Pollution taking a toll on penis size, scientist claims

A class of chemicals called phthalates that are often used to make plastics more flexible is exacting a toll on fertility rates and leading to genital malformation, an environmental scientist claims. 

Shanna Swan, Ph.D., professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, details the health consequences of pollution in her new book “Count Down,” which argues more babies are being born with smaller penises, Sky News reported. 

Swan’s research began with rats, findings that rat fetuses exposed to the chemical were more likely to be born with shrunken genitals. Later, Swan found that male human fetuses exposed to phthalates resulted in a decreased anogenital distance, a measure associated with penile length, per Sky News. Other findings cited in Swan’s book include a claim that “sperm levels among men in Western countries” declined by over 50%, drawing on hundreds of studies involving nearly 45,000 healthy men.

The claim isn’t all too surprising; scientists have previously suggested exposure to the chemical can harm fertility, babies’ health, disrupt hormones key for development, and damage the genetic material in sperm. Phthalates have already been banned in many kids’ toys over health concerns. 

These chemicals can be found in manufacturing equipment and have a firm foothold in supply chains beyond just the food industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says phthalates can be found in personal hygiene products, makeup, plastic packaging and more

Oxford studying nasal spray coronavirus vaccine

The University of Oxford is studying a nasal spray version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine among 30 young, healthy volunteers, and will assess the induced immune response, safety and any side effects.

The early-stage trial will enroll adults aged 18 to 40 from the Oxford area, and researchers will conduct four months of follow-up, according to a release posted Thursday. 

“Some immunologists believe that delivering the vaccine to the site of infection may achieve enhanced protection, especially against transmission, and mild disease,” Dr. Sandy Douglas, clinician-scientist and chief investigator of the study, said in the release. “We hope this small safety-focused study will lay the foundation for future larger studies that are needed to test whether giving the vaccine this way does protect against coronavirus infection.”

Douglas suggested the nasal spray could boost vaccine uptake because some may prefer the method over an injection. She also hinted at “practical advantages” afforded by the spray, which could help along with vaccination efforts in schools.

“[The nasal spray] is an important first step towards increasing our range of options for curtailing the spread and impact of COVID-19 globally,” Dr. Meera Madhavan, lead clinical research fellow, Jenner Institute, added in part.

AstraZeneca plans to file for U.S. FDA emergency authorization for its vaccine in the coming weeks, though the company has faced significant issues overseas after over a dozen mostly European countries temporarily halted shots over reports of blood clots in some vaccinated individuals.

U.K. and EU regulators have both since confirmed the vaccine does not heighten the overall risk for blood clotting, and actually likely reduces the risk because COVID-19 disease itself is a precursor for coagulation. However, the suspended campaigns dented vaccine trust, experts say. This week, the company faced scrutiny after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said it may have provided an incomplete view of efficacy data. Since-released data demonstrated a 76% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19.

The earlier data reflected 79% efficacy in preventing symptomatic infections and 100% efficacy at preventing severe disease and hospitalization. The new analysis also reported 100% efficacy “against severe or critical disease and hospitalization.”

Home remedies for bad breath

Good dental hygiene

According to research studiesTrusted Source, poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath. Preventing plaque buildup is the key to maintaining a healthy mouth. You should brush your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice per day (morning and night).

Some people find that brushing after every meal is necessary to prevent decay and bad breath. To prevent bacteria from growing on bits of food stuck in your teeth, floss at least once per day.

Bacteria can also accumulate on the tongue, causing a foul smell. A practice known as tongue scraping can help you remove this thin layer of film. Using your toothbrush or a specialized tongue scraper, brush or scrape your tongue at least once per day. Learn more about why you should be brushing your tongue.


Parsley is a popular folk remedy for bad breath. Its fresh scent and high chlorophyll content suggest that it can have a deodorizing effect. StudiesTrusted Source (not done on human breath, however) have shown that parsley can effectively combat foul sulfur compounds.

To use parsley for bad breath, chew on fresh leaves after each meal or buy a parsley dietary supplement here.

Pineapple juice

Many people believe that pineapple juice is the quickest and most effective treatment for bad breath. While there is no scientific evidence to back up this theory, anecdotal reports suggest that it works.

Drink a glass of organic pineapple juice after every meal, or chew on a pineapple slice for one to two minutes. It’s also important to remember to rinse your mouth of the sugars in fruit and fruit juice afterward.


