Tag Archives: worried

‘Dealing With A Different Beast’: Why Delta Has Doctors Worried

Catherine O’Neal, MD, an infectious disease physician, took to the podium of the Louisiana governor’s press conference on July 16 and did not mince words.

“The delta variant is not last year’s virus, and it’s become incredibly apparent to healthcare workers that we are dealing with a different beast,” she said.

Louisiana has one of the least vaccinated states in the country. In the United States as a whole, 48.6% of the population is fully vaccinated. In Louisiana, it’s just 36%, and delta is bearing down.

O’Neal spoke about the pressure rising COVID cases were already putting on her hospital, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Health System, in Baton Rouge. She talked about watching her peers, 30 and 40-year-olds become severely ill with the latest iteration of the new coronavirus—the delta variant—which is sweeping through the US with astonishing speed, causing new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to rise again. 

O’Neal talked about parents who might not be alive to see their children go off to college in a few weeks.  She talked about increasing hospital admissions for infected kids and pregnant women on ventilators.

“I want to be clear after seeing what we’ve seen the last two weeks. We only have two choices: We are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic, or we’re going to accept death and a lot of it,” O’Neal said, her voice choked by emotion.

Where Delta Goes, Death Follows

Delta was first identified in India, where it caused a devastating surge in the spring, In a population that was largely unvaccinated, researchers think it may have caused as many as 3 million deaths. In just a few months’ time, it has sped across the globe.

Research from the UK shows that delta is highly contagious. It’s about 60% more easily passed from person-to-person than the alpha version (or B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the UK). 

Where a single infected person might have spread older versions of the virus to 2 or 3 others, mathematician and epidemiologist Adam Kucharski, PhD, an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, thinks that number—called the basic reproduction number– might be around 6 for delta, meaning that on average, each infected person spreads the virus to 6 others.

“The delta variant is the most able and fastest and fittest of those viruses,” said  Mike Ryan, MD, MPH, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, in a recent press briefing. Early evidence suggests it may also cause more severe disease in people who are not vaccinated. 

“There’s clearly increased risk of ICU admission, hospitalization, and death,” said Ashleigh Tuite, PhD, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto in Ontario.

In a study published ahead of peer review, Tuite and her co-author, David Fisman, PhD, reviewed the health outcomes for more than 200,000 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV2 in Ontario between February and June of 2021. Starting in February, Ontario began screening all positive COVID tests for mutations in the N501Y region for signs of mutation.

Compared to versions of the coronavirus that circulated in 2020, having an alpha, beta, or gamma variant, modestly increased the odds that an infected person would become sicker.  The delta variant raised the risk even higher, more than doubling the odds that an infected person would need to be hospitalized or could die from their infection.

Emerging evidence from England and Scotland, analyzed by Public Health England, also show an increased risk for hospitalization with delta. The increases are in line with the Canadian data.  Experts caution that the picture may change over time as more evidence is gathered.

“What is causing that? We don’t know,” Tuite said.

Enhanced Virus

The delta variants (there’s actually more than one in the same viral family), have about 15 different mutations compared to the original virus. Two of these, L452R and E484Q, are mutations to the spike protein that were first flagged as problematic in other variants because they appear to help the virus escape the antibodies we make to fight it.

It has another mutation away from its binding site that’s also getting researchers’ attention – P681R.

This mutation appears to enhance the “springiness” of the parts of the virus that dock onto our cells, said Alexander Greninger, MD, PhD, assistant director of the UW Medicine Clinical Virology Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle.  So it’s more likely to be in the right position to infect your cells if you come into contact with it.

Another theory is that P681R may also enhance the virus’s ability to fuse cells together into clumps that have several different nuclei. These balls of fused cells are called syncytia.

“So it turns into a big factory for making viruses,” said Kamron Kadkhoda, PhD, medical director of immunopathology at the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio.

This capability is not unique to delta or even to the new coronavirus.  Earlier versions and other viruses can do the same thing, but according to a recent paper in Nature, the syncytia that delta creates are larger than the ones created by previous variants.

Scientists aren’t sure what these supersized syncytia mean, exactly, but they have some theories. They may help the virus to copy itself more quickly, so a person’s viral load builds up quickly. That may enhance the ability of the virus to transmit from person to person.

And at least one recent study from China supports this idea. That study, which was posted ahead of peer review on the website Virological.org, tracked 167 people infected with delta back to a single index case. 

China has used extensive contact tracing to identify people that may have been exposed to the virus and sequester them quickly to tamp down its spread. Once a person is isolated or quarantined, they are tested daily with gold-standard PCR testing to determine whether or not they were infected. 

Researchers compared delta cases to the characteristics of people infected in 2020 with previous versions of the virus.

This study found that people infected by delta tested positive more quickly than their predecessors did. In 2020, it took an average of 6 days for someone to test positive after an exposure. With delta, it took an average of about 4 days. 

When people tested positive, they had more than 1000 times more virus in their bodies, suggesting the delta variant has a higher growth rate in the body.

This gives delta a big advantage. According to Angie Rassumussen, PhD, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Center at the University of Saskatchewan, in Canada, who posted a thread about the study on Twitter, if people are shedding 1000 times more virus, it’s much more likely that close contacts will be exposed to enough of itto become infected themselves.

And if they’re shedding earlier in the course of their infections, the virus has more opportunity to spread.

