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Public trust in CDC, FDA, and Fauci holds steady, survey shows

But heavy users of conservative media have less confidence and are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories Credit: Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania With more than two-thirds of American adults vaccinated with at least

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But heavy users of conservative media have less confidence and are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories

Credit: Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania

With more than two-thirds of American adults vaccinated with at least one dose of an authorized Covid-19 vaccine, the top U.S. health agencies retain the trust of the vast majority of the American public, as does Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of U.S. efforts to combat the virus, according to a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania.

The survey revealed growing public confidence in both the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to prevent Covid-19.

But after months of attacks on Fauci in conservative and social media, the survey found that people who said they rely on conservative and very conservative media rather than other sources were more likely to have less confidence in Fauci’s trustworthiness on Covid-19 and more likely to accept misinformation about him and misinformation and conspiracy theories about the authorized Covid-19 vaccines and the novel coronavirus.

The survey also found that a growing number of Americans – more than 1 in 3 – believes that the coronavirus was created by the Chinese government as a biological weapon.

“Our analysis of the data shows that there is good news and bad news here,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “Those who underestimate the lethality of Covid-19 or the safety of Covid-19 vaccination are less likely to accept a Covid-19 vaccination. The same is true of those who believe Covid-19 conspiracy theories. By contrast, those who trust health authorities are more likely to seek vaccination. Deceptive messages that undermine trust in a health expert such as Dr. Fauci are deeply worrisome.”

The latest Annenberg Science Knowledge (ASK) survey was conducted among 1,719 U.S. adult respondents from June 2 – June 22, 2021. Data were weighted to represent the target U.S. adult population. The margin of error is ± 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The panel survey is a follow-up to an April 2021 ASK survey with 1,941 respondents. (See the Appendix for additional data.)

Confidence in U.S. health authorities

The ASK survey found that the most trustworthy source of information for treating and preventing Covid-19 is the doctor or nurse who is an individual’s primary health care provider:

  • Primary health care provider: 83% are confident their primary health care provider is providing trustworthy information about Covid-19;
  • Food and Drug Administration: 77% are confident that the FDA, which authorized emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccines available in the United States, is providing trustworthy information about treating and preventing Covid-19 – statistically about the same as the 75% in April and up significantly from 71% in August 2020 in an earlier Annenberg Public Policy Center survey;
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 76% are confident that the CDC is providing trustworthy information on Covid-19, about the same as in April (75%) and August 2020 (72%);
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci: 68% overall are confident that Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is providing trustworthy advice on Covid-19, statistically about the same as in April (71%) and August 2020 (68%).

Conservative media and lower confidence

For more than a year, some prominent hosts in the conservative media have attacked Fauci’s credibility. Fox News’s Laura Ingraham falsely claimed on June 2, 2021, “Much of what Fauci said about this virus, the drugs that could treat it, and the measures that could be taken to slow the spread was untrue. He knew it was untrue.”

The survey found that those who indicated that they rely on conservative and very conservative media have less confidence in U.S. health authorities providing trustworthy information about Covid-19 – especially Fauci.

Among people who said they rely all the time or often on …

  • Very conservative media sources such as Newsmax, One America News (OAN), Gateway Pundit, Parler, or Telegram: 55% are confident about trustworthiness of the FDA, 52% are confident about the trustworthiness of the CDC, and only 38% are confident in the trustworthiness of Fauci.
  • Conservative media such as Fox News: Nearly 7 in 10 are confident that the CDC (68%) and FDA (69%) are providing the public with trustworthy information on Covid-19, but just over half (51%) have confidence that Fauci is doing so.
  • Mainstream broadcast and print news media such as CBS, ABC, and NBC News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal news pages, and the Associated Press: 87% are confident in trustworthiness of the CDC and FDA, and 84% in Fauci.
  • Social media such as Facebook: 80% are confident that the CDC and FDA are providing the public with trustworthy information on Covid, and 71% have confidence that Fauci is providing trustworthy information.

