Hot Tub Health Kick: Why a Long Bath is Almost As Good For You As a Long Run

A soak in a hot tub could be just the thing to relax you after a long day. The warm, bubbly water also eases aches and pains from conditions like arthritis, low back pain, and fibromyalgia.

But hot tubs might not be safe for some people, including pregnant women and those with heart disease. And when they aren’t cleaned well, they pose risks to even healthy people.

Before you buy a hot tub for your backyard or step into those warm waters at the spa or gym, make sure you know a bit about their safety.

Health Benefits

Warm water soothes your body for a few reasons. The heat widens blood vessels, which sends nutrient-rich blood throughout your body. Warm water also brings down swelling and loosens tight muscles. And the water’s buoyancy takes weight off painful joints.

A dip in the hot tub might also help your mental state. Research shows they can promote relaxation and ease stress.

Hot Tub Risks

These warm water whirlpools can pose some risks if you’re not careful.

Infections

Between 2000 and 2014, outbreaks from treated pools and hot tubs were linked to more than 27,000 infections and eight deaths in the United States. When hot tubs aren’t cleaned well, their moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Pseudomonas, one type of bacteria that thrives in hot tubs, causes infections of the hair follicles and skin. Symptoms include red, itchy bumps on the belly and areas covered by your bathing suit. These bumps can pop up anywhere from a few hours to a few days after you take a dip. The same bacteria cause an infection known as swimmer’s ear.

Other germs that live in hot tubs can also make you sick. Cryptosporidium causes GI infections with diarrhea. Legionella causes a severe type of pneumonia, or lung disease.

Hot Tub Use in Pregnancy

Hot tubs might not be safe for pregnant women because they increase body temperature. Research finds that pregnant women who use a hot tub more than once or for long periods of time are more likely to have babies with neural tube birth defects like spina bifida or anencephaly.

Avoid hot tubs if you can during those 9 months. If you do use a hot tub, turn down the temperature and limit your time in the water to less than 10 minutes.

Heart Risks

Be cautious when using a hot tub if you have heart disease. When you soak in hot water, your body can’t sweat. Your blood vessels instead need to widen to cool you off. This makes your blood pressure drop. In response to falling blood pressure, your heart rate speeds up.

This isn’t a problem for healthy people, but if you have heart disease, it can strain your heart.

Hot Tub Safety Tips

To stay safe, follow these tips:

Ask your doctor. If you’re pregnant or you have a health condition like heart disease, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to get into a hot tub.

Check the cleanliness. Ask the hotel or gym how often they clean their hot tub, and whether they keep the pH and chlorine concentrations at levels the CDC recommends (a pH of 7.2-7.8, and a free chlorine concentration of at least 3 parts per million). If the water looks murky or slimy, don’t get in.

Avoid crowds. Stay away when a hot tub is full. More people equals more germs. About half of people say they don’t shower before they swim.

Turn down the heat. A temperature of 100 F should be safe for healthy adults. Anything over 104 could be dangerous. Turn it down another couple of degrees if you have a medical condition.

Limit your time. Don’t stay in the hot tub for longer than 10 minutes. If you feel dizzy, overheated, or unwell, get out right away.

Watch where you sit. Don’t sit too close to the heat source. Keep your head, arms, and upper chest out of the water to avoid overheating, especially if you’re pregnant.

Stay hydrated. Drink water while in the hot tub to cool off your body. Avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate you.

Don’t go from hot to cold. Don’t jump straight from the hot tub into the pool to cool off. The cold water could shock your system and spike your blood pressure.

Wash off afterward. Take off your bathing suit and shower with warm water and soap as soon as you finish.

By  Carol DerSarkissian, MD

Source:https://www.webmd.com

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Safety

Sitting in water above normal body temperatures can cause drowsiness which may lead to unconsciousness and subsequently result in drowning. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that water temperatures never exceed 40 degrees Celsius. A temperature of 37 degrees is considered safe for a healthy adult. Soaking in water above 39 degrees Celsius can cause fetal damage during the first three months of pregnancy.

It is also recommended to install residual-current devices for protection against electrocution. The greater danger associated with electrical shock in the water is that the person may be rendered immobile and unable to rescue themselves or to call for help and then drown.

Hot tubs and spas are equipped with drains that can create powerful suction and between 1980 and 1996, the CPSC had reports of more than 700 deaths in spas and hot tubs, about one-third of which were drownings to children under age five. In the same period 18 incidents were reported to the CPSC involving body part entrapment.

To reduce the risk of entrapment, US safety standards require that each spa have two drains for each pump, reducing the amount of suction. From 1999 to 2007 there were 26 reports to the CPSC concerning circulation entrapments hot tubs and spas, including three deaths.

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References

 

Long Working Hours Killing 745,000 People a Year, Study Finds

 

The first global study of its kind showed 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to long hours.The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.

The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.

The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO), also showed almost three quarters of those that died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men.

Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the long hours were worked.Five weeks ago, a post on LinkedIn from 45-year-old Jonathan Frostick gained widespread publicity as he described how he’d had a wake-up call over long working hours.

The regulatory program manager working for HSBC had just sat down on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the working week ahead when he felt a tightness in his chest, a throbbing in his throat, jawline and arm, and difficulty breathing.

“I got to the bedroom so I could lie down, and got the attention of my wife who phoned 999,” he said.While recovering from his heart-attack, Mr Frostick decided to restructure his approach to work. “I’m not spending all day on Zoom anymore,” he said.

His post struck a chord with hundreds of readers, who shared their experiences of overwork and the impact on their health.Mr Frostick doesn’t blame his employer for the long hours he was putting in, but one respondent said: “Companies continue to push people to their limits without concern for your personal well-being.”

HSBC said everyone at the bank wished Mr Frostick a full and speedy recovery.”We also recognise the importance of personal health and wellbeing and a good work-life balance. Over the last year we have redoubled our efforts on health and wellbeing.

“The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”

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While the WHO study did not cover the period of the pandemic, WHO officials said the recent jump in remote working and the economic slowdown may have increased the risks associated with long working hours.

“We have some evidence that shows that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increase by about 10%,” WHO technical officer Frank Pega said.

The report said working long hours was estimated to be responsible for about a third of all work-related disease, making it the largest occupational disease burden.

The researchers said that there were two ways longer working hours led to poor health outcomes: firstly through direct physiological responses to stress, and secondly because longer hours meant workers were more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, less sleep and exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

Andrew Falls, 32, a service engineer based in Leeds, says the long hours at his previous employer took a toll on his mental and physical health.”Fifty to 55 hour weeks were the norm. I was also away from home for weeks on end.”

“Stress, depression, anxiety, it was a cauldron of bad feedback loops,” he says. “I was in a constant state of being run down.”After five years he left the job to retrain as a software engineer. The number of people working long hours was increasing before the pandemic struck, according to the WHO, and was around 9% of the total global population.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people working from home during the pandemic were putting in an average of six hours of unpaid overtime a week. People who did not work from home put in an average of 3.6 hours a week overtime, the ONS said.

The WHO suggests that employers should now take this into account when assessing the occupational health risks of their workers. Capping hours would be beneficial for employers as that had been shown to increase productivity, Mr Pega said. “It’s really a smart choice to not increase long working hours in an economic crisis.”