This may help explain why delta is so much more contagious.

Beyond transmission, delta’s ability to form syncytia may have two other important consequences.  It may help the virus hide from our immune system, and it may make the virus more damaging to the body.

Commonly, when a virus infects a cell, it will corrupt the cell’s protein making machinery to crank out more copies of itself. When the cell dies, these new copies are released into the plasma outside the cell where they can float over and infect new cells. It’s in this extracellular space where a virus can also be attacked by the antibodies our immune system makes to fight it off.

“Antibodies don’t penetrate inside the cell. If these viruses are going from one cell to another by just fusing to each other, antibodies become less useful,” Kadkhoda said.

Escape Artist

Recent studies show that delta is also able to escape antibodies made in response to vaccination more effectively than the Alpha, or B.1.1.7 strain.  The effect was more pronounced in older adults, who tend to have weaker responses to vaccines in general.

This evasion of the immune system is particularly problematic for people who are only partially vaccinated.  Data from the UK show that a single dose of vaccine is only about 31% effective at preventing illness with delta, and 75% effective at preventing hospitalization. 

After two doses, the vaccines are still highly effective—even against delta—reaching 80% protection for illness, and 94% for hospitalization, which is why US officials are begging people to get both doses of their shots, and do it as quickly as possible.

Finally, the virus’s ability form syncytia may leave greater damage behind in the body’s tissues and organs.

“Especially in the lungs,” Kadkhoda said.  The lungs are very fragile tissues. Their tiny air sacs—the aveoli–are only a single cell thick.  They have to be very thin to exchange oxygen in the blood.

“Any damage like that can severely affect any oxygen exchange and the normal housekeeping activities of that tissue,” he said. “In those vital organs, it may be very problematic.”

The research is still early, but studies in animals and cell lines are backing up what doctors say they are seeing in hospitalized patients.

 A recent preprint study from researchers in Japan, found that hamsters infected with delta lost more weight—a proxy for how sick they were—compared to hamsters infected with an older version of the virus.  The researchers attribute this to the viruses’ ability to fuse cells together to form syncytia.

Another investigation, from researchers in India, infected two groups of hamsters—one with the original “wild type” strain of the virus, the other with the delta variant of the new coronavirus. 

As in the Japanese study, the hamsters infected with delta lost more weight.  When the researchers performed necropsies on the animals, they found more lung damage and bleeding in hamsters infected with delta. This study was also posted as a preprint ahead of peer review.

German researchers working with pseudotyped versions of the new coronavirus—viruses that have been genetically changed to make them safer to work with—watched what happened after they used these pseudoviruses to infect lung, colon, and kidney cells in the lab.

They, too, found cells infected with the delta variant formed more and larger syncytia compared to cells infected with the wild type strain of the virus. The authors write that their findings suggest delta could “cause more tissue damage, and thus be more pathogenic, than previous variants”.”

Researchers say it’s important to remember that while interesting, this research isn’t conclusive. Hamsters and cells aren’t humans.  More studies are needed to prove these theories.

Scientists say what we already know about delta makes vaccination more important than ever.

 “The net effect is really that, you know, this is worrisome in people who are unvaccinated and then people who have breakthrough infections, but it’s not …’ a reason to panic or to throw up our hands and say you know, this pandemic is never going to end,” Tuite said, “Because what we do see is that the vaccines continue to be highly protective.”

Follow me on Twitter: @ReporterGoodman

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This post originally posted here Medscape Medical News

Survey: Norwegians expect an increase in corona infection but are not very worried about it

According to the Norwegian Corona Monitor by Opinion, four out of ten Norwegians believe that the number of corona cases will increase in the time ahead. 

While 42% believe an increase will ensue, 30% state that they believe in a decline. So far in July, 28% of those surveyed say they believe the number of infected will remain unchanged.

The proportion of those who believe in an increase has increased by 15% since June.

The Delta wave

“The reopening of Norway with more open borders, as well as the danger of a delta wave, makes Norwegians less optimistic about the infection situation,” senior adviser Nora Clausen in Opinion, noted.

Throughout the pandemic, 120,000 Norwegians have been asked whether they believe the number of new coronavirus cases in Norway will increase, decrease, or remain unchanged.

According to Clausen, the trend over the past four weeks has been that more and more people expect increased infection in the future. But Norwegians are no longer anxious in relation to the increase. 

On the contrary, most people are less worried about getting infected, probably due to more people being vaccinated, Clausen explained.

Vaccination pace

In the same survey, 50% stated that they have confidence that the pace of vaccination in Norway is effective, while 34% said they didn’t have confidence in the vaccination pace in the country. 

The proportion of those who have confidence in the vaccination pace increased by 8% since June and has never been higher.

“There is little doubt that more and more Norwegians are happy with the pace of vaccination,” Clausen concluded.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

Do you have a news tip for Norway Today? We want to hear it. Get in touch at [email protected]

Talking Point: Should We Be Worried About Screen Burn-In With Switch OLED?


It’s time for an embarrassing admission: I apparently use TikTok so much that the app’s UI has burned into my phone screen.

But let me just redeem myself a little: I don’t have the kind of For You Page (that’s TikTok’s algorithmically-generated stream of content) that’s full of viral dances and teen boys being kinda creepy, although I do enjoy the dances from time to time — I’ve managed to train the algorithm to show me mostly really good food, extremely absurd musical comedy, old house renovations, and Jacob Collier.

