainty with any health advice and this BMJ paper certainly gives “food for thought”.

Before you read further , you have understand that there are varying degrees of being overweight. BMI ( Body mass index) is the scientific way of looking at body weight issues and it is calculated using height and weight.

Based on BMI, people are usually classified into three groups:

(a) underweight and normal weight (BMI<25)

b) overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9)

(c) obese (BMI ≥30.0)

There is no doubt that obesity is bad for health. The BMJ paper not supringly found obesity in adulthood increased the risk death.

But, intriguingly, just being overweight only without being obese does NOT seem to have MAJOR impact on risk of death in adults.

Paradoxically, the study found that “weight loss from middle to late adulthood was associated with increased risk of death”

It is large well designed study but nevertheless results of observational studies need to be interpreted with caution.

The message from this study is “do not gain excessive weight during early adulthood“. Losing the excessive weight later on might not undo the damage already done to the body.

References:

(1) Weight change across adulthood in relation to all cause and cause specific mortality: prospective cohort study.

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l5584 (Published 16 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l5584

(2) Free NHS calculator for BMI ( Body mass index calculation) and advice regarding Body mass index.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Does smoking cause Body pain ?

Yes. Smoking can cause body pain and make you miserable.

Smoking is bad for various obvious reasons including the risk of developing of cancer. As smoking can make you miserable with pain, it’s time to make a new year resolution to stop smoking.

A large study done in UK shows that current and ex-smokers have a higher degree of bodily pain.

The study involved 223,537 people who were surveyed between 2009 and 2013 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Lab UK Study.

As it is such a big study, the conclusions do need to be taken seriously.

Definitely another reason for quitting smoking this new year !

Reference:

Associations between smoking status and bodily pain in a cross-sectional survey of UK respondents. Addictive Behaviors 102:106229 · December 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106229

Smokers past and present ‘live in more pain’ – BBC News

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Can a Vegan diet help weight loss?

Yes, Vegan diet can help weight loss.

Lot of diets promoted by Magazines, Social Media Influencers and Celebrities do not have strong scientific evidence in favour of them.

A scientifically sound trial published by the medical journal JAMA ( Journal of American Medical Association) recently, found the Vegan Diet helped weight loss and promoted Good metabolism.

The trial involving 244 participants found that over 16 weeks, body weight decreased on average by 5.9 kg in those having a Vegan Diet. That’s very impressive!

References: Effect of a Low-Fat Vegan Diet on Body Weight, Insulin Sensitivity, Postprandial Metabolism, and Intramyocellular and Hepatocellular Lipid Levels in Overweight Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial
Hana Kahleova et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.
The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine mandatory for everyone?

NO, it is not mandatory. The Government is NOT making it compulsory for everyone to have the vaccination. You have to give voluntary consent for Vaccination.

No one is being forced to have the COVID-19 vaccines.

In fact, there is a huge queue of people waiting to have the vaccine. The NHS capacity is limited at present and the NHS is trying the best to give vaccination to those people who are very keen to have it.

So, if you don’t want to have it, no one will force you to have it.

Once the waiting list for vaccination is cleared in early 2021, there might be some changes . If clinical trials show that vaccinated people do not carry virus and pass it to others, then the Government might change its guidelines.

For instance, health professionals working with sick and vulnerable people might be asked to have the vaccine so that they don’t pass the virus to vulnerable people under their care.

But it’s very unlikely vaccination would be made mandatory for General Public.

References

(1). Guidance. COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a. Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination information for public health professionals.

(2). Guidance. COVID-19 vaccination: guide for healthcare workers. Updated 15 December 2020

(3) Form. COVID-19 vaccination: consent form and letter for adults

(4). Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination consent forms.

(5). Guardian Newspaper. NHS doctors ‘scrabbling’ to get vaccine amid alarm at Covid variant. Many medics ‘frustrated’ about low priority given to frontline staff at high risk of infection. Denis Campbell Health policy editor
Sun 27 Dec 2020 20.46 GMT

(6). PHE. Guidance. Why you have to wait for your COVID-19 vaccine. Published 7 December 2020

(7). Guardian. Coronavirus. Spain will register people who refuse Covid vaccine, says health minister. Ashifa Kassam in Madrid. Tue 29 Dec 2020 14.33 GMT

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and may change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the COVID-19 Coronavirus vaccine safe for use in patients having chemotherapy and immunotherapy?

