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Conspiracy theories and myths about the coronavirus, debunked – Yahoo Tech

Posted: March 28, 2020 at 8:51 pm

COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, is the biggest story in the world right now, a global pandemic forcing radical changes in society. With people constantly talking about it, its no surprise that rumors and conspiracy theories are circulating all over the internet. Here are some of the more popular conspiracy theories and rumors, and what they get wrong.

The rumor: The Lancet, an old and distinguished medical journal, published a letter hypothesizing that anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, might increase the risk of coronavirus infection by spurring the increase of a particular enzyme called ACE2.

French Health Minister Olivier Vran gave the idea an official backing with a tweet warning that ibuprofen could be dangerous.

The truth: The ibuprofen hypothesis was just that, a hypothesis. The Lancet letter was calling for investigation into the effects of drugs that stimulate ACE-2 .

One of the researchers involved, professor Michael Roth, later said, the letter does not constitute a recommendation to use certain drugs or not. Patients should always follow the instructions given by their physicians.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stated on March 18 that it does not currently have any evidence that ibuprofen exacerbates coronavirus. That said, ibuprofen has always had some negative side effects, and you should talk to your doctor if youre worried about them.

Story continues

The rumor: Conspiracy theories make for great drama, and what could be more dramatic than learning that the coronavirus was engineered in a lab, a mad experiment run amok, or even released on society intentionally. This theory is surprisingly popular: According to a Pew survey, 23 percent of Americans think the virus was created intentionally in a lab, while an additional 6 percent think it was made accidentally.

The truth: While it might be fun to imagine coronavirus is a government creation (it would certainly make for a great HBO miniseries), science suggests the truth is that coronavirus came about through boring, old-fashioned natural selection.

In a study published in Nature, researchers analyzed the structure of the coronavirus to glean insights into how it may have evolved, and whether it might really have been man-made. First, they examined the viruss ability to bind to an enzyme called ACE2, which is found in the lungs, heart, and other organs. Although the coronavirus binds well to ACE2, the researchers noted that computational analyses predict that the interaction is not ideal and that the combination of high affinity with room to improve is most likely the result of natural selection on a human or human-like ACE2 that permits another optimal binding solution to arise. This is strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is not the product of purposeful manipulation.

The researchers also noted that, if humans had made the coronavirus, they would have used one of the previous human-compatible coronaviruses as a foundation, yet the genetic data indicates that COVID-19 was not derived from any previously used virus backbone. Instead, they find it likely that this coronavirus adapted, making the leap from animals (such as bats or pangolins) to humans.

The rumor: In times of plague, people naturally grow desperate for cures. Social media, with its lack of fact-checking, has been a breeding ground for rumors about miracle treatments to ward off the virus, including, shockingly enough, people recommending you drink bleach (dont).

The truth: Bleach is great for disinfecting household surfaces, not the inside of your body. People have turned to other supplements, such as colloidal silver, in the hopes of preventing the virus, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that these products are fraudulent and may even harm you.

Vitamin C has long had a reputation for boosting the immune system, and as a result, people are spreading claims that big doses of it can cure coronavirus. As Peter McCaffery, a professor of biochemistry, writes in The Conversation, although vitamin C is important for your body, past evidence indicates its unlikely that taking vitamin C will prevent or cure you of a COVID-19 infection.

The rumor: Coronavirus is no worse than the flu, and maybe even less dangerous. This is a common thread youll see in public discussions about the disease. Even President Donald Trump has compared the coronavirus to the flu, pointing out that the U.S. never shuts down over the latter.

The truth: There are certainly similarities between the coronavirus and the flu. Both can have similar symptoms (fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, pneumonia) and both can be spread through droplets.

For coronavirus skeptics, the flus high yearly numbers are a reason to dismiss coronavirus panic. There are a few reasons that the coronavirus is causing so much more panic, however. First, what we call the flu is actually a variety of different strains of viruses, whereas the coronavirus is just one virus, yet capable of doing all this damage. Second, coronavirus appears to spread more than the flu; the coronavirus has a reproductive number between 2 and 2.5, meaning that each person who gets it will infect 2 to 2.5 others, whereas the seasonal flu has about a 1.3 reproduction rate.

Finally, while the flu does kill a staggering number of people every year, it has a much lower mortality rate than the coronavirus so far. In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified to Congress that coronavirus has a mortality rate 10 times that of the flu.

