151E comments

Posted in: 5 trails in Japan I can’t wait to hike again when it’s safe to travel See in context

Bit of a pet peeve of mine but the Susoaidaira Valley photo isn't level. Nice shot, but watch those horizons.

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Posted in: COVID-19 deaths of people aged under 60 soar in Japan due to Delta variant See in context

And how many of those had some comorbidity like the teenager in Osaka?

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Posted in: Japan eyes tougher jail sentence for insults to tackle cyberbullying See in context

Well, guess all the those using the hashtag「河野さんにブロックされています」better start watching their online Ps and Qs.

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Posted in: Japanese university developing coronavirus vaccine in form of a nasal spray See in context

Sounds similar to the Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative project. They published a white paper on a DIY peptide based nasal spray vaccine back in July 2020.

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Posted in: Vay unveils ‘teledriving’ as a new path to autonomous future See in context

Hmmm... interesting. I'd still be concerned about the lag time, and about teledrivers watching porn instead of concentrating on the road. At least with a human in the driver's seat they've got real skin in the game.

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Posted in: Medicine is an imperfect science – but you can still trust its process See in context

From the FDA

The FDA budget for FY 2019 is $5.9 billion.

About 55 percent, or $3.2 billion, of FDA’s budget is provided by federal budget authorization. The remaining 45 percent, or $2.7 billion, is paid for by industry user fees.


From NPR, One-Third Of New Drugs Had Safety Problems After FDA Approval (2017)

The Food and Drug Administration is under pressure from the Trump administration to approve drugs faster, but researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found that nearly a third of those approved from 2001 through 2010 had major safety issues years after the medications were made widely available to patients.


It is not irrational to have some skepticism towards new treatments, particularly ones that have had an accelerated development and approval, and ones for which no long term safety data is available.

Yes the current vaccines are an impressive technical development and induce a strong antibody response, but they are also leaky, short lived, and minimally effective against the now most common variants. Furthermore, presenting the immune system with only a single antigen target, is a mistake. It creates strong evolutionary selective pressure in favour of new variants. If the vaccines presented at least three targets, it would make it more difficult for the virus to evade the vaccine trained immune response. This is one reason I'd prefer to wait for a more traditional inactivated or attenuated virus vaccine. In the meantime, I'm more that willing to test regularly, mask up, avoid crowds indoors, supplement with vitamin D, and maintain a healthy body weight.

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Posted in: Get healthy by heeding the wisdom of the ancients, by embarking on a fast See in context

Dr. David Sinclair recommends intermittent fasting. Fasting has been shown to provide numerous benefits, and studies have shown that fasting for 72 hours can increase autophagy. Anyone interested in the potential health benefits of fasting should google Dr. Valter Longo.

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Posted in: Efforts grow to stamp out use of parasite drug ivermectin for COVID-19 See in context

the drug can be extremely toxic and cause even death

FFS, even water and oxygen can be toxic depending on the dosage. Saying that something is toxic vs something can be toxic is an important distinction.

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Posted in: Efforts grow to stamp out use of parasite drug ivermectin for COVID-19 See in context

Can any of you very briefly actually tell me how an anti-parasitic drug is a remedy for a virus without directing me to an odd website. 

Ivermectin is thought to interfere with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding with a number of key targets, such as SA binding sites on hemoglobin (reducing the chance of clotting) and ACE2 receptors on lung and heart cells (reducing infection). To avoid odd websites, I recommend you try a google scholar search for papers on this topic.

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Posted in: Efforts grow to stamp out use of parasite drug ivermectin for COVID-19 See in context

The growing efforts to stamp out use of ivermectin for COVID-19 would seem to include so-called 'fake news', such as a recently widely reported story that gunshot victims were left waiting unattended as 'horse dewormer' overdoses were overwhelming hospitals in Oklahoma. However, visitors to the Northeastern Health System Sequoyah website are presently greeted with a message saying:

NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin. This includes not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose.

All patients who have visited our emergency room have received medical attention as appropriate. Our hospital has not had to turn away any patients seeking emergency care.

Neither The Guardian nor RollingStone have retracted their original reports but have amended their stories to include the NHSS statement in such a way that casual readers may still be left with the impression that the headline is correct.

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Posted in: Efforts grow to stamp out use of parasite drug ivermectin for COVID-19 See in context

@ Burning Bush

JFYI, India's health ministry removed treatment based on ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, favipiravir, doxycycline, zinc, and vitamins from its COVID19 guidelines in June, then turned around and granted emergency use authorization for its own domestic vaccine, ZyCoV-D, in August. However, the Indian Council of Medical Research still recommends therapeutic use of ivermectin for mild cases.

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Posted in: Efforts grow to stamp out use of parasite drug ivermectin for COVID-19 See in context

Below is a link to a review article from the Japanese Journal of Antibiotics summarizing the evidence supporting ivermectin's efficacy against COVID-19, co-authored by Satoshi Omura - 2015 Nobel prize winner for the discovery of ivermectin (although I'm sure someone will shortly come along to tell me why I shouldn't trust a quack like him).

