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COVID-19 drugs persist in wastewater, may pose risk to aquatic organisms

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Certain drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients — including remdesivir, dexamethasone and antibiotics for associated bacterial…

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Certain drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients — including remdesivir, dexamethasone and antibiotics for associated bacterial infections — persist through wastewater treatment and may occur in waterways at levels high enough to negatively affect aquatic organisms, according to a new study led by researchers at Penn State. The findings highlight the broad utility of wastewater surveillance as a tool for monitoring the effects of human health on water quality and ecosystem health.

Credit: Heather Preisendanz, Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Certain drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients — including remdesivir, dexamethasone and antibiotics for associated bacterial infections — persist through wastewater treatment and may occur in waterways at levels high enough to negatively affect aquatic organisms, according to a new study led by researchers at Penn State. The findings highlight the broad utility of wastewater surveillance as a tool for monitoring the effects of human health on water quality and ecosystem health.

According to Heather Preisendanz, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, Penn State, over-the counter and prescription-strength pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics and pain relievers, are excreted by humans, and many are known to persist through wastewater treatment plants and into nearby waterways, where they can negatively affect aquatic organisms.

“This knowledge spurred concerns that increased use of pharmaceuticals during the pandemic could also lead to increased concentrations of these drugs in wastewater treatment plant effluent and potentially harm aquatic life,” said Preisendanz.

The team — which included scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — collected weekly influent (incoming) and effluent (outgoing) samples from two wastewater treatment plants in central Pennsylvania between May 2020 and May 2021. One of the sites includes a hospital in its service area.

The researchers analyzed the influent at both wastewater treatment plants for the virus SARS-CoV-2, as well as the influent and effluent for a variety of medications that may have been used to treat COVID-19. Their findings published in the Journal of Environmental Quality.

“People experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms, but who are not severely ill to the point of needing hospitalization, have generally been recommended to treat their symptoms with pain relievers such as naproxen and acetaminophen,” said Preisendanz. “Meanwhile, antibiotics have been prescribed for patients who have COVID-19 complications leading to bacterial infections, and some hospitalized patients have been treated with remdesivir and dexamethasone.”

In their study, the researchers examined two over-the-counter fever reducer/pain relievers (acetaminophen and naproxen); five antibiotics (ampicillin, doxycycline, ofloxacin, sulfamethoxazole, and trimethoprim); two COVID-19 therapeutic agents (remdesivir and dexamethasone, which is used to reduce severe upper respiratory inflammation in patients on ventilators); and hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that was ultimately shown in clinical trials to be ineffective for treating COVID-19.

“It’s possible that the detection of these pharmaceuticals may increase with increasing detection of SARS-CoV-2,” said Preisendanz. “By analyzing wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 and various medications, valuable information regarding the well-being of entire communities may be gained without the need to interview, survey or test individuals.”

The team found that remdesivir concentrations were correlated with the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, while dexamethasone concentrations were associated with the number of hospitalized patients on ventilators. Specifically, influent to the wastewater treatment plant servicing the hospital had concentrations of remdesivir and dexamethasone of 28% and 31%, respectively, while the average removal efficiencies by the wastewater treatment plant for these drugs were 39% and 56%, respectively. Hydroxychloroquine was not detected at any of the influent samples collected at either treatment plant.

“The virus concentrations, alone, couldn’t tell us whether we would see those medications; rather, it was really tied back to who was in the hospital and who was on ventilators,” said Preisendanz.

According to Preisendanz, although risk to aquatic organisms from remdesivir could not be calculated, as no research has yet been done to determine the concentrations that could pose a risk, dexamethasone was detected in quantities that could pose a low acute risk to fish.

Among the antibiotics tested, the team found that trimethoprim concentrations could pose a low-to-medium risk to aquatic life, while sulfamethoxazole could pose a high risk, specifically to algae, which is a food source for many organisms.

In addition, the team found that although acetaminophen and naproxen were present at concentrations much higher than all the other pharmaceuticals of interest, no correlations were observed between virus concentrations and influent concentrations of either drug, suggesting that they are not indicators of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community. However, naproxen concentrations detected in effluent were at levels that could pose a low-to-medium risk to aquatic organisms.

“While the concentrations we calculated considered the individual risks that each drug could pose on aquatic life, these calculations do not account for the potential risks that could come from the synergistic effects of these drugs in a mixture, which could be much higher,” said Preisendanz. “Importantly, our study highlights the opportunity that wastewater surveillance provides to understand the effects of human health on water quality and ecological health.”