The rumor: An official in Chinas Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, suggested that the U.S. Army started the virus, pointing to its presence at the Military World Games in Wuhan (where the pandemic began) in October.

The truth: All evidence points to Wuhan as the origin of the outbreak, but China first reported cases December 31. As for the soldiers involved in the Military World Games, the Pentagon reported no illnesses have been tied to American service members from October, according to the New York Times. One might suspect that, given its early failings in trying to downplay and suppress information about the virus, the Chinese government is now looking to keep the worlds attention elsewhere while it rehabilitates its image.

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organizations COVID-19 page.

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Conspiracy theories and myths about the coronavirus, debunked - Yahoo Tech

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Medical schools considering early graduation for students – CNN

Posted: March 28, 2020 at 8:49 pm

New York University started offering this option on Tuesday, becoming the first medical school to do so. And now other medical schools are considering doing the same.

"While the AAMC has not yet surveyed its member medical schools, the [Liaison Committee on Medical Education] has been working with several other schools that are considering or offering their students the option of graduating early," said Dr. Alison Whelan, chief medical education officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

In Massachusetts, all four medical schools are in discussions with Massachusetts Health and Human Services to have a fast-track option. Tufts University School of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School are all contemplating the idea, said Massachusetts HHS Secretary Marylou Sudders on Thursday.

Dr. Whelan confirmed that they have been working with the deans of the medical schools in Massachusetts to graduate students early.

Whelan told CNN that they are aware that nearly every school in the US is thinking about early graduation to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

In New Jersey, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University also sent an email to its senior medical students to see if they were interested in early graduation.

And it's not just young doctors who want to pitch in and help. In Illinois, retired healthcare workers are stepping up to the plate. Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker tweeted that 450 retired and former healthcare workers have signed up to work during the pandemic. Those that rejoin the workforce will help staff hospitals and health care centers throughout the state, the tweet said.

The governor had issued a call last week for former healthcare workers to rejoin the work force during this crisis.

Around the US, physicians who are not infectious disease specialists or pulmonologists are training and joining the frontlines.

"We are hearing that there are individuals from other specialties being drawn into clinical care," said Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer for the AAMC on Friday.

Orlowski added that they are being trained very quickly to get them up to speed in the use of personal protective equipment and ventilators. These additional trainings will ensure that physicians are safe to work in areas that might not be their specialty.

"Safety and quality remains a high priority -- the number one priority -- even though people are having to work fast and work smart," Orlowski added.

The US has now reported more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world, according to CNN's tally. It has surpassed China and Italy.

CNN Health's Minali Nigam and Gina Yu contributed to this report.

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Medical schools considering early graduation for students - CNN

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Option to Serve – Harvard Medical School

Posted: March 28, 2020 at 8:49 pm

This years graduating Harvard Medical School students will have the option to receive their diplomas early so that, if they choose, they can quickly be deployed into hospitals where regular staff might soon be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Fourth-year HMS students who have completed all their training and degree requirements, as well as graduating MD students from Boston University, Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts, are being given the option to receive their diplomas before their scheduled graduation date in May.

Get more HMS news here

The change comes in response to a request to the schools from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, citing an expected escalation in local health care workforce needs.

Approximately 700 medical students in the Boston area are slated to graduate this spring.

Because Harvard University grants HMS MD degrees, there are administrative issues to address before the option becomes official for HMS students, including deliberation and voting over the weekend by the Harvard Corporation and the universitys Board of Overseers. Harvard is expected to agree to the states request.

Students enter our medical schools aspiring to serve and heal. I have never been more proud of our students, many of whom have already expressed their eagerness to graduate early so they can join our hospitals on the frontlines to help treat patients amid this pandemic, said HMS Dean George Q. Daley. We need their skill and compassion now more than ever, and many are ready, willing and able to answer the call.

HMS Dean for Medical Education Edward Hundert told graduating students on a teleconference on March 26 that a number of details must be worked out in the coming weeks. He also emphasized that early graduation will be entirely voluntary and that individual hospital programs where students have matched may or may not build this option into their COVID-19 contingency plans.

This is evolving, Hundert told the students, and it will be entirely optional. We want to make this available for those who would like to respond if asked and give our students the option to serve in this way.

Hundert and HMS Dean for Students Fidencio Saldaa told students that those meeting all degree requirements could be allowed to graduate as early as mid-April, more than a month before regularly scheduled commencement ceremonies and two months before most internships begin.

Any studentcan also choose to wait until May to graduate.

