DAILY DOSE: Long-term side effects from Covid-19 vaccination gaining traction among doctors and researchers; The Facebook-Instagram-associated Twitter killer has arrived.

The notion of “Long Vax,” a term used to describe persistent symptoms similar to Long Covid appearing after COVID-19 vaccination, has gained increasing acceptance among doctors and scientists, though it’s less common than Long Covid post-infection. Symptoms such as persistent headaches, severe fatigue, abnormal heart rate, and blood pressure problems may occur hours, days, or weeks post-vaccination, with similarities to known medical conditions like small fiber neuropathy and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Despite an apparent link, regulatory bodies in the US and Europe haven’t found a definitive connection between these conditions and vaccines. Concerns about undermining trust in vaccines persist, and researchers are cautious about potential misinterpretation of their findings. Some studies indicate an increased incidence of POTS-related symptoms after vaccination and infection, emphasizing the necessity for further investigation and improved treatment strategies. (Science)

Meta, led by Mark Zuckerberg, launched Threads, a decentralized text-based app tied to Instagram and billed as an alternative to Twitter. Unlike its competitors, Threads had significant pre-launch buzz, helped by celebrities testing it, Twitter’s recent issues, and seamless sign-up. Threads combines personal networks with wide-reaching profiles and algorithm-driven content, creating a new and unfamiliar social media experience. Notably, Threads’ content is tied with Instagram, allowing text, photos, and short videos to be shared through Instagram stories. Despite controversies surrounding Meta, Threads has experienced strong initial engagement, with 2 million users in the first two hours. Amidst an evolving social media landscape where platforms struggle for revenue and engagement, Zuckerberg’s ambition to tap into his existing massive user base for Threads’ success may prove beneficial, signifying a possible comeback for Meta. (Slate)

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A study from the U.S. Geological Survey has discovered that water from nearly half of U.S. faucets likely contains “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. These synthetic compounds, linked to cancer and other health issues, contaminate drinking water in both large cities and small towns. This study is the first nationwide effort to test tap water from private and regulated sources, and demonstrates the chemicals’ widespread presence. While the report doesn’t offer policy recommendations, it could inform decisions about water treatment or testing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed federal drinking water limits on six forms of PFAS, with a final decision expected later this year or in 2024. However, companies are currently allowed to dump these chemicals into public wastewater systems. The report suggests that private well users should have their water tested for PFAS and consider installing filters. (The Guardian)

Abbreviation: NH = non-Hispanic.

* Deaths per 100,000 population are age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population, with 95% CIs indicated by error bars. In 2021, the age-adjusted rate of firearm-related homicide was 11.1 deaths per 100,000 standard population for males and 2.1 for females.

† Firearm-related homicides were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision underlying cause-of-death codes U01.4 and X93–X95.

§ Race groups are non-Hispanic; persons of Hispanic origin can be of any race. Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander persons are not shown separately because of small numbers. All includes all race and Hispanic origin groups including those not shown. Death rates for Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino (Hispanic) persons might be affected by misclassification of race and Hispanic origin on death certificates. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_02/sr02_172.pdf

In 2021, among males, Black or African American (Black) males had the highest age-adjusted rate of firearm-related homicide (52.9 deaths per 100,000 standard population), and Asian males had the lowest rate (1.5). Among females, Black females had the highest rate (7.5), and Asian females had the lowest rate (0.5). Males had higher rates than females across all race and Hispanic origin groups. (CDC)

In 2019, paleontologist Karma Nanglu from Harvard University received a 500-million-year-old fossil thought to be a tunicate, an invertebrate marine animal distantly related to all vertebrates. After extensive study, a paper published in Nature Communications confirmed the fossil as a tunicate, a rare find given their few representations in the fossil record. The fossil, named Megasiphon thylakos, closely resembled modern tunicates, especially in its siphon and muscular structures. This finding provides insight into early tunicate development, strengthening theories that the common tunicate ancestor was a stationary, rather than free-swimming, organism. The discovery could also influence timelines of vertebrate origins, suggesting they may have emerged earlier than the current estimate of 450 million years ago. Despite this, Nanglu emphasizes the need for more fossil evidence to fully understand vertebrate evolution. (Science)

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

WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)

IMAGE CREDIT: Screenshot.

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