How Will the COVID Pills Change the Pandemic?

In March, 2020, researchers at Emory University published a paper about a molecule called NHC/EIDD-2801. At the time, there were no treatments available for the coronavirus. But NHC/EIDD-2801, the researchers wrote, possessed “potency against multiple coronaviruses,” and could become “an effective antiviral against SARS-CoV-2.” A few days later, Emory licensed the molecule to Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, a Miami-based biotechnology company which had previously developed a monoclonal antibody for Ebola.

Ridgeback partnered with the pharmaceutical giant Merck to accelerate its development.The Emory researchers named their drug molnupiravir, after Mjölnir—the hammer of Thor. It turns out that this was not hyperbole. Last month, Merck and Ridgeback announced that molnupiravir could reduce by half the chances that a person infected by the coronavirus would need to be hospitalized. The drug was so overwhelmingly effective that an independent committee asked the researchers to stop their Phase III trial early—it would have been unethical to continue giving participants placebos.

None of the nearly four hundred patients who received molnupiravir in the trial went on to die, and the drug had no major side effects. On November 4th, the U.K. became the first country to approve molnupiravir; many observers expect that an emergency-use authorization will come from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December.

Oral antivirals like molnupiravir could transform the treatment of COVID-19, and of the pandemic more generally. Currently, treatments aimed at fighting COVID—mainly monoclonal antibodies and antiviral drugs like remdesivir—are given through infusion or injection, usually in clinics or hospitals. By the time people manage to arrange a visit, they are often too sick to receive much benefit. Molnupiravir, however, is a little orange pill.

A person might wake up, feel unwell, get a rapid COVID test, and head to the pharmacy around the corner to pick up a pack. A full course, which needs to start within five days of the appearance of symptoms, consists of forty pills—four capsules taken twice a day, for five days. Merck is now testing whether molnupiravir can prevent not just hospitalization after infection but also infection after exposure.

If that’s the case, then the drug might be taken prophylactically—you could get a prescription when someone in your household tests positive, even if you haven’t.Molnupiravir is—and is likely to remain—effective against all the major coronavirus variants. In fact, at least in the lab, it works against any number of RNA viruses besides SARS-CoV-2, including Ebola, hepatitis C, R.S.V., and norovirus. Instead of targeting the coronavirus’s spike protein, as vaccine-generated antibodies do, molnupiravir attacks the virus’s basic replication machinery. The spike protein mutates over time, but the replication machinery is mostly set in stone, and compromising that would make it hard for the virus to evolve resistance.

Once it’s inside the body, molnupiravir breaks down into a molecule called NHC. As my colleague Matthew Hutson explained, in a piece about antiviral drugs published last year, NHC is similar to cytosine, one of the four “bases” from which viral RNA is constructed; when the coronavirus’s RNA begins to copy itself, it slips into cytosine’s spot, in a kind of “Freaky Friday” swap. The molecule evades the virus’s genetic proofreading mechanisms and wreaks havoc, pairing with other bases, introducing a bevy of errors, and ultimately crashing the system.

A drug that’s so good at messing with viral RNA has led some to ask whether it messes with human DNA, too. (Merck’s trial excluded pregnant and breast-feeding women, and women of childbearing age had to be on contraceptives.) This is a long-standing concern about antiviral drugs that introduce genomic errors. A recent study suggests that molnupiravir, taken at high doses and for extended periods, can, in fact, introduce mutations into DNA. But, as the biochemist Derek Lowe noted, in a blog post for Science, these findings probably don’t apply directly to the real-world use of molnupiravir in COVID patients. The study was conducted in cells, not live animals or humans.