Students considering the early graduation option will have to considerhow losing student status early might affect their health insurance, their housing and visas and their student loan deferral status. Hundert and Saldaa said HMS is working to provide answers to all such questions before mid-April.

This decision is a personal one, and no one should feel pressured by it, said Saldaa.

Graduating HMS student Josephine Fisher, who matched last week to Massachusetts General Hospitals internal medicine/primary care program, said she is excited that HMS will be offering the early graduation option.

One of the hardest parts for me is feeling that, as of right now, we are not able to help on the frontlines as much as we would like, Fisher said. Though I feel nervous about the risks posed to myself, and even more so to my family, who I risk exposing when I return home from work, I feel very lucky that I am on the cusp of completing medical school at this time because it means I have been trained with skills that might allow me to make a meaningful difference providing clinical care during this pandemic.

Hundert said educational leaders at HMS teaching affiliates, such as Mass General, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Cambridge Health Alliance, welcomed the news that they might be able to build the possibility of MD student reinforcements into their COVID-19 contingency plans, particularly if current interns and residents become ill and are unable to care for patients.

They all said this was new information for them as it is for us, and that they would assess how this new possibility could potentially enhance their options as they consider workforce needs, Hundert said, telling the students on the call that it would likely be at least a week before hospitals let HMS know how and when graduating students might be invited to participate as needs evolve over the coming weeks.

Each hospital, and each clinical department, will decide whether and how this would enhance their efforts, Hundert said. The hospitals will let HMS and the students know what their needs are.

For many of the graduating students, the next few weeks will be a time of uncertainty.

I know that some residency programs reached out to their future interns inquiring about their willingness to volunteer and join the intern workforce earlier. I will wait and see if my program has such an offering, said graduating HMS student Ameen Barghi.

According to Sudders, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine is prepared to grant MD students who choose to take the early graduation option a special 90-day limited provisional license to practice, after which they would be able to start in a pre-internship COVID-19 service role, according to Hundert.

Students also have the option of graduating early and not working in the hospitals immediately, Hundert said, and some hospital programs may not issue a call for them.

It is unclear whether the provisional license issued by Massachusetts would be accepted in other states where HMS students have matched. Saldaa and Hundert said medical schools across the U.S. are considering early graduation options, with New York universities leading the way in giving students the choice.

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Option to Serve - Harvard Medical School

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Young Medical Graduates Find Themselves on the Front Lines of Italy’s Coronavirus Fight – TIME

Posted: March 28, 2020 at 8:49 pm

On the morning of March 8, Francesca Tamburelli was in her apartment in Heidelberg, Germany, when she learned that part of Italy was entering lockdown due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Upon hearing the news the 25-year-old, who graduated from medical school just last summer, quickly boarded a bus to her hometown of Turin. Within a few days, she was working in a hospital in Cremona, a city in the epicenter of Italys outbreak, where nearly 500 patients suffering from COVID-19 are treated. Other than internships and volunteer work in Tanzania, its her first professional experience in a hospital.

Tamburelli is one of the many young doctors in Italy responding to the calls recently put out by local administrations to meet the shortage of medical staff in hospitals experiencing unprecedented levels of pressure. Italy is one of the worst affected countries by the coronavirus; over 86,000 people here have so far tested positive, and more than 9,000 have died. In the most severely hit cities like Cremona, entire hospitals have been converted to centers for the exclusive treatment of COVID-19 patients. Every doctor, whether they specialize in dermatology or gynecology, is drafted in to deal with the virus.

On her first day on the job, Tamburelli was assigned to the pulmonology ward, which treats patients with serious respiratory problems not yet requiring intensive care. After four days she was moved to the neurology department, converted to a ward where COVD-19 patients are in less critical condition. I am learning a lot every day, but even specialists with 20 years of experience are learning. Its a new experience for everyone, she says. The hospital hierarchical structure has changed suddenly: now its the pulmonologists and anesthesiologists who are at the top.

Although her hospital hasnt yet suffered from the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) seen in many other medical facilities, she is taking a risk, like the majority of doctors in this moment. In total, nearly 6,500 doctors and nurses in Italy have contracted the disease. I know theres a strong chance that Ill be infected too, says Tamburelli. Its not easy thinking that I dont know when Ill see my family and my boyfriend again, but they support me and I know Im doing the right thing.

