Category Archives: Social issues ( be civil ! )

Biden is in early dementia — more evidence

In an earlier post (reproduced below the ***) I gave my reasons based on (presumably unedited) tapes of the President for concluding that President Biden is in the early stages of dementia.  I am a retired board certified neurologist and occasional board examiner with 34 years of clinical experience.

Here is further evidence.

In a town hall meeting put on by CNN 21 July President Biden became rather incoherent and confused when answering “When will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated.”

Here is the (presumably) unedited video of the meeting — https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/21/politics/full-president-joe-biden-cnn-town-hall-july-21/index.html.

The question was asked 6 minutes and 20 seconds into the recording.  The response starts to make not much sense at 7 minutes and at 7 minutes 21 seconds, he briefly becomes incoherent.  He continues on in this vein up to about 8 minutes.

This is what early dementia looks like.

Well that’s my opinion.  Look at the tape and make your own.

****  The earlier post

Biden is in early dementia — the evidence

As a neurologist I am often asked about Biden’s mental capacity.  My first post on the subject occurred after the first debate with Trump.  I thought he was intact — you can read about it here.

https://luysii.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5200&action=edit&calypsoify=1

Then I was asked to comment on the possibility that his previous operation for aneurysm could be causing trouble. I didn’t think this was likely as so much time had passed.  Interestingly, I knew the neurosurgeon as a Penn undergraduate when I was a neurology resident.  You can read the post at the end — Biden’s cerebral aneurysm.

That was written last December.

I changed my opinion after his press conference. of 14 June ’21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAWRHM4i3Dg
I strongly suggest you look at the segment at 15 minutes where his response makes little sense, and then he shuts down completely for 7 seconds, apparently quite confused. That’s my reading of the video. Form your own opinion.

Then on June 23rd I was sent another clip where he was confused

It is an 8 minute speech, and the clip can be found at 2 minutes, again showing an episode of confusion.

 

But first a story:

As a third year medical student on psychiatry rotation,  I interviewed a Bryn Mawr student who was on the psych ward (my wife was also an undergraduate at the time).  I well knew the intensity of the place, and how much pressure the girls (see the end of the post) put on themselves.  So I talked and talked and commiserated with her.  After a pleasant enough time the I concluded the interview and left.   The teaching psychiatrist asked me what I thought, and I told him how frigtening I found it given what I knew about Bryn Mawr. He asked me if I found out that she thought the television was talking to her.  Basically by yapping when she went off track, I kept her sane.

So I learned to shut up, and let people tell me what was wrong with them.  This is why Biden likely did well during the debates. The short time given to answer and the barrage of questions and interruptions kept him focused.

It really came home as I looked at the whole 8 minutes of the second clip trying to find the brief period of confusion.  Please look at the whole clip yourself and draw your own conclusions.  I see a pleasant,  rambling, slow thinking,  occasionally confused old man.

 

This is what early dementia looks like.

I was severely criticized by a follower after the first post.  Here it is,  “Issuing alarmist statements about his mental health is reprehensible. You are not his physician. Moreover, armchair diagnosis is frowned upon by the American Psychiatric Association.I’ve been following your blog for several years and also have been reading you comments on the “in the pipeline” blog. On the basis of that experience I had not expected to stoop that low.”

In my defense, I was defeated by the new WordPress editor which wouldn’t let me bring in the evidence shown here.  Apparently it was a (still extant) incompatibility of Safari with the editor.   I was still impressed enough by how confused Biden looked that I posted it anyway.

As the late Carl Sagan said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. So here is the evidence (finally).  Apologies for the delay.

As children, our least favorite explanation was ‘because I say so’.

Essentially that’s part of what I’m offering here.  I was involved in clinical neurology from ’67 to ’00, and at a minimum saw at least 1 demented patient a week during that time.  That’s an underestimate, as I’d make rounds on other neurologists patients when covering weekends.  I doubt that anyone reading this has similar extensive experience.