The cells were exposed to the drug for more than a month; even at the highest doses, it caused fewer mutations than were created by a brief exposure to ultraviolet light. Meanwhile, Merck has run a battery of tests—both in the lab and in animal models—and found no evidence that molnupiravir causes problematic mutations at the dose and duration at which it will be prescribed.With winter approaching, America is entering another precarious moment in the pandemic. Coronavirus cases have spiked in many European countries—including some with higher vaccination rates than the U.S.—and some American hospitals are already starting to buckle under the weight of a new wave. Nearly fifty thousand Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

It seems like molnupiravir is arriving just when we need it.It isn’t the only antiviral COVID pill, either. A day after the U.K. authorized Merck’s drug, Pfizer announced that its antiviral, Paxlovid, was also staggeringly effective at preventing the progression of COVID-19 in high-risk patients. The drug, when taken within three days of the onset of symptoms, reduced the risk of hospitalization by nearly ninety per cent. Only three of the nearly four hundred people who took Paxlovid were hospitalized, and no one died; in the placebo group, there were twenty-seven hospitalizations and seven deaths. Paxlovid is administered along with another antiviral medication called ritonavir, which slows the rate at which the former drug is broken down by the body.

Like Merck, Pfizer is now examining whether Paxlovid can also be used to prevent infections after an exposure. Results are expected early in 2022. (It’s not yet known how much of a difference the drugs will make for vaccinated individuals suffering from breakthrough infections; Merck’s and Pfizer’s trials included only unvaccinated people with risk factors for severe disease, such as obesity, diabetes, or older age. Vaccinated individuals are already much less likely to be hospitalized or die of COVID-19.)

Living in an Age of ExtinctionPaxlovid interrupts the virus’s replication not by messing with its genetic code but by disrupting the way its proteins are constructed. When a virus gets into our cells, its RNA is translated into proteins, which do the virus’s dirty work. But the proteins are first built as long strings called polypeptides; an enzyme called protease then slices them into the fragments from which proteins are assembled.
If you can’t cut the plywood, you can’t build the table, and Paxlovid blunts the blade. Because they employ separate mechanisms to defeat the virus, Paxlovid and molnupiravir could, in theory, be taken together. Some viruses that lead to chronic infections, including H.I.V. and hepatitis C, are treated with drug cocktails to prevent them from evolving resistance against a single line of attack. This approach is less common with respiratory viruses, which don’t generally persist in the body for long periods.
But combination antiviral therapy against the coronavirus could be a subject of study in the coming months, especially among immunocompromised patients, in whom the virus often lingers, allowing it the time and opportunity to generate mutations.

Merck will be producing a lot of molnupiravir. John McGrath, the company’s senior vice-president of manufacturing, told me that Merck began bolstering its manufacturing capacity long before the Phase III trial confirmed how well the drug worked. Normally, a company assesses demand for a product, then brings plants online slowly. For molnupiravir, Merck has already set up seventeen plants in eight countries across three continents. It now has the capacity to produce ten million courses of treatment by the end of this year, and at least another twenty million next year.

It expects molnupiravir to generate five to seven billion dollars in revenue by the end of 2022.How much will all these pills soften the looming winter surge? As has been true throughout the pandemic, the answer depends on many factors beyond their effectiveness. The F.D.A. could authorize molnupiravir within weeks, and Paxlovid soon afterward. But medications only work if they make their way into the body. Timing is critical. The drugs should be taken immediately after symptoms start—ideally, within three to five days. Whether people can benefit from them depends partly on the public-health infrastructure where they live. In Europe, rapid at-home COVID tests are widely available.

Twenty months into the pandemic, this is not the case in much of the U.S., and many Americans also lack ready access to affordable testing labs that can process PCR results quickly.Consider one likely scenario. On Monday, a man feels tired but thinks little of it. On Tuesday, he wakes up with a headache and, in the afternoon, develops a fever. He schedules a COVID test for the following morning. Two days later, he receives an e-mail informing him that he has tested positive. By now, it’s Friday afternoon. He calls his doctor’s office; someone picks up and asks the on-call physician to write a prescription. The man rushes to the pharmacy to get the drug within the five-day symptom-to-pill window.

Envision how the week might have unfolded for someone who’s uninsured, elderly, isolated, homeless, or food insecure, or who doesn’t speak English. Taking full advantage of the new drugs will require vigilance, energy, and access.Antivirals could be especially valuable in places like Africa, where only six per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. As they did with the vaccines, wealthy countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., have already locked in huge contracts for the pills; still, Merck has taken steps to expand access to the developing world.