But my point is not that I’m very cool, actually, please like me — it’s that my phone has burn-in, something that can happen on OLED screens.

So, what’s the problem exactly?

Burn-in can occur with various types of displays if they are made to show the same static image for long enough. It happens to phones, TVs, and generally anything with a screen. It’s not just TikTok, either — the icons displaying battery, wifi, volume, and the fact that my phone is always set to vibrate are all there too, ghost-like apparitions on the top-right of my screen. On the left, there’s a quite-creepy amalgam of every single time that I’ve looked at my phone, represented by a permanent spectral clock, plus an irritating reminder that I have way too many unread emails and messages, because there’s all these notification-shapes up there too.

An example of screen burn-in on an amber CRT monitor
An example of screen burn-in on an amber CRT monitor (Image: Piercetheorganist, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

I have a Google Pixel 2XL, by the way, which — according to Wikipedia — has a P-OLED screen (the P, in case it’s important to you, stands for “polymer”). Reports of screen burn-in on these phones were recorded as early as 2017, just months after it was released. Similarly, with the PlayStation Vita, many owners reported burn-in, especially if they left the screen on for long periods of time (i.e. while playing games, or leaving the console on pause).

So, of course, when the Nintendo Switch (OLED Model) was revealed to be largely the same as the old Switch, but with — you guessed it — an OLED screen, concern over burn-in began to spread.

As highlighted in CNET’s piece about burn-in on TVs, manufacturers — from Apple to Google to LG — are aware of the curse of burn-in, and seem to respond largely by telling their customers how to avoid it, making fun of the companies that tell customers how to avoid it, or just flat-out denying that their TVs have the burn-in problem, despite evidence to the contrary.

One trend emerges: if you have screen burn-in, these companies say, it’s your fault — for watching videos with static UI, or playing video games for too long. Just stop doing those things, and you won’t have burn-in. I’m sorry, you want me to avoid video games with static UI? That’s all of them. That’s all the video games.

An example of burn-in on an airport screen (airports are a great place to see it)
An example of burn-in on an airport screen (airports are a great place to see it) (Image: Gustav Broennimann, CC BY 3.0 CH, via Wikimedia Commons)

Now, manufacturers have started anticipating OLED from their side, rather than denying its existence. Apple’s new iPhones have “special algorithms that monitor the usage of individual pixels to produce display calibration data,” which is to say that it self-adjusts brightness to stop burn-in, although they say that burn-in is just an “expected behaviour” with OLED screens. It’s a risk-reward thing, but you can mitigate the risk, at least.

Consoles, like the Xbox, try to reduce burn-in on their side by having things fade to a “dim” setting after a while. The current Switch has a “Screen Burn-In Reduction” mode too, which does a similar thing after five minutes of inactivity. These settings protect the user’s TV from getting burn-in, even though that’s not really the responsibility of the console manufacturers. Nice!

What does Nintendo say about burn-in on Switch OLED?

Screenshot 2021 07 06 At 2.36.11 Pm

But the question is not “will the Switch leave burn-in on my OLED TV” but “will the Switch leave burn-in on itself”. The new OLED screen is part of the console, and is clearly designed for better-looking handheld play. As someone who largely plays Switch in handheld mode, I want to know: Is it going to have perma-health bars and mini-maps seared into the screen?

Well, CNET isn’t worried about burn-in on the Switch’s OLED screen, at least. Here’s the statement that Nintendo gave them:

“We’ve designed the OLED screen to aim for longevity as much as possible, but OLED displays can experience image retention if subjected to static visuals over a long period of time.

However, users can take preventative measures to preserve the screen [by] utilizing features included in the Nintendo Switch systems by default, such as auto-brightness function to prevent the screen from getting too bright, and the auto-sleep function to go into ‘auto sleep’ mode after short periods of time.”

To summarise: they’re not denying that burn-in is a problem, and their statement seems to imply that, yes, eventually, it might happen — but you can prevent (or postpone) the issue with careful usage of brightness levels and auto-sleep.

So, should I be worried about burn-in with the Switch OLED?

CNET themselves list a few things that have assuaged their fears about burn-in: first, different games have different static features, so unless you’re playing the same game for hours, the OLED Switch will be fine. Plus, unlike phones, the Switch doesn’t have an always-on menu element like battery or a clock, and it does have that automatic sleep mode that we mentioned.

But, of course, there are gamers that play the same games for hours at a time — games like Fortnite, Minecraft, or Tetris 99. Obviously, those players will be at a way higher risk of screen burn-in, and even Nintendo isn’t denying that.

It should be said that OLED technology has advanced since the Vita days, as have built-in solutions and measures to mitigate the problem and improve the life of any screen you buy that’s likely to get prolonged and daily use. That doesn’t mean burn-in couldn’t happen on your Switch OLED screen, but Nintendo will have anticipated the issue. We can’t be certain until we spend significant time with the console — and goodness knows Nintendo doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to hardware — but unless you go out of your way to induce burn-in by turning off the auto-brightness sensor and only ever playing for hours every day at 100% brightness, our gut feeling is that you’ll probably be fine.

CNET puts it pretty succinctly, though: if you believe burn-in is likely, “don’t buy the new Switch”.