So Biden just looks like all the early dementia patients I saw during that time.  Given my experience, I think that should carry some weight.

The fact that Biden appears sharp at times is typical of early stage dementia.  I’ve certainly seen it in family and friends, with such things being excused as ‘it must have been the heat’ or ‘they must not have been feeling well’.

Why is this important?  Khrushchev’s estimate of President Kennedy’s weakness lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Khrushchev’s son confirmed this when he spoke at the Kennedy Center at Harvard.   Kennedy was receiving narcotics for his back.  The side effects of what little medicines we had back then weren’t appreciated.  Example: thyroid and amphetamines were used to help people lose weight.

Biden does not appear mentally strong to Putin or Xi (or me).

  • Yes women undergraduates at Bryn Mawr and other members of the seven sisters called themselves girls (or at least were called that by males wishing to date them).  According my wife, who just corrected me,  Bryn Mawr undergraduates called themselves women, in contrast to a nearby educational institution which advertised “Are you a Harcum Girl?”  Similarly, 10 years later Native Americans in Montana called themselves Indians, not having the benefit of the linguistic and moral improvements to which we have currently ascended.

The post about Biden’s cerebral aneurysm surgery — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2020/12/08/bidens-cerebral-aneurysm/

Frameshifting

It is a pleasure to get back to the science after the ugly real world intruded with

l. A president in early dementia — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2021/06/30/biden-is-in-early-dementia-the-evidence/

2. The latest in politically correct racism  — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2021/07/03/hitler-would-have-loved-it/

but these things needed to be addressed.

I was very pessimistic about the chance of a vaccine for the pandemic based on my experience with AIDS/HIV1.  Why? Because no vaccine for HIV1 has been forthcoming despite 40 years of intense effort.  I am delighted to be wrong about pandemic vaccines.

But AIDS isn’t the kiss of death it was when I was in practice back in the 80s.  Why?  Because we know so much about what happens after the virus infects cells.  We attack all it’s weak points, from its genome, its reverse transcriptase.  So AIDs is now a chronic manageable disease.

So the more we know about SARS-Cov-2 the more ways we’ll find to attack it.   Which brings me to Science vol. 372 pp. 1306 – 1313 ’21.

The pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2 (and all coronaviruses) use something called frameshifting.

Here is a brief tutorial

Her fox and dog ate our pet rat

H erf oxa ndd oga teo urp etr at

He rfo xan ddo gat eou rpe tra t

The last two lines make no sense at all, but (neglecting the spaces) they have identical letter sequences.

Here are similar sequences of nucleotides making up the genetic code as transcribed into RNA

ATG CAT TAG CCG TAA GCC GTA GGA

TGC ATT AGC CGT AAG CCG TAG GA.

GCA TTA GCC TAA GCC GTA GGA ..

Again, in our genome there are no spaces between the triplets. But all the triplets you see are meaningful in the sense that they each code for one of the twenty amino acids (except for TAA which says stop). ATG codes for methionine (the purists will note that all the T’s should be U). I’m too lazy to look the rest up, but the ribosome doesn’t care, and will happily translate all 3 sequences into the sequential amino acids of a protein.

Both sets of sequences have undergone (reading) frame shifts. The examples are of +1 and +2 frameshifts.

SARS-CoV-2 uses a -1 frameshift.  this is necessary for the synthesis of nonstructural protein 12 (nsp12), crucially important to the virus as it codes for the viral RNA dependent RNA polymerase.

To produce the frameshift, the virus actually throws a monkey wrench at the ribosome.  At the site of the future frameshift the viral genome forms a pseudoknot  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoknot) which blocks the smooth translation of the ribosome along the viral genome, then it backs up by 1 (the -1 frameshift) and chugs on.

So PNAS vol. 118 32023051118 ’21 threw the kitchen sink (e.g. every compound they could think of) at the virus to find one which stopped the frameshift and they found one: merafloxacin a fluoroquinolone.  There are all sorts of fluoroquinolones in use as antibodies, so it’s time to try the others out.

