Tag Archives: Vaccination

34 COVID-19 questions

The new coronavirus pandemic is the topic dominating our lives at the moment, so I hope you won’t mind if I diverge from the usual neuroscience and psychology themes of this blog, to pose some questions (some a bit rhetorical) related to the virus.

A note of warning – If you are thinking about copying or plagiarizing any of the text, original ideas or descriptions in this post or using it in your own work without giving me (C. Wright, author of the blog “Am I a Super-recognizer?”) the proper acknowledgement and citations, then think again. If you do that you will be found out and my objection will be well publicized. If you believe that you published any of these ideas before I did, please let me know the details in a comment on this article. If you want to make reference to this blog post or any of the ideas in it make sure that you state in your work exactly where you first read about these ideas. If you wish to quote any text from this post be sure to cite this post at this blog properly. There are many established citation methods. If you quote or make reference to material in this blog in your work, it would be a common courtesy to let me know about your work (I’m interested!) in a comment on any of the posts in this blog. Thank you.

  1. How many children, women and men will die or become victims of abuse as the result of increased domestic violence and opportunities to hide abuse and neglect under conditions of social distancing and online schooling?
  2. Are there any aspects of the medical care of people infected by the virus or other measures to deal with it which could conceivably become the subject of a medical reversal in the future or be later regarded as negligent?
  3. Is there any evidence that social distancing indoors and outdoors should be the same?
  4. Would medical clinics or other places where people must share space be safer in terms of social distancing if they were conducted outdoors?
  5. Are there documented cases of infection from the new coronavirus caught through the air in an outdoor place?
  6. Are there any particular immune deficiency conditions or genetic immune system variations that are over-represented among people who have died from the new virus?
  7. Have any researchers studied the vitamin D status of people infected with or killed by the new virus?
  8. Vitamin D deficiency makes people more vulnerable to infection, and this deficiency related to limited sun exposure is surprisingly common, even in sunny nations like Australia, so could government prohibition of outdoor activities in which people often gain sun exposure, such as swimming and sunbaking at closed beaches, intended to prevent transmission of the virus, prove counter-productive by raising people’s vulnerability to the virus, if the virus is encountered?
  9. Should saturation mass media messages from celebrities to “stay inside” be modified to a more nuanced message to prevent an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and associated autoimmune diseases come the end of winter 2020?
  10. Are any of the fatalities that followed after infection by the new coronovirus attributable to secondary infection by pneumonia-causing bacteria?
  11. Is there a cohort of young Australians who have never been immunised against pneumococcal bacteria because they were born before it was scheduled as a standard childhood immunisation?
  12. If the adult vaccination against pneumonia bacteria is safe and effective, and pneumonia is not a rare disease, why isn’t it recommended and funded in Australia for all adults, rather than recommended for a confusing collection of categories of adults?
  13. Why is vaccination against influenza widely promoted as a good idea for everyone, especially within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, while this does not appear to be the case in relation to immunisation against pneumonia bacteria?
  14. Are social problems resulting from social distancing restrictions on recreational activities outside the home particularly acute in new suburbs in which tiny residential block sizes or large homes with tiny gardens have been compensated for by land developers with quality recreational facilities in public parks, which are now shut down or restricted?
  15. Is it true that India has never been the site of origin of an infectious agent responsible for a major epidemic or pandemic, even though it is a large nation in terms of geography and massive in terms of human population? China is another massive nation, and it and surrounding nations have bred some troublesome infectious agents in recent years, including COVID-19. Does this show that the lacto-vegetarian/Hindu values of the Indian nation are safer and a benefit to all of humankind, because the lifestyle these values promote involves less human interference with and caging of wild animals? The WHO has recently thanked India for engaging the WHO’s national polio surveillance network to strengthen COVID-19 surveillance in India. Should India also be thanked for refraining from doing stupid and cruel things with disease-riddled bats and other wild animals?
  16. Should wildlife carers be banned from caring for or touching bats?
  17. In 2018 an estimated 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis. Why has the world stopped in its tracks to control covid-19, but has not solved the very long-standing global TB problem?   
  18. The potential benefits of the BCG anti-TB vaccine on the immune system beyond TB protection have been known for many years, including potential to prevent allergy. Allergy has been described as a modern-day “epidemic” causing life-threatening medical problems for countless children and adults. Why has it taken the COVID-19 pandemic for Australian researchers to study the important possible benefits of the BCG vaccine? 