Imagine having Buizel permanently on your screen
Imagine having Buizel permanently on your screen

You are, in general, less likely to get burn-in on a console, even with the caveat that hours on one game could cause it to happen. My phone issue only started happening three years into my possession of it, and that’s because I’m a trashbag who watches too many TikToks. My real punishment will be the roasting I get in the comments, no doubt. As for TVs, the problem becomes more likely when you have something like a news channel on a lot of the time, like TVs in receptions and waiting rooms.

We can’t say for sure whether or not the OLED screen will have significant burn-in issues, because we aren’t psychic, but the safest answer for now is that it’s possible, under specific conditions. As pointed out by this Best Buy employee on Reddit, and by CNET, and by Nintendo themselves, there are precautions we can take to reduce the chance of it happening: don’t leave the screen on full brightness for hours, especially not on a menu screen, and set the console to dim or auto-sleep after a few minutes of inaction.

Plus, there’s always the option of not buying the new OLED Switch at all if you’d mostly be using it for really long Overwatch marathons in handheld mode. For some, the risk can be balanced against the reward of darker blacks, higher contrast, and brighter colours; for others, it’s best to just stick to the trustworthy ol’ LCD screen.

Should I be worried if I am not experiencing side effects from Pfizer Covid jab? New study

Research continues to shed light on the effects of the impact the coronavirus vaccines have on the body. As more arms have become jabbed, numerous side effects have been documented. While these effects can be disquieting, the public health message has been clear: side effects indicate the vaccine is stimulating a robust immune response.

The researchers also had participants complete a questionnaire about their vaccine-induced side effects after each dose, measuring 12 symptoms’ duration and severity on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 4 (a lot).

They then conducted antibody tests 37 days on average after their second dose.

When comparing participants’ antibody results with their symptom scores, the authors wrote: “We found no correlation between vaccine-associated symptom severity scores and vaccine-induced antibody titers one month after vaccination.”

They added that the duration of side effects after the first and second Pfizer doses also “revealed no association” with antibody response.

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“[A] lack of correlation was observed even when adjusting for age, weight, and sex,” the authors wrote.

In their concluding remarks, they said: “Ultimately, the researchers concluded that a “lack of post-vaccination symptoms following receipt of the BNT162b2 [Pfizer] vaccine does not equate to lack of vaccine-induced antibodies one month after vaccination.”

The finding has two key implications, the researchers noted.

“First, individuals that exhibit few symptoms after vaccination can be reassured that this does not mean the vaccine ‘didn’t work.’ Indeed, in this cohort individuals with few to no symptoms were just as likely to have developed strong antibody responses as individuals that exhibited substantial symptoms.

According to the health body, you can take painkillers such as paracetamol if you need to.

It adds: “If you have a high temperature that lasts longer than two days, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you may have COVID-19.

“Stay at home and get a test.”

Author: Adam Chapman
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: Health
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Heat is the silent killer we should all be worried about

This post has been updated. It was originally published on May 4, 2021.

It begins when you stop sweating. Perspiration usually cools you down by releasing heat into the air as sweat evaporates, but eventually, if your body becomes dehydrated or the external mixture of hot air and humidity gets too high, you can no longer push the salty liquid through your pores. You flush all over as blood moves toward your skin—an attempt to shuttle warmth away from your core. Muscles cramp up as your salt reservoirs deplete. Organs swell as your body kicks up an immune response. Your thinking gets fuzzy. You might start hallucinating. You vomit so your stomach can stop wasting energy on digestion. Your heart pounds and your head aches. You may begin to have seizures.

When death finally comes, whether within the hour or a few days later, it’s in the form of a heart attack or organ failure. In the throes of heatstroke, your internal temperature may spike above 105°F, but if you’re alone—victims often are—you’ll have gone cold by the time someone finds you. It’s likely no one will know that the true killer was heat.

The human physique begins to fall apart when it gets too hot. “We have to maintain a very specific range of body temperatures,” says Shane Campbell-Staton, a Princeton University evolutionary biologist who studies the impact of extreme temps on people and animals. Most of us are comfortable when the air around us hovers between 68°F and 77°F, which allows us to maintain an internal thermostat somewhere around 98 degrees. When the environment pushes us past those limits, the delicate balance of chemical reactions that keep us alive starts to wobble, leading to cascades of negative effects that can very quickly become fatal.

[Related: 4 ways to keep cool when the temperature spikes]

Officially, only about 700 people in the US die from exposure to extreme heat per year, largely among vulnerable populations, like the unhoused and elderly, and people who spend long hours outside for work or sport. But scientists who study the links between weather and human health believe the actual number is much higher, says Scott Greene, a University of Oklahoma geographer who has been researching the subject since the 1990s. Exposure to extreme highs could be the culprit behind thousands of deaths in the United States each year and many more around the globe. It’s hard to say how many for certain, given that most of them go unrecorded. But whatever that grim tally is, we know one thing for sure: We can expect more in the years to come.

Without dramatic climate action in the near future, we will likely experience a sharp uptick in extreme heat events across the country by midcentury. That means a greater percentage of the population will deal with dangerous highs—according to the National Weather Service that’s triple digits, or anything in the 90s paired with 65 percent humidity or more.