It recently granted royalty-free licenses to the Medicines Patent Pool, a U.N.-backed nonprofit, which will allow manufacturers to produce generic versions of the drug for more than a hundred low- and middle-income countries. (Pfizer has reached a similar agreement with the Patent Pool; the company also announced that it will forgo royalties for Paxlovid in low-income countries, both during and after the pandemic.) As a result, a full course of molnupiravir could cost as little as twenty dollars in developing countries, compared with around seven hundred in the U.S. “Our goal was to bring this product to high-, middle-, and low-income countries at fundamentally the same time,” Paul Schaper, Merck’s executive director of global pharmaceutical policy, told me.

More than fifty companies around the world have already contacted the Patent Pool to obtain a sublicense to produce the drug, and the Gates Foundation has pledged a hundred and twenty million dollars to support generic-drug makers. Charles Gore, the Patent Pool’s executive director, recently said that, “for large parts of the world that have not got good vaccine coverage, this is really a godsend.” Of course, the same challenges of testing and distribution will apply everywhere.

Last spring, as a doctor caring for COVID patients, I was often dismayed by how little we had to offer. We tried hydroxychloroquine, blood thinners, and various oxygen-delivery devices and ventilator maneuvers; mostly, we watched as patients got better or got worse on their own. In the evenings, as I walked the city’s deserted streets, I often asked myself what kinds of treatment I wished we had. The best thing, I thought, would be a pill that people could take at home, shortly after infection, to halt the cascade of biological processes that sends them to the hospital, the I.C.U., or worse.

We will soon have not one but two such treatments. Outside of the vaccines, the new antiviral drugs are the most important pharmacologic advance of the pandemic. As the coronavirus becomes endemic, we’ll need additional tools to treat the inevitable infections that will continue to strike both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. These drugs will do that, reducing the damage that the coronavirus can inflict and, possibly, cordoning off avenues through which it can spread. Still, insuring that they are meaningfully and equitably used will require strength in the areas in which the U.S. has struggled: early and accessible testing; communication and coördination across health-care providers; fighting misinformation and building trust in rapid scientific advances. Just as vaccines don’t help without shots in arms, antivirals can’t work without pills in people.

 

Source: https://www.newyorker.com/

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Influencers Are Utilizing Collaboration To Win Against AI Algorithms; Here’s How

It’s normal to hear the cliche, two are better than one, but this statement has been proven true among influencers in the last five years. Growing followership and influence on social media is not an easy feat, and with changing algorithms, it’s even more difficult.

Social media has become the top cultural influence on society. More people, especially Gen Z and Millennial generations, depend on social media platforms for their information, advice, and counsel, especially as regards lifestyle and fashion choices. This reality has placed social media influencers on a pedestal as some of the most relevant figures in modern culture.

The biggest question that influencers and aspiring influencers have to answer consistently is, “Can we still grow a healthy following organically in the age of changing algorithms?”

Renowned supermodel Stefanie Gurzanski seems to think that this is possible. In her words, “Value is king, the first step to doing it organically is finding your audience and determining what they consider as value. Then you have to create content around that and dish it out consistently. When all is said and done, you need help from others as well.”

As a supermodel, Stefanie Gurzanski, who is more popularly known as Baby G, has featured on the cover of some of the world’s most prestigious magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. She has also stunned at many of the world’s most prestigious fashion shows and red carpets. However, one of her most significant accomplishments has been turning that success into a digital media empire and becoming an Instagram influencer with millions of extremely loyal followers.

Stefanie believes that collaboration is one of the most powerful keys to growing followership in a world where algorithms are becoming more demanding. In this article, Stefanie shares why she thinks collaboration is so important.

The Golden Rule of Algorithms

According to Instagram, the main rule about Instagram algorithms is that not one but many algorithms influence a user’s Instagram experience. Different AI algorithms analyze user behavior on the different parts of the app; reels, feeds, and explore. All these algorithms work together to determine what we see or not see on Instagram.

The Instagram model is more or less the same on Facebook, Titok, and youtube, where various AI algorithms are used to achieve these exact results.

According to Stefanie, “Instagram has been a bit more transparent about how their algorithms function and this has helped influencers build systems around their brands that help them get the most out of the platform. What I have found is that the key ingredient that enables us to get the best out of all the algorithms is collaboration.”