This is unlikely to be a general approach to coronavirus therapy, as the RNA sequence at the frameshift site is likely to be different in each coronavirus.

I don’t think frameshifting occurs in eukaryotic cells, but I’m not sure.  Does anyone out there know?

 

Hitler would have loved it

The following appeared in Science 2 July ’21 as an editorial  — https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/373/6550/7.full.pdf

Director Lander, the time is now

page1image1390173936

The Biden administration’s decision to elevate the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet-level position is a win for science. Eric Lander, confirmed in May by the Senate, is now advising the president on the scientific, engineering, and technological policies of the US government. As Dr. Lander carries out this task, we hope that he keeps in mind what President Biden asked him in a letter in January: “How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans?”

The challenges ahead are formidable. The devastating health and economic impacts of two major crises—climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic—have revealed deep societal fault lines that prevent the United States from drawing on the talents of all Americans to tackle these problems. Thus, there is an urgent need for smart and socially minded policy-making.

OSTP should work with all federal research agencies to eliminate bias throughout their systems and in existing and new funding programs.

A major charge placed on OSTP by President Biden is to ensure that science and technology flourish in America. This starts with making inclusive STEM education a priority, as many STEM classrooms at top US universities still lack students from underrepresented groups. Despite all the efforts to address education equity, the US educational system is still producing disproportionately fewer racially underrepresented Americans for jobs in science and engineering. For example, in 2019, Black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/ Other Pacific Islander groups received 4.4, 12.1, 0.4, and 0.2% of engineering bachelor’s degrees, respectively. This underrepresentation is most stark for Blacks, who make up14%of“GenZ”(6to24years old). Similarly, women accounted for only 22.5% of engineering bachelor’s degrees in 2019. Left uncorrected, the negative impact on the US technical workforce size and innovation will be vast, as students of color will soon represent nearly 48% of high school graduates. Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic hardships might cause an exodus of women and racially underrepresented role models—those most affected by the pandemic—from STEM, setting back already lagging equity efforts.

Concomitantly, leadership within national funding agencies and at federally funded universities must change. These positions cannot remain the privilege of Jews—only 14% of higher education administration are non-Jews despite their 38% representation in the population. Women and non-Jewish scientists cannot continue to be given junior fellowships, only to be derailed from professional advancement later by majority Jewish gatekeepers. A cultural change is also needed to retain those in the STEM career pipeline. Accountability systems for discrimination, sexism, racism, and harassment need overhauls—their burden cannot continue to crush and end the careers of victims and truth tellers.

The answer to President Biden’s question to Director Lander is clear: OSTP must guide the administration toward policies that mandate all stakeholders to attract, nurture, and promote the best and brightest across all populations in the United States. The steps toward implementing these policies will be hard. Nevertheless, the American people are ready, and the time is now.

–Omolola Eniola-Adefeso and Hana El-Samad

Omolola Eniola-Adefeso
is the University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor
in Chemical Engineering
and a professor
of Biomedical Engineering and Macromolecular Sciences at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. lolaa@ umich.edu

Hana El-Samad

is the Kuo Family Endowed Professor and vice-chair in the Department

of Biochemistry and Biophysics
at the University
of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. hana.el-samad@ ucsf.edu

page1image1530098224

If the fruits of science and
technology are to be truly shared,
they should be produced by all
Americans. This cannot happen
if the scientific enterprise toler-
ates insidious systemic racism
and sexism. That membership in
the academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine remains predominantly Jewish  and male speaks volumes. Such stark disparity also exists in federal institutions that support research and training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and biomedi- cine. For example, National Institutes of Health (NIH) intramural senior investigators from underrepresented groups (Black, Hispanic, Alaska Native/American In- dian) constitute only 5.1% (and women only 24%), and Black scientists remain 55% less likely than Jew scientists to receive NIH’s extramural funding. This year, the agency announced that all NIH Institutes and Centers are now jointly focused on identifying and correcting structural racism. However, this acknowledgment of the problem is only a first step. For example, although funding research on health disparities through the new NIH UNITE initiative is important, it is essential to recognize that such initiatives will not solve racial inequality problems in science. A system that pigeon- holes scientists into a narrow racial interest bin must be overhauled. Racially underrepresented scientists are as likely to put the first humans on Mars, for example, as they are to solve health disparity problems.

