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Michael Weekes

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Nick K. Jones1,2*, Lucy Rivett1,2*, Chris Workman3, Mark Ferris3, Ashley Shaw1, Cambridge COVID-19 Collaboration1,4, Paul J. Lehner1,4, Rob Howes5, Giles Wright3, Nicholas J. Matheson1,4,6¶, Michael P. Weekes1,7¶1 Cambridge University NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK2 Clinical Microbiology & Public Health Laboratory, Public Health England, Cambridge, UK3 Occupational Health and Wellbeing, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, UK4 Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology & Infectious Disease, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK5 Cambridge COVID-19 Testing Centre and AstraZeneca, Anne Mclaren Building, Cambridge, UK6 NHS Blood and Transplant, Cambridge, UK7 Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK*Joint first authorship¶Joint last authorshipCorrespondence: [email protected] UK has initiated mass COVID-19 immunisation, with healthcare workers (HCWs) given early priority because of the potential for workplace exposure and risk of onward transmission to patients. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended maximising the number of people vaccinated with first doses at the expense of early booster vaccinations, based on single dose efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 disease.1-3At the time of writing, three COVID-19 vaccines have been granted emergency use authorisation in the UK, including the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech). A vital outstanding question is whether this vaccine prevents or promotes asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, rather than symptomatic COVID-19 disease, because sub-clinical infection following vaccination could continue to drive transmission. This is especially important because many UK HCWs have received this vaccine, and nosocomial COVID-19 infection has been a persistent problem.Through the implementation of a 24 h-turnaround PCR-based comprehensive HCW screening programme at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHNFT), we previously demonstrated the frequent presence of pauci- and asymptomatic infection amongst HCWs during the UK’s first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.4 Here, we evaluate the effect of first-dose BNT162b2 vaccination on test positivity rates and cycle threshold (Ct) values in the asymptomatic arm of our programme, which now offers weekly screening to all staff.Vaccination of HCWs at CUHNFT began on 8th December 2020, with mass vaccination from 8th January 2021. Here, we analyse data from the two weeks spanning 18thto 31st January 2021, during which: (a) the prevalence of COVID-19 amongst HCWs remained approximately constant; and (b) we screened comparable numbers of vaccinated and unvaccinated HCWs. Over this period, 4,408 (week 1) and 4,411 (week 2) PCR tests were performed from individuals reporting well to work. We stratified HCWs <12 days or > 12 days post-vaccination because this was the point at which protection against symptomatic infection began to appear in phase III clinical trial.226/3,252 (0·80%) tests from unvaccinated HCWs were positive (Ct<36), compared to 13/3,535 (0·37%) from HCWs <12 days post-vaccination and 4/1,989 (0·20%) tests from HCWs ≥12 days post-vaccination (p=0·023 and p=0·004, respectively; Fisher’s exact test, Figure). This suggests a four-fold decrease in the risk of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst HCWs ≥12 days post-vaccination, compared to unvaccinated HCWs, with an intermediate effect amongst HCWs <12 days post-vaccination.A marked reduction in infections was also seen when analyses were repeated with: (a) inclusion of HCWs testing positive through both the symptomatic and asymptomatic arms of the programme (56/3,282 (1·71%) unvaccinated vs 8/1,997 (0·40%) ≥12 days post-vaccination, 4·3-fold reduction, p=0·00001); (b) inclusion of PCR tests which were positive at the limit of detection (Ct>36, 42/3,268 (1·29%) vs 15/2,000 (0·75%), 1·7-fold reduction, p=0·075); and (c) extension of the period of analysis to include six weeks from December 28th to February 7th 2021 (113/14,083 (0·80%) vs 5/4,872 (0·10%), 7·8-fold reduction, p=1x10-9). In addition, the median Ct value of positive tests showed a non-significant trend towards increase between unvaccinated HCWs and HCWs > 12 days post-vaccination (23·3 to 30·3, Figure), suggesting that samples from vaccinated individuals had lower viral loads.We therefore provide real-world evidence for a high level of protection against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection after a single dose of BNT162b2 vaccine, at a time of predominant transmission of the UK COVID-19 variant of concern 202012/01 (lineage B.1.1.7), and amongst a population with a relatively low frequency of prior infection (7.2% antibody positive).5This work was funded by a Wellcome Senior Clinical Research Fellowship to MPW (108070/Z/15/Z), a Wellcome Principal Research Fellowship to PJL (210688/Z/18/Z), and an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/P008801/1) and NHSBT workpackage (WPA15-02) to NJM. Funding was also received from Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. We also acknowledge contributions from all staff at CUHNFT Occupational Health and Wellbeing and the Cambridge COVID-19 Testing Centre.