Recent data from the Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that nearly 90 million people will experience 30 days or more of 105°F temperatures per year by 2050, compared to the fewer than 1 million who experienced such heat annually in the late 1900s. Those 30 scorchers will affect nearly one-third of American urban areas, predominantly in the Sunbelt and the southern Great Plains. Temperatures in the Northeast could exceed 90°F for up to 42 days a year, while some states in the Midwest can expect similar forecasts for more than 100 days a year. We can protect ourselves by changing our lifestyles to suit these climes, but public health experts say it will take a concerted effort from local, state, and national governments to edu­cate people on the dangers of heat, alert them when temperatures creep too high, and offer them solutions—like public access to AC and water.

Some of us are more vulnerable than others. The elderly generally don’t sweat or pump blood as efficiently as youngsters can, while children tend to perspire less and have greater surface-to-body-mass ratios. Certain medications, like antipsychotics and blood pressure pills, can throw internal thermostats out of whack. People without homes or access to air conditioning don’t have safe spaces in which to cool down, while construction workers and other laborers sometimes have no choice but to be outdoors, often during the hottest parts of the day.

[Related: These beautiful, terrifying maps show how hot we’ll get in 2090]

But anyone can succumb to rising temps. The National Weather Service’s heat index indicates that even temperatures in the 80s come with the risk of illness if you’re exposed for hours at a time and humidity is high, or if you’re engaged in strenuous outdoor activity like athletics. The risk goes up in lockstep with increasing airborne moisture and temperatures.

How likely a person is to die from exposure, however, remains somewhat opaque. That’s why Greene and others in his field examine how many people die in a given area during an unusually hot period, as opposed to just looking at those deaths that coroners or medical examiners code as related to hyperthermia. They search for what are known as “excess deaths”—fatalities that spike above the number typical for an area with the same demographics during that time of year. A similar analysis published by a different team in Environmental Epidemiology in 2020 suggests that heat is a direct or indirect cause of up to 10,000 fatalities in the United States each year—far higher than the official count. The circumstances are right for that number to keep going up, but the crisis is already at our door. Even based on official statistics, heat is already the leading weather-related killer in the country, ahead of winter storms, hurricanes, and flooding.

There’s still time, however, to prevent gruesome deaths. When Greene started researching this field in the 1990s, a stretch of fatally hot weather in the US—most notably, the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed more than 700 people in five days—led cities across the country to start planning ahead. There hasn’t been sufficient research on such programs to quantify the exact benefits, according to the CDC, but what data we have is positive. The widespread adoption of warning systems to make residents aware of extreme temperatures and their health risks is one of the most important changes to come out of those efforts. An investigation of one such initiative in Philadelphia from 1995 to 1998, for example, found that the city’s interventions saved 117 lives in three years. The urban area’s accompanying response infrastructure also played an important role, Greene says. The media educated the public on the dangers of high temps, local utilities maintained services throughout the heat wave even in cases where payments were overdue, cooling centers offered access to shelter and water, and the city increased its staffing for emergency medical services. Greene and others are still working on tallying the exact impact of each of these mitigation efforts. Still, he says, it’s clear that simply making residents aware of the dangers can go a long way toward saving lives.

But hot spells that take locals by surprise remain a concern, especially in cities. A phenomenon called the urban heat island effect can raise temperatures in areas with lots of heat-holding concrete and a dearth of trees by several degrees compared to surrounding areas. That means densely packed metropolises can fall into the danger zone while folks in the suburbs feel fine.

And even though new warning systems and infrastructure have helped, there’s more work to do. “The main thing that separates us from the rest of the tree of life is our unique ability to buffer ourselves against extremes,” says Princeton’s Campbell-Staton.

To keep dropping the number of deaths, even as temperatures go up, city, county, state, and federal governments need to coordinate their responses, Greene says. He wants to see a more robust centralized national forecasting effort that predicts temperature spikes as far out as possible. With advance notice, cities could prepare by freeing up emergency funds and properly staffing infrastructure like ambulances and cooling centers. Such alerts could also clearly spell out what extreme heat might mean for a given locale: Just as an inch of snow is more of an emergency in Atlanta than it is in Boston due to baseline preparedness and local knowledge, you might not need a heat alert in Phoenix for the same temperatures as in Anchorage. These efforts could help raise the profile of extreme highs as an issue, Greene says, and save lives while they do. But for now, it’s important to realize just how many people are at risk—and how few of them know it.

Author: Rachel Feltman
Read more here >>> Science – Popular Science

'I worried about funding retirement' Man explains why he set up second pension at 24

Retirement is clearly a long way off for the retail store assistant, however that’s not to say it isn’t something he’s already thinking about. Like many people his age, Matt pays into a workplace pension via auto-enrolment.

“The reason I set up another pension is because I don’t want to worry about money when I grow old,” Matt exclusively tells Express.co.uk.

He added that setting up another pension was the best option for him.

“Even thought retirement is a long way off, I feel like now is the best time to sort things out for the future, because we never know what the future holds for us.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry.”


Pension saving hasn’t so far been without challenges, however.

Matt explains there has been issues “now and then,” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I wasn’t working many hours in certain months, so there were times where I was worried I won’t be able to contribute as much as I would like to,” he tells Express.co.uk.

However, the Covid crisis has also served as an important reminder about the importance of saving for the future.

The digital pension provider, recently authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to run and operate its own SIPP, originally opened for the self-employed in 2019.

In 18 months, Penfold amassed 25,000 customers, 80 percent of which are self-employed.

Commenting on the research, Pete Hykin, co-founder at Penfold, said: “Self-employed workers have had to battle hard to stay afloat throughout Covid-19, but even a protracted global pandemic hasn’t stopped them from contributing to their pensions.