I did change the word white where it appeared to Jew.  Otherwise the editorial is untouched.  Doesn’t sound so antiRacist now does it?page1image1390355664

Biden is in early dementia — the evidence

As a neurologist I am often asked about Biden’s mental capacity.  My first post on the subject occurred after the first debate with Trump.  I thought he was intact — you can read about it here.

https://luysii.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5200&action=edit&calypsoify=1

Then I was asked to comment on the possibility that his previous operation for aneurysm could be causing trouble. I didn’t think this was likely as so much time had passed.  Interestingly, I knew the neurosurgeon as a Penn undergraduate when I was a neurology resident.  You can read the post at the end — Biden’s cerebral aneurysm.

That was written last December.

I changed my opinion after his press conference. of 14 June ’21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAWRHM4i3Dg
I strongly suggest you look at the segment at 15 minutes where his response makes little sense, and then he shuts down completely for 7 seconds, apparently quite confused. That’s my reading of the video. Form your own opinion.

Then on June 23rd I was sent another clip where he was confused

It is an 8 minute speech, and the clip can be found at 2 minutes, again showing an episode of confusion.

 

But first a story:

As a third year medical student on psychiatry rotation,  I interviewed a Bryn Mawr student who was on the psych ward (my wife was also an undergraduate at the time).  I well knew the intensity of the place, and how much pressure the girls (see the end of the post) put on themselves.  So I talked and talked and commiserated with her.  After a pleasant enough time the I concluded the interview and left.   The teaching psychiatrist asked me what I thought, and I told him how frigtening I found it given what I knew about Bryn Mawr. He asked me if I found out that she thought the television was talking to her.  Basically by yapping when she went off track, I kept her sane.

So I learned to shut up, and let people tell me what was wrong with them.  This is why Biden likely did well during the debates. The short time given to answer and the barrage of questions and interruptions kept him focused.

It really came home as I looked at the whole 8 minutes of the second clip trying to find the brief period of confusion.  Please look at the whole clip yourself and draw your own conclusions.  I see a pleasant,  rambling, slow thinking,  occasionally confused old man.

 

This is what early dementia looks like.

I was severely criticized by a follower after the first post.  Here it is,  “Issuing alarmist statements about his mental health is reprehensible. You are not his physician. Moreover, armchair diagnosis is frowned upon by the American Psychiatric Association.I’ve been following your blog for several years and also have been reading you comments on the “in the pipeline” blog. On the basis of that experience I had not expected to stoop that low.”

In my defense, I was defeated by the new WordPress editor which wouldn’t let me bring in the evidence shown here.  Apparently it was a (still extant) incompatibility of Safari with the editor.   I was still impressed enough by how confused Biden looked that I posted it anyway.

As the late Carl Sagan said “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. So here is the evidence (finally).  Apologies for the delay.

As children, our least favorite explanation was ‘because I say so’.

Essentially that’s part of what I’m offering here.  I was involved in clinical neurology from ’67 to ’00, and at a minimum saw at least 1 demented patient a week during that time.  That’s an underestimate, as I’d make rounds on other neurologists patients when covering weekends.  I doubt that anyone reading this has similar extensive experience.

So Biden just looks like all the early dementia patients I saw during that time.  Given my experience, I think that should carry some weight.

The fact that Biden appears sharp at times is typical of early stage dementia.  I’ve certainly seen it in family and friends, with such things being excused as ‘it must have been the heat’ or ‘they must not have been feeling well’.