Source: Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, study finds – BBC News

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References

“Spain introduces new working hours law requiring employees to clock in and out”. Idealista. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

An illustration of a needle and rode - The road back to normalcy

As vaccines roll out around the world, the question on everybody’s mind, is what does the journey back to “normal” look like? A new normal won’t return at the flip of a switch. We need to understand what’s happening, and we need trusted data to do that. So what should we be tracking? What metrics do we need to make effective, data-driven decisions? And, how do we know if we’re on the path to normalcy?

We recently spoke with Dr. Sam Scarpino, complex systems scientist, and assistant professor at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. With his help, we’ve identified five key variables that can help us measure our progress to a state resembling normalcy. In other words, when data will tell us when and how we can return to a simpler—if not quite normal—life.

1. Vaccine effectiveness

The first variable is, of course, the vaccines themselves. In our conversation, Scarpino shared two important variables regarding vaccine rollout:

  1. Transmission: The amount that vaccines reduce transmission
  2. Deployment: How quickly we can roll out vaccines across the country and internationally

Public and private healthcare organizations will need to track these data at a granular level.

Scarpino also emphasized the need for passive, always-on surveillance for COVID-19 and for genomic variants, like the B.1.1.7 variant in the United Kingdom. “Without these surveillance systems, we’re going to be continually caught off-guard by this disease and the “new normal” will feel a lot less normal,” said Scarpino.

2. Vaccine distribution

Next, we have to consider the huge task of distributing and administering the vaccines. This of course brings production and logistical challenges from mass shipping of perishable products, to scaling delivery to patients within myriad healthcare systems. And most critical of all, prioritizing what groups should be vaccinated first, and managing follow-up to ensure second doses are administered on schedule.

“At this stage, the biggest obstacle is delivery of the vaccines,” shared Scarpino. “Given the lack of a uniform national plan, states and localities are creating their own distribution and vaccination plans. Every state has a different approach, with varying levels of success. As a result, we’re already seeing dreadfully slow uptake. What this means is that we need more federal support for community health organizations administering the vaccine and public health agencies monitoring and coordinating our responses.”

There are also concerns around equal access to vaccinations.

Communities of color and Native American populations have experienced an increased burden of COVID-19, as a direct result of generations of systemic racism that have impacted health and access to healthcare. As a country, and internationally, we need to engage with individuals in these communities to ensure they have a voice and vote in how vaccines are prioritized.”

3. Vaccine acceptance and uptake

The third key variable is vaccine acceptance and uptake, which is difficult to predict. Vaccine acceptance is about building trust within local communities, especially where vaccine hesitancy is the norm. Uptake, on the other hand, is about vaccinations itself. Is it fast, easy, and accessible? The story of COVID-19 is fundamentally a local story, so what we really need are data insights at the postal code level.

“The first step is a critical and realistic assessment of our failures and successes, which requires data,” shared Scarpino. “If we don’t have detailed enough data around uptake, we can’t see which communities are close to herd-immunity and which are further away. We’ll be in the dark trying to respond to COVID-19 flare-ups.”

4. Testing speed and availability

It’s going to take time to roll out the vaccine. But with focus shifting to the vaccine itself, we can’t forget the importance of testing. We need to address questions like:

  • How available is on-demand testing?
  • What are the barriers that prevent people from being tested?
  • How long do the results take? Hours or days?

With this data, communities can identify hot spots and businesses gain insights they need to reopen, getting us one step closer to normalcy.

Scarpino emphasized that “high-rates of testing, paired with isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing can control COVID-19 even without a vaccine,” based on models and data from countries like Vietnam and Australia. “With the proper non-pharmaceutical interventions, we could potentially reach normalcy in months instead of years,” shared Scarpino.

5. Contact tracing

Finally, even with testing, vaccines, and wide scale public health measures, nothing beats good old fashioned contact tracing.

“Contact tracing—and its vital partner, case investigation to determine the source of infections—remains our best tool for fighting this disease,” shared Scarpino.

Closely monitoring where, when, and by whom one was exposed will help people understand if they are at risk, and take the right precautions, especially if they are asymptomatic. Contact tracing is foundational to the path to normalcy, by making sure that exposed individuals are aware, they can take actions to limit further transmission.

“We’ve seen myriad countries, like Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, to name only a few, control this disease with testing, tracing, and isolation,” said Scarpino.

The vaccine also requires multiple doses, so Scarpino noted that “we need effective, and accurate systems, for monitoring uptake and ensuring individuals receive all the necessary rounds of inoculation. If our contact tracing systems aren’t working, we can’t control the disease and we can’t ensure individuals are being vaccinated properly.”

Getting back to “normal” takes all of us

Over the next few months, these factors will drive how quickly or how well things will return to normal for citizens, communities, and the economy.

“What we’ve seen over the past year is that society’s deepest challenges—from racism and its lasting effects, to chronically underfunding public health, or access to affordable healthcare and housing—largely dictated the course of this pandemic,” shared Scarpino.

“We can build a brighter, safer, and more productive future. One that will help us return to normal faster and prevent this from happening again. But it’s going to take all of us, working together and it has to start now.”

For more information, check out the Tableau COVID-19 Data Hub, where you can explore dashboards, find actionable insights, and visualize your own analyses.

From connection through collaboration, Tableau is the most powerful, secure, and flexible end-to-end analytics platform for your data. Elevate people with the power of data. Designed for the individual, but scaled for the enterprise, Tableau is the only business intelligence platform that turns your data into insights that drive action

Source: 5 Key Variables That Will Impact Our Return To “Normal”

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References

Nigerian Filmmaker, Teniola Olatoni Premieres “The New Normal” to Rave Reviews, AP, November 18, 2020

Scientists Find an Odd Link Between Aspirin, Air Pollution, and Male Brains

If you look at the smudged skylines of Los Angeles, California or Beijing, China, the haziness creates the illusion of cities shrouded in perpetual gray. That smog is driven by a pollutant that doesn’t just ruin the view — it worms its way into the brain, influencing the health of people exposed.

In a new study, scientists find another reason why air pollution is bad for the brain — this time zeroing in on the effect it has on men’s brain health. The study examines the negative effect of fine particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5 pollution. You might know it as black carbon or “soot.”

“Our study is the first one that demonstrates that exposure to PM2.5, even just over a few weeks, can impair cognitive performance,” lead author Xu Gao tells Inverse. Gao is an assistant professor at Peking University and a researcher affiliated with Columbia University.

What’s new — Scientists are increasingly unearthing new information about how the tainted air we breathe harms our bodies, whether it’s worsening the severity of Covid-19 or reducing men’s sperm count.

Gao and colleagues found air pollution is associated with considerable negative short-term effects on cognitive health in a sample of older white men. This finding was published Monday in the journal Nature Aging.

The study suggests PM 2.5 levels not usually considered hazardous can still cause individuals to suffer from cognitive decline due to short-term air pollution. This implies “there is no safe zone for PM 2.5,” Gao says.

Interestingly, the researchers found that men who take what’s known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) did not suffer as many harmful effects from PM 2.5 pollution. These anti-inflammatory medications include pills like aspirin.

This finding emerged although NSAIDs don’t have any known relationship to cognitive performance. The researchers suspect NSAIDs have a “modifying effect” on the inflammatory responses prompted by inhaling polluted air.