“We’ve found that, without the safety net of salaried employment, self-employed people tend to be more conscious of their day to day finances and more interested in actively safeguarding their future – particularly given their vulnerability to external shocks such as Covid-19.

“And it’s young people that are proving most engaged. Our under 30s customer base has grown 15x since the start of the pandemic, and their average monthly contribution has increased by 60 percent during this time, from £76 a month to £121.

“It’s great to see, but the pensions industry also needs to do more to reach out and engage young people. Providers need to make their pensions relatable in the here and now, instead of focusing on a distant point in the future.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed

Ridges in nails – should you be worried? Signs you need to seek medical attention

Ridges on the finger nails can merely be a sign of ageing, a vitamin deficiency or dehydration, or as a result of a skin condition such as dry skin or eczema. But in some cases, ridges can signal something more serious. According to Dr Ross Perry of skin clinic chain Cosmedics, slight ridges are normal and can develop during the ageing process as when cell growth slows and lessens, so as you age it may not be unusual to see this happen.

He continued: “Nutritional factors such as deficiencies in vitamins such as Vitamin A, or if your body is low in protein or calcium then you may notice ridges.

“Severe iron deficiencies could also create ridges and other changes to the nails.”

But he warned, if ridges are accompanied with discolouring it may be caused by a medical condition and you may need to seek medical advice.

Dr Perry also advised: “Severe, deep ridges albeit rare could be a symptom of a more serious medical condition such as kidney disease and would need medical tests to determine the cause.

READ MORE: Vitamin B12 supplement: Two indications on your feet that you’re deficient in the nutrient

“Diabetes could also be the underlying health reason for this.”

Trauma to the nails can also cause defects such as ridges, so the advice is to never pick your nails.

But Dr Perry recommends: “If you experience any sudden changes to your fingernails it is always advised to seek medical attention.”

So what’s the difference between vertical and horizontal ridges on the nails?

Dr Anita Takwale, consultant dermatologist and specialist in hair and nail disorders at Stratum Clinics, goes into detail about vertical ridges.


She explained: “Longitudinal ridges on the nails if occurring on thumbs could be due to trauma inflicted on the nail folds like habit-tic which is the most common problem.

“The other causes associated with skin changes either along the finger pulps or the rest of the skin could be secondary to inflammatory disorders like eczema or psoriasis or infections like paronychia which may produce transverse ridges.”

Horizontal ridges on the nails are sometimes referred to as Beau’s lines.

The condition was named by a French physician, Joseph Honore Simon Beau, who first described it in 1846.

Mayo Clinic says: “Beau’s lines are indentations that run across the nails.

“The indentations can appear when growth at the area under the cuticle is interrupted by injury or severe illness.

“Conditions associated with Beau’s lines include uncontrolled diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, as well as illnesses associated with a high fever, such as scarlet fever, measles, mumps and pneumonia.

“Beau’s lines can also be a sign of zinc deficiency.”

Parallel white lines that run all the way across the nail could be a sign of low levels of protein in the blood, according to Roxane Bakker, Registered Dietitian and Head of Nutrition at www.vitl.com.

She said: “If you notice these, contact your GP as soon as possible and monitor your protein intake.”

She added: “White spots on your fingernails are actually rather common and there can be a number of reasons why they might appear.

“Most white spots on your nails are harmless and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
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Novak Djokovic has 'not ideal' Italian Open situation as Rafael Nadal also worried

Novak Djokovic could “struggle” when he steps onto court to take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Italian Open last-16 today because he will be in an unusual situation, according to Mark Petchey. The world No 1 is usually one of the headliners at every event he plays, which means he is given an evening slot on the schedule.
However, the Italian Open has placed his showdown with Davidovich Fokina first up on centre court in Rome.

That means his match will get underway at 10am local time (9am BST) which brings many problems for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.

Not only will his routine be broken up, but he will also have to deal with the glaring sun.

And Petchey reckons Djokovic may be affected as he tried to adjust to the new conditions.

“I don’t think he is going to be delighted because the sun, when they are teeing it up at 10am, is going to be particularly awkward,” he told Amazon Prime.

“He is not going to love the fact he is on early.

“He has been practising at that time this week but the sun is particularly awkward for an hour and a bit.

“You pretty much have to kick it in and he is somebody that has struggled with that in the past.

“These are the little nuances that you have in these tournaments. Suddenly the schedule of play comes out and that is not ideal for him.”

Fellow pundit Daniela Hantuchova also thinks Djokovic will find it strange getting out of bed so early.

She said: “It will be interesting to see how Novak handles that early rise because I know he likes his sleep.

“When you are on at 10am it means you have to get up at 6.30am so it is going to be a rough morning.”

Djokovic is not the only key player who may struggle with the schedule as Rafael Nadal has also tabled complaints.

He wrapped up his demanding win over Jannik Sinner at 9.40pm local time last night and he will be back on court at 1pm this afternoon against Denis Shapovalov.

“I am not happy that they put me on the third turn without a not before because It’s twenty to ten and I can play tomorrow at one,” Nadal said.

“I’ll have to be ready at least by 11:30. It’s exaggerated, really. It’s not right, it’s badly done, I say it as I think it is.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Daniel Kaluuya Says He’s ‘What The Royal Family Worried’ Meghan’s Baby ‘Would Look Like’ On ‘SNL’

Daniel Kaluuya made his ‘SNL’ debut on April 3, opening the show with a poignant conversation about racism.