Global trends in clinical studies of ivermectin in COVID-19


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Posted in: How COVID response sank Suga See in context

Compared to Europe and America death and infection numbers in Japan are very low, Japan has got to be doing something right.

Agreed, but no thanks to governmental measures. I suspect the primary reason is that Japanese are generally healthier than many Americans and Europeans.

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Posted in: Suga to resign; says he couldn't run for reelection and handle virus response See in context

How about electing a young woman as a leader?

How about electing whoever is best qualified regardless of age, gender, BMI, shoe size or any other irrelevant metric?

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Posted in: Tokyo August virus cases top 125,000, nearly triple July's record See in context

@Bob Fose

When disagreeing about facts and data, it is helpful to cite sources.


Above is a link to a preprint study from Stanford estimating the infection fatality rate (IFR) from COVID-19 for various age brackets.  

The study found:

   0-19  0.0027%     

  20-29  0.014%

  30-39  0.031%

  50-59  0.27%

  60-69  0.59%

Of course, death is not the only concern with corona infection.

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Posted in: Yakuza boss sentenced to death for ordering murder See in context

It sets a dangerous precedent when we simply accept a preponderance of evidence as justification for the death penalty. While few may care in this specific case, innocent people (see the Menda and Hakamada cases) can unjustly fall victim of such a lax evidentiary standard, with no possibility of redress once the sentence has been carried out.

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Posted in: Nuclear scientists hail US fusion breakthrough See in context

despite the humongous amounts of money poured in to it is always sometime in the future, but keep giving us the money.

@englisc aspyrgend

Your cost concerns are incredibly shortsighted. Once commercially viable fusion technology is finally achieved, the return on investment for all humanity will be incalculable.

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Posted in: Experts say New Zealand should keep virus elimination plan See in context

It's sad to see the defeatist attitude of many western nations, accepting that SARS-CoV-2 will be endemic much like influenza. The best strategy is still to drive the virus to extinction through a combination of lockdowns, vaccines, natural immunity after infection, as well as cheap and widely available home testing.

The comparison to measles in article is a poor one since the measles vaccines produce sterilizing immunity, unlike the current leaky COVID-19 vaccines. So even if New Zealand achieves 100% vaccination, the population will still be susceptible to variants like delta, as we can already see in places like Gibraltar. Sure, the risk of more sever outcomes will be reduced, but we will be saddling ourselves with an unnecessary public health burden (and attendant financial costs) for generations to come.

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Posted in: For 4th week, protesters in France decry virus pass rules See in context

I don't know why I waste my time posting on these forums when everyone is already an expert and everyone's mind is already made up.

Still, for what it's worth, I would encourage those who reflexively dismiss the possibility that the vaccines themselves can act as an evolutionary selective force in favour of new more easily transmissible and virulent variants - such as the delta and lambda variants - to consider the following two papers.

Van Egeren et al. (2021) 'Risk of rapid evolutionary escape from biomedical interventions targeting SARS-CoV-2 spike protein'. PLoS ONE 16(4): e0250780. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0250780

"Our modeling suggests that SARS-CoV-2 mutants with one or two mildly deleterious mutations are expected to exist in high numbers due to neutral genetic variation, and consequently resistance to vaccines or other prophylactics that rely on one or two antibodies for protection can develop quickly -and repeatedly- under positive selection.

Strategies for viral elimination should therefore be diversified across molecular targets and therapeutic modalities."

Read et al. (2015) 'Imperfect Vaccination Can Enhance the Transmission of Highly Virulent Pathogens'. PLoS Biol 13(7): e1002198. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002198

"...vaccine-driven epitope evolution (antigenic escape), in which variants of target antigens evolve because they enable pathogens that are otherwise less fit to evade vaccine-induced immunity... has been frequently observed.

Here we show experimentally that immunization of chickens against Marek's disease virus enhances the fitness of more virulent strains, making it possible for hyperpathogenic strains to transmit.

Our data show that anti-disease vaccines that do not prevent transmission can create conditions that promote the emergence of pathogen strains that cause more severe disease in unvaccinated hosts."

Sound familiar?

While different viruses have different mutation rates, it is conspicuous that all the variants display changes to the spike protein that allow them to better evade the vaccine induced antibodies. My only hope is that we don't inadvertently created a much more lethal strain in our rush to get everyone vaccinated in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.

Best wishes to all regardless of your stance on the current vaccination programs.

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Posted in: COVID-19 tests need to be accessible, affordable and appropriate to risk level, says IATA See in context

Given the rising number of breakthrough cases, it makes little sense to exempt vaccinated people from test.

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Posted in: In effort to curb COVID, Tokyo Olympics collect lots of spit See in context

It's nice that the athletes are tested daily, but the government should be pushing to make rapid COVID-19 antigen tests readily available to the public. Take a test every morning before you leave the house. If you test positive, go to a clinic for confirmation with a more sensitive PCR test. That alone could help push R0 below 1.

