Month: January 2022

Blog article

Omicron drives U.S. deaths higher than in fall’s delta wave

Omicron, the highly contagious coronavirus variant sweeping across the country, is driving the daily American death toll higher than during last fall’s delta wave, with deaths likely to keep rising for days or even weeks.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been climbing since mid-November, reaching 2,267 on Thursday and surpassing a September peak of 2,100 when delta was the dominant variant.

Now omicron is estimated to account for nearly all the virus circulating in the nation. And even though it causes less severe disease for most people, the fact that it is more transmissible means more people are falling ill and dying.

“Omicron will push us over a million deaths,” said Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine. “That will cause a lot of soul searching. There will be a lot of discussion about what we could

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Health News

Extra cash for low-income mothers may influence baby brains

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

New research suggests giving extra cash to low-income mothers can change their infants’ brain development.

Brain measurements at age 1 showed faster activity in key brain regions in infants whose low-income families received $300-plus monthly for a year, compared with those who got $20 each month, U.S. researchers reported Monday.

The same type of brain activity has been linked in older children to learning skills and other development, although it’s unclear whether the differences found will persist or influence the infants’ future.

The researchers are investigating whether the payments led to better nutrition, less parent stress or other benefits to the infants. There were no restrictions on how the money was spent.

The results suggest reducing poverty can directly affect infant , said senior author, Dr. Kimberly Noble, a neuroscience and education professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“The brain changes speak to the

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Blog article

ThedaCare scraps lawsuit to prevent employees from leaving for Ascension

ThedaCare, which operates seven hospitals, contended in its lawsuit that seven members of its 11-member interventional radiology and cardiovascular team departing at the same time would endanger patients. The crew handles serious cases such trauma and stroke patients. Ascension rejected that argument and noted that the employees would provide the same care at a nearby hospital. Ascension also pointed out that ThedaCare declined to make the workers a counteroffer to get them to remain.

ThedaCare continues to stand by its assertions that the sole aim of the legal action was protecting patients. “We have worked diligently to ensure safe, quality, continued access to the high-level services our communities rely on in the most serious, life-threatening situations,” Andrabi said.


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Russia sees over 100,000 daily COVID cases for first time

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Russia reported more than 100,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time on on Saturday as the country weathers a surge of infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

A government COVID-19 portal registered 113,122 new cases over 24 hours, nearly double the number of daily infections just a week ago.

The number of cases across Russia continues to rise sharply, with Omicron accounting for the majority of cases.

Following a strict but brief national lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, Russia has held back on curbs hoping instead to protect its struggling economy.

But with four vaccines widely available for months, Russians remain reluctant to get jabbed with just under half of the population fully vaccinated.

Russia’s government figures have reported 330,111 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic—the highest death toll in Europe.

However those figures are contradicted by statistics

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Blog article

BCBSA invests in digital health savings account startup

Digital benefits startup First Dollar raised $14 million led by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s venture arm, with participation from Next Coast Ventures and Meridian Street Capital, the company announced on Thursday.

First Dollar, which offers a digital wallet consumers can use to spend tax-advantaged cash like Health Savings Accounts, adds the Series A round to cash from angel investors Firefly Health CEO Fay Rotenberg, Bright Health Group chief technology officer Brian Gambs, RPM Ventures Managing Director Marc Weiser and more. The Austin-based company said it has raised $19 million in total venture funding.

“Paying for care is the main way consumers engage with their health plans. However, the consumer payment experience today requires consumers to navigate a complex web of healthcare benefits, spending accounts and payment cards,” Michael Spadafore, managing director at the Blue Venture fund, said in a news release. “First Dollar’s platform and vision to power

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Health News

Blocking sphingolipids counteracts muscular dystrophy

Staining of a skeletal muscle cross-section showing different types of muscle fiber in young mice. Green: slow-twitch fibers type I; Red: Intermediate fast-twitch fibers type IIA; Purple: Very fast-twitch fibers type IIB; Yellow: Laminin. Credit: Martin Wohlwend (EPFL)

EPFL scientists have made the first link between muscular dystrophy and a group of bioactive fats, the sphingolipids, which are involved in numerous cell functions and other diseases.

In a new study, the group of Johan Auwerx at EPFL’s School of Life Sciences has made the first connection between and sphingolipids, a group of bioactive lipids. The study is published in Science Advances.

Muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is an umbrella term for diseases where gene mutations result in progressive weakness and breakdown of skeletal muscles. About half of all muscular dystrophy cases involve Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). DMD arises from a mutation of the gene that codes for dystrophin,

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