Viruses and Bats

by Gertrud U. Rey Remember the series of flashbacks in the ending of the movie “Contagion,” which reveal where the virus originated and how the pandemic started? As a tree is cut down, a colony of bats flies out of the tree to seek new shelter. While in flight over a nearby farm, one of …

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How the Viruses Within Us Protect Us From Other Viruses

by Gertrud U. Rey Did you know that eight percent of the human genome consists of DNA sequences that are derived from retroviruses? These “endogenous retroviruses” (ERVs) represent concrete evidence for retroviral infections that occurred in our ancestors. Although ERVs have no viral activity, an accumulating body of evidence suggests that they are not entirely …

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Why Do Some Viruses Have a Seasonal Cycle?

by Gertrud U. Rey Have you ever wondered why some viruses circulate primarily in the winter and others are more prevalent in the summer? Although we don’t have a clear answer to this question, a combination of factors is likely responsible.   Work done in the field of respiratory viruses suggests that these viruses can …

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Why We Can’t Eradicate Poliovirus

by Gertrud U. Rey In 1988 the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention passed the initiative to eradicate polio globally by the year 2000. We are now 23 years past this deadline, and it is increasingly clear that this goal will likely never be achieved. Smallpox …

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A Long-Awaited Vaccine

by Gertrud U. Rey Almost sixty years have passed since the initial formalin-inactivated respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine caused enhanced disease in children when they were subsequently infected with the virus. Since then, RSV has continued to be a substantial public health threat to infants, young children, and older people. Although progress in developing a …

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There Is Something to Be Gained From Gain of Function Experiments

by Gertrud U. Rey In recent years, the phrase “gain of function” and its abbreviation “GoF” have attained a sinister connotation that is coupled with a general mistrust toward scientists who engage in this type of experimentation. This public perception is grounded in a basic misunderstanding of what constitutes GoF and a lack of appreciation …

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Trial By Error: Senator Bernie Sanders’ $10 Billion Long Covid “Moonshot” Proposal

By David Tuller, DrPH On April 9th, Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who votes with the Democrats, unveiled an ambitious $10 billion “moonshot” proposal to fund research into Long Covid. The proposal has raised hopes among patients with the disease or cluster of diseases now being called ME/CFS—as well as concerns that …

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Trial By Error: An Interview with the Authors of the European ME Alliance Survey of 11,000+ Patients

By David Tuller, DrPH Earlier this month, the European Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Alliance (EMEA) released a 235-page report on a survey of ME/CFS patients in Europe titled “Same disease, different approaches and experiences.”  The authors are Arild Angelsen, a board member of the Norwegian ME Association and a professor at the School of Economics and Business …

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Trial By Error: REGAIN Team Responds to Criticism with Unconvincing Defenses of Methodological Missteps

By David Tuller, DrPH In recent weeks, I have been urging The BMJ to correct a flawed University of Warwick trial of an online mental and physical health rehab program for people with prolonged symptoms at least three months after hospitalization for Covid-19. The primary outcome was health-related quality of life, assessed with a measure …

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Trial By Error: A New Study from Exeter on “Brain Training” for Treatment of Post-Covid Cognitive Problems

By David Tuller, DrPH The University of Exeter is now recruiting for a study of “brain training” as a treatment for prolonged cognitive dysfunction after a bout of Covid-19. I found out about this via a post on X. The post highlighted a message that had been sent to an unidentified patient from their medical …

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Trial By Error: In England, Conflicts Between Families and Hospitals Threaten the Lives of Young Women with ME

By David Tuller, DrPH ME patients and advocates in England have been alarmed by a series of ongoing cases in which the families of severely ill young women have struggled to convince hospitals to fit them with feeding tubes before they starve to death. I covered a similar situation last year in a piece about …

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Trial By Error: Another Letter Seeking Correction of Bogus “Clinically Effective” Claims from REGAIN Trial

By David Tuller, DrPH Last month, I sent a letter to Dr Abbasi, the editor-in-chief of The BMJ, about an egregious and arguably fraudulent claim in the REGAIN trial—an investigation of a Long Covid physical and mental health rehabilitation program. Several other experts co-signed the letter. The journal asked us to send in a rapid …

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