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Michael Simpson

Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

photo of children playing with dry leaves

Measles is vaccine-preventable, yet it is coming back

Measles, a highly contagious respiratory disease, is making a resurgence due to reduced vaccination levels influenced by myths and misinformation, including debunked claims linking the MMR vaccine to autism. This safe and effective vaccine prevents not only measles but also severe complications like pneumonia and encephalitis. Despite its rarity in recent decades due to widespread vaccination, current complacency among parents poses risks, underscoring the importance of maintaining high immunization rates to protect public health.

close up of hands holding baby feet

Vitamin K shots for newborns — it’s safe, effective, and important

The anti-vaccine movement often rejects not only vaccines like hepatitis B but also crucial vitamin K shots for newborns, citing unfounded safety concerns. Vitamin K is essential for blood coagulation, preventing potentially fatal bleeding disorders in infants like Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB). Since newborns have low vitamin K levels and insufficient gut bacteria to produce it, and because breast milk contains low vitamin K, the shot, which has been safely used since 1961, is strongly recommended. Myths around its safety, including concerns about synthetic ingredients and jaundice, are largely debunked by medical professionals.

New study shows that eating red meat has no impact on health

A comprehensive analysis in “Grilling the data” investigates the impact of red meat on mortality, examining over 1000 statistical methods across 15 studies. Existing data yields contradictory results, from significant reductions to increases in mortality risks. This study, however, concludes that red meat consumption neither significantly decreases nor increases early death risk, suggesting no substantial health impact from eating red meat per current findings.

scientist using microscope

Another mRNA vaccine cancer treatment — Epstein-Barr virus

The FDA has approved an investigational new drug (IND) application for a novel mRNA therapeutic cancer vaccine, targeting Epstein-Barr virus-positive solid tumors and hematoma in adults. This vaccine, developed by WestGene Biotech, is intended for clinical trials under the name WGc-043 and is designed to enhance immune responses against specific cancer-associated antigens, potentially improving treatment outcomes. The vaccine is not yet approved for general use but is currently undergoing a phase 1 clinical trial in China.

a doctor attending a patient

COVID still has a higher mortality risk than the flu

A recent JAMA study by Ziyad Al-Aly and colleagues using data from over 11,000 hospitalized patients during 2023-24 shows COVID-19 has a 35% higher mortality risk than influenza. Despite frequent mutations of SARS-CoV-2, COVID remains significantly more lethal and causes more hospitalizations than the flu. This undercuts claims that COVID-19 is comparable to influenza in severity.

grilled breakfast tortilla

H5N1 avian influenza spilling over to cows and cats

A CDC report indicates H5N1 avian influenza is transmitting from birds to domestic cattle and cats, with potential cow-to-cow transmission noted. Such developments suggest new transmission pathways to humans, especially through consumption of raw milk. The study underscores the virus’s spread in affected cattle herds and a high incidence of severe disease and mortality in cats exposed to infected milk. Consequently, caution is advised against consuming raw milk and exposing cats to it.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr had a brain-eating worm – that makes sense

Recent revelations about Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s health during a 2010 memory loss and mental fogginess diagnosis have surfaced, indicating a pork tapeworm larva as the potential cause, rather than a brain tumor. This unexpected diagnosis was based on scans that showed a likely dead parasite cyst, thought to be from ingesting undercooked pork. Despite his anti-vaccine stance possibly seeming less incongruent with his acknowledgment of climate change science, the irony deepens as Kennedy maintains he is healthier than his presidential contenders, despite having other health conditions like atrial fibrillation.

photo of olives on a bowl

Study shows that olive oil reduces risk of dementia mortality

A study in JAMA Network Open by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed over 92,000 participants, finding that consuming at least 7 grams of olive oil daily could reduce dementia-related death risk by 28%. Replacing margarine and mayonnaise with olive oil also showed a reduced risk. The findings suggest that olive oil intake is beneficial for cognitive health, independent of overall diet quality.

woman wearing face mask

New COVID variants entering the USA — all about FLiRT

The CDC is monitoring new COVID variants called FLiRT, with strains KP.2 and KP.1.1 now prevalent in the USA. These variants are highly transmissible and may not be effectively countered by current vaccines due to mutations on the spike protein. Symptoms resemble those of earlier strains, but the increased transmission and potential vaccine resistance make them a significant concern, prompting considerations for updated vaccines.

photo of toddler smiling

California study shows COVID vaccine effectiveness for children

A study in the JAMA Network Open by University of California researchers analyzing over 3.9 million pediatric COVID-19 cases shows significant benefits of vaccination. The California COVID vaccine program reduced infections by 26.3% among children aged 6 months to 15 years and lowered hospitalizations by 24.4% in younger age groups. Vaccinations averted around 376,085 cases and 273 hospitalizations, demonstrating a clear reduction in disease transmission and severity following immunization in children.