Confidence in Covid-19 vaccines

In June, a growing majority of the U.S. public said the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective:

  • 78% of the U.S. public believes it is definitely or probably true that Covid-19 vaccines are effective in preventing Covid-19, up significantly from 74% in April;

    o Those who say this is definitely true grew to 46%, from 38% in April. (NOTE: THESE UNFILLED-IN BULLETS ARE INDENTED UNDER A REGULAR BULLET)

  • 76% of the U.S. public believes it is definitely or probably true that it is safer to get the Covid-19 vaccine than to get Covid-19, about the same as the 75% in April;

    o Those who say this is definitely true grew to 54%, from 49% in April, a significant change.

    o In the presence of statistical controls, the more ideologically conservative that people described themselves as, the less likely they are to believe that it is true that it is safer to get the Covid-19 vaccine than to get Covid-19.

Conspiracy beliefs

The survey asked respondents about misinformation and conspiracy theories.

  • Bioweapon conspiracy theory: Over 1 in 3 people (35%) said it was true that the coronavirus was created by the Chinese government as a biological weapon, up slightly from 31% in April. Another 42% said that statement was false and 23% were not sure. (Although the origin of the coronavirus is still uncertain, there currently is no evidence it was created by the Chinese as a bioweapon.)

    o In the presence of statistical controls, those who say they rely on conservative media such as Fox News or very conservative media such as OAN are more likely to believe this conspiracy theory. Those who say they rely on mainstream media are more likely to reject this theory.

    Among the instances in which a conservative media outlet legitimized the Chinese bioweapon theory was Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show on June 30, 2021, which featured an interview with a Chinese “coronavirus whistleblower” who claimed that Covid-19 was a “biologically engineered weapon that got out of control… ” And on June 8, 2021, conservative personality Steve Bannon hosted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) on his podcast “War Room: Pandemic,” where she claimed that Fauci was sending “American tax dollars” to the Chinese lab in Wuhan “to fund this research that was creating … a virus that can spread rapidly among a population, make people sick and kill them… [with] these viruses that they experiment with like some sort of Dr. Frankenstein experiments: These are bioweapons.”

    In addition, while most respondents knew that a vaccine conspiracy theory involving Bill Gates and microchips was false, a worrisome number either thought it was true or were unsure:

  • Gates/microchip conspiracy theory: 75% correctly said it was false that the vaccine against Covid-19 developed with support from Microsoft founder Bill Gates contains microchips that can track the person who has been vaccinated, but 1 in 4 people either said this conspiracy theory was true (11%) or were not sure (14%). None of the authorized Covid-19 vaccines contain microchips and while the Gates Foundation has a partnership with BioNTech, the foundation says it did not directly invest in either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines.

    o In the presence of statistical controls, those who say they rely on conservative media or very conservative media are more likely to believe this claim.

Misinformation

  • Fauci and vaccines: Asked if it was true that Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH “has NO financial stake” in any Covid-19 vaccine, only 37% said it was true – a decline from the 42% who said it was true in April. Another 32% thought it was false to say Fauci had no financial stake in a Covid vaccine, and 30% were not sure. (There is no evidence Fauci has a financial stake in a Covid-19 vaccine.)

    o In the presence of statistical controls, those who indicate that they rely on conservative media or very conservative media are more likely to say this is false – in other words, to reject the idea that Fauci has no financial stake in any vaccine. Those who say they rely on mainstream news are more likely to say this is true.

  • Give you Covid-19: 75% correctly said it was false that taking a Covid-19 vaccine can give you Covid-19 – it can’t – but 1 in 4 people said it was true (14%) or were not sure (11%);
  • Change your DNA: 71% correctly said it was false that the Covid-19 vaccine changes people’s DNA – it does not – but nearly 3 in 10 people thought it was true (12%) or were not sure (17%).

The lab leak theory

As scientists search for the origins of SARS-CoV-2, more than half the survey respondents said they believe the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, China – and got out through either a deliberate or an accidental leak. When asked which statement was closest to their view:

  • 20% said the coronavirus was deliberately leaked from a Wuhan, China, laboratory;
  • 33% said the coronavirus accidentally escaped through carelessness or incompetence from the Wuhan lab;
  • 13% said the coronavirus did not originate in a lab in Wuhan, China;
  • 34% said they were not sure.