Daniel Kaluuya[1], 32, made his Saturday Night Live[2] debut on April 3! The Oscar nominee was scheduled to appear alongside returning performer, Grammy winner St. Vincent[3], 38. Following the cold open, Daniel made made a poignant statement in his opening monologue. “I’m sure you can hear the accent,” The British-born actor said. “‘Oh no, he’s not Black. He’s British.’ Let reassure you that I am Black and I’m British. Basically, I’m what the Royal Family was worried the baby would look like,” he quipped — referencing Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s son Archie, 1.

“People ask me what’s worse: British racism or American racism?” Daniel — clad in a navy blue outfit with bright orange piping — went on. “Let put it this way: British racism is so bad, white people left. They wanted to be free to create their own racisms. So that’s why invaded Australia, South Africa — and Boston,” he joked. He also shared a bit about his own family, who hails from  Uganda. “My dad is one of 22 kids and my dad is one of 49…they say Black don’t crack, but condoms do,” he also joked, noting his aunt was in the audience.

Daniel Kaluuya
Daniel Kaluuya makes his ‘SNL’ debut on April 3, 2021. (NBC)

The appearance was a huge deal for Daniel, who just scored his second Oscar nomination[6] in the Best Supporting Actor category for Judas and the Black Messiah. In the film, Daniel plays the late Fredrick Allen Hampton, who was an activist who came to prominence as the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. After being identified as a radical threat by the FBI, he was assassinated. “Chairman Fred Hampton was a light, a beacon of a being who would illuminate all he touched with his incredible message. With the ability to command any stage and robbed of his opportunity to captivate a global audience,” the British born actor said to CNN in reaction to the nomination. “Today, I am humbled to be nominated for portraying a man whose principles I deeply respect and for guiding me to walk in his footsteps,” he went on.

“I became a vessel for Chairman Fred’s spirit at a time when we need his rally cry for equality and justice more than ever. I commend my fellow nominees for their impressive work. To be seen and celebrated by my peers in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is beautifully humbling and I am deeply grateful,” he added, referencing the historic Black Lives Matter movement. He also earned a Best Actor nod in 2018 for Jordan Peele‘s Get Out.[7][8]


  1. ^ Daniel Kaluuya (hollywoodlife.com)
  2. ^ Saturday Night Live (hollywoodlife.com)
  3. ^ St. Vincent (hollywoodlife.com)
  4. ^ pic.twitter.com/YioaXz4Aon (t.co)
  5. ^ April 4, 2021 (twitter.com)
  6. ^ second Oscar nomination (hollywoodlife.com)
  7. ^ Jordan Peele (hollywoodlife.com)
  8. ^ Get Out (hollywoodlife.com)

Cassie Gill

Xiaomi Mi 11 review: Big specs and cheaper price will have the Galaxy S21 worried

Xiaomi Mi 11 review

Xiaomi Mi 11 review (Image: XIAOMI)

Xiaomi is taking the fight to Samsung with the launch of its new Mi 11 smartphone. This latest handset comes packed with many of the same features found in Samsung’s Galaxy S21, but crucially, Xiaomi undercuts it on price. You can pop a brand-new Mi 11 in your pocket for £749, which is £20 cheaper than Samsung’s entry-level flagship. When you consider the cuts that Samsung has to make to achieve its £769 price tag (swapping glass for plastic on the back of the phone, settling with a 1080p screen, the list goes on…) the Xiaomi Mi 11 seems like an even better deal.
The big question is, can Xiaomi really match its main rival and should you invest all that money in this smartphone? Express.co.uk has been putting the Mi 11 to the test and here’s our full review.

Xiaomi Mi 11 review

Straight out the box, the Mi 11 catches your eye. We took delivery of the Horizon Blue model, which looks fabulous thanks to the anti-glare frosted glass case that subtly changes colour depending on the angle of the light hitting it. There’s a pretty radical-looking camera bump on the rear case that might divide opinion, but we like what Xiaomi has done with its rear snapper and prefer it to the contour cut design found on the Galaxy S21.

Spin the device around, hit the power button and prepare to be treated to a glorious 6.81-inch AMOLED display, which is not only bright and colourful but also offers a silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate. That means everything you do feel stutter-free. Trust us, once you try this technology you’ll never want to go back to anything else.

Like most manufacturers, Xiaomi does allow you to lower the refresh rate to 60Hz to save some battery life, but we think it’s worth taking the hit on power to get this eye-pleasing experience.

The Mi 11 is one of the first gadgets to ship with a screen capable of displaying one billion colours. It’s also sharper than the Galaxy S21, thanks to the 515 pixels-per-inch resolution. And you don’t just need to take our word for it, the Mi 11 has already achieved an A+ rating as well as the “Best Display” gong from the team at DisplayMate.

Xiaomi Mi 11 review

Xiaomi Mi 11 features a stunning screen (Image: XIAOMI)

If we had one criticism of the AMOLED display, it would be that it does curve slightly around the edges of the device. Although it looks great, we still prefer the experience of typing and watching on entirely flat screens. That’s because text and video tends to bend around the edges, which can make things pretty irritating to read. It’s something we’ve been critical of Samsung for in the past and pocketing this Mi 11 for the last week or so hasn’t convinced us that curved screens are the way to go.

