A deadly virus is spreading from state to state and has infected 19 million Americans so far. It’s influenza

(CNN)The novel coronavirus that’s sickening thousands globally — and at least six people in the US — is inspiring countries to close their borders and Americans to buy up surgical masks quicker than major retailers can restock them.

There’s another virus that has infected 19 million Americans across the country and killed at least 10,000 people this season alone. It’s not a new pandemic — it’s influenza.
The 2019-2020 flu season is projected to be one of the worst in a decade, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. At least 180,000 people have been hospitalized with complications from the flu, and that number is predicted to climb as flu activity swirls.
The flu is a constant in Americans’ lives. It’s that familiarity that makes it more dangerous to underestimate, said Dr. Margot Savoy, chair of Family and Community Medicine at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine.
“Lumping all the viral illness we tend to catch in the winter sometimes makes us too comfortable thinking everything is ‘just a bad cold,'” she said. “We underestimate how deadly influenza really is.”
flu blinds iowa girl cohen pkg vpx_00002724

Flu blinds 4-year-old girl in Iowa 01:51
Even the low-end estimate of deaths each year is startling, Savoy said: The Centers for Disease Control predicts at least 12,000 people will die from the flu in the US every year. In the 2017-2018 flu season, as many as 61,000 people died, and 45 million were sickened.
In the 2019-2020 season so far, at least 19 million people in the US have gotten the flu and 10,000 people have died from it, including at least 68 children. Flu activity has been widespread in nearly every region, with high levels of activity in 41 states, the CDC reported this week.
Savoy, who also serves on the American Academy of Family Physician’s board of directors, said the novelty of emerging infections can overshadow the flu. People are less panicked about the flu because healthcare providers “appear to have control” over the infection.
“We fear the unknown and we crave information about new and emerging infections,” she said. “We can’t quickly tell what is truly a threat and what isn’t, so we begin to panic — often when we don’t need to.”

The flu can be fatal

Dr. Nathan Chomilo, an adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Minnesota Medical School, said that the commonness of the flu often underplays its severity, but people should take it seriously.
“Severe cases of the flu are not mild illnesses,” Chomilo said. “Getting the actual flu, you are miserable.”
The flu becomes dangerous when secondary infections emerge, the result of an already weakened immune system. Bacterial and viral infections compound the flu’s symptoms. People with chronic illnesses are also at a heightened risk for flu complications.
Those complications include pneumonia, inflammation in the heart and brain and organ failure — which, in some cases, can be fatal.
Chomilo, an internist and pediatrician for Park Nicollet Health Services, said this flu season has been one of the worst his Minnesota practice has seen since the H1N1 virus outbreak in 2009. Some of his patients, healthy adults in their 30s, have been sent to the Intensive Care Unit, relying on ventilators, due to flu complications.

The virus is always changing

Influenza is tricky because the virus changes every year. Sometimes, the dominant strain in a flu season will be more virulent than in previous years, which can impact the number of people infected and the severity of their symptoms.
Most of these changes in the virus are small and insignificant, a process called antigenic drift. That year’s flu vaccine is mostly effective in protecting patients in spite of these small changes, said Melissa Nolan, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Public Health.
US on track for one of the worst flu seasons in decades

Occasionally, the flu undergoes a rare antigenic shift, which results when a completely new strain of virus emerges that human bodies haven’t experienced before, she said.
Savoy compares it to a block party: The body thinks it knows who — or in this case, which virus — will show up, and therefore, which virus it needs to keep out. But if a virus shows up in a completely new getup, it becomes difficult for the body’s “bouncers” — that’s the immune system — to know who to look for and keep out. The stealthy virus can infiltrate easily when the body doesn’t recognize it.
This flu season, there’s no sign of antigenic shift, the most extreme change. But it’s happened before, most recently in 2009 with the H1N1 virus. It became a pandemic because people had no immunity against it, the CDC reported.