Other Penn State authors on the paper include Kathryn R. Hayden, graduate assistant in agricultural and biological engineering; Matthew Jones, research assistant in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences; Michael Shreve, postdoctoral scholar in agricultural and biological engineering; William Irvin Clees II, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Shirley Clark, professor of environmental engineering, Penn State Harrisburg; Michael L. Mashtare, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, Herschel A. Elliott , professor emeritus of agricultural and biological engineering; John E. Watson, professor of soil science; Justin Silverman, assistant professor of information sciences and technology; Thomas Richard, director of the Institutes for Energy and the Environment; and Andrew Read, director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. Kyle R. Elkin, research chemist, and Tamie L. Veith, agricultural engineer, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Pasture Systems & 17 Watershed Management Research Unit, also are authors.

The Penn State Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture supported this research.


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Decrease in Japanese children’s ability to balance during movement related to COVID-19 activity restrictions

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected…

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A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

Credit: Credit must be given when image is used

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Japan, as in other countries, schools and sports clubs tried to prevent the spread of infection by reducing physical education and restricting outdoor physical activities, club activities, and sports. However, children who are denied opportunities for physical activity with social elements may develop bad habits. During the pandemic, children, like adults, increased the time they spent looking at television, smartphone, and computer screens, exercised less, and slept less. Such changes in lifestyle can harm adolescent bodies, leading to weight gain and health problems. 

Visiting Researcher Tadashi Ito and Professor Hideshi Sugiura from the Department of Biological Functional Science at the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, together with Dr. Yuji Ito from the Department of Pediatrics at Nagoya University Hospital, and  Dr. Nobuhiko Ochi and Dr. Koji Noritake from Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities, conducted a study of Japanese children and students in elementary and junior high schools, aged 9-15, by analyzing data from physical examinations before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. They evaluated the children’s muscle strength, dynamic balance functions, walking speed, body fat percentage, screen time, sleep time, quality of life, and physical activity time.  

The researchers found that after the onset of the pandemic, children were more likely to have decreased balance ability when moving, larger body fat percentage, report spending more time looking at TV, computers or smartphones, and sleep less. Since there were no changes in the time spent on physical activity or the number of meals eaten, Sugiura and his colleagues suggest that the worsening of physical functions was related to the quality of exercise of the children. The researchers reported their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  

“Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Japan after April 2020, children have not been able to engage in sufficient physical education, sports activities, and outdoor play at school. It became clear that balance ability during movement was easily affected, lifestyle habits were disrupted, and the percentage of body fat was likely to increase,” explained Ito. “This may have been because of shorter outdoor playtime and club activities, which impeded children’s ability to learn the motor skills necessary to balance during movement.” 

“Limitations on children’s opportunities for physical activity because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus have had a significant impact on the development of physical function and lifestyle and may cause physical deterioration and health problems in the future,” warned Ito. “Especially, the risk of injury to children may increase because of a reduced dynamic balance function.” 

The results suggest that even after the novel coronavirus becomes endemic, it is important to consider the effects of social restrictions on the body composition of adolescents. Since physical activities with a social element may be important for health, authorities should prioritize preventing the reduction of children’s physical inactivity and actively encourage them to play outdoors and exercise. The group has some recommendations for families worried about the effects of school closings and other coronavirus measures on their children. “It is important for children to practice dynamic balance ability, maintaining balance to avoid falling over while performing movements,” Ito advised. “To improve balance function in children, it is important to incorporate enhanced content, such as short-term exercise programs specifically designed to improve balance functions.” 


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These Are The World’s Richest Billionaires Over The Past 10 Years

These Are The World’s Richest Billionaires Over The Past 10 Years

The last decade has seen a number of changes in the world’s richest billionaires…

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These Are The World's Richest Billionaires Over The Past 10 Years

The last decade has seen a number of changes in the world’s richest billionaires list.

For one, there are new faces at the top of the leaderboard that were never there before. But, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley details below, one of the most obvious changes though, is that the richest billionaires have accumulated a lot more wealth in recent years.

Using annual data from Forbes on the richest billionaires, Routley has visualized the wealth and ranking of the top 10 billionaires over the past decade.

Who are the World’s Richest Billionaires?

While the pecking order has fluctuated, the leaderboard remains very exclusive. Out of a possible 10 spots, there are only 19 individuals that have made the list over the last decade.

Here’s the current list of richest billionaires in 2022, including when they first made the list (if in the last decade):

 

*Billionaires with “-” first made the list at an earlier date. Example: Mukesh Ambani made the 2008 list.