Of course, along with that delightful display, the next vital part of any phone is its camera and, on paper, the Mi 11 certainly looks like a winner.

There’s a massive 108-megapixel rear camera, which the firm boasts will “create crystal-clear images with pin-sharp detail comparable only to that of professional-grade DSLR or mirrorless cameras” – that’s a bold claim.

Xiaomi Mi 11 review

Xiaomi Mi 11 review (Image: XIAOMI)

In reality, the Mi 11 performs well, but we think the Chinese firm might be over-egging things slightly as this phone won’t beat a professional camera in any shoot off. That said, it’s a solid effort and you won’t have any issues with the snaps shot on this device. There’s also plenty of fun effects built-in and a Pro mode allows you to dig deep into the settings. If that sounds like too much effort there’s also a very good AI mode that basically does all the hard work for you and makes sure every image looks perfect.

That massive main lens is joined by a 13MP ultra-wide-angle camera for landscape shots and a 5MP telemacro lens for improved close-ups.

This triple-lens system is also pretty good at night although we have seen better results on some of its rivals including. the S21.

If it’s video you want, you can film in picture-perfect 4K at 60fps – there’s even the option to go up to 8K quality although this will make a serious dent in your storage. To help bring some cool effects to those home movies there are six one-click AI cinema features that make artsy shooting a lot more simple for amateur snappers.

You’ll find effects such as Parallel World, which duplicates and inverts your scene to give the appearance of a mirrored world, to Freeze Frame Video, which freezes and clones video frames to create the illusion that parts of your video are frozen in time. It’s all clever stuff and the overall camera experience is really good especially as a lot of hard work of taking perfect pics is done for you.

Xiaomi Mi 11 review

Xiaomi Mi 11 review (Image: XIAOMI)

One thing to note – there’s no telephoto camera to be found in the Mi 11, so you can forget shooting crystal-clear close-ups of your family pet.

Away from that snapper, other extras worth mentioning include the incredible Snapdragon 888 processor from Qualcomm, which makes the Mi 11 supremely capable. This is one of the first devices to launch with the flagship chip inside and there really is nothing it won’t cope with.

Liquid cooling is also included which stops the phone from getting too hot, especially when gaming and charging at the same time.

There’s a 4,600mAh battery too. With light use, this phone will get you through the day, but start pushing the Mi 11 with a few games and shooting video – and the power will drain really fast. Thankfully, when things do run dry (and they will ….often), Xiaomi supplies a ludicrously fast 55W charger in the box that can refill your handset in minutes.

The Mi 11 is also compatible with 50W wireless charging although that dock isn’t included in the box so you’ll need to head to the shops if you want to take advantage of that technology.

We’ve certainly enjoyed our time with the Mi 11, but there are some niggles including a slightly irritating embedded fingerprint scanner which has a habit of being slow or simply not working. With Samsung recently upgrading its embedded fingerprint sensors in the Galaxy S21 series, this effort from Xiaomi really stands out and needs fixing fast. Xiaomi has recently pushed out an update to the phone and the scanner is now working a little faster. We’ll keep testing and update this review in the future.

Xiaomi Mi 11 review

Xiaomi Mi 11 review (Image: XIAOMI)

Finally, we need to address the software. First up, the Mi 11 comes pre-installed with a ridiculous amount of bloatware to sort through. Start-up this phone for the first time and you’ll find endless games and duplicate apps that you don’t want and will never bother using. Of course, these can be deleted, but why Xioxmi insists on installing them in the first place (rather than offering them as optional downloads during the set-up process) is unbelievably baffling.

Then there are the bugs. In our time with the Mi 11, we’ve encountered some weird glitches which Xoami will be working hard to iron out. In fact, we’ve just updated the device to a new version of Android so hopefully, things will now start running more smoothly.

The look of Xiaomi’s MIUI 12 software is pretty good with plenty of ways to customise the device including some fun always-on display clocks and a nifty edge glow when a text comes through on the device. However, some of the menus do get pretty confusing and we’d say to get the most out of this phone you’ll need to be an Android Jedi.

Xiaomi Mi 11 review: final verdict

PROS • Great screen – Ultimate performance – Solid camera – Plenty of Android customisation
CONS • Battery life could be better – Slow fingerprint scanner – Software bugs

There’s no question the Mi 11 is a fabulous phone which offers all the top-end specs you’d expect from a premium smartphone. In a device that’s slightly cheaper than some of its rivals, you’ll find a stunning 120Hz screen, one billion colour display, super-speedy charging and a blisteringly quick Snapdragon 888 processor.

The design looks great, the camera performs well, and it’s compatible with the latest 5G data speeds.

Be in no doubt, we’ve enjoyed our time with the Mi 11. However, there are some sizeable downfalls here, including that awful preinstalled bloatware you’ll need to remove, a sub-par fingerprint scanner and annoying software bugs.

One final thing to note is there’s no expandable storage so make sure you pick the right model before hitting the “buy” button. The 128GB version costs £729 while the 256GB model sets you back £799.

Despite the niggles, the Mi 11 has everything most people want in a phone and you get all those features at a price that seems pretty reasonable.

The Galaxy S21 might want to watch over its shoulder as Xiaomi has got a lot of things right on this new flagship and it’s pretty hard not to recommend.