Category: Research

Healthy human functioning is a very ordered activity. The gastrointestinal tract is a clear example. Intake occurs at one end and output at another. Gut traffic control will supersede diet Ingestion and excretion have been studied for centuries. Over the last half century, the process in between, gut transit, has become a subject for research, […]

It is human nature to want to name an illness.  This allows patients to come to terms with their symptoms and prognosis.  It also permits physicians to adopt a course of treatment.  In the case of COVID, diagnosing the disease presents pitfalls as well as opportunities.    First, the pitfalls.  As new diseases evolve, many of the symptoms associated with […]

Countries worldwide are racing to vaccinate a significant proportion of their populations against COVID in the coming months. The evidence that vaccination decreases the likelihood of severe disease is promising. What is not so clear is whether the vaccines will eradicate the pandemic. To date there has been very little research into whether the vaccines […]

The COVID context is changing rapidly with the virus mutating and vaccination programs being rolled out globally. The original evidence on vaccine trials still stands. Here is a summary of what we know to date, which is supported by research evidence and not baseless assertion nor media factoid. As always, the primary references are available […]

Now that masks have become common, they also have become big business.  They can be found in a great variety of shapes, patterns and materials, but all masks aren’t created equal. Many factors, including the composition and thickness of the material, and the density of the filter fibres, determine their effectiveness. Non-natural fibres work better to […]

To date, none of the available vaccines prevent transmission from one individual to another. Most focus on decreasing the severity of symptoms. In the short term, that is a very effective strategy. In the longer term it can turn into a double-edged sword.  Evolving new strains of COVID may be more beneficial than detrimental. Consider […]

Since March 2020, most places in the world have been through several versions of CoVID-19 lockdown. The most extreme level, currently in force in several cities in the USA, prohibits social contact beyond the immediate household throughout the rest of the year. Those who can work from home are expected to do so. Those who […]

CoVID has brought the age-old problem of containing infectious diseases back into the limelight. To date, clinicians and patients have focussed on the individual and human aspects of infectious containment, but the spread of infections in our built environment must become a priority. Humid environments mean less viral spread in air. Take hospital architecture. Like […]

As the world battles with localised CoVID-19 outbreaks, it is now clear that a major source of transmission of infection is no longer from the influx of expatriates nor travellers. CoVID-19 is now a community problem. The politicizing of the pandemic has obfuscated the fact that, in most countries, communities and family groups have been […]

(This blog is the Gordon Reid MacDonald Memorial Lecture which I have been asked to deliver in Edmonton Alberta this month. It is much longer than my usual blogs) If there is one thing that the pandemic has shown us, it is that modern healthcare is undemocratic, antisocial and thus largely unresponsive to its patients’ […]

Absolute risk is the likelihood an event will occur. Relative risk is the likelihood an event will occur in one group compared to another. In CoVID-19 terms, the absolute risk of dying from the disease is low. However, if we look at very old residents of care facilities who have multiple health problems compared with […]

Over the past two decades, three human coronaviruses (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2) have emerged worldwide and there is still no approved vaccine for any of them. Greedy nations race each other in a drug-ridden CoVID Olympics, spending billions to find the gold medal vaccine. Yet we are told the greatest elite performer on earth – […]

A new epidemic has broken out, and it’s not CoVID-19.  The symptoms are an inability to subtract, and a tendency just to add.  It’s sweeping through physicians around the world who, instead of weaning patients off antidepressants, continue to layer on two or even more psychoactive drugs, despite evidence that this strategy is ineffective. Depression […]

Every couple of years a group of experts lowers the level of blood pressure required to diagnose and treat hypertension. On the face of it, the advice seems reasonable: obesity and diabetes are on the increase across the globe and both are related to hypertension and its result, cardiovascular disease. So, dropping the upper limits […]

Hospitals are full of people sick with CoVID but not all of them are patients. More and more staff in our hospitals are turning up for work that they are unable to do. They are present, but not working at their best, either due to their own health problems, increased CoVID-related workload, or CoVID anxiety. […]

CoVID is no longer just a health concern. As clinicians we now understand the disease a little better, are comforted that most cases are mild and self-limiting, and relieved that the intensive care resources are becoming equipped to manage the increase in patient numbers. Even the danger to health care workers of too much exposure […]

In times of overwhelming disaster and limited resources, ingenuity and repurposing can save lives.  For example, the use of stapling wounds on the suture-poor battle fields more than a century ago was game changer. It worked because the purpose of a suture and a staple were similar – to hold two opposing surfaces together. Wrap […]

As most of us become as paranoid as Lady Macbeth about handwashing, dodging infected droplet spread of CoVID-19 is equally important. So, let’s talk about sneezing and coughing. To avoid potentially infecting others, hold something you can clean or dispose of safely to sneeze or cough into at all times. Sneezing or coughing into your […]

Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals have a long history of wearing face masks in clinical environments, but I’ve never seen a person in scrubs walking down the street in a face mask.  That look is generally reserved to  tourists, particularly from Japan and China, who wear masks as they see the sights. Surgical […]

You can measure almost every health metric on your wrist these days. And many Americans do.  One in six consumers in the United States now uses a smartwatch or fitness band. Footsteps, heart beats, and even ECG monitors are now integrated into wearables. If you are looking to wearables to help you relieve stress or achieve […]