Why is this important?  Khrushchev’s estimate of President Kennedy’s weakness lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Khrushchev’s son confirmed this when he spoke at the Kennedy Center at Harvard.   Kennedy was receiving narcotics for his back.  The side effects of what little medicines we had back then weren’t appreciated.  Example: thyroid and amphetamines were used to help people lose weight.

Biden does not appear mentally strong to Putin or Xi (or me).

  • Yes women undergraduates at Bryn Mawr and other members of the seven sisters called themselves girls (or at least were called that by males wishing to date them).  According my wife, who just corrected me,  Bryn Mawr undergraduates called themselves women, in contrast to a nearby educational institution which advertised “Are you a Harcum Girl?”  Similarly, 10 years later Native Americans in Montana called themselves Indians, not having the benefit of the linguistic and moral improvements to which we have currently ascended.

 

 

Biden’s cerebral aneurysm

Biden is in early dementia

If you got to this post for some reason or other please go immediately to https://luysii.wordpress.com/2021/06/30/biden-is-in-early-dementia-the-evidence/

am having much trouble with the wordpress editor and hope to have a full post out soon with links and video clips showing exactly what I mean. Forget the spin in the text of the links, just look at the clips and make up your own mind. Sorry.

Addendum 21 June ’21

Many apologies for posting the above without documentation. I’m still working with WordPress to get a functional editor.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest that you look at Biden’s press conference of 14 June ’21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAWRHM4i3Dg
particularly the segment at 15 minutes where his response makes little sense, and then he shuts down completely for 7 seconds, apparently quite confused. That’s my reading of the video.

Here’s the data. Reach your own conclusion about what you are seeing. 

More to follow when I get the editor working.

People with early dementia act like this intermittently, with normal functioning most of the time. I’ve certainly seen this in two very high functioning family members. We’d say things like ‘it must have been the heat’, or he/she ‘must have been very tired’.

Nightmare on Wall Street

I’ve written several posts about Cassava Biosciences (symbol SAVA) and their potential drug for Alzheimer’s (see the end). The recent approval of Biogen’s ineffective (but highly lucrative) therapy Aducanumab for the disease brings forth the following nightmare. At a cost of > $50,000/year and millions of desperate famililes, Biogen will soon be rolling in money. The Cassava drug is orally available and should cost a fraction of that. Even better — it may actually work, although I think serious side effects are likely. Given the sketchy data getting Aducanumab through the FDA, Cassava’s drug represents a real threat to Biogen.

It will be perfectly legal for Biogen to outright buy Cassava and stop development. They will have the money. They won’t be able to do it on the sly, as any position of one company (or individual) in another greater than 5% of the value of the company must be reported to the SEC where it becomes public knowledge.

This from a cousin who is a stock market guru. His wife wasn’t available when I called being next door taking care of a woman with early Alzheimer’s, whose husband had to leave as his father suddenly passed away. She can’t be left alone. Such is the market for Aducanumab.

So will my friend Lindsay and her husband have the moral strength to resist Biogen?

Back in the day when I was in the service in Denver, a very wealthy stockbroker (who had brought the waterPik public) bought up many of beautiful old mansions on the west side of Cheeseman park. He then sold them to people he trusted (such as ourselves), so they wouldn’t be broken up into apartments (which was quite lucrative). I asked why the other people living on Humboldt street didn’t do the same. He said they had so much money they didn’t need character. The folks at Cassava don’t have a hell of a lot of money but hopefully they do have character.

Other posts on Cassava should you be interested are

The science behind Cassava Sciences (SAVA)

Another virus escapes from a lab

Given the excitement over the possibility that the pandemic virus (SARS-CoV-2) escaped from a lab in Wuhan, it’s time to shamelessly republish a clairvoyant science fiction story of mine first published 19 November 2019.

A science fiction story (for the cognoscenti) — answer to the puzzle and a bit more

Comrade Chen we have a serious problem.

