Study: 1/3 of COVID survivors suffer mental, neurological problems – National & International News – WED 7April2021

1/3 of COVID survivors suffer psychiatric, neurological issues. Biden agenda gets boost. AstraZeneca jab linked to rare clots. 4000-year-old stone map found.


Study: 1/3 of COVID survivors suffer mental, neurological problems

Scientists at Oxford University in the UK have surveyed the health records of 236,379 COVID-19 patients, mostly from US. Their analysis revealed that as many as one-third of survivors were diagnosed with a brain or psychiatric disorder within six months. The link between the disease and the disorders remains unclear. Of the 14 neurological and mental disorders studied, the two most common among survivors were anxiety and depression. Occurrences of stroke, dementia and other neurological disorders were rarer but still significant, especially among those who had suffered severe COVID symptoms.

Paul Harrison, a co-author and professor of psychiatry at Oxford, says that “Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial”.

The study was not able to determine the biological or psychological mechanisms behind the complications. The researchers urged further in-depth studies of the problem to help identify treatment and prevention measures.

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Biden agenda gets boost from Senate parliamentarian

A decision by the Senate parliamentarian this week has broadened the application of “budget-reconciliation” rules. A bill passed through reconciliation requires only a majority vote of 51 in the Senate. This will allow Democratic Senators to bypass any filibuster threat from Republicans, which would need 60 votes to overcome. Senate Democrats used reconciliation to pass the most recent COVID stimulus with a simple majority.

The parliamentarian’s ruling means that reconciliation could potentially apply to a broader range of bills. This could include bills relating to infrastructure, immigration and Medicare reform.

This could create a big opening for Biden’s ambitious $multi-trillion infrastructure agenda. Republican Senators oppose key parts of the bill, including an increase in corporate taxes to pay for it. Instead, the GOP wants a combination of “user fees” (such as toll hikes) and public-private partnerships to pay for it. Biden is betting that GOP expectations for everyday Americans to foot the bill will prove unpopular even among Republican voters.

While the new ruling means Biden will not necessarily have to bow to GOP demands, there are some divisions in the Democratic party to overcome. One such stumbling block is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who wants to increase corporate taxes by a relatively modest 4% compared to Biden’s 7%. It’s unclear where Manchin and other dissenters plan to make up the 3% difference.

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EU regulator links AstraZeneca jab to rare blood clots

A study by the European Medicines Agency has found a possible link between AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine and subsequent blood clots in some recipients. The agency said that the blood clots were an exceedingly rare complication, and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh possible risks. For the moment, the agency has not recommended any restrictions for administering the shot.

The report on the findings explains that “One plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin”.

For the sake of perspective, the review examined a few dozen cases of blood clots out of approximately 25 million recipients in the EU and UK. The vast majority of recipients have had no issues. Most of the cases arose in women under 60 within 2 weeks of their vaccination, but the agency was not able to identify more specific risk factors.

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Archaeologists: 4000-year-old slab is “3D map”

Researchers studying a newly re-discovered slab of rock say that carved markings on the stone may be the oldest 3-dimensional map in Europe. The slab dates to the Early Bronze Age, between 1900 and 1650 BC. Local archaeologist Paul du Chatellier first uncovered the stone in 1900 during excavations of a burial ground in western Brittany, France. The slab was then lost for almost a century until archaeologists re-discovered it in 2014 during an excavation of du Chatellier’s home.

Examining the curious markings on the stone, archaeologists suspected it might be a map. A survey found that the markings mapped an 18-mile stretch of the Odet River valley, where it was found, with 80% accuracy.

Archaeologists speculate that the slab depicted the features and boundaries of the territory of an ancient chieftain.

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