Guangming Wang

and 4 more

Tam Hunt

and 1 more

Tam Hunt [1], Jonathan SchoolerUniversity of California Santa Barbara Synchronization, harmonization, vibrations, or simply resonance in its most general sense seems to have an integral relationship with consciousness itself. One of the possible “neural correlates of consciousness” in mammalian brains is a combination of gamma, beta and theta synchrony. More broadly, we see similar kinds of resonance patterns in living and non-living structures of many types. What clues can resonance provide about the nature of consciousness more generally? This paper provides an overview of resonating structures in the fields of neuroscience, biology and physics and attempts to coalesce these data into a solution to what we see as the “easy part” of the Hard Problem, which is generally known as the “combination problem” or the “binding problem.” The combination problem asks: how do micro-conscious entities combine into a higher-level macro-consciousness? The proposed solution in the context of mammalian consciousness suggests that a shared resonance is what allows different parts of the brain to achieve a phase transition in the speed and bandwidth of information flows between the constituent parts. This phase transition allows for richer varieties of consciousness to arise, with the character and content of that consciousness in each moment determined by the particular set of constituent neurons. We also offer more general insights into the ontology of consciousness and suggest that consciousness manifests as a relatively smooth continuum of increasing richness in all physical processes, distinguishing our view from emergentist materialism. We refer to this approach as a (general) resonance theory of consciousness and offer some responses to Chalmers’ questions about the different kinds of “combination problem.”  At the heart of the universe is a steady, insistent beat: the sound of cycles in sync…. [T]hese feats of synchrony occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order. Steven Strogatz, Sync: How Order Emerges From Chaos in the Universe, Nature and Daily Life (2003) If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.Nikola Tesla (1942) I.               Introduction Is there an “easy part” and a “hard part” to the Hard Problem of consciousness? In this paper, we suggest that there is. The harder part is arriving at a philosophical position with respect to the relationship of matter and mind. This paper is about the “easy part” of the Hard Problem but we address the “hard part” briefly in this introduction.  We have both arrived, after much deliberation, at the position of panpsychism or panexperientialism (all matter has at least some associated mind/experience and vice versa). This is the view that all things and processes have both mental and physical aspects. Matter and mind are two sides of the same coin.  Panpsychism is one of many possible approaches that addresses the “hard part” of the Hard Problem. We adopt this position for all the reasons various authors have listed (Chalmers 1996, Griffin 1997, Hunt 2011, Goff 2017). This first step is particularly powerful if we adopt the Whiteheadian version of panpsychism (Whitehead 1929).  Reaching a position on this fundamental question of how mind relates to matter must be based on a “weight of plausibility” approach, rather than on definitive evidence, because establishing definitive evidence with respect to the presence of mind/experience is difficult. We must generally rely on examining various “behavioral correlates of consciousness” in judging whether entities other than ourselves are conscious – even with respect to other humans—since the only consciousness we can know with certainty is our own. Positing that matter and mind are two sides of the same coin explains the problem of consciousness insofar as it avoids the problems of emergence because under this approach consciousness doesn’t emerge. Consciousness is, rather, always present, at some level, even in the simplest of processes, but it “complexifies” as matter complexifies, and vice versa. Consciousness starts very simple and becomes more complex and rich under the right conditions, which in our proposed framework rely on resonance mechanisms. Matter and mind are two sides of the coin. Neither is primary; they are coequal.  We acknowledge the challenges of adopting this perspective, but encourage readers to consider the many compelling reasons to consider it that are reviewed elsewhere (Chalmers 1996, Griffin 1998, Hunt 2011, Goff 2017, Schooler, Schooler, & Hunt, 2011; Schooler, 2015).  Taking a position on the overarching ontology is the first step in addressing the Hard Problem. But this leads to the related questions: at what level of organization does consciousness reside in any particular process? Is a rock conscious? A chair? An ant? A bacterium? Or are only the smaller constituents, such as atoms or molecules, of these entities conscious? And if there is some degree of consciousness even in atoms and molecules, as panpsychism suggests (albeit of a very rudimentary nature, an important point to remember), how do these micro-conscious entities combine into the higher-level and obvious consciousness we witness in entities like humans and other mammals?  This set of questions is known as the “combination problem,” another now-classic problem in the philosophy of mind, and is what we describe here as the “easy part” of the Hard Problem. Our characterization of this part of the problem as “easy”[2] is, of course, more than a little tongue in cheek. The authors have discussed frequently with each other what part of the Hard Problem should be labeled the easier part and which the harder part. Regardless of the labels we choose, however, this paper focuses on our suggested solution to the combination problem.  Various solutions to the combination problem have been proposed but none have gained widespread acceptance. This paper further elaborates a proposed solution to the combination problem that we first described in Hunt 2011 and Schooler, Hunt, and Schooler 2011. The proposed solution rests on the idea of resonance, a shared vibratory frequency, which can also be called synchrony or field coherence. We will generally use resonance and “sync,” short for synchrony, interchangeably in this paper. We describe the approach as a general resonance theory of consciousness or just “general resonance theory” (GRT). GRT is a field theory of consciousness wherein the various specific fields associated with matter and energy are the seat of conscious awareness.  A summary of our approach appears in Appendix 1.  All things in our universe are constantly in motion, in process. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at specific frequencies. So all things are actually processes. Resonance is a specific type of motion, characterized by synchronized oscillation between two states.  An interesting phenomenon occurs when different vibrating processes come into proximity: they will often start vibrating together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious, and allow for richer and faster information and energy flows (Figure 1 offers a schematic). Examining this phenomenon leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness in both the human/mammalian context but also at a deeper ontological level.