Adam Mosseri has taken his time to summarize how the Instagram algorithm functions in a post. Four key factors influence the Instagram algorithm for feed posts.

  • First, the algorithm considers the basic information about the post; Is it a photo or a video? When was it posted? How many likes does it have?
  • Secondly, it considers the information about the poster; How interesting does the user find them to be? How often does the user engage with their content?
  • The third factor is the user’s activity; is the user a heavy video-watcher, or does the user prefer other kinds of content?
  • The final factor is the user’s interaction history; does the user typically engage with the poster’s posts by liking or commenting?

In summary, on Instagram feeds, the algorithm would typically show a user posts from creators who create the kind of content they typically engage with, and who they have previously engaged with or tend to engage with frequently.  On reels and explore, Instagram goes further by showing users the content they think they will like based on their previous activity.

Stefanie explains it with a more straightforward example;

“I am coming up on the two million followers mark and one thing that is readily noticeable is that many of these followers found me because they initially followed other supermodels who do what I do. Likewise, when my followers consistently engage with my pictures and videos, they are also likely to see posts from similar creators who do what I do on their explore page or their reels. Now imagine what we can achieve as influencers if we become more intentional about giving and getting this exposure. The results are simply stunning.”

Collaboration as a Powerful Tool For Exposure

Since 2016, when Instagram made these changes to its algorithm, collaboration has become perhaps the most effective tool for exposure.  Creators collaborate in different ways, but the end goal is the same, and the results are similar.

Live broadcasts by Sponsored Influencers have become a thing. 82% of audiences prefer live video from influencers and brands to other generic content, which has made live videos both the present and the future of video content.

Since Instagram launched its new feature, which enables creators and users to go live with a friend remotely, influencers have used this feature to invite other creators on their platform for live broadcasts. Content ranges from talk shows to casual conversations, and the results have been favorable so far.

“Live videos have such an engagement boosting effect,” Stefanie explains. “The algorithms give live videos more exposure, so when influencers can link up via this feature, it helps the algorithm make the connection between their two sets of audiences. This can easily grow the platforms of both influencers by exposing them to new audiences.”

Hosting Account takeovers is another powerful collaborative tool that creators use to force the algorithm to give more exposure to their content.

An account takeover is a strategy where an influencer can surrender their account to another influencer for some time, either by posting only content from that influencer or giving the influencer access to their platforms to post directly.

The basic idea is to create a feeling that that influencer is in charge for that period. This is a powerful way that influencers use to expose their work and brands to other influencers’ audiences. The results are usually remarkable as the algorithm is forced to make that connection.

Collaborating with Aspiring Influencers is also becoming more popular. Stefanie recently launched the Baby G Mag, a subscription-based platform where other creatives can be featured and grow their own platforms.

She explains why she thinks this strategy is helpful; “With all the algorithm changes, it has become difficult to grow organically today than it was a few years ago. So, I built Baby G Mag specifically for other girls who want to grow their brand, make money, and can be seen by a guaranteed amount of paying customers. Right now we are collating with other magazines as well. Playboy Mexico has already seen us as an interesting platform to collaborate with in just our first few weeks.”

While many influencers are looking to connect with influencers with bigger platforms, Stefanie realizes that collaborating with up-and-coming influencers is a win-win. It exposes her to new audiences as these smaller influencers usually have a smaller but fiercely loyal audience. It is also her way of helping these influencers grow faster and gain more influence.

User-Generated Content (UGC) is also becoming stronger among influencers. 85% of users find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos. It also drives 6.9-times-higher engagement than generic content.

UGC is a form of collaboration that Influencers build with their followers. This is effective because followers tend to engage with UGCs at a higher rate. Since the algorithm gives more exposure to posts and platforms with more engagement, the Influencer’s platforms usually get seen way more. It’s a win-win for most influencers.

Influencer Pods are becoming robust as well. Some influencers have decided that the best way to link their audiences is to create pods of influencers. These pods usually have 10-15 influencers from within their industry who engage authentically with each other’s content; they share, like, and leave thoughtful comments on their most recent posts.

