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DAILY DOSE: Facebook is well aware that its products are harmful; Antibiotic resistance and COVID-19.

In news that should surprise just about nobody, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook has known for a long time that its products are harmful for its users’ mental health, especially girls. Per the WSJ, “Facebook has repeatedly found that its Instagram app is harmful to a number of teenagers, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Tuesday. The Journal cited Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed. One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram. ‘Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,’ the researchers reportedly wrote. Facebook also reportedly found that 14% of boys in the U.S. said Instagram made them feel worse about themselves.” So what’s the solution? This effect is not limited to Instagram alone and has also been observed in print advertising, music videos, etc.

A pretty major revelation has surfaced about the nuclear meltdown in Japan back in 2011. Per the Associated Press, “Officials at Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant have acknowledged they neglected to investigate the cause of faulty exhaust filters that are key to preventing radioactive pollution, after being forced to replace them twice. Representatives of the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, made the revelation Monday during a regular review of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at a meeting with Japanese regulatory authorities. Three reactors at the plant melted following a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.” That’s pretty disturbing news considering how many nuclear power plants there are across the world.

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One very interesting line of inquiry that has arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has explored the use of antibiotics during treatment. During past viral pandemics, bacterial infections emerged as significant sources of mortality. Per the Lancet, “Abundant data show that the majority of deaths caused by influenza during the 1918 pandemic were attributable to secondary bacterial pneumonias.1,  2 When a preceding viral infection such as influenza or COVID-19 impairs both innate and adaptive antibacterial host defences, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, or other colonising bacteria exploit this temporary compromise of a physical and immunological barrier to cause secondary bacterial pneumonias, leading to severe and deadly disease in people with pre-existing comorbidities and previously healthy people. Data regarding bacterial superinfections in COVID-19 pneumonia are still emerging, but an association has been made between the detection of bacterial products in blood with disease severity in COVID-19 patients.3 Diagnosing coinfections is complex in the best of circumstances and because there is a desire to avoid diagnostic procedures and minimise the exposure of COVID-19 to health-care workers, diagnosing potential bacterial superinfections during COVID-19 has been challenging.” COVID-19 can have serious detrimental effects on the antibiotic resistance crisis and needs careful monitoring.

A recent article in the British Medical Journal asks the question why natural COVID-19 infections do not count as having antibodies present in the United States (in essence, not needing to be vaccinated). Per the BMJ, “As more US employers, local governments, and educational institutions issue vaccine mandates that make no exception for those who have had covid-19,8 questions remain about the science and ethics of treating this group of people as equally vulnerable to the virus—or as equally threatening to those vulnerable to covid-19—and to what extent politics has played a role.” The article runs through growing evidence that natural infection elicits enough of an immune response that people previously infected need not be prioritized for vaccinations. Rather, the vaccinations should go to people not previously infected. That makes sense. However, once the article begins to explore how public health experts suggest carrying out a much more complicated program, you begin to wonder what world they actually live in. They seem to believe that turning the vaccination into a multi-step process that includes pin-pricked fingers, waiting for lab results, picking up results, and deciding whether or not to get the vaccination — all prior to scheduling your jab appointment — is feasible in the real world. It doesn’t seem to have sunk in that it’s been difficult to get some people to engage in a one-step process of getting vaccinated. And mind you, every step of the longer solution needs to be paid for… by someone. Good luck with that. Can’t say it’s surprising though. COVID-19 has shown how far removed some of them can be from what’s going on in the streets.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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