 

Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, Bill Gates, is a perennial presence at the top of these lists. Gates is currently at his lowest rank over this time period, but is still in fourth spot. The billionaire has pledged to give away nearly all of his fortune to the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

From 2018 to 2021, Jeff Bezos sat at the top of the world’s richest people ranking, only to be bumped out by Elon Musk. In 2020, Bezos became the first person to amass a $200 billion fortune after Amazon’s stock price surged during the pandemic. In recent months, Bezos’ net worth has taken a hit as Amazon’s share price has fallen back down to Earth.

Today, Elon Musk is the world’s richest person.

The Rich Get Richer

Over time, the median net worth of the richest billionaires has grown significantly.

 

Most fortunes are held in the form of business equity, real estate, and publicly-traded stocks—all asset classes that have benefited from the era of cheap money and ultra-low interest rates.

 

Over the decade period, the median net worth of the top 10 billionaires has nearly tripled from $39 billion to $115 billion.

In fact, the first billionaire to pass the $100 billion threshold was Jeff Bezos in 2018, when he took the top spot on the list from Bill Gates. However, now all but two on the top 10 wealthiest list are centibillionaires.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 20:40

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Contradictions, Lies, And “I Don’t Recalls”: The Fauci Deposition

Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don’t Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General…

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Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don't Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General Eric Schmitt released the transcript of the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fauci. As you might recall, Fauci was deposed as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s violations of the First Amendment in targeting and suppressing the speech of Americans who challenged the government’s narrative on COVID-19.

Here is the Fauci deposition transcript.

And here are the highlights…

EcoHealth Alliance - the Peter Daszak group - is knee-deep in the Wuhan controversy, having been funded by the Fauci’s NIH for coronavirus and gain of function research in China (and having worked with the Chinese team in Wuhan). What does Fauci say about EcoHealth Alliance? Over two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and after millions dead worldwide, he’s “vaguely familiar” with their work.

In early 2020, Fauci was put on notice that his group - NIAID - had funded EcoHealth alliance on bat coronavirus research for the past five years.

This coincided with early reports - directly to Fauci, from Jeremy Ferrar and Christian Anderson - “of the possibility of there being a manipulation of the virus” based on the fact that “it was an unusual virus.”

Fauci conceded that he was specifically made aware by Anderson that “the unusual features of the virus” make it look “potentially engineered.”

Fauci couldn’t recall why he sent an article discussing gain of function research in China to his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss, telling him it was essential that they speak on the phone. He couldn’t recall speaking with Auchincloss via phone that day. But remarkably, Fauci did remember assigning research tasks to Auchincloss

Fauci was evasive on conversations with Francis Collins about whether NIAID may have funded coronavirus-related research in China, eventually stating “I don’t recall.”

The phrase “I don’t recall” was prominent in Fauci’s deposition. He said it a total of 174 times:

For example, Fauci couldn’t remember what anyone said on a call discussing whether the virus originated in a lab:

During that same call, Fauci couldn’t recall whether anyone expressed concern that the lab leak “might discredit scientific funding projects.” He also couldn’t recall whether there was a discussion about a lab leak distracting from the virus response. Fauci did remember, however, that they agreed there needed to be more time to investigate the virus origins - including the lab leak theory.

What else couldn’t Fauci remember? Whether, early into the pandemic, his confidants raised concerns about social media posts about the origins of COVID-19.

Yet Fauci did admit he was concerned about social media posts blaming China for the pandemic. He even admitted the accidental lab leak “certainly is a possibility,” contradicting his prior claims to National Geographic where he said the virus “could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”

Fauci also couldn’t recall whether he had any conversations with Daszak about the origins of COVID-19 in February 2020, but admitted those conversations might have happened: “I told you before that I did not remember any direct conversations with him about the origin, and I said I very well might have had conversations but I don't specifically remember conversations.” And he couldn’t recall telling the media early on during the pandemic that the virus was consistent with a jump “from an animal to a human.”

Fauci said he was in the dark on social media actions to curb speech and suspend accounts that posted COVID-19 information that didn’t fit the mainstream narrative: “I’m not aware of suppression of speech on social media.” Yet it was Fauci’s proclamations of the truth, whether about the origins of COVID-19 to the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, that led to social media companies banning discussions of contrary information.

Regarding those removals of content, Fauci had no personal knowledge of a US Government/Social Media effort to curb “misinformation.” But he conceded the possibility numerous times.

Then there’s the issue of masks. In February 2020, Fauci informed an acquaintance that was traveling: “I do not recommend that you wear a mask.” Fauci would later become a vocal proponent of masks only two months later.

I’m near my Substack length limit - posting the excerpts does that - but you can see from Fauci’s testimony that his public statements about COVID-19 origins and the necessity to wear a mask didn’t match his private conversations. This has been known for some time, but it’s finally nice to get him on record.

Again, read it all and subscribe here.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 21:40

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