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DAILY DOSE: Not every extreme weather event can be chalked up to climate change; If Food is Medicine, will insurers pick up the tab?


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There’s massive drought hitting parts of South America and its been going on for years. The Knee-jerk reaction for many people would be to blame climate change. But not so fast, says, environmental experts. Per the Associated Press,

Climate change isn’t causing the multi-year drought that is devastating parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Bolivia, but warming is worsening some of the dry spell’s impacts, a new study says.

The natural three-year climate condition La Nina – a cooling of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide temporarily but lasted much longer than normal this time – is the chief culprit in a drought that has devastated central South America and is still going on, according to a flash study released Thursday by international scientists at World Weather Attribution. The study has not been peer reviewed yet.

Drought has hit the region since 2019 with last year seeing the driest year in Central Argentina since 1960, widespread crop failures and Uruguay declaring an agricultural emergency in October. Water supplies and transportation were hampered, too.

“There is no climate change signal in the rainfall,” said study co-author Friederike Otto of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College in London. “But of course, that doesn’t mean that climate change doesn’t play an important role in the context of these droughts. Because of the extreme increase in heat that we see, the soils do dry faster and the impacts are more severe they would have otherwise been."

Not everything that appears to be climate change is, but sometimes, things that don’t appear to be climate change related are actually direct effects. Maybe that’s just a high-fallutin way of saying not everything is what it seems?

Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna are having their day in court, only, not for the reasons many anti-vaxers wish. There’s no #diedsuddenly there. Only corporate greed. Per Reuters,

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and its German partner BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE) are gearing up for a 2024 trial with Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) at London's High Court in competing patent lawsuits over their rival COVID-19 vaccines.

The case reached London's High Court for the first time for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, ahead of a trial which is due to take place in April 2024.

Pfizer and BioNTech sued Moderna in London in September, seeking to revoke two of Moderna's patents in relation to its messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.

Moderna brought its own lawsuit that month over Pfizer and BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine, seeking damages for alleged infringement of its patents.

Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are also engaged in litigation in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.

No doubt, if someone were to drop dead at the trial suddenly, anti-vaxers would be all over it. And the rest of us would stand corrected, right?

Here’s an article that would surely get Alex Berenson’s dander up. It’s the latest effort to explain and contextualize long Covid. Per STAT,

Autopsy studies show that the virus can persist in some people for many months even though they have no symptoms and test negative for the virus. Brains donated by people who died of Covid-19 also show widespread problems in the cells lining the blood vessels and exaggerated clotting, supporting the idea of Covid-19 as a blood flow disorder that brings on brain disease…

A study from the National Institutes of Health of 44 complete autopsies mapped and quantified the distribution of SARS-CoV-2 and showed it was widely distributed throughout the body, including in the hypothalamus and cerebellum in the brain and neurons in the spinal cord. Especially relevant to long Covid, viral fragments were detected in some of the brains of people who died many months after symptom onset.

Evidence that the virus can persist in some people has inspired the design of multiple long Covid treatment trials with Paxlovid. The authors of the NIH autopsy study concluded: “Here we provide the most comprehensive analysis to date of cellular tropism, quantification & persistence of SARS-CoV-2 across the human body including the brain."

We’ll leave it to the experts to settle this one.

The health benefits of eating the right foods is pretty well known. Lately, the so-called Food is Medicine movement has also been making inroads in convincing that the proper diet can also cure some ailments. Again from STAT,

After nearly forty years of obscurity, the “food is medicine” movement is having a moment.

Multiple federal agencies are working on food is medicine projects, major organizations have pledged hundreds of millions in research funding, and billions more are being invested in food-focused startups. Even the White House has publicly announced its support for the movement, which focuses on the use of healthy food as a medical intervention for certain chronic and diet-related diseases.

“We are at the inflection point,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean for policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “Five or six years ago I would go to major health care organizations and talk about food [is] medicine and I’d get blank stares, crickets, and polite emails.”

But now comes the hard part: Actually integrating food into medical practice. Despite the newfound enthusiasm in Washington, hospitals and doctors aren’t using food to treat most patients, and insurers by and large are not covering these services. It’s a frustrating fact for supporters of the movement who insist there’s no debate that quality food improves health.

We would just like to point out that Nation of Islam’s long-time leader, Elijah Muhammad, wrote  a book called Eat to Live long before the Food as Medicine people have been around.

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

IMAGE CREDIT: Andrea Piacquadio.

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