Susanne Schilling*^

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Jessica mead

and 6 more

The construct of wellbeing has been criticised as a neoliberal construction of western individualism that ignores wider systemic issues including increasing burden of chronic disease, widening inequality, concerns over environmental degradation and anthropogenic climate change. While these criticisms overlook recent developments, there remains a need for biopsychosocial models that extend theoretical grounding beyond individual wellbeing, incorporating overlapping contextual issues relating to community and environment. Our first GENIAL model \cite{Kemp_2017} provided a more expansive view of pathways to longevity in the context of individual health and wellbeing, emphasising bidirectional links to positive social ties and the impact of sociocultural factors. In this paper, we build on these ideas and propose GENIAL 2.0, focusing on intersecting individual-community-environmental contributions to health and wellbeing, and laying an evidence-based, theoretical framework on which future research and innovative therapeutic innovations could be based. We suggest that our transdisciplinary model of wellbeing - focusing on individual, community and environmental contributions to personal wellbeing - will help to move the research field forward. In reconceptualising wellbeing, GENIAL 2.0 bridges the gap between psychological science and population health health systems, and presents opportunities for enhancing the health and wellbeing of people living with chronic conditions. Implications for future generations including the very survival of our species are discussed.  

Mark Ferris

and 14 more

IntroductionConsistent with World Health Organization (WHO) advice [1], UK Infection Protection Control guidance recommends that healthcare workers (HCWs) caring for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) should use fluid resistant surgical masks type IIR (FRSMs) as respiratory protective equipment (RPE), unless aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) are being undertaken or are likely, when a filtering face piece 3 (FFP3) respirator should be used [2]. In a recent update, an FFP3 respirator is recommended if “an unacceptable risk of transmission remains following rigorous application of the hierarchy of control” [3]. Conversely, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that HCWs caring for patients with COVID-19 should use an N95 or higher level respirator [4]. WHO guidance suggests that a respirator, such as FFP3, may be used for HCWs in the absence of AGPs if availability or cost is not an issue [1].A recent systematic review undertaken for PHE concluded that: “patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection who are breathing, talking or coughing generate both respiratory droplets and aerosols, but FRSM (and where required, eye protection) are considered to provide adequate staff protection” [5]. Nevertheless, FFP3 respirators are more effective in preventing aerosol transmission than FRSMs, and observational data suggests that they may improve protection for HCWs [6]. It has therefore been suggested that respirators should be considered as a means of affording the best available protection [7], and some organisations have decided to provide FFP3 (or equivalent) respirators to HCWs caring for COVID-19 patients, despite a lack of mandate from local or national guidelines [8].Data from the HCW testing programme at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHNFT) during the first wave of the UK severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic indicated a higher incidence of infection amongst HCWs caring for patients with COVID-19, compared with those who did not [9]. Subsequent studies have confirmed this observation [10, 11]. This disparity persisted at CUHNFT in December 2020, despite control measures consistent with PHE guidance and audits indicating good compliance. The CUHNFT infection control committee therefore implemented a change of RPE for staff on “red” (COVID-19) wards from FRSMs to FFP3 respirators. In this study, we analyse the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in HCWs before and after this transition.