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Posted in: Kono says gov't trying to reach young adults to combat vaccine misinformation See in context

I feel sorry for all those living in densely crowded cities who want the vaccine but still must wait. Out here in the inaka, 12 year olds are already getting vaccinated.

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Posted in: Most major cities in Japan revise vaccine plans amid supply crunch See in context

It would probably be wiser to have have a smaller number of fully vaccinated people than a larger number of partially vaccinated people. Having many partially vaccinated people coming into contact with the virus, in theory at least, sets-up evolutionary pressure favoring new variants (somewhat analogous to antibiotic resistance, an especially apt comparison in this case since the existing vaccines produce an immune response to only a single target - the S protein). It will be interesting to see whether this is actually observed or not in countries like Japan and Brazil where a large number of people remain only partially vaccinated.

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Posted in: Kono says local gov'ts need to slow down vaccinations due to supply crunch See in context

Until more vaccine arrives, if the government were truly serious about combating coronavirus, they could (1) distribute millions of rapid antigen tests and (2) give emergency use authorization for the prophylactic use of Ivermectin [see Carvallo et al. (2020) Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Topical Ivermectin + Iota- Carrageenan in the Prophylaxis against COVID-19 in Health Personnel. Journal of Biomedical Research and Clinical Investigation, 2(1)].

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Posted in: Moderna's president talks about COVID-19 and vaccine technology See in context

@virusrex Yes animal models and human trials often produce different results. However, this data was from Pfizer Japan’s own pharmacokinetic study submitted to the PMDA, so I don’t understand your claim that the source was fake. And while the dosage given to the rodents (BALB/c mice) was 20-30x what you’d get in a single injection (based on comparative bodyweight), I’m sure you know well that was done to ensure that both the radio-labeled lipid nanoparticles and the RNA-based luciferase reporter assay would produce clear signals. Until I see data to indicate the vaccine behaves differently in humans, the potential risks of bioaccumulation in tissue other than the intended target is (for now) still of larger concern to me than the virus, given my age and lack of co-morbidities. Now, were I diabetic or in my 60s or older, that calculus would be entirely different.

By the way, since you seem so confident that the quality of all existing research on ivermectin and fluvoxamine (with regards to their efficacy against COVID-19) amounts to little more than anecdote, you should take Kirsch up on both his million dollar challenges instead of just arguing with a bunch of randos here in JT comments section.

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Posted in: Moderna's president talks about COVID-19 and vaccine technology See in context

@Dessert Tortoise Respectfully, I suggest you double-check your sources. There is plenty of literature meant to assure us that the mRNA encoded spike protein is not able to circulate freely but rather moves to the surface of the cell, where it stays stuck (thanks to a transmembrane anchor), visible to the immune system as a foreign protein projecting from the cell wall (or invader as you say). Think about it - if the spike protein remained within the cell wall, it would be effectively invisible to the immune system. The problem is the anchors are not reliable and free circulating spike protein has been detected in people who've received the vaccine.

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Posted in: Moderna's president talks about COVID-19 and vaccine technology See in context

@1glen Most of the concern is not with mRNA vaccines per-se, but with these specific vaccines. Of particular concern are: (1) the mRNA coding for the spike protein which is itself responsible for many of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, (2) free floating spike protein circulating around the body as result of an unreliable anchoring mechanism and (3) the fact that, according to Pfizer's own internal documents, some of the vaccine migrates away from the site of injection, accumulating in various tissues such as the ovaries and bone marrow. In addition to the short term risk of free floating spike protein potentially inducing coagulation or myocarditis, there is also the question of whether accumulation in bone marrow might lead to autoimmune disease. Answering this question would normally involve monitoring phase-3 clinical trial volunteers over a period of at least three years to see if any worrying signal emerges. Obviously, with these vaccines having only been in use for about 1 year, their long term safety has not yet been established.

Now are these risks acceptable in comparison to the risks of infection with COVID-19? That's for each individual to decide based on complete disclosure and full comprehension of all risks, something which I feel has not been well communicated by government, media, nor the pharmaceutical industry.

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Posted in: Moderna's president talks about COVID-19 and vaccine technology See in context

Speaking of scientific consensus only makes sense when discussing long researched, well known phenomena; when encountering novel phenomena, models will likely need constant updating. Just look at how the 'scientific consensus' has evolved over the risk of COVID-19 infection from surfaces.

For those interested in the ongoing debate over other treatments, please see the new paper from Bryant A, Lawrie T, Dowsell T, et al, in the American Journal of Therapeutics.

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Posted in: Japan says China's military strategy unclear, of serious concern See in context

If Japan doesn't deal with the situation now, she may very well one day wake up to find herself a vassal state, with Chinese bases dotted across the country and no independent foreign policy, pressured to spend public treasure to equip JSDF with Chinese made weapons (ostensibly for self defense), and kids forced to learn Chinese in school!

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Posted in: Japan starts vaccinating people aged 18 or older at large-scale centers See in context

@mmwkdm I think 2hat you are alluding to is the body's innate immune response which, unlike the adaptive immune response (responsible for producing antibodies), we don't yet know how to train, although some people are researching whether this might be possible.

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