These findings are preliminary — Gao says it’s too early to endorse taking NSAIDs as a way to protect oneself from air pollution. However, he does venture to say people on these medications “may have additional benefits.”

Air pollution is associated with an ever-growing laundry list of health risks, including:

PM 2.5 pollution is especially harmful. These tiny air particles are 2.5 microns or less in size — for comparison, human hair is roughly 70 microns in diameter. This category of pollution is why you see gray horizons in cities like Los Angeles — it’s associated with smog and poor air quality. It’s arguably the greatest environmental risk factor for human mortality.

But there is some good news amidst all this doom and gloom. Some recent studies, for example, suggest exercise can offset some of the harmful effects of air pollution — even in urban areas.

Air pollution deaths have also declined by half between 1990 and 2010, correlating with improved federal regulations on air quality. But it can still do considerable short-term and long-term damage to the human mind, according to this latest Nature Aging study.

How they did it — The scientists analyzed data from 954 men in the Boston area between 1995 and 2021. The average age of a man in the study data was 69-years-old. None had chronic health conditions, but 64 percent were former smokers.

The participants were also questioned about their use of NSAIDs, including aspirin. They also took cognitive tests, including tests on their ability to remember words and repeat numbers, as well as screening exercises used to test for dementia.The researchers also analyzed this data in conjunction with information on weather patterns in the Boston area, since air pollution varies by season and is greater in the winter.

Finally, they obtained data on air pollution from a Harvard University supersite, which they used as a baseline to measure air pollution in the Greater Boston areas.

Using this information, the researchers were able to paint a picture of cognitive health that correlates with short-term air pollution and also study any potential effects of NSAIDs on cognitive performance.

Why it matters — Media and policymakers have focused, rightly so, on the number of deaths resulting from air pollution each year, which now number 200,000 annually in the U.S — and that’s just from the air that meets EPA standards.

Much less attention has been paid to air pollution’s impacts on short-term and long-term cognitive performance. The research that has been done has found air pollution can impair the cognitive performance of children, and influence cognitive decline in older adults.

Although this new study focuses on short-term effects, the researchers also conducted a sensitivity analysis to include the effects of long-term exposure to air pollution. And while preliminary, the findings don’t bode well for the human mind’s ability to withstand air pollution in the long run.

“We found that both short and long exposures were related to cognitive function,” Gao says. But the study has limitations — The study team acknowledges that their work is just a starting point. Much more research needs to be done to expand on their intriguing findings — and go beyond the scope of the study’s design.

For example, the study only focuses on older white men, “which suggests the possibility that the results might not be generalizable to other ethnic groups and/or women” the team writes. Gao would like to conduct further research involving people of different ages, races, and genders to confirm whether similar effects would occur among various demographics.

“We believe that younger people may have a better adaptive response to air pollution than the elderly. Females are also different from males with respect to health outcomes,” Gao says.

Meanwhile, scientists have long known that communities of color suffer disproportionately from air pollution. A recent Science study found Black and Hispanic individuals experience particularly high levels of PM 2.5 pollution — the subject of this study.

The researchers also analyzed this data in conjunction with information on weather patterns in the Boston area, since air pollution varies by season and is greater in the winter.

But the study has limitations — The study team acknowledges that their work is just a starting point. Much more research needs to be done to expand on their intriguing findings — and go beyond the scope of the study’s design.

What’s next — Ultimately, what’s needed is more information on both the long-term impacts of air pollution on cognitive health and the relationship between NSAIDs and air pollution. This research could be used to inform future policy, both in the U.S. and abroad.

And while Gao suggests NSAIDs could be helpful in treating the cognitive effects of air pollution, it is not a replacement for policies that reduce the actual source of pollution. Recent efforts by the Biden administration to move toward electric vehicles, as well as California’s stricter vehicle emissions standards, could help shift the tide against air pollution.

“Although our study shows that taking NSAIDs may be a solution to air pollution’s harm, [it’s] definitely not the final answer to the threats of air pollution. Changing our policies of air pollution towards a more restrictive manner is still warranted,” Gao says.

But it’s data that drives policy forward — evidence that pollution isn’t just a topic on our minds, it literally influences the brain.

By: Tara Yarlagadda

Source: Scientists find an odd link between aspirin, air pollution, and male brains

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Show Your Immune System Some Love

If the immune system ran its own version of The Bachelor, antibodies would, hands down, get this season’s final rose. These Y-shaped molecules have acquired some star-caliber celebrity in the past year, due in no small part to COVID-19. For months, their potentially protective powers have made headlines around the globe; we test for them with abandon, and anxiously await the results.

Many people have come to equate antibodies, perhaps not entirely accurately, with near imperviousness to the coronavirus and its effects. Antibodies are, in many ways, the heartthrobs of the immune system—and some 15 months deep into immunological infatuation, the world is still swooning hard. Frankly, it’s all getting to be a little too much.

Don’t get me wrong: Antibodies have served me well, and thanks to my recent dalliance with the Pfizer vaccine, the anti-coronavirus variety will be receiving an extra dose of my admiration for a good while yet. I am, above all else, eager for the rest of the global population to nab the safeguards they offer, ideally for keeps.

But antibodies are simply not the only immune-system singles worthy of our love. A multitude of cells and molecules are crucial to building a protective immune response against this virus and many others. It’s time we took a break from antibodies, and embarked on a brief Rumspringa with the rest of the body’s great defenders.

What follows isn’t even close to a comprehensive overview of the immune system, because I am not a masochist, and because no one wants to read a 75,000-word story. Instead, I asked a few immunologists to chat with me about some of their favorite immune cells and molecules, and imagine what these disease fighters might be like if they truly were single and ready to mingle. As it were, everyone needs someone to be their starter bae.

Some good candidates might be found among the members of the innate immune system, a fast-acting fleet of cells that are the first to contend with an infection. (Antibodies belong to another branch, called the adaptive immune system; more on that later.) They’re a lot like adolescent lovers: dogged and earnest, but impulsive and, on occasion, woefully imprecise. Unlike antibodies, which can zero in on specific pathogens, innate immune cells are built to clobber just about anything that doesn’t resemble their human host. Perhaps it’s no surprise that these underdog cells are often forgotten or outright snubbed in conversations about immune protection.

But the all-purpose approach of innate immune cells has its charms. They’ll try anything at least once, and they’re admirably selfless. When pathogens come knocking, innate cells are the first to volunteer to fight, and often the first to die (RIP, neutrophils). Some ambush invading microbes directly, snarfing them down or bathing them with deadly toxins, while others blow up infected cells—tactics reminiscent of guerrilla warfare. Although antibodies take many days to appear, innate cells will immediately be “by your side when you have a problem,” Ashton Trotman-Grant, an immunologist at the University of Toronto, told me.

These acts of martyrdom buy the rest of the immune system time to prepare a more targeted attack. And in many cases, innate immune cells act so quickly and decisively that they can subdue an invasive microbe on their own—a level of self-sufficiency that most other defenders can’t match.

Some innate immune cells are also just plain adorable. Among the fan favorites are macrophages (“big eaters” in Greek), aptly named for their round-boi physique and insatiable appetite. Their goal in life is to chow down for the greater good. “They’ll never make you feel like you’re eating too much, and they’re open to trying new foods,” Juliet Morrison, a virologist and immunologist at UC Riverside, told me. They’re also endearingly unselfish: If a microbe crosses their path, they’ll gobble it up, then belch up bits to wave at adaptive immune cells as a warning of potential danger. It’s a great gift-giving strategy, Morrison said, especially if weird microscopic puke is what makes your heart go pitter-patter.