Many see pods as a way to skew the system and game the algorithm, but so far, no social media platform has cracked down on them yet.  Stefanie believes that collaboration in whatever shape or form it comes is the key to consistent growth as influencers;

“In my case, my fame didn’t necessarily come from social media, but I have been able to maintain it on social media by continuing with the things I became famous for. My merchandise, my videos, and my photos are what people value about my brand, and so I remain consistent. However, I also believe that helping others rise has helped me rise even more. Collaboration will probably always be a successful route to go even if the algorithms change again, because it is at the heart of what social media is trying to do, which is to connect people and to help people discover other relevant people. It’s a silver bullet by every standard.”

Stefanie’s points are valid; at the heart of most social media platforms is a desire to connect people and increase engagement. Their money-making structures are built around these same values. So it is likely that finding valuable ways to collaborate will always win in the end, and It’s difficult to have any problems with it whatsoever.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Annie Brown is the founder of Lips, a feminist technology organization at the forefront of the inclusive design movement, building products designed to unlock opportunities for previously underserved and

Source: Influencers Are Utilizing Collaboration To Win Against AI Algorithms; Here’s How

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Bull Markets Usually Don’t End With a Bang

Unlike bear market lows, which tend to be short and sharp, bullish stock market highs tend to occur gradually over time as a sector or investment style first peaks and declines. , then another.

This means that investors should not manage their equity portfolios assuming that there will be a specific day before which it would make sense to be 100% invested and then be in cash. Even if the precise timing of the stock market wasn’t incredibly difficult, it would still make more sense to gradually build up cash as individual positions hit their targets.

Of course, there is no way to know whether the current stock market – which abruptly retreated from record highs in late September, ahead of Friday’s rally to begin October – has entered such a protracted peak process. But the bull market will end someday, if it hasn’t already, and it’s important to review the characteristics of past highs so that you don’t manage your portfolio on the assumption that you will be able to peak in real time.

A recent illustration that not all sectors and styles are reaching their bullish highs at the same time appeared at the top of the internet stock bubble in early 2000. Although the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes did reach their bullish highs in March 2000, value stocks – and small cap value stocks, in particular – continued to rise. The S&P 500 at its October 2002 bear market low was 49% lower than its March 2000 high, and the Nasdaq Composite was 78% lower, but the average value of small-cap stocks was 2% higher than what it was in March 2000, according to data from Dartmouth professor Kenneth French.

Although this is only an example, it is not unique. Consider what I found while analyzing the 30 bull market highs since the mid-1920s that appear in the timeline maintained by Ned Davis Research. In each case, I determined the dates on which various sectors of the market reached their particular bullish highs: the large, mid and small cap sectors, as well as the styles of value, growth and mix, as measured by the market. share price. -accounting reports. On average over the 30 bull market highs, there was a 225-day gap between the first date one of these sectors peaked and the last. It’s been over seven months.

There are exceptions, especially when an external event causes the market to collapse and virtually all sectors fall in unison. The stock market crash of 1987, as well as the declines following the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the pandemic lockdowns of March 2020, are good examples of this. But in most cases, it is more accurate to view a bullish top as a process rather than a one-time event.

Another reason to view market highs as a process is that, the day major stock indices such as the S&P 500 hit their bullish highs, you will have any idea that a bear market is imminent. . Instead, you’ll likely be caught up in the exuberance of the moment. Only with hindsight will it become clear that a bear market was starting.

This exuberance leads investors to be too heavily invested in stocks during the later stages of the bull markets. Believing that the exact day of the peak has not yet been reached, they hold on to their stock positions for too long. Viewing market highs as a process can counterbalance this exuberance, as it causes investors to focus on their individual positions rather than on the market as a monolithic whole.

Many resist this advice because their memories play tricks on them, leading them to believe that it is possible to spot a bullish top the moment it occurs. This is certainly not the case, according to my company’s daily monitoring of advice from stock timers – advisers who tell clients how much of their investment portfolios should be in stocks and cash. Over the past four decades in which the S&P 500 peaked in the bull market, the average level of exposure to equities recommended by these timers was 65.7%. This is a higher level of exposure than 95% of all other days over the past 40 years.