Vaccination and prevention

Asked about prevention and vaccination, 70% of respondents said they have gotten a Covid-19 vaccine, up from 47% in April. The other 30% (442 people) said they have not been vaccinated.

Of those 442 people who have not been vaccinated,

  • 76% said they had the information they need to decide if they want to get vaccinated, and 24% said they did not have it;
  • 75% said they were not likely to get vaccinated (333 people) and 25% said they were likely to be vaccinated.

Those who were not likely to be vaccinated (333 people) were asked to give their reasons why and select all that applied. Due to multiple responses, the results total over 100%. Their top five reasons:

    o 61% said the vaccines were still too untested or they were waiting to see what happens – which increased significantly from the 48% who gave this reason in April;

    o 44% are worried about allergies and side effects;

    o 43% don’t trust the government;

    o 36% don’t trust the scientists and companies that make the vaccines;

    o And 32% are “just not concerned” about coronavirus/Covid-19.

For the survey Appendix containing the methodology and additional data, click here.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center was established in 1993 to educate the public and policy makers about communication’s role in advancing public understanding of political, science, and health issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

###

Media Contact
Michael Rozansky
michael.rozansky@appc.upenn.edu

Original Source

https://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/public-trust-in-cdc-fda-and-fauci-holds-steady-survey-shows

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International

Are We Falling As Rome Did?

Are We Falling As Rome Did?

Authored by Julie Ponese via The Epoch Times,

3, 2, 1… Timber! A Philosopher’s Take on the Collapse of Our…

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Are We Falling As Rome Did?

Authored by Julie Ponese via The Epoch Times,

3, 2, 1... Timber! A Philosopher’s Take on the Collapse of Our Civilization

The clock seems to be ticking.

Growing disparities in wealth, a housing and gas crisis, transhumanism galloping over the horizon, heroized incivility, and the constant threat of viruses, the “cures” for which may be worse than the diseases. Global politics feels eerily apocalyptic these days and, in our own little worlds, many of us are so lost, so unmoored from the comforts of our pre-pandemic lives, that we don’t know which end is up or what the future will hold. Investigative journalist Trish Wood recently wrote that we are living the fall of Rome (though it’s being pushed on us as a virtue).

I wonder, are we falling as Rome did? Is it possible that our civilization is on the verge of collapse? Not imminent collapse, perhaps, but are we taking the initial steps that civilizations before ours took before their eventual downfalls? Will we suffer the fates of the Indus, the Vikings, the Mayans, and the failed dynasties of China?

As a philosopher, I need first to understand what we mean by “civilization” and what it would mean for that thing to collapse.

This is a significant conceptual hurdle. “Civilization” (from the Latin civitas, meaning a body of people) was first used by anthropologists to refer to a “society made up of cities” (Mycenae’s Pylos, Thebes, and Sparta, for example). Ancient civilizations were typically non-nomadic settlements with concentrated complexes of persons who divided labor. They had monumental architecture, hierarchical class structures, and significant technological and cultural developments.

But just what is our civilization? There isn’t a tidy line between it and the next in the way the Mayans’ and the Greeks’ coexistence was defined by the ocean between them. Is the concept of Western civilization—rooted in the culture that emerged from the Mediterranean basin over 2,000 years ago—still meaningful, or has globalization made any distinction between contemporary civilizations meaningless? “I am a citizen of the world,” wrote Diogenes in the fourth century B.C. But of course, his world wasn’t quite as vast as our own.

Now for the second issue: civilization collapse. Anthropologists typically define it as a rapid and enduring loss of population, socio-economic complexity, and identity.

Will we suffer a mass loss of population or socio-economic complexity? Perhaps. But that isn’t what concerns me. What I really worry about is our loss of identity. I worry that we’ve lost the plot, as they say, and that with all our focus on the ability of science to save us, we’ve lost our ideals, our spirit, our reasons for being. I worry we are suffering what Betty Friedan called “a slow death of the mind and spirit.” I worry that our nihilism, our façadism, our progressivism are incurring a debt that we may not be able to pay.

As the eminent anthropologist Sir John Glubb wrote (pdf), “The life-expectation of a great nation, it appears, commences with a violent, and usually unforeseen, outburst of energy, and ends in a lowering of moral standards, cynicism, pessimism and frivolity.”