Dendritic cells have a similar modus operandi. Like macrophages, they specialize in regurgitating gunk for other immune cells. But they are much more social than macrophages, which prefer to gorge and digest in solitude. Dendritic cells are sentinels and gregarious gossips; their primary imperative is to “talk and hang out with other cells,” and they’ll flit from tissue to tissue to do it, David Martinez, an immunologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told me. If you’ve recently caught word of a new and dangerous infection, you probably heard about it from a dendritic cell.

A few weeks ago, Trotman-Grant put together a March Madness–style bracket to choose the “best” immune cell; after a couple of grueling weeks of voting, dendritic cells won. They’re almost certainly the cells you’d want to take to prom. But Trotman-Grant warned that their social-butterfly tendencies could be a double-edged sword: Dendritic cells just aren’t the type to settle down. Innate immune cells might be convenient dates, for a time. But while they’re great at first impressions, they can also be commitment-phobes, as likely to ghost you as they are to come on strong. (Besides, who wants to date someone who’s always arriving on the early side?)

The real keepers belong to the adaptive branch of the immune system: B cells—the makers of antibodies—and T cells, which, among many other tasks, kill virus-infected cells. Adaptives are slow-moving specialists. They take down microbial invaders that innate cells can’t handle on their own, relying heavily on intel from macrophages, dendritic cells, and other early defenders. They won’t be the first to make a move, but they’re sharp and sophisticated, capable of singling out individual pathogens and zapping them with precision.

B and T cells are self-assured enough to know what they want. Unlike innate cells, they’re also capable of remembering the things they’ve encountered before, ensuring that most pathogens can’t trouble the same person twice; that capacity is the conceptual basis of vaccines. “They do a great job at committing things to memory,” Ryan McNamara, a virologist at UNC Chapel Hill, told me. That also means no missed birthdays or anniversaries—and no chance they’ll ever forget that time you were wrong.

If you’re a fan of antibodies, you have B cells to thank: They are the glorious wellsprings whence these molecules hail. (On Mother’s Day, antibodies call their B cells.) Unfortunately, B cells are often overlooked; as living, dividing cells that hide away in tissues, they’re harder to isolate and study than the proteins they produce. But the antibodies they deploy can be powerful enough to quash microbes before they break into cells, potentially halting infections in their tracks. And even after antibodies disappear, B cells persist, ready to produce more.

Martinez stans the B cells he studies. But he’s wary of their romantic potential. B cells, he said, are almost too good at their job, and will compete aggressively among themselves. Their crime-fighting careers consume them, leaving little room for a fulfilling personal life. “I would say B cells are selfish,” he told me. In the cold light of morning, it turns out a lot of them are just self-involved snobs.

T cells play a far more subtle game. Their career choices range from demolishing virus-killed cells to corralling and coordinating other immune cells. As several researchers have pointed out, T cells might be some of the most underappreciated cells in the war against COVID-19, especially when it comes to vaccines. Some evidence even suggests that, in the absence of decent antibodies, T cells can clean up the coronavirus mostly on their own.

Certain T cells are killers. As their name suggests, they operate with devilish flair: When they happen upon virus-infected cells, they force them to self-destruct. Killers’ excellent memories also give them a predilection for grudges—enemies that trouble them twice should expect to be trounced with extra gusto. Thrill seekers might be drawn to killers, but Avery August, an immunologist at Cornell University, points out that these cells, also called cytotoxic T cells, might be all take and no give. Scientifically, they’re full of intrigue; romantically, he told me, “not so much”—at least for him.

Then there are the helpers—the benign Jekyll to the killers’ bellicose Hyde. Helper Ts are some of the most loyal partners you’ll find in the immune system, nurturing almost to a fault and versatile to boot. They coax B cells into maturing into antibody factories. They cheer killers along their murderous paths. They even goad innate immune cells into becoming the most ferocious fighters (and feeders) they can be. Effectively, helpers are “badass multitaskers that coordinate every level of immunity,” Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington, told me. They’re about as supportive as they come—as long as you don’t mind being micromanaged from time to time.

It’s easy to see the appeal of antibodies. They’re among the few immune-system soldiers that can annihilate viruses before they enter cells, and they’re thought to be crucial to most vaccines. They can also be team players, throwing up red flags around microbes in order to alert other defenders to their presence. Transferred from animal to animal, or human to human, antibodies can confer protection against COVID-19; synthetic versions of the molecules are also relatively straightforward to manufacture en masse. Scoring a date with an antibody is a bit like finally getting together with the most popular person in school.

But counting on antibodies, and only antibodies, for protection is like shacking up with the first eligible suitor you meet—a risky and perhaps close-minded gamble. In the same way that our immune systems can guard against multiple pathogens at once, we could stand to be a bit less monogamous with our affections.

Besides, the choice might not ultimately be ours to make. Love is a two-way street, and antibodies are incorrigibly picky. Their sole mission is to glom on to a very specific microbe and cling to it, ignoring everything else along the way; it’s largely them doing the picking and choosing. And if you’re not the soul mate they imagined, there’s little you can do to change their minds—they’re proteins, and they don’t have one. Really, it’s not them. It’s you.

By: Katherine J. Wu

Source: Show Your Immune System Some Love – The Atlantic

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What Happens To Your Eyes When You Stare At Screens All Day

We spend a lot of time staring at screens. There’s the small screen in our pocket, the big screen we watch our shows on, and the medium screen that many of us stare into for eight hours a day to help pay for those other screens. Are all of these screens ruining our eyes?

Probably not, although rumors abound. If you grew up with big ol’ tube TVs, you probably remember being told that sitting too close would ruin your eyes. Scientific American traces that myth to a 1967 recall of early color TVs that emitted radiation (like, actual radiation) that were probably harmful to health, as well as to a misunderstanding about nearsighted kids who sat close to the TV. Most likely, they sat close so they could see better; the TV didn’t cause their nearsightedness.

When it comes to the variously sized screens we stare at all day, there are some new myths (and facts!) about how they affect our vision.

Eyestrain is real

Looking at screens for too long can cause eyestrain, but eyestrain existed long before screens. (Driving long distances is another cause, the Mayo Clinic notes.) Eyestrain may involve fatigue of the tiny muscles in and around our eyes, and people who get eyestrain may experience discomfort that includes headaches, blurry vision, watering of the eyes, and sensitivity to light.

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Nearly a third of adults spend more than half their waking hours using a digital device. Cornell Medical Center ophthalmologist Dr. Christopher Starr joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss what looking at screens is doing to our eyes.
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Eyestrain from looking at screens is called digital eyestrain, or sometimes “computer vision syndrome.” Eyestrain can be caused or exacerbated by other vision problems, like farsightedness or an astigmatism that hasn’t been corrected. In those cases, getting proper treatment (like glasses) may help.

Eyestrain is often temporary, and will get better if you look away from the computer screen every now and then as you work. But if you experience eyestrain often or if it seems to be getting worse, see an optometrist so you can fix any underlying problems.

