Thursday, November 03, 2016
Some very good news below. Effective vaccine for Zika found
Rapid development of a DNA vaccine for Zika virus
Kimberly A. Dowd et al.
Zika virus (ZIKV) was identified as a cause of congenital disease during an explosive outbreak in the Americas and Caribbean in 2015. Because of the ongoing fetal risk from endemic disease and travel-related exposures, a vaccine to prevent viremia in women of child-bearing age and their partners is imperative. Vaccination with DNA expressing the prM and E proteins of ZIKV was immunogenic in mice and nonhuman primates, and protection against viremia after ZIKV challenge correlated with serum neutralizing activity. These data not only indicate DNA vaccination could be a successful approach to protect against ZIKV infection, but also suggest a protective threshold of vaccine-induced neutralizing activity that will prevent viremia following acute infection.
Science 22 Sep 2016: DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9137
Raising ‘good’ cholesterol doesn’t protect against heart disease after all, study finds
“Good” cholesterol might be in for a name change. Raising HDL, widely known as good cholesterol, for years has been thought to protect against heart attack and stroke. But a big new study published Monday found little evidence it does.
The finding upends the advice doctors have been giving millions of patients — and helps explain why the drug industry has failed time and again, despite billions in investment, to develop a drug that cuts deaths from heart disease by boosting HDL levels.
“When you explain [cholesterol levels] to patients, it’s very easy to say one number’s bad and the other number’s good,” said Dr. Dennis Ko, a cardiologist at Canada’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and lead author of the study. But it turns out that HDL is associated with poor health generally and does not seem to affect cardiovascular risk.
In the study, Ko and his colleagues looked at years of data from about 630,000 people in Ontario, sorting their HDL scores from low to high. Those with basement-level HDL were more likely to die of cardiovascular complications, but the risk did not drop steadily as good cholesterol levels rose.
Instead, it dipped, then hit a plateau; people with HDL of about 40mg/dL had roughly the same risk as those with about 80 mg/dL. And death risks actually increased for those with extremely high levels of good cholesterol.
Further muddying the picture, people in the low-HDL group were also more likely to die of diseases unrelated to the heart. And they had lower incomes, higher body weights, and poorer diets than others in the study, all of which correlate with increased mortality on their own.
HDL has been thought to lower cardiovascular risk by cleansing the bloodstream of “bad” cholesterol and scrubbing the inner walls of blood vessels, so your levels of HDL were thought to predict your risk of heart attack or stroke. But this new data suggests HDL may just be a fatty substance along for the ride.
“It may be therefore that it’s reflecting other health habits that lead to greater risk, rather than actually being a risk factor itself,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist not involved in the study.
Illegals Migrate Door-to-Door for Hillary
It’s no secret Donald Trump is viewed incredulously by most women and minority voters. But one thing that certainly benefits the Clinton campaign is the presence of non-citizens who are enticing swing voters by undermining the Republican Party. A group called CASA in Action “is knocking on doors in Northern Virginia in support of Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates,” The Washington Post reports. “The vote-seekers are some of the 750,000 recipients of temporary legal status under the Obama administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.”
Wasn’t it Clinton who recently sounded the alarm on the “credible reports about Russia interfering in our election”? The Kremlin evidently isn’t the only one. The headline of the Post article says it all: “They crossed the border illegally, and can’t vote. But they can knock on doors.” Sure, they’re not naturalized Americans, but Clinton is recruiting them as lobbyists anyway. And she wants to lecture about interference?
Speaking of interference, you can add child sex trafficking to the list of threats posed by illegal immigrants. Some alarming statistics were compiled in a Washington Times column by William C. Triplett II, who quotes an anonymous government official on Texas' southern border: “All these stories about unaccompanied minors crossing the border, nearly all of them are boys. Where are the girls? The girls are already gone. The cartels spot them and haul them off the buses coming to the Mexican side of the border. They target the 13- to 15-year-olds.”
As Triplett put it, “Some proponents of the current open borders policy also claim to be defenders of women’s rights. It is, therefore, supremely ironic that one unintended consequence of open borders is a substantial spike in sex trafficking of young girls.” In fact, just this week Clinton said, “If you believe women and girls should be treated with dignity and respect, and that women should be able to make our own health care decisions and that marriage equality should be protected, then you have to vote.” Yet it’s obvious that her policies don’t comport with her supposed beliefs, like in May 2013 when Clinton expressed a supportive view of open borders: “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.”
What’s more important — expanding the constituency of illegal immigrant voters or addressing the crimes of a small but not-inconsequential number of them commit? Perhaps women need to re-examine their preferred candidate’s campaign slogan, “I’m with her.”
It exposes the administration’s web of lies and deceit
By now everyone knows that Obamacare is officially the public policy flop of this generation. With the latest news of premium increases of 22 percent, insurance companies dropping out, dwindling competition, and rising costs to taxpayers, this is truly the Hindenburg of health plans.
But there is another part of the story that needs to be told. This wasn’t just a liberal screw up, it was a financial swindle of taxpayers. President Obama’s team and the liberal echo chamber lied about Obamacare from the start and covered up the financial time bomb that would soon detonate in Americans’ laps. These were like Enron officials cooking the books to cover up financial fraud — except in the case of Obamacare, no one ends up in jail.