Think of a civilization as the top step on a staircase, with each stair below having fallen away. Western civilization today is built largely on the foundational ideals of ancient Greece and Rome that endure long after their physical structures and governments disappeared. But they endure because we find them meaningful. They endure through literature and art and conversation and ritual. They endure in how we marry, how we write about one another, and how we care for our sick and aging.

One lesson history tries to teach us is that civilizations are complex systems—of technology, economics, foreign relations, immunology, and civility—and complex systems regularly give way to failure. The collapse of our civilization is almost certainly inevitable; the only questions are when, why, and what will replace us.

But this brings me to another point. Early in its usage, anthropologists started using “civilization” as a normative term, distinguishing “civilized society” from those who are tribal or barbaric. Civilizations are sophisticated, noble, and morally good; other societies are uncivilized, backward, and unvirtuous.

But the old distinction between civilization and barbarism has taken on a new form in the 21st century. It is from within our own “civilized” culture that emerges an inversion of the concepts of civility and brutishness. It is our leaders, our journalists, and our professionals who ignore the standards of rational discourse, who institutionalize hatred and incite division. Today, it is the elites who are the true barbarians among us.

Taking a cue from Walt Whitman, who thought his own 19th century America was waning, “We had best look our times and lands searchingly in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease.”

If our civilization collapses, it won’t be because of an outside attack, like Bedouin charging in from the desert. It will be because of those among us who, like parasites, destroy us from within. Our civilization may collapse and it could be due to any number of factors—war, the economy, natural disasters—but the silent killer, the one that may get us in the end, is our own moral catastrophe.

The ultimate problem, therefore, is not interpersonal; it’s inner-personal. If our civilization is collapsing, it’s because something in each of us is collapsing. And we need to rebuild ourselves first, brick by brick, if we are to have a chance of rebuilding ourselves together.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/28/2022 - 22:20

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Economics

DryEyeRhythm: A reliable, valid, and non-invasive app to assess dry eye disease

Dry eye disease (DED) is a condition characterized by an array of different symptoms, including dryness, ocular discomfort, fatigue, and visual disturbances….

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Dry eye disease (DED) is a condition characterized by an array of different symptoms, including dryness, ocular discomfort, fatigue, and visual disturbances. This condition has become increasingly common in recent years owing to an aging society, increased screen time, and a highly stressful social environment. There are about 1 billion people, worldwide, who have DED. Undiagnosed and untreated DED can lead to a variety of symptoms, including ocular fatigue, sensitivity to light, lower vision quality, and a lower quality of life. Given the widespread prevalence of the condition, this can further lead to reduced work productivity and economic loss.

Credit: Juntendo University

Dry eye disease (DED) is a condition characterized by an array of different symptoms, including dryness, ocular discomfort, fatigue, and visual disturbances. This condition has become increasingly common in recent years owing to an aging society, increased screen time, and a highly stressful social environment. There are about 1 billion people, worldwide, who have DED. Undiagnosed and untreated DED can lead to a variety of symptoms, including ocular fatigue, sensitivity to light, lower vision quality, and a lower quality of life. Given the widespread prevalence of the condition, this can further lead to reduced work productivity and economic loss.

 

Despite the obvious disadvantages of DED, a large portion of the population remains undiagnosed, which ultimately leads to increased disease severity. DED is currently diagnosed through a series of questionnaires and ocular examinations (which can be invasive). But this method of diagnosis is not ideal. DED examinations do not always correspond with  patients’ subjective DED symptoms. Furthermore, non-invasive and non-contact dry eye examinations are required in the COVID-19 pandemic. These flaws point to a need for a simple, reliable, and accessible screening method for DED to improve diagnosis and prognosis of the disease.

 

To answer this need, a research group, led by Professor Akira Murakami and Associate Professor Takenori Inomata of the Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine, developed a smartphone application called DryEyeRhythm. “DryEyeRhythm leverages the cameras in smartphones to measure users’ blink characteristics and determine maximum blink interval (MBI)—a substitute for tear film breakup time, an important diagnostic criterion of DED,” explains Associate Prof. Inomata. “The app also administers Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaires, which are also a crucial component of DED diagnosis.