  19. In the UK sniffer-dogs are being trained to sniff out cases of coronavirus. Already dogs, and even one British woman, have been used to sniff out medical conditions such as cancer and infectious and non-infectious diseases, and of course trained detection dogs have been used for a long time to sniff out drugs and explosives. Are there any disease-sniffer dogs in Australia?
  20. Can anything be done about police informant drug dealers who fail to observe social distancing by hosting a steady parade of guests at their home? 
  21. Does taking ACE inhibitor drugs make it more likely that you will die if you catch coronavirus?
  22. Does coronavirus directly cause birth defects or other forms of harm to a child born to an infected mother? 
  23. What is the evidence-base or group of published studies upon which Autralian governments’ policies of returning children to school in person has been based? 
  24. How common among children infected by covid-19 is the development of the Kawasaki-like inflammatory/autoimmune disorder that has been reported recently?
  25. Could there be unidentified deaths from or cases of the above disease in Australian children, as is possibly the case in the UK?
  26. Why was the “Socialist medicine” NHS in the UK the first institution to alert the world to the new covid-19-associated Kawasaki-like inflammatory/autoimmune disorder affecting children, when it appears that evidence of the development of this new potentially serious disease in kids has been observed in Australia and other nations? 
  27. Is it possible or likely that a thing to emerge from the covid-19 pandemic will be blocs or groupings of countries into a handful of categories: those nations with effective coronoavirus control, those without with current new infections, nations still to be affected by the virus, and nations with unreliable statistical reporting. If Australia and New Zealand might one day be able to have an arrangement to open borders, might this exclusive club one day widen to incorporate other nations that appear to be on top of covid-19, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, some Scandinavian countries, with trade, travel and tourism resuming between nations? Even though PNG and Indonesia are geographically closer to Australia than New Zealand, in the new post-covid world order New Zealand seems much closer to Australia, as on May 4th 2020 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was invited to remotely attend an Australian National Cabinet meeting between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the state and territory heads.  Will Australia’s historically close social and trade ties with countries such as the USA, the UK and China be downgraded because these countries have done a poor job of controlling or honestly reporting about covid-19?
  28. Is there any evidence or observations that people with autoimmune diseases are affected by covid-19 in a more or less serious way than the average person? 
  29. Can people who have other diseases register a false positive in a covid-19 test, as is the case with the RPR Test for syphilis?
  30. Can immunisation with existing vaccines cause a person to register a false positive in a covid-19 test, as is the case with the BCG TB immunisation that can cause a false positive result on a TB infection test? 
  31. Given that there is still a lack of scientific consensus about whether children infected with covid have lower viral loads than infected adults, and thus might be just as infectious as adults, why are so many state and national governments in Australia and globally forcing parents to send their children to schools?
  32. There appears to be a lot of uncertainty in reports of the emerging Kawasaki-like illness seen in children (now named pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome), and among recent cases of Kawasaki disease in children in Australia of an unexpected number, about whether or not all of these cases have had or do have covid infections. Is this evidence of a problem globally with identifying or testing covid-19 infection in children? Are children dying of covid-19 or its complications, in “advanced” countries, without ever being identified as covid-19 cases?
  33. Given that pediatric multisymptom inflammatory syndrome clearly associated with covid-19 in kids killsbut has not reliably been identified or tested as being associated with covid-19 infection in cases seen in various parts of the world, including in Australia, pointing to the likelihood that covid-19 in kids “flies under the radar”, not reliably detected as the cause of illness by many doctors or by covid-19 testing, does Australia or the Australian states need to set up a reporting system in which doctors are compelled to report to a team of investigative medical specialists any adult or pediatric cases which could potentially be novel infectious diseases or novel presentations of known infectious diseases? 
  34. Given that pediatric multisymptom inflammatory syndrome clearly associated with covid-19 in kids kills, with at least one press report suggesting a cover-up of PMIS deaths in the UK, and PMIS was not initially identified or tested as being associated with covid-19 infection in many cases seen in various parts of the world, including in Australia, pointing to the likelihood that covid-19 in kids “flies under the radar”, not reliably detected as an illness or by covid-19 testing, should schools in parts of the world where covid-19 is not close to eradicated and monitored by large-scale public random testing programs be open?