Get your flu shot, experts say

To avoid complications from the flu, Savoy, Chomilo and Nolan have the same recommendation: Get vaccinated.
It’s not easy to tell how flu vaccination rates impact the number of people infected, but Savoy said it seems that the years she struggles to get her patients vaccinated are the years when more patients end up hospitalized with the flu, even if the total number of infections doesn’t budge.
The CDC reported at least 173 million flu vaccine doses have been administered this flu season so far — that’s about 4 million more doses than the manufacturers who make the vaccines projected to provide this season.
Still, there are some who decide skipping the vaccine is worth the risk. A 2017 study found that people decline the flu vaccine because they don’t think it’s effective or they’re worried it’s unsafe, even though CDC research shows the vaccine effectively reduces the risk of flu in up to 60% of the population.
Chomilo said some of his most frustrating cases of the flu are in patients who can’t be vaccinated because of preexisting conditions or their age (children under 6 months old can’t be vaccinated).
There are two important reasons to get the flu vaccine, he said — “Protecting yourself and being a good community member.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Dr. Margot Savoy’s first name.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G vs Huawei MediaPad M6 vs iPad Pro 11: Specs Comparison

The tablet market is in decline for a lot of time, but there is a particular niche of the market which is doing very well, mainly thanks to iPads. We are talking about professional and high-end tablets: the ones perfect for power users and for productivity. Samsung just launched the world’s first 5G tablet and it belongs to this niche: it is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G. Given the importance of this tablet, we decided to compare it with the high-end tablets from the other main brands in the market: Huawei and Apple. Here is a comparison between Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G, Huawei MediaPad M6, and Apple iPad Pro 11 (we chose the 11 because the 12.9 variant costs too much to be suitable for such a comparison).

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G vs Huawei MediaPad M6 vs Apple iPad Pro 11

Huawei MediaPad M6 10.8 Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G Apple iPad Pro 11
DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT 257 x 170 x 7.2 mm, 498 g 244.5 x 159.5 x 5.7 mm, 420 grams 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm, 468 g
DISPLAY  10.8 inches, 1600 x 2560p (Quad HD+), IPS LCD 10.5 inches, 1600 x 2560p (Quad HD+), Super AMOLED 11 inches, 1668 x 2388p (Quad HD+), IPS LCD
PROCESSOR Huawei Hisilicon Kirin 980, octa-core 2.6 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, octa-core 2.84 GHz Apple A12X Bionic, octa-core 2.5 GHz
MEMORY 4 GB RAM, 64 GB – 4 GB RAM, 128 GB 6 GB RAM, 128 GB – 8 GB RAM, 256 GB – micro SD dedicated slot 4 GB RAM, 64 GB – 4 GB RAM, 256 GB – 4 GB RAM, 512 GB – 6 GB RAM, 1 TB
SOFTWARE  Android 9 Pie, EMUI Android 9 Pie, One UI iPadOS
CONNECTIVITY  Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS  Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
CAMERA  Single 13 MP
8 MP front camera
Dual 13 + 5 MP, f/2.0 and f/2.2
8 MP f/2.0 front camera
Single 12 MP f/1.8
7 MP f/2.2 front camera
BATTERY  7500 mAh 7040 mAh, fast charging 15W 7812 mAh
ADDITIONAL FEATURES Optional LTE, pen support, keyboard support 5G, pen support, keyboard support Optional LTE, Pen support, stylus support, reverse charging


The most impressive design is offered by the iPad Pro 11 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G since they have the most narrow bezels around the display. Further, both come with an aluminum unibody design. While Apple iPad Pro 11 has slightly narrower bezels than Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G, the latter is more compact because it sports a smaller display (0.5 inches less). All of these tablets support a stylus, but the S Pen of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G is more advanced due to its additional features (including Bluetooth support and additional sensors allowing to use it as a motion controller).



If you need the most amazing display ever, go for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G. It sports an awesome Super AMOLED panel with a high Quad HD+ resolution and the HDR10+ certification. It is one of the best displays ever mounted on a tablet. Both Apple iPad Pro 11 and Huawei MediaPad M6 are equipped with an IPS panel with a 2K resolution, but the display of the Apple iPad Pro 11 is definitely better. It has a wider color gamut and the TrueTone technology calibrating the color automatically depending on the environment. You can attach a magnetic keyboard to each of these tablets.



In terms of performance, Apple iPad Pro 11 wins the battle. It has better software optimization as well as a configuration with 1 TB of internal storage. But in daily use, Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G is more or less at the same level with a Snapdragon 855 chipset and up to 8 GB of RAM. Both the tablets feature amazing software for productivity, but Galaxy Tab S6 5G is the only tablet to support 5G. It supports 5G connectivity through a single-mode modem, so it has a higher energy consumption, but it supports it. Huawei MediaPad M6 takes the last place once again.



The best main camera is onboard the Apple iPad 11 Pro, but Galaxy Tab S6 5G is the only one to offer a dual camera including an ultrawide lens. If you want the best overall photo quality even in low light conditions, go for the Apple iPad Pro 11. But if you prefer photos that are still great and the chance to use an ultrawide lens, Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 5G is a better option. Galaxy Tab S6 5G would be my personal choice.