Don’t tell me one of our bugs escaped confinement.

Worse.  One of theirs did.  And it’s affecting the PLA (People’s Liberation Army).  Some are turning into pacifists.

It doesn’t kill them?

No. But for our purposes it might as well.

It’s a typical adenoassociated virus (AAV) like we use.

Well, what does the genome look like?

We’ve sequenced it and among other things, it codes for a protein which enters the brain and alters behavior.

What?

Well, the enemy has some excellent biologists, one of whom works on Wolbachia.

What’s that?

It’s a rickettsial organism which changes the sex life of some insects.

I don’t believe that.

Do you have a cat?

Yes.

Well many cats contain another organism (toxoplasma gondi).

So what.

Rats infected by the organism become less afraid of cats.

Another example please.

A fungus infecting carpenter ants causes the ant to leave its colony, climb a tree, chomp down on the underside of a leaf and die, freeing fungal spores to fall on the ground where they can reinfect new ants.

Well what is the genome of the virus?

It has some very unusual sequences, and one which proves that the Wolbachia biologist on the other side has a very large ego.

How so.

Well in addition to the brain infecting protein, there is a very unusual triplet of peptides all in a row.

Methionine Alanine Aspartic Acid Glutamic acid, then a stop codon, then Isoleucine Asparagine, than a stop codon, then Threonine Alanine Isoleucine Tryptophan Alanine Asparagine.  We think that the first two in some way cause readthrough of the stop codons so the protein following the short peptides is made.

Where does the big ego come in?

Sir, proteins can have hundreds and hundreds of amino acids.  People got tired of writing their full names out, so each of the 20 amino acids was given a single letter to stand for it.

M – Methionine

A – Alanine

D – Aspartic acid

What does D have to do with Aspartic acid?

Nothing sir, look on the letters as Chinese characters.

E -Glutamic Acid

I – isoleucine

What about the stop codon between Glutamic acid and Isoleucine

Just regard it as a space.

N – Asparagine

Nooo! ! ! I I’m beginning to get the picture.

Yes sir, it stands for MADE IN TAIWAN

—-

A few years later

Well the Taiwanese biologist outsmarted himself (or herself).   The Taiwanese soldiers wouldn’t fight either as the virus spread.  Most conflicts between nation states pretty much ended (Russia/Ukraine, North Korea/South Korea) etc. etc.  The Taiwanese biologist was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and did receive it in absentia, as every military type in the world was looking for him (or  her), so he (or she) went into hiding, and is believed to be living in an Ashram near Boulder, Colorado.

Unfortunately, the idea of using viruses to change human behavior spread past nation states, and private groups with their own agendas began using it.

The ‘new soviet man’ of the previous century looked rather benign compared to what subsequently happened.

The next story for the scientific cognoscenti will describe the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President Jon Tester in 2028.

An intentional social and epidemiological experiment

Back in the day, mutations causing disease were called experiments of nature, something I thought cruel because as a budding chemist I regarded experiments as something intentional, and mutations occuring outside the lab are anything but intentional.

Massachusetts entered an intentional social and epidemiological experiment today. I hope it turns out well, but I seriously doubt it.

Unvaccinated people are ‘urged’ to wear masks. The state “advises all unvaccinated residents to continue to wear masks in indoor settings and when they can’t socially distance.” Lots of luck with that.

So I went to the working class cafe where I get coffee every day. A place where irony is unknown. In a 25 – 25 foot space (my guess) were 50 people in 6 booths and about 6 tables, none wearing masks. I doubt that all were vaccinated. Fortunately the cafe staff has all been vaccinated.

The cafe is in an old building with at most a 9 foot ceiling. Service was likely slow because of the crowd. So they’d likely spend 30 – 60 minutes breathing each other’s air, a perfect way to transmit the virus if any of the 50 would be infected. For details please see https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them.

