Data, Info and News of Life and Economy

Daily Archives: April 16, 2022

Charts: China Foreign Currency Deposits

Source : Bloomberg

In Pictures: 1958 Jaguar XK150 Roadster 3.4 OTS

Source : Bring A Trailer

Infographic: Rhetological Fallacies – Errors and Manipulation of Rhetoric and Logical Thinking

See large image . . . . . .

The word ‘rhetological’ is made up. A munge of two things: rhetorical techniques and logical fallacies.

Both are used heavily by institutional powers – governments, religions, political parties – across the entire spectrum to sway opinion, confuse and obfuscate. And, unfortunately, we internalise them, like bad habits, into our own decision-making and mental processes.

Source : Information is beautiful

Increases in COVID-19 Are Unrelated to Levels of Vaccination Across 68 Countries and 2947 Counties in the United States

S. V. Subramanian and Akhil Kumar wrote . . . . . . . . .

Vaccines currently are the primary mitigation strategy to combat COVID-19 around the world. For instance, the narrative related to the ongoing surge of new cases in the United States (US) is argued to be driven by areas with low vaccination rates. A similar narrative also has been observed in countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom. At the same time, Israel that was hailed for its swift and high rates of vaccination has also seen a substantial resurgence in COVID-19 cases. We investigate the relationship between the percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases across 68 countries and across 2947 counties in the US.

We used COVID-19 data provided by the Our World in Data for cross-country analysis, available as of September 3, 2021. We included 68 countries that met the following criteria: had second dose vaccine data available; had COVID-19 case data available; had population data available; and the last update of data was within 3 days prior to or on September 3, 2021. For the 7 days preceding September 3, 2021 we computed the COVID-19 cases per 1 million people for each country as well as the percentage of population that is fully vaccinated.

For the county-level analysis in the US, we utilized the White House COVID-19 Team data, available as of September 2, 2021. We excluded counties that did not report fully vaccinated population percentage data yielding 2947 counties for the analysis. We computed the number and percentages of counties that experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases by levels of the percentage of people fully vaccinated in each county. The percentage increase in COVID-19 cases was calculated based on the difference in cases from the last 7 days and the 7 days preceding them. For example, Los Angeles county in California had 18,171 cases in the last 7 days (August 26 to September 1) and 31,616 cases in the previous 7 days (August 19–25), so this county did not experience an increase of cases in our dataset. We provide a dashboard of the metrics used in this analysis that is updated automatically as new data is made available by the White House COVID-19 Team (https://tiny.cc/USDashboard).

At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days. In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days. The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.

Across the US counties too, the median new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days is largely similar across the categories of percent population fully vaccinated. Notably there is also substantial county variation in new COVID-19 cases within categories of percentage population fully vaccinated. There also appears to be no significant signaling of COVID-19 cases decreasing with higher percentages of population fully vaccinated.

Percentage of counties that experienced an increase of cases between two consecutive 7-day time periods by percentage of population fully vaccinated across 2947 counties as of September 2, 2021

Of the top 5 counties that have the highest percentage of population fully vaccinated (99.9–84.3%), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies 4 of them as “High” Transmission counties. Chattahoochee (Georgia), McKinley (New Mexico), and Arecibo (Puerto Rico) counties have above 90% of their population fully vaccinated with all three being classified as “High” transmission. Conversely, of the 57 counties that have been classified as “low” transmission counties by the CDC, 26.3% (15) have percentage of population fully vaccinated below 20%.

Since full immunity from the vaccine is believed to take about 2 weeks after the second dose, we conducted sensitivity analyses by using a 1-month lag on the percentage population fully vaccinated for countries and US counties. The above findings of no discernable association between COVID-19 cases and levels of fully vaccinated was also observed when we considered a 1-month lag on the levels of fully vaccinated.

We should note that the COVID-19 case data is of confirmed cases, which is a function of both supply (e.g., variation in testing capacities or reporting practices) and demand-side (e.g., variation in people’s decision on when to get tested) factors.

The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and the likelihood of future variants. Other pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions may need to be put in place alongside increasing vaccination rates. Such course correction, especially with regards to the policy narrative, becomes paramount with emerging scientific evidence on real world effectiveness of the vaccines.

For instance, in a report released from the Ministry of Health in Israel, the effectiveness of 2 doses of the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine against preventing COVID-19 infection was reported to be 39%, substantially lower than the trial efficacy of 96%. It is also emerging that immunity derived from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may not be as strong as immunity acquired through recovery from the COVID-19 virus. A substantial decline in immunity from mRNA vaccines 6-months post immunization has also been reported. Even though vaccinations offers protection to individuals against severe hospitalization and death, the CDC reported an increase from 0.01 to 9% and 0 to 15.1% (between January to May 2021) in the rates of hospitalizations and deaths, respectively, amongst the fully vaccinated.