ResearchTrusted Source shows that mouth dryness often causes bad breath. Saliva plays a very important role in keeping your mouth clean. Without it, bacteria thrive.

Your mouth naturally dries out while you sleep, which is why breath is typically worse in the morning.

Prevent dry mouth by keeping your body hydrated. Drinking water (not caffeinated or sugary drinks) throughout the day will help encourage saliva production. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day.


Yogurt contains healthy bacteria called lactobacillus. These healthy bacteria can help combat bad bacteria in various parts of your body, like your gut.

Research shows that yogurt may also help reduce bad breath. A study found after six weeks of eating yogurt, 80 percent of participants had a reduction in bad breath. Probiotics in yogurt are effective in reducing the severity of bad breath.

To use yogurt to fight bad breath, eat at least one serving per day of plain, nonfat yogurt.


Milk is a well-known cure for bad breath. Research shows that drinking milk after eating garlic can significantly improve “garlicky” breath.

To use this method, drink a glass of low- or full-fat milk during or after a meal containing strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions.

Fennel or anise seeds

Since ancient times, fennel and anise seeds have been used to freshen breath. In parts of India, roasted fennel seeds are still used as “mukhwas,” or mouth fresheners, to cleanse after-dinner breath. They taste sweet and contain aromatic essential oils that give the breath a fresh scent.

Fennel and anise seeds can be eaten plain, roasted, or coated with sugar.


Oranges not only make for a healthy dessert, but they also promote dental hygiene.

Many people have bad breath because they don’t produce enough saliva to wash away foul-smelling bacteria. Research shows that vitamin C helps increase saliva production, which can help eliminate bad breath. Oranges are rich in this vitamin.


Zinc salts, an ingredient in certain mouthwashesTrusted Source and chewing gumTrusted Source, can counteract bad breath. Zinc works to decrease the number of sulfurous compounds in your breath. Research has shown that regular rinsing with a solution containing zinc can be effective in reducing bad breath for at least 6 months.

Try a zinc chewing gum designed for people with dry mouth. You can also find zinc dietary supplements at your local drug store or purchase them online here.

Green tea

Green tea is an effective home remedy for bad breath. ResearchTrusted Source shows that green tea has disinfectant and deodorizing properties that can temporarily freshen the breath. Mint has similar effects, so a cup of green mint tea may be an ideal breath freshener.

Brew two cups of tea before going to bed and refrigerate it overnight. Pour your cool tea into a water bottle and bring it to work. Slowly sip on it throughout the day. Purchase green mint tea here.


One studyTrusted Source found that raw apples have a powerful effect against garlic breath. Certain natural compounds in apples neutralize the foul-smelling compounds in garlic. This is particularly useful for people whose garlic breath lingers, because it neutralizes the compounds in the bloodstream, rather than just deodorizing the mouth.

Homemade mouthwash with baking soda

StudiesTrusted Source have shown that baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, can effectively kill bacteria in the mouth. ResearchTrusted Source indicates that toothpastes containing high concentrations of baking soda effectively reduce bad breath.

To make a baking soda mouthwash, add 2 teaspoons of baking soda to 1 cup of warm water. Swish the mouthwash around in your mouth for at least 30 seconds before spitting it out.

Homemade mouthwash with vinegar

Vinegar contains a natural acid called acetic acid. Bacteria don’t like to grow in acidic environments, so a vinegar mouthwash may reduce bacteria growth.

Add 2 tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water. Gargle for at least 30 seconds before spitting it out.null

When to see a doctor

Most bad breath originates in the mouth and can be treated with improved dental hygiene.

In some cases, however, bad breath is a sign of a more serious condition such as diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, or an infection.

If your bad breath isn’t improving with home treatment, consult your doctor or dentist.

Corns and calluses

What are corns?

Corns are hard, thickened areas of skin that typically occur on the feet. They’re similar to a callus, but are usually harder, smaller, and more painful.

Corns aren’t dangerous, but they can cause irritation. They’re also more likely to affect women than men.

There are three main types of corns:

  • hard
  • soft
  • seed

Hard corns are the most common type of corn. They’re small, concentrated areas of hard skin, usually found within a wider area of thickened skin. Soft corns, on the other hand, are whitish or gray, and are rubbery in texture. They often appear between the toes. Seed corns are small and usually found on the bottom of the foot.