The clientele is not a healthy lot, and I’d estimate that 40% of those present had BMIs over 30.

For some reason the classic editor won’t let me put in links. So I’m publishing this as is.

Anti-vaxers, what is it that you know that we don’t ?

32 members of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School class of 1966 held a 55th reunion by Zoom a week ago.  All 32 have been (voluntarily) vaccinated.

Among the attendees were 

l. Mike Brown — Nobel Laureate whose work led to the statins — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Stuart_Brown

2. Jerry Gardner — All American Basketball Player Kansas ’62  — https://kuathletics.com/roster/jerry-gardner/ — but far from a dumb jock — established a GastroIntestinal program at the National Institutes of Health

3. An (emeritus) professor of neurology at the University of Rochester Medical School 

4. The (emeritus) director of the radiology residency program at Yale Medical School

5. An (emeritus)  professor of medicine at Albert Einstein Medical school

6. A (retired) Rear Admiral in the US Navy

There are several more deans and professors among the 32, but you get the idea.

All classmates who spent their careers taking care of the sick (such as yours truly) were board certified in their specialties.  Some were even board examiners for certification in their specialties (such as yrs trly).

Don’t do as I do, do as I say never works.  Anyone who’s raised kids knows that.  The Penn Med class of 1966 has put its money where its mouth is.

So what is it that you know about vaccines that we don’t?  Please get vaccinated.  The new strain (B.1.1.7) is 50% more lethal and much more infectious than the original pandemic virus  [ Nature vol. 593 pp. 270 – 274 ’21 ].

Addendum 20 May:  I thought the following comment and my response were worth placing in the body of the post.

From DH :The one thing everyone in your sample has in common is old age and thus relatively high risk of death if infected with COVID. A lot of the people I argue with online are not absolute anti-vaxxers, but claim that for healthy people under 30, the risk-reward calculus favors not getting vaccinated (e.g., because the vaccines were “rushed”).

I disagree with them, but to be fair to them, your class of 1966 example is not an argument that addresses their claim.

Response:  DH — thanks for commenting: I quite agree with what you say, but there are larger issues. My sample is small but I know several antiVaxers in their 70s. The proportion of unvaccinated minorities is larger than their proportion in the population. Many of them live in multigenerational households so an infected 30 year old could kill granny. Just look at what’s going on in India.

Even worse is the fact that the newer mutations may be more virulent as well as more infectious. This has now been shown to be the case for B.1.1.7 [ Nature vol. 593 pp. 270 – 274 ’21 ]. Even if the vaccines aren’t quite as effective (in vitro) against the new strains, they still offer protection. We will inevitably continue to see new mutants. A vaccinated population is our best hope.

Ashkenazi Jews are extremely inbred

Neurologists are inherently interested in  psychosis, not least because too much dopamine in the form of L-DOPA can trigger it.  I’ve always found it remarkable that dopamine blocking agents (phenothiazines, and most antipsychotics) can attack psychotic thought itself.  This is much more impressive to me than the ability of other drugs (alcohol, coffee, marijuana, cocaine) to affect mood.

So it’s always worthwhile to read another paper about the genetics of schizophrenia, a very hereditary disease.  All the risk factors we’ve found by GWAS (Genome Wide Association Studies) account for at most of 1/3 of genetic risk in schizophrenia.  For details please see https://luysii.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/tolstoy-rides-again-schizophrenia/.

So I was interested in another crack at finding more genetic causes of schizophrenia  [ Neuron 109, 1465–1478, May 5, 2021 ].  As often happens, the most interesting thing in the paper was something totally tangential  to my original interest in it. 

Here it is —   ”  For example, the Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) population, currently numbering >10 million individuals world- wide, effectively derives from a mere 300 founders 750 years ago ” (Carmi et al., 2014;Nat. Commun. volume 5, 4835.).  

I find this assertion incredible.  But, as explained below, there is pretty good evidence (although subtle and quite technical) that it’s correct.