Finally, an aspect for which Huawei MediaPad M6 looks better. It has a bigger 7500 mAh battery. With 5G connectivity and a single-mode 5G modem, we doubt Galaxy Tab S6 5G will offer the same battery life as the Apple iPad Pro 11.



These tablets are only on sale in select markets, except the iPad Pro 11. So it is useless to make a price comparison. Galaxy Tab S6 5G is going on sale in South Korea for about €850/$940, Huawei MediaPad M6 costs just €300/$330 in China, while iPad Pro 11 costs almost €900/$1000 globally. There is not a clear winner here, it mostly depends on the user. Galaxy Tab S6 5G has the most complete specs sheet, but iPad Pro 11 is not far and it offers the most interesting operating system, even though it is a closed OS. Huawei MediaPad M6 is inferior to both, but it has a much higher value for money.

Patent images already insinuated that, but according to a Twitter user, this is for real.

Patent images we showed here back in July 2018 promised the Tesla Model Y would have a cast structure. When he went to Shanghai to announce the start of the smaller SUV program at Gigafactory 3, Elon Musk promised Tesla’s most affordable SUV would have “advanced manufacturing technologies that would be revealed in the future. If we are to believe the Twitter user Nafnlaus, that future is now.

Gallery: Tesla Model Y production

Nafnlaus means anonymous in Icelandic, so we have no way to know on which basis he has posted this on Twitter, although he seems to know what he is talking about in the discussion that follows there:


Wow… is the entire rear structure of the Model Y a single casting?

I almost wonder if Elon specifically included a closeup picture of it specifically to mess with other manufacturers 😉

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
138 people are talking about this

The mysterious Twitter user uses the picture above and another one to the detail he wants to highlight. It shows the inside of the left rear wheel well and more specifically a structure that could not have been created solely by welding, as most body panels are joined together. It even could, but not for series production.

Anyway, we lack the engineering knowledge of what that truly means. With that in mind, we have tried to contact Sandy Munro and his team at Munro & Associates to see what they could tell us about that. We still have not heard back, but promise to update this article as soon as we do.

Gallery: Tesla Goes Patent Crazy With Huge Casting Machine For Model Y

The giant casting machine that was patented gave us the impression that the process would include more than the rear structure of the Model Y. Perhaps Nafnlaus refers only to it because that is what he can see in the images as proof of the casting process. If the patents got to production as we have seen them, all the car frame must have been created with this method.

Have a first aid question? Don’t ask Siri.

Not so smart assistance.

Not so smart assistance.
If you’ve fallen and you can’t get up, your smart assistant is probably not the best way to ask for help.

A new study from the University of Alberta, published Tuesday in the medical journal The BMJ, tested smart assistants Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Assistant on their ability to respond helpfully to first aid questions. While Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa way outperformed Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, the results as a whole were underwhelming.

The researchers asked all of the smart assistants 123 questions on 39 first aid topics such as heart attacks, poisoning, and nose bleeds.

Google Assistant and Alexa recognized the topics over 90 percent of the time, and gave accurate and helpful responses in about half of those instances.

Meanwhile, Siri and Cortana’s responses were so poor that it “prohibited their analysis.”

“Overall, the device responses were of mixed quality ranging from the provision of factual guideline-based information to no response at all,” the study reads.

One of the study’s authors, Christopher Picard, is a nursing educator at the University of Alberta. He told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that he had received a smart assistant as a gift, and was playing around with it in the ER when he started wondering about how helpful the devices would be in an emergency.

That resulted in the comparison study, which revealed that the devices have potential in assisting with home emergencies, but have a long way to go. For example, Picard told the CBC that one of the questions was “I want to die,” and that one of the devices had the “really unfortunate response” of “How can I help you with that?”

At other times, some of the assistants showed promise. For example, when asking “Hey Google, what do I do for someone who can’t breathe?” Google Assistant responded, “Here is some information from the web that might possibly help,” suggested the user call 911 right away, and gave simple instructions for what to do in the meantime. Not too shabby!

According to a tweet from one of the study’s authors, Amazon has since reached out to the authors about what it can do to improve.

A bright spot: Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa all have the ability to call 911. The rub is that, unless commanded explicitly, only Alexa and Google Assistant recognize situations in which it’s appropriate to make those calls — and then, only half of the time.

Still, in an emergency situation, a smart assistant is better than no assistance. So that’s one pro for the often troubling devices.

Unexpected immune response in brain, spinal cord could offer clues to treating neurological diseases

U of A researcher discovers that immune cells in the brain and central nervous system interfere with those in the blood when a nerve is damaged.