References / Links

Aranow C. (2011). Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research59(6), 881–886. https://doi.org/10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755

Nowson, C. A., McGrath, J. J., Ebeling, P. R., Haikerwal, A., Daly, R. M., Sanders, K. M., … & Mason, R. S. (2012). Vitamin D and health in adults in Australia and New Zealand: a position statement. Medical journal of Australia196(11), 686-687. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2012/196/11/vitamin-d-and-health-adults-australia-and-new-zealand-position-statement

Brooks, M. (2013). Small shot, big impact. New Scientist219(2930), 38-41. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24027-booster-shots-the-accidental-advantages-of-vaccines/

World Health Organisation. Tuberculosis. 24 March 2020. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tuberculosis

Worldometer. Coronavirus. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

Quaggin, Lucy (2020) Coronavirus vaccine: West Australian hospital workers to take part in COVID-19 experiment. 7NEWS. Tuesday, 14 April 2020. https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/coronavirus-vaccine-west-australian-hospital-workers-to-take-part-in-covid-19-experiment-c-974237

Coronavirus: WHO thanks India for support, borrows polio-fighting strategy for COVID-19. business Today. April 16, 2020. https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/coronavirus-who-thanks-india-for-support-borrows-polio-fighting-strategy-for-covid-19/story/401156.html

Dogs join fight against COVID-19 by learning how to detect the virus. Sandie Rinaldo. CTV National News. April 12, 2020. https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/dogs-join-fight-against-covid-19-by-learning-how-to-detect-the-virus-1.4893325

 

 

More of my amazing ideas! Beware!

In the past at this blog I’ve shared a large collection of ideas in the areas of neuroscience and psychology that I’ve managed to think up all by myself, independently but often with inspiration from my own experiences, situations that I’ve observed or my reading of science magazines or scientific literature, or a combination of the above. I’ve not exhaustively searched to see if I was the first person ever to publish all of these ideas, but I’m sure that some of them at least were first published by me at this blog.

I’d now below like to add to my collection of ideas, but this time not limiting myself to the subject areas of this blog. Please note that this page and all pages at this blog are permanently archived, and if you choose to copy my words or plagiarize any of my ideas, if I was the first to publish that idea or ideas, I will find out and I will make you sorry. Very sorry. 

So, here’s some ideas, some serious, some not so:

Can signal detection theory and changing criteria be used to study the sincerity of politicians in their responses to questions?

Can the funnel plot statistical method or something like it be used to predict the existence of undetected criminals within social groups?

Chocolate goods producers and major supermarkets can prevent groups of racist redneck lunatics from accusing them of pandering to non-Christian minorities by failing to label traditional Easter and Christmas goods explicitly as Easter and Christmas goods, by bringing out a range of colourful foil-wrapped chocolate Jesus figures and delicious Flake-bar crucifixes, maybe even entire chocolate nativity scenes and twelve apostles sets, all clearly labelled “Easter” and Christmas”.

As a form of living sculpture or sensory play activity for children, grow one of those mulberry trees that has an abundance of black fruit and grows very large, and underneath the canopy cover the ground in white-coloured quartz rocks that have been tumbled a bit to wear off the sharp edges, prevented from sinking into the dirt with white weedmat or some kind of durable pale-coloured matting that will allow for drainage. In the spring the ground should become a purply, pinky fruity-smelling mess, a celebration of the staining power of mulberries.

Are prosopagnosics over-represented among scientists, science graduates or among popularizers of science? (Consider Dr Karl, science journalist Robyn Williams, Jane Goodall, Oliver Sacks…) If so, is this because they develop a skepticism about unconscious, intuitive ways of thinking that give instant insights, as typified by the process of normal face recognition, as a natural consequence of experiencing this type of thinking less often than most people do? Is this a motivation to seek and understand and advocate for the more deliberate, conscious and explicit ways of thinking and reasoning that make up the methods, processes and statistical techniques of science and critical thinking?

Is the Availability Heuristic partly to blame for common and inaccurate ideas about the nature and numbers of refugees coming to Australia, when news TV shows constantly depict refugees as crowds arriving on boats rather than modest numbers of people (relative to foreigners arriving with working visas) arriving by plane? I believe there is evidence that the visual depiction of information is more influential than written or abstract information, and news TV may be unwittingly generating misleading beliefs about refugees when they choose exciting and distinctive visuals of swarms of exotic people on crowded boats to make their news stories about refugees more attention-grabbing.

Is the Trolley Problem thought experiment relevant to the phenomenon of parents refusing to vaccinate their children? The Trolley Problem shows us that a minority of people express irrational reluctance to take an action that will kill a person in order to save the lives of a greater number of people. Obvious parallels can be pointed out between this situation and that of a parent who fears some aspect of vaccinations refusing to “harm” their child regardless of the benefits. If there something especially emotionally repellent about directly causing harm even if the aim is to promote a less salient and immediate good effect, surely the Trolley Problem might be a tool that can aid in understanding the phenomenon of vaccination refusal.