Blue light from screens isn’t ruining your eyes

There’s a rumor that the blue light from smartphones (or other screens) can ruin your vision, perhaps even leading to blindness, but it’s not backed up by evidence. “The amount of light coming from a computer has never been demonstrated to cause any eye disease,” the American Academy of Opththalmology states in an article on their website recommending against blue-light-blocking glasses.

There is research that finds blue light can damage cells in certain lab conditions, but those conditions are very different from what happens in the actual cells of our retina. We dug into this myth here, noting that the AAO has emphasized that—in their words—“[b]lue light from electronic screens is not making you blind.”

Unfortunately, there are companies citing research like this to sell their blue-light-blocking glasses or screen overlays, but they aren’t selling a solution to a real problem.

Blue light may affect your health and your sleep, but blue light isn’t just about screens

Blue light from screens has gained a bad reputation for interfering with sleep, but remember your rainbow facts from grade school: blue light is just one part of white light. You get plenty of blue light from the sun, for example.

Blue light-blocking filters also don’t block very much blue light; they just reduce it a tiny bit. (Experts have pointed out that you could get the same effect by holding your screen one inch farther away from your face.) Avoiding screens at bedtime is probably a good idea, but not because there’s anything especially damaging about the screens themselves.

There is research that finds blue light can damage cells in certain lab conditions, but those conditions are very different from what happens in the actual cells of our retina. We dug into this myth here, noting that the AAO has emphasized that—in their words—“[b]lue light from electronic screens is not making you blind.”

Unfortunately, there are companies citing research like this to sell their blue-light-blocking glasses or screen overlays, but they aren’t selling a solution to a real problem.

Blue light may affect your health and your sleep, but blue light isn’t just about screens

Blue light from screens has gained a bad reputation for interfering with sleep, but remember your rainbow facts from grade school: blue light is just one part of white light. You get plenty of blue light from the sun, for example.

Blue light-blocking filters also don’t block very much blue light; they just reduce it a tiny bit. (Experts have pointed out that you could get the same effect by holding your screen one inch farther away from your face.) Avoiding screens at bedtime is probably a good idea, but not because there’s anything especially damaging about the screens themselves.

How to take care of your eyes when you’re looking at screens

When you’re spending time in front of screens—any kind—the rule of thumb for eye health is the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This could mean looking down a hallway or through a window, or you could go for extra credit and get up and take a short walk outdoors. Giving your eyes a variety of things to focus on breaks up the monotony that can cause eyestrain.

We also tend to blink less when looking at something for a long time, so if your eyes feel dry when you look at a screen all day, use some eyedrops. (Look for the ones labeled “artificial tears.”)

By: Beth Skwarecki

Source: What Happens to Your Eyes When You Stare at Screens All Day

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How To Lower Resting Heart Rate: 5 Practical Steps To Take Today

How to lower resting heart rate

Wondering how to lower resting heart rate but not sure where to start? We’ve got the expert answers you’re looking for. Heart rate is a great key indicator of overall health and fitness levels. The heart is one of the hardest working muscles in the body so making sure it’s functioning properly is key.

Your heart rate will naturally spike throughout the day depending on how much you move and other factors such as stress levels and stimulants such as coffee, but it’s your resting heart rate that’s most important.

Resting heart rate simply refers to how many times your heart beats per minute whilst in a rested state. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking your resting heart rate when you wake after a good night’s sleep.

You can check your resting heart rate by holding two fingers against one of your pulse points for a minute and counting the number of beats. However, technology can help provide a more accurate reading. The best heart rate monitors can be used in a resting state as well as during physical activity to help you monitor your heart rate zones, whilst today’s best fitness trackers (which include the best Fitbits) also provide heart-rate stats.

Generally speaking, the lower resting heart rate you have, the healthier your heart is and the fitter you are – although factors such as age can play a role. The AHA advises that for most people, a normal resting heart rate should be between 60 – 100. However, for those who are particularly active – professional athletes, for example – it’s okay for it to be between 50 and 60.

Studies have shown that elevated resting heart rates are linked with higher body weight and blood pressure, along with lower levels of physical fitness. If yours is above the recommended range, then there are steps you can take to reduce your resting heart rate. Here are five practical ways to make a start…

Increase your activity levels

There’s a reason that professional athletes have a very low resting heart rate – exercise strengthens the heart muscle. So just like when we get stronger if we increase other muscles, when the heart muscle gets stronger it means it works more efficiently – pumping blood quicker around the body.

Dr Zoe Williams, an NHS GP and wellness ambassador for Garminagrees: “There are a variety of ways you can lower your resting HR, but fitness is a great way to start.  “While it might seem counterintuitive to exercise, as this usually brings your heart rate up, the more frequently you exercise the more your heart will learn to be stronger and be more efficient at pumping blood. Then, when you’re in rest mode, your heart is more easily able to maintain a lower heart rate.”

If you are new to exercise, start slow. You could try walking to lose weight, download one of the best fitness apps, or try the Couch to 5k beginner’s running plan. Alternatively, work with a personal trainer to build a workout routine that is tailored to you. The key is to find something you enjoy doing to ensure you stick with it.

Eat a balanced diet

Of course, one of the main benefits that people talk about when cleaning up their diet is weight loss – but when you start to eat healthily, it has a major effect on how your heart performs too.

Brad Emmott, a personal trainer and Head of Recovery at Manor London explains: “If you’re someone who carries excess weight, your heart is having to work harder to pump blood through it. If you lose that excess weight, it won’t need to work as hard.”

Rather than drastically changing your diet overnight and restricting entire food groups (which is never usually a good idea), take it one step at a time. Try to see it as a lifestyle change, rather than a diet.Start small by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat every day – five is the recommended daily intake. This will naturally decrease your consumption of processed foods, which are typically high in salt and saturated fat.

From here, start to ‘balance’ your plate at every meal, roughly aiming for half vegetables, a quarter protein and a quarter carbohydrates – the perfect mix for feeling full and fueled. See our portion size guide for more information.

Decrease alcohol and sugar consumption

Most of us like to enjoy the odd glass of wine or gin and tonic with friends. But the effects of regular drinking – especially above the recommended guidelines (14 units a week for Brits, two drinks a day for US men and one drink a day for US women) – can result in an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure and the weakening of the heart muscle over time.

Williams says that too much sugar can have similar effects: “For some, eating sugar in excess can mean the body interprets this significant rise in sugar and energy as the result of stress, and releases cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause the heart rate to increase, which will in turn cause blood pressure to rise.”

The guidance in the UK is that adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day. In the US, the recommended daily limit is 10 teaspoons.

Get more sleep

Williams says creating better sleeping habits is key to lowering your resting heart rate. “One of the best ways to promote consistent sleep is having a healthy sleep routine. By following a standard schedule, the mind and body become accustomed to a healthy sleep pattern.”Many of the best fitness watches now also have sleep monitoring, which can be a useful tool in understanding your existing sleep patterns.

“By monitoring your sleep you can track improvements and adjust your bedtime accordingly to ensure you are getting between seven- and nine-hours sleep, which should ultimately help lower your resting heart rate overtime,” advises Williams. The best sunrise alarm clocks can also help to establish healthy and regular sleep patterns.