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Laura Johnson

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Aims: Pharmacogenetics (PGx) is increasingly recognised as a strategy for medicines optimisation and prevention of adverse drug reactions. According to guidelines produced by the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) and the Dutch Pharmacogenetic Working Group (DPWG), most medicines with drug-gene interactions (DGIs) are prescribed in primary care. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of potential and actionable DGIs involving all medicines dispensed in Irish primary care. Methods: Dispensings of 46 drugs to General Medical Services (GMS) patients in the Health Service Executive Primary Care Reimbursement Service (HSE-PCRS) Irish pharmacy claims database from 01/01/21-31/12/21 were analysed to estimate the national prevalence of total dispensings and incidence of first time dispensings of drugs with potential DGIs according to the CPIC and/or DPWG guidelines. Phenotype frequency data from the UK Biobank and the CPIC were used to estimate the incidence of actionable DGIs. Results: One in five dispensings [12,443,637 of 62,754,498; (19.8%)] were medicines with potential DGIs; 1,878,255 of these dispensed for the first time. On application of phenotype frequencies and linked guideline based therapeutic recommendations, 2,349,055 potential DGIs i.e. (18.9%) required action, such as monitoring, guarding against maximum dose, drug or dose change. One in five [369,700 (19.7%)] first time dispensings required action, with 139,169 (7.4%) requiring a change in prescribing. Antidepressants, weak opioids and statins were most commonly identified as having actionable DGIs. Conclusions: There is a high prevalence of DGIs in primary care in the Irish setting, identifying the need and opportunity to optimise drug therapy through PGx testing.

Wei Liu

and 7 more

Due to extensive poaching and habitat degradation, the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) population had plummeted by approximately 90%, leading the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to classify it as a Critically Endangered (CR) species. The scarcity of up-to-date data on the species’ distribution and dynamics presented a significant challenge in developing effective conservation strategies and implementing protective measures within China. This study employed on eleven widely used modeling techniques created within the BIOMOD2 framework to predict suitable habitats for the pangolin at the county scale, while examining the correlation between environmental variables and pangolin distribution. The results revealed that in Mingxi County, situated in the eastern sector of the Wuyi Mountains, the moderately suitable habitat spanned 260 km², accounting for 15% of the total area, whereas the highly suitable habitat encompassed only 49 km², constituting 3% of the total area. Within the county-managed nature reserve, the proportion of highly suitable habitats reached as high as 52%. However, nearly half of these areas, both moderately and highly suitable, remained inadequately addressed and conserved. The findings underscored the inadequacy of existing protected areas in sustaining the current pangolin population, leading to the identification of nine administrative villages that necessitated prioritized conservation efforts. The study anticipated an overall expansion in suitable habitats over the ensuing two decades, likely associated with an increase in precipitation, with significant growth projected in the eastern regions of Xiayang Township and Hufang Town. This research offered a clear and applicable research paradigm for the specific administrative level at which China operates, particularly pertinent to county-level jurisdictions with established nature reserve. In order to more precisely evaluate the pangolin’s situation at the county scale, the study underscored the paramount importance of conducting field surveys, deemed as the most urgent task at the time.
Islands provide a great system to explore the processes that maintain genetic diversity and promote local adaptation. We explored the genomic diversity of the Balearic lizard Podarcis lilfordi, an endemic species characterized by numerous small insular populations with large phenotypic diversity. Using the newly available genome for this species, we characterized more than 300,000 SNPs, merging Genotype by Sequencing (GBS) data with previously published Restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (RADSeq) data, providing a dataset of 16 island populations (191 individuals) across the range of species distribution (Menorca, Mallorca, and Cabrera). Results indicate that each islet hosts a well-differentiated population (Fst=0.2470.09), with no recent immigration/translocation events. Contrary to expectations, most populations harbor a considerable genetic diversity (mean nucleotide diversity, Pi=0.1440.021), characterized by overall low inbreeding values (Fis<0.1). While the genetic diversity significantly decreased with decreasing islet surface, maintenance of substantial genetic diversity even in tiny islets suggests variable selection or other mechanisms that buffer genetic drift. Maximum-likelihood tree based on concatenated SNP data confirmed the existence of the two major independent lineages of Menorca and Mallorca/Cabrera. Multiple lines of evidence, including admixture and root testing, robustly placed the origin of the species in the Mallorca Island, rather than in Menorca. Outlier analysis mainly retrieved a strong signature of genome differentiation between the two major archipelagos, especially in the sexual chromosome Z. A set of proteins were target of multiple outliers and primarily associated with binding and catalytic activity, providing interesting candidates for future selection studies. This study provides the framework to explore crucial aspects of the genetic basis of phenotypic divergence and insular adaptation.