Can the normal mean score in a test be double-checked after it has been used in published studies by gathering up all of the data of the scores of control group or normal study participants who have been given the test, in a systematic search of the literature, and then pool this data to calculate an average score? Is this a more objective method of determining a normal score for a published test than merely relying on a norm researched by the team that originally researched the test, or a way of replicating this result?

Are super-recognizers super at facial recognition because they are faster or better at converting visual memories of seen but unfamiliar faces into memories of familiar faces? (In some ways the enhanced memory for familiar faces displayed by ordinary people resembles super-recognizers’ memory for faces only seen transiently or once). Are supers over-familiar in a facial kind of way? Do supers pay closer attention to people’s faces or in some other way have an advantage in the encoding stage of memory-formation? Does the process of converting an unfamiliar face memory into a familiar face memory involve an attribution of personality traits to faces (which may or may not be based on reasonable assumptions), in the manner of ordinal-linguistic personification synaesthesia?

Are geographically-isolated cities such as Perth characterized by mediocrity in professional standards in those cities, as a consequence of a lack of “new blood” and the opportunity for the formation of social networks within professions that are too stable and collegiate, or frankly corrupt networks within or between professions, preventing genuine professional peer-review or criticism of members of these professions? Some professions that I’d start with include dentistry, medical, legal, law enforcement, public service, education, journalism/press, academia, librarianship. I’ve found clear data-based evidence for this effect in relation to one profession, but some of the most important professions are hard to rate because of a lack of openly-available systematic measurement of professional standards and outcomes. If I ever had the means to study this question and found an effect, I’d call it “The Perth Problem”, but the effect should be globally applicable. Apparently in Darwin, the residents have such a low opinion of a hospital there that they have a saying:”If you feel a pain, book a plane.”

And finally, dammit, for a while I thought I was the first to think of the brilliant idea in the article linked to below. Apparently not, but I like that in the age of skyscrapers, drones and Google Earth, we can take this hybrid of gardening and graffiti to new levels entirely. http://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2012/09/28/161947553/the-best-college-prank-of-the-1790s-with-bats-poop-grass

More ideas to follow………………

October 16th 2017

Could the underlying cause of chronic hoarding behaviour be undiagnosed hyperostosis frontalis interna (AKA Morgagni-Stewart-Morel syndrome)? There are reasons to believe that at least one form of hoarding is caused by damage or dysfunction to parts of the brain in the frontal lobes that perform decision-making, and it seems obvious that damage or impairment of this part of the brain could be the result of HFI, which is an abnormal thickening of the inside of the front of the skull. One might argue that HFI is typically found in old ladies, while this might not be the case for hoarding, so the two aren’t linked. To that I would argue that HFI is thought to possibly be substantially underdiagnosed, and is typically only identified as an incidental finding when a patient is given an x-ray of their skull for some unrelated reason, and HFI is (incorrectly) considered by some doctors to be a benign condition, so no one can say how common HFI really is or what age or gender characteristics the genuine typical case posesses. If hoarders ever are treated by any health professional, I would guess this would only consist of CBT from a psychologist or happy pills from a GP, and I’m sure an x-ray of the skull or other non-trivial forms of medical testing are virtually never a part of investigations of cases of hoarding. HFI is associated with epilepsy (ample reason enough why it should not be considered benign) and possibly this could contribute towards the hoarder’s inability to make decisions about the importance of items (to keep or to toss), due to seizure activity in the frontal lobes altering the emotional state to make everything appear to be important or significant. Apparently a common report in temporal lobe epileptics is of a feeling of insight or significance or ecstasy as an aura or precursor to seizures. What if this kind of sensation was chronically activated? If this was possible, how would that affect behaviour? This also raises the question of a possible link between hoarding and the epilepsy-related personality disorder that was proposed as a psychiatric diagnosis in the 1970s and 1980s, known as Geschwind syndrome or Interictal Behavior Syndrome of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. I think this is another possible association worth researching. Obviously, I believe all of the disorders that I’ve mentioned in this paragraph should be the subjects of much more research and interest from the medical and psychological professions.

http://www.icarevillage.com/common-concerns-hoarding-frost-causes.aspx

https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/hyperostosis-frontalis-interna/

October 2018

Could super-recognizers be trained to identify sex offenders by viewing their faces or images of their faces, probably based on a typical facial expression?

Could fetomaternal microchimerism or male microchimerism explain the phenomenon of straight hair becoming curly with age in women?