On the days when the S&P 500 hit its lowest bear market level, by contrast, the average exposure level recommended by stock timers was only 5%. Remember October 2007. Even though the S&P 500 was on the verge of entering a 57% 16-month decline, hardly any of the 100 or so stock stopwatches my company monitors were considering anything. the type.

This failure was true even for market timers with the best long-term records entering that month. One of the long-term top performers at the time was telling clients that a bear market was such a distant possibility it wasn’t even on his radar screen. Another went from full investment to 25% margin – borrowing to invest even more in stocks – the day before the exact day of the S&P 500 bull market high.

If these market professionals with good, long-term track records weren’t able to anticipate the onset of one of the most serious bear markets in U.S. history, you’re kidding yourself if you think that you can always do better. You are more likely to be successful by viewing the end of a bull market and the start of a bear market as a process rather than a one-time event.

By: Mark Hulbert

Mr. Hulbert is a columnist whose Hulbert Ratings follows news bulletins about investments that pay a fixed fee to be audited. He can be contacted at reports@wsj.com.

Source: Bull Markets Usually Don’t End With a Bang – WSJ

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How Does EMDR Treat Trauma? Psychologists Explain

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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed in the 1980s to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since then, use of the treatment has grown—and so has the evidence behind it. Nancy J. Smyth, Ph.D., a dean and professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, uses EMDR with patients coping with trauma; here, she explains how it works.

What is EMDR, and why does it help with PTSD?

Smyth: Trauma can overwhelm our minds’ natural information processing system, leaving the memory stuck as though the experience is still happening. When people have PTSD, rather than remembering the trauma, recognizing that it was disturbing, and knowing that it’s over, they can feel as if they’re reliving it. EMDR is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist uses bilateral dual attention stimulation (such as side-to-side eye movements) to help change the way memories are stored.

What happens during EMDR treatment?

Smyth: First, you’ll talk to your therapist about the reason you’re seeking out therapy and about events in your past that have been distressing for you. Next, you’ll do preparation, during which your therapist will see if you have the skills and tools you’ll need to cope with difficult emotions. If you don’t, they will help you learn them (possibly using other types of therapy). Then the therapist will ask questions to make sure you’re both on the same page about the target of treatment.

During treatment, the therapist will prompt you to start by focusing on a traumatic memory as you follow their fingers or an object as it moves from side to side. (Sometimes sounds on the sides of the body—the “bilateral” part of the stimulation—are used instead.) Throughout this, your therapist will ask you to notice thoughts, feelings, or sensations you’re experiencing. They won’t do a lot of talking, but will ask questions like “What comes up now?” The idea is that the bilateral stimulation activates the body’s natural adaptive information processing system in a safe environment, letting you stay in the present moment as you’re simultaneously remembering a distressing experience so your mind can reprocess that memory as a neutral one.

Is there evidence that it works?

Smyth: Yes, research indicates that compared with other types of therapy, like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or prolonged exposure, EMDR is just as effective for addressing PTSD or perhaps more so.

How quickly does it work?

Smyth: It varies. If you have healthy coping skills for managing stressors, the prep phase of treatment may be shorter.
If you’re seeking treatment for an isolated traumatic experience, the history-taking and stimulation parts of treatment may be shorter than if you’ve experienced a lot of trauma. Typically, the process takes at least three to 12 sessions.

How can I find a provider?

Smyth: You’ll want a licensed mental health professional who is trained in EMDR. The EMDR International Association is the major professional organization that certifies therapists; you can search the group’s directory at emdria.org.

Is this the same therapy Mel B used?

Yes, in 2018, the Spice Girls singer (whose full name is Melanie Brown) told British tabloid The Sun that she was checking herself into rehab for alcohol and sex issues and undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Brown revealed that working on her book, Brutally Honest, surfaced “massive issues” that she suppressed following her divorce from film producer Stephan Belafonte, whom she has claimed physically and emotionally abused her for years. The singer told The Sun she was diagnosed with PTSD and had begun EMDR. “After trying many different therapies, I started a course of therapy called EMDR, which in a nutshell works on the memory to deal with some of the very painful and traumatic situations I have been through,” said Brown. “I don’t want to jinx it, but so far it’s really helping me,” she said. “If I can shine a light on the issue of pain, PTSD and the things men and women do to mask it, I will.”