Manage your stress levels

Whether it’s down to your job, home life or personal issues, stress will take its toll on your health. Emmott believes we need to learn to manage it so it doesn’t negatively impact our resting heart rate and overall health.“Stress of any kind, physical or emotional does increase heart rate and can have long-term adverse effects on your health,” he says.

“There is no way to eliminate stress in daily life, but managing it is important to keeping a healthy heart.”In addition to the action points outlined above, he recommends that meditation, social interaction (virtual included) and being in nature can help manage stress levels.

Once again, using a fitness tracker to help assess your stress levels is also a good idea. “Knowing your stress level can help you identify stressful moments throughout your day and could help identify triggers of your stress, so you can begin to eliminate and manage stressful situations,” Williams says.

“For example, if your stress scores were high, it would be a great time to take five minutes away from what you were doing to do some deep breathing. This doesn’t have to impact your day, you can do it while boiling the kettle, but breaking the chronic stress cycle is so important for your long-term health and short-term mental wellbeing.”

 

 

Source: How to lower resting heart rate: 5 practical steps to take today | Fit&Well

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Can Substituting Sugar With Stevia Benefit Weight Loss?

https://i0.wp.com/onlinemarketingscoops.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/signs-of-weight-loss-te-main-200727_98506497de17b6072ca7c8c987525d54.jpg?resize=924%2C462&ssl=1

The bottom line is that the only way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than your body burns for energy. There are many ways to accomplish this, and targeting added sugars and replacing them with stevia is an easy and tasty fix.

Research has shown that subjects given stevia-containing foods or beverages consumed fewer calories throughout the day. (2,3)

The Truth About Added Sugars

It seems like everything we read talks about avoiding carbs and sugar.In the U.S., the average intake of added sugars reaches up to 270 calories or more than 13 percent of calories per day based on an average 2000 calorie diet.

Not surprisingly, the largest source of added sugars in the typical diet is beverages, including soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and flavored waters. They account for almost half (47%) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population.

The other major source of added sugars is snacks and sweets.(1) Most people don’t realize how much sugar they consume from other sources like marinades, sauces, salad dressings, yogurt, crackers and other items that don’t “seem sweet.”

The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total calories or about 50 grams per day based on 2000 calories.

If your body needs fewer calories based on size, age, and activity level, the gram limits are even lower.

To take it a step further, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 24g grams per day (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons) for men.

It’s obviously an area of concern in our standard American diet as the term “added sugars” appeared 138 times in the dietary guidelines report!

Knowing Your Limit for Added Sugars

Simply put, consumption of added sugars can make it difficult for people desiring to lose weight to meet their nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits.

Whenever anyone restricts total calories, everything eaten needs to contain more nutrients to make sure you get what you need for proper fueling while limiting total calories. One of the simplest strategies is to limit added sugars.

Why? Because they are more often found in foods that do not provide quality vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that we look for to help prevent lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.

That’s where products like stevia fit in.

Can Stevia Help with Weight Loss?

Since stevia is a plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener with a taste 50-350 times sweeter than sugar, a little goes a long way. By substituting stevia for sugar in your daily routine, there are many ways to cut total calories and sugar grams.

  1. Using stevia to sweeten your coffee or tea (hot or iced), saves 16 calories per teaspoon over sugar. A few cups per day with a few teaspoons each can really add up quickly. Each stevia packet is formulated to equal the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of sugar. Take some with you to your favorite coffeehouse or restaurant and add your own.
  2. Instead of eating pre-sweetened Greek yogurt with up to 20 grams of sugar, start with the plain variety and add your own stevia, vanilla extract, cinnamon and fruit.
  3. Swap stevia for sugar, honey or maple syrup in your oatmeal, homemade salad dressings, baked goods and other recipes that call for sugar. Even subbing in ½ the amount in a recipe can make a big difference.

We would love to hear your sugar swap success stories. How do you enjoy Pyure Organic Stevia?

References:

  1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015- 2018, 8th edition, Added Sugars page 54: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf
  2. Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, Coulon S, Cefalu WT, Geiselman P, Williamson DA. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite 2010;55:37–43.
  3. Tey SL, Salleh NB, Henry J, Forde CG. Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin and energy intake. Int J Obes (Lond) 2017;41:450–7.

Source: Can Substituting Sugar with Stevia Benefit Weight Loss?

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Is stevia dangerous for our health? Can stevia affect fertility levels? If stevia is safe, what amount is safe for us to eat? What other sweeteners are safe to eat? What sweeteners does Dr Greger recommend? Are there any studies on the safety of stevia? Keep listening as Dr Michael Greger answers these questions…….
This is for educational purposes only and no copyright infringement is intended. Videos; Dr Greger’s Q & A https://www.facebook.com/pg/Nutrition… Stevia vids http://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search… Erythritol http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eryth… Studies; Gut bacteria and Stevia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8… World Health Evaluation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2… Effects of stevia on health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2… Stevia and Fertility https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2… Dr Greger’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/Nutritio…
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Why Do Antibodies Fade After a COVID-19 Infection & Will The Same Thing Happen With Vaccines

Plasma cells secreting antibodies

The goal of the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out worldwide is to stimulate our immune systems into creating a protective response against the coronavirus, particularly by generating antibodies. These antibodies then circulate in our blood until needed in the future, attacking and removing the coronavirus quickly from our bodies if we become infected.

The speed with which the scientific and medical communities have developed and tested these new vaccines has been extraordinary. However, this short timescale leaves us with some outstanding questions.

Key among these is how long the protection we receive from vaccination, or indeed from infection with the virus itself, will last. We know, for example, that antibody levels drop quite quickly following a COVID-19 infection.

How the immune system remembers

Our body’s remarkable ability to remember past encounters with infectious microorganisms and retain robust defences against them is due to the phenomenon of immunological memory. This memory resides in white blood cells known as lymphocytes, of which there are two main types: T cells and B cells.

When the body faces a new challenge – either a new infection or vaccine – specific T cells and B cells are recruited to deal with it. “Memory” versions of these specific cells are then kept on standby in case the same issue is encountered again in the future.

It is these B cells that are responsible for releasing antibodies into the blood. When an infection or vaccination occurs, some of them will metamorphose into specialised antibody-production factories, known as plasma cells.

Antibodies are proteins, and like any other protein will be naturally broken down and removed from the body within a few months at most. This is the reason why protection from antibodies that we receive passively, for example from our mothers in the womb or through breast milk, does not last very long. For longer-term protection, we need to produce antibodies for ourselves.

Our body’s ability to maintain antibody levels following infection or vaccination is a result of two mechanisms. In the early stages, if memory B cells detect any persistent infection or vaccine, some will continue to turn into new antibody-producing plasma cells.

Once the infection or vaccine has been completely removed, memory B cells no longer replenish the plasma cell population, which declines. However, some may persist as long-lived plasma cells (LLPCs), which can live for many years in our bone marrow, continually manufacturing and releasing large quantities of antibodies. LLPCs aren’t always created after an infection, but if they are, antibodies against a specific infection can be found in the blood for a long time after the infection has cleared.

Although we don’t yet fully understand which immunisation conditions are best for generating LLPCs, their presence has been linked to certain locations. For example, a US group discovered that LLPCs appear to prefer the marrow of certain bones above others. Ten years after tetanus vaccination, LLPCs were found in femur, humerus and tibia bone marrow much more commonly than that of the ribs, radius, vertebrae or iliac crest.