Yes, the available indirect evidence indicates that the anticipated benefits overweigh the potential risks.

Cancer patients, particularly those on chemotherapy have compromised immune systems and hence more vulnerable to COVID-19 Coronavirus complications.

The guidelines indicate that anticipated benefits of vaccine are greater than unknown risks from the Coronavirus vaccines.

The Vaccine trials deliberately included lot of healthy people. Very few people with cancer, particularly cancer patients on active treatment, were included in the COVID-19 trials. So there is not much direct evidence regarding efficacy and safety of Vaccines in cancer patients. But indirect evidence significantly favours Coronavirus vaccination in cancer patients.

Flu vaccines are regularly used in cancer patients without any major side effects specific to cancer patients. No increase in incidence or severity of drug side effects were seen in immunotherapy patients having flu vaccines.

On balance, Vaccination is most likely to be of utmost benefit for most advanced cancer patients on active treatment.

References:

ESMO STATEMENTS FOR VACCINATION AGAINST COVID-19 IN PATIENTS WITH CANCER.

Guidance: COVID-19: the green book, chapter 14a
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination information
for public health professionals. (UK),

Cochrane: Influenza (flu) vaccination for preventing influenza in adults with cancer

Safety of Inactivated Influenza Vaccine in Cancer Patients Receiving Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
Curtis R Chong et al. Clin Infect Dis. 2020.

ESMO: CANCER PATIENT MANAGEMENT DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

Kuderer NM Choueiri TK Shah DP et al.
Clinical impact of COVID-19 on patients with cancer (CCC19): a cohort study. Lancet. 2020; 395: 1907-1918

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.
The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the new vaccine against COVID-19 causing CoronaVirus safe and effective ?

Yes, the available short term data indicates the vaccine is safe and effective in vast majority of people.

The big unknown is the long term efficacy and side effects.

Normally medicine progresses slowly and carefully like a big train turning slowly on sharp uphill bend .

But due to pandemic emergency, the vaccines are being introduced to the the general public more more earlier than it would have done, well before availability of more mature data.

Long term, there are some uncertainties. For instance, there is a possibility of loss of efficacy if vaccine effect is not long lasting. But there is no evidence to suggest at present this would happen. As regards long term side effects, once more data is collected and more patients are followed up after vaccination, there will more mature data on side effects.

The available data suggests that very high groups who are a high risk of death from COVID , have good odds of benefitting from vaccine.

The trial data published so far, UK Medicine regulator conclusions , Pfizer data sheet and UK govt Guidelines has been positive so far.

It may be that low risk groups such as people in 20s, who have less chance of dying from COVID, may opt for more long term data before having the vaccination.

References:

NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

MHRA Regulatory approval of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19

Information for UK recipients on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Updated 16 December 2020.

Information for Healthcare Professionals on Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Updated 16 December 2020.

Public Health England. COVID-19 vaccination programme. Information for healthcare practitioners. Published December 2020. Version 2.1

The Green book chapter 14a COVID-19-SARS-Cov-2.

PHE. Confirmation of guidance to vaccination centres on managing allergic reactions following COVID-19 vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 9/12/2020.

British Society for Rheumatology. Guidance for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.


The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is the new variant of Coronavirus more dangerous?

Yes and No

The new mutant is more dangerous because it is more easily transmissible from person to person. The new variant is now spreading very rapidly in London and South East of England.

But, so far, the new variant has NOT been found to be more deadly than the original version. The new variant does NOT seem to have substantially increased the risk of hospitalisation and death anymore than the original version of coronavirus.

Emergence of this new mutant (called variant VUI-202012/01 fall) is a certainly a worrying development in this pandemic.

The mutations has made the new strain 70 per cent more transmissible but scientists do not expect these mutations to reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Tests are being carried out to confirm that the existing vaccines would still have a high degree of protective affect.

It is an evolving area and we have to hope that the new variant doesn’t make things worse than they are now !

Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4857 (Published 16 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4857

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Should a patient avoid a surgeon on the surgeons’ birthday?

If you are going to have an emergency surgery, it may be worthwhile asking your surgeon whether it is their birthday on that day.