As they thicken, corns can become quite painful.

Corns aren’t a skin disease. They’re your body’s response to pressure or friction on the skin. Here’s how to prevent and treat them at home:

Diagnosing corns

Specialized tests aren’t necessary to diagnose corns. Direct observation of the corn and the surrounding skin is all that’s necessary.

Corns are typically round and occur on the sides and tops of the feet. The main difference between corns and calluses is that a callus isn’t painful to touch. A corn may be painful to touch because the skin is inflamed, and it may have a hard or soft center.

How to prevent corns

To make sure your corns don’t develop or come back after treatment, you have to eliminate the conditions that caused them. Here are some tips to help eliminate friction and prevent corns from forming:

  • Get shoes and socks that fit properly. To get the right fit, ask a clerk to measure your foot, and then choose shoes that aren’t too loose or too tight. A tip for getting the correct size shoe is to shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet may be slightly swollen.
  • Trim your toenails. If your toenails are too long, they can force your toes to push up against your shoe. This can create pressure that causes a corn to form over time.
  • Use corn pads. Corn pads help protect against excess pressure or friction around your corn. They come in a variety of materials including foam, felt, and moleskin. Typically, these pads are donut-shaped — to redistribute the pressure around the corn — with an adhesive backing. They should be positioned so the corn is in the center hole.
  • Keep your feet clean. Wash your feet daily with soap, water, and an appropriate scrub brush.
  • Keep your feet moisturized. Use foot cream on a regular basis to prevent dryness and friction.

How to get rid of corns

Before treating corns, you must first evaluate the cause of your friction. In many cases, they’ll go away on their own when the pressure or friction causing them stops.

If protecting the corn from further irritation doesn’t solve your problem, dermatologists recommend the following steps to get rid of corns:

1. Soak your foot in warm water

Make sure the corn is fully submerged for about 10 minutes or until the skin softens.

2. File the corn with a pumice stone

A pumice stone is a porous and abrasive volcanic rock that’s used for sloughing away dry skin. Dip the pumice stone in warm water and then use it to carefully file the corn. Gentle circular or sideways motions help remove the dead skin.

Tip: Don’t take off too much skin. Too much filing could cause bleeding and lead to infection.

3. Apply lotion to the corn

Use a moisturizing lotion or cream with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid dissolves the keratin protein that makes up the corn and the surrounding dead skin. However, salicylic acid is generally not recommended for people with diabetes, poor circulation, or frail skin.

4. Use corn pads

Protect corns from making contact with your shoe, with these donut-shaped adhesive pads.

Don’t attempt to cut or shave away your corns as this can lead to a potentially dangerous infection of the surrounding tissues. Cutting or shaving corns should only be done by a doctor.

When to see a doctor

If you have a very painful corn or if you have diabetes, fragile skin, or peripheral arterial disease, you should consult a doctor before pursuing home treatment. You can connect to a dermatologist in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool. Seek medical attention if your corn shows signs of infection with symptoms including:

  • worsening pain
  • pus or drainage
  • swelling
  • rednes


Corns are a noncancerous condition that can be managed with home remedies or medical treatment — surgery is rarely necessary. Following successful treatment, corns may return if the affected area continues to be irritated by friction or pressure.

You should wear properly fitting shoes to prevent corns from developing and remember to treat your feet right at all times.

High Staff Turnover at U.S. Nursing Homes Poses Risks for Residents’ Care

A new study highlights the persistent problems caused by an unstable work force, an underlying threat that may have led to staggering death tolls in the pandemic.

Extraordinarily high turnover among staffs at nursing homes likely contributed to the shocking number of deaths at the facilities during the pandemic, the authors of a new study suggested.

The study, which was published Monday in Health Affairs, a health policy journal, represents a comprehensive look at the turnover rates in 15,645 nursing homes across the country, accounting for nearly all of the facilities certified by the federal government. The researchers found the average annual rate was 128 percent, with some facilities experiencing turnover that exceeded 300 percent.

“It was really staggering,” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and one of the study’s authors. Researchers pointed to the findings to urge Medicare to publish the turnover rates at individual nursing home sites, as a way of putting a spotlight on substandard conditions and pressuring owners to make improvements.