As an addiction and relationship therapist, Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a psychotherapist based in New York City and Telluride, Colorado, says he recommends EMDR frequently. “Its success, however, depends of the integrity of the therapeutic relationship the patient has with the clinician providing the actual EMDR treatment and me, the primary therapist making the referral,” he says. “This heightened level of care is essential because EMDR requires the patient to reprocess their original trauma.” If you have symptoms of PTSD and are not yet seeking treatment, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a PTSD Treatment Decision Aid to help you learn more about the various treatment options. You can use this as a jump-off point to start the conversation with your mental health provider.

By: and

Source: https://www.prevention.com

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Hedge Fund Launches Are Surging

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In the first quarter of 2021, 189 new hedge funds were launched, the highest number since the end of 2017, according to data from Hedge Fund Research.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, 190 hedge funds were started. Since then, the number of launches has been consistently lower, hitting its lowest in the first quarter of 2020 with a total of 84 launches and 304 liquidations.

“The only ones that did get launched [that quarter] were before March,” Kenneth Heinz, president of HFR, told Institutional Investor.

Heinz attributed the newfound surge in launches to three factors: performance, inflation, and risk aversion. According to a statement, the top decile of hedge funds tracked by HFR gained 126.8 percent in the 12-month period ending in the first quarter of 2021. In this quarter alone, the top decile gained 29.7 percent.

Institutional investors are also looking to hedge against inflation, Heinz said. “As the world emerges from the lockdown, inflation is present, and it will continue to build,” he said. “The different strategies provide great protection from inflation.”

These strategies include equity hedge funds and event-driven funds. As of the first quarter of 2021, the greatest portion of industry assets — 30.42 percent — were invested in equity hedge funds. Event-driven funds came in second with 27.53 percent of total industry assets.

Heinz said these particular strategies are appealing to investors because they provide exposure to some hot “meme” stocks. Plus, as the world emerges from a global quarantine, he said there is a large appetite for strategic activity in mergers and acquisitions — a strong point for event-driven funds.

Since the first quarter of 2020 and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Heinz said investors have left their risk complacency in 2019. Heinz said 2019 was a “super beta year,” prompting inventors to worry less about risk and more about returns.

“I liken 2019 to the easiest year in the world to make money because everything went up,” Heinz said. “But then March reminded investors they had become complacent about risk.”

As they move into the new year and recover from the pandemic, investors have taken more defensive positioning against risks that were overlooked in 2019. As for the future of the hedge fund industry, Heinz said he believes the market has entered a period of expansion.

“Even though the markets have recovered and they’ve gone back to record highs, I think institutions that are allocating are still very much more cognizant of risk than they were prior to the first quarter of 2020,” he said. “I think that’s the reason that you’re seeing more capital inflows and more funds launching.”

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By: Jessica Hamlin

Source: Hedge Fund Launches Are Surging | Institutional Investor

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Critics:

A hedge fund is a pooled investment fund that trades in relatively liquid assets and is able to make extensive use of more complex trading, portfolio-construction and risk management techniques in an attempt to improve performance, such as short selling, leverage, and derivatives. Financial regulators generally restrict hedge fund marketing except to institutional investors, high net worth individuals and others who are considered sufficiently sophisticated.

Hedge funds are regarded as alternative investments. Their ability to make more extensive use of leverage and more complex investment techniques distinguishes them from regulated investment funds available to the retail market, such as mutual funds and ETFs. They are also considered distinct from private-equity funds and other similar closed-end funds.

As hedge funds generally invest in relatively liquid assets and are generally open-ended, meaning that they allow investors to invest and withdraw capital periodically based on the fund’s net asset value, whereas private-equity funds generally invest in illiquid assets and only return capital after a number of years. However, other than a fund’s regulatory status there are no formal or fixed definitions of fund types, and so there are different views of what can constitute a “hedge fund”.

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