Genomics, Medicine, and Pseudoscience

This is Steven Salzberg's blog on genomics, pseudoscience, medical breakthroughs, higher education, and other topics, including skepticism about unscientific medical practices. Here's where I can say what I really think about abuses and distortions o

Latest articles

Can the SARS-CoV-2 virus damage the brain?

A certain very famous politician came down with Covid-19 recently, and has been acting even more erratically than usual. This has led a number of pundits (and some doctors) to speculate that this politician’s behavior might be a symptom of his ongoing infection. Could this be true?Well, maybe. Most of the attention around Covid-19 has been focused on...

Why do the Covid-19 vaccine trials take so long?

The whole world is waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine. More than 100 different vaccines are being investigated, and 42 of them are already being tested in humans, which is lightning-fast progress in the world of vaccine development.11 vaccines are already in Phase 3 trials, which use thousands of volunteer subjects to test whether a vaccine really works....

A new Russian Covid-19 vaccine looks promising, but did they fabricate some of their data?

Last week, a team of Russian scientists published the results of two phase 1/2 vaccine trials for a new Covid-19 vaccine developed in Russia. The study appeared in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals.This vaccine has already received tremendous attention after Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced they would start administering...

Can we re-grow cartilage in damaged knees? A new Stanford study offers hope

Knee pain is one of the most common afflictions among athletes and among older people in general. I’ve written about treatments for knee pain before, specifically about the many so-called alternative therapies that just don’t work. (Quick review: the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin don’t work. Injections of hyaluronic acid don’t work. Acupuncture...

Some odd truths about viruses, and about the COVID-19 viruse

The virus that has devastated the world this year, SARS-CoV-2, is not a living organism. Viruses are not alive. Think of them instead as biological machines, incredibly small ones. What, exactly, is a virus? Many people outside the world of science and medicine don’t really know, so today I’m going to describe just a few of their essential features....

We can start large-scale COVID-19 vaccination now

Development of new Covid-19 vaccines is proceeding at a furious pace, which is good news for the world. We already have two vaccines in phase 3 trials in the US and Europe; each of these trials which will vaccinate many thousands of people, and then wait to see how many get infected. If the vaccines work, then in a few months’ time we’ll be able to...

Why you should trust the coronavirus vaccine

Let me start by making one thing clear: at the time of this writing, we don't have a scientifically validated vaccine for COVID-19. But more than 150 vaccines are being developed around the world, and many of them are already in advanced stages of testing.So we'll have a vaccine soon, likely in a matter of months. And everyone should take it. I know...

It's not okay to open universities without universal coronavirus testing

Paper strip COVID-19 test developed at MITand the Broad InstituteOver the past week, many universities, including my own Johns Hopkins University, announced plans for re-opening this fall. As expected, almost all of them will re-open.Most of the plans for re-opening are entirely predictable, involving lots of social distancing rules, but in some cases...

Three promising treatments for COVID-19: not a cure, but progress

We still don't have a cure, but each of these treatments could save your life.Among the thousands of scientific studies already published about coronavirus and COVID-19, a few rays of hope have appeared. We don't have a cure yet, but at least three treatments seem to slow the virus down and save some people from the worst effects. Until we get a vaccine,...

The Environmental Protection Agency's new rule will protect polluters, not the environment

Here's a neat political trick: if you want to introduce a new law, but you know people will hate it, give it a misleading, nice-sounding name. It's surprising how well this works. Let me explain.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded in 1970 under Republican President Richard Nixon, and since that time it has helped the country clean...

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