Inadequate staffing — and low pay — has long plagued nursing homes and quality-of-care for the more than one million residents who live in these facilities. But the pandemic has exposed these issues even more sharply, with investigations underway into some states’ oversight of the facilities as Covid cases spiraled unchecked and deaths skyrocketed.

The high turnover rate likely made it harder for nursing homes to put in place strong infection controls during the pandemic, and led to rampant spread of the coronavirus, said Ashvin Gandhi, the lead author and a health economist and assistant professor at the University of California Los Angeles Anderson School of Management.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.

An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis is what can damage other parts of the body as well.Severe rheumatoid arthritis can cause physical disabilities.


Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
  • Fatigue, fever and loss of appetite

Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first — particularly the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet.

As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.

About 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many nonjoint structures, including:

  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Salivary glands
  • Nerve tissue
  • Bone marrow
  • Blood vessels

Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flares, alternate with periods of relative remission — when the swelling and pain fade or disappear. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent discomfort and swelling in your joints.


Comparing rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis vs. osteoarthritisOpen pop-up dialog box

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium — the lining of the membranes that surround your joints.

The resulting inflammation thickens the synovium, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint.

The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment.

Doctors don’t know what starts this process, although a genetic component appears likely. While your genes don’t actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental factors — such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria — that may trigger the disease.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Your sex. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Age. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins in middle age.
  • Family history. If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of the disease.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if you have a genetic predisposition for developing the disease. Smoking also appears to be associated with greater disease severity.
  • Environmental exposures. Although poorly understood, some exposures such as asbestos or silica may increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Emergency workers exposed to dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center are at higher risk of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Obesity. People — especially women age 55 and younger — who are overweight or obese appear to be at a somewhat higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.


Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of developing:

  • Osteoporosis. Rheumatoid arthritis itself, along with some medications used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, can increase your risk of osteoporosis — a condition that weakens your bones and makes them more prone to fracture.
  • Rheumatoid nodules. These firm bumps of tissue most commonly form around pressure points, such as the elbows. However, these nodules can form anywhere in the body, including the lungs.
  • Dry eyes and mouth. People who have rheumatoid arthritis are much more likely to experience Sjogren’s syndrome, a disorder that decreases the amount of moisture in your eyes and mouth.
  • Infections. The disease itself and many of the medications used to combat rheumatoid arthritis can impair the immune system, leading to increased infections.
  • Abnormal body composition. The proportion of fat to lean mass is often higher in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, even in people who have a normal body mass index (BMI).
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. If rheumatoid arthritis affects your wrists, the inflammation can compress the nerve that serves most of your hand and fingers.
  • Heart problems. Rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk of hardened and blocked arteries, as well as inflammation of the sac that encloses your heart.
  • Lung disease. People with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk of inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues, which can lead to progressive shortness of breath.
  • Lymphoma. Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of lymphoma, a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymph system.

No, the COVID-19 Vaccines Do Not Cause Infertility

  • Experts are dispelling myths that COVID-19 vaccinations cause infertility.
  • They also say there is no evidence yet that the vaccinations cause any health issues for pregnant women.
  • They note that the dangers of COVID-19 should outweigh any hesitation about getting vaccinated.

Some younger women who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations are taking a pass.

One reason for the hesitancy is the worry that the vaccines can cause infertility.

It’s the kind of fear that spreads quickly through social media feeds.

As the vaccines become available to more younger people, concerns about infertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding could mean that many women will skip vaccinations.

With herd immunity still a long way off, that could leave a large share of the population vulnerable to infection and illness.

SUBSCRIBEhttps://30190ce926caab3b54cd2d70a4184eca.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlHEALTH NEWSFact Checked

No, the COVID-19 Vaccines Do Not Cause Infertility

Written by Ann Pietrangelo on February 24, 2021 — Fact checked by Michael Crescione

Share on PinterestExperts say there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility. Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

  • Experts are dispelling myths that COVID-19 vaccinations cause infertility.
  • They also say there is no evidence yet that the vaccinations cause any health issues for pregnant women.
  • They note that the dangers of COVID-19 should outweigh any hesitation about getting vaccinated.

Some younger women who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations are taking a pass.

One reason for the hesitancy is the worry that the vaccines can cause infertility.

It’s the kind of fear that spreads quickly through social media feeds.

As the vaccines become available to more younger people, concerns about infertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding could mean that many women will skip vaccinations.