In summary, even as efforts should be made to encourage populations to get vaccinated it should be done so with humility and respect. Stigmatizing populations can do more harm than good. Importantly, other non-pharmacological prevention efforts (e.g., the importance of basic public health hygiene with regards to maintaining safe distance or handwashing, promoting better frequent and cheaper forms of testing) needs to be renewed in order to strike the balance of learning to live with COVID-19 in the same manner we continue to live a 100 years later with various seasonal alterations of the 1918 Influenza virus.

Source : National Library of Medicine

Electrified Chopsticks Developed to Enhance Foods’ Saltiness While Slashing Sodium

Missy Green wrote . . . . . . . . .

Kirin Holdings and the Miyashita Laboratory at Meiji University have developed the “world’s first” chopsticks that can make food seem 1.5 times saltier with the use of a weak electric current.

Researchers believe the innovation could help enhance the taste of low-sodium foods, giving consumers who need to maintain a low-salt diet low in salt more eating satisfaction.

The study confirmed that the salty taste intensity of a 30% reduced-salt food was the same as that of an ordinary food sample when electric stimulation was applied.

The findings suggest as much as 30% of salt can therefore be reduced with the aid of the electrified device.

Adjusting ions

Since 2019, Kirin Holdings and Miyashita Laboratory have been working on an electric taste sensation on everyday utensils such as chopsticks, spoons and tea bowls.

This process uses very weak electricity to adjust the function of ions such as sodium chloride (the basis of salty taste) and sodium glutamate (the basis of sweet taste) to change the perception of taste by making food seem to taste stronger or weaker.

The electrical stimulation waveform combined the effects of cathodal stimulation and anodal stimulation and showed an enhanced saltier taste compared to existing waveforms.

Researchers note that the waveform is not strong enough to have an effect on the human body.

Putting it to the test

The proof of concept was verified in a recent clinical study conducted on 36 men and women aged 40 to 65 years old who follow or have followed a low-sodium diet.

The group was tested using a chopstick-type device that delivers weak electrical stimulation to samples that imitate ordinary food (gel containing 0.80% salt) and samples that imitate reduced-salt food (gel containing 0.56% salt).

In addition, in an experiment using reduced-sodium miso soup, the salty taste enhancement effect was confirmed, and the participants commented they felt an improvement in richness, sweetness and overall tastiness.

The need to reduce salt

The latest innovation comes in response to the worldwide impetus to reduce salt.

Sodium reduction has been in the spotlight, as front-of-pack labeling like the Nutri-Score and advocacy groups such as Action on Salt have raised increasing awareness of its dangers.

Consumers are also leading the charge, with Innova Market Insights reporting that two in five global consumers said they had decreased their sodium/salt intake in the past 12 months in a 2021 survey.

The daily salt intake of Japanese adults is 10.9 g for men and 9.3 g for women, which is nearly double the amount the World Health Organization recommends at 5 g per adult.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Japan suggests limiting salt intake to less than 8 g per day to prevent lifestyle-related diseases (less than 8 g per day for adult men and less than 7 g per day for adult women).

That means the current salt intake in the Japanese diet needs to be reduced by more than 20%, Kirin notes. But many consumers find low-sodium diets to be “bland,” and this has been a hurdle to maintaining a low-sodium diet.

Looking ahead

Kirin Holdings will continue to develop new services that support lifestyle disease prevention by increasing dietary satisfaction to make consumers’ diets tastier, more enjoyable and healthier.

In the future, Kirin Holdings and the Miyashita Laboratory aim to use the results of this joint research to provide both mental satisfaction from a richer perceived taste along with health benefits derived from nutritional aspects for those who follow a low-sodium diet.

Salt increasingly in focus

A recent report by Ajinomoto flagged that the weight of salt reduction responsibility should be shouldered by industry rather than consumers. Innova Market Insights observes that low/no/reduced salt claims have increased in every major region of the globe, with Europe holding the most share of new products in this arena (Global, 2017 to 2021).

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration unveiled voluntary sodium reduction targets last October for a broad range of processed, packaged and prepared foods.

Meanwhile, a recent study by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research found that lowering sodium intake in chronic heart failure patients could improve quality of life by reducing swelling, tiredness and coughing. However, it did not result in fewer emergency visits, hospitalizations or deaths in heart failure patients.

Source: Food Ingredients 1st

Video: 如・河活下去 – 重繫香港市區的河流


Watch video at You Tube (7:20 minutes) . . . .