Anyone remember how the White House said Obamacare would pay for itself by using 10 years of revenue to pay for eight years of spending? Where is Elizabeth Warren when you need her?
The only thing that has caught the left by surprise is that Obamacare has burst into flames so much faster than even severe critics — like myself — ever thought possible. The left was praying the bad news wouldn’t be exposed until after the election. Now at least Americans will go to the polls with the ugly facts right in front of them.
One technique the left used to try to shut up critics was to engage in name-calling and accusing skeptics of exaggerating the costs with false and misleading numbers. In these pages two years ago I wrote a column which started with what now looks pretty prescient:
“If there were a contest for the biggest lie in Washington over the past 30 years, it would be hard to compete with President Obama’s boast that he would put 30 million more Americans on Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid, and this would reduce the deficit … Is there a single promise that Mr. Obama made about Obamacare that has proven truthful?”
Well, it hasn’t bent the cost curve down, it has been a major driver of higher budget costs for health care (as the Congressional Budget Office acknowledged last month), it hasn’t given consumers more choices, and it certainly has not saved the average family $2,500 a year.
But when I wrote this piece, New York Magazine published an article about me titled: “Right Wing Scholar Who Gets Paid to Say Obamacare Doesn’t Work Can’t Find Single true Fact to Support His case.”
Then for several pages the author Jonathan Chait argues that I’m “oblivious to the law’s demonstrable success,” and that I am deliberately deceiving people by “treating the law as a costly and obvious failure.” He says I was “demonstrably wrong” in claiming the law was not saving families $2,500 a year. Well is there anyone who has saved that kind of money?
If anything, I understated the case against Obamacare. The Obamacare insurance companies now want a taxpayer bailout in the billions of dollars because the exchanges are in a cost death spiral. Healthy people aren’t signing up and sick people are enrolling at a record pace. This will add billions more to the program’s cost. So much for Mr. Obama’s claim this wasn’t going to cost taxpayers a penny.
In 2017 about one in five Obamacare enrollees will have only one insurance plan to choose from. One third of counties have only one insurer. That’s a lot of choice and competition. It’s like what Henry Ford said about the ModelT, you can have it in any color as long as it’s black. This contraction of the market is going to get worse in a hurry, which is why Hillary Clinton wants a “public option,” which will soon be your only option.
The few remaining Obamacare defenders meekly say that most people are not facing 22 percent premium hikes because most Americans are in employer plans. But those employer plans are starting to see the same rising price pressures.
Mike Tanner, Cato’s health care expert reports that “not only are Americans going to pay more, they’re going to get less. Deductibles have risen steadily since the ACA began. The average deductible for a family with a Silver plan now exceeds $6,400. Total out-of-pocket costs can exceed $12,000.”
Even the one goal of Obamacare that should have been easy to achieve given the massive cost of the program, is way underperforming. Instead of 24 million covered as promised, the number is half that, or 11.4 million. The vast majority of Americans who have gotten health insurance under the new law were dumped into Medicaid. This is a welfare program for people with very low incomes. Shouldn’t we define success in America when fewer, not more people are receiving welfare?
By the way, Medicaid is such a bad insurance program — with many doctors and treatment centers refusing to take Medicaid enrollees — that the health results of those in the program are barely better than for those with no insurance at all.
So I will ask the same question I asked two years ago, except the evidence is even more persuasive now: is there any sane person today who doesn’t recognize the law “as a costly and obvious failure?”
Also, I’m waiting for an apology from New York magazine or Jonathan Chait for their libel, but that’s about as likely as Obamacare ever saving money.
Obamacare hits restaurant industry
The restaurant industry saw a 2.8% decline in business this past fiscal year, and turned in its weakest performance since 2009. Economic analyst Paul Westra sees the downturn as a looming "restaurant recession." The Wall Street Journal reports that "in the last 10 months, eight major restaurant companies ... have filed for bankruptcy." So what's to blame for the decline? The usual culprit is an increase in the price of gasoline leading to increased food prices. However, gas prices have declined significantly for over a year now. Instead, it appears that the number one reason is ObamaCare. According to a Civic Science survey of Americans, of those who ate fast food regularly, there was a cutback of 47% due to rising health insurance costs. In other words, Americans are really beginning to feel ObamaCare's pinch on their pocketbooks. (That's not to mention restaurant owners themselves.) An April survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association found that nearly 45% of Americans are eating out less than they prefer.
Even some Democrats acknowledge the mounting costs of ObamaCare. Minnesota Democrat Governor Mark Dayton recently stated, "The Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people." Bill Clinton called it "the craziest thing in the world" where Americans "wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half." The truth is, it never was affordable — by design, as its architect, Jonathan Gruber, recently remarked. Unfortunately for the nation, the ObamaCare-created "restaurant recession" is the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of U.S. economy. Many economists now fear another recession on the horizon as ObamaCare's impact is felt across the broader economy. The number of Americans who hate this law will only continue to grow.
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Posted by JR at 1:22 AM