Tamburelli is staying in a hotel with a former university classmate, Ornella Calderone, originally from Messina, in Sicily. Calderone, 32, has a degree in biology and one in medicine. Until last week she was studying for the entrance exam to specialize as a surgeon while working several temporary jobs. After applying to help at the worst-hit hospitals, she received a call within two hours. It was an unknown number and I realized immediately that my life was about to change. In the two days before arriving at the hospital she studied like crazy, she says, looking for practical information and updates on procedures she had never seen done live, such as ventilation. She is now on the pulmonology ward, one of the hospitals most critical. I cant say that I felt prepared to set off immediately, but since I arrived in Cremona there hasnt been a single second when Ive felt I wasnt in the wrong place, says Calderone.

Not every recent graduate feels ready for the front lines. Paolo Rubiolo, 26, completed his studies in medicine at the University of Turin just last week and says he is now thinking about how he could best help out. I dont feel Im ready to work on the hospital wards, he admits. I think Id be more useful in helping provide services that have been disrupted due to the emergency, such as primary health care or medical care for the elderly who have problems other than the virus, he says.

But the front lines are where the doctors are most needed. Apart from the government decree allowing hospitals to contract doctors just out of school, the Civil Protection Agency recently put out a call to create a task force of another 300 volunteers. Doctors Without Borders is providing support to hospitals in areas most in need, and reinforcements are also coming from other countries. Experts and supplies have arrived from China and Russia, while last week a brigade of 52 doctors and nurses from Cuba landed in Lombardy. In the parking lot in front of Cremona hospitals main building is now occupied by a field hospital run by the medical staff of a U.S. Christian organization.

It is easy to compare this scenario with that of a war, talking about trenches and heroes, says Samin Sedghi Zadeh, 29, who has been working on the pulmonology ward in Cremona for the past three weeks. But I dont like this comparison. War is something we bring on ourselves, this is an emergency that we are all trying to get out of together. Sedghi Zadeh was born in Italy to Iranian parents, and earned his medical degree in Turin a year and a half ago. Until the crisis began, he was employed as a doctor at an e-commerce company. He says hes now glad to have the opportunity to be helpful in the public health system.

The three young doctors, Sedghi Zadeh, Tamburelli and Calderone, are technically only contracted to work for one month. But all think their contract will probably be renewed at least until the end of the emergency whenever that is. Afterwards theyre all ready to go wherever the need is greatest. The experience we are accumulating could be useful in other places in Italy or in the world, and I dont think any of us will back out, Sedghi Zadeh says. When you are a doctor, youre not an Italian, French or Greek doctor. You are a doctor and you go where you are needed.

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Contact us at editors@time.com.

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Young Medical Graduates Find Themselves on the Front Lines of Italy's Coronavirus Fight - TIME

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Explore the 2021 Best Medical Schools for Research – Yahoo Finance

Posted: March 28, 2020 at 8:49 pm

See the top 40 medical research schools.

Aspiring doctors who dream of discovering vaccines and treatments for diseases like cancer should find a program that emphasizes research. Discover which universities earned a top 40 spot in the 2021 U.S. News Best Medical Schools for Research rankings.

40 (tie). Albert Einstein College of Medicine (NY)

Full-time enrollment: 779

2019-2020 tuition: $53,709

2019 acceptance rate: 4.3%

More about the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

40 (tie). University of California--Davis

Full-time enrollment: 463

2019-2020 tuition: $38,340 (in-state), $50,585 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 3.1%

More about the UCD School of Medicine.

40 (tie). University of Florida

Full-time enrollment: 561

2019-2020 tuition: $32,744 (in-state), $45,000 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 5.1%

More about the UF College of Medicine.

40 (tie). University of Minnesota

Full-time enrollment: 1,019

2019-2020 tuition: $39,402 (in-state), $56,547 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 4.9%

More about the University of Minnesota Medical School.

38 (tie). Brown University (Alpert) (RI)

Full-time enrollment: 598

2019-2020 tuition: $63,082

2019 acceptance rate: 2.8%

More about the Warren Alpert Medical School.

38 (tie). University of Utah

Full-time enrollment: 500

2019-2020 tuition: $40,538 (in-state), $76,745 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 4.7%

More about the University of Utah School of Medicine.

34 (tie). Ohio State University

Full-time enrollment: 813

2019-2020 tuition: $30,690 (in-state), $41,798 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 5.7%

More about the OSU College of Medicine.

34 (tie). University of Iowa (Carver)

Full-time enrollment: 609

2019-2020 tuition: $36,382 (in-state), $57,157 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 7.1%

More about the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

34 (tie). University of Maryland

Full-time enrollment: 629

2019-2020 tuition: $37,810 (in-state), $66,905 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 6.6%

More about the UMD School of Medicine.