With herd immunity still a long way off, that could leave a large share of the population vulnerable to infection and illness.null

Infertility claims

Dr. Jennifer Conti, OB-GYN, is medical adviser for Modern Fertility.

Conti told Healthline that there’s zero evidence that COVID-19 vaccines interfere with fertility.

“This misinformation is dangerous because the confusion it is based on sounds plausible, but in fact is not,” said Conti.

“The rumors are based on the fear that messenger RNA in the vaccine could cause infertility by accidentally attacking a protein in the placenta called syncytin-1, which has a (sort of) similar structure to the coronavirus spike protein. However, these are totally different structures and there is no reason to think this would happen,” she explained.

GuidanceTrusted Source from the Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists and the British Fertility Society was recently published in The BMJ. The groups agree that there’s no link between the vaccines and infertility.

The article adds that sperm and egg donors should get vaccinated as well.

The scientists do suggest that if you’re undergoing fertility treatment, you might want to consider the timing of COVID-19 vaccines. That’s so there’s no confusion over whether any symptoms, such as fever, are side effects of the vaccine or fertility treatment procedures.

New variants raise worry about COVID-19 virus reinfection

Evidence is mounting that having COVID-19 may not protect against getting infected again with some of the new variants. People also can get second infections with earlier versions of the coronavirus if they mounted a weak defense the first time, new research suggests.

How long immunity lasts from natural infection is one of the big questions in the pandemic. Scientists still think reinfections are fairly rare and usually less serious than initial ones, but recent developments around the world have raised concerns.

In South Africa, a vaccine study found new infections with a variant in 2% of people who previously had an earlier version of the virus.

In Brazil, several similar cases were documented with a new variant there. Researchers are exploring whether reinfections help explain a recent surge in the city of Manaus, where three-fourths of residents were thought to have been previously infected.

In the United States, a study found that 10% of Marine recruits who had evidence of prior infection and repeatedly tested negative before starting basic training were later infected again. That work was done before the new variants began to spread, said one study leader, Dr. Stuart Sealfon of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

“Previous infection does not give you a free pass,” he said. “A substantial risk of reinfection remains.”

Reinfections pose a public health concern, not just a personal one. Even in cases where reinfection causes no symptoms or just mild ones, people might still spread the virus. That’s why health officials are urging vaccination as a longer-term solution and encouraging people to wear masks, keep physical distance and wash their hands frequently.

“It’s an incentive to do what we have been saying all along: to vaccinate as many people as we can and to do so as quickly as we can,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert.

“My looking at the data suggests … and I want to underline suggests … the protection induced by a vaccine may even be a little better” than natural infection, Fauci said.

Doctors in South Africa began to worry when they saw a surge of cases late last year in areas where blood tests suggested many people had already had the virus.

Until recently, all indications were “that previous infection confers protection for at least nine months,” so a second wave should have been “relatively subdued,” said Dr. Shabir Madhi of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Scientists discovered a new version of the virus that’s more contagious and less susceptible to certain treatments. It now causes more than 90% of new cases in South Africa and has spread to 40 countries including the United States.

Madhi led a study testing Novavax’s vaccine and found it less effective against the new variant. The study also revealed that infections with the new variant were just as common among people who had COVID-19 as those who had not.

“What this basically tells us, unfortunately, is that past infection with early variants of the virus in South Africa does not protect” against the new one, he said.

In Brazil, a spike in hospitalizations in Manaus in January caused similar worry and revealed a new variant that’s also more contagious and less vulnerable to some treatments.

“Reinfection could be one of the drivers of these cases,” said Dr. Ester Sabino of the University of Sao Paulo. She wrote an article in the journal Lancet on possible explanations. “We have not yet been able to define how frequently this is happening,” she said.

California scientists also are investigating whether a recently identified variant may be causing reinfections or a surge of cases there.

“We’re looking at that now,” seeking blood samples from past cases, said Jasmine Plummer, a researcher at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Dr. Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, said it soon would report on what he called “the Los Angeles variant.”

New variants were not responsible for the reinfections seen in the study of Marines — it was done before the mutated viruses emerged, said Sealfon, who led that work with the Naval Medical Research Center. Other findings from the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine; the new ones on reinfection are posted on a research website.

The study involved several thousand Marine recruits who tested negative for the virus three times during a two-week supervised military quarantine before starting basic training.

