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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*^

and 9 more

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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Xiaowei Gou

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1. Herbivores adopt foraging strategies to maximize efficiency in diverse, resource-constrained environments. However, the effectiveness of these strategies may be more constrained by their capacity for energy cost rather than their ability to acquire resources. The swift utilization of resources during acquisition is crucial for optimizing energy conversion efficiency in animals. Nonetheless, the energy expended in this process inherently limits food conversion efficiency (FCE), an aspect that remains insufficiently explored in current research. 2. In this study, we introduced a concept framework that integrates harvest rate (HR) and energy expenditures (EE) into evaluating herbivore FCE. Utilizing high-resolution tri-axial accelerometry within a grazing treatments platform, we analyzed the behaviors of herbivores (Ovis aries) to determine the energy costs and time allocation for both lamb and dry ewe groups. 3. Our analysis demonstrated an inverse correlation between HR and EE, exhibiting both positive and negative influences on FCE. Notably, the impact of EE was more pronounced in larger-sized grazers (dry ewes), while HR significantly influenced smaller-sized grazers (lambs). However, the interaction effects between these variables tended to neutralize the variations in FCE observed across both groups. 4. Our research highlights how the behavioral patterns of grazers, in terms of resource acquisition and relative energy costs, are pivotal in determining resource utilization efficiency. Additionally, it reveals the trade-offs in these behaviors, which transition from being beneficial to restrictive as the body grows. This finding substantiates the theory that the behavior of herbivores is a reliable predictor of their efficiency in resource utilization.

Robert Anderson

and 4 more

Climate change is projected to alter the structure of plant communities due to increasing temperatures and changes to precipitation patterns, particularly in midlatitude dryland ecosystems. Modifications to climatic suitability may lead to major community changes such as altered dominant plant functional types. Previous studies have indicated that climatic suitability is likely to increase for C4 grasses and decrease for C3 grasses in the western United States. However, if no C4 grass species currently exist to serve as a propagule source, expansion into areas of increased suitability will be limited. We conducted a field and modeling study in the Upper Green River Basin (UGRB) of western Wyoming to determine if 1) C4 grasses are present to provide a propagule source and 2) C4 grasses are likely to increase in importance relative to C3 grasses due to climatic changes. We searched 44 sites for C4 grasses to establish presence, and modeled suitability at 35 sites using 17 Global Climate Models, two greenhouse gas Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs; 4.5 and 8.5), and two time-periods (mid- and late-century; 2030-2060 and 2070-2099, respectively). We found C4 grasses at 10 of the 44 sites, indicating that there is a present propagule source. Our model projected increases in suitability for both C3 and C4 grasses across sites for all RCPs and time-periods. In the mid-century RCP 4.5 scenario, the C3 functional type increased in projected biomass in 29 of 35 sites, and the C4 type increased in 31 sites. In this scenario, C3 grasses increased in projected biomass by a median 4 gm-2 (5% change), and C4 grass biomass increased by a median 8 gm-2 (21% change). Our study suggests that climate change will increase climatic suitability for grasses across the UGRB, and that all requirements are in place for C4 grasses to increase in abundance.
Thermoelectric materials, capable of converting temperature gradients into electrical power, have been traditionally limited by a trade-off between thermopower and electrical conductivity. This study introduces a novel, broadly applicable approach that enhances both the spin-driven thermopower and the thermoelectric figure-of-merit (zT) without compromising electrical conductivity, using temperature-driven spin crossover. Our approach, supported by both theoretical and experimental evidence, is demonstrated through a case study of chromium doped-manganese telluride, but is not confined to this material and can be extended to other magnetic materials. By introducing dopants to create a high crystal field and exploiting the entropy changes associated with temperature-driven spin crossover, we achieved a significant increase in thermopower, by approximately 136 μV/K, representing more than a 200% enhancement at elevated temperatures within the paramagnetic domain. Our exploration of the bipolar semiconducting nature of these materials reveals that suppressing bipolar magnon/paramagnon-drag thermopower is key to understanding and utilizing spin crossover-driven thermopower. These findings, validated by inelastic neutron scattering, X-ray photoemission spectroscopy, thermal transport, and energy conversion measurements, shed light on crucial material design parameters. We provide a comprehensive framework that analyzes the interplay between spin entropy, hopping transport, and magnon/paramagnon lifetimes, paving the way for the development of high-performance spin-driven thermoelectric materials.

Ekaterina Mironova

and 5 more

Polyclonal infections are widespread and provide evidence of facilitation, competition, and neutral interactions between parasite clones, even within the same host-parasite system. The outcome of co-infections is usually assessed by parasite infection intensities, while other important fitness-related traits, e.g. larval growth rates, are often ignored. We studied both infectivity and the growth rate of different clones of the common trematode Diplostomum pseudospathaceum in the fish host (Salvelinus malma) and tested how these fitness-related traits changed in double-clone infections compared to single-clone ones. We found that the growth rates of the parasite’s clones were more variable than their infectivity. The relationships of these D. pseudospathaceum traits with host mass were clone-specific. Some clones demonstrated higher infection intensities and growth rates in larger fish. It hints that specialization on different size groups of hosts may occur in this parasite species. In addition, we found positive density-dependent growth (Allee effect), rarely reported for parasites. Interestingly, it was observed only in mixed infections and we discuss the reasons for it. In double-clone infections, both evidence of facilitation and competition between D. pseudospathaceum clones were found. The outcome of co-infections varied not only between genotype combinations but also between tested traits. Clones either ‘cooperated’ when infecting the host or competed when growing. There were no clone pairs, in which interactions changed their type with time or were observed constantly during parasite development.

Kai Chen

and 5 more

ABSTRACT Objective. Our aim was to explore the relationship between vertigo symptoms and the prognosis of hearing indicators in patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Data Source. Eligible studies were identified from the “PubMed”, “EMBASE”, and “Web of Science” databases from January 2000 to September 2023. Study Selection. Studies were selected from all original and retrospective or prospective studies that focused on the relationship between vertigo and hearing prognosis in patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Data Extraction and Synthesis. Observational metrics for data extraction included type of study, number of subjects with or without vertigo, treatment regimen, definition of pure tone hearing thresholds, criteria for hearing improvement, treatment duration, follow-up time, and age distribution of subjects. Meta-analysis was performed using Stata 15 software. Main Outcome and Measure. Association of vertigo symptoms and the prognosis of hearing indicators in patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Results.A total of 4290 patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss were identified in 23 studies. The hearing recovery rate was 40.8% in the group with vertigo and 53.76% in the group without vertigo. Vertigo was significantly associated with poorer hearing recovery (OR = 2.13; 95% CI, 1.63-2.79; I 2 = 68.3%). Subgroup analyses revealed similar results for medication (OR=2.65; 95% CI, 1.84-3.83; I 2 = 50.8%). However, an attenuated association between vertigo and the prognosis of sudden sensorineural hearing loss was observed in the subgroups treated with drugs combined with hyperbaric chambers (OR= 1.76; 95% CI, 0.75-4.15; I 2 = 84.9%) and drugs combined with intratympanic injections (OR= 1.62; 95% CI, 1.02-2.58; I 2 = 65.6%). Conclusions and Relevance. Our study suggested that vertigo may be a negative factor in sudden sensorineural hearing loss.Based on the results of the subgroup analysis,the combined treatment regimen has better efficacy in patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss with vertigo.

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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%.

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