Quite why LLPCs prefer the marrow of these bones is not yet clear. One interesting possibility is differences in the bone marrow fat level. LLPCs were found to be surrounded by large numbers of fat cells in these bones. This suggests that it may be bone marrow fat content that affects the ability of LLPCs to move to – and reside long term in – certain bones.

But if LLPCs aren’t created, that doesn’t mean someone cannot generate more antibodies against a threat if it is encountered again in the future. Providing the person has generated memory B cells, these will recognise the familiar threat, and once again some will start transforming into new plasma cells, to begin antibody production once more.

Vaccine type affects durability too

There are many reasons why vaccination or infection do not always provide protection that is long lasting. Some of this is due to individual variation in our response to a given vaccine. However, the features of vaccines themselves determine the nature of the antibody response too.

One study found that although a greater proportion of individuals who received tetanus and diphtheria vaccines developed protective antibodies, these antibodies faded more rapidly than those generated by measles, mumps or smallpox vaccines. The key difference between these vaccines is that those against tetanus and diphtheria contain only isolated proteins (modified versions of the toxins that tetanus and diphtheria bacteria make), whereas the measles, mumps and smallpox vaccines contain live, weakened versions of these viruses.

Some people may not produce good responses to live vaccines due to pre-existing immunity to the vaccine itself, having already had a natural infection. However, those that do respond well tend to keep their responses for longer. This is partly due to persistence of the live vaccine in the body, which encourages the short-term replenishment of plasma cells. It is also likely that live vaccines are better at producing LLPCs.

We have already seen that the rate at which antibodies decay following COVID-19 can differ, for example between men and women. Many of the new COVID-19 vaccines are based on novel delivery methods, such as viral vectors or messenger RNA molecules. Clearly these are very effective in their delivery of rapid protection. But quite how well they will activate memory B cells and LLPCs, imparting long-lived immunity, remains to be seen.

 

By: Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, Brunel University London

Source: Why do antibodies fade after a COVID-19 infection, and will the same thing happen with vaccines?

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Microsoft System Blamed for New Jersey Vaccine-Booking Glitches

New Jersey officials are blaming Microsoft systems that were supposed to help vaccination efforts for allegedly glitching over the past five weeks, hindering the ability for a smooth vaccination rollout in the state. 

The state’s Microsoft system for running the vaccination rollout has had issues daily from booking appointments to losing registrations, state government officials told Bloomberg News

State officials blamed issues they said seem to stem from Microsoft not having enough employees staffed to deal with the issues and having employees in time zones that make them unavailable to help during business hours.

Vaccination rollout has been a major operation for states struggling to keep track of vaccinations and standardize strict guidelines for who medical facilities are allowed to vaccinate. 

Microsoft told Bloomberg that they know of some issues with the system in New Jersey, but did not comment further. 

“We are working with the state of New Jersey to deliver vaccinations as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible, and that includes addressing some technical issues,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Hospital and county websites have picked up the slack in New Jersey where the Microsoft system has failed, Bloomberg reported. More than 1.2 million vaccinations have reportedly been scheduled in the state. 

New Jersey was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 700,000 confirmed cases and more than 22,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to The New York Times.

Joe Biden is still aiming for 100 million people to be vaccinated within his first 100 days in office, but the process has been difficult, involving delivery delays, scheduling issues and vaccine hesitancy.

By Lexi Lonas

Tags MicrosoftJoe BidenNew Jerseycoronavirus vaccineCoronavirus

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now

Five weeks of stumbles by Microsoft Corp. on New Jersey’s Covid-19 vaccine-booking software have left the state pushing for daily fixes on almost every part of the system and doubting it will ever operate as intended, according to members of Governor Phil Murphy’s administration. The glitches — and attempted fixes that forced one megasite to go off-line temporarily — have led New Jersey to rely more on the county- and hospital-operated websites that are working well and have helped schedule more than 1.2 million doses in the most densely-populated state in the country.

Officials say those systems are successfully booking thousands of people. They fear the state’s booking portal, run on Microsoft software and functioning for just a limited number of residents, won’t withstand broad demand as eligibility eventually is opened to millions of more people. Health care has become a major focus for Microsoft, which unveiled a package of industry-specific cloud software in May. The world’s largest software company, which has hired executives with medical backgrounds, also has been researching machine learning and artificial intelligence tools for areas including clinical trials and patient care. In late January, the Redmond, Washington-based company touted its Microsoft Vaccination Management platform — usable by those seeking shots and by health providers — to register, schedule, track supplies and otherwise streamline the biggest inoculation effort in U.S. history.

The platform has yet to work correctly for New Jersey in the state’s effort to inoculate its residents against the coronavirus, according to two administration officials who asked not to be identified discussing contractual issues. Governor Murphy and State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli acknowledged there was an issue with Microsoft in a Feb. 10 briefing, but didn’t go into detail about the problems. Since the state’s CovidVaccine.nj.gov website went live Jan. 5, the software has booked thousands of appointments. But it’s also blocked users, lost registrations, double-booked residents and crashed for periods of five minutes to three days, the officials said. Though Microsoft has worked daily on the troubles, the officials said they had no confidence that they’ll get all the features called for in its contract with the company. In a statement, Microsoft acknowledged difficulties with booking shots but didn’t specify the problems. “We are working with the state of New Jersey to deliver vaccinations as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible, and that includes addressing some technical issues,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email.

The New Jersey officials declined to say whether the state is considering canceling the Microsoft contract, but said they are seeking solutions and workarounds of all kinds. The cost of the contract wasn’t readily available. New Jersey was among the earliest and hardest-hit U.S. states by Covid-19, recording almost 21,000 deaths with a lab-confirmed link to the disease caused by the coronavirus. Murphy, a first-term Democrat running for re-election this year, has committed to vaccinating 4.7 million people, or 70% of the state’s population, by late June. So far, New Jersey has administered nearly 1.2 million doses, representing a tenth of the population who have received at least one dose, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. State officials said Microsoft appears to be using too few staffers, with some key personnel in overseas time zones that leave them unavailable during U.S. business hours. The officials said they’ve conferred with other states using versions of the same software, which is built on the Microsoft Dynamics customer-relationship management platform.