Among the 189 whose blood tests indicated they had been infected in the past, 19 tested positive again during the six weeks of training. That’s far less than those without previous infection — “almost half of them became infected at the basic training site,” Sealfon said.

The amount and quality of antibodies that previously infected Marines had upon arrival was tied to their risk of getting the virus again. No reinfections caused serious illness, but that does not mean the recruits were not at risk of spreading infection to others, Sealfon said.

“It does look like reinfection is possible. I don’t think we fully understand why that is and why immunity has not developed” in those cases, said an immunology expert with no role in the study, E. John Wherry of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Natural infections can leave you with a range of immunity” while vaccines consistently induce high levels of antibodies, Wherry said.

“I am optimistic that our vaccines are doing a little bit better.”

Zinc, Vitamin C have no impact on coronavirus symptoms

Zinc and Vitamin C fell short in a clinical trial after researchers found they made no significant difference in easing the duration of coronavirus symptoms.

Findings from the Cleveland Clinic were published in JAMA Network on Friday, drawing on results from April 27 to Oct. 14, when 214 coronavirus patients in Ohio and Florida outpatient care sites were given either 50 milligrams of high-dose zinc to be taken at night, 8,000 milligrams of Vitamin C to be taken several times throughout the day with meals, a combination of the two or standard care over a 10-day period.

These patients, averaging about 45 years old, were at home, and answered virtual surveys about their symptoms, any adverse effects, hospitalizations and other medications. Any patient that required hospitalization was considered a treatment failure, researchers said. Data shows most of the patients were experiencing mild symptoms, with very few suffering severe cases.

Patients reached a 50% reduction in symptoms after 6.7 days with usual care, 5.5 days when treated with Vitamin C, 5.9 days with zinc and 5.5 days for the combo treatment.

“These findings suggest that treatment with zinc, ascorbic acid, or both does not affect SARS-CoV-2 symptoms,” study authors wrote.

The scientists ended the trial early because the supplements weren’t having any effect. Study authors noted four serious events, including three deaths due to COVID-19, not believed to be tied to the treatment. More patients receiving Vitamin C reported side effects like nausea, diarrhea and cramps.

The study authors said there has been “inconsistent” evidence for zinc and Vitamin C as a beneficial treatment for colds.

The Cleveland Clinic study authors noted that zinc is known to help cells fight infection and boost the immune system, and Vitamin C “is an antioxidant that may play a role in immune response,” though the role of Vitamin C and zinc in treating coronavirus is less clear.

“However, based on the current study, these supplements cannot be recommended to reduce symptom morbidity in such patients,” the study reads. “High-dose zinc gluconate, ascorbic acid, or both supplements did not reduce SARS-CoV-2 symptoms. Most consumers of ascorbic acid and zinc are taking significantly lower doses of these supplements, so demonstrating that even high-dose ascorbic acid and zinc had no benefit suggests clear lack of efficiency

Coronavirus less likely to infect glasses wearers, study suggests

Good news, glasses wearers: Your spectacles may offer you some extra protection from the novel coronavirus, according to the findings of a new study. 

In a report published earlier this month on the pre-print site medRxiv, researchers said that those who wear glasses at least eight hours during the day are less likely to contract the novel disease because they touch their eyes less frequently than those who do not wear glasses. 

COVID-19 mainly spreads when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, with the infectious particles posing a risk to healthy persons should they breathe those infectious particles in (hence the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing measures). However, the virus can also spread through the membranes protecting your eyes, namely the conjunctiva.

Indeed, “touching and rubbing of the eyes with contaminated hands may be a significant route of infection for SARS-CoV-2 virus,” the researchers wrote. 


For the study, the researchers surveyed just over 300 people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 in India. The patients, who ranged in age from 10 to 80, were asked about their glasses-wearing habits. About 60 patients were identified as “long-time glasses-wearers,” per the report. 

By the end, the researchers concluded that those who wear glasses were two to three less likely to contract COVID-19 compared to those who do not wear glasses. 

“This present study showed that the risk of COVID-19 was 2-3 times less in spectacles-wearing population than the population not using spectacles. [The] protective role of the spectacles was found statistically significant if those were used for [a] long period of the day,” or more than eight hours, they concluded. 

The findings bolster previous research done on this topic. In a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology in September, for instance, Chinese researchers also found those who wear eyeglasses for extended daily periods may be less susceptible to COVID-19.