An unexpected research finding is providing new information that could lead to new treatments of certain neurological diseases and disorders, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and spinal cord injury.

University of Alberta medical researcher Jason Plemel and key collaborators Joanne Stratton from McGill University, and Wee Yong and Jeff Biernaskie from the University of Calgary, found that immune cells in our brain and central nervous system, called microglia, interfere with blood immune cells called macrophages.

This discovery suggests that the immune cells in our brain and central nervous system are preventing the movement of the blood immune cells.

“We expected the macrophages would be present in the area of injury, but what surprised us was that microglia actually encapsulated those macrophages and surrounded them—almost like police at a riot. It seemed like the microglia were preventing them from dispersing into areas they shouldn’t be,” said Plemel.

“We’re not sure why this happens. More research is required to answer that question,” he added.

The central nervous system contains both white and grey matter. White matter is composed of nerve fibres covered by myelin, which speeds up the signals between the cells and allows the brain to quickly send and receive messages. In various neurological diseases and disorders, the myelin becomes damaged, exposing the nerves to deterioration.

“We found that both the immune cells that protect the central nervous system, microglia, and the immune cells of the peripheral immune system, macrophages, are present early after demyelination, and microglia continue to accumulate at the expense of macrophages.

“When we removed the microglia to understand what their role was, the macrophages entered into uninjured tissue,” explained Plemel, who is also a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

“This suggests that when there is injury, the microglia interfere with the macrophages in our central nervous system and act as a barrier preventing their movement.”

An opposite effect happens when a nerve is injured elsewhere in the body. For example, when a nerve is injured in your leg, the macrophages accumulate but the other resident immune cells do not, making the microglia’s response in the central nervous system unique.

While there are several differences in the operation and origin of microglia and macrophages, it has historically been impossible to tell the two types of cells apart.

It is this ability to differentiate between the two that may lead to an increased understanding of how each specific type of immune cell responds to demyelination, and as a result, lead to the development of new techniques and treatments that can combat and repair the damage being caused.

Using the same technique, Plemel and his collaborators also discovered there was more than one type of microglia responding to demyelination.

“The indication of at least two different populations of microglia is an exciting confirmation for us,” said Plemel. “We are continuing to study these populations and hopefully, in time, we can learn what makes them unique in terms of function. The more we know, the closer we get to understanding what is going on (or wrong) when there is neurodegeneration or injury, and being able to hypothesize treatment and prevention strategies.”

The study, “Microglia Response Following Acute Demyelination Is Heterogeneous and Limits Infiltrating Macrophage Dispersion,” was published in Science Advances.

Dopamine-Serotonin Balance Could Be Previously Unknown Factor for Social Anxiety

 Jan 30, 2020 | Original story from Uppsala University

Dopamine-Serotonin Balance Could Be Previously Unknown Factor for Social Anxiety

Artificial intelligence-created medicine to be used on humans for first time

  • 30 January 2020
Pill, test-tube and screen with digits on
Image captionThe drug was much quicker to market than ones developed in more traditional ways

A drug molecule “invented” by artificial intelligence (AI) will be used in human trials in a world first for machine learning in medicine.

It was created by British start-up Exscientia and Japanese pharmaceutical firm Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma.

The drug will be used to treat patients who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Typically, drug development takes about five years to get to trial, but the AI drug took just 12 months.

Exscienta chief executive Prof Andrew Hopkins described it as a “key milestone in drug discovery”.

He told the BBC: “We have seen AI for diagnosing patients and for analysing patient data and scans, but this is a direct use of AI in the creation of a new medicine.”

The molecule – known as DSP-1181 – was created by using algorithms that sifted through potential compounds, checking them against a huge database of parameters.

“There are billions of decisions needed to find the right molecules and it is a huge decision to precisely engineer a drug,” said Prof Hopkins.

“But the beauty of the algorithm is that they are agnostic, so can be applied to any disease,” he added.

The first drug will enter phase one trials in Japan which, if successful, will be followed by more global tests.

The firm is already working on potential drugs for the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease and hopes to have another molecule ready for clinical trials by the end of the year.

“This year was the first to have an AI-designed drug but by the end of the decade all new drugs could potentially be created by AI,” said Prof Hopkins.

Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, who was not involved in the research, said of the breakthrough: “I think AI has huge potential to enhance and accelerate drug discovery.

“I’m excited to see what I believe is the first example of a new drug now entering human clinical trials, that was created by scientists using AI in a major way to guide and speed up discovery.”