34 (tie). University of Rochester (NY)

Full-time enrollment: 423

2019-2020 tuition: $59,100

2019 acceptance rate: 5.7%

More about the Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

31 (tie). University of Alabama--Birmingham

Full-time enrollment: 799

2019-2020 tuition: $28,978 (in-state), $62,714 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 6.0%

More about the UAB School of Medicine.

31 (tie). University of Colorado

Full-time enrollment: 744

2019-2020 tuition: $40,348 (in-state), $66,304 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 3.7%

More about the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

31 (tie). University of Southern California (Keck)

Full-time enrollment: 747

2019-2020 tuition: $64,538

2019 acceptance rate: 4.6%

More about the Keck School of Medicine.

29 (tie). Boston University

Full-time enrollment: 709

2019-2020 tuition: $62,872

2019 acceptance rate: 6.5%

More about the BU School of Medicine.

29 (tie). University of Virginia

Full-time enrollment: 615

2019-2020 tuition: $43,828 (in-state), $53,952 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 11.7%

More about the UVA School of Medicine.

28. Oregon Health and Science University

Full-time enrollment: 630

2019-2020 tuition: $43,488 (in-state), $66,844 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 4.0%

More about the Oregon Health and Science School of Medicine.

27. University of Wisconsin--Madison

Full-time enrollment: 731

2019-2020 tuition: $36,266 (in-state), $50,201 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 5.5%

More about the School of Medicine and Public Health at University of Wisconsin--Madison.

26. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Full-time enrollment: 911

2019-2020 tuition: $19,910 (in-state), $33,010 (out-of-state)

2019 acceptance rate: 7.0%

More about UT Southwestern Medical Center.

24 (tie). Case Western Reserve University (OH)

Full-time enrollment: 943

2019-2020 tuition: $65,476

2019 acceptance rate: 7.0%

More about the Case Western School of Medicine.

24 (tie). Emory University (GA)

Full-time enrollment: 582

2019-2020 tuition: $51,000

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Explore the 2021 Best Medical Schools for Research - Yahoo Finance

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I’m a final-year medical student being rushed to the frontline. I’m nervous but I’m ready – The Guardian

Posted: March 28, 2020 at 8:49 pm

So, were being conscripted?

On Tuesday, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that 5,500 final year medical students would be joining the frontline of the NHS. On hearing this news, I rushed down the stairs of my flat to my equally bewildered housemates. We had just finished six years of medical school and had completed our hurriedly reorganised final exams remotely. But we werent supposed to officially qualify and start as doctors until August. NHS staff shortages and a hugely increased demand for care mean that we will be reaching for the scrubs early.

Starting on the lowest rungs, foundation training is the term for the first two years working as a doctor and serves as the culmination of a journey spanning over half a decade of medical school. Becoming a doctor is a dream I have had since I was 14 years old. But I can think of few things more nightmarish than starting my career in the middle of a global pandemic.

I certainly feel a strong moral obligation to assist however possible in the midst of this unprecedented struggle. Many medical students, including those at my university, have completed their final examinations and were already actively seeking ways to volunteer before this was announced.

This sense of duty is nonetheless matched by fear and trepidation. A lack of testing means many healthcare workers are self-isolating at a time when demand looks set to soar. There is an overwhelming sense that the health service is heading towards a cliff edge, about to experience several months that will dwarf the winter crisis that has become an annual occurrence.

Indeed, despite being highly trained, foundation doctors the most junior of junior doctors in a hospital still require significant senior supervision to support their development. I worry that the approaching challenges could place myself or one of my peers in a position where that support is not available, risking jeopardising patient safety through no fault of our own.

Meanwhile, rumours continue to filter through of the previously fit and well patients now finding themselves on ventilators and I question if my colleagues pleas for adequate personal protective equipment will continue to fall on deaf ears.

I speak to my dad, whos back in Grimsby, on the phone. Stephen, its like the war. You need to roll your sleeves up and get to work. Hes right. Our medical schools would not graduate us, nor would the General Medical Council register us to work, if they had any doubts about our competence. Were not being conscripted, but this does feel like a battle in which we all have our part to play. I, for one, am ready.

Stephen Naulls is a final-year medical student at Imperial College London

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I'm a final-year medical student being rushed to the frontline. I'm nervous but I'm ready - The Guardian

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