 

To validate the usefulness of the app, the research team conducted a prospective, cross-sectional, observational, single-center study, the results of which have been published in

The Ocular Surface (available online on 25 April 2022 and published in volume 25 in July 2022).

 

For their study, the team recruited 82 patients, aged 20 years or older, who visited the ophthalmology outpatient clinic at the Juntendo University Hospital between July 2020 and May 2021. The participants completed the Japanese version of the OSDI questionnaire (J-OSDI) and underwent examinations for MBI, both via the app and via other analysis techniques.

 

The study revealed that the J-OSDI collected with DryEyeRhythm showed good internal consistency. Moreover, the app-based questionnaire and MBI yielded significantly higher discriminant validity. The app also showed good positive and negative predictive values, with 91.3% and 69.1%, respectively. The area under the Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve—a measure of clinical sensitivity and specificity—for the concurrent use of the app-based J-OSDI and MBI was also high, with a value of 0.910. These results demonstrate that the app is a reliable, valid, and moreover non-invasive, instrument for assessing DED.

 

Non-contact and non-invasive DED diagnostic assistance, like the kind provided by DryEyeRhythm, could help facilitate the early diagnosis and treatment of patients, as well as, DED treatment through telemedicine and online medical care,” says Associate Prof. Inomata. The research team plans to further validate its results by conducting a multi-institutional collaborative study in the future. They are also planning to obtain medical device approval and insurance reimbursement for the smartphone application.

 

The development of DryEyeRhythm is crucial step forward toward the management of DED and improving vision and quality of life among the population.


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Spread & Containment

A rapid, highly sensitive method to measure SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been shown to be an excellent means of understanding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in communities. It is now used in…

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Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been shown to be an excellent means of understanding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in communities. It is now used in multiple areas across the world to track the prevalence of the virus, serving as a proxy for determining the status of COVID-19. Of particular importance is that WBE can be used to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19, including asymptomatic cases. However, one of the major drawbacks of WBE for SARS-CoV-2 has been that the traditional method was not very sensitive, and low viral loads could not be reliably detected.

Credit: Hiroki Ando, et al. Science of the Total Environment. August 8, 2022

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been shown to be an excellent means of understanding the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in communities. It is now used in multiple areas across the world to track the prevalence of the virus, serving as a proxy for determining the status of COVID-19. Of particular importance is that WBE can be used to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19, including asymptomatic cases. However, one of the major drawbacks of WBE for SARS-CoV-2 has been that the traditional method was not very sensitive, and low viral loads could not be reliably detected.

A team of scientists from Hokkaido University and Shionogi & Co, Ltd., have developed a simple, rapid, highly sensitive method for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. The method, EPISENS-S, which does not require specialised equipment, was described in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has had the lowest number of cases per capita. Thus, the viral loads in sewage have also been lower, and much more difficult to evaluate using established WBE methods—due to their low sensitivity. Prior work by the research team showed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was associated with solids in sewage, so they focused on developing a method to analyse the solid phase of wastewater.

The method they developed, EPISENS-S, involves centrifuging collected wastewater samples to separate all the solids in the samples. The solids were then treated with a commercially available kit to extract all the RNA; the RNA was then reverse transcribed and amplified to obtain a substantial amount of DNA copies. A separate set of samples was subjected to treatment with polyethylene glycol followed by RNA extraction and reverse transcription to synthesize DNA: the method that is currently widely implemented in Japan. The DNA obtained from each of these methods was subjected to quantitative PCR (qPCR).

The team found that the EPISENS-S method is approximately 100 times more sensitive than the polyethylene glycol method. They used EPISENS-S to conduct a long-term analysis of wastewater from two sewage treatment plants in Sapporo city, and found that there was a high correlation between changes in RNA concentrations in the collected samples and changes in the number of reported cases in the city. EPISENS-S can also detect and quantify the Pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV), which is associated with fecal matter and is used as an internal control.

EPISENS-S provides a way to track COVID-19 cases that are asymptomatic, as well as those that have not been clinically confirmed. In addition, it has great potential to continue tracking the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 as vaccination rates increase. Finally, EPISENS-S could also be adapted to track other viral diseases with low infection numbers and viral loads.


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