Xiaolong Zong

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Kazuki Moriwaki

and 9 more

A 70-year-old man presented with regular wide QRS complex tachycardia (WCT) at a rate of 185 beats/min, characterized by left bundle branch block morphology. WCT termination was achieved through electrical cardioversion. A subsequent 12-lead electrocardiogram revealed sinus rhythm with complete right bundle branch block (CRBBB) morphology. Echocardiography showed normal left ventricular function without structural heart disease. An electrophysiological study was then conducted, followed by catheter ablation. At baseline, the atrio-His and His-ventricular intervals were normal. Fractionated ventricular potentials were observed in the para-Hisian region during sinus rhythm. Neither dual atrioventricular (AV) nodal physiology nor ventriculoatrial conduction was observed during programmed pacing. Clinical WCT was induced by ventricular extra-stimulation with concurrent AV dissociation and no visual His bundle potential, confirming the diagnosis of ventricular tachycardia (VT). Figure 1 illustrates 12-lead electrocardiograms recorded during overdrive pacing from the right ventricular apex (RVA) and right atrial septum during VT. The electroanatomical activation map revealed a distinctive focal breakout pattern with fractionated potentials originating from the para-Hisian region. In the noncoronary cusp (NCC), corresponding to the opposite side of the para-Hisian region, prolonged and fractionated ventricular potentials preceding QRS onset by 56 ms were recorded (Figure 2A). Figure 2B shows the intracardiac electrogram recorded during ventricular overdrive pacing from the NCC during VT. Based on these observations, what is the mechanisms underlying the tachycardia?

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Karma Norbu

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Introduction: Scrub typhus is a neglected life threatening acute febrile illness caused by bacteria Orientia tsutsugamushi and it is a vector-borne zoonotic disease. In 2009, scrub typhus outbreak at Gedu has awakened Bhutan on the awareness and testing of the disease.Information and data of the study highlights the need for in depth surveillance, awareness among prescribers and initiate preventive measures in the country. Methods: We used retrospective descriptive study through review of laboratory registers across three health centres in Zhemgang district, south central Bhutan. The laboratories registers have been transcribed into CSV file using Microsoft excel. Variables of interest were collected from the registers and then analysed using open statistical software R, (R Core Team (2020). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.) And use of mStats package, (MyoMinnOo (2020). mStats: Epidemiological DataAnalysis. R package version 3.4.0.) Results: Of the total 922 tests prescribed for suspected scrub typhus in the three health centers in Zhemgang, only 8.2 % (n=76) were tested positive. Of these, Panbang Hospital had highest reported positive for scrub typhus with 56.6 %( n=43) followed by Yebilaptsa Hospital 35.5 %( n=27) and Zhemgang Hospital with 7.9 %( n=6). The female gender is comparably more affected as opposed to male with 57.9% (n=44) of the positive cases being female. The prevalence of scrub typhus seems to be affected by the seasonal variation as the months of Spring, Summer and Autumn together accounts for 98.7%(n=75) of total positive cases. The year 2019 noted significant scrub typhus cases accounting to 89.5 %(n=68) of the total positive cases over the two years. Conclusions:The overall tests tested positive of the scrub typhus infection within two years was 8.2%.

Selahattin Semiz

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