The task appears to be going smoother, they said, in places that asked for fewer applications — just scheduling, say, rather than more complex services. Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm​ Bloomberg Quicktake brings you live global news and original shows spanning business, technology, politics and culture. Make sense of the stories changing your business and your world. To watch complete coverage on Bloomberg Quicktake 24/7, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/qt/live​, or watch on Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Fire TV and Android TV on the Bloomberg app. Have a story to tell? Fill out this survey for a chance to have it featured on Bloomberg Quicktake: https://cor.us/surveys/27AF30​ Connect with us on… YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bloomberg​ Breaking News on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BloombergQu…​ Twitter: https://twitter.com/quicktake​ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/quicktake​ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quicktake

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More Contents:

Our view: It is not blasphemy to identify problems in NHS vaccine booking system http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk – February 15THERE has been much rejoicing this weekend at the much anticipated announcement that the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine has passed the 15……1

Monty Don addresses ‘puzzled’ fan after his vaccine news causes confusion | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV http://www.express.co.uk – February 13[…] A fan stepped in to help Monty Don explain the vaccine booking process to a follower Monty Don took to Twitter to share the ‘wonderful’ news that he had boked his […]3

Microsoft System Blamed for New Jersey Vaccine-Booking Glitches http://www.youtube.com – February 13N/A

CommonWealth Magazine commonwealthmagazine.org – February 13[…] and availability issues in many regions across the state, and communications breakdowns in the vaccine booking system,” the speaker said […]1

Microsoft System Blamed for N.J. Vaccine-Booking Glitches http://www.itprotoday.com – February 12HYBRID CLOUD Five weeks of stumbles by Microsoft Corp. on New Jersey’s Covid-19 vaccine-booking software have left the state pushing for daily fixes on almost every part of the system.N/A

Vaccine booking error further frustrates medically vulnerable Floridians cbs12.com – February 12Elizabeth Kahn turns 48-years-old next week and has just one birthday wish this year. “My wish is to get the vaccine, or at least schedule it,” Kahn said. And for a moment, she thought her wish was coming true.6

News from the UK’s largest union – Issue #1 | Revue http://www.getrevue.co – February 12[…] announcement that care workers who haven’t had a dose yet can make an appointment The article Vaccine booking system now open to frontline care workers first appeared on the UNISON National site […]0

Microsoft system blamed for N.J. vaccine-booking glitches http://www.bloomberg.com – February 12Five weeks of stumbles by Microsoft on New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccine-booking software have left the state pushing for daily fixes on almost every part of the system, according to state…546

Pritzker’s Stats Obsession Will Intensify Vaccine Hunger Games patch.com – February 12[…] — without consulting her, and if it would create even more problems for an already-overwhelmed vaccine booking system […]11

U.S. Orders More Doses; Japan to Rule on Pfizer: Virus Update http://www.bloombergquint.com – February 12[…] Vaccine-Booking Glitches (6 a.m. NY) Five weeks of stumbles by Microsoft Corp. on New Jersey’s Covid-19 vaccine-booking software have left the state pushing for daily fixes on almost every part of the system an […]0

February 10, 2021: COVID-19: US State Policy Report http://www.natlawreview.com – February 11[…] over 75 can get vaccinated beginning February 1 (see here) Gubernatorial announcement regarding vaccine booking program (see here) Michigan: Stay at home order expired on June 1 Shelter in Place order expired on […]0

February 9, 2021: COVID-19: US State Policy Report http://www.natlawreview.com – February 10[…] over 75 can get vaccinated beginning February 1 (see here) Gubernatorial announcement regarding vaccine booking program (see here) Michigan: Stay at home order expired on June 1 Shelter in Place order expired on […]0

Seniors report problems with state’s 211 vaccination hotline http://www.capecodtimes.com – February 10[…] To make the vaccine booking appointment as equitable as possible for eligible Cape Codders — which include those in phase on […]4

Vaccine web portal lacks accessibility gpo.ca – February 9[…] many Ontarians who do not have access to the technology or broadband needed to access the online vaccine booking portal […]4

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine: what to expect – http://www.which.co.uk – February 9[…] These can look highly convincing (as per the example of a fake vaccine booking website above), so it’s worth being vigilant […]43

COVID-19 vaccine FAQs http://www.barnsleyccg.nhs.uk – February 9[…] uk/covidvaccine Last updated: 08/02/21 Vaccine booking update: If you are 70 or over, or 18 or over and have been advised to shield by letter because yo […]N/A

COVID State Policy Report for CO, CT, IL, NY, OR, RI, SC, SD http://www.natlawreview.com – February 9[…] over 75 can get vaccinated beginning February 1 (see here) Gubernatorial announcement regarding vaccine booking program (see here) Michigan: Stay at home order expired on June 1 Shelter in Place order expired on […]N/A

London hospital trust signs up to new Covid-19 vaccine booking app london-post.co.uk – February 8[…] keep track of who has received a Covid-19 vaccine within their workforce thanks to a new Covid-19 vaccine booking service […]N/A

Massachusetts COVID Vaccine Hotline: What to Know – http://www.nbcboston.com – February 6[…] Her daughter, Susan Parker, had found the state’s vaccine booking website hard to navigate, and the Marblehead family felt a sense of urgency to secure a slot […]1

Book now – vaccinations available at three local hospitals: but you must be eligible http://www.leicestercityccg.nhs.uk – February 6[…] A vaccine booking can be made at one of the following hospital sites by clicking on the relevant link: Glenfiel […]5

February 4, 2021 COVID-19 US State Policy Report http://www.natlawreview.com – February 6[…] over 75 can get vaccinated beginning February 1 (see here) Gubernatorial announcement regarding vaccine booking program (see here) Michigan: Stay at home order expired on June 1 Shelter in Place order expired on […]0

Covid vaccination available for limited period for priority groups at three hospital sites | Measham Parish Council http://www.meashamparishcouncil.gov.uk – February 5[…] A vaccine booking can be made at one of the following hospital sites by clicking on the relevant link: Glenfiel […]0

Temple Vaccine Booking outlook.office365.com – February 5You can now book and manage appointments using our booking page.7

COVID-19: US State Policy Report – February 3, 2021 http://www.natlawreview.com – February 4[…] pharmacist refill flexibility (see here) Massachusetts: Gubernatorial announcement regarding vaccine booking program (see here) New Jersey: Executive Order 219 Raising Indoor Capacity Limits from 25 Percen […] over 75 can get vaccinated beginning February 1 (see here) Gubernatorial announcement regarding vaccine booking program (see here) Michigan: Stay at home order expired on June 1 Shelter in Place order expired on […]N/A

Legislative leaders stepping up oversight over coronavirus response http://www.lowellsun.com – February 4[…] and availability issues in many regions across the state, and communications breakdowns in the vaccine booking system,” Mariano said […]N/A

The Pharmacy in Ludgershall to roll out Covid-19 vaccine http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk – February 4[…] ” More vaccine news: These three sites will now appear on the national coronavirus vaccine booking system, along with the large vaccination centres at Salisbury City Hall and Bath Racecourse […]6

Covid-19 vaccine update 4 Feb 2021 :: Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group http://www.kentandmedwayccg.nhs.uk – February 4[…] All bookings must be through the national Covid-19 vaccine booking service […]12

UK ‘getting safer every day’ as almost 1 in 5 adults have had first vaccine, says Nadhim Zahawi http://www.telegraph.co.uk – February 4[…] 2:50am Teachers skipping Covid vaccine queue Teachers are abusing the vaccine booking system and skipping the queue ahead of the elderly, a council warned as it introduced tighter rules […] Teachers are abusing the vaccine booking system and skipping the queue ahead of the elderly, a council warned as it introduced tighter rules […]N/A

Waiting for the COVID vaccine? Don’t ignore ‘unknown’ or ‘private’ callers for now http://www.khou.com – February 4[…] So again, if you’re waiting on an email response for your coronavirus vaccine booking, you will want to keep a close eye on all of your email folders […]41

Eight Best Practices for COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Online: Insights From Our Health System Customers http://www.kyruus.com – February 4[…] Add a one day lead time for vaccine booking (i […]0

Marco police & fire chief suspended over COVID-19 vaccine booking scandal nbc-2.com – February 4[…] – The Marco Island police and fire chief have been suspended for 30 days over the COVID-19 vaccine booking scandal […]

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