Ashkenazi Jews are those previously found only in Europe and the Americas, as opposed to Sephardic Jews, previously found only in the mideast and Africa.  Both are now found in Israel.  Ashkenazi Jews were chosen for the study because any deleterious genes producing schizophrenia  present in the original 300 wouldn’t have been washed out by natural selection in just 30 generations in 750 years. 

The Ashkenazim make the inbreeding among French Canadians look like pikers — a population of 2 million derived from a founder population of 9000 people over the next 170 years — for details please see https://luysii.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/the-wages-of-inbreeding/.  Note that neither population tried to inbreed, it’s just that there was no one else geographically available to breed with for the French Canadians, and no one else culturally available for the Ashkenazi’s.  

At least with the French Canadians we have immigration records to tell us how large the founder population was.  How sure are we about the 300 strong founder population of present day Ashkenazi Jews?  We’re not and I’m not even though it was published in a peer reviewed reputable journal.  There is a lot of guesswork in figuring out just how large a genetic bottleneck is.  It all depends on the model used, and I don’t trust models in general.  I’ve seen too many crash and burn. (For details — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2019/03/03/i-mistrust-models-2/)

However, the Neuron paper contains a reference to another paper which provides excellent empiric evidence for a small founder population, (PLoS Genet. 14, e1007329. 2018).  Here’s a direct quote.  It’s quite a mouthful; I’ll try to explain below the quote what the terms mean, because I think many nonscientific types are likely to be interested in the idea that Ashkenazi Jews are that inbred. 

Just skip the paragraph if it’s incomprehensible, go to *** and read the explanatory material, and then read the paragraph again. 

“We estimate that 34% of protein-coding alleles present in the Ashkenazi Jewish population at frequencies greater than 0.2% are significantly more frequent (mean 15-fold) than their maximum frequency observed in other reference populations. Arising via a well-described founder effect approximately 30 generations ago, this catalog of enriched alleles can contribute to differences in genetic risk and overall prevalence of diseases between populations.”

****

Explanatory material.

Our genetic material (DNA) is made of 4 different compounds A, T, G, C (called nucleotides) which are linked together in chromosomes.  The order is crucial, just as the order of letters in a word is crucial for meaning (consider united and untied).  So how many slots for the nucleotides are there in our genome ? Just 3,200,000,000.  Just as combinations of dots and dashes code for letters in Morse code, combinations of  3 nucleotides code for the 20 amino acids that make up proteins. 

Proteins are big.  For instance, the protein  (beta-globin)mutated in sickle cell anemia contains 146 amino acids, and all it takes to produce the disease is a switch from one amino acid to another at position six.  The other 145 amino acids in the chain are unchanged. So sickle cell beta globin with a change in its nucleotide sequence is an allele (alternate form) of normal beta globin.  

Every population of people contains alleles of every protein.  Some are common (over 5% of the population showing them), but most are rare.The PLoS paper looked at  73,228 alleles of all 20,000 or so proteins that we have in our genome (yes technology now can do these sorts of things) in the general population.  The authors looked at the alleles in the Ashkenazi population which were present at greater than 1/500 (.2%).  Then they looked at the frequency of the same allele in several other non-Ashkenazi population (about 5000 each of non-Finnish Europeans, African Blacks and Latinos), and found that these alleles occurred15 times less frequently (on average).   So Ashkenazi’s have alleles that are lots more common than in other populations.  Actually it’s more than some, because about 1/3 of the alleles they studied are an average of 15 times as common.

What does this mean?  It means that when a small founder population with a rare allele becomes ‘fruitful and multiplies’, the rare allele will multiply right along with it and not be lost by outbreeding (which was certainly true of the Ashkenazis for 600 of the last 750 years).

Now read the paragraph in bold above again. 

This is the evidence that current day Ashkenazi’s come from a very small founder population.  It’s pretty good.  I hope that I’ve made this somewhat comprehensible;  if not, please write a comment.