If you accept the findings of a recent study at face value, one should weigh up the pros and cons of seeking a different surgeon if one is available or request your surgeon to be extra careful.

An intriguing paper published in BMJ recently suggests so. The study looked at the outcome of Medicare patients who underwent emergency surgery in USA. It is a very large study in which 980876 procedures performed by 47489 surgeons were analyzed. Hence the study findings do need to be taken very seriously.

The study found that patients operated by surgeons on the surgeons’ birthday had a higher risk of death.

The study provocatively suggests, without any direct proof, that surgeons were possibly distracted on their birthdays and in their rush to go to their birthday celebration, they might have done “botched emergency surgeries” by not concentrating properly during surgery and by not providing good post-operative care.

The findings are entirely plausible from behavioural psychology point of view and the study authors seem to have done a thorough statistical analysis of various factors that could have spuriously affected the death rates.

Nevertheless, there remains a distinct possibility that the study findings are spurious. For instance, the scientific community is aware of the fact that if “any data is tortured enough”, the dataset will cough up spurious and unexpected results.

Apart from data dredging , one has to take findings from observational studies with a “pinch of salt”. That’s why we often see conflicting results about Nutrition published in Newspapers all the time.

Genuine Surgical errors can sometimes lead to death but much more commonly surgical errors can often lead to increase in rate of surgical complications. It is a bit of stretch for the study to suggest that surgeons all over the country are doing “ technically poor surgeries” everyday if that day happens to be their birthday and they are doing it in such a way to cause deaths without causing any surgical complications.

We don’t know whether the study inadvertently looked at male surgeons working on weekends at rural non-teaching hospitals as these factors could have a bearing on death rates.

Sad life events can adversely affect the work performance of any human being. But happy people are more productive at work. So the conclusion by the study that a happy event, such as a birthday, can adversely affect a surgeon’s performance deserves more scrutiny in a well designed study.

Read the full paper at BMJ website and share your views at the BMJ rapid response section.

References.(1). BMJ. Patient mortality after surgery on the surgeon’s birthday: observational study. BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4381 (Published 10 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4381

(2) Conflicting healthy eating advice leaving public ‘clueless’, poll suggests. Rob Knight
Tuesday 16 July 2019 14:56

(3). Does Employee Happiness have an Impact on Productivity?. Saïd Business School WP 2019-13

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Can Pollution affect your heart?

Air pollution, particularly breathing toxic fumes whether it is from a cigarette or a diesel lorry is bad for the lungs.

Can pollution affect your heart as well ?

Yes, it can.

A large study involving more than 8 million people across 184 major cities in China studied the effect of pollution on heart diseases.

The study reports that “short term exposure to Pollutants in air is associated with increased risk of hospital admissions for major heart problems”.

May be everyone living or working close to major roads or high traffic areas should invest in a good mask !!!

Reference

Association between ambient fine particulate pollution and hospital admissions for cause specific cardiovascular disease: time series study in 184 major Chinese cities

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6572 (Published 30 December 2019)

Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6572

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.

Is it worth stopping smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer ?

Yes.

It is not too late to stop smoking even after a diagnosis of lung cancer.

A Study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting earlier this year reports that ” No matter when smokers quit, their chance of survival increases following a lung cancer diagnosis”.

References

Quitting Smoking at Any Point, Even Close to a Lung Cancer Diagnosis, Improves Chances of Survival. Virtual scientific program of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. 

https://www.asco.org/about-asco/press-center/news-releases/quitting-smoking-any-point-even-close-lung-cancer-diagnosis

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only and do check the the sources where cited. Please consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you.

The views expressed in this blog represent the author’s views held at the time of drafting the blog and is likely to change overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light. The blog is not necessarily endorsed by any organisation the author is associated with and views are not substitute for professional advice.

Is red meat bad for heart?

Yes, red meat can increase the risk of developing heart disease.

A large study involving more than 43,000 men conducted at USA shows that “Red meat increased the risk of developing heart disease “.

In contrast , plant proteins such as nuts and lentils reduced the risk of developing heart disease.

References: Red meat intake and risk of coronary heart disease among US men: prospective cohort study.
BMJ 2020; 371 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4141 (Published 02 December 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4141

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